Sally GracieBy Sally Gracie

With less talented young actors, Little Women might have become a play that we felt obligated to see. Fortunately, The Merc Playhouse’s Ki Gottberg has coaxed and coached Lori Ludeman (Meg), Amelia Eberline (Jo), Gretta Eberline (Amy) and Cecelia Odell (Beth) to inhabit their roles, to become the four sisters we loved in Louisa May Alcott’s book. The girls are so natural with each other, and there wasn’t a single missed line or cue. I delighted in their quaint young ladyhood as their individual personalities developed through the three acts of the play.

And what a treat were the costumes! Jane Pappidas’ (Aunt March’s) black-and-white creation with its flounces, tassels and lace, was a masterpiece. The girls, too, each benefited from several costume changes created by Seattle costumer Pete Rush. The play finishes its run this weekend with four more performances, Thursday (Dec. 19) through Sunday.

Out and about on Saturday, I stopped by Leanna Mortland’s little shop, Lily of the Valley, on Highway 20 next to Valley Video. For the holidays, her mother, Sandy Jensen, and her aunt, Ellie Easley, have added their hand-painted tree ornaments (Sandy’s) and knitted hats (Ellie’s) to the regular inventory of gently used clothes, accessories and housewares. I am delighted to learn that Ellie is also doing alterations at the shop. Hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The phone number is 997-LILY (5459).

Tess Hoke’s shop and greenhouse at Local 98856 were crowded with shoppers at the “Handmade for the Holidays” sale on Saturday. Macaroons baked on site by Okanogan Bakery are just one of the tempting gift possibilities by local artists and craftspeople. In addition to her potted amaryllis, Tess has Christmas roses, white helleborus niger, in two pot sizes. Because I can plant the hellebore outdoors in shade later in the spring, I chose this plant for the holidays this year. The sale at Local continues daily 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. through Christmas Eve.

After Local, I went on to the Mormon church to see a wonderful display of Christmas nativities. Melody Dicken was kind enough to spend time with me as I examined the collection. (Melody joined the local Latter Day Saints congregation only recently when she married Ken Dicken of Methow).

Together, we looked at nativity scenes from all over the world that vary in their depiction of the manger in Bethlehem according to the culture that created them. Some in this display were from Jerusalem, Indonesia, Peru, Russia, Bangladesh and the Philippines; made of clay, straw, resin, wood, plastic and ash from Mt. St. Helens; with figures as white, black, Inuit, and Hopi Indian.

About a dozen of the scenes on display belong to LDS members Velma and Bart Bradshaw. One nativity was the first nice one they owned, Velma told me, bought early in their marriage on a trip to Mexico. An olive-wood set with many figures was a gift from their daughters, who spent a college semester at the Brigham Young University Center in Jerusalem.

It turns out that one of my favorites — a simple sculpture of Mary, Joseph and the baby made from rectangular wooden blocks with wooden balls as heads — was Velma’s own creation. Janet Mehus also shared five of her nativity sets, and the majority of the scenes on display came from a Wenatchee collection belonging to Sandra Christensen.

Correction: As the North Central Regional Library is closed on Dec. 24, there will be no story time at Twisp Library.