Christmas 2002

“Wish You Were Here”

Before we get started, we need everyone to make a note of our new address in cyberspace. After seven plus years with, we finally got our own space. Now you can find us at And, our new email is, or (she got tired of reading my email) NOW, On to the story……

Bad news for everyone who has waited patiently for the Christmas Newsletter…. Good news for the rest of you who are ready for something completely different. (You can read our newsletters from the last 12 years on our website if you really miss them) Beth and I were talking about what a busy year we had, and decided that it could actually become a “Reality” TV mini-series. So, here is our submission for NBC, FOX, CBS, or any of them (except PBS) to produce the epic saga that was “our”2002. Get out your reading glasses, pop some kernels, pour some wine, roll a doobie, or do whatever it is you do when you’re planning to read something really good, cause this is ripe baby!!! 

(underlined  italics is hyperlinked to photos)

The story is told by the Director, Hugh Schmelly as the mini-series is being filmed “on location” at Camp Alexander. Words in parenthesis are spoken softly or under his breath. Obviously, all capitals means yelling, as most Hollywood directors do. Casting has been completed and all the actors, stage hands, animal trainers, sound, lighting, and special effect crews are together and ready to start filming the much anticipated TV mini-series “Wish You Were Here”.

OK PEOPLE!.. Let’s get started. We’ve got lots of filming to do, and not enough money since we lost the Hallmark sponsorship. Sound; get the music ready for the background while we film the quick clips to help introduce the characters. These will be quick fade in and out shots showing them doing various things around Camp to help get the audience familiar, so look alive people. . Alrighty now, Allie, you’re an active 4 year old who loves riding that horse. I want you to ride across the arena flashing a huge smile. Then yell “Mommy, I go to kindergarten next year”. Then, Avery, you’re 7 now, and quite a fast runner. We are going to cut to you sprinting across the yard chasing your best friend Holly. No.. wait. Run to the bus stop, where the sign on the bus reads “First Graders”. Oh yea.. we don’t have a bus. OK, we stick with the script.READY, ACTION! 

Beth… Beth!!…BEEETH!!!.Please pay attention while we are shooting. I can’t work like this! We have a deadline people. I need a clip of you singing in the choir… or directing the Stephen Ministry, or … wait.. I got it!! Drive up in your new, Red Yukon XL (Jack)… roll down the power window, peel off your racing sunglasses, and give us one of those Super Model Smiles.Excellent, that’s a take. David; work with me on this. You’re welding some horseshoes in front of the barn making a…. aaahhh! CUT! CUT! .. I did not say action!!. Why did you fire up the welder? I was looking right at it. I’ll see spots for an hour!. Good GRIEF! PEOPLE!. Work with me here. OK, trainers, get the horses in a full run, while the lighting crew sets up a “Texas Sunset”, and the snow blower is … no.. forget the snow. ACTION! 

Where is Roo the dog and Hamm the pig? Can somebody please help the trainers get the animals together? We are running out of daylight folks. Alright, I want Roo chasing after a rabbit, Hamm the pig, eating daisies in the yard.. yes, I know they are plastic.. Tell the pig to please deal with it.And, .. I want Pumpkin, Avery’s cat, playing hide and seek, ..and… let’sintroduce Sugarpie, the white dove cooing softly in her cage? I want this in ONE TAKE People!! WHAT??? The dog refuses to act with the cat? FINE! We will use file footage and they wont get paid a dime!!! Lets move on shall we, we have much to do.

Act 1, “The Ski Trip”

Alright people! Let’s hop to it please. “Make up!!!”.. Can you please do something about David’s forehead? Yes, yes, a hat… great idea. Alright, get the snow blower and I mean it this time. We are supposed to be at the Angelfire ski resort, but we can’t afford that, now can we? I want a quick clip of Avery and her cousin John at the ski school taking their first lesson.. I don’t care, just hold up a sign or whatever that says school or something!! Do I have to do everything around here? Work with me people!!! Think “COLD” Allie!.. get in that inner tube and rock back and forth. We can superimpose it onto a slalom course to show you tubing down the hill….. wait, this must be a misprint. The script says you go down the hill 100 times and your Uncle Jeff drags you and the tube all the way to the top after each one. I GOT IT!.. we’ll make it a “dream” sequence!! Get the “do do do” music and the fuzzy effects.

Act 2, “The Party”

Quiet on the SET!!! Listen up folks. This is the scene where David is turning 40, and they have the biggest party ever! WHERE ARE THE EXTRAS? Dang it, we are paying those winos to be milling around at the party during the shoot and they better be out here before we roll film. Put the “jumpy house” over by the cooking area, start cooking the burgers and buffalo wings, get the guitar player setup, …and for crying out loud!!, please tell the neighbors to get off the set while we shoot the scene about the neighborhood party!!! (They are not paying me enough to put up with this). Hey, you over there,.. Who said you could open that beer??Places everyone…. ACTION!

Act 3, “Indian Princess Meeting”

Someone get me some COFFEE!! I’m dying over here. OK… I need Avery, Allie, and all the girls playing the parts of Indian Princess to get over by the llama. HOLD on… this says we need “Little Blossom” and “Tiny Bubbles” for this scene. Ah, that IS Avery and Allie’s Indian name. Isn’t that S P E C I A L….. Camp Alexander is hosting a YMCA Indian Princess meeting, and we need to get this in one Take before that llama decides…. HEY! I distinctly remember asking for a REAL Llama. Where did we get that fake one? ..Oh…. From the Dr Doolittle set? That explains the 2 heads. Try to keep the camera on one head at a time and we’ll be OK…Alright then, .. all the Dads who are going on the hike, please go to the prop shop and get a can of “soda”. We are having fun now.. I need plenty of smiles.. We are taking the Crow Tribe on a hike to the lake and need all the drinks packed into the llama’s saddlebag and…. NO, we are not going all the way to the lake Allie; this is just a movie sweetheart, not the real thing. Where was I. Oh yea…. Llama to the Lake Take 1…. ACTION!

Act 4, “Family Reunion”

If another person asks me when are we going to the beach, I WILL choke them. Our travel budget is zero, and besides, I’m allergic to salt water! OK, Beth. We need a quick shot of you on the phone frantically contacting every possible location for your Family reunion. Show me the anguish and frustration of tireless phone call after call trying to organize the event. Let the audience feel the…. What? No, it’s not a real phone’s a prop. The calls will not show up on your phone bill. “Aaarhg”Stagehands, I need that sand spread out now! That fake seagull really looks fake when it is UPSIDE DOWN! Can you please fix that? The set is supposed to look like Hatteras Island, not a junkyard. Can someone please get that guy that is supposed to look like Uncle Bill so we can shoot the talent show? WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Who authorized the purchase of 50 pounds of flour for the set?! … Oh.. yes, it is in the script. Aunt Joan makes HOW many pancakes?

Act 5, Widowmaker Trail Ride Company

Quiet on the set! David is on the phone with his riding buddy Jeff Cook, when he yells out “Shazam!, “you mean we can make money taking people on themthere trailrides? “I reckon we art to do it”..… What’s that David? I don’t care if that’s not the way it happened, the film needs something big here.OK.. FINE. have it your way then. Let’s get a shot of you and our “Jeff” actor on horseback taking some people on a ride, and you can casually say “hey folks, glad you’re having fun, don’t forget to PAY UP! Cause this ride ain’t free.””Or something like that. They argue about the fee, you pull out a six-shooter and fill em full of lead!! … or not. 

Act 6, “Allie and Soccer”

Coach!… Coach!!. Can you please get all the soccer kids over here? Great. Allie; this is your big scene sweetie.. it’s the big game.. you’ve been skipping around the field, but not getting too close to the ball where it might actually touch you. Then… one kid on your team is about to make a goal, when… he pauses, and kicks the ball over to you, so you can make the goal!!! That’s PERFECT Allie!! Now turn away from the ball and skip over to your friend Erica without touching the ball in any way. Kid,…. Your gonna make it in this business (definitely not in soccer!).. 

Act 7, “The Carnival”

SOMEBODY GET ME THE SCRIPT!!! There is no way these people had 30 friends and neighbors put together a fall carnival and haunted house to raise $1500 for the Methodist Mission fund. Oh well…. I’m just the director. Lets do the scene even if I have my doubts. OK, the first scene is all the kids that came out for face painting, crafts, and the “jumpy house” thing we had to rent. SOUND;;; Get the carnival music going, and make sure someone has those recorded screams ready… oh yea, laughter. This is the kid’s part of the scene, before dark. No scary stuff, right? ACTION!!!! 

All righty then! Its getting dark, so we need all the extras to form a really long line out front waiting for the Haunted house to start. Crank up the Fog machines, scary sounds, and the lights. Where is the neighbor guy who is doing the shooting gallery? MOVE IT PEOPLE, we are ready to roll. Stop clowning around!!! Oh yea, the haunted house is full of clowns. I HATE clowns!Geeeze! Do I have to go back there, or can we use some file footage? Don’t they have something on their website we could download?

Act 8, “Surprise”

Another Party!! Good Grief! This mini-series has worn me out! I’m glad this is the last episode. Beth; show me the “surprise” look you’ve been practicing. Eeeeee. .. (It’ll have to do). Alright, we are almost finished constructing the set to look like the inside of Rick and Cara’s house, where they had Beth’s surprise 40th birthday par…. WHAT! They live a few blocks from here? David; why did you not share this news before?!?!? It’s too late now. We film here. OK, first lets get a close-up of Beth on the phone with Cara discussing the bogus dinner used to get Beth to come over. Super.! … Now get everyone hidden behind the hedge, and Rick’s truck. Beth and David will walk down the driveway like this. Everyone DID read the script… right?!OK, when Beth is standing right here, David will yell, “hey, I forgot my hat” and run back to the..…..Ahhh…%$# STOP! CUT! STOP you $&%# s. SOMEONE GET THIS $#%@ OFF ME!. Where did we hire these actors?!! I was rehearsing!! BETH gets covered in Silly string!!! NOT ME. Clean up this mess so we can roll our final clip (finally).


In the final production, the credits will thank God for a wonderful year filled with great memories, and we’ll dedicate the production to Beth’s Grandmothers, Alice Troutman and Agnes Logie, who passed away this year, should we be so blessed to live our lives with the energy, longevity and grace that these two women did. May God bless you in the coming year!