Thursday, June 26, 2008

Storytime with Amber and Auntie Librarian

One of the best days I had on vacation was when I got to go to storytime at the local library with Amber and her Mama. As a librarian, this little excursion made me very happy, though I did stick out like a sore thumb, being camera happy and sans-child. Oh well. What's the Auntie Librarian to do?

Here's the rock star eating en route to the fun.

Amber liked playing with the animals. Here's her panda friend.

She did get a little shy, and didn't go and sit on the mat with the other kids. I didn't care. The easier to film her that way.

After storytime, Amber and Mama went and selected some new books. Here they are in line to check-out at the Big Desk. She's such a big girl!

St. George has this great communal area near the library, filled with sculptures, gazebos, and fun fountains. Who doesn't like to splash in the water? Especially if they are Aquarii?

For ONCE, Amber held still enough for me to take a non-action photo. Here she is curled up with a good book. I'm so proud!

The End!

Blogs and Twittering

You know you've been spending too much time in cyberspace, surfing blogs and looking at people's Twitter comments*, when the first reaction you have to the extensive graffiti in the restrooms in Grand Central is:

Someone really must have wanted to be twittering.

... where twittering happens, old style!

* Yes, Krippy. I mean YOU! (and Sleepygoat and MooshinIndy!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Train of Thought

E. B. White's 1948 essay, “Here is New York,” was excerpted and introduced last month as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new Train of Thought literary campaign.

Makes for some interesting contemplation during the subway commute.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something ….Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.

With thanks to The New York Times for the photo and the quote. An interesting discussion about the card and the "New Yorkers" is going on over on the City Room blog.

Book Hangover

Dear employers, friends, and relations,

Please forgive my sluggishness and my general not-with-itness today. I have a small "book hangover."

I made the mistake of starting a 600+ book on the train home last night. A mistake, you might ask. Well, you see ... once I start a really good, intriguing book, I generally have to read the whole thing straight through from cover to cover. Which is what happened ... again. Last night. Or technically, early this morning really. Definitely NOT enough sleep. Plus, the characters and the plot are still swirling around my brain and I can't wait to read the book again, more sloooowly, to savour it.

The last time this happened, with the last Harry Potter (darn you J.K., darn you!), I vowed to get this little reading problem under control. I thought I had it licked. I even got to the point where I would not finish a book if it didn't get me hooked in under 30 pages or less.

The Culprit? The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Be warned.

Hello, I'm Auntie Nettie, and I'm a biblioholic.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vacation Photos - Contrasts

I took a lot of photos on vacation. But it wasn't until I started posted them, that themes began to emerge. I got thinking about the past and the future, looking at contrasts and similarities.

Contrary to popular belief, the West isn't generally flat. Off the in distance could be many mesas, valleys, and other mountain ranges. If you look closely, sometimes you could count up to six different ranges. The more I travel out in the southwest, the more I am grateful that I was not one of my pioneering fore parents. I don't know how I would have handled dragging myself in prairie gear over the Canadian plains, down through the Rocky Mountain states, and then down to Dixie like my ancestors did. I'm pretty sure they would have left me on one of these mesas. I know I would have been the "butte" of many a family joke.

Also contrary to popular belief, it does snow in the spring in southern Utah. You just have to be up on one of these peaks when it happens. There is snow in those clouds, coming down on those mountaintops that they are obscuring. Really. Official weatherpeople said so and everything.

Architecture has come a LONG way. This is the Jacob Hamblin Homestead, one of the few remaining examples of early pioneer-era home-building in Santa Clara, Utah. You can take tours. I did a drive-by "shooting."

The locals call the lovely attraction below, the "bra." I think it looks more akin to the "grand Tetons." It's really an Aquatic Center. (Silly me, I didn't think it got that cold in southern Utah!)

Home cooking is always appreciated, especially when travelling. Nothing restores family harmony after travelling for 10 long hours, through neverending lines and dusty trails, like a home cooked meal (oh, and bathroom facilities and a gift shop). Luckily, we, in the modern age, have the luxury of rest stops. Behold the restaurant that saved this family on its most recent journey West. {Food in Mama + Food that Mama didn't have to kill/clean/cook = Happy Family!}

Bless you Petrol Pit Stops and the "jolly" lasses of the Iron Skillet, bless you!

Sadly, "home cooked" has a different connotation when faced with these ruins of some family's house.
Gas pumps sure have changed, and I'm not just talking about the prices.

Our travelling blog guest Diggity Dog* is checking out how much this is going to cost Auntie Nettie. All I can say is OUCH!

Still, in the end, the reason that most of us travel is to see family. Times and scenery may change, but it's still all about family.

*Diggity Dog is visiting from Jane's Garden over on Flax Hill. He travelling to all kinds of states on his journey. Aside from the State of Confusion on how he ended up with me, he went to Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and an Indian Reservation, before he was dognapped by my parents and went to California. He's currently en route to Cape Cod. With my mother! Stay tuned for lots of pictures of Diggity Dog's adventures.

Things that made my day

Lots of cookies and leftover munchies on the office "free - Come and get 'em" area.

Finding out that a dear, dear friend from college is flying in from California and will be in the New York area over my extended weekend.

Being asked if I was over 21 when I went to the hardware store today to buy crafting supplies.

It's the little things really.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vacation Photos - Grandparents

One of the best parts of vacation was watching my parents be grandparents. Since I haven't blessed them with this opportunity (and let's be frank, probably never will) and they live far, far away from the grand kids, Grumpa Max and Grandmary will spend HOURS with the kids when they can. Since visits can be months (or in my case, years apart), sometimes the kids can be shy, but they gradually warm up enough that they pull no punches or conceal the temper tantrums or tears*.

Grumpa Max and Grandmary

Amber playing with Grandmary

Grandmary being double teamed by Elle and Amber

Grandmary and Elle

Luckily Christina is a very patient, generous, lovely, and caring person and let all of us strange people a) invade her house b) stay for hours on end c) scare one kid and d) abscond with the other. Eventually she did have to rescue Elle, just to make sure the maternal bond was in place.

Looks like it still is
Drew got to spend time with Grandmary and Grumpa Max too, when he wasn't making me play endless round of Candyland**, cars, and put puzzles together, all while I was fighting off allergies to the original grandcat, Tippi.

Tippi, it must be said, was aloof from it all ... as only an aging cat can be.

Gosh darnit, isn't he just the cutest thing?

I did finally figure out why kids have to take so many naps. My theory is that they are very cute, very adorable, energy sucking vampires. They sap energy from the grownups, who try and cover up the "real story," by saying that naps are "good for kids."

Max2 napping

When asked why I had to take a nap too, Mom said: "I said so, that's why."

(I blame it on the allergy medication.)

She'll never it admit it, but they just wore out Grandmary completely.

* For my own protection, I didn't take many photos of tantrums or tears. Let's keep up some kind of illusion for future generations, I mean, really.

**Candyland rules with a 3 year old are non-existent. It's only about finding the Candy Character cards. It's Drew's World and we just exist to play games with him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vacation Photos - Fauna aka My Visit to Manland

My vacation was primarily spent in the company of family, which these days is predominantly female. To offset all the estrogen that my poor father was being exposed to, we took a special trip one day to "Manland." Officially known as the Sportsman's Warehouse of southern Utah, this is a HUGE building, jammed packed with fishing, hiking, and camping gear, with an emphasis on hunting. A GINORMOUS emphasis on hunting. Lots and lots and lots of HUNTING.

It was literally staring you in the face!

I'm not usually a chicken when it comes to this stuff,
but in here you have to gobble it up.

The bears in "Manland" are not cuddly.
Though, they are technically "stuffed animals."

The special hour or so that we spent in "Manland" gave me a new insight into a lot of things. I have a new understanding of what every straight man who ever went shoe shopping with a female companion must be feeling. Equal parts utter panic, nausea, dread, fear, loathing, and a serious "fight or flight" reflex. I promise, now that I know how this feels, that no straight man in my life will have to accompany me to a clothing goods store -- EVER!

I also got another insight into my parents -- one that's hard to juxtapose with years of childhood. Intellectually, I know they grew up when hunting and camping was more common, and weren't unfamiliar with handling firearms. It's another thing to see them browsing, "window" shopping as it were, for possible future heirlooms.

Their reaction to me?
Be a "deer," and go amuse yourself in the aisles.

Yes, I know that's an elk and a moose. I even was able to identify their various calls on the nature videos that were being shown in the "media" section. Thank you very much. I'm not TOTALLY nature incompetent!

My thanks to the staff of "Manland" for not throwing me out for acting like a total East Coast snob and tourist. I did try to be discrete with the camera. However, the Grammar Police Girl that I am, I just had to snap this one.


Monday, June 16, 2008

In the Heights -- Best Musical 2008

Congratulations to the cast and crew of In the Heights for winning the 2008 Tony Award for the Best Musical.

Show creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda had the best acceptance speech of the night for the best score. Seriously. He has mad skills. Here's a clip.

Go see the show. I did! It was great.

Here's a behind the scenes tour of the set and the dressing rooms with Lin-Manuel, and another on the making of the tv commerical above. (Thanks!)

Props to the Pops

Belated Happy Father's Day to the dads in my life:

Grumpa Max and my "baby" brothers, J* and Max2*.

Grumpa Max and Elle

Grumpa Max and Drew Amber moves too fast for a photo with Grumpa. Sorry Amber!

Max 2 and Drew
J and Amber
(nice fauxhawk bro)
J and Elle

Love you guys!
*Not their real names

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Between a Rock and a ...

In the next installment of our nature-related vacation photos, we will explore the harder side of life in the Southwest.

One of the interesting Western U.S. customs is to carve/highlight the initials of the community, or a large university, in the side of the local "hills."

Near St. George, Utah, you'll see the following:

To get to southwestern Utah from the Dam place where I was staying, you have to pass through the Virgin River Gorge, a very long, windy canyon that has some awesome (and I HATE that I had to use an overworked Utah phrase to describe it) views of mesas, geographical phenomenons, and the mountains.

Here's the entrance view from the Arizona side.*
(Note the size of the trucks for perspective.)

Some of these rock formations have names.
I missed the one called the "train."

I've been through the Gorge many times.
On this trip, I finally noticed the one below.
I think it had some help from some hikers.
Can you see him?

Here's a zoom. Think Pooh.

If you take another route through the range, you come across other sites/sights. You can pass through the Shivwits Paiute Indian reservation lands, and see things like this:

In Dixie, they build on top of, and around, old lava flows.

The locals have also nicknamed parts of the mountain peaks or the ranges.

Can you see the Sleeping Indian?

This one is definitely man-made. But it amused me.

If there's no snow, then it must be a ... Rockman.

No rocks, but whatever!

* Video of travelling through the Gorge to follow. It definitely needs editing.