Thursday, March 31, 2011

One more thing.

I think I must be completely out of touch with the etiquette of correspondence these days.

That's all I have to say.

I love

the Overture from the Barber of Seville. And Carmen. And La Boheme.

Maybe I can just live at The Met.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I've seen a couple of commercials for this movie and it looks good. And, I'm also kind of hooked by the fact that The Chemical Brothers have done the score.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Books Again

So today I went to the Bryn-Mawr Wellsley Book Sale. I made the mistake of paying $20 to get in to the special first day. This was kind of a rip off since the bulk of the other buyers were there to stock their *used book stores* and the BW folks appear to put out new books each day, so you're really not necessarily getting the pick of the litter or anything.

Not to mention that they balked at me when I asked for a receipt for my "entrance fee".... really? It's a donation. I'm not getting anything for it. It's tax deductible, give me a receipt already! But, whatever.

In the end I did get a few neat books, a very cool geologic map of New Jersey, some prints and a nicely framed drawing of the Roman skyline. Of my books? I did find a first edition, fourth printing of Faulkner's Light in August (which is retailing on for $475. Mine was $1. I also got a first edition Edith Wharton, but unfortunately it's binding is missing, though the boards are still intact. If the binding were together it would be a $90 book. I may consider actually getting this one repaired because the rest of the book really is in very nice condition. We'll see. I also got a first edition of The Razor's Edge, but it's a book club edition (from 1945) so the value is not nearly what the regular first edition would have been, but it is a lovely book.


I'm thinking I may go back again on the free days or at bag/box day... but then again, I may have hit the wall. ;)

Some people

can dance, some people can sing, and some people can do neither.

Monday, March 21, 2011


That's all I have to say.


One year during middle school my gifted class did a project on family history. We each had to talk to our relatives and put together as comprehensive of a family tree as we could.

One kid managed to track down his family through the civil war. Needless to say, he got extra credit.

Me? It was like I was dropped here from outer space.

My mom knew back to her grandparents on her mother's side (they had immigrated to the US, and we just didn't know anything about who their parents were). On her dad's side? Grandpa had been an orphan, so we only knew a few sparse facts.

On my Dad's side? All we knew were my grandparents. That's it. Nobody else. Great-grandparents? No names. My dad knew the name of both of his step-grandfathers, but that was it.

Needless to say this whole family history thing always intrigued me. I couldn't quite get my head around how people could create new generations but those generations would have no real knowledge of what had come before them.

Years passed, but finally, thanks to the Internet, I was able to make some headway. Back when I was still living in NY (so sometime around 2002-2003) I first found and reviewed the 1930 census data. I found my maternal grandfather at the orphanage and I was able to find my paternal grandmother living in Princeton. I found out her sister's name and the names of her half-siblings. Also her mother's first name (Caroline) and her step-father. My Great-Grandfather had died when my Grandmother was very young and her mother had remarried. While I knew that my Grandmother's maiden name was Phillips, I wasn't able to ascertain my Great-Grandmother's maiden name.

Years passed, and about last year or so I started dabbling again on Ancestry. Armed with the knowledge that my Great-Grandmother's name had been Caroline Phillips after her first marriage, and that her second marriage was to a man named George Bromm I cast a wider search net. Through reviewing local newspaper records I found a marriage announcement from Trenton between a Ms. Caroline M. Drammond and George Bromm. The announcement gave me her address in Trenton around 1920. So, I began looking in earnest for Ms. Drammond.

Little did I know at the time that the newspaper announcement was a misprint.

After some more diligent searching I was able to locate a Ms. Caroline M. Phillips in Chester, Pennsylvania, with two daughters (Marguerite and Mary, being my Grandmother and her sister, respectively). Ms. Phillips also had two men living with her. William Diamond and George Diamond. Were they boarders? Turns out these men were her father and brother.

By reviewing the next earliest census record I was able to find more of the Diamond clan, this time with Caroline listed as a Diamond instead of a Phillips. However, Phillips is a common name. I wasn't certain she was the right woman until I looked a little closer at the neighbors listed on her census page. Who was her next door neighbor in 1910? Mr. John Phillips. At the time of the 1910 census, John Phillips was married to a woman named Sadie (nee Wright) and he had two children, Merrill (a 3 year old boy) and Dorothy (a 14 month old girl). John's younger brother, Thomas, also lived with the family. (Unfortunately, though, I wasn't able to find a record for John earlier than this date which is conclusively him). With this information I was able to contact Delaware County's records department and order copies of the marriage records for John and Sadie and John and Caroline (who were married in 1914). I also obtained the probate documentation for John, who passed away in 1918.

I was pretty confident at this point that I had found my relatives. Luckily for me, the Diamond family had lived in Chester for many years. William, my Great-Great Grandfather had married a local woman named Mary Dooley (my Great-Great Grandmother). Mary's parents were Michael and Rebecca Dooley. Michael was originally from Ireland, by way of Delaware, and fought in the Civil War, being wounded at Gettysburg.

William Diamond was one of the sons of George Diamond (my Great-Great-Great Grandfather). George had come to Chester from Brooklyn. George had originally immigrated from Ireland to Brooklyn and married Annie McCullough. George also fought in the Civil War. (Extra Credit, here I come!)

Meanwhile I was also having a little bit of luck with my dad's father's side of the family. I managed to find where they had lived in Northern New Jersey, and find the family originally living in Brooklyn after having immigrated from Acri, Italy.

All of this was very exciting. Though I have to say, I was still a bit skeptical about all of it since I'm just sitting here at home trying to connect dots on a computer screen. Was I right? Who knew?

My Mom had always joked that my Dad's family weren't picture takers. And it seemed true-- compared to my mom's family (where no occasion was complete without photos) there really weren't many pictures at all of my Dad's side. So, I was rather surprised when I visited with my grandfather (my Dad's dad) back in October and he had a photo of his grandparents and their sons (including his father) from their time in Brooklyn in the early part of the 20th century. There they were: Anthony, Rose, Michael, Joseph, Peter, Angelo and Anthony (because you can never have too many Anthony's, apparently). He also confirmed that yes, his mother's name was Angelina. He also told me that my Great-Grandmother (Caroline Diamond Phillips Bromm) was buried in Princeton-- though quick research of the burial records couldn't confirm this. This was kind of a big deal because finally, I was starting to get some real information and photos.

Sadly, my Grandfather passed away earlier this month. During the process of organizing his affairs my parents and I have started to find photos and records. First I found my Grandfather's baptismal record and birth certificate. Both included his mother's full name and confirmed that our last name was originally spelled differently (as had shown in the census records). In going through some family jewelry I found a gold wedding band with the inscription "CMD JHP May 12, 1914". It was my Great-Grandmother's wedding band. I also found a bracelet inscribed CMD 1912. My Dad found his Great-Grandfather's pocketwatch (the chain of which, appears to be visible in the family photo my Grandfather had shown us).

Finally, today we located my Grandmother's bible. In it she had written a short family tree on the inside pages. It included the birth and death dates for Caroline Diamond, her daughter, Mary Diamond (my Great-Aunt) and also in it was a mass card for Dorothy Bentivolgio (nee Phillips), my Grandmother's half-sister, daughter of John and Sadie Phillips. The bible also includes grave locations in Princeton for both Caroline and Mary and it included information that John Phillips (and his younger brother Thomas) had spent time in the St. Vincent's Orphanage for Catholic and German children in Philadelphia (which may explain why I have been unable to locate earlier records for John).

I have found two photos-- one which I think may be Caroline and one which may be John, but there is no information written on the back of either. I don't think at this point that I'll ever be sure. I'm happy that I have confirmation that the research I've done so far is accurate. I'm also glad that I already feel like I know these people, even if I don't have the stories that went with their lives.

My search is continuing for information about my maternal grandfather. Searches in Trenton at the New Jersey State Archives couldn't locate his birth certificate. The Orphanage records have been destroyed and the Catholic Diocese which managed the Orphanage does not seem to have any records relating to his time there. I hired a genealogist to help solve some of the mystery and she was able to obtain a copy of my Grandparent's marriage certificate. This provided my Great-Grandmother's name, but so far searches under her name have not been fruitful. I do know that my Grandfather was born in Passaic, so at least that is a start.

What have I learned? Pass on your stories while you can. Though doing the detective work and research on Ancestry has been a fun challenge, I would have much rather had a foundation directly from family members. If you have a story, tell it. Write it down for your children or grandchildren and don't put it on a shelf for thirty years. Pass it down.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Movie Time

So far today we've watched The Next Three Days and Morning Glory (let's not forget that my rental for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is almost up and I'll probably have to watch that later tonight too...)

Reviews?? The Next Three Days was really long and boring.

Morning Glory? It's actually cute.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Some People...

I was on the phone today dealing with a doctor. I was trying to make arrangements for an evaluation and this guy was really just being very arrogant. At one point he says to me, very self-importantly, "well, I charge THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS per hour."

It was nice to be able to respond by saying: "well. I charge SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS per hour."

Thank you, Mom, Dad, Cornell University and my law firm for giving me the ammunition to knock the wind out of that jackhole's sails. ;)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

One More Random Thing

I really like the movie The Red Violin... But I adore the soundtrack. Joshua Bell rocks.

How do You Know Your Child Lives in New Jersey?

They say to their stuffed dog: "So are you going to bark, or what?"

In Praise of Magda

Magda is one of the seamstresses at my local dry cleaners'. A few months ago I brought in to her a Giambattista Valli dress I had gotten that needed to be shortened (as is the case with most of my clothing....) and she did a beautiful job. Today I picked up my Prada gold lame skirt (that I found at the Falka Boutique in the East Village with Ms. Thisbe back in December) which she had to make about two sizes smaller than it was originally... Looks terrific and I can't wait to wear it.

I'm considering my next challenge: altering a wool Max Mara suit jacket which I acquired as part of a skirt suit at a really great thrift store for all of $12.00. Jackets can be tricky, but I think she'll be up for it.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Books Books Books

Okay, so I know I always blather on about the books I find at book sales. But. Today was different. Today I really managed to find some cool stuff. I'm not going to say I found anything amazing by great literature standards, but still.... Mostly it was all movie books.... Read on...

I did find a first edition, hard cover Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud (upon which the Kate Winslet movie was based) and a first British edition of P.D. James' The Children of Men (upon which the Clive Owen movie was based....)

Then I found a first edition, first printing DaVinci Code. Do you have any idea how many DaVinci Codes there are out there floating around in space? I managed to find one of the first. It even has a publisher's uncorrected spelling error!

I also found a first edition Family of Man.

And, a first edition (early printing) of Where the Sidewalk Ends (this one has the poem "The Gypsies are Coming" which in later printings was changed to "The Goonies are Coming").

And... One of the books I always look for is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Well, I didn't find a first edition, but I did find a copy autographed by the author (and it was even purchased at a book store in Savannah!) how cool is that?

Rounding out the rest? First edition Prayer for Owen Meany, first edition English Patient (British edition) and First edition, 12th printing Dr. Zhivago (with dust jacket.... also British edition)-- I already have two other Zhivagos, but this is my first with a jacket and my lowest printing number to date.

Lastly, I found a first printing hardcover copy of David Macaulay's Cathedral.

It Does Pay to Be Nice to Salespeople

(or alternatively.... People will buy anything...). Okay, so people won't buy *anything* but darn near close to it. When I was at the outlets (see post below) as a parting gift in connection with my little clothing try on incident the sales person gave me two very nice, glossy "Look Books" for the designer's Spring 2011 collection.

Since I was a kid my dad has been collecting various promotional materials (specifically I remember that Chevrolet used to make scale models of their Corvettes back in the day...) so I had a sense that these little goodies might be of interest to someone out there.

Last night, I listed my brochures on eBay and this morning I found out that while I slept some fashionable person bought them overnight for $9.99 plus shipping.


Mary Poppins!

Today, Miss B. and I went to NYC to see Mary Poppins on Broadway! I had been planning to go to TKTS in the morning to get either tickets for Wicked or Mary Poppins but thanks to BroadwayBox, I was able to score 4th row center stage tickets for half price (no waiting on the TKTS line needed!)

If you're looking for a family friendly show I highly recommend it. The sets were fantastic, there was a very large and energetic cast, the songs were classic and they also had great special effects. Miss B. especially loved when Mary "flew" off the stage, up over the audience and up into the balcony. The children actors were terrific and the whole production was just very high quality and entertaining (not to mention that the New Amsterdam Theater is beautiful-- be sure to check out the New Amsterdam lounge down in the lower level if you visit).

Afterwards, as we were walking down 42nd Street to get back to the Mini, Hawkeye B managed to spot the Sanrio store (aka Hello Kitty Central) and thus we made a quick detour to all things Kitty. When I was a kid I used to go to the Sanrio store at the Broward Mall so this was very reminiscent (though I have to say I think the prices have certainly increased for inflation... but where else can you find so many small erasers, notepads and decorative scented pens than at a Hello Kitty shop?)

Yesterday I decided to take a trek up to Woodbury Commons. It was a sunny day and I had grand plans to take the daughter and the dog to Storm King, followed by a short jaunt to the Commons... but turns out Storm King doesn't reopen until March 31st.... so a trip that was to be somewhat artsy and shoppy, became just plain shoppy.

While I'm there, I go into a rather Chichi boutique and am looking around. The sales staff tells me that everything in the store is either 30% off or 25% off and everything is an additional 10% off on top of that. Terrific! So, I start looking around and soon the sales girl has a dressing room set aside for me. During my browsing I had found a super cute little yellow sweater. It was marked a 4, but it looked a little small so I asked her if they had it in any other sizes. She told me it was the last one.

So, when I go into the fitting room, I start trying on my selections. I start with the yellow sweater. It was crew neck with short sleeves and a bit of an a-line design. It looked like it would be perfect under a suit or with a slim pair of pants. I put it on and have to say, it was a little hard to get over my head. But I got it on. The sleeves were a teensy bit tight, but the rest of it was just so darn cute! The only real problem was that it was part angora and angora always makes me itch. When I finish in the dressing room I'm deciding between the sweater and another top. When I go to check out I ask the sales girl for her opinion-- should I go with the sweater or the other top?

That's when she tells me that the yellow sweater is a size 4 CHILDRENS. It isn't actually a woman's sweater but a child's DRESS! To add insult to injury this is when she then tells me that she had thought I was bringing it into the fitting room for my daughter to try on!

As for me? Yes, I had forced over my head a child's a-line dress and was attempting to wear it as a top. I guess my first clue should have been to notice that everything else in the store was marked in European sizing. The girl did admit though that everybody had been trying on that "sweater". ;)

Needless to say that's a pretty quick way to burst someone's "I'm so fashionable" bubble.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


So I've been lucky to pick up a few Marni pieces recently. The clothing is really neat. Well made, kind of architectural and.... Always with pockets! Here is an interesting little article about the brand from the Wall Street Journal.