Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The funeral yesterday was very nice. There's something about these rituals that binds people together--a feeling of kinship, a commonality, a shared knowledge, both unsettling and demanding to be embraced. Besides, it's a relief to know you're not the star attraction.
Sleek was laid out in khaki pants and a casual polo shirt. I thought that was so appropriate--he never wore suits, I'm sure--and George & Co. did a wonderful job of making him look like himself, as many mentioned. (I'll grant it seems somewhat weird to remark on "how good he looks" at this point when he's not really himself and never will be again.)
The place was jammed. I saw Al G., Mary P., and other Holy Spiriters, plus St. Jamesian George W., of course, who conducted the funeral. (You can't die in Ventnor without George.) He greeted me warmly and we chatted a bit on the porch. I also talked to Kate S., whose daughter lives across the street from Hazel.
Hazel herself held up well. I'm sure she was dazed part of the time--you don't say goodbye to 53 years easily--but rose to the occasion. When she saw me, we hugged and kissed; she thanked me for coming and introduced me to several of her children and their spouses. (Her oldest, Charles--and I remember when he was born 52 or so years ago--is the image of his dad.)
The usual biographical pictures were displayed: Sleek as a child, Sleek holding their twin daughters, Sleek as a sick old man. The one I kept going back to was a snapshot of teenagers Sleek and Hazel dressed up for a prom. Their huge smiles and delighted joy in each other just radiated out of the picture and the past.
At 11:00, there was a short ceremony. Hazel's son-in-law gave a talk with anecdotes of Sleek and the priest led attendees in prayer. Hazel had reminded me that I'm her godmother; Sleek was Catholic and she converted right after their marriage. I understand they hadn't actually practiced any religion for years, but I assume they needed its presence on this occasion. I'm not sure if there are lingering questions or if it's simply the comfort of culture and memory, but I feel the same way.
Sleek was buried in Laurel Memorial where many of Betty's family and my in-laws are. The priest read the graveside prayers--I was surprised to see he was wearing sandals--and we dispersed.
Got home in time to make Pat's lunch and after he went to the bay, I drove to Lowe's and bought myself a "Roller, Jr." It's similar to a wheelbarrow, but light and easy to maneuver. Susan came over to admire it, then I loaded it up with my gardening equipment. Checked my garden, pulled some weeds, and went in to make dinner.
I had been admitted back to the land of the living because that's where I still belong.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Well, there's progress on the farm front. Yesterday, I went out in the drizzling rain to plant the rest of the tomatoes and eggplants; I even got the blueberry bush in. For that, I had to dig a substantial hole, spade the dirt into a big container, add peat moss, mix, then plant. I wanted to take advantage of the rain; not only did it soften the ground, but I didn't have to go water the things. Of course, I was soaked by the time I came in, not to mention splashed with mud, but that was okay. I still have to put in the rest of the strawberries, the double daffodil bulbs, and the melon and sunflower seeds. Geesh, I hope some of this stuff comes up.
The flip side of the weather was that again, I didn't get to hike. By the time Susan and I returned from our walk, it was raining pretty good. Even if the hike was held, it would have been less than invigorating slogging through the mud and puddles, so I didn't go. Now I'm beginning to wonder if I've turned into one of those people who find any flimsy excuse to let themselves off the hook, no matter what it may be.
With that in mind, I was determined to keep my Conversational English date with Genny last night, even though it was pouring by the time I was ready to leave. I'm glad I did because we had a good session; she's making progress and we enjoy each other's company. This time, I asked her to read aloud the "newspaper" specifically written for ESLers, while I listened and corrected the occasional mispronounciation. Coincidentally, she'll be vacationing in Florida for part of the time while I'm in California.
Today, I'm going to a funeral in Ventnor. "Sleek" was the husband of a childhood friend of Betty's and mine. I clearly remember their dating in high school; I don't think either ever had a serious relationship besides what lead to their marriage of 53 years. They suffered some tragedies, including the death of a son, but also joys, I'm sure. They seem to have been uniquely suited to each other and I'm not sure how his wife will go on--whether she'll consider her own life essentially over and will follow him before too long or, as happens fairly often, will accept her new circumstances, heavily mourn, then blossom finally into her own person.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Finally got some, but not all, the plants in the ground. It was just as overcast, windy, and chilly as it had been on Saturday, but I planted a tomato and eggplant, and some of the strawberries. Also put in the azalea Mike had sent for Easter. I still have plenty more to do, and hope the stuff lives until I can do it.
It's so much easier to dig holes with the spade I bought. I used to use just a trowel and digging with it was enough to make my right wrist sore for hours. This wonderful shovel has ledges at the top of the operational part, so you don't hurt your foot pushing on it. I'm now toying with the idea of getting a wheel barrow so I can transport all my equipment easily to the back of the house.
Went to Tucker Tom's for tomatoes, bananas, yams, onions, and zucchini. Mostly hung out at home again, though. I'm planning on the outdoor club hike this morning (5 miles from Ong's Hat to Deep Hollow) and hope it doesn't rain in earnest.
Alison called last night to tell me about her day with the boys. When she wryly said she was exhausted, I thought she was kidding, but no. Tristan had been wakeful overnight--I'm sure because he knew he wasn't in his crib at home--and she got little sleep. However, Joely wanted to go swimming and on a hike, so she took them to the pool, then to the Manasqun Reservoir. I thought it was interesting that J. indicated he had thought "a hike" meant jogging, not walking. Alison cleared that up and they went a mile and a half, T. in his stroller.
Ellen called and we talked about her continuing efforts to get her new house in shape. The handyman had been there and he repaired a lot of minor glitches. Can't wait to see it and her, too, of course--I leave in ten days--whee!
Later: Forgot to mention that after getting the fabulous e-mail from cousin Marifran in Ohio about outsourcing Bush, I called her and we had a good chat. She's very busy with counseling and re-writing her book, Up From Chaos. Lucky us--Betty and me--to have such relatives!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ultra quiet Saturday. After our walk and breakfast, I drove to Home Depot and got a sturdy spade, a huge bag of peat moss, and a roll of chicken wire to keep the bunnies out of my garden. Had intended to put the stuff in the ground, but the weather was so dark, overcast, and chilly--my least favorite--I decided to wait.
Stopped at Mary Ann Van O.'s to drop off a container of my crystal pickles and ask about Bart. Was surprised to hear he's now in Arcadia (rehab), as she and her family refused to accept home hospice. Mary Ann is much heartened by this turn of events, although I think she recognizes he is still on the cusp. She told me he has to struggle to eat and weighs only 112 pounds. Hope he's tempted by the pickles.
Aside from that, a trip to the library and domestic chores were the order of the day. Gave Pat pot roast for dinner and I had tilapia. Slow and quiet, but an okay day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Neat day yesterday! Got up to New Egypt by 11:00, stopping on the way to buy myself a blueberry plant at the farm where I've picked with Alison. Walked in and Tristan immediately held up his arms to be picked up, a big grin on his chubby face. Jen said he had walked three steps without holding on the day before--and he's only eight and half months old!
After chatting for a while, we walked across the street to The Plum Tree for lunch. Jen had a pork roll sandwich, Joely bacon and eggs, I a Greek salad, and T. contented himself with eating the menu. He wolfed down some of Jen's French fries, too.
Jen left to do her wash at Alison's and to go the supermarket, and I took the boys to a park a street or two away. Joely mostly ran up and down a huge mound of wood chips next to the slide. I guess they were deposited there to spread out later, but as I think most kids would, he enjoyed running up and down the pile more than the play equipment.
After a bit, we went to the park just down the street from their apartment, next to the lake. T. loved the baby swing and Joely pushed him on it. Every time J. came into view as T. went back and forth, the little guy would laugh. He says "Na-na-na" and "Da-da," but I'm not sure if he really knows what he's saying. He also waves and boy, that kid crawls, walks, grabs, and chews anything within ten feet.
As for his big brother, he's now a non-stop talker. He went on for some time about Earth Day, telling me with great authority that it takes a thousand trees to make one sheet of paper. Okay, the message was a little garbled, but it went in the right direction.
After Jen got home, she drove us to another park in North Hanover. Joel loved the dome he could climb on, into, and inside. By now, T. had mostly conked out and was content in his stroller.
We drove back to their place and said our goodbyes. What a wonderful day and I hope to do it again. Got home a little after 5:00 and Pat was fine. He said he had been just about to leave for the bay after lunch when Jack B. stopped in. They went down there together and Jack stayed at the bay with him for an hour or so.
Today is Jen's birthday and Alison will take the boys for the day and overnight while she and big Joel go out for dinner and wherever else. During her daily call, Alison said Joely had requested they go swimming (she and Mike belong to a gym with a pool), so she'll take both of them there. Can't wait to be able to have them here to swim at our pool this summer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

While Pat took his after-breakfast nap, I went to Home Depot in Manahawkin and got myself new pruning shears. Our old ones are probably as old as I am (no, nothing's that old) and won't cut butter.
After lunch and a supply run to Acme, I spent what seemed to be hours continuing the cleaning up and clearing out of more of the flower beds. Bushels of dried leaves were stuck under every shrub and what a chore it was to get them out. Then, as I was transferring them to bags, the damn wind--it's incredible how windy it is in Little Egg--would kick up and whirl some away.
Anyway, I got most of one side and half of the back done. Didn't have time to plant anything and I must do that on Saturday without fail.
Hmm...maybe I can plant some when I get home this afternoon. I'm looking forward to spending the day with Jen, Joely, and little T.; will get up there about 11:00, take them to lunch, then take the boys to the park.
Saturday is Jen's birthday and Alison will take the kids overnight while she and Joel go out and celebrate. I think they're going to A.C.
Brother Larry called to say he had talked to Therese, who asked him to spread the word that Jim's doing well. Think I'll call him this evening.
I was sorry to hear Larry and Helen can't be here for our anniversary; two of their children are getting their graduate degrees that day and a big party is planned. We couldn't go to their fiftieth, either; Pat was too ill and I was in London at the time.
Game Note: The second version of "Can You See..." is slightly different from the first and harder. There are many more objects to find in each "bin" and you can use only one hint per. So far, there are no blocks to turn after you complete one and I'm not yet up to a "rare item" screen; not sure what will come next, but I'm glad it doesn't just start over from the beginning.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good, good news yesterday: Brother Jim came through the surgery well and a full recovery is expected. I talked to nephew Mike, his son (he had called Betty earlier), and we had a warm chat. Happy day!
Aside from that, the key word was "gardening." I finished clearing the leaves out of the front flower bed and must now decide what annuals to plant. Lots of neighbors were out doing the same and it was good to take a break now and then and chat with them under the soothing sun. And speaking of gardening:
Several weeks ago, I received in the mail a number of flower seed packets from Burpee. I was puzzled, as I didn't think I had ordered any, but assumed they were having some kind of promotional event. A little later, I was sent strawberry plants from the same company. I thought it was odd, but put them in the refrigerator crisper as the instructions advised, then promptly forgot about them.
Yesterday, I ran some errands in the afternoon and when I got home, a big package from Burpee was at the door. Mystified, I opened it and found three each of eggplant and tomato plants. Wh-a-at? Could I have ordered stuff and forgotten I did? (I sometimes worry about creeping dementia.) I decided to call Burpee, did, and spoke to a nice woman. After my question, she pulled the order and the mystery was solved: They were ordered and paid for by one Michael M., of Singapore.
Well, that was nice. Am anxious to get the stuff in the ground and today should be a perfect day for it. Thanks, Mike!
"Can You See What I See" Note: I had some spare time yesterday and successfully completed the game. (The ending is satistyingly appropriate.) Was happy to realize I could now start over with different objects to find and I have. Looking forward to continuing the new game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Had a perfectly delightful lunch with Julie L. yesterday. We went to SeaOaks and had no sooner walked into the dining room than I was hailed by Jack B. Introduced him, we chatted, then he went off with his buddy to the links.
Julie and I spent two hours over lunch (the usual for me, Cobb salad for her), then talked and talked on the way home and outside her house. We had had a slight--well, not exactly falling out, but a coolness that had occurred between us a few years ago and we're both happy it's now melted. She's a rather forceful, outspoken person who sometimes oversteps and I, of course, am just the soul of saintly, long-suffering...okay, we're a lot alike.
After dinner, I went with Leslie to the "Loss Support Group." There were more there than last time--13 people, all women--and the majority of the newcomers had lost spouses through death or divorce. They're good people and it's a helpful group, I guess, but there were times when it was depressing to hear their sad tales. They were all in their fifties or sixties and I was especially struck by the dependency they expressed. They lamented that their departed (one way or the other) husbands had handled all the money parts of their joint lives, including paying all the bills, seeing to taxes, and generally taking charge of their financial affairs. In addition, the men dealt with tradespeople, were usually always the drivers when they were together, and were the final arbiters of major decisions. Now the abandoned wives are overwhelmed because "he always handled everything; I never knew how to do all that."
This kind of thing always makes me feel alone and different--and just the teeniest bit superior. I do all that stuff now, of course, but not just since Pat's been sick; I've been doing it for years. That includes not only the personal realm, but when Pat had his business, I did all his billing and bookkeeping.
What in the world is wrong with these women that they allowed these situations to go on? Have the years of feminism and conscienceness-raising had no effect at all? Didn't they ever realize they'd have to leave the "little woman" world someday and grow up? Guess not.
Sister-in-Law Therese called while I was out and left the message with Pat that brother Jim will be operated on today. I fervently hope and expect that he'll recover soon and be good to go for another 82 years.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I reluctantly decided against the hike yesterday. During our morning walk, it was overcast and windy, and the forecast was for rain. It's a 70-mile round trip, and if it had rained, it might have been cancelled anyway. I definitely intend to go on the Oog's Hat hike next Monday and am sure there'll be another Atsion sooner or later.
Leslie joined Susan and me for our morning walk and we enjoyed having her. She and I will go to the "Losers' Club," as I can't help calling it, tonight. It's a support group for those who have suffered losses in some way.
While Pat was at the bay, I went to Acme, then drove to the dollar store in Manahawkin to pick up a few things. Aside from the ever-present housework, that was it for the day.
I'm picking Julie L. up for lunch today, and am looking forward to it.
Hey, nursies: I just noticed a kind of bump on my right thumb; seems to be inside, on the joint bone itself. It's hard and isn't sore. What do you suppose that could be?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Alison got in about 11:00 and we immediately started in on my list of chores. She pulled the dryer out from the wall and disconnected the lint catcher. (I just can't remember the word for that; I keep wanting to say "hose," but it's a big silver-tunnel-thing). She took it outside to empty while I swept the clumps of lint from in back of the dryer. She filled the bird-feeders, put my new hubcap on, and performed various other items I find it hard to do.
After lunch, we went over the unbelievable number of pictures I've accumulated and she selected dozens for whatever project she's planning for our anniversary party. She also put on her "to take" pile several wedding artifacts, including the bride and groom from my wedding cake, and the blue garter I wore a half-century ago.
After that, and while Pat was at the bay, we walked to the clubhouse so she could look it over. We then sat down and Alison made up a list of things we would each do, what food would be served, and so on. Incidentally, the guest list is now up to 79 and I forgot to add Pat's bay buddies, so I have to pare it down.
A. left about 3:00, then Frank D. came over and asked if I wanted the cover over the AC removed. Thanks, Frank, yes I do.
Before dinner I got a call from SIL, Therese, telling me that brother Jim is in Fairfax Hospital (Va.) with a heart valve problem. He's been in excellent health, but he is 82, and I'm very concerned. I called him after dinner and he sounded strong and good. Hope all goes well, of course.
Ellen called/cammed and we had a great time getting a virtual tour of her townhouse. She has a laptop, so was able to walk around with it and the web cam, upstairs and down. It's shaping up nicely, although she still has a lot she wants to do.
Leslie asked if she could join Susan and me for our walk this morning, and of course, she can. If the weather holds, I intend to go on the Atsion Lake hike (5 miles) today, too.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Darn! I got up at 4:20, too early, but I was wide awake. No biggie, but I prefer 5:00, my usual.
Cleaned the laundry room yesterday, to the extent of clearing the two shelves over the washer and dryer. Put a lot of things aside to donate, including a blender (never use it and I have another), and various vases.
Alison called on their way home from Virginia. She finished eighth in her category and Mike fifth, good times for them. After the race, they went to Monticello, which was beautiful in early spring, with tulips and flowering trees abloom. Today, she's coming down and we'll discuss plans for our fiftieth anniversary celebration. My guest list is up to 79--aagh!--but I'm going to pare it down.
Gorgeous day yesterday and I should have been outside gardening, but just wasn't. Did a lot of wash and other chores instead, and took an "extra" (besides our morning) walk.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Took a dry run to Atsion Lake, an hour and 35 miles from here. I do want to join the hike on Monday, unless weather or something else comes up.
Had three phone calls yesterday, two of which were very welcome. Alison called about noon on her way home from work. She and Mike took the afternoon off to drive to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a half-marathon (13 miles). It starts at 6 am, so they'll stay overnight, then go to Monticello or something after; there are about 15,000 entered. I always marvel at how well-suited they are to each other, and what vigorous, happy, joint lives they lead.
Mike, Paula, and Vivian called/cammed last night. The little sweetie showed me all kinds of stuffed animals, books, and a water-filled balloon she got at "the picnic" (they let her play with that in the house!). She counted out 20 fish in her book--not bad for 3 1/2. Mike said they changed the place they'll stay in California to The Cheshire Cat in order to stay in a two-bedroom cottage instead of a hotel. Of course, it has maid and room service, with which they couldn't do without even though they carry their maid with them.
The last call was not pleasant. I spoke to my friend, Mary Ann Van O., who told me her husband, Bart, is being released from the hospital on Monday into hospice home care. He is on 11 liters of oxygen, an incredibly high number. (Pat, who is so air-deprived he can't walk across the room without being short of breath, is on 3 liters.) Of course, I offered to do whatever I can, which is little enough.
During our walk, Susan had told me she has a gum problem that's very painful. She had gone to her dentist up north, who had injected it with an antibiotic (ouch!) Oddly, he didn't offer to write her an RX for pain-killer and I told her we had Percodon (?) that Pat hadn't needed after his skin excisions. She was in such distress that she came over before dinner to ask for some and I gave her four. (Yes, that's how drug pushers are convicted, on evidence like this.) I'll see how she is in an hour or so when we walk.
Later: Hey, good news: I'm down another 2.4 pounds for a total of 65.4 and a current weight of 134.2. Now I'm going to decide how far I want to go and my strategy for staying there.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Picked up Leslie and we went to Santori's. I got green-leaf lettuce, plum tomatoes, spaghetti and butternut squash, broccoli, a big bag of lemons, and cauliflower. Also got ham for Pat to vary his usual hard-boiled egg sandwich for lunch.
It would have been nice to go somewhere else, but I had to get back because Martin, the oxygen guy, called just before we left to say he'd deliver the tanks early. Pat takes a nap after breakfast, and I reluctantly agreed to leave the garage door open (the tanks are stored there), so we wouldn't have to wait. As it turned out, he drove up just as we got back.
Leslie asked if I wanted to go with her again to the "loss" group Tuesday evening, and I will.
Later, I drove to Manahawkin to run a few errands. Stopped at TJ Max and tried on some tops and a bathing suit. Didn't like anything enough to buy it, though, so will go back to good old Kohl's.
I'm aiming toward a hike this Monday (Atsion Lake) and another to Ong's Hat on Monday, the 28th.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hopped over to Hamilton Mall yesterday. I was looking for a spring jacket, but got waylaid; tried on a few things at Macy's. I was aghast at the prices, being accustomed to shopping at Kohl's, so left them all on the rack. Saw old acquaintance Marilyn W. from Ventnor, and we chatted a bit. She has an identical twin sister and the two of them ran as a joint entry in the Miss Atlantic City contest 50 years ago. I always thought they should have won--that would have been terrific publicity for A.C., but I guess the pokey, backward-looking judges couldn't see it. Anyway, they were beautiful girls.
Speaking of twins, I got several calls from mine (also a beautiful girl, of course) yesterday.
Susan called to invite me to a matinee at the Surflight Theatre on LBI with some mutual friends. I accepted with pleasure--it's not until June 12--looking forward to lunch and "The Producers."
When Pat went to the bay, I drove to tiny Chatsworth, about 20 miles away, as the A.C. Press had run a piece on the opening of a "cafe" at Buzby's General Store. It's open only Thursdays to Sundays and I'm going to ask Marge if she'd like to go this week or next.
Other than that, nuthin' much happening.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Got up to Alison's a little after 9:00 to find Jen and Tristan already there, Jen doing wash. Poor "T" has a cold, but still busily grabs everything to put in his mouth and crawls very fast. The chairs were delivered early--about 9:40--and they're so nice: big, overstuffed easy chairs with a kind of aqua background embossed (or something) with brown leaves. The pillows on the couch, which is solid brown, are made of the same material.
I watched T while Jen went home to scrub her kitchen floor. She doesn't like to do it with the kids home because she worries about them breathing in the chemicals. While she was gone, I sat down with T and his bottle and he fell asleep. It was so nice to have a soft little baby asleep in my arms again.
Jen brought the stroller when she came back and we took T for a walk, but he was fussy and we cut it short. Joely is off for Spring Break next week and Jen and I made plans for me to go up and spend a day with the three of them.
Got home in time to make Pat's lunch. He went off to the bay and I did several loads of wash and a few other chores. Leslie called to see if I was planning a trip to Santori's soon. Well, sure, and we decided to go on Thursday.
Chatted for just a few minutes with Alison after dinner. Incidentally, I skipped Weight Watchers last week because of the press of other commitments (gee, does that sound hoity-toity!) but will get weighed in on Friday or Saturday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Outdoor Club must have an inside track with the weatherman: Again yesterday, we enjoyed an invigorating day with blue skies and brilliant sunshine. There were about 18 of us--humans, that is--plus two dogs. I was pleased to be greeted by several members I know, including Joan, Leona, and Lynne. We went five miles, all around Harrisville Lake, in varying terrain, including sand paths, narrow trails, and at one point, along a steep slope where we had to be careful.
After, we sat by the side of the lake and ate the lunches we had brought. There were no tables or benches, so we had to sit on the ground. I was pleased to find I could easily get to my feet all by myself, something I couldn't do a year ago. Great start to the day and, although I had left Pat's lunch, I got home while he was still eating it. Terrific hike and terrific club!
Later, I saw Leslie pulling weeds and chatted with her. Stopped at Susan's to tell her I won't walk today because I have to be at Alison's at 9:00 to cover 9 to 12 when her new furniture is to be delivered. Called Jen to see if she can come to Alison's with Tristan--she will--and left a message with Mary Ann Van O. just to tell her I'm thinking of her with Bart so ill.
After dinner, I went to Tuckerton library for my Conversational English class; enjoyed seeing Genny again and getting to know more about her. She needs help with pronunciations, but is a good student. This time, I used some of the study materials (a "newspaper" written at, I guess, about a seventh-grade level, but with adult topics, such as political issues). We meet 7:00 to 8:00.
Note to game-players: I tried "Little House of Treasures," liked it okay, but wasn't crazy about it, so dipped into others along the same lines. The one I liked best, and that I ordered, is "Can You See What I See?" Not only does this feature "finding objects" type puzzles, but it's interspersed with other games which can buy you hints, etc. It seems to me to be more fun than "Little House." Try it in the demo mode and see what you think.

Monday, April 14, 2008

After our walk and a trip to the supermarket, I stayed in again yesterday. Was going to go to the Women's Club meeting, but didn't feel like it. Mary Ann Van O. drove up while Susan and I were walking to tell us Bart is back in the hospital and not doing well. He has COPD also, and I'm afraid has been declining lately.
Made a double batch of crystal pickles and will take some up to Alison's tomorrow; Mike likes them. Also made a veggie casserole, a dish of my own devising. I use my mandolin to slice zucchini and an onion, add fresh, cut-up tomatoes and Italian seasoning, and microwave it until tender--yum!
Pat discovered tiny ants in both our bathroom and the kitchen, and I sprayed them with poison, then mopped the floors and washed the rugs. This is a regular spring occurance--annoying, but with lots of woods around, the usual.
Talked on the phone to Alison and a few friends, but generally laid low at home.
Ellen web-cammed after dinner. It was great to see and talk to her. She used the camera to show us part of her new place--it really looks nice. She's getting things in shape, having spent hours scrubbing the kitchen, but still has plenty to do.
Will hike this morning, then meet Genny at Tuckerton Library for our conversational English class tonight.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Freedom Fields hike yesterday was lovely. I drove, taking Frank and Barb D., and Leslie. (Guess we could have walked, as it's only about 5 miles away.) The day was sponsored by Ocean County and Little Egg schools to encourage families to hike and play outdoors. Cheery teachers gave out large waterproof carrying bags with pedometers, water holders, and other goodies in them. Of course, bottles of water were also free for the taking. Before we started, the phys ed teacher led us in stretching exercises. (I found this amusing, as I've gone on hikes of up to 10 miles and nobody did stretching exercises beforehand.)
It was a beautiful day, sunny and mild, and we had a good walk. We did get confused in about the middle of it, having lost sight of the trail markers, but doubled back and corrected. We were joined by two beautiful girls named Liz and Rachel--cheerleaders in their junior year who compete in nationwide contests--and they walked with us, chatting all the way. According to our newly-acquired pedometers, we went 3.5 miles.
Hey, we live right. The weather was perfect during the hike--sunny and mild--then it rained all day just after we got home. Unusually for me, I didn't go out the rest of the day--just puttered around doing housework, reading, and playing my new "Great Wall of Words" game. Pat didn't even go to the bay; neither of us felt like going out in the rain. Geesh, we must be getting old.
Alison called on their way home from the "marathon hike." This was exactly like the one we did--well, okay, 23 miles longer. Eleven of them walked from above Frenchtown to Washington Crossing, stopping only for lunch. It took them nine and a half hours.
Was pleased to get a message from my Delaware friend, Lynne C. Her eye problem is being treated and we hope to reschedule our postponed lunch before too long.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The show last night was hilarious! "Lend Me A Tenor," a hit on Broadway about 20 years ago, is what I guess you'd call a "bedroom farce." It includes the classic formula of mix-ups, mistaken identities, disguises, and so on--all, of course, resolved in the end. I went with Ray, Barb, and Barb's sister, Pat, and we sat with the H.'s and the W.'s. Saw Leslie and Dennis there, who had also invited me. Our Little Egg Theatre Company is just superb and who's the prez but our next-door neighbor and good friend, Frank D. ?
I was invited back to the W.'s for coffee and cake after, but good grief, it was already 10:30 and I declined with thanks. Took the opportunity to call Ellen (on weekdays, she's usually still at school when I go to bed--3 hour time difference) and had a nice talk. I was so pleased to hear that her colleagues had given her a kind of reverse house-warming party, which included $300 in gift certificates.
Alison called before I left for the show to ask if I'd again go up to her house to receive furniture. Of course, I will--Tuesday--and will call Jen to see if she can come over with Tristan.
Told Susan I'd skip our walk today because I knew I'd be home late. Actually, I got up at 6:30 and guess I could have gone, but I'm not concerned about it. I'm picking up Leslie and Barb D. at 8:45 and we're participating in the Freedom Fields 2.5 mile hike.
The big, big news is that we have tenants in the backyard! For days, we've been watching a beautiful bluebird couple inspect our birdhouse right outside the kitchen sliding door. They've now definitely moved in, and Daddy is assisting Mommy by furnishing the place with bits of straw and leaves. Incurable romantic that I am, I can't help believing that means the bluebird of happiness has come to us. Yes, yes, that's a definite sign and all is well.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Zipped up to Kohl's again yesterday and exchanged one pair of Bermudas for another. Also got a neat pair of Dockers beige slacks, plus picked up a light blue one at SOCH. I want to add some shirts, then I'll have several clothes--that fit!--for my trip to California.
On my way home, I picked up my wedding gown at the cleaner's. Unfortunately, he couldn't do a thing with the stains and general yellowing. It was packed in an ordinary box for 45 years, then smushed in a plastic one for almost five, along with my flowers, which, of course, transferred onto the dress. He did press it, and I'm going to display it anyway. Right now, I have it laid out on the bench in the dining room, next to my wedding picture (shades of Miss Havisham!).
It was a glorious spring day, flirting with 70 degrees, and I took the cue to do some weeding and clearing out. I actually wore my old shorts; these have a drawstring waist, so they didn't fall off.
I'm far from finished--there are a lot of dead leaves in the flower beds--but I got a good start on it and came in feeling energized after using the muscles that usually lie dormant. I'm pleased to realize I'm not sore anywhere. In years past, I'd be groaning and moaning with muscle aches after the first time I gardened in the spring--this year, not.
Taking a cue from the weather, I exchanged my winter dishes for the spring/summer ones, and that gave me a lift.
I've gotten hooked on RealArcade's "Great Wall of Words" after playing it for free, and I ordered it. It's on the same line as "Bookworm DeLuxe," but more fun, I think. After each segment (which, when you complete it, moves you around the Great Wall of China--and I've been to the real one) it tells you your longest word. However, it also tells you the longest word the computer found. It's partly interesting and partly infuriating to be told your longest is something like "faced," and the computer's is "disingenuous." There are time limits and you have to form words before the Mongol hordes get in, and so on. Just a little diversion.
Got Alison's daily call after dinner. She baby-sits for her daughter-in-law every Thursday while Lisa works and calls from there.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bob S., another Sunrise Bay resident, came early to turn on the water and program the sprinklers for warm weather. We used to have "Nature's Way" do it to the tune of $65 in both spring and fall (on and off), and we had to take the initiative to call them. Bob charges $25 and called to remind us, to boot. Besides, he's a nice guy and his wife is a friend of mine.
Got to Kohl's before lunch and had a great time trying on size 10 petite pants. Bought a snappy pair of slacks in white duck and two pairs of Bermudas, then saw a slim black skirt on clearance and couldn't leave it on the rack.
The Comcast guy finally came at 4:00 pm and the "box" and T.V. are okay. After they zapped it from afar, there was some problem with the way Pat was aiming the remote and the tech explained it.
Made Pat beef stew in the crock pot and I had salmon. Both were yummy, if I say it myself, and I'll freeze the rest of the stew.
Alison called. She thinks she'll be able to work in her current school system in the summer, separately from her school-year contract.
S-o-o, a kind of spotty day, with various other things going on, but nothing momentous. I'm looking forward to the Little Egg Theatre production of "Show Me A Tenor" tomorrow night, which I'll attend with the H.'s. More fun things are coming up, too--will duly record them here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Good day early on, but downhill later. Went to The Common Ground with Susan and Barb and, naturally, had a great time. I'm not crazy about the restaurant: I had a mediocre salad--iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, canned olives, teeney-tiny rectangles of American cheese, and not much else, in a bottled dressing--but of course, the company was great. Susan and I reminisced about our bar-hopping days, in and after high school (Barb went in the convent in her sophomore year), and marveled at how we escaped with our lives, considering we regularly got in cars with thoroughly buzzed companions as drivers.
The downside happened about 5:30 when Pat reported that the T.V. had suddenly displayed a black screen with the message "Your Explorer is not authorized to...(do something)" and was otherwise dead. Trying to get in touch with Comcast is such an ordeal and so absolutely frustrating that I can't even describe my mounting sense of helpless fury. I finally gave up trying and turned to the computer. Entered a "chat room," which was just as irritating--had to first type in my name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and a description of the problem. Got somebody to respond and "chatted"--rather, she chatted and I screamed in caps and exclamation points ("WHAT IN THE HELL DO WE PAY YOU PEOPLE $103 A MONTH FOR?!??") and so on.
The upshot was that my new pal, Anna from Comcast, "sent a signal" to the T.V. and it seemed to clear. Of course, I no sooner ended the "chat" than the picture started breaking up and I had to log on again, typing in anew all the info crap I had before.
The whole damn thing was finally resolved, but not before it took ten years off my life (damn! why did I bother losing all that weight?) and made us sit down for dinner a half hour late.
After eating, I cleaned up, set everything up for later popcorn and wine, and breakfast (yes, I always do), then relaxed and got ready for my shower. Noticed a funny piece of something on my upper arm, looked more closely, and--a tick!
You know, after dealing with Comcast, this was a mere nothing. I gave Pat tweezers and he pulled it off, I dropped it in the toilet (where the little nasty started swimming around), and took my shower. After, I talked to my outdoor medical advisor, Alison, who questioned me as to the size of the bug and configuration of the site, and told me what to look for in case of Lyme disease (ho-hum).
Aside from that, all quiet.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Attended the Sunrise Bay Board Meeting yesterday and was pleased to hear the trustees vote to resume allowing private gatherings in the clubhouse. For the last two years, they hadn't been permitted because a resident had had a party during which damage was caused. (Some big mouth got up and argued against it, saying "kids'll be in the exercise room and in the pool." Sure, and we're planning to invite a horde of kids of all ages, the older ones bringing in booze and dope....)
Anyway, that's where our fiftieth anniversary celebration will be. I lost no time in reserving the clubhouse for June 21, then zipped up to Sea Oaks to ask for my $200 deposit back. I was grateful that they agreed to send me a check. Uh...I may have based my refund request on Pat's worsening condition, but that's at least semi-true. (We can always find a way to excuse ourselves--but nobody else--from being honest.)
During the meeting, I got a cell phone call from the Tuckerton Library, asking if I'd be able to conduct a Conversational English class that evening. I had almost forgotten I had signed up as a volunteer--we met last October for orientation--but I agreed. The library person apologized for the late notice, but said the two women who wanted to participate had just called.
As it turned out, one "student" didn't show, but I found the other delightful. Her name is Genny and she's from Peru; she's been in the U.S.for 5 years. She's a live-in caregiver for a woman who lives in the golf community of Sea Oaks and has Alzheimer's.
I decided to use our first meeting simply to get to know her and we talked back and forth for about 45 minutes. Her English really isn't bad, she just needs practice. When she said something incorrectly pronounced or structured, I instinctively repeated it correctly back to her as a question. ("Two year ago, I live in Texas." "You lived in Texas two years ago?") When I talked to Ellen later, she said that's the way she had been told to subtly correct non-native speakers.
Genny and I will meet again next Monday; she said her friend wants to come, also.
Talked to both D.D.s when I got home, always my favorite part of the day. Alison and I made a date to have her come down on Sunday, the twentieth, to make plans for the fiftieth anniversary bash.
Susan, Barb H., and I will go to lunch today, to celebrate our birthdays in December, March, and June.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Went to pick up Susan in a downpour. We both had umbrellas, but the wind was so bad, we turned back only a short way into our usual mile and a half. Hey, it won't hurt to skip one day.
After WW, I stayed in for a leisurely Sunday. Pat didn't go to the bay, as there was a Flyers game at 3:00. I had a long chat with Betty early on, then changed our sheets, vacuumed, and performed other chores. Gave Pat barbecued country ribs for dinner (I make a fair amount in the crock pot, then freeze individual portions); I had my usual, heavy on the veggies.
Had a long talk with Ellen. She was about to move into her new townhouse and, as is common, has some concerns. (Not sure if that's called "buyer's remorse," an expression I've often heard). Overall, though, the place is fine--can't wait to see it next month.
Alison called late. She alerted me to the Jersey Shore Running Club website where there are pictures of her and Mike during the Allentown 5K run. Mike came in first in his category and she came in second--sixth in the female overall group.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The hike yesterday was so good. It took me only about twenty minutes to drive to Batsto and meet up with leader Joe and about 30 others. We went around the beautiful, very secluded Mullica Lake, and along rough and sand trails. Christine, an long-time OCNJ leader, pointed out pixie moss (really in the heath family) and trailing arbutus, both flowering already. The weather was fabulous: sunny and so unseasonably warm I had to carry my coat part of the way. After a brisk 5 miles, we ate lunch (a big salad and water for me) at picnic tables under the trees. Just love this group!
Got home by 1:00 while Pat was having lunch. After he went to the bay, I went to Kohl's looking for slacks. Gathered some nice ones, all size 14, but to my chagrin (ho-ho, like fun!), they were all too big. I'm now in a 12 petite.
Talked to Alison later to tell her about the hike. She and Mike ran in an Allentown race yesterday--a ten miler--and came in second and first, respectively, in their categories. They then ran the eight miles home. She told me they're going on an OCNJ hike next Saturday and I said I'd join them if I weren't already committed to the Freedom Fields hike with Leslie. "Hmm," she replied, "It's a marathon hike--26.5 miles."
Think I'll just skip that one.
Later: Missed Weight Watchers yesterday because of the hike, so impulsively went today through a driving rain. Lost another pound and am now at 136.6 with a total of 63 pounds off.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Zipped down to Santori's and Shop-Rite in Galloway after a spat with The Press of Atlantic City (paper wet, called, got rude "customer service" rep, complained to supervisor, etc.). Big headline told about the consolidation of Camden diocese parishes; St. James will operate as a church only in the summer. Well, I guess it was inevitable considering the shifting demographics and so on.
While I was making dinner, neighbor/walking partner/good friend Susan came over to bring me a gift of four lovely pansy plants. She proceeded to put them neatly in my hanging planter out front. What a wonderful spring-y gesture! She then came in to view my Irish table (she loves it).
Alison called on her way to her and Mike's Friday night hike. Nothing much new with them, but it's always a pleasure to hear from her. I'm looking forward to the five-miler I'm going on today. This is on one of the Batsto trails, which is only about twenty minutes away for me.
After dinner, Mike called/web cammed. We discussed our mutual upcoming California trips and adorable Vivian showed me her new "Strawberry Shortcake" books. They've been looking for a big girl bed for her, as her new little sister will eventually go into the crib. I chatted with pregnant Paula; her father lives in Escondido and had to vacate during a recent forest fire. She and her brother were concerned when they couldn't reach him, even on the cell phone, but they eventually did, and he's back in his house and okay. I asked Paula when she'd stop working and she said, "When I go into labor."
I got to meet the new nanny, Jenny, who seems very nice. Old nanny, Vicky, is on a leave of absence, but will accompany them to the states next month. They still have both nannies in residence; not sure when Vicky will leave for good.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Nice day yesterday. I took the income taxes to be filed (it was quick and easy and we're getting some back) and when I got home, Pat said Marge had called to see if I was available for lunch. Oh, yes, and pleased to be asked.
We went to little Beverly's where Pat and Ray regularly go. I passed up a salad (I eat a lot of salad at home) and ordered a ham and cheese omelet made with Egg Beaters. I told the waitress not to add the sides (toast and fries) and gee, was it good. The tiny cubes of ham and slight amount of cheese probably didn't add more than fifty calories and I need the protein, anyway.
After, we went down to Green Street, but Pat wasn't at the bay. Marge came in with me to view the Irish table and he was home, waiting for the guy to come install the Comcast box.
Lynne had called while I was out to say she was unable to keep our lunch date today because of a vision problem. I called her back and found she had suffered a retina tear a few days ago. She went immediately to the opthomologist and retina specialist, and he/they had treated it, but she was still having blurred vision and has to go back today. Boy, can I sympathize: I had almost exactly the same thing about fifteen years ago, but in my case, it may have been a less extensive tear--not sure. Anyway, I'll miss seeing her today, but of course, her vision is the top priority. We'll make another date later.
In the meantime, I talked to/saw Ellen on the web cam. She took the day off to do some packing and we had a good chat.
I then took the plunge and got my tickets for California! Will arrive on May 8 and stay until the 18th. Am looking forward with great anticipation to seeing Ellen, Mike, Paula, Vivian, and of course, my dear sissy, Betty, and her family.
(When we were kiddies, Mom would call one of us "sissy" every once in awhile and we'd pout, "I'm NOT a sissy!" Guess we thought she meant we lacked courage or something.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Aside from slogging away at picture-storing, I zipped down (up? over?) to Manahawkin to try to get my glasses fixed. The optician said the ear piece, which fits into the frame, would have to be glued back and Pat did it for me with Crazy Glue. I haven't put them on yet--hope they work.
While I was in the big city, I picked up a furnace filter; dear Dennis had reminded me it was time for him to change it.
Washed, dried, folded, and put away the mountains of wash we seem to generate.
Was horrified to read in The Press that Brendan Byrne Park is scheduled to be closed. Just when I started hiking! And the place where Alison and Mike lead hikes every Friday! Must check the web site of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey to read its take on the closing.
I'm looking forward to meeting Lynne for lunch tomorrow. She lives in Rehobath Beach, DE, and we meet in Christiana, so it's a jaunt for both of us, but we try to meet a few times a year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Darn! As I was cleaning my glasses this morning, one of the ear pieces broke off. I'm wearing my old ones, but it isn't quite the right prescription. Must get to an optician and get new frames--but will they have them in the right size for the lenses? I hate to spend much on new ones, as I'm due for a checkup in a few months and may need a different prescription. (Will take back that "darn" and say "DAMN!")
Am continuing my clear-out, clean-up campaign. Spent hours removing pictures from frames and separating them. Today, I'll decide which of the myriad mound of frames to donate to the thrift store. I have so many because 1. I'm a photo freak, and 2. I had dups of some pictures decorating a wall in my office at Rider.
Jen installed a web cam and Pat and I greatly enjoyed talking to and seeing the Phillips Four yesterday. Joely told us about a boy named Eric who "went to Florida." We discussed his cousin, Vivian, who lives so far away; he wants to see her on the cam, too.
Talked to Betty about her SIL's father's death and some acquaintances. Alison called; she likes her new school and we talked about my times to and from California. Must get my tickets soon.
Aside from a supply trip to Shop-Rite, that was about it, so it was a fairly slow day. However, good things are coming up: Friend Lynne C. and I have a date to meet for lunch on Friday (in Christiana, DEL). Barb H. invited me to go with her and Ray to the local "Show Me A Tenor" production on Friday, the 11th, and I accepted with pleasure. We also made a tentative date for the three of us (Barb, Susan, and I) to finally go for our birthday lunch; we'll do that either Wednesday or next Friday.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spent yesterday clearing out and cleaning up. Put the Irish table along the inner wall in the dining room and switched some other stuff around. Did a bunch of wash, went to Acme, filled boxes to donate to the thrift store today, and completed similar mundane, but necessary, chores.
The only highlight--aside from DD's daily call*--was my trip to the dry cleaner. What did I bring there? Ho, ho, it was my wedding gown*, which is older than the man who owns the place. It's pretty badly yellowed and stained, having been taken off, packed away, and untouched for five decades, but I trust he can make it look a little better. I intend to display it during our anniversary party and why the hell not?
*I designed the gown and my Aunt Gertrude made it, as she did Betty's and our older sister's.
**Alison started at her new school in Riverside yesterday and had a good day. She said most of the children (in Special Services, they range in age from 3 to 21) are not as disabled as those in her previous assignment. She'll be here until the end of the school year in June.