Saturday, February 28, 2009

Grateful List 2/21-2/27

This last week I was very grateful that I was not stuck in the elevator, though it would have been a great way to meet the neighbors, not to mention all the local fire rescue people.

Now that I think about it, knowing those rescue folk would have been nice. I took a slip on the New York City streets, but thankfully didn't seriously hurt myself. Although bruised and scrapped, I'm grateful that people did stop to make sure that I was only embarrassed. Grace, for the short term, has left the building.

"She" instead, was gratefully indulging in a free lunchtime concert over at the newly reopened
Alice Tully Hall. Taking an hour break to go and listen to classical music, in this case Schubert, with colleagues, in a standing-room-only-concert hall, is something that I need to do more often. Thankfully, I'm at a place that encourages this kind of lunch break.

Finally, I'm grateful to friends who sneakily force me to be social, (like former bosses who "rescued" me and then came to work just blocks away and other friends who decide to celebrate their birthdays in exciting "girlfriend" weekends), and family who are flexible enought to rearrange their plans so I can go and play with the girls.

Much riches.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Battlestar Babblings Beta


PETA has released a promotional piece featuring Battlestar Galactica’s Jamie Bamber to shed light on the cruelty of black-bear hunting.

Bamber's print PSA is part of PETA's campaign to persuade Queen Elizabeth to end the use of Canadian black bear fur for headwear worn by Buckingham Palace guards. Mr. Bamber is a native of London and films the space-based show in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Did I say thank you? SOOOOOO MUCH!

Also in the last episode of BSG, Deadlock, did you catch the Sci-Fi channel, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in-joke?

It was a quick scene, and you have to have watched FAR too much Stargate SG-1, but if you watched the scenes with Baltar and his harem in Dogtown, when they were distributing food, you would have seen Patrick Currie playing the heavy.

Patrick Currie played the role of Fifth, the fifth Human Form Replicator that the team encountered on Stargate SG-1. There were ultimately eight replicator “skin jobs,” if you will. Ironically, Tahmoh Penikett aka Karl “Helo” Agathon, played the Third model in the SG episode – and on BSG his character is now married to a Model Eight.

You have to wonder which of the skin jobs would win in a fight?

Cylon vs. Replicators
Grudge Match
Coming Soon ....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What’s in a name?

I was in the midst of a conversation with someone the other day when they asked me what one of my family member’s real name was. I had to stop and think about it, posing this question in return: “You mean the name on their birth certificate?”

It is hard to explain that this person has had many names that we consider a “real name.” There was the internal family nickname; the version used during the late-mid teens; one that was tested out briefly and rejected just as quickly; and the name that appeared on the school-records. The designation used now by the individual in question is the one that they picked out themselves to use as they reached adulthood. While it may also be considered an initial or a symbol, it is who they are now and therefore it is considered and used as a “real name.” (Okay, the government may not agree, but until legal papers are filed, it’s real.)

The conversation made me realize that most of the men in family don’t use their real names. Long before the use of handles for e-mails, tweets, or blogs, the male members of family (on both sides) have been using monikers that they had chosen themselves--either nicknames given them or adaptations of their given surnames or family names--gradually claiming them as their own. It does come in handy. My father can pinpoint how people know him, either from what stage of his life, or if it is personally or professionally, by which version of his name they use; this doesn't even count the titles or honorifics. Usually most family and friends have adjusted to the name changes over the years, but it can lead to comedic situations when more than one family member is using the same name. It’s gotten to the point in conversations when we have to use “your X” and “my X” when referencing husbands/sons/fathers/brothers.

To a certain extent, my mother and I deal with the name thing as well. I will NOT abide the use of a certain nickname, aside from some very select great aunts who can call me just about anything they want to. (I've already talked about my fake name ad nauseum on the blog, so I won't here.) My mother has different issues with her name(s). One version is as generic as John Doe. However, use of her first and middle name, along with a Southern twang, will immediately illicit a negative and defensive reaction. I asked her about it one time and she basically said:
“It takes me back to that girl that I was, and I am not that person anymore.”

It isn't uncommon in Native or other cultures for a person to have many names throughout a lifetime. In some cultures it also isn’t uncommon to let the children choose their own names when they are older. In other religions and cultures, new names are given during adulthood or other sacred ceremonies. It is also well established in fairy tales and other ancient lore, that names have power. In the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling illustrates this when she writes about you know who, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Many ancient stories have many other situations where people are much cautioned about the exchange of names. Given the evils of identity theft and the misuse of bestowing of cable channel/brand name appellations upon innocent babes, these warnings are still valid.

How about instead of names, we fall back on knowing each other by our works and deeds? The Good Book does say, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Maybe this would be easier than having to deal with nicknames, mispronunciations, fake fake names, and identity theft?

Just a thought.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ruth’s Brownies

It is amazing what you find when you clean out old Filofaxes. I wondered where this recipe had gotten to. This is an amazingly gooey brownie recipe that's too good not to share. I'm sure some of my other former colleaques will appreciate me posting it as a reminder.

This is courtesy of the much-missed Ruth, who left us New Yorkers to go home to
Newcastle-on-Tyne. Her Yorkshire Puddings are another culinary memory highlight. Another treat? Her very own Harry and Fred -- not named for the Harry Potter fame, but just as cute.

Ruth's Brownies

1 Box German chocolate cake mix
(NOTE: Has to be German chocolate. Regular chocolate cake mix does not work)
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 stick of butter (soft to melted)
1 bag of individually wrapped caramels (about 40)
8 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

NOTE: Do NOT mix cake mix according to the box directions.
Add 1/3 cup of the milk and butter to the dry cake mix and blend until smooth
If the batter is too dry, you can add a little more milk.

Add half of the cake mixture into the bottom of a greased 9x13* baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Leave this bottom layer slightly under-done, as you will bake it again. If you are using a non-stick pan, you don’t need to grease the pan.

Unwrap the caramels.
In a small saucepan, melt the caramels and the other 1/3 cup of the milk over medium heat until smooth. Pour the melted caramel over the cooked brownie layer. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, and spoon the remaining brownie batter on top. (Don’t try and spread the mix, just drop it on top.)

Bake at 350 degrees for another 10-15 minutes. (Cooking times may vary by stove, but top should be firm to touch).

Serve warm for a sugar shock.

* I used a 8x8 square pan.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grateful List 02/9 - 2/20/09

So many things to be thankful for the last few weeks ...
It all rushed by in a blur, so I don't want to forget to thank people.

I am most grateful to Birthday Fairies, girl friends, and family for letting me make out like a bandit for my 10th birthday/birthmonth. I'm not kidding. Check out the L-o-o-t!

Forget diamonds, chocolate is a girl's best friend.

When I was growing up, I didn't have a lot of "barbies dolls."
Now I have a half dozen action figures!

Um Mom? Don't freak out, but I got a tattoo.

Now I really have to keep my resolution to not be scared to try new things.
I have 1,000 places to see as a Wild Woman, with my lunch pail in hand, Devil Ducky may care.

These are just some of the visits from old friends and new, cookies, applecake, goodies, gift cards, checks, birthday, voice messages, and e-mails that made the day/month great.

Thanks too, to Jane ... (sorry honey, I had to.)

who agreed to take me here

so I could have a "Sloppy Juanita" for lunch.
(It seemed appropriate somehow.)

You must must MUST have the Nutella and Cream Cheese Empanada
(on the left) or the Apple and Dulce de Leche (on the right).

(I'm salivating just looking at the photo. They were good!)

Read more about the restaurant here.

If this keeps up, my phobia of the next big birthday may be JUST
overcome in time to celebrate it with the other 4(ahem)-year-olds.
Thanks all. I am most grateful.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Festitivies -- Update

Sniff. Casey has left the building. The Big J Building that is.

Casey is, as expected, AWESOME and gracefully put up with my getting us lost in the Big J hallways (it's still a construction site), my ramblings, and babblings etc. She also helped me remember why the Big J is so cool. You spend time there and you forget, as you get caught up in the administrative details of making an institution this size work, and the rush of one concert/event to the next. It's really the staff and the students, from the crazy security guards, to the Dance and the Drama staff that let you duck onto stages and into rehearsal rooms, and the students practicing away in little rooms, dancing their feet off in studios while strangers lurk in doorways, and or just going about their lives. The music can be a cacophony of vocalises, scales, percussive drills, timpani, combined with the sounds of rip saws, or wonderfully familiar classical melodies floating around corners or across the vastness of empty recital halls.

Once upon a time, coming to the Big J as a musician was more than a few people's dream for me. At the time I couldn't convey why I just knew, in my heart of hearts, that being a concert pianist wasn't to be my path. Somehow I was aware even then, that you didn't have to BE an artist to be in the service of Art. It may have taken more than a decade or more, some rebellion, and different career explorations, but ultimately my current journey has merged paths with that other, older one. I'm at the Big J, but just in a way that no one could have imagined back when I started piano lessons as a 7-year old.

Hey Casey? Thanks for helping me remember why the Big J is such a special place. Glad I could help you check off something on "the list." You actually helped me do the same and to keep a resolution or two for the year. Travel safe. Be Well. Be Happy.

Much love to you, Cody, and the Moosh.

Xo Auntie Nettie

Friday Festivities

Have you ever had a week that just was a blur of work and exhaustion? One where you came home completely drained, leaving you to resort to putting jammies on by 7:00, eating no dinner, and just going to sleep by 9:00?

(Realize that this is the "no dependents" scenario here. Add in pet(s)/spouse/partner/kid(s) to the equation and you just don't get to do this. I am completely aware of grateful I should be that I get to revel in this sort of "indulgent" and "selfish behavior" AND for the fact that I HAVE a job. [Actually I have two@once now; that might have something to do with the exhaustion].)

The only redeeming quality to this week has been knowing that FRIDAY was coming, and knowing that there was a special treat in store for THIS Friday!

I'm supposed to meet the famous Casey of ...

How DO you act when you're meeting a blogger? It's one thing when you know lots about them from the blogosphere, it's another thing to actually meet. Throw in the fact that YOU are completely shy and retiring, and argh ... I just hope I maintain some sense of togetherness and don't scare her off OR make her break the famous camera lens.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Battlestar Babblings

After watching last Friday's episode of Battlestar Galactica I had a couple of thoughts.

Was it me, or was the program a rampant frakin' homage to symbolism? Can we talk about the oedipal overtones of Ellen and John, not to mention Saul and the pregnant 6? OY, the metaphors.

Frankly, I kept waiting for a hail of falling anvils, especially in the final producers' credits.

More importantly, while I can usually buy all kinds of actors in various parts on the show (i.e. "Xena" as the Boxed Deannas), when John Hodgman showed up as the "neuro guy" I yelled at the screen.


It's an advertising conspiracy of the highest order and Eick and Moore are laughing all the way to the bank.

The Cylons are Macs. The real reason why Anders is in a coma is because the PC guy finally got to sabotage the machines.

(It's a good thing this show is almost over. It is seriously messing with my mind.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Amazing Adventures of ... the Shushing Librarian

Hey there,

This is the Shushing Librarian filling in for Auntie Nettie (who's busy "working.") Remember me? Sorry my tales of my Amazing Adventures have been few and far between. Last year I went on a visit out West that took slightly longer than I thought it was going to, and I've only been back for a little while. I had lots of cataloging to catch up on, and even though there are still travel pictures from last year floating around in the blogosphere, I thought I'd tell you the story of my most recent adventures.

Here I am holding down the fort while Auntie Nettie is away from her desk. (Got to hold on to that shuffle charger so no one steals it.)

I've also been busy getting to know my new boyfriend, who you might know, is a real Casanova.
Last week, I decided to get out of the Big Apple and go and see the "wilds of Connecticut." Auntie Nettie went up to Flax Hill to visit her friend Jane, so I hitched a ride from Jane's house

to the "new" Darien Public Library!
Of course, I gravitated to the section with one of my favorite sci-fi writers.
(Sadly, I think Auntie Nettie has more of these books on her shelves than the library does.)
Although open, the library isn't quite done with some of the finish work and decorating.
Look at allllll of this cozy seating and a FIREPLACE!
I decided to look up a book in the catalog,

and to enviously survey the public areas.
This place is so fancy, they have self check-out.
(To quote the kids, I'm jealous as HELL!)

After the trip to the library, I had another special treat.
I got to go to Carnegie Hall.
(not shown actual size)After all of the excitement, I passed out ...
and dreamed I was being suffocated by fluffy Easter bunnies.
It was so horrible, I needed a stiff drink.
(That Duchess, it has good food. Too bad there isn't one in the City.)
All in all, I'm glad to be back to share with you my Amazing Adventures. Stay tuned.
You never know where I might end up next!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, my little monkey Amberkins,

I can't believe that you're such a big girl already.

Hope you have a great day and enjoy lots of cake and presents!
Know that I love and miss you very much,
Hugs and kisses,
Auntie Nettie

Summer Course?

Need to take a class? Here's one to try if the usual Spanish or the warp-drive mechanics class is full.

Credits: Writer/director Gord McWatters; Daragh Sankey, editor/sound design; Adam Marsden, camera; Razie Brownstone as the teacher

From and

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

For all the lovebirds out there, a little Valentine's Day poetry:
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.

For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Can’t find the exact source of the poem, but I found it on page 225 of Marcus Binney’s The Women who Lived for Danger: The Agents of the Special Operations Executive.

Friday, February 13, 2009

10th Birthday!

In honor of Auntie Nettie's 10th Birthday, her inner child is playing hooky today from all adult responsibilities. She is not going to work. She is not blogging. She is not paying bills. She may not answer the phone until after her b-day*, and she is definitely not being serious. She is going to wear comfy clothes and be super duper silly.

She is going to take the train (ALL BY HERSELF) into the Big Bad City, then get on another big train to go and play with her friends in the country. There will be no adult supervision, lots of girl talk, lots of laughter, and probably some good food. She may then come home and watch all kinds of tweenbopper shows on Disney and not feel the least bit guilty about it. SO THERE!

Her "return" to adulthood will be in the late hours of the evening so she can watch Battlestar Galactica.

Then she'll still have allllllll weekend to play.

Happy Birthday to me!

*post B.S., and still okay for Mountain and Pacific time zones. Plus, voice mail messages from neices and nephews can be saved and replayed for years to come. Think I'm kidding? I still have Amber and Drew on the voice mail from last year! Too cute to delete.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Grateful List 2/2-2/8

In addition to a enjoying a fabulously relaxingly, warm weekend, which I have already blogged about, I was grateful for some completely random things last week:
  • For the courtesy of colleaques who bring in their leftovers to supplement our breakfasts and lunchs. There's nothing like walking in and seeing a sampler of cheeses, crackers, and pastries to make your morning.
  • For the fact that the week rushed by in a blur. I hate February, so the faster it goes by, the better.
  • That Admiral Adama isn't dead ... yet.
  • And for free ARCS that show up in my P.O. Box when I'm completely disappointed by my current library selections.

I'm a simple gal. Little things make me happy.

Quote of the Day

There is an old Jewish legend about the origin of praise. After God created mankind, says the legend, He asked the angels what they thought of the world He had made. "Only one thing is lacking," they said. "It is the sound of praise to the Creator." So, the story continues, "God created music, the voice of birds, the whispering wind, the murmuring ocean, and planted melody in people's hearts."

Music Lovers Quotations, edited by Helen Exley

Take a few minutes to listen to the music today, whether it's the sounds of silence, Beethoven, babbling babies, or symphony of street noises.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Items of the Week - Building Blocks for Babies

Not to spoil the surprise for some of my friends who are expecting visits from the stork ... but I've been having fun using up scrap yarn to create these blocks. They are stuffed with a variety of things, including yarn scraps and fiberfill, so they are extra squooshey for little hands. They are also very light, so they won't hurt the baby when tossed around. Hopefully the color contrasts and the different patterns and textiles are good for brain development too.

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Auntie Nettie's Kitchen

I had a very Flax Hill Garden-esque weekend. Along with sleeping in, leisurely reading of the newspapers, and watching of more Jane Austen, it was a wonderful time. I mostly stayed in my kitchen and whipped up all kinds of things. I cranked up the CD player, and listened to an eclectic range of music, from the Twilight soundtrack, to the Elgar Cello Concerto played by Jacqueline Du Pre, to KT Tunstall, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. (Have you ever really listened to the second movement or his Edgemont Overture? Glorious!)

With the warm weather this weekend, I had the window open wide to let in the smells of spring and was able to taunt my neighbors with the aromas.

There’s something very cathartic about cooking, especially when you do it from scratch. I don’t use a food processor or a mixer, so everything is chopped, shredded, beaten, and mixed by hand. I have about 2 square feet of counter space, the world’s smallest sink, and a very narrow range top, but some how it all works. Who needs a gourmet kitchen?

I made loaves of Apple Bread, a batch of Fudge, a pan of Mint Chocolate Brownies, a pot of hearty Chicken stew, and a whole Broccoli Chicken Lasagna. If Jane can share recipes and photos, so can I.

Apple Bread aka the Zucchini bread recipe
from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook
covered generously with
demerara sugar crystals

Grandma's Brownies from
the original 1996 edition of
Help! My Apartment has a Kitchen cookbook,
(modified to include a center layer of Andes Mints)

Broccoli Chicken Lasagna

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 3/4 cups milk
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 package (16 oz.) frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 1/3 cup julienned fully cooked ham, divided
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 cups cubed cooked chicken

In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms and onion in butter until tender.
Stir in the four, salt, pepper and nutmeg until blended.
Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Stir in Parmesan cheese and broccoli, heat through.
Spread ½ cup broccoli mixture in a greased 13 in. x 9 in. x 2 in. baking dish.
Layer with three noodles, a third of the remaining broccoli mixture, 1 cup ham and 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese.
Top with three noodles, a third of the broccoli mixture, all of the chicken and ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese. Top with remaining noodles, broccoli mixture and ham.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Yields 12 servings

NOTE: I excluded the mushrooms and substituted a variety of other things. I used cooked turkey for the ham. I used cooked egg noodles in lieu of the lasagna noodles. (About 5 handfuls of dry egg noodles). I also used jalapeno Jack cheese and added crumbed bacon and chives to the broccoli mixture. I also used a LOT more pepper and Parmesan cheese. Since the egg noodles are bulkier than lasagna noodles, you'll have to press down on the layers to get it all to fit in the casserole dish.

Really good reheated for the next few days.

Enjoy! I know I am!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Gates to the Past, February 2005

Writing about my past trips to Belvedere Castle and the Gates installation prompted me to dig through the photo archives to find this CD. (How fortunate that this is the one bit of the photo archives prior to 2008 that is actually on a disc and not on negatives.)

Follow me down memory lane and through the Mariner's Gate to see ... the Gates.

Belvedere Castle
Exiting the Park by
the American Museum of Natural History
The End