Friday, January 30, 2009

Sensible Superbowl Alternative

What brilliance! A genteel alternative to football ... just like last year.

An encore presentation of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC's Emmy-nominated Sense and Sensibility begins Sunday, February 1, 2009. A young cast of Britain's most buzzed about talent (Hattie Morahan, Charity Wakefield, Dan Stevens) daringly captures the Dashwood's fall from grace in a vulnerable and seductive adaptation by Andrew Davies.

Once again PBS ... thank you. My new Jane Austen action figure will be joining me in Austenfest Sunday (thanks to Jane, who read my letter to Santa). Perhaps if I get up early enough I can watch Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and two of my versions of Pride and Prejudice before hand.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I'm trying to arrange my life so that I don't even have to be present."

~ Anonymous

Now, let me clarify before ya'll go crazy worrying ... It's not that I don't want to be on this plane of existence. I'd just rather NOT be looking at my computer screen, to which this quote is attached, along with half a dozen work-related Post-it notes, and all the other detritus that is accumulating on my desk.

I'd rather have my life arranged, my work done, and my bills paid, so I could be off doing something else, much more fun!

But who among us doesn't think the same thing?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comfort Crochet

When it's cold and snowy and you're sick, all you want to do is drink your cocoa, eat your corn and/or blueberry muffins, and then follow it up with vanilla and/or chocolate cupcakes with pink and white frosting, or a huge cupcake with sprinkles.

At least that's what I want to do.

Are half a dozen baked goodies too many?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Fish Out of Water

Dear Friends,

I know it’s been awhile since I took my adventure “across the Pond” to England, but I’ve been a busy fish and am just now getting around to regaling you with tales of my journey (or is that tails? giggle.)

I began my English journey in the city of Brighton. This city is best known for its rocky shores and its Pier. And the movie Quadrophenia, if you’re a Who fan. Here I am on the beach. You can see the pier in the background.

It was here on the Pier while posing for the photo below that I was almost snatched away by a hungry seagull. Once he had figured out that I was not a real fish at all, I would have been dropped into the English Channel and floated off to France. Thank goodness I was not!
I spent a lot of time visiting the “big houses” of the Kent countryside. My first journey was to Sissinghurst, home of the writer Vita Sackville-West. This is a beautiful castle, of which only the main tower survives. It has taken many different forms over the hundreds of years that it has been standing and there is quite a good summary here.
It was here that I saw THE original Hogarth Press, the printing press that Virginia and Leonard Woolf had used to print some of their early books at Hogarth House in London. Virginia had given it to Vita as a present in 1930. This has special meaning to my travel companions because they are Hogarths and one of them has a self-publishing company called Hogarth House.

Anyway, we next went to
Leeds Castle, which is situated on two islands on the River Len. There has been a castle there for 1000 years! It was refurbished by an American heiress, Lady Baille, and used by her family until 2003. You can find a short history here.
After a little mix-up in travel plans, we moved on to Tunbridge Wells, a delightful suburb about an hour outside of London. It is very populated with retired, wealthy lawyers. Each day, we began our journey with a quick trip to town. On the way, we would pick blackberries from the hedgerows along the side of the road. Delicious! (Even fish like blackberries, you know!)

We visited more manor houses while we were here. We started with
Chartwell, home of Winston Churchill. It was quite a rainy day when we were there, and the power went out in the main house, but we were able to see the lovely gardens. They have a great vegetable garden and a fish pond. Plus, Mr. Churchill put a swimming pool in, and it looks just like a natural pond. I seriously considered go for a swim.
As you can imagine, there was a lot of driving on this trip. Luckily, we had a very experienced driver, who navigated the roads very well.
We finished up our trip at two houses, Knole and Ightham Mote. Knole was given to Henry VIII by the Archibishop of Canterbury in 1538. It was also the birthplace of Vita Sackville-West, who you know from Sissinghurst. (Everyone is inter-related around here.) It has a 1,000 acre deer park on property, and the deer wander freely through the carpark. I was a bit worried that I might be picked up by one of those “friendly” deer, but luckily my traveling companions kept me safe. Here I am goofing off with a lady of the house.

And, then it was off to Ightham Mote (which is pronounced Ig-am). It wasn’t really a castle, but a very old house dating back to the 1300s. It had lots of OLD parts, like a Tudor chapel, and lots of newer things from the 1950s when it was updated by an American, Mr. Charles Robinson. These Americans really like their English houses, don’t they?
So, that’s my trip to the lovely land of England. (Oh, and how could I forget my cuppa and fish and chips [just kidding!] sandwich?)
I hope you enjoyed my travel tales.

Mr. Fishy

With thanks to Jane for her help with the transcription of Mr. Fishy's tails.
To see where else she travelled in England, go here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Grateful List 1/17-1/26

I had a few things to be grateful for recently. In spite of my recent legal limbo situation, I was so grateful the weekend before last to be sans automobile. As the snow came down, all I could think to myself was how happy I was NOT to have to trudge down the four or more blocks to find and undig my car, only to have to deal with the snow after the plows came by, and then have to repeatedly move it for the various off-the-side street cleaning days. Plus, I don't have to deal with maintenance.

Last week I was grateful to celebrate two important milestones, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the Inauguration. How wonderful to be living in America during these days, to see the peaceful transfer of power to a new President, and to witness a day that seemed impossible not too long ago. I was so grateful that my employer encouraged us all to view the Inauguration coverage, and placed large screens in public spaces and recital halls so students, faculty, and staff alike could tune in. The sense of community and our excitement was more palpable than can be expressed through these images.

A few of my colleagues paying close attention,
and wearing their Obama gear.
You should have heard the crowd roar.
More cheers from the classical music crowd as Yo-Yo Ma and Mr. Perlman played "Simple Gifts." How wonderful that classical music was featured prominently and that the arts were given a world stage. (If only the CNN announcers had kept quiet during the piece!)
Family values center stage.
Oh, Yes. He did.
May we continue to pray for the safety of the President and his family, and for him to have patience, fortitude, and wisdom as he travels the difficult road ahead.

I would also be grateful if we could only catch up to the rest of the world and get a WOMAN as President during my lifetime, albeit, it does have to be the right woman ...

Final, I am also thankful for my current corporate climate, where colleagues encourage you to take your personal and sick days – though they are probably the reason why you are sick again! I was also ever so grateful to the creators of Kleenex, Vicks VapoRub, and Advil, and all of the cast, crew, and producers of television on various cable channels. I may still be sick, and look like Rudolf the Red-nosed Auntie Nettie, but drugs and mindless hours of cooking and home decorating shows kept me entertained between sneezing fits and blowing my nose.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Fourth Birthday Drew!

Time sure flies!
Little Drew is no longer a baby or a toddler.
He's a big boy of 4!
Drew and his Daddy

Let the tickling begin! Drew and his cousins

Serious conversations with Amber and George

Checking out Elle
Fun times at Grandma Mary and Poppa Max's house
Drewie is so smart, he's already ahead on his letters ...

Happy Birthday Mr. Man!
I miss you!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Put your money into books

I've been advocating this for years, but with a slightly different interpretation.

Now, as the age of the penny pinching commences, you can cleverly conceal your savings or anything important with this bank disguised as a book. The top features a slot for bills or coins and slides open for easy access to savings. Made of maple wood with a cloth binding.

Can be purchased at the MoMa store online.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Item of the Week - 0913

Denim Storm Lacey Spiral Scarf - Item 0913

Made out of Patons Divine Yarn

Stay tuned for more Items of the Week
and other Auntie Nettie's Attic merchandise and special offers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Surfing into Silver Reef

On our way back from Springdale, J drove us back a different route, so we could stop by another old ghost town, Silver Reef near Leeds, Utah.

Silver Reef was once a booming mine town, now its historical buildings are museums. There's also a large population of artists and artisans, and a local restaurant, The Cosmopolitan, has been part of the community since the time of the silver mine.

While we didn't stop by the museum (which was probably closed anyway because of the holiday), or poke around the displays of old mining equipment or ore carts, we did hop out of the car to look at the scenery.

If you can't read the sign, here's the text:
Site of the old Barbee and Walker Mill
All that remain are the rock walls
across the canyon. It began
operations in 1887. By 1908 it
ceased operations marking
the end of the old silver reef.

You could lean over the edge and pear down part of an old sluicing shaft,

or stand near the edge of the canyon walls and look
out towards the remains of the mine buildings.

Here's the view of another part of town.

You could ponder the wonders of the differing elevations and topography,

Or revert to childhood and just have a ball.

Maybe we shouldn't have a snowball fight so close the canyon edge ...
It's a long way down to the valley floor.
Those are the tops of trees by J's fingers.
Next stop, back to J's house to gear up for our trip to the range ... in Arizona.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Zipping through Zion

Since we were so close to the National Park, J and I continued north toward Zion. Thanks to his handy Parks Pass and i.d., we were able to get in with no entrance fee. For those not fit enough, or equipped to hike, Zion has lovely roads that you may traverse by vehicle to see the splendor of the peaks. Good for more guerrilla photography.

It would have been lovely to hike, but alas, look at all the snow up here. Remember those flipflops? Too cold for the toesies and not good for ankles.

Although beautiful in Zion, it was approaching lunch time and (*ahem*) nature was calling. Since it was New Year's, all the restrooms in the Park were closed for the season and the lodges were full of those touristy types. We headed back down to Springdale for victuals and facilities.

J remembered a greasy spoon in town that was great, so we headed there. Much to his dismay, the much loved Bumbleberry Restaurant has been taken over by new management, remodelled, and renamed as Wildcat Willies Ranch Grill & Saloon. Neither of us were very impressed, and judging by all the comments by people who had been to town before, the previous incarnation is going to be missed, no matter the waitstaff's and management's pride in recuping investments on the new version so quickly.

The Bumbleberry Inn has pictures of what the old restaurant looked like. That was charming. Being confronted with this was not.

Do I really want to be looking at a vulture as I eat my burger and fries? I don't think so!

On the way up to Grafton and Springdale, we passed various small towns, including
Hurricane. You have to hear the Southern Utah accent to know that it is not pronounced like the storm, but Hurr-i-kun. Strange people, these Utes.

Southern Utah is also home to the largest populations of Virgins on Earth.

Residents of Virgin, Utah ... Because of the Virgin River people!

(Who thought putting cherries on this sign was a good idea?)

The town may be small, but they have High Speed Internet AND Virgin Goods.

(I guess they are saving the Good Virgins for the Apocalypse?)

Way to pose bro! If we didn't know you had two kids, we'd be worried about your Virginal aspirations.

We still had half the day ahead of us, so we maturely thought we should leave the Vestals of Virgin and head down the mountains before we were run out of town. Next stop ... Silver Reef and Arizona.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Visiting Gandalf in Grafton

I had a relatively short list of things that I wanted to do while out West this past winter vacation. One of the things was to spend the day with each of my siblings. The other was to go exploring Southern Utah. I had picked up a copy of one of the Lonely Planet guides on the region, hoping to get some ideas of fun and easy day trips to areas that I hadn't already explored on previous visits. An entry about the ghost town of Grafton caught my eye. Brother J agreed to go with accompany me on what we called a "shooting trip," and so on New Year's Day we set forth. (Note: Clarify your definition of "shooting" before you set out. You'll understand why this is significant in a later post.)

It was a beautiful day for a trip; sunny, warm for this Easterner, but cold enough to require layers. It had snowed in the higher elevations, so it was good to be prepared with layers and boots. J, though, in his inestimable fashion sense, had on his habitual flipflops, cargo shorts, and fleece. Note: Hiking + flipflops + unknown ground conditions = not generally a good idea.

J knew where he was going, so he drove Mom and Dad's car. This was great; I got to shoot pictures out the window. I call it my guerrilla style photographic technique.

There were NO "falling rock" signs that I saw. You just assume it is going to happen in this part of the West. This "little" guy wasn't too far off the road.

See?! It does snow in southern Utah.

We're not far from Zion National Park, and the mountains begin to take on some lovely shapes even that far away.

J had warned me that the roads were probably going to get a little rough out toward Grafton. Once we crossed the bridge in Rockville, this was especially true. What we both didn't expect was this bit of forewarning ...

(Well, that's welcoming!)

Or for the private road to be completely rutted, muddy, slick, and impassable in the car we were driving. We parked the car near the sign, and decided to see how far we could get on foot.

We got about a quarter of a mile or so down the road, slipping and slurping in the mud, laughing, and making much in the way of noise. Suddenly, we could hear barking from a ways away. We could hear the dog long before we could see him, and even then we weren't sure if he was fenced or chained in. We kept going, until we realized the dog wasn't behind a fence line, the barking was getting louder, and the dog was actually headed toward us at a good clip. We turned around and headed back to the car. J armed himself with a rock, just in case.

Incoming patrol ...
The dog turned out to be as friendly as could be. He carried his own stick, didn't bark, growl, or jump. J and I basically had decided to keep heading back to the car, and the dog continued to oh, so casually, but purposefully, herd us back up the road. We ended up calling him Gandalf the Grey, our very own animal guide. In that part of the West, you take your guides where you can. We figured that if we were at least smart enough NOT to drive down the road and get stuck, we should not ignore these promptings, no matter what form they came in. Gandalf was definitely a flesh and blood dog, but he does live by a ghost town. Who knows? There are more things in earth and heaven ...

J borrowed my camera to prove that I actually was there. In the light you can see how deep the tire grooves were. (And that's the sun on my hair, not grey, thankyouverymuch ... though I do have a streak on that side.)

Duty done, Gandalf headed back down the road to check on the car from Tennessee that passed us as we were attempting to brush and scrape a layer of mud and clay off our clothes and shoes. (If we had gotten mud on Mom's car, we'd never have heard the end of it.) Hopefully the Tennessee folks had 4-wheel drive, though we did hear them spin their wheels a time or two. Maybe we should have tried to wave them down and warn them about the dips and hills down the road? Nah ... Gandalf had it under control.

(We still aren't sure why the condition of the unpaved dirt road changed so dramatically. You can see it change right by Gandalf.)

J's lovely legs and feet.
People pay a lot of money for similar mud treatments.
Since going to Grafton was a big old bust, we headed north to Zion and its gorgeous views.
Here's a sampling. Remember, higher elevations = more snow.

We'll have to try a trip to Grafton on another trip, maybe in the spring or fall. Maybe we'll run into Gandalf again, or stop by his ranch and say hey to his people. In the meantime, J's going to check on the location of a few other ghost towns in the area that he's heard about from his colleagues.