Vultures of Culture

‘Mature’ sorority sisters travel around the Pennsylvania region to devour culture and the great outdoors. From Philly's Museum of Art and the rockin' Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth to bike trips in God’s Country up north, we tour and taste, sightsee and sample, learn, lunch and laugh. Just a bunch of old birds? Not us!

Month: July, 2012

Smile, You’re on Auction Cam

For the second year in a row the vultures have done double duty at the annual cabin-palooza. Not only do we stage  a first-rate woodlands retreat, but the vultures pull off a wildly entertaining Chinese auction to benefit the Mansfield University Karen Starner Jacobson Scholarship fund. Jacobson served as sorority advisor to the Iota Theta chapter at Mansfield for nearly 40 years and passed away January 1, 2011.  Last year’s auction netted $500. This year we hit $900. We like to think Mrs. J would be proud.

But no wonder. The contributions were thoughtful, tasteful and so generously created. And they were beautifully displayed by head stylist Kimmie S. She was a blur of merchandising flair Saturday morning, arranging everything from Coach bags and wallets to artwork, food bags and baskets, gift cards, scarves, coats, MU mugs and jewelry. She brought tables, pink tablecloths and boxes to transform an already light, airy porch into a boutique-quality showroom.  That’s NY state’s resident vulture Jan F. in the background. We loved seeing Jan  return to the fold and hope she’ll be back for many more gatherings. Jan, by the way, won the coveted pink and green jacket from the Super Girl collection contributed by SG fashionista Amy O.

And then there was finance minister Sharon K, who handled ticket sales and receipts. Sharon, who in the next two years will be appointed grand high exulted mystic ruler of the MU Alumni Board, is obviously a woman of many talents, and the money left that Sunday in her capable hands. Thanks to Sharon for being our Brinks truck.

The grand total was impressive but so was the luck of the draw. The vultures who went home last year without a prize made a haul this year!!! Bravo Wendy, Pat and Donna. Special kudos to Pat  whose luck surpassed us all. She won the painting by senior guest vulture Joan K.  that captures the spirit of the weekend–a green leafy haven for friends to sit back, relax and talk eye-to-eye with women who knew you then, know you now and know what you still can be. Display it proudly.

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It’s All About the Cake

It’s cabin season in upstate Pennsylvania, and the vultures are on the move.

Cars laden with luggage, pillows, lawn chairs, coffeemachines, serving platters and glasses, coolers (with peanut butter fudge ice cream), wine, bathing suits, cameras, inner tubes, boogie boards, food for breakfast, food for lunch, food for dinner arrive on Boop Road for the annual summertime creekside fete.

And then there’s the car/motorcade that comes with the CAKE. The cherry nut Cake all the way from Scranton. A Cake so dense no weakling can carry it; a Cake so lushly moist and frosted no Weight Watcher can assign points to it; a Cake made so famous by its taste and allure entire meals are planned around it.

The Cake is legendary and wields great power. It has its own shelf in the refrigerator, a sizeable fan base and a handler/designated baker liaison who oversees ordering, transport and cake asset allotment on Sunday before departure. Beyonce should have this much influence.

“Where’s the cake?” a few of us ask upon arrival. “When are we going to cut it?” inquires another.  “I get a corner piece,” declares a frosting addict. “This salad is great, but I’m really just pacing myself for the cake,” someone else confesses during Friday’s lunch.

Each year we come to the cabin to talk and laugh and relax and play and cement our longstanding friendships.  The mortar? Buttercream, of course.

Yo, Adrian. Let’s Eat (or The Vultures Tour a Food Landmark in Philly)

    This is how much we like food. We will awaken at 5 a.m. in our rural and suburban homes to drive into northwest Philadelphia–about 80 miles– and then board a SEPTA train that whisks us to center city Philadelphia, home of the historic Reading Terminal Market. The only glitch was exiting the train at Suburban Station instead of Market East,  but we re-boarded before being abandoned in a location without a cheesesteak or fresh peach in sight. Think of the trauma! My commuter savvy has plummeted because it was me bossing everyone around to get off.  What does Homer Simpson say? D’oh?

So, to recap—we drove, we rode and we walked our way to see and sniff and taste this food. And it was good. Very, very good. Bassett’s ice cream. Roast beef sandwiches from DiNics, dark chocolate almond bark from the Pennsylvania General Store, pastries from Termini Brothers, pie and whole wheat rolls from Beiler’s Bakery. Total yumminess. And lest you believe we stuffed ourselves on high carb treats all day, let me just point out that we sought out vegetable stands and took lots of pictures. Hey, there’s a cornfield right across the street from my home. I see food that’s good for me by the time I get the morning paper each day. I was here for the crazy good stuff and photo opportunities of  antioxidants.

    However, this outing was more than just a road trip to leer at food. We had signed up for the Taste of Philadelphia market tour, which is held every Wednesday and Saturday at the Market. Today, it was just the three of us and our guide Gail, a congenial Philly native who supplied all the food lore we could gobble up about the Reading Railroad,  Philly’s role as the center of the food universe in the 19th century, and the true story behind the creation of hoagies, cheesesteaks, and soft pretzels. Although the tour is advertised to last 75 minutes, we hung out with Gail for nearly two hours. We had samples of snapper soup,  ice cream,  pretzels and candy, which whet our appetites for a second course—lunch!

   The Terminal has so much to offer. We were overwhelmed with choices. The colors, the signs, the noise, the people, the displays, the smells. We’re determined to go back and sample our way through the place.Image

    And as much as the day was about food, we emerged slightly more aware of how to get around the big city without our cars. The train trip was a relaxing alternative on a hot day to the Schuylkill Expressway. Once we arrived–correctly–at Market East, the market was across the street. It was pretty simple, and we’re determined to do it again. Sure, I bought luscious candy and whole wheat rolls, but I think I returned home feeling, as we used to say in the old days, “so cosmo.” You know, savvy, brave, eager to try again. We got out of our comfort zones, had a bit of an urban adventure, and washed it all down with a mouthwatering sandwich for lunch. Talk about a perfect day.