Friday, July 31, 2009

Dancing in the Aisles

Dear friends and family,

This is to put you on notice -- on two counts.

While Auntie Nettie has enjoyed being a bridesmaid copious amounts of times, she would prefer to be a spectator ONLY at any upcoming nuptials. Let me share in your joy as an audience member, fully enjoy the experience, and not have to worry about choreography. Plus, I'm not sure that your friends and family would want to see me dancing, like this bridal party.

This will also serve as your notice, that I am taking notes from this. All of you got off EASY thus far. I will have my revenge for the schlepping, fittings, shopping, and showers. Oh yes. Yes I WILL!

Plots and kisses,

Auntie Nettie

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Retroblog July 30, 1983

Today is Sat. July 30, 1983 Time 6:52 P.M.

Thursday I to the hospital and two X-rays on my chest. The doctor is trying to see why I still have my virus. Tuesday I had the rest of my pysicle for school. Yuk.

Till next saturday.

Hey look, I learned how to spell virus correctly. Though I still can't spell physical.

I must have been really sick, to have to go to the hospital to get X-rays.

This wasn't the only time I got mystery viruses that defied medical definition or explanation. I got seriously sick my sophomore or junior year of high school, missing three weeks of school, losing about 15-20 pounds, being exhausted, and getting so dehydrated that the doctors finally had to go to my femoral artery to take blood. I don't think it was ever properly diagnosed. I remember taking lots of meds, drinking lots of fluids (they were the only thing I could keep down and in me), worrying lots of people, and lying on the couch. Weirdly, I remember being ecstatic too, because its was the only time that year I wasn't struggling with advanced chemistry -- because I had lots of time to figure it out my own way and not blow up the chem lab. (Chemistry, esp. the section on moles, is HORRIBLE to learn on your own. ) Part of me was strangely enthusiastic about the whole experience, because I lost TONS of weight. (Sure, THAT'S mentally healthy -- she thinks sarcastically!) That's probably the last time that I can remember that happening. I eventually got well, just in time to take a class trip to the U.S.S.R., but I went with extra warnings NOT to drink the water due to my weak immune system.

Hey ... maybe it was the high school-period mystery virus experience that got me all weird about doctors ... What do you know! I don't need therapy. I just need to retroblog!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rate Hikes

Dear MTA,

Riddle me confused. Why are you increasing our rates? On more than one occassion, I've had the entire shuttle car to myself ... in the middle of the day. I don't mind. It's nice not to be harrassed by pan-handlers, songsters, and the Help the Homeless people. Can't you take some of our fees and get more cops on the train to curtail that?

Oh, and obviously you aren't using the extra money to replace missing restroom signs on the Metro-North trains. We have to do that ourselves. You won't let us drive them, but you'll let us fix them.
Just wondering. I don't really need a response. I'm just venting.

Hugs and kisses,
Auntie Nettie

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buffy vs. Edward*

Once upon a time, back in the 1990s, before there was this whole phenom called Twilight, there was this lovely little show about a vampire slayer. (Not the movie -- that one, er, sucked). Anyway, Auntie Nettie skipped out of a grad school class she was auditing to go home and watch the pilot and was a faithful fan until the end. No one was allowed to contact her by phone when it was on (except Janna and Michelle HI!); viewing parties were held at various apartments; discussions were held at lunch; and minor obsessing occurred. These fans followed the show from channel to channel and were distressed at many plot twists and early cancellations. Buffy and her "Scoobies" were the kinds of friends that Auntie had in high school, a gang of different folks out on the fringes, where things were happening that the "real" world didn't quite get.

Many years later, a new vampire was thrust into the public consciousness. One a bit more, well, a LOT more emo. While Auntie Nettie has loved the books, she is not one of the Twi-hards that has gone to conventions, signing, or gone gaga over the whole thing. (Nor is she a fan of the movie. She has not seen the movie. She WILL NOT see the movies. The soundtracks are okay.) She does not get the whole craze over the young pale messy-haired Brit who is cast as Edward. Maybe she's just too mature to get obsessed, with the book or the movie or the actors. Don't get her wrong. She likes the books. She has all of them. (Ms. Meyer's non-Twilight The Host is really the best of the lot so far.) But perhaps she's is a fan of the books more because she can put herself in the mindset of a 17-year old much easier when she reads it, than when confronted with images and bad acting on a screen. Plus, really, doesn't she have enough to do with four jobs, a blog, six e-mails, and A LIFE?

To that end and with that being said, whoever came up with this mashup is genius. From Buffy's eye-rolls and deep sighs, to highlighting the whole stalker-ish aspect of Edward, it's hysterical. (Plus, the Cedric Diggory/HP references and lack of copyright infringement with an explanation of fair use law ... perfect!)

The embed is from here! THANK YOU JONATHAN!
*Really, it was Riley vs. Spike vs. Angel for me ... most of the time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Editriss at Large

You know you have a problem when you want to start editing the graffiti. This lovely "conversation" was found in the subway system at Times Square.

What is with the unnecessary quote marks? Where is the punctuation at the end of the second sentence? Plus, it is "you're" for "YOU ARE," not your, people.

REALLY! Is it expecting too much for our vandals to be literate?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Construction Views

Last Thursday an interesting development finally happened at the plaza across the way from the Big J. The liner on the reflecting pool finally went in and water was added. By lunchtime, the local constuction unions really got into the act.
Notice the beach balls...
At some point they used constuction styroform debris to create floating ships,
Can you see the tugboat and the sailboat?
We all think that there was some scientific method to all the play, since that pool was known to leak in its earlier incarnation. Plus, all the floaties ended up in that corner. I wonder how much that "suit" gets paid to oversee all the pool activities?

Later in the afternoon the pool ended up a lovely shade of antifreeze/Gatrrade green.

What a lovely view!I'll post future development as they happen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Retroblog July 23, 1983

Today is Sat., July 23, 1983 Time 2:40 P.M.

Last night I went to the Church Poineer Day celebrations. There was a bonfire marshmallows were toasted (yuk) and much more.

Pioneer Day is a uniquely Mormon cultural event, celebrated on July 24 to commemorate the day when most of the pioneers arrived in Utah. Usually prairie costumes are made and worn; the girls wear long skirts and bonnets and the boys basically get to dress up as cowboys. Replicas of covered wagons or hand carts are dragged around church parking lots or rec rooms, while hymns or children's songs are sung. In Utah, it is a state holiday and there are big parades.

With the global expansion of the LDS Church, you've got to picture how unique it must be to see international members trying to recreate American Western pioneer garb. The definition of "pioneer" is being expanded to include any new member or convert in international areas, as they are pioneering a new religion in their region. Rather than having all the converts move to the intermountain West, like they did in the 1890s, people are encouraged to act as emissaries in their own region. Considering that more Mormons now living outside the U.S. than in, I'd say the pioneering spirit is alive and well.

The move toward global and ethnic diversity is exciting. It is also very reassuring to know that members could go to a meeting almost anywhere in the world and the service structure, leadership guidelines, hymns, scripture, and Spirit should be the same. Member and non-member visitors are always welcome. Now, that's not to say that Mormons don't come with their own human vagaries, cultural conditionings, and some clickyness, or that there aren't more than a few wackadoodles in every congregation. Usually you can be expected to be greeted with a nod and/or handshake. There's no escaping if you are shy and want to slink into the back row. You will be greeted. If you're female and you walk in and you aren't wearing a dress or skirt you might get more than a few odd looks. (Sunday dress rules still apply -- OLD SCHOOL style! Seriously!) For the most part, though, if you are travelling around, you should feel welcome to drop on in.

For more details on Mormon services, go here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Grafton Take Two - Part Two

Across the road from the "official" entrance to Grafton are roads to other parts of the settlement. There are remnants of former farms, old-growth trees, quaint No Trespassing sign, and fences to keep you out.

Back up the road, you can visit the old Grafton Cemetery. The erosion and flooding that made it difficult for the settlers to stay are evident. Weathering has left its effect on the tombstones and the gravesites. Some of descendants of the families have come back to maintain the site and to maintain the headstones. In the background of the picture above, you can see that one site has been fenced off. The family has also levelled out the land, so you don't see the "hump" of the caskets, like you can below.
Since this was holy ground, I was trodding delicately, stepping carefully between gravesites and my own inclination to document carvings, dates, and family dynamics. I didn't take photographs of the section of the cemetery dedicated to the Native Americans buried within. No granite markers for them, just simple wooden stakes with the names that they were known by in English, not even their real tribal names. My heart broke for one family. There was no way that a photograph could even depict the poignancy of a whole row of little graves, one after another.

With the storm gathering in the distance, the wind whipping up, and the sense of the ancestors being not too far away, we decided to get out of Grafton before the road washed out. Remembering what the road looked like in January, we left hastily after my little rain dance led to the skies opening up. (I am so glad that J left his camera at home!)

I did stop to photograph the Virgin River Bridge in the rain. Metal plus rain plus storm --- not the smartest thing to do. But look at the light ... dark and moody. Just like I like it.
Since it was raining, the bro and I picnicked under a shelter near Zion. It was a lovely hour or so, just us catching up, watching the clouds rolling through the valley, and breathing in the most incredibly sweet, fresh, crisp mountain air. If you could bottle that air, you could make a fortune. It was the kind of air that makes you remember you have lungs and helps you remember what air is supposed to smell like. Spring/youth/cut grass/fresh rain/a storm/fresh breezes/home ...

As the storm pulled out of the valley, the clouds had the funkiest formations. My little toy camera couldn't quite capture it all, but J said that his weather geek friends would have been having a field day.
By the time we drove out down out of the mountains, we were refreshed and found ourselves under the rainbows. I kind of missed seeing Gandalf on this trip, but it was great lovely to visit the ghost town, spend quality time with the bro, and see Mother Nature in all her glory. The veil felt thin, with Grafton's families and ours looking down on us. We felt their blessings upon us, from our safe journey to our joyous rainbows of light.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grafton Take Two - Part One

While my spring vacation was filled with lots of quality time with the nieces and nephews, one of the other things I was excited to do was try to get to Grafton again. Back in January, my brother and I attempted to visit this historical site for the first time, only to be steered away by mud and spirits disguised as a canine Gandalf the Grey. Knowing J's work schedule, I wasn't sure it was going to happen on this visit. I was delighted when he volunteered to take us up after work one afternoon.

Fortune favored us on our second attempt. We got beyond the Dire Warning signs, down the formerly muddy roads, past what must have been Gandalf's ranch, and onto the back roads leading to Grafton. Our steed was J's mighty horse-powered four-wheel drive seen parked on the access road. Mom wasn't too keen on us using her car. Can't imagine why!
Grafton is guarded not only by the spirits of the past, but by two sets of gates that warn that you are being filmed. J doubted that there is film in the camera. I erred on the side of caution, smiled and waved, and thanked them for their vigilance. (Yes, I'm a New Yorker. I'm used to surveillance.)

Part of the reason for their vigilance is that some of the buildings are under restoration. Most of the wood work on the chapel/school and the major homestead are new. You can't go into these buildings, but you can look in and see the various deceased pests that did. If you ignore that grossness of that image (which I didn't record!) and focus on the rough beauty around, you marvel at the fortitude of the settlers. Wouldn't you put up with a lot to have these views? And they did put up with a lot.

You can really see the new wood work on this building. From all the signage, we think that this homestead was for one household, while directly across the way was the "old house" which was home to another wife. (Dates and information on the various historical markers bear this out.)
Completely different type of abode. Sadly, it is bigger than my New York apartment. While touring the interior of this house, part of my brain was playing realtor and writing the description.

Quaint historic property. Beautiful views. Natural light. Cozy rooms. Ecofriendly.

The reality ... not a lot of the natural light. Plus, from your front door you'd have to see what your "sister wife" was living in. Cozy rooms indeed. Watch your head. Wear closed-toed shoes. Wear shoes for that matter.
The two bedrooms are small. This is a narrow room with an exposed exterior wall. The current furnishing come with the place. You could fit a full-size tick mattress on that frame. Not much room beyond the foot board.
The second bedroom has views of some of your closest neighbors.
Heating is rustic, to say the least.
But there is plenty of wood nearby and you don't need a gym membership, as you'll be chopping your own. Indoor plumbing is non-existent, and water access is a problem. Except when it floods, which, apparently it did A LOT ... part of the reason why Grafton was abandoned and this is now a ghost town.

How the occupant of this abode ran a weaving business, and tended her house, husband, land, and family is amazing. Clearly I was born at the end of the right century because I definitely would NOT have hacked it as a pioneer.

Bordering the historical site are fields still actively owned by local ranchers. You saw the cows out the back window there. Some of the locals believe in recycling, in their own fashion. Metal comes from the earth, and now it's slowly being reclaimed by Mother Nature.

Reflecting on our visit,
I'm glad they are preserving the site, especially these red brick buildings. When I think ghost town though, I think of buildings more like the shack than the preservations-in-progress. It's walking through the rough wooden abode, peering into tiny rooms, ducking under lintels, and trying not to freak out at carcases of descicated insects, that made me appreciate the past even more. I suppose that's the point of the juxtaposition of the two buildings.

While J patiently waited for me (and called on nature), I finished rambling around. We realized that we should probably head back up the road, as we noticed that some serious clouds were starting to roll in.

Coming up next, the Grafton Cemetery and a breath of fresh air. In the meantime, here's a little ditty to keep you amused. An appropriate song, and a vision of another chapter in Grafton's past.

Monday, July 20, 2009

City Gardener First Harvest

After months of impatiently waiting, Auntie Nettie is pleased to announce that the basil from Jane over at Flax Hill Gardener has finally gotten large enough to harvest.

Thursday afternoon, I plucked about a dozen leaves to add a fresh taste to my salads and mozzarella sandwiches for the weekend.

The salad was so yummy. Jane, thanks for the basil ... and for the sharp bite of your radishes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Air Mail

It took the four-year-old to notice this one.

"Ummm. Dad?"
"Yeah bud?"
"Why ... um ... why ...
why is that mail box up there on that pole?"
"Up there ... LOOK! That pole over there."
"Oh. That's for air mail."
"What's air mail?"
How do you explain air mail to a four-year old?
Or that people in that Dam place just have a strange sense of humor?

Friday, July 17, 2009

S.L. Summer Fridays

S.L. here again, just writing to catch you up on my summer activities. Auntie Nettie has Fridays off in the summer (the Big J is really nice that way), so she's been taking advantage of them (finally) to go out and do things.

I tag along sometimes. Mostly though, I'm going off on some of my own Amazing Adventures.

Some of the Fridays this summer have been pretty quiet. For example, while Auntie Nettie was working on crochet projects, I was learning new skills, like quilting and tightrope walking and hula hoop juggling with Jedi swords.
I also did some editing for some friends. I had to consult my reference materials, because
my skills had seriously gone to pot.
I also did some travelling this summer.
I rented a VERY nice muscle carto go and visit friends in the wine country.
We had a ball catching up,
and going on a picnic -- where I drank too much.This was an interesting trip, because my friends tried to convert me to being a Diet Pepsi drinker AND a Yankee fan. This Diet Coke drinker and anyone-But-the-Yankees fan was very nice to her host.
(Look at the swag she tried to bribe me with.)
Later in the summer, I took a taxi ride. I had a hard time at first hailing a cab, when suddenly they all swarmed me. It's a multi-car pile-up. After that was sorted out, I headed downtown to Chinatown. I visited a Zen garden and had a visitation from a Celestial Being.
We bonded over a pot of tea and decided to go dress shopping. Which one should I choose? We decided that it might be a good idea to buy this one, in case my boyfriend, Casanova, ever decided to commit.
We then met up with Frieda Flamingo, who gave us a tour of the NBC Studios.
After the tour, we all went out for ice cream.
More girl talk ensued as we inhaled lots of chocolate, 'cuz
Girls+talk+dress+shopping=need for chocolate!
Finally, one of my more recent summer Friday adventures included a spontaneous trip to Caramoor Country, so I could get in touch with nature.
Maybe I should have planned ahead?

Perhaps the best thing I have learned this summer is to relax and explore.
Mostly though, I've seriously begun to adopt this motto.
(read the fine print!)

More soooooooooooooon!