Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Fridays 2012: Coming Home to Caramoor

Sometimes Summer Fridays fall on Friday the 13th. Sometimes that can be a frightening thing. Full of nightmares and scary things.

Sometimes, though, it's a reason to party - to celebrate that you have survived some of the nightmares and scary things, and have gotten to a place where you are more able to deal with tyrants, terrors, catastrophes, cacophonies, and all the ghosts that can appear from the past.

One such Summer Friday the 13th came recently, wherein Caramoor employees, past, present (and in a few cases, probably future) gathered to honor our colleague Paul on his 20th year at the institution. I shared 12 of those years as a full-time employee, and part of the last six as a freelancer, volunteer, donor, and on-call institutional memory/venting release valve. I couldn't wait to head up north to join in an evening of honoring all that Paul has survived, I mean, brought to the place.

I actually made a bus-man's holiday out of it, heading up on the train early in the morning, to assist my friend Christine with one of her mailing projects. I also managed to drag her out of the office for lunch - unusual for both of us when we "roomed" together, and even now in our respective jobs. (I have mentioned how much I love my friend Christine, right? My travel buddy and all around good gal? I LOVE YOU CHRISTINE!).

I also managed to amuse myself when she stepped out of the office for meetings, but you'll see those pictures later!

My view from the office stairs. Trudging up and down those stairs for 12 years really framed my perspective on things.

Quick sneak peeks around the grounds. The Venetian Theater tent on the left, and gates leading to the Reception Tent on the right.


After all the concrete grey in the City, the verdant countryside is so lovely. But not as as lovely as all the festive folks in the Italian Pavilion. Here's party planner extraordinaire Christine with the Man of Honor Paul and his lovely patient forbearing wife Eileen.

Some people, like Eileen, are serious during speeches, but as usual, Meg (l), Melissa (r), and I were in the background fooling around. It's our privilege as alumnae. Between the three of us, we have about 45 years of Caramoor experiences. It was just nice to attend something and not have to worry about 15 million little details, and to sit for a concert, for once.
To make it clear that this wasn't a thinly disguised retirement party, the staff gifts to Paul were a full-sized, full-weight ball and chain, as well as superhero-wrapped cuff links of the same. They want to make sure he doesn't go anywhere for at least another 5 years or so.
While this is a fake magazine cover, that's really Paul - singing in one of the opera choruses during the Festival.

I call this, Caramoor Still Life - flowers, a glass of a beverage put down in a hurry while "we" rush off to do something else, and a forgotten walkie-talkie next to an uneaten plate of food. Pretty typical for any Devo Girl on a Festival night. There should also be a ring of keys and a clipboard ...

The Italian Pavilion, where I spent a lot of time pacing back and forth, acting as a bouncer cum concierge, and party decor and yummies.

After the reception, it was off to the Spanish Courtyard for a chamber music concert featuring the Linden String Quartet and Gabriel Kahane. Here's Paul and family (daughter Leona with back to me, and his mom coming down the aisle) basking in the tributes. The evening's concert was dedicated to Paul and the program had a lovely write-up about his career, educational background, and achievements.

After the concert, lovely as ever, with additional accompaniment by Mother Nature, it was time for another reception in the Summer Dining Room. Just a couple of shots: The Zodiac Clock on the House Museum exterior walls and the spread in the Dining Room.

Exterior: House Museum at Night
Scene: Suitably Moody and Festive
Cameo by Christine

Reflecting on a wonderful day. Lionizing the Light in the Darkness, Himself

After a long day, I know the staff's favorite sound after a "regular" 9-5 day, followed by a pre-concert dinner, the concert, and then the post-concert reception and/or post-concert concert, was the sound of these formidable gates slamming shut and being locked. I know at least it was one of mine. It meant that the 12-20 hour day was over and it was time to find enough energy to do the clean-up, get the catering crew out of the House, alert the facilities crews that you were packing it in, grab your stuff, and then attempt to drive home and avoid wildlife and the troopers.

It was a great day in honor of a great guy. Even though we weren't supposed to give gifts, I had to be crafty and cobble a little something together. The card might have said something like this:

Dear Paul,

A bag of goodies can’t sum up all the thanks for 20 years of craziness at Caramoor.

At times, I know the job (and the staff) must have driven you nuts*, to the point where you wanted to wash your hands* of it and us.

There have been sour patches*, and then times of good and plenty*. To be honest, things weren’t always so sweet, or quite so black and white*. Hopefully the sweet times helped you forget the instances when we reduced you to feeling like a goober* or put you through loads of crap.

But please know, you are the best – and that’s no bull*.

You’ve created a large family here for those of us that left, drawing us back like a magnet*, even as you helped us “write” our own scores.

But you should know, we’re on to you. Don’t let me yank your chain -- we’ve got your measure*.

Under the bluster and bust, you’re full of sugar and spice* and everything nice – as wholesome as the oft mentioned, but never materialized, apple pie that you are supposedly known for.

Since I’m still waiting for that pie – may this assortment of puns suffice as a little thank you.

xo Auntie Nettie

THANK YOU PAUL! For 20 years and for so much more!

*bags of assorted nuts
*containers of hand sanitizer
*Sour Patch candies
*Good & Plenty candies
*box of NYC renowned black and white cookies
*Goober candies
*eraser shaped like a big bull
*set of magnets using vintage music scores
*set of nesting measuring spoons on a chain
*Penzey's Baking spice set

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Scenes 2012: Commuting Views Part 2

Since trying to persuade my HR department to get me a treadmill desk is proving to be a futile effort, I've been forcing myself to skip the convenience of a subway commute home from work to the train terminal. I've been walking the approximately 2 miles instead. I've also been trying to find the least annoying crosstown streets to avoid the tourist traps of Central Park South (with it's connection to Columbus Circle and the Park and the Apple Store/FAO Schwartz cesspool of cacophony), 57th Street's busy Carnegie Hall connection, and anything in the Time Square Section with the theaters, hotels, and retail madness. Along the way I've used my iTouch not only to provide the musical accompaniment, but to try and capture some of the sights along the way.

Here are highlights some of the recent perambulations.

Some nights, I start out with a nice refreshing spray from the fountain at Lincoln Center. The other night it was festooned with mini-Fonteyns posing for pictures.

Even with the iTouch camera, it was good to catch some rays through the mists. Further down the street, the saints at Fordham sought guidance in a shady grove.

Further south, whispers say to "Look up! Look up. There's so much to see above your regular view."

Some days the walk is easier than others. It all depends on other commuters, tourists, air quality conditions, and traffic. If I get too tired one day, I could grab a "winged" chariot to get me on my way. If only I could leap over traffic (or slow tourist) as demonstrated by an art installation on Park Avenue.

Avenue 6 1/2 is not like Platform 9 3/4s. It does not lead to Hogwarts, or save me from more hunger distractions. Get thee behind me pizza signs. I'm walking for a reason!

On the other hand, I have to remember where this truck was. I seriously want a lobster roll now. I can't get to the shore for seafood, so what are the odds of getting food poisoning from seafood stored in, and served, from a hot food truck? [Alternatively, weight loss from food poisoning? Not worth the puking.]

Some days the weirdest things happen. Like impromptu pedicab races coming out of Central Park. It's neck and neck down the avenue. Flash photo finish, but whoops. More distractions. I don't know who won. (I want one of everything. Note to self, skip Central Park South. Too many ice cream trucks.)

There are flying rats everywhere in NYC. I don't know why this light pole caught my attention, aside from the fact that it shows that real estate is at a premium even for the avian population. On the right: Who needs Instagram filters when Mother Nature do the light shows so much better highlighting the City's Ivory Towers?

Reflecting on the next step of my journey and remembering to stop and read the signs. (Grammarian Girl in my head started playing with this. AKA Be Cool, right? or Be. Cool. Write. or Write. Be Cool.)

Ah, finally. My destination. Air Conditioning. Places to purchase water since I forgot mine. Again. Looking up from the escalators -- It's not just the zodiac ceiling in Grand Central that is truly grand.

Once on the train and out of the tunnels, I'm ever so grateful to not be in traffic heading into Queens, but heading over the river and through the 'hoods.

Work day over, leaving Manhattan -- miles closer to home.
Another day done.

Stay tuned for more. Just have to remember to take more on future commutes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Retroblogging: Favorite Childhood Poem about a Horse

After all this "poetry" from my childhood, we need a palate cleanser. I know I've mentioned a few times that I was horse crazy as a kid, but I was so horse crazy that I also collected equine-themed poetry and people created computer graphic equine art. (Look, it was the 1980s ... computer graphics and printers were limited to DOS programs and dot-matrix printers. Cut us a break!)

It was hard to keep dibs on this poem. Long narrative epic poems aren't always in fashion and I couldn't always find it in anthologies. I have a version I transcribed in pencil, the copy seen above typed into an early version of a word-processing document on the computer, and now this one - all saved for posterity.

The Arab to his Favorite Steed
By Caroline Norton

My Beautiful! My beautiful that standest meekly by,
With thy proudly arched and glossy neck, and dar
k and fiery eye,
Fret not to roam the desert, with all thy winged speed;
I may not mount on thee again, - thou’rt sold, my Arab steed,
Fret not with impatient hooves – snuff not the breezy wind
The farther that thy fliest now, so far am I behind;
The stranger hath thy bridle-rein-thy master hath his gold,
Fleet-limbed and beautiful, farewell; thou’rt sold, my steed, thou’rt sold.

Farewell! Those free untried limbs full mile must roam.
To reach the chill and wintry sky which cloud the stranger’s home
Some other hand, less fond, must now thy corn and bed prepare,
The silky mane, I braided once must be another’s care!
The morning’s sun shall down again, but never again with thee,
Shall I gallop through the desert path; where we wont to be;
Evening shall darken on the earth, and o’er the sandy plain,
Some other steed, with slower step, shall bear me home again.

Yes, thou must go! The wild, free breeze, the brilliant sun and sky,
Thy master’s house-from all of these my exiled one must fly,
Thy proud dark eye will grow less proud, thy step become less fleet.
And vainly shall thou arch thy neck, thy master’s hand to meet,
Only in sleep shall I behold that dark eye, glancing bright,
Only in sleep shall I hear thy step so firm and light.
And when I raise my dreaming arm to check or cheer thy speed,
Then must I, starting wake to feel, thou’rt sold my Arab steed,
Ah, rudely, then, unseen by me, some cruel hand may chide.
‘Til form-wreathes lie, like crested waves along thy panting side;
And the rich-blood that's in thee swells in thy indignant pain,
‘Til careless eyes, which rest on thee, may count each starting vein
Will they ill-use thee, If I thought-but no, it can not be.
Thou art so swift, yet easily curbed, so gentle, yet so free.
And yet, if hap’ly, when thou’rt gone, my lonely heart should yearn,
Can the hand which casts thee from it, now command thee to return.

Return! Alas! My Arab steed, what shall thy master do,
When thou, who wast his all of joy, hast vanished from his view?
When the dim distance cheats thy eye, and though the gathering tears,
Thy bright form, for a moment, like eye false mirage appears;
Slow and unmounted shall I roam, with weary step alone,
Where, with fleet step and joyous bound thou oft hast borne me on,
And sitting down by that green well, I’ll pause and sadly think,
It was here he bowed his glossy neck when last I saw him drink,

When last I saw thee drink! – Away!- The fevered dream is o’er –
I could not live a day, and know that we should meet no more!
They tempted thee, my beautiful, for hunger’s powers strong,
Who said I have given thee up? Who said that thou wast sold?
‘Tis false! – ‘Tis false my Arab steed, I fling them back their gold,
Thus, thus, I leap upon thy back, and scout the distant plain,
Away, who over takes us now shall claim thee for his pains!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Retroblogging: Dubious Childhood Poetry III

Just when you thought it was bad before --- just wait ... and there's a bonus haiku! What really makes it, and you won't see it because I'm not posting a photo -- is that these are all written in turquoise ink -- and I got A+s for them ... Really? I didn't get comments like oh, "trite," "give it up," and "stop writing, for the Bard's sake!"


Friend, is all he thinks I am,
But, I think of him, more,

We've only known each other for a year,
But, boy, does it seem more.

I've seen him in all my classes,
Spanish, math, and more

Friend is all he thinks of me,
But, of him, I think of, more.


Rain, pouring down,
Upon the thirsty ground
Which drinks it up,
And make the flowers jump.


Why do you like me?
Please tell me why,
If you don't I fear that I
will die.

You try to show you like me
And I still do not know why
And people look at me like,
"Do you like that guy?"

You seem to say you like me.
Please tell me


Horses, red, brown, bay
black, white, dun, dapple, and grey
I love all horses.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Retroblogging: Dubious Childhood Poetry II

Ah, middle school ... The onset of adolescent angst, relationship roller-coasters, and pre-teen passions. Oh, woe was me.


Life ain't bin no crystal stair,
That I'll admit.
even friends.
Times when
don't think I'll make
it another day.
when I get up the next morning,
I think,
It ain't that bad at all.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Retroblogging: Dubious Childhood Poetry I

More entries from the "lost" archives of my youth. Not only did I think I could be an artist, but apparently, I thought I was a poet; though no good, and I just didn't know it.

I call these the
Roses are Red series. I cannot claim that they are any good at all. In fact, they are pretty awful. Sadly, later odes don't get any better. Enjoy? (Don't say I didn't warn you...)

Poems c. December 1982

Roses are Red

Roses are red.
Tree bark is brown
I just got slapped
For an improper noun.

Roses are red
Pansies are purple
Drink too much pop
And you're liable to burble.

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
The chef caught his toe
And fell in the stew.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy Auntie's Day 2012 to Me

I love this recent letter from my niece Amber. Thanks to a lovely post-it from her mother, I know it says:

Dear [Auntie Nettie]

I love you. I was wondering if you can come for a visit here.


Please note that Amber is wearing her favorite colors, purple and red. She has also accurately portrayed the original differences in our hair hues. I even know which blouse she's got me wearing. I guess I keep packing the same clothes whenever I visit. (Maybe it's time for a wardrobe makeover?)

Since I haven't seen the little monkeys since Christmas 2010, it's time to make a long-over due visit to their new digs in Idaho. Is it holiday break yet?

Love you too Amber ... and Elle .... and Nathan ... and Drew .... and Phineas and Fern* .... as well as all my honoraries-- E.D., The Blondie Girlz, The Maine Montley Crew, Moosh and Mozzi, and so many many more!

*oh, who are Phineas and Fern (or Ferbina)?
These guys ... or more specifically
this guy and gal
(according to the ultrasound tech**)

Coming soon to a blog near you, in the winter of 2012!
So excited for more nieces and nephews to spoil.

**Subject to change upon delivery. Surprises due without notice - though new 3D ultrasound technology make that a little more difficult to manage.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Auntie Nettie's Attic Merchandise 2012 - June

If you have been reading along, you'll have seen that last month was a little busy. After the craziness of the spring semester, particularly April and May, June was much more low-key, and I'm feeling much better about work, life, and me - in general*. Part of it was due to taking time off to sort things out, literally.

When June rolls around, the offices close on Fridays. We call them Summer Fridays (capitals are due to their importance) and look forward to them all spring long. I managed to use them to:
- Reorganize my closets, cabinets, and assorted storage;
- Spend some time at the New York Botanical Gardens;
- Get Grandma Ollie's sewing machine serviced (after 10 years), so I can eventually learn how to use it (1 craft obsession at a time, thank you very much);
- Catch up on t.v. programs;
- Power through miscellaneous "mix-tape" VHS tapes from days of yore, not to mention odd collections of burned DVD series; and to
- Start going through the buckets of scrap-book items/personal papers left to me by my parents during their move (see retroblogging entries throughout the summer 2012).

I also took all the Mondays off in June [Summer Mondays?] to:
- Recuperate and rejuvenate;
- Do laundry; and
- Get my house and brain in order -- ala
- Do some more of the things mentioned above for Fridays, etc. and so forth.

June was a good time to:
~ Spend time with dear friends like Amelia and Christine in the 'burbs, and also to brunch with Poopeh in true New York weekend fashion. Brunching al fresco is de rigueur for the ladies of NYC, especially in the warmer months.

~ Dropped, and thus destroyed, Ms. Ruby Nikon 2.0 and endeavored to try and replace her with cell-phone, iTouches, and not one, but two, Nikons. (Poor Ruby, no one can really replace her.)

~ Baked and cooked for various work-related parties, including one on the bosslady's terrace in Brooklyn. (Can you say "salary and real-estate envy" much?)

~ Revised all out-side plans due to the crazy ridiculous heat and humidity waves.

Oh, and managed to get a couple of craft projects done, like these listed below.

Now, I don't know why during the hottest weeks of the summer I decided to work with some of my hottest yarns in stock in ye olde Attic, but I did. I think it's really because I'm trying to work through some of my oldest stash of remnants, mystery yarns, and rotate things out of the bottom of the trunks (see above mentioned cleaning jags.) But still, it's weird how it happened.

Oh, and I feel like if I do little projects, like hats, I actually have output for a month, rather than huge blankets that take more time that I have.

ANA 2012-34: Square Blue and White "Granny's Boy" Blanket
(Mystery white chenille and blue Caron 4-ply sport acrylic)
(as of 11/2012, no longer available, donated to Hurricane Sandy relief)
ANA 2012-35: Red Rolled Brim Pull-on Hat
(Skein(s) of Lion Brand chenille, acrylic)
(as of 11/2012, no longer available, donated to Hats for the Homeless)
ANA 2012-36: Purple Pull-down Slouchy Hat
Super big - room for lots of hair or dreads
(Skein(s) of Lion Brand Chenille, acrylic)
(as of 11/2012, no longer available, donated to Hats for the Homeless)
ANA 2012-37: Light Blue Cuff Brim Chenille Hat
(Skein of mystery chenille, acrylic)
(as of 11/2012, no longer available, donated to Hats for the Homeless)
top view of both hats
ANA 2012-38: Light Blue Rolled Brim Chenille Hat
(Skein of mystery chenille, acrylic)
(as of 11/2012, no longer available, donated to Hats for the Homeless)
ANA 2012-39: Slouchy Red Beret with White Trim
(Skeins of Lion Brand Chenille and mystery chenille, acrylic)
(as of 11/2012, no longer available, donated to Hats for the Homeless)
ANA 2012-40: Red Chenille Bunny
(Skein of Lion Brand chenille, acrylic, button, and batting)
(as of 12/13 no longer available, Toys for Tots)
Not technically part of the June group were these pair of Halloween hats for two of my favorite monsters. I started them on the 30th and finished on July 1st, so ... whatever. It's my blog. I'll make up and bend the entry rules if I want to.
ANA 2012-41: Adult Monster (above: right/below: top)
ANA 2012-42: Child Monster (above: left/below: bottom)
(Part of skein of Caron Sport 4-ply acrylic, leftover bits of other acrylics)
(not available, to be gifted)
I have to admit, these last two are almost too cute to gift out - but I'm going to do it. I have a feeling once my other brother and his son/my other nephew get a look at these, I'm going to have make a pair for them too, so no feelings will be upset. I already have a couple ideas about other variations for the girls.

To give credit where credit is due, I adapted the pattern from another blogger: The Boy Trifecta, and her Crochet Monster Hat Pattern. Thank you Emily.

Still in progress:

2010: You know what: My albatross. For photos, just scan the archives. "Write" now it's buried beneath backdrops, No. 34 up there, and other blankets collecting bits of flying chenille.

The shop is still open, but as I haven't looked at in a month or two, the listings may have expired. I need to take a series of photos and do new listings, but it's not high on my list of priorities currently. Getting rid of other detritus of my past is higher on the list that moving out the yarn projects -- but just you wait! I got a new camera (two!) - and I will get it done - eventually. Like my albatross.

If you do see something on these posts that interests you, please e-mail for updated availability, sizes, more photos, and estimates on prices and shipping/handling.

*Post-June note. Am I ever grateful that I got this much stuff and myself pulled together/in a better frame of mind in June, because July started out with a doozy of an attention-getter. DUDE! Seriously. But that's another one of those mysterious things that can only be referred to in general terms right now. Life off-line is tres (fill in your own adjective here)!