Stranded by Hurricane Irene!

by Christine on September 1st, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, General Information

I’m back home, finally, after being stranded out of town because of Hurricane Irene. I had left last week to do a long-weekend away, in order to attend a friend’s wedding. Plus, I got to visit my parents for a few days. Then Irene hit and devastated my hometown here in New York, and it was impossible to find a flight out until Wednesday (we were schedule to be home on Sunday)!  It was terribly inconvenient for me because of my work schedule, but at least we were in a safe spot. When we got home, we discovered that our cat was okay, the house was okay, the yard is mostly okay (just a few tree branches down). So we got off pretty easily, but not so much for the rest of our neighbors in Schoharie County and in Vermont….

I work for an engineering firm that, among other things, designs roads and bridges, and some of the counties affected by the storm are some of our best clients. I imagine we are going to be very busy helping our local communities rebuild after the storm. Today I am going to look into the possibility of me being able to get out there and to help distribute some clothes, food, etc., as a way for our company to “give back” to the communities.

Further bad news about my trip: my parents were sick, and I caught their cold, unfortunately. Boo!

I also gained 2 pounds while away, and that was entirely my fault. My parents apparently don’t eat on regular schedules anymore, nor do they really keep healthy food in the house. My meals consisted of either fast food, fried fish, ribs, and Chicago-style Italian beef. I ordered salads when I could, but overall the eating was less than stellar. I swam one day and went for a walk another day and danced at the wedding, but otherwise I didn’t get any exercise in, either. (And I packed gym clothes!)

The good news is that I got to spend time with my parents, meet a wonderful online friend for the first time, and attend a wedding filled with friends! It was a really fun time, and I danced my butt off! So here are some snippets from the week…

Here I am meeting my friend Sandy from Alabama in front of the “Married With Children Fountain” (aka: Buckingham Fountain in Chicago).

Me and the hubby at the wedding! I never in a bajillion years would have worn a dress like this when I was heavier.

The happy couple!

Getting my silly on at the wedding!

I got to meet one of my mom’s long-time friends (they were friends in middle school) Terry and her husband Eliot. What great people!We spent the day in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and had lunch up there (greek salad, delicious) and walked around the main street shopping. Did you know that Lake Geneva is the home of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)?  Of course, hubby was in search of D&D stuff, and we finally found a game store where he could buy a D&D book.

Now if you’re ever in the southern Wisconsin/Northern Illinois area, you really need to check out the House on the Rock. It’s one of my favorite eclectic museums I’ve ever been to!  I’ve been to the House on the Rock probably 10 times in my life. But I found a new eclectic museum even closer to my parents’ home. It’s call the Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe, Illinois, and let me tell you, it’s freaking awesome!!  It’s just some rich guy that started collecting weird stuff, and he has it all displayed in a metal-framed building and calls it a “museum.” They have the weirdest assortment of automobiles, autographs, Hollywood stuff, historic stuff, etc.  But the items this guy has collected are really historic! For instance, the museum has:

  • A collection of old west stuff, including John Wayne memorabilia, Custer’s Last Stand stuff, old stage coaches, etc.
  • The actual clothes (hats) that the real Bonnie & Clyde wore when they got shot.  He also has the actual car used to film the Bonnie & Clyde movie back in the 60s or whatever.
  • John Dillinger’s 1932 Studebaker Commander
  • Al Capone’s delivery vehicle “Beer Truck” (1929 Model AA Truck)
  • Howard Hughes’s car
  • Colonel Sander’s car
  • Marilyne Monroe stuff, including the letter from the movie studio firing her for not showing up for filming, the dress in “Some Like it Hot” (I think) autograpsh, locks of hair, etc.
  • Laurel & Hardy’s car
  • Joseph Stalin’s 1937 Packard Super 12
  • Evita and Juan Peron’s Presidential Limo, 1950 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith
  • The Secret Service’s parade car that followed JFK when he got shot.
  • A bunch of Jackie O’s clothing
  • A part of the Grassy Knoll fence, a window from next to where Oswald shot JFK
  • The actual flag that draped Kennedy’s casket during his funeral. He also has Jackie O’s veil from the service, as well as a LOT of letters, documents, autographs, and other JFK assassination paraphernalia.
  • The fireplace mantel from the White House, where Truman signed the order to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima
  • A ton of race car stuff
  • Movie car stuff, like the Delorian from Back to the Future, the Ghost Busters car, a couple of Batmobiles, the National Lampoons’ station wagon
  • A bunch of Gone with the Wind stuff, such as a mirror used in the movie, Clark Gable’s contract, Vivien Leigh’s clothes, original tickets and programs, etc.
  • A ton of Abraham Lincoln stuff, such as the chair he sat in, parts of the cabin where he grew up, the coins placed on his eyes when he died, part of the bloodstained bandages, locks of hair, clothing, his famous top hat, etc.
  • A couple of space things, like the Freedom 7 capsule that came back to Earth

Like…a lot of really awesome stuff for a museum stuck in the middle of nowhere. Well worth the money and the visit if you’re ever in that part of the country!



Getting my historical geek on

by Christine on October 6th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

I had a lovely time visiting the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, even despite the rain.  I got to the Visitor’s Center, and of course it was empty–I expected it to be, mid-week on a rainy day like this. There was a HUGE black cat stretched out on the heater. I think he had the right idea on a forelorn day like today.

I paid my $4 for my tour, and it was well worth the money! I was the only one in the tour group, ha ha. That was fun! I remember touring the Breakers in Newport, and I think there were 30 or 40 people in the group. Of course I’m short, and everyone else in the world is taller than me, and it was impossible to see anything in the roped-off rooms. This was a vastly different experience, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The tour guide was very nice and knowledgeable. I asked her all kinds of questions about Schuyler, the house, the Revolutionary War, about general society and how households were run during the time, etc.  She was delightful to talk to, and I enjoyed her personal commentary, such as how “ridiculous” a “house like this” could be built “in a climate like this” — I think she was referencing the large, under-utilized rooms that would have been extraordinarily costly to heat during the cold New York winters.

I got a kick out of her description of an attempted kidnapping that occurred in the house. Supposedly the house was stormed by Loyalists during the Revolution. The family heard the raiding party coming, so they ran from the sitting room downstairs and locked themselves in the bedroom upstairs. However, in their flight, they forgot the baby in the sitting room! The middle daughter bravely offered to sneak downstairs to get her little sister. As she was sneaking back up the stairs, the raiding party broke down the door. There were indians in the party, and one Native took his tomahawk and threw it at the sisters creeping up the stairs. “And that,” said the tour guide, “Is how this particularly large gash on the staircase supposedly came to be.”

I looked down at the exceptionally large cut in the bannister and had to laugh.  Too bad CSI has jaded today’s generation of any possibility for the really juicy gossip. The gash in the bannister clearly faced the wall; there was no way a thrown tomahawk, coming from the direction of the doorway, could have made that particular directional mark. I laughed, and the tour guide laughed with me. “It’s part of the folklore, but clearly it’s a bit of made-up history,” she explained. “Still, it adds a little romance to the house!”

The place was a beautiful Georgian mansion, with four large rooms downstairs and four large rooms upstairs. It was spacious and grand for its day, although I have to imagine that the formality would have been stifling.

It was a really fun outing! I hope to visit another local historical mansion of the same time period in the coming weeks.

Schuyler Mansion upstairs

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