Monday, December 31, 2007

Laulks-a-mercy-me! I slept until 6:40, for heaven's sake, and only had time to dress, gulp some coffee, and get out the door to pick up Susan for our walk. Am just now getting blogtime, but...
It's no problem because yesterday, after our regular walk, nothing much went on. I didn't set foot outside all day; didn't even unlock the car. Washed, dried, and folded loads of laundry, cleaned the guest bath, and puttered around. Spent time on the couch reading Vanity Fair while Pat watched the Eagles trounce--well, I can't remember who they played, but they won their last game of the year.
Sounds boring, but it was curiously satisfying because the weather was overcast and gloomy, my least favorite. We were snug and warm by ourselves in our comfortable home and sometimes, I need that.
I was sorry to hear from Alison, though, that the New Year's Day hike is probably not a good idea for me. She said it includes crossing a bridge over a river, fairly high up, that has spaces in between the ties. In addition, the hikers must negotiate a stream by balancing on rocks. She is concerned that one or both would be a problem for me and I agree--but darn! I was looking forward to it so much. However, I saw on the web site (Outdoor Club of South Jersey) that a four-mile hike to Apple Pie Hill is scheduled for the sixth. I'm going to sign up for that; maybe Alison would come, but I'll go myself, if not.
This is the last day of 2007. So? The last day of the year comes every 365 days. I have no particular ideas on the subject, resolutions to make, or deep, philosophical thoughts, except I'm glad I'm alive.
And for you reading this: I'm glad you're alive, too.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Susan and I walked with umbrellas again, but the heavier downpour had passed by 7, and we actually enjoyed the gentle rain. It was warm, too--in the fifties--so that was pleasant.
Rest of day was mundane, but okay. Needed to replenish our supply of paper products, so I made the mistake of going to Wal-Mart. On Saturday. The Saturday after Christmas
It was jammed, of course. Finally got what I wanted and escaped with my life. Stopped at Shop-Rite, then Acme, and got salmon for dinner for me, country ribs that I barbecued for Pat. Went to the library and the liquor store (words and wine, folks, a glorious combination), to replenish my supplies in those areas, too.
Talked to Barb H., who told me neighbor Anne Mary doesn't have pneumonia after all; possibly, it was post-nasal drip. She was probably released yesterday and is up north with friends. At Wal-Mart, I found a note card with a picture of a white miniature poodle that looked just like her Eddie. Used it to combine a few paragraphs of "get well" and "thank you" (she had given me a candle for Christmas), and sent it off.
After dinner, we were delighted to get a web cam call from Ellen. She had hooked it up herself and it was fun talking to, and seeing her. She showed us small, graceful Tillie and hulking Sebastian (18 pounds!) and even moved the camera part around the room, so we could see that, too. Still no official word from the owners of the condo, but we figure they'd get in touch in the new year.
After about 20 minutes, Mike called Ellen, so we hung up with her. He may call us tonight, but not sure. Ellen had called Alison earlier and so had I, but there was no answer. Since it rang, I think they just weren't home, not that it wasn't hooked up.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Spent a quiet Friday, mostly at home after WW. Changed beds, did wash, and cleaned up around the house. Betty called and we had a good talk--hope her compter gets better soon, so she can resume her blog.
Went to Acme. Ran into Barb H. while I was there and we chatted for awhile. She told me our neighbor, Anne Mary, is in the hospital up north (northern Jersey, that is) with a "broncospasm." I assume that's not a jittery horse, but some kind of breathing problem.
Was intrigued by a long article in The NYTimes on food, diet, and weight and sent it to Betty and Pat R. It was run in September, but I just found it. In my dim and fumbling way, I've been espousing what the author does: less meat, more plant foods, and--most important--take in fewer calories. Avoid what your great-grandmother would not recognize as food, meaning the thousands of heavily-processed stuff that fills the supermarket shelves. Understand that the gigantic food industry is not your friend. Also understand that the stinking hand of politics reaches even into the sacred domain of food. Further understand that it a product makes health claims, it probably isn't good for you. Read labels.
For anyone else who wants to read this, go to the NYTimes web site and put "Unhappy Meals" (by Michael Pollan), in its search engine.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I had to take Ellen to the airport yesterday--sob! It's always a wrench and we both cried, but only a little. Had no problem getting there. Since I'm notorious for being early, I dropped her off at 11:30 for a 2:30 flight. Just got an e-mail from her to the effect she arrived safely and is back home with the kitties. The big news is that, although it isn't "official" yet, her RE agent thinks the owners will accept her offer for the condo--yahoo! As I wrote Ellen, I'd give anything to be able to go out there and help her move, but with Pat's health, I'm afraid that isn't an option.
Stopped at Santori's on the way home and bought 30 dollars worth of produce. Went over to Susan's to welcome her back from Connecticut; we'll resume our morning walk today. Made Pat chicken and I had a little slice of his, along with veggies, for dinner.
Nothing much else going on. Today, I have a whole list of chores to complete and errands to run; I had much more important things to do recently--being with my daughters.
Will go to Weight Watchers this morning. I think I've gained some, which isn't unlikely considering holiday eating. However, I'm not concerned about it, as I'm back in the groove and know any weight gain is temporary.
Later: Interestingly, I stayed the same--still at 148.4, with 51.2 pounds off. That's not bad, as it gives me a clue about the real challenge ahead: maintaining the weight loss. I figure I overate on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Significantly, though, I didn't deviate through the whole day, only at dinner and after. Hmm...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Enjoyed another vigorous day of hiking with my D.D.s yesterday. Ellen and I met Alison in charming little Chatsworth (about a 40 minute drive) at 11:00 am and she drove us to Atsion Park. We left the car by the side of the road, then entered one of the trails. Ellen had said she wanted to climb the fire tower at the top of Apple Pie Hill, so A. led us the mile or so there. We were pleased to find about 30 members of A.'s outdoor group having lunch on the hill. They had come from the opposite direction--about 4 miles. While Ellen went up the tower, not quite to the top, we chatted and enjoyed the view of the surrounding pinelands. Just from the hill, it was beautiful; you saw nothing but the tree line all the way to the horizon, with a deep blue haze far away.
A. then took us Tabernacle, another tiny village, and the girls got deli sandwiches at "Nixon's," the general store. I had brought my lunch, but was out of lettuce, so packed some good ole (cooked) broccoli, a hard-boiled egg, and a bunch of grapes. I was so hungry the cold broccoli tasted wonderful and so did everything else.
Now A. took us to Osego Lake--yoicks!
Years ago, Pat, Patrick, and I had been there kayaking with A. and Mike in the summer, but yesterday was very overcast and this was just a bit scary. We drove way, way out into the forest, then walked partly around the lake on an unpaved road, full of deep holes, mud, and water . It seemed completely deserted for miles around, and by this time, the overcast sky had darkened and rain started to fall. We entertained ourselves by coming up with lurid headlines:
"Three women walked into the pines on Wednesday and no trace has been found...."
We did see and hear a whole flock of magnificent trumpeter swans across the lake, but after I slipped on the red mud and almost covered my shoes, we walked the mile back.
It was a wonderful day, rain and mud notwithstanding. Alison and Ellen said their goodbyes and E. and I drove home about 4:00.
After dinner, we tried to call/webcam Mike. He wasn't in yet, but called us back. Ellen and I talked to, and saw, him and adorable little Vivian for more than an hour. V. showed me the presents I had sent, holding up and explaining each one. She then kept running off to get other toys to show us, including an odd-looking doll she named "Luka." Finally, she appeared in a pretty dress-up dress, pink with chiffon and sequins. Of course, we told her how lovely she looked and she ate it up. What a little sweetie!
In the meantime, Alison's Mike was connecting her web cam and we were able to talk to her, but not yet see her. I'm sure he'll have it finished soon.
Went to bed at an ungodly hour for me--10:00 pm. Now I have the sad task of taking Ellen to the airport. It's been so good to have her here--I hope, hope, hope she might be able to come back in the summer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We had a very nice Christmas--quieter than many, but good. Exchanged greetings with brother Jim and Betty, and was so happy to tell them about the baby coming. Called brother Larry, as Betty had told me his Helen was in the hospital. She had had some trouble breathing and was waiting for a cardiac procedure. Luckily, it seems not to be extremely serious.
Ellen and I prepared as much as possible early in the day, as I always try to do, and we enjoyed doing it together. Alison, Mike, and M.'s brother, David, got here about 4, having shared noontime "dinner" with M.'s mother, Mavis, in the assisted living facility. The pork was good and the vegetables I roasted with them superb. Got the recipe off the Internet and it's very easy. I had the butcher cut the large, boneless roast in half, to make about four pounds for last night. There's enough left over to give Pat hot pork sandwiches tonight.
Ate at a little before 6 after chatting and laughing together. I had set on the living room table the digital picture frame Mike gave me for my birthday, and we watched it periodically. Ellen had figured out how to transfer my own pictures on to it and we even saw the ones from Christmas Eve at Alison's.
After dinner, we opened our presents. The girls were amazed and thrilled to receive the web cams from Mike. (To avoid violating the terms of our Christmas exchange, he had written that Alison's was a late birthday gift, and Ellen's an early one.) Paula also sent unique and lovely little ornaments to Alison, Ellen, and me. I was given an elephant and a ball, Alison a rat (2008 is the year of the rat), and Ellen a cat.
We decided to call the expecting parents and I did. Paula answered the phone and said they were at the Singapore port, ready to disembark after their cruise (it was the 26th over there). She's suffering from "morning sickness," but for most of the day, unfortunately. I sympathized with her, remembering how uncomfortable that is, but she should be over it in a few more weeks. Mike then came in from breakfast with Vivian and we all chatted with him. He managed to corral V. long enough to have her say, "Merry Christmas" before she charged away. He told us she said she wanted "a brown baby" and would give it milk and wouldn't beat it. (Where in the world did she get that?)
A., E., and I decided to skip Longwood Gardens in favor of a hike today in Atsion Forest--a great idea Ellen suggested. (I don't care where we go, as long as I'm with my D.D.s.)
After Alison, Mike, and David left, I stayed up with Pat and Ellen for a half hour to watch a show we happened to come across. It was about the changed, and greatly enhanced, lives of people who had won big in lotteries.
During this holiday season, I feel as if I've won the best lottery prize there is--the life one.
An afterthought: Betty pointed out that Byrne descendants seem to be populating the earth. Her Wes and Katy are expecting in May, Larry's granddaughter is pregnant, both of Frank's daughters are due shortly, and now Vivian will be a big sister. Also, Betty's grandson, Finn, at six and a half, is the oldest of the younger set (some grandkids, some great-grands). How many, Betty?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Best, best Christmas news ever! A few minutes ago, I opened an e-mail from Mike and Paula--they're giving Vivian a baby sister or brother in mid-July--yay! I had the idea they were trying, but wasn't quite sure. What a great event to look forward to! (Oh, I don't care if it should be "at which to look forward.") I'm so thrilled and overjoyed. Pat and Ellen are still asleep--can't wait to tell them!
This just enhances a wonderful holiday season. Yesterday, I got to Shop-Rite at 7 am and bought ingredients for dinner tonight: pork roast, apples for baking, baking potatoes, heavy cream, and lots of other stuff. Spent the morning and early afternoon making Nana Mix, Molloy's Irish Creme, and paring 5 pounds of potatoes (Alison had asked me to bring mashed to her Christmas Eve gathering). Just had time to jump in the shower before leaving for her place at 2:00 pm.
We had such a great time last night in their huge, wonderfully decorated (she laughingly calls it "rustic elegance) living/dining room. The Phillips Four got there just as we did, then Mike's son, DIL, and the two kiddies arrived, followed by his brother, Brent. Ellen, of course, was already there, having stayed over (but came back after with us).
Much conversation, laughing, and fun ensued. There were plenty of appetizers and, as I had skipped lunch, I helped myself to more than enough. Dinner was a big fresh ham with a pineapple glaze, string bean casserole, pureed butternut squash, my smashed taters (I can't help myself--I always say that), and other sides. Dessert? The pecan pie Ellen and I made, as well as apple and strawberry/rhubarb, and wonderful lemon poppy seed muffins from Brent.
The children then opened their presents and, of course, that generated lots of excitement and cries of surprise. Every time Joely opened one, he would turn to the giver and say, "Thank you." Little Tristan was just recovering from a nasty bronchial infection, but was passed around from hand to hand and was fairly cheerful. Joel took Jen to the basement to see his gift to her: a shiny new 13-speed bike.
Anyway, it was a terrifically enjoyable evening. The setup of Alison's house lends itself to several "conversation areas" and during the party, different people got together and chatted, then shifted, regrouped, and joined other "sets." The separations were temporary and comfortable, and everybody still felt part of the whole.
Pat was tired and ready to leave about 7:30, so we said our goodbyes, and drove off, Ellen with us. Today, she and I will prepare for Christmas dinner. We're having only six, so it will be quiet, but good.
Just now, I got a nice e-card bringing Christmas wishes from cyber-pal, Dee. I then interrupted this entry to announce the good news to Pat and Ellen--a new grandbaby in a new year! It's a joyous time, all right--happy day!



Monday, December 24, 2007

Said goodbye to Susan after our walk; she and Walter left for her daughter's in Connecticut shortly after. We sloshed through heavy rain and wind again, but no matter, we completed our route.
After getting my chores and obligations at home done, I left with Ellen for Alison's and we arrived about noon.
What an enjoyable day we had! Alison had a list of items to complete before her dinner party for fifteen tonight and E. and I selected our choices. Ellen, the trimmer par excellence, made the tree beautiful, even adding chiming bells that play Christmas songs. In the meantime, I wrapped the fifteen or so gifts for the children from Alison and Mike, and Alison scrubbed down the laundry room. I cleaned and sliced the celery for dip, then Ellen and I made a pecan pie and got it in the oven.
As we worked in the expansive new addition, we listened to music and laughed at the chiming bells. We couldn't decide if they were charmingly evocative of the Christmas spirit or irritating enough to make you want to shoot them silent.
Alison and Mike will lead a hike on New Year's Day and I'm hoping to join them. It's 7 to 10 miles at a moderate pace, and I'm confident I can do it.
Mike, whose assignment was hanging pictures (all taken by him of forest fauna and framed beautifully) showed us a wonderful find: A crank telephone for the wall he had found among his late father's things. It's not hooked up as a phone, but the lovely, tinkling bell still rings. It's just perfect for their "rustic elegance" decor and he hung it next to the big double window on the back wall.
Incidentally, right outside that window grows a mimosa tree that's naturally bare now. I had suggested they cut it down to make the vista of their large, treed backyard more prominent. Of course, these two environmentalist practically choked and collapsed on the spot. It's now become a joke for us and I laughed out loud to see it yesterday: Alison had climbed a ladder to hang Christmas ornaments on almost every branch--it looks beautiful, all adorned! (Better than it will in the spring with those ugly mimosa blooms on it, I remarked.)
After most of the chores were done, I drove home, leaving Ellen to stay over. She'll come back down to our place with us tonight and will help me prepare Christmas dinner. Poor El! She's gone back and forth for various reasons during her whole trip, but is so cheerful and pleasant about it. Sweet girl with her sweet sister--my D.D.s.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yesterday turned out so neat--after a bumpy start. In the morning, I wanted to show Susan the tree, but it failed to light. She asked her husband, Walter (a retired electrical engineer), to come over and look at it. He did, he tested it, it still didn't work, so he unwound two strings and took them off. This caused a number of ornaments to fall, and we were left with a more or less de-decorated (orated?) tree.
That took some time and I had to set up Pat's morning medication and breakfast, make his lunch, and assemble a salad for my own lunch, so I just left it as was, and went off to the park for the hike of the South Jersey Outdoor Club.
Got there to find about fifty people. I was surprised that most were in their middle forties or older, and several were around my age. Alison and Ellen drove up, we parked and signed in, and A. introduced us around.
It's a great group and it was so good to walk with them, meeting and chatting with this person and that.
I always find it interesting and somehow mysterious to realize my children have lives largely unknown to me and I love to meet those who share it with them. There were hugs for Alison and questions about Mike, who was too busy to go this time ("Where's the big guy?").
We started off on the trail a little after 10 and here's the kicker:
We finished the whole 7.2 miles! For the others, this was--literally and figuratively--just a walk in the park, but for Ellen and me, it was momentous.
The hike took more than three hours and I was gratified to realize I could keep up well. Of course, this wasn't the intense (faster) walk Mike and Alison lead on Friday nights, but it was brisk and was no problem for me.
After, there was a potluck buffet right in the forest. I ate only my salad, but it was great fun to mingle and chat with fellow hikers. Alison told me about a Wednesday afternoon hike and I'm looking forward to that. I hope to participate and how great that would be!
When I got up a half hour ago, I had no soreness except for the front of my ankles. Alison had given me stretching exercises and I took Tylenol, and it feels better. I asked if I could have Ellen back just for the day and she agreed. Last night, she re-assembled the tree and it looks beautiful again.
Before our usual walk, Susan had presented me with a birthday gift: a tee-shirt with "Exit 58" (our exit on the parkway) on it, and pictures of our state birds: the mosquito and the greenhead fly. I love it and will wear it today when Ellen and I go back up to Alison's to help trim her tree and prepare for the Christmas Eve gathering.
Talked to Betty, and caught up on her birthday--like mine, it was quiet, but fun. Then Mike called from poolside on the cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's "Rhapsody of the Seas." He put Vivian on to say, "Happy Burfday, Nana!" before she ran back to splash with a little friend. They were docked for the night in Malaysia and enjoying the experience. This morning, I found an article on Singapore in the NYTimes travel section and e-mailed it to him.
It was a good, good day and I'm looking forward to another with my two D.D.s.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The court date went okay. Ellen and I arrived early (naturally; being practically compulsive, I'm early for everything) in a driving rain. I talked to the prosecutor briefly, and the upshot was, the points were reduced from six (six!) to four. I have the idea that all my carefully structured "defense" (my apology, the letter from Pat's pulmologist attesting to my caregiver status, the receipt from his oxygen company, even my license, registration, and insurance cards) made no difference at all. The prosecutor was very pleasant and immediately lowered the points, the judge instructed me, I answered "yes," paid a $139 fine, and that was that. Alison thinks Allstate won't even raise my insurance, but I'll have to wait and see about that.
Rest of the day was fabulous. Ellen and I picked up the birthday cake she had ordered, then we went out looking for a Christmas tree. I wanted a small one this year and we found a beauty about 5 1/2 feet high at Home Depot. We asked the have some of the trunk removed, then bundled it in the back seat and took it home.
Thank heavens for Ellen! She secured the tree in the stand, put the lights on, vacuumed up the needles, and generally did most of the work. She and I added the ornaments and it looks just beautiful.
In the meantime, I received phone calls, e-mail messages, and in-person birthday greetings from Betty, brothers, cousins, friends, and Joel and Jen. Big packages arrived from both Asian contingents--what fun!
Alison breezed in about 5:00 after her last day at work (she starts with Special Services school district after New Year's) and the girls ordered out--Chinese for them and me, Italian for Pat. The four of us had a lovely, casual dinner, laughing a lot, of course. I had sweet and sour pork (can't believe I ate all of it), and a big slab of that luscious cake. We took pictures, giggling and acting silly, then I opened my presents.
Got a digital picture displayer (will explain in a later post), a wonderful outdoor jacket, a gift certificate for Kohl's, an outdoor pants and top set, and a lovely hanging Christmas ornament. Included in the box from the Tokyo Two was a beautiful, handmade Christmas card--my new daughter-in-law is so talented (so is my "old" DIL).
Anyway, it was a full and happy day. The girls left about 8:30 and I promptly went to bed, slept like a log, and got up this morning at 5:15. Today, I'm meeting the D.D.s at 10 am for a hike in the forest with the South Jersey Outdoor Club. Some of the members will go 7 to 10 miles, but Alison said she'd take Ellen and me just 2 or 3 . E. is staying over A.'s tonight, but may come back to our house today. Either way, we'll all be together again on Christmas Eve at A.'s and Christmas Day at our place.
Am I fortunate? Damn right. Do I know it? Absolutely and I must never forget.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Got an award (a brass key chain) from Weight Watchers for the 50-pound loss--very gratifying. I had picked up Leslie for WW and caught up with her doings. As we will, she and Dennis will have a quiet Christmas; their boys and families will come on Sunday.
Betty called early; she's back from Florida and had a ball. I'm sure we'll talk again today, as it's our shared birthday. How lucky we are to have each other!
Got up to Alison's about 1:00 and Ellen and I fell into each others' arms. Mike had taken the day off and showed me around the addition. Wow, it's terrific! I couldn't believe how big the remodeled living/dining room is now and the two new rooms and bath are beautiful. They moved their sofabed into one of the rooms, so Ellen had a private suite. The bathroom has a granite countertop, tile all around the tub, and a big oval mirror over the sink. The paint and trim in all areas came out great and there are enjoyable views out of every window. Some overlook their big backyard and stands of trees, and others frame similar scenes. Incidentally, all the windows are doubles; Alison and Mike like a lot of sunshine. The rooms aren't yet completely furnished, but they're set up with two big conversation areas and Alison is following a "rustic elegance" theme, perfect for the house and the woodsy setting.
Got back home about 3:00 and we've been having a ball with Ellen. We went to the supermarket, then cooked dinner together and talked and talked, of course. I'm so glad she'll be with me in court today--I'm really nervous. As this is my birthday, Ellen ordered a cake from a bakery in Manahawkin and we'll pick it up after my ordeal with the law--assuming I'm not incarcerated by then.
Do I have any philosophical thoughts or solemn advice for readers on this momentous day?
Hell, no.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yesterday saw me going back to Kohl's to return what were called "energizing pantyhose." Fifteen bucks and they were almost impossible to get on, even over my nice legs. I imagine they energize by squeezing the blood vessels so all the blood gets forced to your head and you get dizzy and don't realize you're on your feet--or something.
It wasn't a wasted trip, though, because I found a pair of shoe boots that actually don't hurt--much--and bought them. Met up with Mary Ann Van O. and she had a 30 % off coupon. I was able to use it, too, and got the boots for twenty something.
Otherwise, it was a mundane, run-errands day until the high point: Alison picked Ellen up in Philly and she's here! In Jersey! And I'll go get her this afternoon! She called from Alison's car on the way, sounds wonderful, and I can't wait to see her.
That picked me up from an unpleasant altercation with Pat a little earlier. Won't go into it, except to say we had words. So often, I feel unworthy, unappreciated, and trapped in a situation I never saw coming. "Alone and afraid in a world I never made..."
Okay, I'll get over it.
Later: Wow! I'm down another 1.6, so have lost 51.2 pounds for a weight today of 148.4. I'm thrilled!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Went to Kohl's and found a neat black jersey in--well, jersey. It does have a scoop neck, a no-no because it shows my turkey flesh, but I have two turtleneck dickeys I think I can add for camouflage. Stopped at ever-so unhelpful Acme to find they're out of two things I buy regularly, but oh, well.
Got an e-mail from Ellen that she made an offer on a condo. Hope, hope, hope the owners accept, but it's a long-shot, as her offer is a lot less than list price and the price has already gone down by $80K. Her r.e. agent will contact her here with an answer by tomorrow. It's unbelievable what homes cost in California. In Ellen's price range, she could practically get a mansion in Jersey--this is a two bedroom, one bath condo, albeit in a good neighborhood.
Mike called last night. He got his birthday present, but Vivian's Christmas gifts didn't come yet--darn--and they're leaving Friday for their cruise. He had added some pics on precious little girl's web site and we enjoyed them.
Saw Huckabee's truly scary Christmas ad on YouTube. It's beyond belief, a skillful and sickening pander to fundamentalism. What ever happened to the concept of separation of church and state, anyway? It's terrifying to imagine a U.S. president who doesn't believe in evolution! In other words, he's anti-science, anti-reason, and anti-practically everything else that requres a brain.
Of course, I have more important things to think about than the country staggering toward the 18th century: Today, I MUST get the rest of the presents wrapped and prepare for Ellen's arrival. Alison will pick her up in Philly tonight, then I'll go up to get her tomorrow--yay!
Later: My mind is like a sieve. I forgot to mention the high point of yesterday: lunch with Marge at Debra's Daydream Cafe in the Tuckerton Emporium. Ordered the terrific tomato terragon soup and salad; greatly enjoyed that, but more, of course, talking and being with Marge.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good grief, it's twenty of eight and I just got in from our walk. Woke up very late--6:20--so didn't have time for an entry earlier.
Went to KB Toys in Hamilton Mall to exchange something yesterday and was intensely annoyed to be asked for 1.) my phone number (I gave them one starting with 805, which I know is California; 2.) my address; and 3.) my driver license!! I hate, hate, hate the arrogant bastards in corporate America who think they have the right to force their customers to do their demographics--free of charge! Of course, I finally gave my correct phone number because the phony one didn't match my address, blah, blah, blah, and I just wanted to get out of there.
Then went to Boscov's and found--oh, joy!--"Tummy Tuck Jeans" that actually fit! They're billed as "not your daughter's jeans" and, glory be, minimize my middle and are slim below, so emphasize my "nice legs." The only negative is the cost: $98--ouch! I bought them anyway, along with a green sweater that was also pricey--for me--at forty bucks.
Well, I had to do it--I want my fashion maven, Robyn S., to be proud of me!

Monday, December 17, 2007

It was raining heavily and very windy yesterday morning, but virtuous Susan and I just unfurled our umbrellas and walked our usual route. Went to Kohl's to get more Christmas cards and, while the Eagles were lurching their way to victory over the Cowboys, finished my list.
Changed our bed, did a lot of wash, and generally played Suzie Homemaker. Got the Nativity figures put up on the armoire*. We've had these for--oh, about 35 years--along with the angel for the treetop. I bought her the second year we were married, so she's 48 years old now. However, her dress and wings have disintegrated over the years and now we just make dresses for her disembodied head. No matter, she's our angel and we'll always top our tree with her.
I had a hankering for cabbage soup, which I used to make years ago when I first joined Weight Watchers. Had to improvise, though, as I didn't have most of the ingredients. Cut the cabbage in big chunks and simmered it for almost an hour in FF chicken broth, stewed tomatoes, chopped onions, and various spices. It turned out really good! I added navy beans to my individual bowl, then some diced turkey. Yummy, yum, yum, and that was my dinner.
The wind was unbelievable yesterday. Before bedtime, I went to pull the plug of the floodlight on the porch that illuminates our Christmas display. I had arranged three big wrapped packages on the deacon's bench, along with "Santa's Bag," and so on. When I went out, all the packages had blown into the side yard and everything else had fallen over. I gathered up what I could, but it was pitch black, I was in my pajamas, and I couldn't even find the third package. I have a fresh wreath on the door, with bunches of artificial grapes on it, and even some of them had been blown off. Darn--guess I'll have to rethink my outdoor decorating.
I was pleased to hear from cousin Bob that the scrapple arrived. It was still cold, so in good shape, and he put it back in the freezer. He'll enjoy the six pounds for a long time to come.
*I must be 'way off with this spelling: The computer doesn't recognize it and I can't find it in the dictionary. Well, it's the big cabinet that holds books and the T.V.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Triumphantly, I got several more boxes of discarded Christmas items dropped off at the SOCH thrift store. Of course, I still have much too much left, but at least I pared it down some more. Now I even have a dream on a par with Martin Luther King's: To get both cars in the garage at once! I know that's audacious, but I'm thinking if I give Alison the empty containers and shift some stuff at the back wall to where the Xmas things were... Yes, I have a dream...
How dare I--even in fun--compare MLK's dream to mine of getting the garage cleared out? My eyes always fill with tears when I hear that speech. Sometimes I'm too flip for my own good. (Well, Rosemary, you can always delete; but I'll let it stand.)
Got about half the Christmas cards written, stamped, and sent. In my box of seasonal stickers I keep from year to year, I was charmed to find decorative stamps from the American Lung Association celebrating 80 years of its existence--in 1987! I stuck them on the back of my cards, hoping recipients will notice the 20-year-old commemoration.
Impulsively called Muckie and we had a good long chat. She's going to son, Matt's, in Virginia, in a few days and will enjoy Christmas with her two little grandsons.
Made Pat an unusually elaborate dinner of pork roast, baked apples, and scalloped potatoes and even had a tiny portion myself. It was delicious, as I was pleased to hear him remark. I sliced down the rest of the small roast and will give him hot pork sandwiches tonight.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The cleaners were here only an hour, but there were five of them and they did a good job. Gave each a Christmas card with a twenty inside and they said, "Gracias."
Wrapped some presents that Mike had ordered from Amazon and sent California brother, Frank, the sports section of the A.C. Press. It featured the undefeated Holy Spirit football team, with pictures of each member on the front page. (Geez, they all looked like college kids, if not young marrieds.) Inside, they were lauded for their championship of the South Jersey (or something) league. Who woulda believed it when we were at consistently- trounced HSHS?
Went to Hamilton Mall and got Ellen's present (Pat drew her name), plus toys for Joel and Tristan. It was jammed--with cars outside and people inside--reminding me why I avoid malls like the plague. Went to Borders to use the gift certificate A.M. gave me for my birthday, and got a magic trick set for Joely and a book, Truth, by Al Franken. Unfortunately, although on my side of the political spectrum, the book is dated and poorly written. Boring.
I was pleased and grateful to get from niece-in-law, R.S., some advice on the pants styles that are most flattering to my short "apple" figure. Will take it to heart and try to buy accordingly.
Aside from that and the never-ending domestic chores, nuthin' much going on. Today, I want to get more Christmas stuff separated out and taken to Habitat. MUST get my Christmas cards done, too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Had a ball at the L.'s last night; they throw the best parties. Regrettably, I went hog-wild--an apt expression!--in the food department, chowing down with first, the ham, cheese, and cracker appetizers, then pork, gravy, white and sweet potatoes, and cole slaw; the only green on my plate was a lonesome little heap of string beans. Also had several glasses of wine and--here's the biggie--both tiramasu and cheesecake for dessert. Okay, I'll be right back on my regime today, and won't dwell on my over-eating.
Sadly, Pat didn't feel he could go, and believe me, it was dispiriting to drive to Egg Harbor alone--another place we had always gone together for several years. However, Rita M., a widow, was there as a single, and so was Barbara J., whose husband, Frank, had had minor surgery that day. Danny and Kate S., whom I like so much, were there, plus Don and Noreen McG. Along with the gracious hosts, Joe and Flo, that was the group.
All but Noreen are HSHS grads; besides me, they're either 1950 or '51 alum. Kate also graduated from St. James with Pat and my brother, Larry--the others mostly went to "Star." We told stories about events of more than half a century ago, laughed a lot, and basked in the comfort of shared memories.
After the great dinner, we did our ($5) gift exchange, acting silly as we as we opened, then "stole" from each other. I chose to take a jar candle--I keep a lighted candle on the dinner table every night--in "banana nut bread." Smells pretty good.
I brought the digital camera and will transfer the pics to the computer, to show Pat and share with the L.'s. Joe took Polaroid shots (he's the only one I know who still uses that camera, which was so innovative when it came out) of each of us, as he does every year.
Anyway, it was a wonderful Christmasy evening. I didn't get home until after ten, so skipped my popcorn and wine (I had had many times the calories at the party), and went happily to bed.
A conceited additional note: Earlier in the day, I went to Kohl's, hoping to get a pair of semi-dressy slacks to wear to the party. Tried on what seemed to be dozens of them, and was both pleased and chagrined: pleased because I can now fit into most 14 petites, chagrined because the legs are cut so full.
Here's the conceited part: I have nice legs. I was born with them. My mother had nice legs, my older sister did, and so does Betty. We have thin thighs, well-shaped calves, and slender ankles. When I buy pants, I don't want them flapping around my nice legs. I want my nice legs defined and emphasized. Clothiers, take note!
Anyway, I didn't find any that showed off my nice legs, so left empty-handed and wore old, too big, pants to the party.
Cleaners will be here this morning and I want to run to the bank and get some cash as Christmas gifts for them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Women's Club luncheon yesterday was just superb. I've eaten at SeaOaks often (it's an over-55 community for the golfing set, with homes in the 4 to 6 K range) and always enjoyed it, but this was downright elegant. The Christmas decorations were beautiful: big pots of red and white poinsettias were set here and there, along with a towering tree, glittering lights, and laurel wound around the banister of the broad, carpeted staircase.
The lunch was upstairs, in a big room lined with almost floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lush golf course. I had encrusted tilapia (delish!), with whipped potatoes and string beans. Ate it all, along with a glass of Chardonnay, but skipped the roll and had only a few spoonfuls of the dessert, apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.
I went with, and sat with, Barb H., Pat H., Lois V., and Maureen O., all of whom I know and like. Three other women made up the rest of the table.
Lois, who won one of the 50-50 prizes, travels a lot with her husband (I'd give anything to be able to do that now), and is going to Thailand next month. I told her that was my favorite place in Asia and that she must go to the Jim Thompson House while she's there. She was very interested, so I said I'd send her the web site, which I did when I got home.
Earlier in the day, I finally sent off the Nana (Chex) Mix to Patrick and Natsue, and wrapped and sent the scrapple to cousin Bob. Tonight is the League's Christmas party; Pat was considering going, but I can't imagine he'll be able to. I feel a little funny about going alone, as they were originally his friends, but I don't want NOT to go, either.
Here's the best news of the day: Alison got the job at Burlington Special School District, and--as she's been so anxious to --will be back working with children! They met her salary requirements, she starts with the new year, and we're just thrilled and overjoyed for her. This is a ten-month job (she'll have to pick up something else in the summer), which means she's off when the kids are. Happy day!
Later on Thursday: Okay, I went up by two tenths of a pound. I'm shrugging that off--it's not a problem--and am just wryly amused by the fact that I'm back at 150 pounds (exactly). I know I'm still heading down and will pass the 50-pound milestone soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yesterday, I was able to tie up some loose ends, although there are plenty more hanging over my head. Took Pat to my doctor's and he got his flu shot with no problem. Took Betty's birthday gift to the post office, and was handed a registered letter from Pat's dermatologist. It repeated what I was told on the phone about his squamous cell cancers and informed us that we hadn't followed up properly. It was a c.y.a. form letter letter, of course (yawn), but I followed up by stopping at the hospital in Manahawkin. Upshot was I made an appointment for Pat for January 4,
While I was in the big city, dropped off several box-loads of Christmas stuff to the thrift store, and went to Staples to duplicate a few more pics of Patrick as a child (they'll be added to my album for Natsue). Picked up a few things at Acme. Made another batch of Nana Mix and packed some in a pretty Christmas box for Patrick and Natsue. Will send that today, along with the six pounds of Scrapple for cousin Bob in Berkeley.
Saw Barb H. and she invited me in to see her new paint jobs. Wow, every room is gorgeous! Love her colors, especially the "Arizona Sun" in the living room.
I'm going to the Women's Club Christmas luncheon today with Barb and others. It's at SeaOaks and should be fun. Tomorrow is the party at Flo and Joe's, so there'll be at least some festivities. Last year, there were parties and other activities practically non-stop; this year, it's quieter, but that's okay, too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It may seem odd to say about attending a funeral, but I had a good time yesterday. I left about 8:20 and, thanks to Mapquest, got to Bristol (Pa.) with no problem. Stopped at a florist's and bought a nice dish plant with fresh flowers added for Jen's mother. (I prefer to send or give flowers to the survivors, rather than have them left at the cemetery with the deceased.)
Got to the funeral home about 10:30. Jen and her mother and other family were surprised and pleased that I had come. Sat with Joel, Jen, and Joely, the little guy naturally a bit restless, but generally he was very good.
They had a Catholic service, with a priest from a nearby parish speaking and very effectively and kindly, too. I'm quite sure Jen's family doesn't attend church, but--as mine is--their cultural background is Catholic and you return to it in times of crises.
After the priest spoke, Jen's cousin read "a letter to Nan." Lots of tears were shed--mine, too, as I'm often teetering on the emotional cusp--but there's nothing wrong with honest grief. (Jen's grandmother had gone in the hospital for the removal of a malignant tumor and had been expected to recover, but had suddenly died of a heart attack.) Jen chose the song, "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and that was played over the intercom--a nice selection, I thought, and one of my favorites, too.
The burial was nearby and, appropriately, the sky was overcast and dreary as the brief ritual went on. We then all repaired to a restaurant for a buffet lunch.
I ate more than I usually do, including meatballs, sausage, and pasta. However, I had only small portions and skipped the delectable-looking chocolate cake in favor of fruit salad.
We stayed for several hours, chatting and watching Joely and his cousin, Gabe, play games on big Joel's cell phone. They're both Spiderman devotees, of course (are there 5-year-boys who aren't?), and they also ran up and down the walls and spun webs around each other--sort of.
When we said goodbye, Jen's mother was so appreciative--for the plant and that I had come "all that way." (It took only about an hour and a half to get there.)
Alison had baby-sat with Tristan and I followed J. and J. back to her house. When we got there, Mike was finishing up laying the tile at the front door. The addition looks great, although it isn't as close to being finished as I thought it would be. Alison is having the combined Baker, Phillips, and Molloy families on Christmas Eve, so I hope it will be further along then.
A. had taken Tristan grocery shopping, then to the nursing home to see Mike's mother, but came in shortly after we did. Angel baby Tristan is now a big boy of 4 months and so adorable. He now reaches for everything; while I was holding him, he grabbed my scarf and shoved it in his mouth to chew on.
Got home about 5:30. Jen's uncle, Jake, had had containers made up of the buffet food and had given me one, so I fed what it contained to Pat: roast beef, potatoes, and string beans. There were some meatballs, too, which I may serve with spaghetti today.
After I was in my jammies and robe, I actually fell asleep on the couch, something I haven't done for a long time. Pat woke me at 8:00 to watch "Countdown" and I revived. Made our popcorn and poured my wine, but went to bed shortly and slept deeply.

Monday, December 10, 2007

After our walk, I hardly stepped outside the door yesterday. It was cold, drizzly, and overcast, so I was content to finally tackle some of the chores I keep putting off.
I had been missing two key Christmas items: the tapestry runner for the coffee table in the living room and a container of Christmas cards. Being thrifty--read "cheap"--I always buy cards after Christmas when you can get them for a song. Couldn't find either of those items and, of course, they then loomed as absolutely essential to my happiness in life. Finally, after an extensive search, located them in the guest room closet where they weren't supposed to be.
Last summer, I had promised Pat's niece, Amy, to duplicate some pictures of her grandmother, my mother-in-law, for her. Went to Staples a few weeks ago to do that, but hadn't packed or sent them. Finally did, along with a Christmas card and will mail today.
Wrapped Betty's birthday present and addressed it to her daughter, Carolyn, in case it gets there while B. is still in Florida.
Completed the house decorations, except for the Nativity scene, which I got out and will put in the living room.
Went through various items in the garage and separated out the stuff I'll take to the thrift store.
Made the "Nana Mix" I mentioned in an earlier entry and packed in a Christmas tin to send to Patrick and Natsue.
Worked on the album of "Patrick Through The Years" I'll be sending Natsue, although I'm not sure I'll finish it in time for Christmas. I want to duplicate a few more pictures and add captions.
Did several loads of wash and other household stuff.
In between, I watched some of the Eagle's game--another disaster--with Pat. Made him a pork chop and Julianne potatoes for dinner.
Talked to Ellen in the evening and was thrilled to hear she's gotten in touch with a R.E. agent and has been looking at condos. It's just incredible what a modest two-bedroom, one bath costs in Ventura! You could get a palatial home around here for the same amount. Of course, we don't have the mountains, the movie stars, or the moolah...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Marge called and has a bad cold, so wasn't able to go to the Seaport "Christkindtl," but we had a nice talk. I drove past the Seaport and it was just as well: It was set up in the parking lot and attendees had to park a block or more away. With her problem knees, Marge never could have done it. I'm a little sorry to have missed it myself, but there'll be others, if not this year, then next.
Got a call from Betty, who's also battling a very bad cold--who knew they had colds in California?--and hoping she'll be okay for her trip to Florida on Tuesday.
Puttered around the rest of the day, until it was time for the "tree-lighting ceremony." Neighbors Judy and Roman throw the most spectacular parties, and last night's was no exception. It started at 5:30, when I went over to join about 35 neighbors. In the backyard, there were thousands of tiny white lights covering a richly decorated fir tree (not yet lit), a trellis, bushes, and other trees. Tables were set up with eggnog, rum, wine, soda, cookies, cheese and crackers, and other appetizers while Judy and a hired helper walked around with trays of hot nibbles. (All these were just preliminaries to the full spread inside.)
A blazing fire was set in a big metal tub, partly in the ground, and we sang Christmas carols and songs around it. Roman gave everybody a raffle ticket and three people were selected to throw the switch to light the tree. They did and there were cheers all around.
Soon, Santa showed up, sounding a lot like Walter, Susan's husband, with his slight Canadian accent. He told us we were good boys and girls, but was immediately shouted down as we insisted we were not good, but bad kids, we liked it that way, and he'd better get used to it.
We moved inside to a house that truly looked like a Christmas store, or a toy store, or your worst nightmare of over-decoration. There was a four-foot Santa who moved his head and arms as he boomed out a variety of welcoming phrases; snowmen and other figures of every size and shape, all of which moved, sang, or lit up, as well as bells, trees, garlands, candles, wreaths, and every other accoutrement (of XMAS, not "Christ-mas") you can imagine.
Judy is nothing if not an over-reacher, and the food was enough for an army. There were spreads on both the dining room and kitchen tables, as well as on every end table and other flat surface in the house. It included sandwich trays, shrimp, vegetables and crackers with dip, salads, big platters of meats and cheeses, a variety of breads and rolls--not to mention the cookies, candy, and other desserts. Of course, every possible drink, alcoholic and soft, was set out for people to enjoy. I indulged as I haven't in months, stuffing my face at the same time I listened to the compliments and exclamations about my weight loss from people I hadn't see lately.
I enjoyed chatting with everybody, then filled a platter with desserts for Pat and brought them over to him. I had told Judy I'd go back and I did, just in time to have her and the helper come into the dining room with two big cakes, blazing with candles. It was my friend, Iris' and another person's birthdays, and we all sang you-know-what to them. Then Art M. pouted, "Well, how about me--I have a birthday, too." "When's your birthday?" he was asked, and he said, "April 25." Of course, we all laughed and sang "Happy Birthday" to Art. I selected some cake for Pat and left about 8:00.
I really sugared myself, but good, when I got home. Pat liked some of the goodies I had brought, but not all, so I was forced to eat them. While we watched a bio of Mario Lanza, I washed down several large cookies with a glass of milk, adding to the six billion calories I had eaten at the party.
Of course, I'm not at all concerned about over-indulging. I'll go right back to my heavily-vegetable regime and continue to lose weight.
Today, I want to finally complete my list of errands to run and things to do, as I'll be gone all day tomorrow at attend Jen's grandmother's funeral in Bristol, Pa.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ye gads and little fishes! (We old ladies talk that way.) It's now quarter of nine and I didn't get up until 45 minutes ago! Boy, is that the road to ruin--lying in bed while the rest of the world is about its business...
Actually, I feel great. I didn't get home until ELEVEN last night and still enjoyed my wine and popcorn, read in bed as usual, then slept the sleep of the just (love that phrase).
The play was wonderful. It was actually a musical--I had had no idea--adapted from It's A Wonderful Life, with the title shortened to A Wonderful Life . Once you adjusted for the surprise that it wasn't a theatre version of the movie, it was such a pleasure. The story line was familiar, but slightly altered, the songs were great, and the cast was superb. The settings alone would have drawn me to the show; they were the minimalist kind, and changed by the actors themselves while the stage dimmed, but were very varied and inventive, and in keeping with the story.
Dennis, Leslie, and I had good seats in about the middle of the theatre. We were with the others from Tuckerton First Presbyterian (the outing was sponsored by their church); I know several of them, some overlapping from Weight Watchers. Anyway, it was great fun.
Earlier in the day, I got wonderful news from Alison in the employment area. I won't post it until it's an absolute certainty, but suffice it to say (geez, it's cliche city around here), she got offers from both of the organizations she saw for interviews. Hey, the best thing she ever did (aside from marrying Mike) was getting that Master's degree.
Got e-mail messages from my Mike (as opposed, of course, to A.'s Mike) outlining the gifts he was sending. Also got a nice, newsy e-mail from Marge. I wrote back asking if she wanted to go to the "Christkindlmrkt" at the seaport today; also invited Leslie. However, it may be cold and rainy, in which case, I probably don't want to go myself.
This evening, I'll go to Judy's "tree-lighting ceremony" and party down the street. Luckily, it's at 5:30, so I'll go, circulate, have a bite, take some home for Pat, and leave reasonably early.
A wonderful life? Yes, it is!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Terrifically nice day yesterday! The ice melted, thank heavens, and the sun shone from a crystal clear, blue sky. It was a great setting for my outing with Susan, Barb H., her sister, Pat (in from Arizona), Pat H., and Lois V. The last two are Sunrise Bay neighbors I know and like--we had a great time.
Went to Debra's at the Tuckerton Emporium for lunch. I had salad, which was a good spring mix, and soup--tomato tarragon--absolutely the best tomato I've ever tasted. The other five succumbed to drinks like "hot apple pie cider" and creamy cappachino, but virtuous Rosemary stuck to water. The chef--Debra herself--came out and we praised the luncheon to the skies.
After a long, leisurely meal and chatfest (why would I use that stupid, cliche-y word, coined by vapid celeb columnists? Help! I'm turning into what I despise!), we drove to the Tuckerton Seaport to buy our tickets for the house tour.
As it was the last two years I've gone, the tour was great fun. Unlike the really impressive such affairs, e.g. Princeton where you're ushered into houses from the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, these were contemporary. Nevertheless, it was absorbing to see them and to ooh and aah over the decorations. We agreed that some were just over the top, every flat surface being covered with glittery things that moved, chimed, or lit up, sometimes all three.
Got home about 4:00, shortly before Pat came from the bay. Yes, indeedy, he had had grilled cheese with Ray at Beverly's. Made him spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.
Called Jen after dinner and she told me about her grandmother's death, which was entirely unexpected at this time. The funeral's in Bristol, Pa., on Monday, and I'd like to go. The complication--there's always a complication with our present lives--is that Pat's scheduled to have a flu shot at my doctor's at 1:00. Gotta figure out a way to either get him there or change the appointment, which I hate to do for various reasons. The alternative is to ask somebody to take him, which is a possibility.
A note to Dee about Weight Watchers: I'm going today (Friday) instead of yesterday. Leslie is skipping for a few weeks and, since I don't have to pick her up, I prefer to go earlier. Will post my progress--or lack thereof, or relapse--when I get home.
Later: I made it into the 140s! Just barely, but I did it; lost another 1 1/2 pounds and am now at 149.8. That's a total of 49.8 pounds off. Next time, I hope and expect to make it to fifty.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Last night was a bummer, but the day was enjoyable. It snowed--very lightly, though, in the late morning to evening--and looked pretty. (But that's enough, Snowgod, more isn't better.) Went to Kohl's, Home Depot, and a few other stores, then to Shop-Rite for supplies and cousin Bob's six pounds of scrapple, which was actually on sale. Have stowed it in the freezer and will pack and send it in a few days.
Continued my Christmas decorating when I got home and was pleased when the Cinderella DVD arrived via UPS. Wrapped and packed Vivian's gifts, took the box to the P.O. (and postage was only $23, less than I had expected), then went home to jump in the shower and get ready for dinner with my Wellspouse friends, Vivian and Maureen. However, M. called to say she was just coming from the doctor and had the flu, so had to cancel. Too bad, but Viv and I would still meet.
After leaving dinner for Pat, I got to Calloway's at 5:30--and waited and waited. Called home to find Viv had called and was hung up at work, so couldn't get there. Damn and double-damn! Pat said he tried to call me three times and the cell didn't ring. This has happened before and is so annoying.
So I went home, changed, and washed off the makeup I had applied an hour before, grumbling all the way. However, these things happen, Viv couldn't help it, and at least, there was no problem driving, as the snow didn't stick. Besides, I can look forward to today, when Susan, Barb H. and I are going to lunch, then on the Tuckerton Christmas Tour. Ray H. called to invite Pat out to lunch (he often does this when Barb and I go out somewhere), which will be nice for him. (Whattya wanna bet it will be Beverly's, Pat will get a grilled cheese, and Ray an omelet? It's Rut City in Sunrise Bay.)
A sad note: Alison called last night to tell me Jen's grandmother has died. I knew she was having a medical procedure--I thought it was diagnostic--but the tumor took her life. Will call Jen today to ask about the funeral.
Later: For the first time in months--I honestly can't remember how long it's been--I skipped our morning walk. Susan came over and was game to try, but I chickened out. I had gone outside to get the paper and saw there was heavy ice on the sidewalk and street. I just can't risk falling, so regretfully decided to pass today. I hope and expect it will melt soon and we certainly won't skip our outing (Susan's driving). If conditions do improve, I'll crank up the portable CD and see if I can go later with Nat King Cole and Frankie.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Took Susan to Toys "R" Us (asinine name) in Mays Landing yesterday morning. I got some Dora the Explorer things for Vivian and she got gifts for two-year-old Sophia. I didn't send to Singapore yet because I'm waiting for the Cinderella DVD to include, but guess I'd better send them today. Got a few more Christmas items out.
Made beef stew in the crock pot and Pat actually remarked on how good it was. After I got up off the floor, I had some myself. Yep, he was right.
In the evening, I called Mike to wish him happy birthday. My baby boy is now 41 years old--what?! I can't believe I'm 41, let alone that my youngest child is. Mike is in Tokyo and will leave shortly for a week in Hong Kong.
Miami brother Larry sent pictures of some of his humongous family at Thanksgiving, including the newest great-grandchild. He has seven children and an enormous number of grands and great-grands. Lucky Betty will visit them next week and go with many of the strapping brood on their annual trip to Disneyland.
Got a call from my cousin, Bob F., in California. He's one of the driving forces in our shared genealogy (maternal German side) and was instrumental in having our great-grandfather's picture added to the portraits of soldiers at Gettysburg. We talk every few months and, as ever, it was very enjoyable. Bob asked me to send him six pounds of scrapple, which I'll be happy to do. He said if I freeze it, then wrap in newspaper, it should survive the trip to the left coast fine. They no longer sell it in benighted California and, being an old West Philly boy, he can't go on without it--perfectly understandable.
Then Alison called and--happy day!--she has three interviews on Friday. I can't imagine any of them wouldn't make an offer to somebody like her; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a bidding war for her services. Am I partisan? Damn right.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

After the usual domestic chores, went to Hamilton Mall. I'm now getting frantic about sending off Vivian's Christmas present, since they're leaving for their cruise on December 21st. Didn't get anything, but will strive to do so today, as I know what I want.
We got both Holy Spirit's and Rider's quarterly reports. I was struck by their similarity in layout, design, and content--and of course, purpose, which is, pure and simple, to elicit money from grads. When I went to HSHS, it seemed the whole school was run by the engine of selling ads for the senior play. Woe to the student who didn't sell enough ads! I guess they got the occasional donation or bequest, but they sure didn't go very public with their fund-raising efforts.
In this mag, it seems significant to me that their "alumni notes" section starts with the class of 1969. That will give some idea of how important we earlier grads--who now, I guess, are regarded in our dotage--are seen by the school. Guess the idea is to present itself as a fresh, forward-looking, young place to attract new students and put its rather spotty history in the shade. It's the way of the world, I'm afraid...

Monday, December 03, 2007

When we went for our walk yesterday, there was snow on the ground! Rest of day was cold, windy, and sleety. I got a few things at Acme in the morning, but the rest of the day, stayed in. Did lots of wash, changed the decor in the guest bath, then dozed on the sofa while the Eagles got beat--again. A nice, cozy day in my snug, cozy house.
Jumped in the shower after dinner, then talked to Ellen, always a pleasure. She'll be here on the 19th--Alison will pick her up in Philly--then our plan is for me to go up to Cream Ridge to bring her back here, as she'll go to court with me on the 21st. She does want to stay over with Alison some of the time, too, and we'll work that out.
I get my flu shot today at 11:00, and will try to do some Christmas shopping after that.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Went to First Presbyterian's Christmas Craft sale yesterday with Susan. It was all I could do not to buy and buy. They have exquisite items, all handmade, but I had to keep in mind that I'm trying to divest myself of Xmas items, not acquire more. Just got some cookies and fudge for Pat, handmade gift tags, and a small bar with "Little Egg Harbor" painted on it.
Asked Leslie if she wanted to go with me to Santori's, but she was too tired from working at the sale. Just asked me to pick her up some peppers, which I did. Today, she'll deliver the fresh wreath I ordered, also from her church.
Barb H. called to see if I wanted to go to the Tuckerton House Tour on Thursday. Yes, indeed; this will be the third year she, Susan, and I have done this. We'll go to lunch first.
Oops. I forgot I had told Leslie I'll work at the food pantry on Thursday, filling in for Barb D.. I hate to renege on things I agreed to do, but she said she'd probably be able to get someone else. If she can't, I'll do it and just skip the house tour this year.
Got a welcomed call from Pat's cousin, Joe D., from Jacksonville. He and Dot are about to put their house up for sale. It's a good-sized house on a huge lake in Orange Park, where we visited about 5 years ago. Joe lived with Pat's family until graduation with him from St. James. He was the heart throb of all the girls--including this half of the Byrne twins.
We then got an unwelcome call from Pat's dermotologist. He has 3 more squamous cell cancers they want to take off with a "MOHS" (that stands for something). However, they take a little off at a time, then he'd have to wait for the biopsy, then more off, etc.--he'd have to be there for 4 to 8 hours, just impossible for him. I asked for an alternative, and she said radiation, which we could have done at the hosptial in Manahawkin. He would first have a one-hour consultation, then a series of visits, but they'd last only about 15 minutes. I agreed to that, told Pat, and he said the V.A. had told him he couldn't have any more radiation, as they had used it to excise the growth on his ear. Now I'll have to track down the history of the whole thing and see whether that's accurate. I need this like a hole in the head. Oh, well, that's what I get paid for (ha!).
Called Alison to hear she has two interviews on Friday. She said she'd like to "do" Christmas Eve, when she'll have both Mike's relatives and us. Then, I'll have our gang on Christmas Day. Sounds good and we'll enjoy both days. She asked if I wanted to go to Rancocas for some kind of festival on Saturday, but I'm going to the K.'s tree-lighting ceremony and party in the evening, so I declined. On second thought, though, maybe I could do both--just meet them there during the day. I'll get back to her.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Not a whole lot going on yesterday. I ran down to Kohl's and got gloves (my new Land's End coat is maroon and all I had were red ones), plus a few other items. Separated out more of the Christmas stuff and actually decorated the house (inside) a bit. Did some wash--a ho-hum day.
The low point was yet another phone call from lousy First Horizon Bank. Clearly, they have our number in error: They've called two or three times a week for the last month or so. It's a recording that tells me to call an 800 number. Since we have no dealings with them and never did, I ignored the calls--until the phone rang at ten after nine Tuesday night.
Now I have no problem with calls that late IF--and only if--the house is on fire, a meteor is heading toward us, or one of my kids won the lottery. Otherwise, it will keep until the next day. This late call (nine o'clock is the middle of the night to me) infuriated me and the next day, I called the damn number. A recording was on that, too, telling me to put my loan number in. I don't have a loan number! Otherwise, the chirpy, cheery female voice said, "you'll be prompted to put in your social security number." After going through this farce three times, I finally did put in my SS number--at which point, the recording looped right back to asking for my non-existent loan number!
Now I'll abridge the ordeal: I looked up the customer service number on-line, called that, and talked to no fewer than three cretins to tell them there was clearly a mistake and to quit calling me. Of course, all this was interspersed with interminable waits while "all our customer representatives are presently busy, but remain on the line...." Mission accomplished? Oh, no, of course not. Yesterday, I got yet another call with the same "call this number" recording! More phone time, more gnashing of teeth, more screams and shouts. Finally, after the third transfer, I was assured I would be put through to an actual person in the loan department--and was subjected to horrible music for ten minutes (by the clock--I timed it) before I finally hung up. Last resort: I looked up their "contact us" info on-line and sent them a furious message to quit harassing me. If that doesn't work, I intend to contact the Better Business Bureau, the banking commission, and maybe the Godfather's bully boys.