Thursday, June 30, 2011

Auntie Nettie Reads A LOT 2011 - 2nd Quarter

If you are just finding the blog, please note that this list was maintained mainly so that I could remember what I've read this year. The record does not fully represent me or all of my interests, so don't judge my reading habits. My interests change quite frequently.

Also, as a general rule, I don't do book recommendations or link to major retailers or publishers. Except for the ARCs listed below [thanks major publishers!], most of these books came from MY library or a public library. If I really, really, really like a book or an ARC, then maybe I'll mention it, pass it along, and make a hoopla.

Go forth, use your library card and READ!

April 2011
Happens Every Day: An All Too True Story by Isabel Gillies
The Orchid Affair (A Pink Carnation Novel) by Lauren Willig
Call Me Irresistible: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Casting About: A Novel by Terri Dulong
Overexposed: A Novel by Susan Shapiro (didn't finish)
How to Bake a Perfect Life: A Novel by Barbara O'Neal
Friday's Daughter: A Novel by Patricia Sprinkle
The Lake of Dreams: A Novel by Kim Edwards
Red Glove (Curse Workers Book 2) by Holly Black
Gone with a Handsomer Man: A Novel by Michael Lee West
Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill
The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas
The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus: A Novel About Marriage, Motherhood, and Mayhem by Sonya Sones (A novel in verse)

May 2011
Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing (A Crafty Chica Novel) by Kath Cano-Murillo
I Can't Make You Love Me, But I Can Make You Leave: A Novel by Dixie Cash (didn't finish)
The Man who loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O'Rourke
The Love Goddess' Cooking School: A Novel by Melissa Senate
The Kitchen Daughter: A Novel by Jael McHenry
Angel Harp: A Novel by Michael Phillips
Chalice of Roses (An Anthology of Novellas) by Jo Beverly, Mary Jo Putney et al
Long Shot: My Bipolar Life and the Horses who Saved Me (A Memoir) by Sylvia Harris
Original Sin: A Sally Sin Adventure by Beth McMullen (ARC)
Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White (my collection - rereading again!)
The Metropolis Case: A Novel by Matthew Gallaway
Friendship Bread: A Novel by Darien Gee ** Need recipes for Friendship Bread - check this one out
The Weird Sisters: A Novel by Eleanor Brown

June 2011
The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir by Leslie Marmon Silko
Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel by Juliet Grey (ARC)
The Soldier's Wife: A Novel by Margaret Leroy (ARC) ** I got two of these excellent novels and have passed them along, to many positive reviews
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson
Chasing Fire: A Novel by Nora Roberts
Death Echo: A Novel of Suspense
by Elizabeth Lowell
Love Bites (A Sofie Metropolis Mystery) by Tori Carrington
Keeper: One House, Three Generations, and a Journey into Alzheimer's by Andrea Gillies (slogging through)
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
written and illustrated by E.L. Konigsburg

Go forth and read. READ!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Photo of the Day: Sharpening Your Skills

You know you are getting older when:
The sight of this instruction sheet at a conservatory library, next to an actual pencil sharpener, appalls you on one hand, and amuses you on the other.

Seriously? Kids need instructions on how to use a manual pencil sharpener?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Photos of the Day: Going, Going, GONE!

Spotted near the previously mentioned crossroads, this edifice has had a mixed history. Once upon a time, it was an establishment where travelers could repose and refresh.

Now?I actually think everything went on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday long ago.

I think it should read:




It's a lovely building, right near a park, near a quaint picturesque setting. Sadly, it's in the economically depressed half of the state, on a narrow road, by train tracks, a sharp curve, and with no way to attract tourists with money. Give it a few more years, it will be more of a ruin that might be photograph-able. Honestly, I'm surprised that more windows weren't broken, except that the Big Yellow House is so close to prevent mischief.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Auntie Nettie's Attic Merchandise 2011 - June

Another month, another small amount of crafting output. I couldn't figure out why there wasn't a lot to show for it, but then I remembered that I've been out and about and on the town.

You've seen the posts about the CT weekend, but I've also been out:

~exploring New York and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with the Ironic Mother and her adorable daughter, Ms E.D. (posts to come);
~ there was the Big J Gala evening of The Tempest, with the highlight of one of my favorite Shakespearean actors, Sir Derek Jacobi;
~ farewell parties for former Big J colleagues;
~ long lunches at Carmines with former library colleagues, followed by wandering down NYC sidewalks;
~ trips in the rain to the New York Botanical Gardens (posts ongoing);
~a day exploring the Craft Show at Lincoln Center with a colleague and a visit to the Branch of the Folk Art Museum (posts to come);
~attending a reading at the 92nd Street Y by the excellent awesome irreverent author, Neil Gaiman (which rocked);
~ a day at The Metropolitan Museum of Art with former Caramoor pal, Michelle (posts to come);
~a weekend up at Caramoor helping with preparations for the Opening Night Gala, which I also attended (posts to come!).

No WONDER I didn't get more done. I did manage to finish the following:

ANA 2011-26: Small Chenille Polar Bear
(no photo, but much like ANA 2011-25, with the same materials)

ANA 2011-27: Roly Poly Panda Bear
(no photo, but much like ANA 2010-151)

Still in progress:
2010: Multi-fiber chevron blanket
2011: Potential Mobile of Hearts (created as part of ANA 2011-08 group),
Fancy Blue Scarf
Blue Diamond Crib Cover
Pink Diamond Crib Cover

As ever, if you see anything you'd like, just contact me for sizes, availability, and costs.

Maybe I need to spend a long weekend just hanging out in the attic and crafting to finish up all these projects?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Photo of the Day: Raindrops on Irises 1

New York Botanical Garden, June 2011

Some summer showers add sparkles to Mother Nature's beauty. You just have to time your visit between the downpours, lightening strikes, and thunder claps. Oh, and hope your camera's macro works.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Fridays/Weekends 2011 - Bridal Showers

The centerpiece of my CT weekend was a bridal shower for a Caramoor Pal, Ms. Linds. She grew up not far down the CT road from my hometown. Her aunt ended up hosting the shower at her home, about 20 minutes away. Since it was so close to "home," it make it convenient for my weekend, and for the rest of the Caramoor gang to meet up with me there and then head over the shower.

As is inevitable these days, the shower had a theme - high heels. I inquired of the hostess what this meant; do we wear the heels? bring a pair to swap? bring a new pair for the bride? I was told that some of the shower games would involve "your favorite pair of heels." Now, I am not a graceful person. I would rather be barefoot. I don't own a favorite pair of heels. I hate all of my fancy heeled work shoes, with a passion. I don't believe I have a heel gene in my body. I would rather be barefoot. Are you sensing a theme? I knew I would need some footwear for the party.

I had seen this book at the Botanical Gardens, and while it fit the theme, it wasn't worth investing in a gift for a bride who doesn't exactly have a green thumb. I was out shopping for part of my shower gift when I stumbled across these beauties in the shoe section of my local T.J. Maxx. Plus, they were in my size, my color, and within my Maxx-inista price-range.

Who would EVER suspect that they were mine? 5 inch platform glitter highest of high heels! I had to grab them. Misdirection is excellent when it comes to shower games. I can hardly stand in them, and can't walk unassisted (seriously, it's like walking on stilts), but I figured I could gift them to someone, resell them, return them, or donate them to a streetwalker, um, or an actress or something.

The day of the shower was beautiful. I, unfortunately, was feeling wretched. I had no voice at all, and was sucking down Chloraseptics like they were candy. I had to ask my friends to act as my interpreters, so people would know that I wasn't shaking hands or talking so as to not pass along germs.

The bridesmaids, family, and friends did a lovely job of decorating along the theme, and in keeping that Ms. Linds is a very girly girl.

Yes, the cucumber sandwiches were cut to be like high heels. The handmade cupcakes had little chocolate molds of shoes on them. Note how the color of the candy shoes coordinate with the fuchsia of the color scheme.

Here are my friends Christine and Amelia, who will be annoyed that I included these oh, so flattering shots.

The person of the hour, Ms. Linds.

After some eats, introductions, and trivia games about the bride and groom, we adjourned indoors to unwrap presents. About mid-way through the loot, it was time to play "Guess whose shoes are who's?" Can you spot the ringer in the mix?

I am proud to say that of course she was attracted to the gigantic glitter shoes first, and that she couldn't figure out who they belonged to. I also have to say that they hurt my feet even when I was sitting down! That is not a position that my feet have ever been in.

Here's Linds ripping into the loot, surrounded by her slightly hung-over bridesmaids. There was a whole weekend of bridal activity - the night before was a martini crawl/casino crawl/bachelorette party. (I think I enjoyed my soccer game more than what they were doing!)

Because I was so infectious, I sat at the back of the room. I had a great view of the guests. I wish I had brought a project to work on, like Alithia here. She's working on a sweater for Christmas for one of her boys. She got a lot of the ribbing done that day, between the commute from NY to CT, and then the shower.

It was a wonderful weekend to start off my summer. As a bonus, I'm pretty sure I didn't pick up e coli on this trip, but it still may be too soon to tell! (I did eat at the GoldenArches once on the road, and regretted that decision the rest of the weekend.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Photos of the Day: Crossroads, Making Tracks

One of the things that I was going to do while I was in Connecticut earlier this month was to think about the fact that I feel like I'm either at, or coming up to, a crossroads. I needed to do some thinking, something along the lines of: Maybe it's time to make tracks, maybe it's not. Maybe I just need(ed) a break away from the City? Maybe I need ... something? Who knew? Who knows? I don't know.

As I've mentioned, my schedule got a bit hectic, so the only crossroads I had time to think about were these.

For many years, when ever I've been up in my old stomping grounds, I've had reason to drive down a quaint country road, over the river and through the woods, to Jennifer's house. One of the prominent landmarks on this road is The Yellow House on the Corner by the Train Tracks.

It's been years, and years, and I have never taken the time to stop.

Since I was at a personal crossroads, I thought I better check these out. A quick glance up and down the tracks in either directions. No sightings of security. No one asking for a ticket. Not a busy train line, so need to fear for an unexpected arrival. No fear of a Canadian Cartoon Villain trying to tie me up.


This is as far on- or off-track as I got.

Still at a crossroads.
Still riding my usual train.
Still looking for the right mile markers to help me find my way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Photos of the Day: "It's a Brick ... House"

Bet you have the Lionel Ritchie "Brick House" in your head right now, don't you? No? Let me help you with that!

It's just so typically New England that I had to go and take a picture of the little Brick School House in Coventry, Connecticut. Sadly, I didn't get there early enough to have an official tour. One of these days, though, Jenn and I will have to pop up there. Maybe the next time I'm up in that neck of the woods.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Photos of the Day: Big Red Barns

Painting at Wendy's House
A Real One, Coventry/Tolland, Connecticut
Early June 2011

At times, I miss the country.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Photo of the Day: Summer Camp

Emily's Reasons to go to summer camp
Summer 2011

I don't know if I could hack the cold showers all summer,
or the lack of electricity, and
What's with the fish?!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

This is the elusive character that I call my Dad -- in one of the last photos I have of him on the back porch of my childhood home, before he and Mom moved West.

It's actually representative of him on many levels: goofy, and yet caring - keeping an eye out, making you feel welcome, even when you are leaving.
If you are a social gathering, and can't find him - check the kitchen or the office. Behinds the Scenes Man is probably cleaning up, battening down the hatches, or puttering about.Occasionally he moonlights as Khaki Man, hider from the sun, defender of the innocent, securer of the snacks. Decked out in khaki from head to toe, he's ready to stay cool, no matter the emergency. His costume may blend in, but watch out for the sly wit. That can be oh, so colorful.
Alternate guises include Church Man - a quiet force for good who insures proper procedures, building security, and leads by example. He set the bar so high, no one I've ever worked for, or with, has ever really measured up to those standards.
It's my Dad to whom I owe my love of photography, even if I insist on shooting vertically when he likes horizontal framing. Camera Man is game for a random drive through the landscape to chase the light after a storm, hoping to see what ever it is that Mother Nature chooses to reveal and Lady Luck happens to capture.
It was Dad who taught me to drive. Sadly, my driving record should not reflect on his teaching methods. He's an excellent Teacher Man. You will note though that this is a picture of him driving, not me. I rarely get to drive when I'm around the parental units. I think they are scared I may end up hurting them ... more.
His most recent guise is as Grumpa Max - passing the torch as Dad, Poppa, Pops, and Father Man onto another generation. To see him be the grandpa with the little ones is so fun.
Not only is he good for games, tickles, and snuggles, but he can be an excellent confidant and secret keeper. Having survived the trial by fire of an emotional teen-aged daughter, and two very different sons, he learned a variety of communications techniques. He's more than ready to deal with the variety of personalities of his four distinctly unique grandchildren.
Happy Father's Day!
I love you lots and lots.

xo Auntie Nettie

P.S. The car is fine!
Well, it would be, if I had one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Fridays/Weekends 2011 - Gardening Games

June has rolled around and with it the quaint Big J custom/perk of Fridays off in June, July, and most of August. To that I will say Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

It was a long, long, long, and extremely busy winter. Suddenly I looked up from the madness of May and it was June! Glorious JUNE! With it's Summer Fridays away from the office. (Do you hear the choir of angels singing, or it just in my head? Just me? Okay.)

After the ickiness of last summer's three month bout with e coli, I was hesitant about scheduling more trips. Originally the plan for summer 2011 was a rescheduling and expansion of last summer's big MidWest RoadTrip -- until gas prices spiked to over $4 a gallon and my tax refund wasn't miraculously triple what I hoped. There's having a good time, and then there is being prudent with one's savings account.

The summer of 2011 will, therefore, see me entertaining myself with staycations and mini excursions.

My first summer Friday activities included a jaunt to my childhood stomping grounds. A bridal shower invite was the impetus to head back to Connecticut for a long weekend, to catch up with friends, stock up on supplies not readily accessible in NY without a car to haul loads of things around, and to check up on the family home.

I am of two minds that the CT family house has not yet sold; sad for my folks, especially in light of the fact that the Dam House also hasn't sold yet, but relieved for me. I still have a "home" to go to, even if it is stripped down for staging purposes and left bare of almost everything but my memories.

Aside from the bridal shower, the time away was supposed to be relaxing, a break from my routine, a retreat so I could gather my thoughts and clear out the noise in my head. With no cable, television, internet connections, or much in the way of any visual clutter in the house, it was good to have a zen-like place to go. However, my schedule got a bit cramped, what with separate dinners with Jenn and Nicole, errands, shopping sprees, haircuts, brunch with Nicole and Jenn, the bridal shower, and an evening with Emily and Wendy.

On top of that, I ended up doing a bit more in the way of gardening than anyone could have anticipated. Coming around the corner of the house, I could not ignore the signs that Realtor-outsourced lawn-care left much to be desired... to the point that I actually have the battle scars to prove that I spent hours raking lawns, dead-heading hydrangea bushes, trimming dead stuff out of angry/vindictive holly bushes, ripping out weeds, and trimming "hay" - by hand.

Before and after
You see that -- I have blisters. I was actually raking, weeding, and pruning
of my own free will and volition.
I can truthfully say that that has NEVER happened before.
Even the neighbors were in shock - they've known me for a long time.
I am NOT Nature Girl.

View of the side lawns that still need trimming - evidence that was all sent by cell phone off to the parental units so they in turn could call the Realtor and ask how she expects to sell the house if it looks like it's abandoned and the lawn is full of hay? It looked trashy. It bugged me. I had to do something about it.

During all of this physical outdoor labor, I was also suffering from a horrendous cold, with coughing, sneezing, hacking, nose running, and laryngitis. I am also really allergic to most of nature in general, pollen, some grasses, dust, specifically so it was a real treat and a half to try and breathe. Was it sweat or snot dripping down my face as a result of my gardening efforts? Who knows for sure. (Nice, right?!)

One of my other evening excursions on this weekend away was to go up to see Wendy and "niece" Emily, and to attend one of Emily's away soccer games-- a treat for me, as I don't normally get to enjoy this most suburban of family-related past-times.

Remember my "niece," Emily?

This is Emily showing off her soccer jersey.

Emily is a super busy girl on the go, go, go, (which means that Mom is on the go, go, go, too!). In addition to drama, music, church, camp, co-ed soccer, she also is in 4-H. She just got a bunny, which she's raising to eventually breed, eat, or something. I don't think Emily quite knows, except she wanted a bunny. The bunny was so new, she was keeping it in her uniquely self- and friend-painted room. (She has a very cool mom.) The poor bunny was still adjusting to the exuberance of Emily and a busy household.

It was a gorgeous weekend, and time was tight, so after a tour of the house/farm, the grabbing of one of Emily's military-minded big brothers, it was off to their favorite local watering hole for a yummy dinner al fresco. Much in the way of fried foods were consumed: fried mac-n-cheese and fries for Emily (and me to try - thanks Em), chicken strips and fries for bro, roll-ups and grilled chicken sandwiches for Wendy and me -- and a huge basket of onion strips for the table to share.

I can't believe we ate the whole thing.
So full.
Must stay awake.
I don't know how Emily managed to run around a field, except that she's so dang young.

I think we appalled the "kids," as Wendy and I were rocking out to the early 1980s hits that were playing on the radio. Some of the tunes we hadn't heard since we were kids, (some excellent early '80s M.J., Duran Duran, Stones, etc.). We may have embarrassed big bro in particular with tales of his childhood. Also, my Big City ways (lining up without large gaps between people, for goodness sake!) were so foreign to him that he just couldn't compute that his MOM knew me, at all! [Is he going to have some culture shock when he meet people in his first nationally-filled training platoon. It ain't all like the local Guard, kiddo.]

Emily plays on the one co-ed team in her area (excellent), and this game was up in Plainfield, CT against an all-boy team. We had to arrive early and then wait for the previous games to finish up on the fields. It was a beautiful evening to watch as the sun set, and to spend time on the sidelines catching up with Wendy, away from too many "little pitchers," and too many distractions. As my voice was coming and going, Wendy got to talk most of the time, with some questions and feedback from phlegmy ol' me. My lack of voice also helped keep the cheering at a suitably polite level (unlike the too-full-of-advice coach/dude pacing along side the lines near us!)

Rules of the game: No jewelry or hair clips. Emily got rid of one, but managed to get away without removing the other. Em's team was in black, and the other team was in navy blue. After the game started "we" had to pull out the dickies so you could tell "us" apart from "them."

We had great seats for the first half - right in front of Em's team's goal. She's right there, with her back to us, on defense. Thanks Coach. That's perfect positioning for guests to watch our girl, No. 8.

Post-game dancing

While she complained that "I only got to play, like, 2 minutes." it was a bit longer than that, Em. Besides, from what Wendy and I could see, she was jabbering away with her teammates over on the opposite sidelines. Incessantly. As per usual, for a teenage girl.

It was a great game. "We" won. 5-2. Take that silly uppity all-boys team. Girls rock.

Thanks for inviting me along Wendy. It was so great to see Emily play in what was my first "family" soccer game. But that was a mean, mean trick pawning off a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter. MEAN! I can't keep things like that alive. So, I let Jenn babysit it until I manage to keep more than hairballs and dustbunnies and desert cacti alive for more than 10 days. When I roll back into town later, I'll pick up another bag of starter and drop off recipes for you. (MEAN!)

What a great way to start off my summer Friday/weekends.