Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Amazing Adventures of the Shushing Librarian/Travel Writer

{Programming note: Auntie Nettie is away until sometime next month. Stay tuned for more antics later in June, from her AND The Shushing Librarian.}
Hey there. It's me, The Shushing Librarian, with the next installment of my Amazing Adventures/Travel Critiques. I thought I'd better catch up before I go away again.

Yes. I'm going away again. This time Auntie Nettie and Grandmary are heading to North Carolina for a week and I'm being dragged along ... I mean ... I was asked along. I'm going as an intermediary, documentarian, and "buffergirl." I thought I'd also pretend to be an anthropologist--visiting the native Southerners and getting a sense for the different culture.
I thought I'd hang out with some farm folks here in NY to get an idea of what I'm getting into down south. I'm sure it will be more than I'm anticipating. I know there will be some kind of running around whole hog, and feathers may fly between Auntie Nettie and Grandmary after 17 hours in a car. Talk about basket cases. Am I sure that this will be all that it's quacked up to be?Anyway. Enough anticipation about that trip.

Let's talk about my last set of adventures in the Big City with Christine and Auntie Nettie. I took the train down to Manhattan to stay overnight in a hotel and to attend a major rock concert. I'm an old hand at train travel by now, but it's always good to check out the warning signs. I don't want to slip into the gap.

In light of yesterday's post about subway etiquette, can the MTA make up some signs about the posterior gaps in peoples' pants? You know the ones ... between the boxer shorts and home-boy jeans with some extra "crack" thrown in? Sadly, the same tragic results could occur because of these gaps -- passing out in shock from the view and slipping onto the tracks.I had to beverage myself up in preparation for a long night. This is NOT a decaf. It's a double Caff, with an extra shot of espresso. Diet Coke just doesn't do it for me anymore.
Tickets please!

The girls smuggled me into the hotel so they wouldn't have to pay tax on another occupant, so there are no pictures of the very nice lobby of the Grand Hyatt by Grand Central. Lots of over sized furniture. Helpful check-in ladies. Waterfalls and water features. Check-out kiosks and a quick and easy access snack bar.

We took elevators way way way up and wandered up and down the halls to our rooms. While the girls were exploring, I gravitated to the windows. Talk about a view! We were right next door to the Chrysler Building. Love the Art Deco decor.After a long day in the office, the girls preferred to eat en suite before a long night of rocking out. Everyone brought some sort of refreshment, and they were typical for the girls: Diet Coke for Auntie Nettie and Champagne for Christine. I thought I had provided my rider for when I do travel critiques, but it must not have made it from my editor's in-box to hotel management. I will HAVE to do something about that in the future.Wait! How did this get on here!? Auntie Nettie! I told you to delete this photo. I was just goofing around. I didn't mean to break the fancy glass vase.
In all seriousness, I was there to do a job. I can faithfully report that the beds were firm and delightful and that this bolster was a very nice touch. It propped me up to just the right height to see the television.Which was HUGE, I might add. I have to talk to Auntie Nettie about upgrading to a large flat screen like this one. With my limited vision, I need larger screens. (It's time to visit the eye doctor and talk about a new prescription, but wouldn't you know it ... it's not covered on the paltry insurance that I'm lucky enough to have, while I'm still lucky to be employed!)As another part of my job as a travel writer, I like to spend lots of time reviewing the guest services manual. I don't think I'm supposed to review it as a copy writer, but I can't help myself.I should send these over to the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks. "Stay fit" Is that a code for "eat like a pig?" or street code for something else?"Menu" button. I'd love for my phone to have one of these. Then I wouldn't feel so odd about having the local Chinese-takeout place on speed dial. There'd be a dedicated button just for it! But really ... people, you don't need the quotesI also get the feeling that the Grand Hyatt isn't completely pleased by the hygiene of some of its guests. This sign is encouraging me to be "fresh." Wait -- Did it want me to actually feel fresh or to act "fresh?" Because I know I had a workplace harassment seminar and the lecturers were quite emphatic that "fresh" can be interpreted a lot of way. Most of them negatively.I can't quite decide how I feel about a hotel that gets its complimentary bath products to be color coordinated with the decor.At some point in my explorations of the room and the manuals, I emerged to find that Christine had decided to rustle up more room service. I just noticed that somehow SHE was color coordinated to the decor too. I REALLY don't know how I feel about that. I think it's a tad too much.To go with her Champagne, Christine selected a lovely cheese and cracker platter. So sophisticated. You'd think that she was going to a museum or gallery opening or a chamber music concert and not a very loud rock concert with lots of screaming and dancing. She wouldn't let me see the bill for the room service, but I suspect that it cost more than my normal Velveeta or spraycan cheese and Ritz crackers meals.I hadn't realized how hungry I was, so I dug right into the brie. Those grapes are larger than my head. And lo and behold the GIANT Mutant Strawberries. I want the name of the Grand Hyatt's suppliers. Where were these grown? Am I eating locally?We demolished that thing. Except for the prunes. Why prunes? Why ruin a nice platter with prunes?I started to write a note on hotel stationary to express my displeasure with the prunes, but it was time to leave and head over to the concert.We were headed to an a-ha concert. This is the hotel aka. What a difference a consonant and thousands of dollars makes. Here I am mocking the behaviour of two grown women. They were feigning a faint, so here's my version. Informative and a little stiff, no? And a bit ironic, seeing as we were in standing room and I'm flat on my back.The Nokia Theatre is at 1515 Broadway. Here's the back of the line .... all the way around the block, near other venus. I look like I'm perched on the steps to a high-brow theatrical performance, not ready to rock out.One thing I've learned in hanging around with Christine and Auntie Nettie in their years of working at Caramoor is the wisdom of getting to be friends with the tech and events crew. (Remember Nettie's friend Cynthia and the Sting sightings?!) Well, somehow the girls sidled their way over to the side of the stage and between the opening act and the main show started to get to know the event staff. After a while, they persuaded Mike here to sneak me behind the ropes and then he agreed to pose with me. I should have left well enough alone, but I just never know when to stop. I thought Mike and I had a thing going. I thought our relationship was special and would stand all the tests I could throw at it. When Mike's back was turned, I decided to test the boundaries of our bonding.

I mean, I just had to rush the stage. Wouldn't you? The girls were too chicken and I was mesmerized by Morten's dulcet tones. Mike was not amused. He yanked me offstage, gave me a stern talking to, and escorted me out the door. I thought it was just tough love. I mean, who doesn't like bracelets? (Wait, handcuffs don't count as gifts of jewelry?) The girls assure me that I was assuming too much, too soon -- which just goes to show that you can't learn everything by reading how-to relationship books in the reference section of the library or perusing lots of romance novels. Here I am after Christine bailed me out AFTER THE CONCERT! HOURS LATER. She just left me there and enjoyed herself. What kind of friend ... (sputter, sputter!)??? OKAY. I have to admit I'd do the same thing if our roles were reversed. I am calling my lawyer to make sure that no charges will be filed.

I think Mike and I must have really broken up, because he hasn't called or texted or anything. It was really all a silly misunderstanding.

As for my concert coverage, my legal council is not amused and my editor/liaisons at some magazines have been strictly instructed to keep me off the rock beat. (Punny, no?) HR reps at other institutions are hauling me in to review the harassment policy and to talk about what is or is not appropriate "color" to put in articles. Luckily, as a freelancer, I can write up my stories with different slants and sell them to various outfits. Can you imagine the material I'll have when I get back from the SOUTH!?

Until then, I'm The Shushing Librarian, shushing up.

Remember to support your local libraries.

(Mike, call me!?)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tourist Advisories

I don't care if this is a joke. This is brilliant.

To quote the Grey Lady's blog:
"everyone seems to agree that dividing the sidewalk into separate lanes for fast-moving locals and lollygagging tourists would definitely be the way to go, if such a thing were feasible. It is a new solution to an age-old problem, one not at all limited to New Yorkers."
If other cities would institute this, I would willingly stay on my side of the sidewalk. Plus, it would keep me from entertaining thoughts of pushing people out of my way. I'm usually a gentle creature, but OY!

Don't get me started on people who HAVE to text and walk, or can't talk and walk on their cells, or have to stop HALF WAY DOWN OR UP THE STAIRS in order to deal with their electronic devices. Really!? You have to stop in the middle of the stairs?!

And then there were these spoofs of MTA Advisory signs, as created by the artist Jason Shelowitz.He might be being sarcastic, but it's still true. I'd say the MTA should spend the money and buy the rights to these and put them up. Especially this one ....
Texters and pervs beware. Don't annoy me. You'll see commuter-rage!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Auntie Nettie's Attic Logo v.1 2010

After 15 years of self-marketing merchandise and a few years of the blogging, the later of which I have used to send hints out to the universe (to no avail), I finally took the bull by the horns ... er ... so to speak. More like mouse to Word drop-down design graphics, and then a pencil and a pen to paper.

I'm no artist; fine or graphic or whatever. I'm also poor and don't have any design budget. By doing it myself, I finally got it done and got it done on my budget. Let me stress ... FINE---A --- Leeeeeeeeeeeee!

Introducing Auntie Nettie's Attic new merchandising logo!

I know. I know. It's rough. HELLO?

If certain brothers of mine think they can do better ... please, by allllll means, go ahead. I await with bated breath/in-box!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Recipes from Ollie J -- Pecan Brittle

Or in this case:

Peanut Brittle

2 cups pecans, chopped
OR 1 3/4 cup peanuts [shelled, husked, rough chop]

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup Karo syrup (light or dark)

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 heaping teaspoon baking soda

Cook pecans (or peanuts), sugar, syrup, vanilla, and water 280 degrees F.*

Stir constantly.

Remove from heat.
Add 1 tspn soda and stir well.

Quickly Pour on greased baking sheet and spread as evenly as possible.

Cool well -- overnight or so.
Break into pieces
(I {author of recipe} try to thin the brittle by sliding a case {?} knife under candy and pulling it out in all directions).

*Or, since I didn't have a candy thermometer, and I refuse to pay $15 or more for something I'll use only three times a year, as close to the "soft crack stage" of candy cooking as outlined in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

I don't know if it was because I hadn't brought it up to the right temperature, or because it was slightly cold and damp the two days I let this sit out and set up, but this recipe for brittle is, um, how to explain ... chewy and sticky at the end. It cracked, but it's still chewy. Stick to your fillings and pull them out and go to the dentist chewy. Definitely, NOT as brittle as the other recipe I've tried out. Maybe I will have to invest in the candy thermometer after all.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy First Birthday!

I can't believe it's been a whole year since my newest honorary niece Ariadne and nephew Leonidas were born, Happy First Birthday!

Sadly, they and their parents, Ayako and Adonis, live in the U.K., so I never get to see them.

Ayako, I must to be getting SKYPE! Miss you!
Thanks for letting me post the photos.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letters to Roa S - May 20, 1994

After Grandma died, we spent some time sorting through her things. Stashed away in a pile of photos and other odds and ends, I found a copy of the program from my college Commencement. Tucked inside, carefully preserved, was a copy of the letter that I sent her along with it. So far, it’s the only letter of mine to her that’s been unearthed. I’m almost afraid to see what Mom discovers as she sorts through the various boxes that were shipped back to CT and have been waiting for time during the folks’ retirement.


[New York]

Dear Grandma,

While the office was quiet I thought I’d grab the opportunity to write you a quick letter and most importantly, thank you for the lovely and thoughtful graduation presents. They are wonderful! Interestingly enough, it took me five minutes to realize who the cute little boy was in the photo. I was so caught up in looking at you and Grandpa that it almost didn’t register who he was. What a cute kid! I’m still trying to figure out who he looks like more. What I showed the picture to Mom, Dad, and Grandma [Ollie] it was unanimous that Jed looked like Grandpa. [Now I think that Grandpa Max and Drew look a lot alike!] Since I haven’t seen him in a while, it’ll be interesting to compare the two and see the similarities. I received a lovely frame from some women I work with, and I matted the picture last evening. It now resides in a place of honor on my bureau. Thank you. Along with the charm bracelets these are objects which will hold emotional attachments for years to come. When the time comes, my first born will receive this legacy from my grandmother. I’d love to hear the stories about where and when you got the charms on the bracelet. Perhaps this summer – between the reunion and the wedding?

It’ll be a while before I have any good pictures to send you about graduation. Mom and Dad have some, but I’m waiting for the school’s photographer to get me copies of some he took.

In the meantime, let a description suffice. The day was beautiful, a little chilly under the graduation test, but all in all a bright, sunny day. The ceremony itself was a little long, but I quest to those of us who wanted our degrees any time was too long. I graduated cum laude, with honors, not as high as I wanted but high enough to have 2 more Latin words on my diploma. The family – Ma, Pa, Grandma, J.J. … got reserved seats close to the graduates because I work in the school’s Public Relations office and my boss did me an unexpected favor. It was still a little far for them to see the stage well, but I went up to them afterwards.

The main speaker was Cokie Roberts from ABC-TV, who is on the school’s Board of Trustee and the sister of an alumna. She was very good and kept making jokes about Roman Catholic stuff-which considering the school used to be RC, kept the student body in stitches. Our student speaker was one TB--, son of the infamous insider trading Wall Street guy IB--, who went to prison. The school is hitting his mom, who is loaded, up for money – so its been interesting to see how the administration plays up to T—and his family.

After the ceremony, the Quad was a huge mob of people; graduates looking for their families, families trying to take pictures, friends trying to do the same, and say goodbyes, and move of the dorms by 5:00 p.m. At least I was spared the move.

We went out to lunch, a much more relaxing occupation. As a means of celebration, the next day I went with a friend and her parents to Carnegie Hall in the New York City. It was something I’d always wanted to do, and free tickets and a ride made it possible. The music was beautiful, even though some might not think so. It was modern American, and one of the pieces was a world premier. We saw the composers – since they were seated in a box opposite us. What a lovely day.

I’ve worked since then; my 3 days in Manhattan – with the commute are 12 hours long. Out of the house by 6:30 a.m., back by 6:45 p.m. Long days, but at least I’m too busy to reflect on how weird it is to be done with this thing called “school.”

It’s weird not being able to pick up the phone and dial a local number to call people. I have to get a computer code so I can us[sic] the computerized system called e-mail*. Since I can’t afford to call CT, or Boston as often as I like, this seems the quickest way.

Hope everything is going well in Utah. Only a few more months and I’ll be there. It’s going to be strange seeing some of these people after 10 years.

Got to run, now and help with my first College Reunion. Thanks again for the lovely gifts.


[Auntie Nettie]

PS. I’ve enclosed copies of the program, and tickets for you.


Photos soon!!!

*E-MAIL! 16 years ago, and was just starting to make an appearance in offices. I didn't even have e-mail in college. Can you imagine?! And no internet! No blogging! No surfing!

I'm so old.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Action Figures Unite!

The Shushing Librarian has approved the posting of this advertisement. Auntie Nettie's not too sure...

Auntie Nettie's Attic is proud to bring you
The Bronte Sisters Power Dolls


Too bad they're not really on the market. S.L. and Jane Austen and Casanova would have fun with these girls!

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Amazing Adventure of The Shushing Librarian/Travel Writer

Hey there ... The Shushing Librarian here. Sorry to have been so quiet recently, but I've been in the midst of some heavy duty lobbying about the proposed budget cuts to libraries.

I swear, government officials can be so short-sighted. "They" think that it's a good idea to cut staffing, hours of operation, and purchasing budgets to our facilities. "They" think that "you can find everything on the Internet!" To them I say (a bunch of foul words that are not PG and can't be posted on Auntie Nettie's blog) HA! DOUBLE HA even. In the current economy, libraries are more important than ever. We're busier. Our services are needed more and more. Our resources are taking the place of discretionary spending on movies, cable, text book purchases, and we're serving as career counselors, day care centers, job centers, etc. We have statistics and testimonials and patrons to back us up. And another thing ...

Whoops. AHEM. Auntie Nettie informs me I need to get down off my soapbox and get back to what she's allowing me to guest post here.

So ... anyway. I'm a very smart librarian, and, therefore, have been dusting up on my resume and skill sets in case I have a lot of furlough days ... or worse, just laid off. (I'm not bitter. Really! {SNORT}). I see that the Roaming Gnome is making out quite well over there on one of those travel sites, and other bloggers have gotten book deals and movies made out of their blogs, so I thought I'd try out being an undercover/freelance hotel/travel writer/critic. I know that's too many slashes, but an action figure's got to do what an action figure's got to do.

Auntie Nettie and Christine have been nice to include me in their girlie weekends. Plus, I'll be taking lots of family road/river trips this summer. There's even talk me going on a Harley Davidson tour and a rally weekend in Nebraska! Holy cow. Me. On the back of a HOG!? Talk about air up my librarian gear. I'll have to strap down the old skirt!

Back to the point. ... On the Montauk Road trip with the girls, I got to indulge in a variety of old-school comfort and cuisines. I do have to complain about my seat in the car though. This was my view. Hardly conducive to relaxation, don't you think? Just because I have multiple degrees, does that mean that I have to be the navigator?
Once at the Yacht Club, I got my very own key -- so I could come and go without the girls. Finally!I don't know about this message though. BE YOURSELF! Who the heck else would I be? Barbie?Every good travel writer/critic has to review the facilities. I have to give this odd set-up the old "Shush-up." The sink room led to a huge walk-in area, that led to another closet. PLUS, the toilet and shower room closed off from the sink area/closets. It was HUGE. Auntie Nettie said it was larger than part of her bathroom and kitchen areas at her apartment.Look at that large comfy bed. You just want to sink into the comforter and snuggle.I decided to test out the bouncy factor. I love jumping on the bed! Another "Shush-up!" WHEEEEEEEEE. (Maybe I shouldn't do that though. I can't break my other arm.)You know what's nice? REAL drinking glasses. Not plastic cups wrapped up in plastic wrap.Christine and I do have a small problem with the selection of beverages here. NO tea. No herbal tea. No black tea. No breakfast tea. Not even a Lipton's tea. What the heck?! Two points off.These Keurig machines are great.I know they sell tea pods and hot chocolate pods, so maybe they should be stocked with the other stuff too. Auntie Nettie chimed in ... "Yeah, not everyone drinks coffee!"While Nettie and I were arguing over the Word of Wisdom and how it's okay or NOT to drink Diet Coke, but not coffee, Christine decided that our squabbling was stressing her out and started looking at the Spa offerings.Since I was doing this piece on spec and had no approval for amenities like the spa treatments, I headed to the bathroom to see what I could use instead of a seaweed wrap, hot stone treatment, or deep tissue massage. Those two points are back because ... L'Occitane?! NICE!I tried calling housekeeping for more goodies, but we visited during the off-season and the help was on minimal staffing. No one picked up. I ventured out in the halls to look for a cart to swipe things from and didn't find one on our side. I did discover the vending and ice machines. Sadly, NO morning Diet Coke for Auntie Nettie! The girls and I ventured off the resort for dinner and ended up finding a local watering hole called Manucci's. Dinner was so superb (and the lighting so low) that no photos were taken. We're still all dreaming about the spicy seafood chowder that we had as appetizers. Heavenly.Once back at the Yacht Club, we were all so full and warm, that we had to get comfortable. The nightstands were nice and large to accommodate everything. (I never noticed how much bling Christine has...)A nice big glass of water before bed to combat dehydration ...and we were lulled to sleep by the wind and waves.The next day there was more exploring of the Island and then lunch at a MajorChain restaurant. You can eat healthily, and as a vegetarian, if you are careful. Apparently the iceberg wedge salad is making a comeback. We all agree that maybe the tossed salad is a classic and favorite for a reason. Who wants to work that hard to cut up a salad?! What are we? Rabbits?Here's a vegetarian fajita plate ... which you can get by requesting one. Look at the hunks of broccoli, peppers, and all the cheese and guacamole. So healthy. So good for you.Then take look at Auntie Nettie's jalapeno burger and mounds of sweet potato fries. (YUMMMMMMMM!)To each their own I guess.

I really like this extra gig. Travel. Exploration. Relaxation. Plus, I like the company. I do try not to embarrass Auntie Nettie and Christine too much.

However ... there was that time, earlier this month, when I tagged along with them to a rock concert, got a little too friendly with the event staff, and then rushed the stage ... but I'll talk about that a little later this week.

Once I have permission from my attorney.

There was something about a restraining order, so I have to see if I can still write about it on-line.

Until then ... Miss you Mike. (Call me!)

Also Support your local libraries!