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: September, 2012

We Are, Vul-chures or Ode to Amy O

The Vultures were on campus at Penn State University on Saturday to cheer on the super-spiking women’s volleyball team and one particular member of the clarinet section in the PSU pep band.  The team from Iowa got shellacked with powerful serves, formidable blocks and digs, and kills too potent and precise to be repelled. Thing is though, our dear musician Matt Block got it even worse.

Matt, son of vulture Pat Block, got a big dose of vulture love on Saturday—which may be more affection than any college senior needs or wants from  a group of rowdy women calling your name or holding hand-made signs.

Head cheerleader was our Colorado vulture Amy O, computer company manager/real estate mogul who’s always up for daring outdoor adventure and fun times with family and friends. She is our highest flying vulture when it comes to seizing the day. She dives, hikes, paddles, climbs, bikes and wears leopard print pants. She is the guru of gusto, and was the mastermind of the Block Rocks!!! sign. Who else, we all agreed, would have done this but Amy O?

Amy O and our queen bee vulture Joan (Amy K’s mother) are the two most artistically-gifted women in the group. They made a fast getaway to Michael’s for the essentials: dazzling silver posterboard,  adhesive black letters and then finally, a picture of Matt that we sent from his mother’s smart phone to the Kelchner printer. Amy O pieced it all together with her signature style, and the Rec Hall stands had a bit more pop than usual. She even walked down to the floor to invite the camera crew to broadcast the image onto the big screen but, alas, she was refused. How often in life, we wondered, does that happen to our Amy O?

  The gang had double the fun on Saturday.  We got to lovingly harass our friend’s son–who took it with good humor and grace by the way–while also watching a magnificent display of athleticism and skill. The PSU women, who upset #3 Nebraska earlier that week, were favorites to defeat Iowa.  Although they started slowly,  Penn State’s women were bigger, stronger and more talented. They leaped higher, “killed” more frequently and with more authority, and sprawled and rolled over the hardwood digging out their opponents’ spikes and returns on nearly every point. Surely they must be considered among the nation’s best players. They also wore fab hair accessories. We especially loved Megan Courtney’s pink ponytail ribbon!!!

The team, national champions in 2010 and 2011, is now 12-1 and will continue playing throughout the fall. The NCAA championships are in mid-December and we’ve got a hunch they’ll be in the thick of it, attacking, attacking, attacking. And Matt, he’ll be safe from any more vulture ambushes. He can play his clarinet in peace. Our work here is done.


The Miller-Monticello Connection

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home located outside Charlottsville, Virginia, is the only private residence in America to receive UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) designation as a World Heritage site. That’s a very big deal. But Monticello is a beautiful, historical, awe-inspiring big deal, so it’s all very deserving.  It’s got architectural marvels, agricultural displays, and innovations that made 18th and 19th century life less tedious: seven-day clocks, dumb waiters, revolving shelves and bookstands. Its creator, Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and author of our Declaration of Independence, was a genius. I believe most of us can agree on that, but after taking the house and behind-the-scenes tours last Friday, I think Monticello had a little extra help getting on that list. How ’bout that color in the dome room? Down there it’s referred to as Mars yellow. North of the Mason-Dixon line we call it blinding.

Jefferson loved his bold yellows. It showed up in his signature dome room and his dining room downstairs. Yellow, in the non-mellow Jefferson tones, has successfully spanned the centuries because my husband is driving around in a vehicle with a strong Monticello vibe. He’s got his own Mars yellow truck.

On this recent trip to Monticello, Steve said he felt vindicated in his color and design choices of late. He’s got the matching truck and earlier this summer painted our shed a yellow bright enough to be seen from the Space Shuttle.

So here’s the big picture. I’m living with a Renaissance man who has the same taste in colors as Thomas Jefferson. Is this possible? Can the man who built this:

and designed this:

be kindred spirits with the man who brought home furniture that looked like this?

I think the two of them would have hit it off. And just think of the fun they could have had down at Home Depot looking at paint swatches.  Steve and Tom. BFFs.

Labor Day = Pierogies

Two vultures flew north to a Scranton suburb Sunday to crash a family picnic/birthday party featuring lots of delicious food, but we’re still talking about the homemade pierogies. Mrs. T. should put a paper bag over her head in shame when you compare the two products. See the suburban Scranton version below and then just envision the frozen six pack buried someplace in the back of your freezer:

Notice how the pierogies bathe in a shallow pond of butter.  And how ’bout those translucent bits of onion sprinkled over top? These pierogies were huge, stuffed with velvety smooth mashed potatoes, and shamefully addicting. The two that I ate for lunch were big enough to fill nearly half of my plate. Fellow vulture Pat and I were gobsmacked and did not fight the invitation to take some home.

After the buffet (oh yes, there were other attractions: meatballs, braciole, pasta, pulled pork) there was cake. Two kinds–Delta Zeta cherry nut and marble with chocolate mousse filling. Oh yea.

And then we had our insulin.

That Sofa? G-O-N-E

Pardon the obvious lack of culture in this post friends, but the sofa departure of 2012 is worthy of an update, doncha think?

You know perfectly well what sofa I’m talking about. The sofa my better half brought home from a local flea market back in July simply because it was free and might blend in with the eclectic decor of his fabulous man cave? That sofa.

Well, it’s gone. History. Loaded onto the truck and sent packing to the Bethel auction. Even the auctioneer said, “When I tell you ‘No Sale’ on the sofa, don’t get mad at me.” Wow, this from a guy who encounters junk from people’s attics and basements on a regular basis. A comment like this from a junk expert like that lets you know the sad truth–you’ve got one fine piece of crap on your hands.

The sofa sat for about a month in our garage. After my husband announced his “find” and I walked outside to see it, a tad of marital discord descended upon the household. Not pretty. But I’m married to an optimist, a man determined and unswayed by the rantings and ravings of an enraged wife. No amount of hysteria would deter him, so he did what any self-respecting,  misfit-furniture loving husband would do. He unloaded it off the truck.

And here’s how I know there is a God. It didn’t fit through the door leading to the downstairs family room/man cave. So it sat there, like a broken down parade float, for weeks. And after a day or two, things started to appear on its plush, velour cushions. The sofa became a holding area for other castoffs. And then occasionally I’d sit on it if the washer needed just a minute or two to finish its spin cycle. And then everytime you walked down into the garage you expected to see it and that earth-toned 70s print, a flower arrangement with mums and asters and dahlias and zinnias and seed pods, all in golds, whites, tans and touches of blue. The garage had never looked brighter or more welcoming. A sofa in the garage? How unique.

A strange sort of attachment syndrome had begun here. The sort you experience when a mangy stray cat  suddenly meows at your back door. You feed it because you pity it and then it finds a place in your heart and then you don’t really think it looks mangy anymore and then you say, ‘What the heck? I’ll keep it.’ It was starting with that sofa and I had to put a stop to it. Also, Steve said if I didn’t get it out of here he WOULD find a way to make it fit through that door. ‘Nuff said. I was on the move.

Finally, the day had come. Time to part with its big blooms, its wood accents, its attached arm pillows. With its shiny harvest gold surface gleaming in the morning sunshine, the sofa was loaded for its last voyage.  A new home. A final chapter. Another screaming wife? Who knows,  but it might just kick-start a new franchise of literature and movies–Sisterhood of the Travelling Ugly Sofa. Ya never know.