Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Saw "Why Did I Get Married?" with Leslie yesterday, and loved it! It wasn't at all what I expected and--aside from Janet Jackson--I had never heard of any of the actors. They're all African-American, but their situation, problems, and personae were universal. The "message" (which I surely would have disliked if it were blatant) was vaguely Christian, but very subtle. It's a serious movie, but hysterically funny in spots and--to me--absolutely absorbing. It's also emotional, so take plenty of tissues; Les and I both needed them at several places.
Aside from that, ain't nuthin' new. Took Pat to the podiatrist and that went well.
Must cut this short, as I'm leaving for New Egypt soon to see Joely's school Halloween parade and hang out with Jen and Tristan. Can't wait to hold the little 3-month-old, as I understand he smiles now. Just love a toothless grin...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pat did all right at the dermatologist's. As I mentioned before, his forehead (and that goes w-a-a-y back on his head) is covered with leprosy-looking sores and scabs--really gross. However, these will drop off (ugh!) and go away soon. Doc also took biopsies of new growths on his hand and shoulder.
Stopped at the county office on the way home to register Barb, Susan, and me for the van tour--"South Jersey Historic Homes"--in February. The vans fill up fast and I was glad to get three of the last four seats.
Made Pat's lunch, then went to The Grapevine with Mary Ann O. Had Caesar salad with shrimp, taking half home, and indulged myself with a glass of Chardonnay. M.A. had a pasta/garlic dish awash in oil, all the while talking about her efforts to lose weight (but hey, I used to do that all the time).
We had a enjoyable time; didn't talk much about our mutually-afflicted husbands and maybe that's why. I told Mary Ann I often go to Hamilton Mall and she asked if she could go with me next time; will call her.
Today, Pat has a podiatrist appointment, then Leslie and I are going to the movies to see Why Did I Get Married.
Halloween tomorrow and I'm so looking forward to seeing the boysies in New Egypt. Must prepare as much as I can (for Pat), as I'll be gone much of the day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

After lunch and putting chicken in the crockpot, I left for the Baker Hike. The hikers consisted of Alison and Mike; Mike's son and DIL, Rob and Lisa with their Lindsay, 4, and Lucas, 3; Lisa's father; a young couple who are neighbors of theirs, with their 6- and 4-year-old kiddies; plus another 3-year-old whom Lisa minds. It was a delightful day, crisp and fall-ie (finally), perfect for a hike.
With the nursery school brigade in tow, it was far from strenuous: We went down the trail for a mile, then back, stopping frequently to examine foliage, mushrooms, bones, and so on. Alison hopes to organize another hike next month, when soccer will be over and Joely can come.
Some of the hikers planned to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner, but I begged off. Had the chicken simmering and I didn't want to leave Pat that long, anyway. Got home about 5:20 after a pleasant, invigorating day.
Take Pat to the dermatologist at 11:15 today. His face, especially his forehead, looks pretty gruesome with the sores and scabs, but supposedly, the cancer is being "drawn out" and will fall off.
Hope I get home in time for my lunch date with Mary Ann Van O. at 1:00.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Notwithstanding the driving rain, I drove into the big city yesterday (Manahawkin, 8 miles away) to get groceries. Ran a number of other less-than-interesting errands, too. I had no sooner gotten home than the sun came out--never fails.
Amy Z. came over to deliver my Avon. I don't use cosmetics every day, but may tomorrow when I pick up Mary Ann Van O. for lunch. Her Bart also has emphysema, but not the other problems Pat has. We like to compare notes every once in a while, although, in truth, we don't have much else in common.
Pat has a derm appointment in the morning tomorrow, and one with the podiatrist on Tuesday. After that, Leslie and I plan to see "Why Did I Get Married?" (her choice). Wednesday, I go up to New Egypt to see Joely's school Halloween parade and will see little Tristan, too--yay!
Ellen called last night--a deviation from her usual Sunday--and so did Mike on the web cam. We got a fleeting glimpse and chat with Vivian, until she zipped away off to her own pursuits.
Today, I'll join Alison and entourage for a hike at Brendan Byrne State Park. It shouldn't be more than a mile or two, considering two of the participants are three and four.
Later: Yep, I did it. Blog Buddy Pat was right (see her comment on yesterday's post). Sans Susan, I completed the mile and a half morning walk both days. Yesterday, sloshed through the rain holding an umbrella, today listened to the good ol' fifties songs on my portable CD player.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Talk about your lazy days: I woke up yesterday, glanced at the clock--and saw it was 7:20! Can't believe I slept that late. Dressed, got the morning chores done, then went over to Susan's to explain (or "'splain," as Ricky Ricardo used to say--now, why did that pop into my head?). S. said she had knocked very lightly on my door, but saw no signs of activity, so figured I had, indeed, overslept. She said she would have come over at 10:00 if she hadn't heard from me just to be sure all was okay.
Rest of day more or less followed the "lay low, do little" pattern. I had planned to run up to Santori's, then to the mall, but it rained all day and I decided to skip it. Aside from household chores and a quick run to Tucker Tom's for broccoli, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, and potatoes, I didn't do a lot. Even lay down for a short nap while Pat was at the bay.
Enjoyed phone talks with Pat's brother, Bill, and my sis, Betty, as well as Alison, calling on their way to their hike. (In the driving rain? Well, sure, they go no matter what.) Got e-mails from Leslie, brother Jim, and a few others. Aside from those enjoyable contacts, nada in the social arena.
It would drive me crazy to laze around as I did very often, but once in a while is okay. As for our morning walk: Susan called last night to say she has early appointments up north today and Sunday, so can't go either day. Okay, here's the cliff-hanger question: Will I have the determination and initiative to go by myself? Both days? Happily?
Tune in tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The comment on my blog wasn't enough: I got a phone call from "Acme" about 10 am yesterday. A weird, nasal voice asked for "Mrs. Molly" (another common distortion of our name that drives me as crazy as "Malloy"), saying he was from Acme. For just a minute or two, he had me going--again.
Of course, it was Mike calling from Zurich and, after his unveiling, we had a nice long chat. He had been in Munich first, then Switzerland, but is flying home today. Paula had been in China, but went back yesterday.
Mike said Vivian will be a mermaid for Halloween (I asked how she'd walk and he said she'd "slither along"). They were all going to a Halloween party, Mike as King Triton (?) and Paula as a "mean octopus lady."
Was called by the actual Acme (rather, their parent company, Albertson's) to say they'd have the $37.92 credited back to our account. Decided to go over to tell the perps at Acme it wasn't the bank's mistake after all. When I did, I was greeted with bland indifference by the bookkeeper which, of course, made me even angrier. Asked to see the manager, expressed my annoyance, and he apologized--an utterly meaningless gesture, as it was in response to my mention that nobody had even bothered to say they were sorry for my inconvenience. "Butch"* kept asking, "What could make it better?" and I kept saying, "Nothing." He then asked if he could treat me to dinner.
Say what?! I think I look pretty good for an old lady, but this guy is about thirty. However, if he has some kind of weird yen for mature women...
Hell, even I can't sustain that for long. He suggested I pick out "a couple of steaks" on the house, I kept saying, "no," but finally capitulated, said I preferred salmon, and he accompanied me to the fish counter, then to checkout, where they were put on the tab.
Later I was sorry I ever accepted the damn stuff. Geesh, I was bought off for $7.98! But then I thought of my mantra: "We'll all be dead in fifty years," so what in the world does it matter? Will enjoy my salmon tonight.
* Why will people, especially men, insist on retaining their boyish nicknames into adulthood? It's one thing if it's just the diminutive of a given name--"Mike" or "Bill," say--but "Butch?" Kinda detracts from a serious, businesslike image, donja know?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I have a dispute with Acme and yesterday, engaged in the opening skirmish. Background: I bank on-line and when I was checking my account, noticed that I was charged the same amount--$37.92--on both the 18th and 19th of October. Now, I buy there often, usually using my debit card, but it strains belief that my purchases would total the same odd amount two days in a row. I printed out the page and started on the infuriating journey to get my money back.
Called Bank of America and, after an long and annoying session pressing this button and that at electronic commands, talked to two people who gave me conflicting advice (that they'd take care of it, or I should go to Acme first). This took a good hour, what with being directed here and there. Finally got a definitive answer: Start with Acme. I took the printout and my story to Acme on Tuesday. Of course, the person I was supposed to see--"Alice"--was off that day, but I was assured she'd be in from 6 to 2 yesterday.
Went back yesterday and, gee, guess what, Alice wasn't there, she was at a "training session." Acme employees tend to be barely civil and the woman I was dealing with was no exception. I said wryly, "Bet it's not customer service training, is it?" which, of course, went right over the woman's head. Talked to another woman who had to make two phone call to find out what to do, then asked me to leave my printout and come back, as she had to "check the figures." Told her okay, that I'd come back after I went to Shop-Rite to get my groceries. That whizzed by two feet over her head, too.
Went back hours later and was blandly assured the error must be the bank's. However, I was given a toll-free number to call which turned out to Albertson's (they own Acme). Had to repeat the whole dreary story, of course, and some sweet, chirpy non-person assured me I'd be called back today.
What annoys me no end is the phony spiel these automatons are always instructed to recite: "May I help you with anything else today?" (Help me with anything else? You haven't helped me yet, except to put me in an apoplectic fury.) "We appreciate your call." (Yeah, sure, you just love dealing with a customer foaming at the mouth.) The particular A-holes at Albertson's say, "We care."
That is infuriating! They care?! That's bullshit of the purest ray serene. They care that some customer in an obscure little burg in Jersey has a lousy overcharge? I'd much prefer the "customer service" (hah!) peon to say, "Hey, we'll look into this, but don't delude yourself that we give a damn because our whole reason for being is to plump the bottom line and get you to spend more..."
Of course, retaliating to the people on the phone is pointless. They're instructed to say what they say and do what they do. I always think I'll write a letter instead--so succinct, hard-hitting, and to the point that it'll be introduced with fear and trembling at a director's meeting in Manhattan right down the street from The Wall Street Journal and the whole corporate structure will be brought to its knees. The next time I enter Acme, I'll be greeted with great rejoicing...
It rained yesterday, but stopped before I picked up Leslie to go to the peace vigil in Northfield. However, it started up again, very heavily, before we got there and the vigil was cancelled. Les and I enjoyed chatting, though, and I didn't mind driving over. Will pick her up again this morning for Weight Watchers.
Later: Yipee! Yahoo! Hooray! Lost 3.6, now weigh 156.6, so am 43 pounds down! Feels good, I can tell you...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Got my hair trimmed at 9:00, then Pat and I drove up to see Alison's addition. As we were about to leave, Jack B. stopped in. Pat chatted with him while I packed our lunches, he left, and off to Cream Ridge we went.
The addition looks great! We hadn't realized it was that big; it actually comprises an entire new wing. Four men were working on it, two outside, two in. The outside walls are in place, with double windows cut out, and the framing is being done for the two rooms and bath. (The tub is already in.) I didn't go into the existing structure to see the new dining area formed by the removal of the powder room, but can imagine how it opens up the area.
It was such an enjoyable excursion. We parked across from the house, ate lunch in the car, and I got out to take pictures and report back to Pat. We stayed only 45 minutes or so, then drove back. Can't wait to see it when it's finished!
This evening, Leslie and I are participating in the regular monthly peace vigil; location has been changed to Northfield from Absecon; not sure why. Hope there's a good crowd.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Was pleasantly surprised to have Marge ask if I was available for lunch yesterday. I was, indeed, and picked her up at 12:30. We went to Dynasty Diner; food's okay, although the staff often seems unnecessarily surly. A digression: I just can't understand this! A job may suck and one's life situation may be hard, but what good is it to take it out on a customer? If you're a grouchy type, don't go into service jobs!
Got Caesar salad, natch, but am tired of chicken. Maybe I should say, am tired of tired chicken, as what they invariably add to C.s. with c. is frozen chicken, tough and tasteless, with phony grill marks on it. Was going to get shrimp, but they jacked that up to $11.50--fer cryin' out loud, this ain't the Four Seasons!--so simply ordered it with tomato.
Marge and I talked and talked, of course. She's had some ailments lately, which I hope are gone soon. After, we went down Green Street to the bay, to say hello to Pat. He was still in his car, as none of his buddies had shown yet, but they did later.
Dropped Marge off, then went home to color my hair. It looks good and I had no mishaps this time, so I changed my mind about getting it done at the hairdresser's. Speaking of which--or whom--I'm getting it cut this morning; just a trim.
I was happy when Pat agreed to go with me to Alison's today to see the progress of the addition. Would like to pack a lunch and maybe eat up there; I'll see what he says about that.
Also changed my mind about my nightly glass of wine. I'll consider cutting down, but want to look into the pros and cons more. In the meantime, will continue to enjoy it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dang nab it! I got really, really bad news yesterday when I opened the Sunday paper. In an article first published in The Chicago Tribune, it says that "scientists have amassed persuasive evidence" that drinking any form of alcohol, even in moderate amounts, can pose "a serious threat to your health"--that is, cancer. Even worse, the article quotes the head of public health and regulatory policies in Ontario as saying, "That red wine stuff--how it was supposed to be preventive (of heart attacks)--was hyped completely out of whack by the media..."
Well, damn and double-damn! My one little indulgence that I look forward to every evening is slipping away from me. Now what? Okay, here's my plan of action: I'm going to research the data and see if grape juice is believed to benefit the heart. If so, I'll switch to that even though I don't like grape juice. If not, I'll simply drink diet soda with my popcorn--until they tell me popcorn causes beri-beri or something...
Okay, back to my life, such as it is: Susan had college friends for dinner Saturday night, and had "up time" yesterday (she's in real estate), so we decided to skip our walk. Virtuous girl that I am, I followed the same route by myself. Other than that, puttered around here and there, snatching up a few more things for the thrift store, and generally keeping busy.
D.D. Ellen called, saying the air in Ventura is brown with smoke with the many forest fires still raging in Malibu and elsewhere--all around her, in fact. Hope they don't get any closer. I remember years ago when we were visiting her in Santa Barbara, the smoke and debris filled the air, also.
Other D.D. Alison called. They're home from hiking the upstate NY hills with my niece, her cousin, Joan and hubby, Jim. A. said they had a wonderful time and J. and J. kept up with them nicely. The weather was perfect and she and Mike greatly enjoyed spending time with J. and J. Alison said the addition on their house is coming along beautifully. She's not sure when they'll finish, but they were told it would take about 12 weeks, so--I guess--sometime in the middle of November will do it. If so, maybe we can celebrate Thanksgiving in the new area. Can't wait to see it and may drive up there just to look on the outside.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Big news: I actually did what I intended to do yesterday. Zipped up to Manahawkin to leave my garage gleanings off at the SOCH (Southern Ocean Community Hospital) thrift store and picked up a few items at Shop-Rite. I then went to Kohl's and bought--tah dah!--two turtlenecks, one red, one black, in size large. Now, size large might sound--well, large--but these came from the junior section--double tah dah! What's more, I tried on a pair of jeans in a 16 petite. Of course, I had bought a pair of capris in 16 petite a few months ago, but they have a drawstring waist and these have one of those metal "buttons" at the waist. I could just barely get it in the hole--it was tight, all right--but the pants have slim legs and they looked great! I didn't buy them, though; thought I'd wait for jeans until they can close easily, but I may go back and get them today. I'm mulling it over.
Made Pat meatloaf for dinner and--other than the enthralling adventure recounted above--had a domestic day.
One note: In the Acme parking lot, I saw a car with this on the back window: "In Memory of Our Grandson, Brian Smith, 2/11/83-5/16/04." This is a transparency you can have made up to put on the window. It seemed bizarre, but if it helps people to "deal," as they say, with a tragedy, why not?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another quiet day--but somehow satisfying. While the cleaners were here, Pat sat in his car and I loaded up mine with some of the crap...uh, junk...uh, priceless artifacts from the garage, preparing to drop it off at the thrift store. Susan came over to give me a container of shrimp--Acme had buy one, get two--and I went to the supermarket, also.
It rained steadily, which is good news because I didn't have to water the mums and daisies. Caught up on washing, doing darks and lights; will wash whites today.
Barbara D. called to ask if she could use my name as a reference for her soon-to-be volunteer work for the library; she'll deliver books to shut-ins. Of course, I said she could and also, that I'm interested in doing the same. She gave me the name and number to call and I did, leaving a message. This is something I'd love to do, as it combines my enjoyment of reading with my pleasure in meeting new people. Am anxious to hear back.
I made applesauce to accompany the ham steak, scalloped potatoes, and peas I gave Pat for dinner. I had a very small piece of the ham plus broccoli and butternut squash
Absolutely nothing planned this week except a haircut on Tuesday, a peace vigil on Wednesday, and a community meeting on Thursday. That's okay, considering I want to go to Manahawkin and get some new turtlenecks. I gave all my old ones away--too big!

Friday, October 19, 2007

After WW, I had a busy and productive day doing...what? Can barely remember, except for grocery shopping, doing wash, and getting Patrick's overalls shipped off (to the tune of $46 for postage).
Got an unexpected gift from Susan yesterday: a spice-flavored candle in a ceramic pumpkin. Lit it at dinner last night and really like it. Coincidentally, I had bought both of us a tee-shirt with a taped-mouth jack-o-lantern ("Here's your treat/Now shut it.") and gave it to her this morning. She was delighted and put it on immediately, so we walked our walk dressed alike, to the amusement of the neighbors we meet up with every day.
Got an invitation from Judy for her and Roman's tree-lighting party for December 8 and will be glad to attend. Cleaners are coming today. Other than that, there's a lull in my life. Think I'll finish up a few hanging projects, then see if I can scare up some excitement...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Had a neat day yesterday. At 8:15. Susan, Barb, and I left for Wells Mills. Two vans from the Park Service were waiting, the tour guide greeted us (and the other 15 or so women and one man), and we piled in. This was a "Lincoln tour"--I had had no idea his antecedents lived in Jersey--and I was surprised when we drove up to within a few miles of Alison's, crossing from Ocean to Monmouth County. This is horse country, complete with rolling hills and grand estates--and lots of well-groomed horsies grazing in the fields.
Our first stop was a crumbling stone wall out in the country. The guide told us this is what's left of the blacksmith shop of one of Lincoln's ancestors--I think a great-uncle. We were then whisked off to Imlaystown where another antecedent of Lincoln's had a mill. The next excursion was right down my alley: An old, old graveyard up on a wooded hill. We had to navigate a narrow path strewn with rocks and roots (and an occasional mound of horseshit), but the reward was a remote and beautiful collection of old gravestones, including those of Lincoln's early relatives.
After that, we drove to Walnford Farm, only a few miles from Alison's. I had been on the grounds before, but this was the full tour. We ate our lunches first, sitting at picnic tables near the barn, then were given over to a very informative, articulate tour guide. She took us to the mill on the property and demonstrated how corn, rye, and wheat had been processed in early times. This was followed by a tour of the large, beautifully restored, 18th-century house. Our last stop was at the serene and lovely cemetery where the first Lincoln antecedent, Robert Salter, is buried. Having had a strong interest in cemeteries, tombstones, and epitaths for many years, I greatly enjoyed this. In fact, the day combined some of my favorite things: an outing with good friends, cemeteries, an historic property, and a gorgeous fall day, not too hot, with brilliant sunshine.
Later: Well, ha-ha--I think. Just back from WW and this week, lost exactly .4--that's point four, four-tenths of a pound, or a tad under a half. Okay, the elusive 40 pound/150s marks remain just out of reach, as I'm now at 160.2, with 39.4 off. I'm wryly amused and a bit puzzled--really didn't deviate at all this week--but, of course, am okay with it and look forward to reaching these milestones next time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Most important news is that Betty came through her follow-up colonscopy fine and there's no sign of disease--yay!. I talked to her before and after the procedure; she sounds great and doesn't have to get another for 3 years.
Bob S., who lives in our community, came over in the morning to blow out, empty, and turn off our sprinklers for the winter. He charges just half of what "Nature's Way" does, so why not? We also like to hire neighbors as much as possible, and Bob is a nice guy. He met Pat, did the work, then stayed to chat for awhile.
Went to good old Santori's. Susan had asked me to pick up green leaf lettuce and feta cheese, as she's having some college friends for dinner on Saturday. She liked the salad I brought to her gathering last week and wanted to duplicate it.
Also went to Sears and was pleased to have found the overalls Patrick wants. He had sent an old pair of his, without make or size, so I could take them to the store and compare them. While there, I happened to see Halloween tee-shirts. These are bright orange and have a picture of a jack-o-lantern with its mouth taped over. The legend reads: "Here's yer treat, now shut it!" Ho, ho, I thought, and bought two--one for me, one for Susan.
For the first time in months, we're skipping our walk today. Susan, Barb H., and I are going on an "historic van ride," sponsored by the Ocean County Parks Service. I think we go to some historic houses--we signed up weeks ago and I can't quite recall--but it sounds like fun, so I'm game. Packed a big salad for lunch and will take water. We have to be at Barb's at 8:15, so I'll leave Pat's lunch and meds.
Florida brother Larry called last night. He said Helen had to go to the hospital over the weekend, as she had some kind of heart episode. She's home now, and I hope it's straightened out. Larry said Betty was going with him and his family for their annual trip to Disneyland in December--that'll be nice for her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

After Pat's dermatology appointment (he has still more sun-related lesions, but that's standard), I enjoyed a relaxed and relaxing day. Went to Acme, changed our bed, did several loads of wash, and stopped over Amy Z.'s (not the same Amy who was my co-chair for the Tricky Tray) to give her my Avon order.
Since we moved here, I've ordered Mary Kay products from Leslie, but they're very expensive and I thought I'd try Avon. Because I don't wear makeup everyday, I have mine for years.
Oh, I know, I know--the media, sellout whores to the cosmetic companies, trump up the idea that you have to throw away stuff because bacteria are just dancing all over your makeup sponge and mascara brush and you'll get some icky infection and go blind. (Didn't that used to apply to masturbation?) I can just see some solemn, self-important, lightweight manikin like Katie Couric soulfully gazing into the camera to urge women to help, help, save yourselves, throw that liquid blush into the incinerator, and rush out to continue to enrich the coffers of Estee Lauder before it's too late.
Pul-lease! Just like the "expiraton date" on medications, that's probably 10 percent legit and 90 percent to make the poor sap consumer buy more crap.
Anyhoo, I've always ignored such idiocy. The reason I'm buying from Avon is that I'm sick of the old stuff and want to try something new, superficial bimbo that I am.
Now what's that on my face? Boy, it itches and it's a little sore, and it seems to be spreading--aagh!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Tricky Tray was a great success! Clearly, everybody had a wonderful time and what's more, we raised $800+. This is $200 above last year, and we'll donate much of it to various causes.
At 9:30, Ray and Barb went with me to the clubhouse to help set up and we found Amy and others already there. The tables were arranged in a jiffy, the guys left, then the major work started. Amy and I had already labelled all the items and cups at home and she and I, Barb, and several other helpers put them on the tables.
We were all amazed at how many there were: about 90, and most were really nice. Although they were supposed to be valued at $10, we were sure many were worth more than that. We then put the cups with corresponding numbers next to the items. This sounds simpler than it is, but there were a few snafus and it took us until 11:30 to finish up. I then arranged the five door prizes on a small table. I had put some in elegant, gold and burgandy gift bags from Singapore and wrapped the others in gold paper with glittery trim. I added gold "streamers" and the whole display looked very attractive and festive.
Finally finished, we hurried home. I jumped in the shower, made Pat's lunch, dressed (with my belt--yes!), then high-tailed it back to the clubhouse. The refreshment committee was already there, and had set out cakes and cookies, all homemade, and had fresh coffee brewing. Soon, members started coming in.
The meeting started at 1:30 and just about the entire membership seemed to be there, I'd say at least 70 or 80 women. They bought their blocks of tickets, then walked around the tables to drop them in the same-numbered cups next to the things they wanted.
When everybody had finished distributing their tickets and were sitting down, I started the "auction." I supplied a running commentary for each item, Amy took a ticket out of the cups and handed it to me, I announced the number, and Anne took the item to the winner. Of course, a lot of fun ensued, with excitement, laughs, and screams of delight from the winners, as well as mock protests from those who didn't get anything. I then called out the numbers for the door prizes, and the winners came up and selected.
It was so nice to hear the compliments to Amy and me for our work--not to mention the remarks about how good I look (hey, I'm just repeating what people said) with the weight loss.
After cleaning up, we left about 4:00, and I changed, did a load of wash, and made dinner. Enjoyed D.D. Ellen's Sunday evening phone call as always and we talked for a good hour. Watched "60 Minutes" as long as I could stay up--until about 8:45--then went to bed, read, and slept like a log.
Nothing today except Pat's doctor's appointment in the morning. I hope to relax after that and may go over to Hamilton Mall. If I do, will stop at Santori's for feta cheese and my veggie fix.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Pinelands Jamboree was good fun. Alison picked me up in the K-Mart parking lot, along with "her" grandchildren, Lindsay, 4, and Lucas, 3. I was sorry Joely couldn't come, but he was sick at home. He's past his fever, but still not feeling well.
The Jamboree was piney-style. Music from country bands filled the air (it prominently featured banjos and washboards) and tables were scattered here and there with craft displays, food, and information on the Pinelands. The food booths went heavy on fat: "pulled" pork, cupcakes and doughnuts, fries, and ice cream, and so, I'm afraid, did a big percentage of the attendees. We got the kids Popsicles* and 124-pound Alison bought a bag of kettle corn for later, but I didn't indulge.
We came across a neat display of bears carved with a chainsaw out of a tree trucks and branches, each one different. Some were 3 or 4 feet high and cost 3 or 4 hundred, but Alison bought Mike one about 2 feet high. It will look great in their addition, which is well on its way. A. said she ordered the chandelier for the dining area and it's unique, but she wouldn't tell me what it looked like--I'll have to wait and see.
Right before we left, while A. and the kiddies were at the jungle gym, I fell into conversation with a woman selling photos of her own, including one of a gravestone from an African-American cemetery. As we chatted, we found we both have the cemetery/tombstone/epitaph bug. When she expressed interest in my 1000+ collection of photos on those subjects, we exchanged names and e-mail addresses and will get in touch. I've put it on the back burner recently, but still have an interest and may revive my former active pursuit of the genre.
I called Pat on the way home to see what he wanted for dinner. Of course, he suggested takeout and I picked up his veal cutlet and spaghetti from good ol' Brothers' Pizzaria at 6:00.
Finally finished labelling the additional Tricky Tray items and got them assembled into shopping bags to load into the car. Today's the big day and it should be fun, but I'm looking forward to some down-time after this.
*Interestingly, the word "Popsicle" is not generic, but a brand name.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Susan and I again walked with umbrellas, but it had cleared up by the time we finished. Went to Santori's, the supermarket, and so on, for salad items and other stuff. Used the nifty new salad spinner Betty had given me, then looked up "salad dressings," as I thought I'd make my own. First one I saw looked good--in a tangy/sweet combo, it combines oil, vinegar, catsup, sugar, and spices--so I made it up and put it in a cruet.
Before I got in the shower, I looked at my e-mail again and was shocked and saddened to get a message from a former colleague. One of the Rider faculty, David R., had had a massive heart attack and died while he was teaching his first class yesterday morning. I had known Dave for years and just saw him at the retirement party I went to last month. What a loss! He was an expert on the quagmire of New Jersey politics and was often asked to comment on events on T.V. and in the NYTimes and other media. What's more, he was friendly and funny, and a wonderfully warm individual. I always liked him and am grieved that he's gone. He was only 58.
The dinner party at Susan and Walter's was wonderful. It was a nice small gathering: Besides the hosts and me, there was just Dennis and Leslie, Ray and Barb, and Dick, a member of their Presbyterian dinner group (Frank and Barbara are traveling).
Susan does wonderful theme parties and last night was no exception. She had a black tablecloth and orange plates, a muttering vampire hanging on the chandelier, and grinning jack-o-lanterns here and there. The table was festooned with tiny decorated pumpkins and adorable little "fright figures," about 3 inches high, with wild hair and scary faces. You squeeze them and their eyes light up and they emit ghoulish sounds. Each one was different and these, we took home with us.
I had brought the large salad and 5 or 6 dressings besides my homemade one, and Susan decided to have a salad course first. Everybody seemed to enjoy it and I got some appreciative compliments.
When dinner (delicious pork tenderloin, roasted vegetables, sweet potato casserole) was served, I made up a platter for Pat and took it across the street, then went back. We then had three yummy desserts (apple crisp, cupcakes--with edible eyeballs!--and Leslie's great pistachio cake), along with after-dinner drinks, including Irish cream, amaretto, and creme de mente. Took Pat a sampling of the desserts when I left about 9:00.
It was a wonderfully convivial evening, just one more example--of many--that this is our place, we belong here, and we'd have to be dragged out to ever leave.
Today, I'm meeting Alison and entourage in Manahawkin to go to the Pinelands Jamboree in Waretown. Should be fun.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Picked up Leslie for Weight Watchers. Am another pound down, so have lost 39 and am at 160.6. Naturally, I'm looking forward to 40 off and getting into the 150s, but will wait patiently for it.
Stopped at co-chair Amy's to pick up the cups and numbers for the Tricky Tray items. When Pat went to the bay, I finished up attaching them.
Got an e-mail from Norm C., director of the Atlantic County Coalition for Peace and Justice asking for volunteers to staff our table at the N.J. Education Association convention in A.C. next month. Wrote back that I'd do it on the ninth (8 am to 4 pm), then asked Leslie if she'll join me and am pleased that she will.
Talked to Betty, who will get her follow-up colonscopy on Tuesday; hope all will be well. Called Alison to see how their addition is going. The slab is poured (she sent pictures) and the contractor is already working on the inside. Brother Jim called just to say hello and I enjoyed talking to him. He and family are going to California shortly to see son Mike. Called our Mike to relay info on a phone call he had gotten at our place. Mike will go to Germany and Zurich next week. Talked to Precious Vivian, who was waiting for her friend, Mealie (?) to come over--what a sweetie-pie. Mike and family are going on a cruise over Christmas; can't remember where.
Must run down to Santori's to get salad fixings, as that's what I'm bringing to Susan's dinner tonight. Looking forward to it, but wish Pat could come.
Was delighted to see and read Pat McH.R. back-on-blog--yay!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

All those silly, self-absorbed activities I record--the lunches, the parties, the club meetings--are superficial bores compared to what I did yesterday. Serving at Sister Jean's Soup Kitchen gave me back the perspective I've shamelessly ignored for so long: The difference between people like me, who have to diet because they have too much, and the others who go hungry in this land of plenty.
Every day except Sundays, Sister Jean and her helpers feed both breakfast and lunch to a church full of poor men, women, and children, of all ethnic backgrounds. What's served depends on what's been donated from restaurants and casinos. Yesterday, it was fried fish, corn, string beans, spaghetti and "gravy," as the Italians say. I call it sauce and, rich with ground meat, it smelled delicious. Along with this, trays of whole wheat bread and rolls were set out on each table, along with pitchers of ice water. There was no dessert yesterday, although Leslie said there sometimes is. Every meal depends on what's donated.
The helpers were a mixed bag and included a very few paid employees (the cooks), those assigned there for community service (I used to send people when I worked at United Way), and volunteers like us. Some are from churches--our four from Tuckerton Presbyterian--and some, such as 93-year-old Fran and her young friend, Karen, are just individuals who want to help. Presiding over it all is the legendary Sister Jean.
This short, dark-skinned, excitable dynamo has been running the Soup Kitchen for many years with the help of Sister Debbie, Brother Kevin, and a host of lesser underlings. (Kevin is a waiter at the Tropicana Casino, but volunteers here two days a week.)
Sister Jean gets up at 4:00 am to oversee breakfast, the first sitting for which is at 7:00. After that, the kitchen and dining room have to be cleaned up and food prepared for lunch. It's almost impossible to understand how Sister Jean--who's in her early seventies--does all this day after day, six days a week. (The Rescue Mission serves meals on Sundays, but according to those who know, the food isn't as good.)
The large room next to the kitchen is equipped with steam tables and opens onto the dining room. Four of us stood on each side of the tables with our big ladles, following an assembly-line system. (I staffed the vegetable station.) We'd pass the plates down the line, each adding her part of the meal, then hand them to the servers to take out to the seated "guests."
Sister Jean's is open for lunch from 11:30 to 2:00 and guests file in to sit at long tables and listen to prayers and hymns. Yesterday, a singer stood on the raised altar (the building still functions as a church on Sundays) and accompanied himself on a guitar while he sang rousing, old-time religious favorites.
At first, it was non-stop, as there were eight or ten servers, all zooming away after they were handed two full plates, and quickly coming back for more. After everyone was initially served, there was a short lull, then those asking for seconds came in, at the same time that people were arriving for the next seating. Servers would rush into the room and yell, "ten more," "four more, two without fish," or "two large, three small" (for the children) and all hands would rapidly add the food to the plates. I estimated that about 300 people were served lunch yesterday.
Incidentally, Sister doesn't want her guests to be given disposable tableware, so actual solid plates and stainless silverware are used. They're heavy and have to be loaded into the dishwashers after each meal, but I admire her so much for that. I hate eating off foam or paper places and it's a million times better for the environment, not to mention less expensive.
At the soup kitchen, it was frantic, messy, and uncomfortably warm. I was yelled at by Sister Jean when I asked to be a server: "You're too old! The younger ones do that!" I tore the first two pairs of plastic gloves I tried and was politely, but sternly, asked to move out of the way when I blocked a server's path. We were there for almost three hours, on our feet the whole time, and I burned myself on one of the hot trays.
It was the best day I've had in ages.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Performed various chores and errands yesterday, all very mundane. Only notable activity was pledging a monthly donation to "The Real News," a new television network that is viewer-funded and accepts no government support or advertising. Hope it will drive even the tiniest wedge into the big-media monopoly that works hand-in-glove with the neocons to promote its agenda, in particular its death-dealing policies.
After leaving dinner for Pat (oh, all right, it was a frozen one), I drove to Viv's in Barnegat and met her and new Wellspouse member, Donna. Viv drove to Manalapan--about an hour away--and we got to the Java Moon in plenty of time for the Freehold group dinner meeting. About ten other people were there, most of whom I had met before. I brought a bottle of white zinfandel, but so had Barbara, who is caregiver for her husband (he has some kind of bad neureopathic disease similar to ALS). She brought a large bottle, which we happily shared, so I took mine home intact.
Great meeting and good dinner. I ordered the tilapia, about half of which I ate. One of the (male) members likes to bake and he brought a wonderful vanilla cake. I actually had a generous slice and if I that means I don't lose tomorrow at WW, so be it.
The discussion was gently, but firmly, directed by Wellspouse Donna (not New Member Donna), whose husband suffered a diving accident 20 years ago when she was 3 months pregnant. He is paralyzed from the neck down. Incidentally, it drives me crazy to attend meetings with a facilitator unable or unwilling to steer the conversation back when it strays from the topic. Donna is very skillful at doing this and we had a good talk.
It was raining when we left--that was welcome, as we hadn't had rain for ages--and Viv drove back carefully to her house, where I picked up my car. Got home at 11:00, an unheard of hour for me. Skipped my usual evening snacks and went right to bed.
I had told Susan if I wasn't at her door at 7:05, I wouldn't walk today and, indeed, I didn't wake up until 6:45. I turned over, preparing to go back to sleep, but you know what? My little nagging inner voice said, "Get up, you lazy slug-a-bed, you know you don't like to skip your walk, and you'll regret it later," so I did. Dressed in about 3 minutes flat, crossed the street to Susan's, and we did our usual brisk mile and a half. Now I feel good, rarin' to go, and will pick Leslie up at 11:00 to work at the soup kitchen.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Finally got the new blue pansies put in around the front tree. Watered the flower beds twice yesterday, as it's been so hot. Went to Staples to pick up the signs for the Tricky Tray. I'm not crazy about them, as I think the lettering is fuzzy. They're only 17 cents apiece, so I'll try to find time to have them done over. While I was in the big city (Manahawkin), I got some little Halloween gifts for the Singapore contingent. Was going to get a new scarecrow for out front, but decided they're now cliche (every other house seems to have one outside) and got a cloth little girl figure about 3 feet high. I put at the tree out front. Also couldn't resist a string of little skeleton figures that light up and turn colors. Draped them over the mirror in the foyer and they look neat.
Wrapped the door prizes for the Tricky Tray and told Barb H. I'd take her up on her offer to help on Sunday. She also volunteered Ray, who cheerfully said he'd put up the tables.
Talked to Leslie and will accompany her and her church group to the Atlantic City Soup Kitchen tomorrow. Also got an e-mail from Norm (of the coalition) announcing a new "Dinner for Peace" every other Wednesday at Althena's in Northfield. First is tomorrow and I'd love to go, but feel a little guilty about leaving Pat at dinnertime again. I'm going to the Wellspouse dinner in Manalapan tonight and Susan and Walter's on Friday. We'll see.
Susan gave me a copy of an e-mail from a Canadian friend (Walter was born in Canada) emphasizing the drawbacks and horrors of their health care system. Got the same electronically from Ray. I wrote back that maybe the Canadian model wasn't for us, but other countries seem to be able to have workable systems, notably Japan. Of course, they have a different type of country. U.S. Medicare is, and has been, well-run and successful, so maybe we should examine the possibilities of structuring something like that.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Got down to Long Beach Island about 1:00. After crossing the causeway bridge, I turned left toward the northern end of the island where the race was to finish nine miles away. As I was driving, I thought how incredible it was that 800 people were running that far--and that was only half the course. They leave their cars at St. Francis Center, then are bussed to the starting line on the southern end. Yes, they run the full length of LBI, eighteen miles. Geez, it's mind-boggling.
As I drove along the main road, the runners were on the shoulder to my right. I kept looking for Alison and finally spotted her about four miles from the finish. Beeped the horn, waved, and was thrilled when she vigorously waved back. I'm such an emotional wreck, my eyes actually filled with tears--I'm so proud of her.
Once I got to the finish area, I had time to buy a few cards in a gift shop before taking my stand at the sawhorse barrier. I was annoyed with myself for forgetting my camera, but you can buy pictures of individual runners crossing the finish line. Also, I had pictures from last years' LBI race.
When I saw Alison coming, I cheered her by name. She saw and heard me and, as she always does, raised both arms in the air as she crossed--yay!
After, she told me her time was a half hour slower than last year, the heat being the major factor. Of course, there was plenty of water offered along the route and people had even rigged up hoses on poles to spray the runners as they passed under them--a welcome cooling-off, Alison said. However, the high temperature on LBI was predicted to reach only 72, and it actually got to 80 or above, so it was brutally hot.
Because of that, Mike had had to drop out early on. About five miles in, he knew he was getting overheated and sensibly opted to end the exertion. (Mike is incredibly fit, but he is fifty-eight, so no chicken.) He walked back to St. Francis and, after she had water and a banana, I drove Alison there. A buffet was set up for the runners and, while they ate, I bought a tee shirt commemorating the run. Chatted for awhile--I didn't want anything to eat, having had squash and salad earlier--then left in time to get home just as Pat was coming back from the bay.
Wonderful weekend, as both days were with my d.d. Later, other d.d. called for our usual Sunday evening chat; so good to hear from her, too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Thought I'd just be doing household chores yesterday, so was pleasantly surprised when Alison called in the morning. She invited me to go with them on a hike in Lebanon State Park. (If they were taking their regular Friday-night group, she never would have asked, as they go 7 to 12 miles then and I'm not quite that nuts.) However, this was A., Mike, and little Lindsay, 4, and Lucas, 3, Mike's biological grandkids. Of course, I enthusiastically accepted and met them about 1:30.
I had had half a butternut squash at home and while I waited for the other hikers, ate the remainder of a jar of pickled beets in the car. (Yes, my tastes are weird--so shoot me.)
It was a gorgeous day and the kids were great. We went a mile down the "red" path and a mile back, so it was a good workout for them. It took almost two hours because we walked slowly so the kids could keep up and stopped frequently to inspect interesting things in the forest. These included the foliage--some edible, such as teaberry--and animal life, such as an emerging moth and two praying mantises (ugh!). Mike is very knowledgeable about the names and properties of plants in the pine barrens (he attends intensive, college-level courses on them). It was a pleasure to hear him identify and describe components of the forest in his quiet, self-effacing way. We sat and chatted under the pavilion by the lake when we got back, the kids making friends with another family there. Got home about 5:00; Pat was fine and I served dinner, then got a shower, and settled down with my wine and popcorn. I was again pleasantly surprised when Alison called to say she and Mike might run in the annual Long Beach Island Run (the length of the island: 18 miles) today, and would I like to go down? Well, of course, I would! She'll call this morning and let me know if they're going to enter.
Later: Well, she did call, they're running, and I'm going. It'll be a nice diversion to cheer them on and I'll enjoy visiting LBI (but I wouldn't want to live there).

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Went to Santori's yesterday and bought wagonloads of veggies, including broccoli, just about my favorite food. When I got home, I was excited to find a notice from the post office that a package had arrived, but was at the P.O. Patrick had written to the effect that our new DIL, N., had sent us some gifts and I hoped they were what it contained.
It was! She sent Pat an interesting jigsaw puzzle, me a gorgeous and elegant evening bag in gold, silver, and black, and both of us a lovely collage depicting Kaguyahime, "princess of the moon" according to legend. N. is an artist and created it herself, which makes it all the more precious. I'll frame and hang it shortly.
N. included a charming, beautifully written note (in English, of course). I was very surprised, as I know she doesn't speak English and this was perfectly fluent. It was printed in an elegant hand that is practically a work of art itself.
Mike wrote that N. and Patrick sent some Japanese food mixes to him and Paula, and to Vivian, a stuffed toy character from her favorite cartoon "My Neighbor Totoro." He said she loves it; he took a picture of her with it for her web site and will send it to the newly-married couple.
Vivian has started her new school, OFS (Overseas Family School). Mike described her school day, which seems very enriching. He said she loves her music teacher, "the Black one," whom they haven't yet met, but assume is of African ancestry, somewhat unusual in Singapore. Her regular teacher is Austrailian.
Bought more pansies, which I now have to plant, but they're shades of blue and will look good with the yellow and white ones around the front tree.
"The other Vivian," my friend in Barneget, asked if I wanted to go to the Wellspouse dinner meeting on Tuesday in Manalapan and yes, I do. We're taking somebody named Donna, too; we'll meet at Viv's and she'll drive.

Friday, October 05, 2007

After walking, WW, and breakfast, it was a somewhat ho-hum day. Drove back to Manahawkin to Shop-Rite and got chicken and pork chops, which I'll bread, wrap individually, and freeze. Stopped at the party store for wax lips and eye balls; got ten of the former, two of latter. (No, I'm not going to explain that one.)
Received more items for the Tricky Tray. Otherwise, just did wash and puttered around with this and that.
Betty called to tell me she had bought a lot of veggies and a mandolin. (When I started getting serious about losing weight, I bought one, as well as a chopper.) However, she couldn't figure out the thing goes together and, over the phone, I couldn't, either.
After dinner, I met Marge and Fred at the library to see the two one-act plays put on by the Little Egg Players. They were hysterical and--at my advanced age, always a help--were over in less than an hour so I was home by 8:00.
Cleaners come today, so I want to throw the bathroom rugs in the washer.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Busy, busy day yesterday, and very enjoyable. While Pat napped in the morning, I ran errands in Manahawkin. Bought more mums, these in white and purple, and they look great in the garden. Brother Frank called soon after I got home and we had a good talk. (He and Marybeth are just back from a month in Ireland.) Received another item for the Tricky Tray event, then just had time to hop in the shower, dress (I wore the belt--yes!), and get over to Ventnor Heights to pick Hazel up. Saw her 11-year-old granddaughter, a stunningly beautiful little girl with long blonde hair. She looks as if she should be in a medieval painting with a falcon on her finger.
We went to the caregivers' group at the JCC and I think it's a pretty good one. There were only two other women there besides the facilitator, Hazel, and me, but that's not a bad size. The other women had elderly husbands with varying problems, but of course, in a caregivers' group, it isn't important what the malady of the IS ("ill spouse," as we say in Wellspouse) happens to be; the emphasis is on the well caregiver.
After discussion (confidential), we agreed to meet again in a month. The facilitator, Lois, suggested we meet for lunch or dinner at a local diner for one of the sessions--hey, you know me, that sounded like a great idea! I think Hazel got something out of it, and I did, too, although I'm an old hand at these gatherings.
Dropped Hazel off, then headed back to the end of the island. Went over the Longport Bridge and got to The Crab Trap with no problem--in fact, I was early by about a half hour. Called home and Pat said all was well, except the Phillies were losing (sob!). Then just sat outside (the weather was wonderful) and waited for Pat R. and her Rich...
...and here they came! It was so good to see Pat again and wonderful to meet Rich. We fell on each other with hugs and kisses, then sashayed into the restaurant, were seated immediately, and fell to our favorite occupation, hobby, and avocation: talking. Pat, of course, had to be drawn out, she's such a shy flower (ha, ha), but Rich held his own pretty well in trying to get a word in edgewise.
It's so good and comfortable and fulfilling to be with somebody you like and admire and who has a brain and uses it. We just had a ball. As for what we literally "had"--to eat that is--I had broiled flounder with two sides of veggies, plus salad, a Coors Light, and decaf. Pat and Rich got seafood, too, of course, I just don't recall what. Rich insisted in picking up the tab, although I protested, but he's a big-hearted, generous guy and I didn't have a prayer. Thanks, Buck!
I wanted to start home before darkest nightfall, so we reluctantly said goodbye before we had really finished talking (will that ever happen?--I'm never "finished" talking!) We agreed I should visit them in Virginia Beach some weekend and boy, I'd love to and hope to be able to arrange it.
Got home with no problem. Pat was fine and said Betty had called. I called her back and we had a nice talk.
Good day all around and now I'm ready for our walk, then Weight Watchers.
Later: Yet again, I lost 1.6 pounds, just a shade more than one and a half. Considering I had a nice dinner last night and two meals at the Wellspouse gathering on Saturday, that's good. It brings me to 161.6, with 38 pounds off. I expect to get into the 150s and/or 40 pounds lost within the next two Thursdays.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

While Susan and I were chatting after our walk yesterday, neighbors Judy K. and Charlie D. (for "Dog") came up and gave us each a bag of Halloween candy. Judy had attached a picture of Charlie dressed in his costume: a tux and top hat. It was hysterical, as Charlie has one odd, staring eye and his expression in the picture was that of a serial killer who had just offed his last victim. Okay, I'll confess: Even I like Charlie, who's a nice little doggy and thoroughly socialized, and doesn't bark or jump up and scare me.
Took Pat to the breathing test. We were both tense about it, but he got through it all right. The doctor reviewed it after and said there was actually a very slight improvement in the numbers since his last test a year ago. It gave both of us a lift when she said, "We're usually satisfied when the condition is stable, so this is good." However, it needs to be made clear this isn't terribly significant--emphysema is progressive and incurable--it's just better than a downturn.
After leaving Pat his lunch (he napped after we came home), I zipped up to Kohl's and bought myself a blouse and two pairs of "ballerina shoes." These were big in 1902 when I was a girl, so I was glad they were on sale. Bought a black patent and a red; however I discovered that the black ones hurt, so I'll return them, but will sport the perky red when I go on my excursions today.
Barb H. came over to get my check for the Women's Club Christmas luncheon on on December 12 (we're making up a table with 8 others) and stayed for awhile to chat.
Unpleasant note: Yesterday, The Press of Atlantic City ran a disturbing story: The pastor of our local R.C. church, St. Teresa's, has been accused of child molestation and has been relieved of his duties pending an investigation. Although I'm happily "fallen away," as the silly label used to be, and have been for years, I'm grieved for many of my friends who are faithful parishioners there.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Went out and got another bag of mulch before taking Pat to the auto repair place. We left his car and when we got home, I was pleased to hear from Marge asking about my availability for lunch. Sure thing, I'm game. Marge and I like to try different restaurants and we decided on The Grapevine where we haven't been for awhile. I'm not sure why, as it's a nice place, the food is usually good, and it's fairly modest in price. I had--what else?--a salad, but not Caesar this time.
Maybe I should have. This salad consisted of grilled, formerly frozen, chicken strips over blah iceberg lettuce and--unfortunately--lots of other stuff I don't much like, including cucumber, hot peppers, and those horrid "baby" carrots. Warning--here comes a rant: I don't know what the big deal is when you just have to pare real, live carrots, and cut them up, but these packaged, tasteless pseudo-vegetables seems to be all people serve nowadays. (Oh, shut up, Rosemary--get a life!) Anyway, I picked out a lot of the stuff and ate the rest, then took quite a bit home, nibbled a bit more, and threw it out. No matter, because the real enjoyment of our lunch lay in talking and sharing with each other.
Marge and I are now close friends. We no longer have to explain who we mean when we mention relatives and personal histories, so we're very comfortable together. After lunch, we stopped at Hand's Nursery again and both bought pumpkins to decorate the outside. Nice day.
When I got home, Pat took my car to the bay and I spread the other bag of mulch around two trees in the back. I was annoyed to notice we had also overlooked the bed around the front tree (now with pansies), and put some there, too. It needs a little more; I'll buy another bag today.
Took Pat back to get his car at 4:00. They put in a new alternator to the tune of $340, but I just sighed, wrote out a check, and forgot about it.
Pat has that damn breathing test this morning, so we have to leave for Absecon about 9:30. Hope it isn't too much of an ordeal for him.
Tomorrow, I pick up Hazel for the caregivers' meeting in Margate, then meet Pat and Rich for dinner at the Crab Trap--yippee!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Went to Hand's Nursery about noon and bought four bags of mulch. When I got home, Alison was there, lying on the couch. Poor thing, she had a bad cold. I chided her for not calling to say she couldn't come, but she insisted she was okay. She told us about her seventy-five mile bike run on Saturday for MS. Yes, she finished the whole thing--from Cherry Hill to Ocean City--and raised several hundred dollars. Pat and I were concerned, though, when she told us she had fallen. A colleague of hers dropped a water bottle, braked to pick it up, and Alison had to jam on her brakes to avoid hitting him. This resulted in her flying over her handlebars and landing hard on the road. There were lots of ambulances and EMTs on the route and several rushed up to her. They asked her to come with them to be examined and/or go to an emergency room, but she refused, got back on her bike, and finished. Luckily, she seems to have sustained only a bruised shoulder--she landed on it--and we're sure has no lasting damage. Incidentally, there were 8,000 participants riding various distances. Some stayed over, then biked back to Cherry Hill yesterday, totalling 150 miles over two days. Hmm, maybe I'll do that next year...
Incidentally, Mike wasn't able to come, as he was occupied in removing the solar panels from their roof, which has a leak. Big Joel was helping him, so I assume they got it done reasonably quickly; they'll have to replace them after the roof is fixed.
My strong, healthy, darling daughter and I really got the place in shape! A. dug out the two ugly round bushes (builder-provided) on either side of the front path, then dragged them to the thick woods behind our house to help replenish the forest as they disintegrate. In their place, we put in the Montauk daisies, already beautifully blooming, adding some of the mums near them. I put the winter pansies all around the front tree and had enough for a hanging basket. We broke for lunch, then Alison dumped the mulch and I helped spread it. We had enough to go around two of the four trees in the backyard and I'll get another bag today. Want to get some pumpkins for decoration, too.
After we finished, Alison left to baby-sit for Tristan while Joel, Jen, and Joely went out. I made chicken for dinner, talked to other D.D., Ellen, showered, enjoyed my wine and popcorn, laid gratefully down in bed, and slept the sleep of the just.
Just a little philosophical note: There's something deeply satisfying about accomplishing projects through hard, physical labor. I've always been a cerebral type, putting things of the mind over those of the body, so as I matured, this came as a revelation to me. It felt so good to lift, bend, and stretch alongside my daughter, then see the results of our efforts in a lovely, flowering garden that will last for many years.