Sunday, March 20, 2011

Outing in Cooperstown, New York

Stephanie Bradt: A favorite pastime of the Bradt Cousins is to visit historical sites around Central New York. This particular journey took us to the home of America’s favorite pastime, Cooperstown, NY. Ironically, we did not go into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That is for next time.

Jordan Bradt: The Farmer's Museum, a historic site in New York State, offers a pancake breakfast every Sunday in March. Adult admission costs $8, and offers not only the endless buffet of breakfast foods, but also access to the museum grounds. The breakfast buffet includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, hash browns (with and without onions), salsa, coffee, tea, orange juice, milk, and hot chocolate. The food is made there and offered with real maple syrup from the museum’s trees. The museum itself contains buildings built in the 1800’s and moved from their original locations. Volunteers work as costumed interpreters and offer live demonstrations.

While eating, we noticed many female children had their American Girl dolls with them. We instantly regretted not bringing along our dolls. Not only could we have gotten in under children prices, but we could have gotten more food as well. "I need an extra pancake for Kirsten. She's hungry." The museum also offered, most graciously, small plates, just perfect for a doll! Along with dolls, many people brought along their beards. Yes, these beards were wild enough to have "object" status. One man in particular reminded us of Santa Claus. We wanted to take turns sitting on his lap and asking for ponies, then having our dolls do the same. Alas, we were afraid of offending people and chose to keep our opinions about his Christmas job to ourselves.

(Above) Upon finishing breakfast, it was time to explore the museum grounds. Jordan’s dad makes a cameo in this photograph taken at the beginning of our adventure. The weather was lovely while we walked around.

(Above) First, we enter under a cute little archway. The cute little kid in pink is probably headed toward the little white building on the path, which houses a little carousel. The ride costs $.50 (or one token), and while some of the party wanted to partake in the fun, we were also realistic about the fact that small children would cry if we broke the ride, the animals on which included a strange fish and a strange dog. It was too small.

(Above) The Bradts explore the maple syrup-making process. This was difficult, considering no one told us exactly what that process was. Luckily, Jordan’s dad shared some of his expertise from growing up on a farm. In the background, there is a sketchy pile of snow that the fresh syrup is poured onto, which the guests can eat like a snow cone. This is one of the few instances in which eating yellowish-brown snow is not only accepted, but encouraged.

(Above) A woman appeared with a cart pulled by oxen. In the back of the cart, she had a large barrel.

(Above) She explained that she was going on a maple syrup adventure, and anyone who wanted to could join in - I wanted to until I learned you didn't get to ride in the cart. Boooo.

(Above) Many people, however, did follow her to a tree.

(Above) Many people got to feel special because they took part in gathering maple syrup.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Jordan Bradt: The local library has a used bookroom. A while ago, I found a copy of MY SISTER’S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult for twenty-five cents. I added it to my “to read” pile in my bedroom, and recently came across it. I saw the movie on television and thought I should finally compare it to the novel.

I didn’t like the movie very much. It was intense and portrayed the characters well, but I found it heartbreaking. The book is also heartbreaking, but I enjoyed it more than the movie version. It explores the characters in more depth, and I felt like they became friends and neighbors, rather than people on a screen. The ending was also different, and I can’t decide which I liked better. Both are tearjerkers. I cried during the movie and in the last chapter of the book. Yes, I’m not embarrassed to admit tears poured down my cheeks.

I would give this book 5 stars out of 5, except for one aspect, which pushes it down to a 3 or 4, depending on my mood for the day. That aspect: the brother, Jesse. He screams “cliché” in a horrible way. I understand that Jodi wanted to show how Jesse suffered from being ignored. His family concentrated on Kate and Anna, and he, the middle child, got pushed to the back. However, he’s just the “bad boy.” He does drugs. He drinks. Smokes. Steals a judge’s car. He sets fires with homemade explosives. He was so two-dimensional in his badness that I wanted to skip the parts about him. I didn’t, but they happened just as I had assumed they would. He was bad. He remained bad. Jesse made me want to scream. The other characters had so much going for them…then there was Jesse. At the end of the book, Jodi has him turn his life around, but I would’ve rather seen that throughout, rather than piled into the epilogue. He needed to have more substance. Overall, though, I enjoyed the book and I recommend it to others…just be prepared to meet Jesse.