Friday, December 31, 2010

Mike and Paula's college friend, Sarah H., came over for the day and we all went to UCSB, their Alma mater; many changes. Lunched Mexican, then stopped in to Village Catering, owned by M. and P.'s former boss in the bakery at UCSB. Later, went in hot tub in garden with M. and Vivian. Nice, but very cool--in the thirties. Went to dinner at The Wine Cask with just M. and P. P. and I had blood orange Margaritas, then wine, plus yummy entrees.
Last day of 2010; time flies.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mike hanging over my shoulder as I write! ("I am not!")
Betty, Finn, and Claire here all day yesterday. Carolyn and Dana are moving to their new house today, so it was a help to have the rest if their household occupied. After an initial shy period, kids had a ball. Ellen came in the afternoon and we all did this 'n' that. Kids went in the hot tub in the garden, although it was extremely windy and cool. Nanny Vickie made a wonderful lunch--homemade pizza for the kids, salmon, rice, and veggies for us. She also made dinner of a Filipino dish--a kind of chicken stew--that was very tasty. Mike and Paula went out shopping, then to UCSB; great changes there. Later, Mike then drove us around to see Christmas lights, which, to be honest, couldn't hold a candle to ours in Little Egg.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Here in Santa Barbara at a palatial estate behind a high hedge. Can't see the house because of said hedge, and what's more, there's no number on it. Steange.
I could have stayed in the guest house (living room, kitchen, bed, and bath), but decided to use one of the--geez, I don't know how many bedrooms--at least five, with baths. Good fun with the beautiful granddaughters, son, DIL. Expecting Carolyn and family soon.
Just so much going on, I can't put it all down.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This will be very short, as I find it terribly awkward to use Ellen's laptop, with which I'm unused. Early (6:55 am) flight was cancelled, but thanks to Ellen, we were able to get a later one and were shuttled to airport. After a fair amount of confusion and problems, we left and got to Phoenix, our original route, but it took what seemed to be two days because we sat there being de-iced for a long time. Small (ugh!) plane to Santa Barbara, our luggage arrived there fine, then 45-minute car trip home.
All this could have been absolute nightmare without my darling daughter, checking, calling, using computer and phone to get us back. I would have been at an absolute loss--yay for Ellen!
Now I want to see my boy and his girls and have a wonderful second Christmas.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ellen and I stranded at the Fairfield Inn in Philly. Flight cancelled. Must find another. AAGH!
Enjoyed a lovely Christmas Day, inaugurated by a Skype call from P. and A. P. described the funeral for N/'s uncle, which they had attended--very interesting in the way Buddhist rites both parallel and diverge from the ones with which I'm familiar. Heard and saw the the Singapore/Lake Tahoe contingent, too, always a pleasure. Got a Merry Christmas call from J. and N.; kids had already unwrapped presents and were noisily having a ball with them.
Ellen made me a terrific, calorie-laden (that's why it was terrific) breakfast of two fried eggs, toast, juice, and coffee--yum. After, while she washed, trimmed, and sliced zucchini and other ingredients for one casserole, then put together a corn pudding for the other, I finished wrapping, tidied up, and jumped in the shower, and dressed. Got to our destination up north about 3:00 to find the gang already there. Greatly enjoyed the exchange of presents and good talk, then sat down to a sumptuous dinner of ham and delicious sides.
The antibiotic I take warns that one could become violently ill from drinking alcohol, but I decided to take a chance, Indulged in the "chocowine," or whatever it was called--that N. had brought. It tasted something like chocolate milk gone odd, but wasn't bad and I was delighted that I didn't fall down in fits or something.
Watched again the charming video the kiddies made for me while they were decorating cookies and I was in the hospital: "Get Well, Mimi."
Left about 8:00 after planning to meet up today before our trip to Philly. We leave tomorrow for California.
WIDER: From "Fred On Everything":
"...The trappings of fascism spread. General David Petraeus, commander of the Eastern Front, poses with the President in the White House in combat fatigues. The country is now the Homeland, reminiscent of the Nazi Fatherland and the Soviet Motherland. We hear of American Exceptionalism, the ritual self-idolizaton beloved of pathological nationalism. Blood and Soil. The American Dream. Ubermenschen. All we need is a short Austrian."
But read the whole thing at

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Boy, we were busy all day. Dynamo Ellen set up my new scanner/printer/fax (I think it does the dishes, too) and it's working beautifully. I spent a lot of time wrapping gifts, both east and west coast contingents, and we completed other chores. We were delighted to see Mike and entourage on the web cam, the little girls as adorable as ever.
Later in the day, we drove to Kohl's and Bed, Bath 'N' Beyond and, after much debating and agonizing, picked up the final few presents. Got home well after 5:00 and we prepared an elegant Christmas Eve dinner: I had Chex cereal with milk and Ellen called out for pizza.
I was pleased to get an e-mail from old friend and neighbor, Stan F. He tells me that his wife, Doris, whom I remember so well, is now in a nursing home. He cared for her for seven years at home and finally, as it always does, the thief, Time, won out. Stan asked for my phone number, which I was glad to give him, and I hope he'll call.
It's Christmas in this weary old world and I have no deep, philosophical gems to pass on, except my favorite, which sedate Susan told me her mother had advised:
"Never buy cheap gin."

Friday, December 24, 2010

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Turned out to be a dazzlingly good day. Got up finally feeling tiptop and had an odd, but I think, good breakfast of half a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter, a banana, and a glass of grapefruit juice. Phone call from doctor's office asking if we could come at 2:00 instead of 4:30--yes! Ellen and I tidied up, then I jumped in the shower and carefully selected my outfit to--I hoped--optimize my appearance of good health. Dressed in deep purple with the terrific scarf Susan gave me, put on makeup, wore my new boots and hey--not half bad, if I say it myself.
Got to Northfield in plenty of time, saw the doc and he gave me a clean bill of health. Said no problem with flying and as I was walking out of his office, he made my daym saying, "I can't believe you're (age)." Well, hey, no need to get in the car after that because I was walking on air.
Ellen and I then went to various places for last-minute gifts, then drove up north for an impromptu dinner with that contingent, including big J. and all four boys, but not N., who was working. We drove to Manchester to a diner and all had what they wanted. J. and R. had waffles, J., Jr. simply ordered a piece of banana creme pie and adorable little T. saw a picture of a fruit salad on the menu and had that. He wasn't crazy about the grapefruit, insisting it was "too hot," which I'm sure meant "sour."
After, Ellen and I went back to the house and saw a sweet video of the boys, big J., and Mike making and decorating cookies. It was made on Saturday, the 18th, and was dedocated to Mimi--that's me--and her speedy recovery. Each of the darling kids wished me to get better--what a wonderful thing to have!
Good fun and we got home after 9:00. Went to bed soon after and slept soundly.
Am going to try walking this morning--I feel just about over the hump. Still have another gift or two to buy--well, I have plenty of time--and all of them to wrap, but I'll get it done with my wonderful daughter with me.
Later: I walked! Regular route--a mile and a half--at regular, very brisk pace and boy, was it good. To top it off, Susan presented me with a pair of what can only be described as wooly lower-leg warmers that look like something sheered off a sheep. She has white, she gave me black, and do we look silly in them, but so what, they're nice and warm and I'm sure we're now the envy of the neighborhood.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Busy day buzzing around, almost like old times PGB (pre-gall bladder) except I'm still lacking my full component of energy. However, I endured the teeth-cleaning okay and we then went to Mastories, in Bordentown, just an incredible restaurant. There's a very large variety of menu items, they're quite reasonable, and--this is the incedible part--it's good food! I had tilapia, fresh string beans with oil and garlic, preceded by Caesar salad, and succeeded by tapioca pudding, plus tea. It was truly delicious and so was Ellen's turkey sandwich. Still not having a ravenous appetite, I took half home and had it for dinner.
After that, we stopped at the Columbus Farmers' Market and got a few things from the Amish store. Got home about 3:30 and Ellen started her long quest to get music on the IPod Shuffle she gave me for my birthday. No luck, and the upshot after hours on the phone with tech support was that it couldn't be done because of some kind of block I have (mental block, no doubt). Anyway, resourceful Ellen thought of a different way and we'll execute it in California.
Went to bed about 9:30 and slept like a log until 6:00. I'm feeling very noticeably better today--good thing, as we have a lot to do: Still some presents to buy, and all the wrapping, plus a lot of other errands, and the doctor's appointment at 4:30--but hey, I'm close to my old self and that's so good.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Coming back, but not entirely smoothly. Had a nice, very quiet birthday with my girls. Lots of good wishes from others, too. Susan came over and brought me a beautiful scarf and a bottle of white Zin (ha! Can't have alcohol with the antibiotic, but I'll enjoy it later.) Ellen made delicious veggie soup and we just had that with ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner (I had only soup). I had told the girls not to get a cake as we had the wonderful homemade cookie tray from the D.'s and every piece was incredibly yummy. Talked and laughed after. I turned in about 8:30--it's hard to get used to being so wiped out with just normal activity--and slept until 5:00.
Feel fairly okay--about 80percent, I guess. Dentist today; hope I can make it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back from hospital. Feel loucy, but it's my birthday. Ellen here, thank heavens. More later.
Later: I actually feel lousy, not loucy, but that too, I guess.
Later still: Coming back from Zombieland. Mike called on the web cam from Lake Tahoe and that was so good. While he was on, Frank from next door brought over a beautiful tray of cookies and cakes from him and Barbara--Happy birthday and get well."
Slept on the couch, but then Ellen made a delicious salad and I had that, later half a ham sandwich. These tasted so incredibly good, I guess because I had had no solid food for five days and only about a cup of revolting liquid stiff.
Dear cuz Marifran called, as did sister Betty, and Anne Mary came in. Latter brought me a pretty candle and a bouquet of pink carnations.
Decided to throw off my invalid role--it's getting old--took a shower and dressed in real people clothes. I'm determined to make it it to California on the 26th and what's more, to the dentist's in Bordentown tomorrow.
Got an incredible number of cards, phone calls, and good wishes. Barb H. and Susan visited me in the hospital and nephew Tim sent a lovely bouquet. Good thoughts and wishes coming from all around and they're healing me, I say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

So sick. It seems to be a gall bladder attack, which I haven't had for at least fifteen years, but I foolishly ate cashew nuts and peanuts on Wednesday. Went to the doctor; she concurs with my diagnoses. Passed a terrible night; took Percoset, which helps for only about two hours and you can't take it more often than four. Better than it was, but still bad. Hurts so much; going back to bed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It occurred to me that Christmas is coming right up and--I'm not ready! This happens every single year without exception, dang nab it. I have at least four more presents to buy, several albums to put together, and a whole lot else. I did galvanize myself enough to go to Manahawkin and pick up a few things, plus wrote out, addressed, and stamped almost all my Christmas cards. It's pretty nuts that the postage cost many times more than the cards, but that's modern life, I guess.
Called Dee and had a nice chat; she's spending the holiday with her daughter in Pennsy, so we'll get together in the new year. Marge called to say Fred had survived the operation--an eight hour one, which boggles the mind--but it will be a long recovery period. I called Leslie will pick her up today to go to Produce Junction and the cemetery.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Third post of day:
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Second post of day:
Just to illustrate what I'm up against in family matters, here are some missiles from my two younger children WHO KNOW I'M NOT AN ANIMAL LOVER:
Just an FYI that I have ordered a birthday gift for you that will arrive between December 17-22. It will likely come in 3 separate packages with at least one of them from Amazon. HOPEFULLY, it will all arrive by your birthday but the shipping confirmation was somewhat ambiguous. Anyway, please be on the lookout: Anything shipped to you from:
Crazy Bob's World of Pets and Animals
The Greater New Jersey SPCA Friends Regional Dogfood Cooperative
is for you, so open fast!
P.S. Make SURE there are holes poked into the boxes!
Love ya!
Mike out ...
Followed by Ellen's:
No fair, Mike!
I was going to get Mom five kittens for her birthday! Now I'll have to get her fish or turtles or something.
Back to Mike:
Well, as she is there all alone, you know how they say old people love dogs, so I got her a feisty little puppy named "Nipper!" It is a doberman / Shepard mix.
But DON'T Tell her!
See ya,
To all of which I haughtily responded:
(Uh-oh; now I think I should be afraid--very afraid...)
Good, although long, day. Sent a package off to P. and N., just a little pre-Christmas thing. Picked Marge up at 11:00 and drove to the hospital. Fred had been admitted early so he could be weaned off something or other--can't remember--and put on Heparin (?). He was in good form, talking and reminiscing, and when lunch came, ate every bit. Marge and I went downstairs for lunch and when we came up, Fred's surgeon had been in. Marge was very disappointed because she wanted to talk to him, bur for some reason, didn't want to page or call him. Eerily, Fred is on the same floor that Pat was when he died and may be in the same room. I didn't mention this to Marge or Fred.
I stayed until about 3:00--Marge's son-in-law was coming in from Ocean City to take her home--and I got home in time to do a few things, then dressed for the Wellspouse dinner.
Got to Vivian's work place at 5:30 and she drove to Manalapan, about an hour and a half through dense northern Jersey traffic. The dinner was great fun: I was greeted with hugs--this was the first time I had attended since Pat died--and had a wonderful time. The wine flowed freely and so did the talk. Had wonderful grilled swordfish and Myron, one of the regulars, although his wife died several years ago, served up wonderful chocolate pecan cookies. He makes dessert for each gathering--just likes to--all delicious and all from scratch.
We stayed for several hours, then said our goodbyes. Got back to Manahawkin to pick up my car well after 10:00, and home after 11:00. I had told Susan I probably wouldn't walk and I didn't; got up at 7:00, two hours later than usual, but feel good and full of beans.
NOW I gotta get serious about Christmas presents, cards, and so on!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Just had a horrible experience: My computer went down! Long story I won't go into, but there was a connection prob, surely because I shoved the wastebasket under the desk and disconnection, etc., etc., etc. Tried and tried, gnashed my teeth, it wouldn't work, now it does and I don't know why, but no matter.
Ran a slew of errands yesterday, after cutting up cabbage and apples to go in one crock pot, and turnips and green peppers in the other. Both were yummy.
Was thrilled and delighted that P. got my reservations in the hotel near them--was worried it would be filled.
Am picking Marge up to take her to the hospital to see Fred, who's in for heart surgery.
Must go, need breakfast.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Had just started this entry, when I was interrupted by a Skype call from Mike. He was working on my reservations, called P. while we talked and check dates with him and--yay! My reservationss are confirmed! I leave in early February and come back near the end. So exciting and now I must start planning the packing, etc. Hmm...well, I will after I get back from California in January.
Enjoyed the Christmas show in Trenton Last night. All four of the boys, plus the other two grandchildren, plus various family members went. It was presented as a radio show and included lots of singing, various skits and jokes, and of course, Santa at the end. The older boys were attentive, the younger ones not so much, but all enjoyed it generarlly.
We drove after to view an spectacularly decorated house with thousands upon thousands of lights synchronized to go on and off to music that you could access with your car radio. Great show.
Decided not to stay over, although it was raining hard and dark, but made it home okay. Nothing scheudled for today, so I want to get some chores done around here, run errands, and generally stay on the straight and narrow after a week of lunches, shows, and other great stuff.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hey, the reading came out better than I had expected it would. There were roughly twenty people there. Sounds like a very small number, but the venue was so tiny, it filled up the place. The four actors read--I did okay, I think--then writer/director Karen led a discussion session. I was amazed to find we were walking out of there at 1:30--great!
Marilyn and I then went to the big Mastoris Diner at the intersection of Routes 206 and 130. I hadn't been there for years and greatly enjoyed it. We stayed for two hours, talking and laughing and once in a while, crying a bit. She's looking at her first Christmas and New Year in 27 years without Sam.
When we parted, I was delighted to realize I was only a quarter mile or so from Farnsworth Avenue, where my dentist office is. That meant I was able to go down 296 and get home in about an hour and a few.
After settling, I watched the first part of Doubt, which I had been anxious to see. In truth, I was a bit disappointed in it. I think Meryl Streep played her character as just too unrelievedly awful and the young nun was pretty enough to be a--well, movie star. I've known a lotta nuns in my time and, believe me, none (sorry!) look like that.
However, Philip Seymour Hoffman played a priest superbly. As a kid, I knew a lot of priests, too, and his portrayal was spot-on.
Got a cam call from adorable Violet and her Daddy and saw a bit of Vivian. Darling, precious kids--can't wait to see them.
Just now, got a call from P. and N. and had a good chat, ranging from Okinawa to the incredibly difficult Japanese language--or combination of languages, really.
Must go--time for our walk.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No wonder I love this time of year: Yesterday, we--Barb H., her sister, Pat and the other Pat (H.), Susan and I--went on the Tuckerton Christmas tour. Of course, we lunched first at the Tuckerton Emporium. I had pistacio tuna salad and delishious cream of tomato with basil soup.
Tour was fun, as ever (this is about the fifth time we've gone). First the Seaport old house, then other private homes were on display and we went to all of them. Some were tastefully decorated, some laughingly over-the-top (invariably, the owner would equate apending thousands of dollars with exhibiting good taste), but all were interesting and fun to tour.
We were home by 3:00 and I zipped over to the library to get the CD of Doubt, which I've been dying to see and Outside Looking In, the new boook by "observer" (as he puts it) Garry Wills, which I had requested.
I had invited the D.'s to come over for coffee and dessert, partly to discuss my LETCO duties with Frank. Got slices of birthday cake out of the freezer, along with the cookies Susan had baked and given me after Thanksgiving, and served them. Frank and Barb came over about 7:00 and stayed for two hours. We had such an enjoyable time talking about the theatre company, our travels, and other topics.
Will go up to Trenton today for the reading.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Went to the LETCO meeting last night and found myself elected to the Board of Trustees! Ho, ho, that isn't as impressive as it sounds: So were six other members and we didn't exactly "run"--it was by acclimation.
No matter, I'm fine with it, especially as I'm not on the executive committee (pres., vp, treas., sec.). There does seem to be a new breath of life in the group. We now have a board member who has experience in grant writing, for instance and, as with anything else in this tired old world, money is essential for operations.
Earlier, I went to Produce Junction to get a Christmas wreath for the grave. It's fresh, of course--I don't do artificial--and is on a stand. I put it just behind the headstone and it looks good. Removed the dead stalks of the mums; they should revive next spring. Was charmed to find the top half of a broken ceramic blue jay which, cognizant of Pat's enjoyment of birds, I anchored in dirt next to the stone. (My friend, Mary Ann, would regard that as some kind of supernatural message, but I don't go that way.)
Christmas tour and yet another lunch today.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Neat day! Was picked up at 11:30 by Judy S. Also in the car were Susan, Mary Ann, and Julie G. The luncheon was at The Carriage House in Galloway and oh, what a terrific place. It's large, elegantly appointed, and was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Great lunch (chicken Marsala), we each got a Lenox dish, and it was great fun to be with friends and neighbors. I got lots of compliments on my hair and, believe it or not, my outfit. I wore black silky slacks, a black top with a scoop neck, a long white scarf, and silver jewelery--in other words, I was all black, white, and silver. If I say it myself, I looked sensational.
Got home about 4:00 and changed, then just puttered around until 6:30 until it was time to go next door tot Frank and Barbara's. We went to the library to see A Christmas Carol and, oh boy, was it good.
This was NOT the sloppy-sentimental, hoked-up movie or television version*; it was the actual, word-for-word story by Dickens, read by three actors. Yes, read--but also acted and they were superb. One was both narrator and Scrooge, another man the other male characters, and a woman both female humans and spirits. They were dressed in period costume and, of course, didn't just read--they acted.
We talked to them afterwards and found they're located in Jackson. They do two other shows besides "Carol": A Meeting Of The Macabre and "Mark Twain's Wonderful Words." Would love to see the others someday.
*This terrific experience supports my insistence that modified versions of original material is almost always wrong-headed and false. (This includes--in spades--fictionalized true events and "docudramas.") If a work of art is a fine one to begin with--and "Carol" certainly is--to tart it up with additional dialogue, scenes, or modified speech, is like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. When it comes to written material, it's even worse because the aberration is often accepted as the real thing. How many people remember the real story of Frankenstein? I do, because I read what Mary Shelley actually wrote; she never heard of Boris Karloff. Seems to me that "improving" a work to make it fit into a movie or play format, or fictionalizing a true event to make it more entertaining, is almost never warranted. It doesn't improve: it dumbs down and phonies up.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Nothing going on yesterday except I got my hair cut and colored. Shopped for veggies. Baked sweet potatoes and ate two. Cut up green peppers and put them in the slow cooker with onions and garlic; will save for dinner tonight or whatever. Talked to Mary S. about various aspects of The Breeze.
Women's Club luncheon this afternoon. This evening, I'm going to an (adult) "A Christmas Carol" presentation at the library, to which the D.'s invited me. Sounds like fun. Talked to P. and N. about my February trip and got an e-mail from Mike, who's making the arrangements, thank heavens.
WIDER: In all the millions and billions and trillions of words written about the Wikileaks thing, not a single one has suggested the information is fabricated. Naturally, the big guns, loaded with dirty little innuendos, were wheeled in by big government (assisted by big media, of course) and aimed at Assange and his condom use. But, correct me if I'm wrong, I haven't seen a breath or a sigh or a gasp to the effect that what was released is bogus.
Just something to contemplate...
And a further thought: Seems to me having Assange surrender to authorities was a stroke of brilliance, especially as he's been denied bail. He's a hell of a lot safer incarcerated than at large, where an "accident" could take him out. This must have the U.S. and its allies tearing their hair. Hey, we'll take anything we can get to annoy and chip away at the empire and its minions.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Mary liked the cover and it will be used for The Breeze. Got my articles in, plus pictures, so for this month, it's put to bed (an old-fashioned phrase, but I'm nothing if not old-fashioned).
Just interrupted with a call from Patrick and Natsue. We discussed my trip there in February--can't wait!
Susan picked me up for the luncheon at SeaOaks. I was taken aback at the number of people there--all women and surely, at least a hundred of them. I was still a bit--well, not exactly annoyed, but let's say, "surprised with overtones" because the affair didn't benefit any charity. I thought it was pricey, too: thirty bucks, plus a ten dollar "gift," plus the cost of tickets for the tricky tray. Susan and I also bought a glass of wine for $5.50, plus tip. Everybody got a door prize and I picked a nicely wrapped cylinder I was sure was wine, but damn, it was a package of four apple candles I need like a hole in the head. Oh, well, it was fun; didn't get home until after 4:00 and immediately changed and went to the library.
Was disappointed to learn from friend Vivian that she was mistaken about the date of the Wellspouse dinner. It isn't today, it's next Tuesday. Had to change my dentist appointment for that day.
Got a call from friend Marge to tell me Fred's surgery date and ask if I can take her to the hospital on the 16th and possibly, the 14th, too. I'll be glad to, of course, I told her.
Getting my hair cut today.

Monday, December 06, 2010

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I'm doing the cover for January Breeze, so spent a lot of time assembling new year props and arranging them on a bench to photograph. I wasn't satisfied with the shiny banner ("Happy New Year1"), so drove to Staples in Manahawkin and had one made that reads: "The best if yet to come..." and it looks pretty good. Not sure how good my photo is though. I sent it off to Mary, our de facto editor, and await her response.
Amy Z. called to give me two corrections on the profile. It seems I accidentally wrote that she and Conrad are "ecumenical ministers," instead of "Eucharistic ministers," but actually the title is "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion." Corrected, then sent it off, along with my other piece ("Piano Lessons").
Got a web cam call from sister Betty, and saw her little granddaughter, Scarlett, who's such a cutie. She's just a bit older than Violet--wish they could play together.
Talked to Ellen later. We decided I probably wouldn't stop at her place in California when I go to Asia in February. I hope this is what Mike and I decided, as we went back and forth on it.
Ocean Club luncheon at SeaOaks today.
LATER: Yoicks! It just occurred to me that, this week alone, I have three lunches and a dinner! Will be fun, know, the weight thing. Reminds me of that old Brit verse which, for some reason, I've always liked:
What care I how fat I be?
Twenty pounds will marry me,
If twenty shan't, forty shall--
I'm my mother's bouncing girl.
I love the bland complacence, the shrugging off of the "fat girl" complex, and most of all, I love the courage of the last two lines: They don't rhyme!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

What a neat day! However, the first part was...uh, strange. After getting slightly lost by following Google's cockamamie directions to Trenton, I made it to Classic Books only a few minutes late. Was surprised to hear we were going to rehearse the long version of Karen's play, not the short. However, no prob, we read twice. The other three actors are very nice. They're Yolanda, a radio announcer; Shaaron (yes, two "a"s), the only other one with acting experience; and John, a retired psychiatrist (I kid you not). I was taken aback to be told we were doing the long version--essentially just four l-o-o-n-g monologues--but we did it twice and I guess it's okay. Whether anybody will see it is questionable, I think, as there were no customers that I could see it the bookshop, but it'll be an experience.
On my way home, stopped up north and was delighted to be invited to a tree-lighting. Accepted with pleasure and, after helping bring over some snow gear to the boys, we met again at 6:00. It was bitterly cold, but we were all bundled up and the boys had their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who came along on a fire engine (seems to be a trend).
After, we all went back to the house to enjoy a delicious dinner which the lady of the house had pulled together at the last minute: chicken, pasta, string beans and asparagus, along with a yummy mix of shrimp, tomato, black olives, and capers. I relished all of it, then said goodbye, as it was already almost 8:00 and I had a long drive home.
Wonderful day, wonderful season, and there's more to come.
Just called son Mike on Skype to wish him happy birthday. Saw him and the adorable little girls. Discussed my upcoming trip to Asia, which he'll arrange for me. Can't wait!
WIDER: Other activities? Oh, I was pleased to write out a check for Wilileaks to help with the defense fund. Will mail it off tomorrow. I'm doing it by paper check instead of electronically because I want everybody who sees or handles it to know what side I'm on.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

I've come to the conclusion the entire universe is conspiring to drive me crazy. First, U.S. Air: called to see if I can get frequent flier miles for past flights and yes, as long as they were within six months, and they were. No prob at all with the Florida trip in October, no prob with the one from LAX back to Philly, which leaves the one where I missed the flight and got on another. I won't go into any detail, but will just list two long phone calls and an e-mail because I didn't know the flight number of the plane I finally got on and neither do they! It's incredible to think they don't have a record somewhere--what if the FAA should come calling?--but that's what they tell me. Still isn't resolved.
Next ordeal was with the godforsaken state of New Jersey. After applying for a "homestead benefit" or some cockamamie thing (it freezes your taxes, but oh, not really), I got a letter saying they want this, that,and the other thing, because they have no record of me ever filing an N.J. income tax return. I called, talked to some moron, and, after a ten minute hold, he casually admitted, yes, they have them, lah-di-lah. Guess they just mislaid the last fifty years of so of my returns.
Staggered out to Rite-Aid to get some old pictures duplicated. Woman was "just learning" this machine a three-year-old could master and I was there for 35 minutes while she tried and tried, first cutting the heads off a group, then mangling otherwise. She was very apologetic and insisted on paying for the mayhem (80 cents), but it was another annoying happenstance.
Other than the above--easy sailing...
WIDER: From a review on of the new Garry Wills book Outside Looking In:
"Wills makes a chilling and telling observation about Michael Dukakis, whom he overheard on a plane while covering his presidential campaign. Dukakis and a friend were discussing death. 'You think of dying?' Dukakis asked. 'Of course,' the man replied. 'Don’t you?' 'No, never.' 'I was no longer surprised,' Wills concluded, 'to hear such an answer from Dukakis. He is the supreme government wonk. If there is no government program against dying, why bother to think about it?'”

Friday, December 03, 2010

Spent time tweaking the profile on the Z.'s and e-mailed it to them so they could check for errors. Did more on "Notes From A Vanished Past," this one on the piano lessons Betty and I took from Sister Felicita. Drove to Staples to duplicate some childhood pics for my brothers. If I had a scanner, I'd put them on here, but I don't
Left for the L.'s party at 3:00 (theirs always start at 4:00) and what a very good time I had. The group they invite every year is sadly depleted: Pat is gone, of course, and last night, Barbara and Frank J., stalwarts other years, were absent. Flo said Frank was having great difficulty walking--I'm not sure the cause. Kate S. and Danny came--I see them once every year--and she's painfully thin. She had broken both her hip and her knee about 18 months ago and isn't completely recovered. Ironically, she broke the hip when she fell going down the steps at home to visit Danny in the hospital. He has cancer--still being treated--but he's as full of fun, jokes, and laughs as ever. The other widows, Rita and Audrey (it always comes as a shock to realize I'm in that category) were there and we generally had a ball.
I had only two glasses of wine, because it's a fairly long drive home, and I ate a lot. Flo and Joe had again hired a guy to play his keyboard in the background, which they've done for the past two years. Only problem with that is, it's a little loud and it makes talking and hearing a bit of a strain, but it's enjoyable anyway.
After dinner, we exchanged the $5 gifts we're always told to bring. I got a snuggle-blanket or whatever the hell they're called, which I can't use. We're allowed to take something received by another person, so I exchanged it for a big red serving plate with Santa's belt on it. I need that like a hole in the head, but I'm nothing if not impractical, and it's really cute.
Good fun among good friends, almost all of whom are Holy Spirit grads from or around Pat's class. The L.'s have been hosting this gathering for ten years; Pat and I started being invited eight years ago and I haven't missed at all. It's so good to have close friends like this, in addition to those I see often.
Got home before 8:00 and, having enjoyed the L.'s party, understand that the holiday season is officially open.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Susan and I walked our full route in practically a monsoon of wind and rain. Had to change from the waist down and skin out when I got home. Virtuous me, I went to exercise--the three mile!--then finished the profile on the Z's. Cut up a red cabbage and four apples to make my delectable concoction in the crock pot--yummy!* Went to the library and was practically blown away; my umbrella turned inside out and I again had to change clothes.
However, it finally stopped and I drove to Shop-Rite to get my feta and a few other things. Was pleased to get several brochures on Tokyo from son P.; must get down to brass tacks in arranging my trip. Got an e-mail from Sue W., director of development at Holy Spirit and wrote back. I'm not sure if I'm going to endow another scholarship this year, considering the economy and all.
Joe and Flo League's is party this evening. I always think of this occasion as kicking off the Christmas season and am looking forward to it.
*Told sister Betty and friend Mary Ann about this delectable combo. They both tried it--and both hated it! Geesh, they have no taste...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Mary Ann picked me up at noon and we zipped over to Produce Junction. We both got brilliantly beautiful poinsettias, plus plenty of veggies. To Shore Diner for lunch, where we split liverwurst and onion and grilled chicken sandwiches. I ordered Sam Adams and was surprised to find it's a dark beer; was even more surprised to find I liked it.
After that, I took something back to Babies 'R' Us, then we spent an hour or so at Kohl's and that reminded me why I don't like to shop with anybody else--what a bore. Ran into Virginia H. and Lorraine G. from SB, then was pleased to see Mary H., h.s. friend, and we had a good chat.
Leaving, I saw at the door, Dee G., who owns our old home on Rosborough Avenue. Must get together with her soon.
Got home a bit before 5:00. Talked to sister Betty and later to daughter Ellen. Must get busy on the profile of the Z.'s for The Breeze.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finally got back to exercise (the two-mile) at the clubhouse and felt good after. Changed the bed, did wash, and showered, then drove over to interview Amy and Conrad Z. They're a typical couple for this area: married since time began, dozens of kids, and Roman Catholics of the old-fashioned stripe. I am completely familiar with

I was interrupted by a welcome Skype call from P. and N. P. walked me through the steps to transferring pictures from Kodak to Picasa. We were on until 7:00 when I had to stop at Susan's for our walk. Am back now and will resume:

...such couples, salt of the earth types who seem to hearken* back to my girlhood in 1899: she a daily communicant, he in the Knights of Columbus, and both of them active in the diocesan "Respect For Life" organization. (With some difficulty, I restrained myself from asking if the tenets of that group include condemnation of U.S. military aggression--I already know the answer.)
Got home, had lunch, and drove to Manahawkin to pick up a few things. Today, will go with Mary Ann Van O. to Produce Junction, then lunch, my favorite activity, I'm afraid.
*Now, damn it, why should it be spelled that way? I had written "harken" first--a form of "hark," right?--and was corrected by SpellCheck. Stupid, it seems to me; whaddya do, pronounce it "hear-ken?" (Mumble, mumble, mumble...)
Note: I'm pleased to be back in touch with J., a young woman for whom I care. Something was brought to my attention, I made amends, and we're now back on friendly terms; I'm very glad about that.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Completed a bunch of errands in the big city (Manahawkin). The stores were fairly crowded, but seemed less so than other years (that's a really scientific observation). Too bad for the blood sucking corporations, but fine by me. More or less just hung out otherwise. Am re-reading Columbine, a spell-binding account of the high school massacres, now more than eleven years ago.
Was surprised to get a web cam call from sister Betty. I thought she was already in California, but plans may have changed; she may be coming back to Jersey soon after all. It was fun to see my nephew and little great-nieces, too.
I want to get back to the straight and narrow*, so will attend exercise today. Later, will interview Amy and Conrad Z. for The Breeze; we have an early deadline.
As ever, enjoyed seeing Ellen on her Sunday "call Mom" Skype call. I'm thrilled she'll be here on the twentieth, the day before my birthday.
Mary Ann called to accept my invitation to accompany me to Atlantic County tomorrow. We'll go to Produce Junction and a few other places, then--the real reason for the trip, I'm afraid--have lunch! Yahoo!
*Wonder from whence that expression came. Must look it up.
WIDER: This from my pro-peace cyber-friend, Jonathan Versen, after I asked desparingly if there wasn't a great outcry and outrage about the pushing back of war's end:
"I'm convinced there's plenty of outrage out there, but one of the primary functions of the media is to convince you that it's just you, that you're unreasonable to be upset. Look around you: don't you see how not-upset everybody else is? There! Now don't you feel like an idiot to be so fussy?
It's. Just. You.
So shut up and buy stuff."
Jon added this link:
An inspired observation, as I informed him. And now I'll look into that "class struggle" place.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Headed over to Atlantic County to my new fav, Produce Junction. They had large, beautiful poinsettias for three dollars and I bought two, which now grace the foyer. Picked up veggies, also. Went to Babies 'R' Us (whatever marketing genius came up with that name and the other ones should be drawn and quartered.) Got funny little soft figures for V. and V. for Christmas; they sing and their mouths move. Stopped at Shop-Rite, then at the cemetery.
Rest of the afternoon was poky. I made a big salad and cut up red potatoes; added onions and garlic and put in the small slow cooker. Made the momentous decision to add some meat to my diet, at least twice a week or so. Thawed and fried a hamburger and had that for dinner with the potatoes and, oh boy, were they good.
High point of the day was a call from Mike and the precious little girls. Violet told me she goes to school (some kind of play school, I guess) and showed me her "baby" a very peculiar looking stuffed something--looked like a negative panda to me. Vivian, that live wire, was bouncy as ever. Mike assured me she aced her spelling test and she complied when I asked her to spell "cat." (What else do first-graders spell? Dunno.) Can't wait to see them next month.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Home about ten, I did a coupla this 'n' that around the house. Stopped at the Little Egg Library and found it closed, so drove to the Manahawkin branch. My interest in Tom Hanks is waning, but I picked up a DVD called Nothing In Common, one of his early ones. Watched a bit, but it isn't terrific, so I may just skip the rest. Replenished my supply of veggies while I was in town.
Later, I worked on a (second in a week) Dead Horse post with this background: After reading my "Hired Killers" entry of November 22, my Indiana* friend, Jim Wetzel, commented about it on his own blog, The Chestnut Tree Cafe. I wrote out a response to him on Dead Horse on Word and, after I was finally finished, pressed "Select All," then tried to copy to Dead Horse. To my horror, I somehow erased the whole thing--all my carefully structured points and finely crafted words down the drain! I'm not sure how this happened--maybe it was a malfunction or maybe I had accidentally pressed "enter." I was horrified--until it occurred to me it wasn't deathless prose, for heaven's sake, and it wasn't as if Jim and I disagreed, anyway. So I just re-wrote it as well as I could remember and posted.
Watched the rest of Our Town, then cut the half apple pie I had brought home from Thanksgiving and took two pieces over to Susan and Walter. Did the same at Ray and Barb's. (Barb gave me a brochure from Ocean County Parks and asked me to see if I'm interested in any.) Stopped at Frank and Barbara's last to give them pie. Chatted for a bit, then they invited me to dinner. Considered this for a nanosecond and accepted. We had leftovers, some White Zin, and a drop of Bailey's to top it off--so good and the talk and laughs were even better.
*Indiana! That seems to me as exotic and mysterious as Addis Ababa.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Early in the day, I called daughter Ellen, sister Betty, my three brothers, and Leslie R. to say Happy Thanksgiving and tell they they're the sources of my thanks to the powers that be for such a family and such friends. Packed up the goodies I had made and my overnight bag and drove up north in a light drizzle.
'Twas a lovely Thanksgiving, notwithstanding the lousy weather. I arrived at 3:30 and stepped into the house to be enveloped by that wonderful turkey aroma. It was already out of the oven and "resting" on the stove. J. and the kids came in soon after, then cousin John, and brother Brent. We chatted until dinnertime and partook of the appetizers--sweet pepper strips with dip, trail mix, and banana and orange slices with honey, in preparation for the main feast.
And what a feast! The turkey was so tender and flavorful--I had dark meat--and it was accompanied by two kinds of stuffing--the cranberry/walnut was sublime--smashed taters, creamed spinach, string bean casserole, corn pudding which Brent had made, and whole berry cranberry sauce, plus white rolls and my banana bread. We all ate our fill--more than our fill--then made room for coffee and the apple and/or pumpkin pies with sweetened whipped cream I had made. They were excellent, if I modestly say so myself.
After more good talk--and I hardly stirred from the table to help (I should be ashamed of myself, but I'm not), the other company said goodnight. The hostess and I sat reading for just a short time, then turned in. Slept like a log, got up at my usual 5:15, poured my coffee and starting re-reading Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods, a terrific book for anybody, but especially if you hike.
As the two household hikers prepared to leave for the first of their two hikes of the day (in the rain!), I said my thanks and left for home. As all the best days are, the time with family was the best part of a fine day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The pies turned out great, if I say it myself and I do. Pies are trickier than cakes, especially the crusts, so although my recipe is for a two-crust pie, I made a recipe and a half. There's nothing worse than coming up short on crust. (Well, maybe hanging by your thumbs for three days is worse, but just barely.) By the time I had pared, sliced, and spiced the apples, dumped them in, and baked it, it was past noon and I started on the pumpkin. This is much easier to assemble and both were finished and cooling on the counter by 2:00. Drove to Manahawkin to pick up a gift for Robert, who will be four years old on Tuesday. After, I watched part of Our Town, the T.V. version starring Paul Newman, of all people. I've never been a fan of his, but he isn't half bad in this. I want to get an idea of the flavor of the play, as I intend to audition for one or more part.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, especially E.M. in Ventura, P. and N. in Tokyo, and M, P., V., and V. in Singapore! I'm thankful for you and your sister and her family every day of my life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Spent the early part of the day making a birthday cake for the birthday girls. I found a new recipe--vanilla cake--that called for five egg whites, two sticks of butter, and so on. Yeah, a heart attack waiting to happen, but it was oh, so good. The butter cream icing (we always say "icing," not "frosting"--guess it's a regional thing) was delish, too.
After the cake was finished, I sat and watched Big, as I still have a lingering fondness for Tom Hanks. It was wonderful.
Jumped in the shower, packed up the car, and drove north to meet the family. We had a rollicking good time at Dublin Square in Bordentown, an Irish restaurant/pub. I got the corned beef and cabbage and a Harps beer, and we had the birthday party after. With the four little boys, there were nine of us--great fun.
Stayed over, left early, and was home by 730 am. Just took the banana bread out of the freezer and now I'm going to have breakfast, then start on the crusts for the pies--pumpkin and apple. P. and N. just called, always a pleasure, and we had a good chat about Thanksgiving, black bears, and baseball players, among other topics. Talk about being thankful--I've got two reasons right there and lots of others besides.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Woke up with a backache--dunno why. I'm so seldom under the weather that it always comes as a surprise when I have such minor ailments. As usual, stopped for Susan for our walk at 7 am, but had to beg off halfway out. Susan is such a thoughtful neighbor: She came over shortly after to bring me a heating pad and some Ibuprofen. They seem to have helped, as my back's okay today; unfortunately, I got up with a slight sore throat. I've got a birthday cake to make today, then I go up north for the party and will stay over, so I've gotta recover fast. To prepare for baking, I took five eggs out of the refrig to come to room temperature (cake calls for egg whites and they whip up better if not cold) and a stick and half of butter. I have to leave by 4:00, so must bake the cake early, so it can cool thoroughly before I ice it.
Found a wonderful new produce place in Northfield. Bought two beautiful purple mums and planted them at the cemetery; they look so nice. Couldn't resist a few other house plants, too--an African violet and a kalamantra (? I can't spell it and neither can SpellCheck), both in full bloom.
Mary Ann Van O. stopped in and we chatted for a bit. Got Karen's flyer about the reading of Eating The Bear which we'll present on December 11, as well as a press release. They both look good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

To signify presentations other than operas, Mary Ann changed the name of her gatherings from "Sunday Opera At The Clubhouse" to "Sunday Musical Arts." I had refreshments for yesterday, so went early. Brought a loaf of my newly-baked banana bread, the "reverse cookies"* Susan had given me, plus grapes and pretzels; Mary Ann supplied the coffee. Everybody--all five of them--liked the food.
The show was The Nutcracker and this Royal Ballet production was performed and recorded 33 years ago. It starred a wonderfully young, lithe, and vibrant Mikhail Baryshnikov and was so enjoyable.
Later, I got a welcome web cam call from darling daughter Ellen and we discussed a range of subjects, from art collectors to Margaritas (yum!) to the possibility of a mountain spewing lava and threatening southern California (don't ask).
WIDER: I posted an entry today on the blog I share with other, like-minded folks:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Made two loaves of banana bread and was pleased to see they came out beautifully. Wrapped one and put it in the freezer for Thanksgiving; will take the other to "Sunday at the Arts" today, as I said I'd bring refreshments. Will also provide grapes, pretzels, and the white chocolate chip cookies Susan gave me last week that I had in the freezer. Mary Ann Van O. stopped in and brought me two figs, as I had never eaten one. Did so and found them okay, I guess, but not as good as mangos.
Went to Acme, then pretty much lolled around until time for the "Food, Friends, And Fun" monthly dinner.
It was at the Tuckerton Pub and I went with the H.'s and had a good time. There were only eleven attendees, a nice group. I hadn't been at this place for several years and never liked it much, but last night, I ordered Mako shark and found it very tender and tasty. Ray ordered a glass of Yuengling and I followed suit, not realizing it's a dark beer, which I didn't think I liked. However, this was good and to prove it, I had another.
These things start early--we met at 5:00--and even after a liesurely meal and much conviviality, I was home not long after 7:00.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It was a beautiful fall day and a good full one. After exercise and breakfast, I picked up Mary Ann at 11:00 and we stopped at her bank and the dollar store, then drove over to the jewelry place on Tilton Road. Spent almost an hour there and Mary Ann bought several items; I bought a few for gifts. We then had a leisurely and enjoyable lunch at Shore Diner, after which we stopped at the 69-cent store and practically filled my back seat with all kinds of useless items. Made a quick visit to the cemetery, then went to the real (we kept telling ourselves) reason for the trip: Santori's for produce. I got grapes, bananas, broccoli, and lemons and Mary Ann bought everything else in the place. She wants to make roasted vegetables for Thanksgiving and I think she'll have enough for the entire population of Rhode Island and the standing army. Didn't get home until almost 5:00.
Decided to make banana bread and got enough bananas for two loaves. I'm doing refreshments for "Sunday At The Opera" tomorrow and will bring that, plus grapes and something else I may make from scratch or just buy. Will go with the H.'s to the "Food, Friends, And Fun" dinner tonight.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yesterday was a hiatus in a busy week. Made a list of what I need for the birthday cake I'm making for Tuesday and the two pies for Thanksgiving. Went to Acme to pick up some of the ingredients; will get the apples when Mary Ann and I go to Santori's today. Took books back to the library, and withdrew more.
Now here's a dilemma: I have so much reading material--and I keep getting more--that I don't know when I'll ever get time to finish it all. I'm simultaneously reading It Can't Happen Here (yes, the old Sinclair Lewis classic), Mr. S. (a show-bizzy reminiscence by Sinatra's valet), The Body Silent (an utterly absorbing account of life with a tumor on the spine), and Say You're One of Them (a collection of short stores by, incredibly, a native Nigerian Jesuit priest). That's why I decided to let my subscriptions to Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Harper's lapse--I simply don't have time to read them.
On the literary topic, after lunch, I sat on the couch reading, always a dangerous activity for me, as I tend to then lie down and nap. Which I did. For about an hour. Roused myself, went out to check the mail, and found a second cheerleader costume for the human dynamo, vivacious Vivian. Glad to have a focus, I jumped in the car and drove to Staples in Manahawkin. Bought a very large envelope, addressed it right in the store, added the costume, and got to the P.O. with a few minutes to spare. It's guaranteed to arrive in Singapore by Wednesday, so that's good. Before bed, watched the ending of Blood Diamond (I can't sustain interest in most movies or T.V. for long, so break viewing up into increments), then turned in.
Today will be more interesting: an Atlantic County excursion with Mary Ann.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

As instructed, I dropped my car off at 8:30; Susan followed me and brought me home. Barbara D. called to say she couldn't go to the "Healthy Holiday Eating" session because she was going to the doctor. She's been sick with a nasty cold and lung infection. Mary Ann picked me up about 1:30 and we went to the Ocean Club.
The lecture covered ground of which I was already aware, but it's good to be reminded. (Whether I'm going to follow the good advice is a question I'd just as soon avoid.) It was presented by Liz A., the nutritionist for Southern Ocean Hospital, whom I've met before.
After, Mary Ann and I went to Shop-Rite and Wal-Mart, where I picked up two medications. I asked her to drop me at Mastercraft, as there still wasn't any word about my car. To my annoyance, when we got there--at 4:30--they were just finishing it up; it was still in the bay. Damn, why did I have to drop it off so early, then? (I tried to sustain my indignation, but quickly gave it up. After all, Mary Ann drove, so it would have been sitting in my garage, anyway.)
When I told Mary Ann about going to Toms River with Les, she proposed we go to New York on the bus. Great! We'll discuss a date later.
I have a free day today--have lots of errands--then stuff is penciled in for the next three days. Busy, busy, with fun doings, just the way I like it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An interesting, enjoyable, and different day. After picking up Leslie about 9:15, I parked at the bus stop on Mathistown Road. We then waited about a half hour for it to come. We were surprised that it traveled down Route 9, rather than the Parkway, but realized people get on and off all along the route.
Which is why it took more than an hour to get there. Driving, it may be half that, something neither of us ever realized. We got to the "park and ride" to find a small, but heated, waiting room, with restrooms, too. Bought 75-cent tickets for the center of town, and waited another 40 minutes or so for it to arrive.
Got off at a busy area with a lot of county offices and strolled around somewhat aimlessly. It was a cloudy day and there weren't many people on the streets. We were a little disappointed to realize there were no shops nearby, but I took Leslie over to the library and we looked at the exhibits, then spent time in the genealogy room--very extensive for Ocean County and other areas of Jersey and very interesting.
Stopped at a restaurant for lunch, where I had a delectable chopped sirloin on a roll and a cold Bud. Explored a bit more, stopped for coffee at the church turned Dunkin' Donuts, a circumstance I find utterly bizarre, then found a bus stop and waited there for a good 45 minutes, at least. The bus finally came, with a very nice driver who advised us that we could as for a transfer ticket right on the bus and save 75 cents. We did and soon got to the park and ride. AGAIN waited at least 45 minutes, so it was close to 4:00 when we boarded. By the time we got home, it was 6:00 and full dark, but we enjoyed a pleasant day.
Had a message from Mary Ann Van O. to the effect she'd like to accompany Barbara D. and me to the "Healthy Holiday Eating" session at the Ocean Club today. Called her back and left a message, registered by phone for the session, had a bowl of "dump soup," then changed. Was so pleased to receive a Skype call from the Singapore Six and saw my darling girls, as well as my darling boy. I was absolutely delighted to be told said d.b. made Ellen's and my reservations for the 27th, NOT the day after Christmas, so departing at 6:55 isn't so bad. He suggested we stay over at a hotel and I think that's a good idea. Will ask Ellen if okay.
Back to the bus trip: Three things impressed me in particular (oh, so what if I'm using two colons in a row?): One, that it's pleasant to be able to look at the scenery going by because you don't have to keep your eyes on the road. Two, the expense of traveling by bus; regular fare is $4.30--that's almost ten dollars a day! For bus riders, many of whom are surely poorly (it rhymes!) paid, that must be a burden. Three, the time spent just waiting for the bus. Now, granted, we didn't know the schedule, and regular bus riders probably would, but even so--. We're so used to jumping in our cars and going immediately and directly to our destinations, that it's a chastening experience for privileged suburbanites like me to realize the other world out there doesn't enjoy that luxury.
But still--it was great fun!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Busy day, with lots of everyday stuff. Mailed off Vivian's cheerleader outfit (for "U.N. Day" at her school), got stuff at the supermarket and produce store, then went to the library to remove the Blithe Spirit display and add general LETCO info. Took my car to Mastercraft, as the muffler has dropped down a bit, plus my right front directiional is out. The guy pushed muffler back and changed light, for no charge. Said he'd have to weld the muffler; made an appointment to get that done on Wednesday morning.
Mike made Ellen's and my reservations for California the day after Christmas. I don't know how we'll get there so early, but guess we'll have to. Mike sent proofs of Vivian's school pictures. What a beautiful little girl she is! Said I want some, of course.
Brother Larry called to tell me all about the birthday party for his daughter, Terry, held on an island off the coast of Georgia. Sounded fabulous--wish I could have been there.
Finished The Road and will recommend to Susan. Today, Leslie and I plan to take our bus trip to Toms River. Registered for three of us at the "Healthy Holiday Eating" seminar at the Ocean Club, but Leslie decided not to go. Firmed up some Thanksgiving plans--I'll make the pies, as usual, and will probably stay over up north.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Completed a number of errands early in the day, then got to the community center at 1:00. Set up the snacks, made coffee in the two gigantic urns (35 or so cup capacities), and otherwise prepared for theatre-goers. Audience again fairly sparse--I think Friday night was the most heavily attended--but they were engaged and appreciative. Frank, Casey B., and Rose helped me wait on customers.
For the first time, I stayed to see Spirit all the way through and I enjoyed it immensely. With repetition, the players improved and the special effects were great: books, vases, and flowers flying off shelves, and so on.
By the time the performance was over, it was a bit after 5:00. I stayed another hour or so, helping to "strike the set" (take everything on the stage down and out). It's such a shame we have to completely dismantle it and remove all props to get them back to their owners or store them before Monday morning. This includes, of course, taking apart the impromptu dressing room put up backstage with wood panels and nails.
So...another production over. Now we're looking forward to Our Town in the spring. I've already sent to Amazon for the script and am starting to practice my New England accent. Yep, I'm trying again for stardom!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Went to the outdoor Manahawkin Flea Market and bought another bracelet and some hair ornaments. Stopped at the thrift store and got an attractive...well, it's a pretty..damn, I don't know how to describe it except it looks a small version of a two-tier pie holder and has artificial grapes. Yes, I needed it like a hole in the head, but it was only three bucks--suffcient reason.
Read more of The Road, an absorbing and thoroughly harrowing book. Other than those little diversions, a ho-hummy day until the play.
Got to the community center and found I was the only one there to run concessions; on Friday night, there were three of us. No matter, Frank and Don helped me set up and sell at intermission and it was fun. Play was sparsely attended, I'm afraid, but I sat with Ellen through the first act, then cleaned up the kitchen and went home. I was invited to the cast party after, but I knew it's a long play and the party wouldn't start until close to 11:00, so decided to skip. Now I could kick myself--wish I had gone.
However, I had a good talk with Desi about what's in the works for next year: Our Town in April, Moon Over Buffalo in the fall, and a variety of musical productions, with performers brought in.
Last performance of Spirit today, then we strike the set. I'll sit through all of this one, then help with dismantling.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

For the life of me, I can't remember much of what I did in the daytime yesterday. Aside from a library, guess I putzed around home on various chores. Barb D. came over at my request to help me get the Thanksgiving wreath out of the box (it was fastened in with wire) and stayed for a short visit.
Got to the Community Center to help at concessions at 6:00. Old acquaintances Mary Ann M. and Sandy T., plus most of the cast and crew were already there. Was pleased to see lots of acting group friends, including Co-Director Ellen V., with whom I made a lunch date for next week. Helped with preparing the coffee and setting up otherwise. One urn leaked and got water all over the counter and on the floor, but we mopped up and took it in stride.
A moderate number of people were in attendance, including Susan and Walter, Ray and Barbara, and about a dozen other people I know. I heard we had sold only 47 advance ticket, not so good, and the place wasn't anywhere near filled, which is an ominous sign. I can only hope tonight is better attended; not sure what'll go down at the Sunday matinee.
The presentation itself, it seems to me, had some flaws. Noel Coward's sophisticated comedies, prominently including Blithe Spirit, were written about and-- significantly for--pre-WW II, upper-class English characters. Think suave men of the world and ditsy "character" types, such as Rex Harrison and Margaret Rutherford, who starred in the 1941 movie. I'm not sure if the best of actors could have pulled it off in the Little Egg Community Center, but I'm afraid it may have been a poor choice to stage. Some of the actors were really good, but others, I'm afraid, weren't. The woman who played the maid, in particular, came across as dull and lifeless (if you know the plot of Spirit, that's a poor pun!) in a role that should have been a meaty one. The set really didn't look like an English drawing room, and there were other problems. I will say that the young woman who played "Elvira," who comes back from the dead, was very good.
I left about halfway through, because I'll work concessions again tonight and Sunday, so knew I could see the rest then.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A delightful day that made me appreciate family and friends even more than I did. During our walk, Susan told me she had bought a hundred daffodils from a mail order place and she and Walter would be planting them immediately. Later in the morning, Walter called to say they had run out of room after 88 plantings and wanted to come right over and plant at my place--yahoo! I rushed outside and pulled up the (dead and gone) golden bells, and quickly prepared the soil. W. and S. came over with their equipment and planted an even dozen daffs in my front bed. What great neighbors!
Got a welcome call from sister Betty, who told me she's going to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Sorry she won't be joining us, but am glad she'll be with oldest son and family.
Showered and changed and met my dear friend, Marilyn, at SeaOaks. We had a leisurely lunch, then she followed me home and we talked for another hour. We had a wonderful reunion, with much good talk, plenty of laughter, and a good measure of tears besides. After she left, I went to Mary S.'s to have her scan an article and picture of mine for The Breeze.
Got home and saw on my e-mail that friend Marge had sent me an update on Fred's health. The news isn't entirely good, but at least he seems to be recovering from a fall he took in the hospital. His cardiologist has recommended some surgical procedures and he's very leery about them. I'll keep in touch.
Called Ellen V. and left a message of good luck on her machine. Blithe Spirit opens tonight and I'll be there to cover concessions.
To top off a fine day, Mike called about 7:30 on the web cam and I got to see him and my beautiful little granddaughters. He told me to look outside on the porch for a package, I did, and found a big box from the florist he patronizes. I opened it while he was on the line and found a breath-taking wreath made of seashells. It's a Thanksgiving gift, and it's beautiful. Will have to ask Susan or somebody to get it out of the box, as it's fastened in; can't wait to see it up.
So my day was replete, having contact with many of those who mean the most to me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An ominous note: I again skipped the three-mile exercise. Will get back on the straight and narrow tomorrow, easing in with the two-mile. I do have a kind of excuse in that I told Mary Ann Van O. I'd pick her up at 10:15--that would have been cutting it close. Instead, we were able to go earlier. Drove to Santori's and we each got a lot of veggies. She had been putting things in her cart that she wanted to make for Thanksgiving, but I told her I thought it was too early to buy for that. We made a date for Friday, the nineteenth, when we'll hit the Atlantic County spots I told her about: Besides Santori's, the jewelery place, then lunch at Shore Diner.
Got my oil changed at 1:00, then stopped at the library and got two DVDs: 2012 and Deception. Watched about three quarters of the first and guess I'll finish it tonight. It's okay--I like special effects--but predictable, of course. The main characters are all surviving so far, after absolutely impossible hair-breathe escapes from this, that, and the other thing (a favorite express in my youth), but it's beginning to seem all special effects and no story.
Today, I'm finally meeting Marilyn for lunch at SeaOaks. It was several months ago that we had a lunch date, postponed for the saddest of reasons: She had found Sam dead at home. So anxious to see her.
WIDER: "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for
people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." -- Noam Chomsky
i have to keep remembering that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ran a bunch of mundane errands yesterday, then practically vegged out. Sat reading on the couch after lunch, then fell asleep for about an hour. What book? Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff, a harrowing account of his son's meth addiction. Having been addicted to amphetamines myself, I'd like to know if they're the same thing. Oh, yes, children, I was a junkie--I just didn't know it-- and some day I'll tell you about it. Am simutaneously reading Losing Mum And Pup, by Christopher Buckley, and a bio of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard Of Oz--which, after a few chapters, I realized is written for pre-teens. No matter, I'll read it anyway; I've been to Baum's grave (Forest Lawn in California) and am curious about him.
Was pleased to get a call from my dear sis-in-law, Helen, thanking me for a little gift I sent. Had a great time talking to this irrepressible and warm-hearted person--one of my favorite relatives.
That was the highpoint of the slow day. Later, I stopped at the library and picked up a bio of Tom Hanks (once I get interested in something, I saturate myself with it) and Seeing Voices: A Journey Into The World Of The Deaf, by Oliver Sacks.
Got a call from Mary Ann Van O. about cooking fresh vegetables, and I offered to take her to Santori's,w which we'll do today. Made an appointment to get my oil changed, also today--exciting stuff, huh?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

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Litte mermaid Vivian.
Skipped exercise yesterday; just didn't feel like it. Made a batch of "dump soup" and put some in a container to take to Betty's. Also took her some baskets and a few other things I thought she might want from the garage clean-out. It was a miserable, cloudy, rainy day, but lots of fun. Muckie went with us and we walked down to Gino's around the corner. Muckie and I had hamburgers, Betty ziti.
After, we stayed talking and laughing until Muckie left about 4:00. I stayed another half hour, then went home in intermittent rain. Stopped at Shop 'n' Bag and got pretzels and marshmallows--not wise choices, but I've been craving both carbs and sweets and just decided to indulge for once.
The full script of Karen's Eating the Bear, was in the mailbox when I got home. I read through it quickly--not bad, but it's composed entirely of several long monologues, rather than interaction among the characters. Not sure if that's going to engage audiences or not. There's really no dialogue exchange at all. Seems to me the structure would be more effective if there was--but I don't know for sure.
Was sorry to get a call from Leslie saying she wasn't feeling well--Dennis has been under the weather--and didn't feel she could go to Toms River on the bus today; we postponed until next Tuesday. That means I have nothing on the schedule today, so think I'll get my oil changed and run some errands in Manahawkin.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Had a fun family hike on a wonderful, crisp, sun-filled fall day. It was at Clayton Park in Monmouth County, but you'd swear you were in New England instead of poky Jersey. The woods were dazzling in every possible shade of red, gold, and green, and they spread up and down over rolling hills. The four boys and a girl--doesn't that sound like a forties singing group?--had a ball running and jumping and rolling down hills. They found a "geo-cache" in the hollow of a fallen tree and we signed the notebook inside; it had originated back in April of 2009.* We probably covered only a mile or so, in that our progress followed anything but a straight line (kids don't go i straight lines), but no matter, it was fine to be there.
After going back to a hiker's house with the rest of the gang, I said goodbye about 4:30. Wanted to get home before full dark, which I barely did, now that DST is over, darn it.
When I got home, I had several messages, one from an acquaintance, Rosemary D., asking if I could substitute for her at the food bank today. By the time I got back to her, though, she had found somebody else. Got a call from Flo L., inviting me to their annual Christmas party, which I accepted with pleasure, of course. Jack B. called me back and we talked about my visit to brother Larry's. He's doing okay, although bum knees (that expression, "bum" whatevers, used to be common--don't hear it much anymore) are slowing down his golf game. Also talked to Leslie; tomorrow, we're going on our bus adventure to Toms River--should be fun. Finally, had my regular Sunday Skype session with dear daughter, Ellen. She said she'd arrange for our tickets to and from California--yay!
Lunch with Betty this afternoon.
WIDER: My final--well, only--words on the recent election follow. Okay, okay, they're not my words, they're Rob Payne's on his "Halcyon Days" blog, but he says it so well in a recent post, I'm adding it here:
"...The election results have changed nothing. Evidently American voters are too stupid to see any connection between their dire economic predicament and the trillion dollar wars that they ignore for the most part.."
Wish I could argue with you, Rob, but you're spot-on.
* A geo-cache, of which I had never heard before yesterday, is the interesting practice many follow all over the country. The idea is for people to stow small items in a container, along with a place to record information. Others find it, exchange items for what's in there, then sign the book. I'm going to look further into this on the Internet--sounds like fun.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

At the request of Barbara C., of the Little Egg Theatre Company (LETCO), I went to all three thrift stores in the area to look for two 20-30 cup coffee urns, but had no luck. A volunteer at Habitat told me we'd be more successful after the holidays, as people buy them for parties, then don't know where to store them. E-mailed Barbara to the effect we'd have to borrow them again for the Blithe Spirit performances.
Was pleased to get a call from Karen C. to discuss her scripts, one a short "reading" version of the other, a 20-minute one act play. They're both called Eating The Bear-Snapshots Of The New Normal and I play Michelle, an R & D director who's been laid off. The reading is scheduled for December 11 at a bookstore in Trenton and the play may be in libraries in Mercer. Karen already sent me the reading script by mail (I can't open it on the Web) and will send the longer one shortly.
Late in the day, I set off for the cemetery, but as I got near the Parkway at the New Gretna entrance, I saw there was an unbroken line of cars just sitting there. Decided not to get on and took a long drive toward Atlantic County instead. Good thing I did, as when I was coming home, I noticed the southbound traffic was again--or still--gridlocked.
I had borrowed Punchline from the library and put it in last night. I didn't expect much--had never heard of it--but it starred Tom Hanks and Sally Field, so I picked it up. Now, I'm a sucker for Tom Hanks. At present, of course, he's a distinguished character actor, as he's 54 and according to our empty-headed, youth-obsessed culture, practically ready for the Black Maria. But this movie was made 24 years ago when he was young, fresh, lean, and at the top of his game.
Well, he was just adorable. He plays an aspiring comedian who flunked out of medical school and who befriends a married-with-children-and-befuddled-husband woman (Field and John Goodman), then falls in love with her. There are some dark parts and the latter half of the movie isn't nearly as absorbing as the first, but oh, boy, is that first good and is his performance riveting. You can't take your eyes off him when he's on the screen. Field is very believable, too, and the supporting actors excellent, but in my opinion, a Hanks movie is just all Hanks all the time.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Got a lot of the garage cleared out. We separated things into three piles: trash, thrift store, and consignment shop. Now all I have to do is find a consignment shop, as the one on Route 9 closed, I was dismayed to see.
While we were working, I got a call from friend, Marge D. She told me her husband, Fred, was in the hospital and her daughter is on vacation in Florida. Of course, I was happy to offer to pick him up if he was discharged. He was, later in the day, and I picked her up, then to Atlanticare. As Marge remarked, I have plenty of experience in going there, unhappily enough.
Fred had had a minor stroke last week and this time, thought he was having a heart attack, but luckily, it turned out to be a false alarm. He got out pretty quickly and we got close to home without incident. He insisted on having me drive to Dynasty Diner and treated me to dinner--very enjoyable (I haven't eaten out since--well, last week) and we had a lively conversation, as well as, for me, rare sirloin.
I was asked to visit the thrift store and see if I can pick up two 20- to 30-cup coffee makers, which I'll do today. As I have my trunk filled with thrift store donations from the garage, I'll be able to drop them off, too. Hope they're still accepting donations.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Dreary, poky, rainy day. Didn't do much except wash and stuff, aside from going through thousands of pictures trying to find one of Pat in uniform, which a family member requested. No luck. Attended the meeting for The Breeze in the afternoon. Must hop to it and line up interviewee(s) for December, as we have a very short deadline. Went to the library and picked up a few books and CDs. Talked to sister Betty, who's now back in Ventnor semi-permanently. Aside from that, ho-hum.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Spent most of the day catching up on mail and other stuff, running errands, and cleaning up. It was good to resume Susan's and my morning walk, but boy, I found the three-mile exercise at the club house gruelling after a nine-day hiatus. I had over-bought peppers and onions, so gave Susan and the D.'s some. The D.'s gave me four oranges from their trip to Florida. We happened to be at Disney World the same time, but at different parks.
My friend, Karen C., sent me the script for her play "Eating The Bear" and I've been rehearsing. This is the short version--I asked her to copy and send the longer one, as I can't open it electronically, for some reason.
Drove to Manahawkin late in the day to pick up a few things at Shop-Rite. It's raining this morning, so I guess we'll walk with umbrellas. Have an editorial meeting for The Breeze this afternoon.
WIDER: From Orwell's journal entry of November 4, 1940:
"The unspeakable depression of lighting the fires every morning with papers of a year ago, and getting glimpses of optimistic headlines as they go up in smoke."
We don't have to worry about things like that in the United States of Amnesia*, as nobody remembers what happened last week, let alone...
*Phrase coined by Gore Vidal.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety jig. Smooth flight and was picked up at baggage. Had dinner and spent the night up north. Stopped at J.'s to say hello to Noelle and the two little ones, then drove home.
Much as I loved being at Larry's and Helen's--and was treated like a queen while there--it's still good to be in my own home. Unpacked, put in a load of wash, and checked out the place--all seems fine.
Went to the post office, but they had bundled my mail and put it all in my box, where I retrieved it. Stopped at both Acme and Shop 'N' Bag. Latter is closing, I was surprised to see, and everything is ten percent off.
Drove to the cemetery, then to the produce place on the Black Horse Pike. Practically bought the place out with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, peppers, mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, and butternut and acorn squash. What a bonanza; had the cauliflower for lunch and enjoyed some of the rest for dinner, along with a big salad.
Back in my own bed for the first time in nine days, I slept well.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Helen was finally sprung from the hospital more than four hours after she was told she'd be going home momentarily. Larry and I had been there much of that time before Elaine and her three strapping boys came to pick me up and take me to little Bella's birthday party. That was such fun, with lots of members of the big extended family present. Mommy Alycia calmly presided over the gathering, while being very, very pregnant with Bella's little sis, soon-to-be-born Zoe. I understand the newcomer will be--well, newly coming--any minute now. (It's just a tad disconcerting to realize I'm Bella's and Zoe's great-great-aunt. Good grief.) Alycia's husband, Brian, is so handsome he looks like a movie star and I was pleased to meet his mother and other members of his Ecuadorian family.
Had some of Elaine's wonderful margaritas, plus spinach dip and chips, yummy salad, pepperoni pizza, and a huge slab of utterly sublime birthday cake. Think I'd better buy up all the broccoli and cauliflower available in Jersey and get back on the straight and narrow pronto, once I'm home.
And that'll be today. I had such a great time, thanks to my dear brother and sis-in-law and their multitude of family members. I hope and trust that those of the other Byrne branches will hold to their earlier resolve to organize a full reunion next summer.
Goodbye, Florida, land of sunshine and shorts! Hello, Jersey, stuck in the frozen north! (That doesn't quite rhyme, does it?) Hey, much as I loved being here, I'll be glad to get back to my familiar and comfortable digs, too.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Poor Helen--while Larry, Larry, Jr. and I were there, the technician came with his equipment to test the pacemaker. Unfortunately, it wasn't working properly and the upshot was, Helen had to have the wires reinserted. Because she had eaten a light breakfast, it wasn't done until evening. By the time she got back in her room, it was after 8:00. The assumption is that this time, it will be okay, as we all fervently hope.
Larry, Jr., a big (6'2"), ruggedly good-looking guy, his beautiful wife, Magda, Jim, Karen, Elaine, and I were there and stayed until Helen ate the soup young L. and wife, M. brought, then left to let her get some rest. Daughter Nancy was also there often and Jeanne (Jacksonville) and Terry (Mississipi) kept in close touch by phone. If all goes well this time, Helen should be discharged today.
Also today, granddaughter Alycia is having a third birthday for her little Bella, and presumably, a large contingent of this very large family will be there. I'm looking forward to it, if it's possible for me to be there. So sorry Helen probably won't be able and maybe, not Larry either. Incidentally, Alycia is right on the cusp of delivering her new baby girl--maybe a little "Boo" Halloween baby?
Earlier in the day, Larry took me to two casinos and we had a great time looking and comparing to A.C. and Vegas. Other things went on, and I continue to have a wonderful visit. Love the sight-seeing, the new venue, the palm trees, the weather, but the very best part, by far, of my Florida trip is getting to know my brother's remarkable--and wonderfully warm and welcoming--family.
WIDER: Think I'll copy Chris Floyd's "Empire Burlesque" entry of today in full. It's just so exactly my reaction to the TERRORIST THREAT!! all over the cockamamie "news" lately:
Cargo Cult: Questions on the Latest Terrorist Threat
Written by Chris Floyd
Sunday, 31 October 2010 09:57
First we were told that the recently intercepted package bombs sent, we are told, from Yemen, were targeted at synagogues in Chicago. Now we are being told that they were intended to blow up the cargo planes themselves. We are also told that the bombs' design shows the mark of a "highly sophisticated" operation by extremist Islamists, most likely al Qaeda.
All of which prompts one question. If you were indeed a "highly sophisticated" Islamist extremist operation wishing to blow up cargo planes bound for the United States with package bombs, would you really a) mail those bombs from Yemen, a country currently under intense counterterrorism scrunity by the United States, and b) address these packages, from Yemen, to Jewish institutions -- in Barack Obama's home city?
Either a) or b) alone would be enough to set alarm bells clanging all through the thick mesh of security systems that now overlay modern life. Put them together, and what you have is either a) the mark of a very unsophisticated, cack-handed, two-bit operation whose sporadic and isolated threats hardly justify a world-wide, never-ending, mass-killing, liberty-gutting, multi-trilliondollar war, or b) the mark of a highly sophisticated organization that wished to ensure maximum publicity for this attempted terrorist attack -- and even more publicity for its heroic thwarting ... especially on the eve of a national election, and after weeks of leaks and bad press about atrocities and corruption that call the whole Terror War ethos into question.
Points perhaps worth pondering in the coming weeks as we watch the ever-more profitable security mesh seize on this incident to call for ever-greater funding, and ever-greater measures of control over our lives.
(Yeah, these thoughts came to mind for Chris and me and--oh, say, sixteen billion other people with brains in their headss, but not, I guess, for our esteemed leaders and their trained media whores. Wonder why? Take a gander at the last sentence above....)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Larry went back to the hospital in the late afternoon while I stayed here to wash clothes and so on. Helen was very uncomfortable--and hungry--in the recovery area, but was finally taken to a regular room and is doing well.
Most of the daughters and at least one granddaughter in this accomplished family are in the nursing profession. In fact, son, Larry, recently earned his LPN and plans to continue on to his R.N. Karen teaches nursing, and was with Helen most of yesterday; R.N. Elaine came in again later. R.N. Jeanne lives up in Jacksonville, and she and her physician husband, Vic, kept in close touch by phone, as did other family members.
Coming home about 8:30, Larry brought dinner from Boston Market--very tasty, too. I sipped red wine with it, then topped it off with Bailey's Irish Creme over caramel ice cream, about the most luscious dessert in the universe, it seems to me.
Poor Larry woke up with a cold. I told him my Ellen swears by Zicam and he said he'll go out and get some shortly.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spent all day at Epcot, riding the rides, walking the walk, viewing the view-things, and, you'd better believe it, eating the food. Not intensely crowded, just enough to be festive, and glorious sunshine all day. We saw the spectacular laser show at 9 pm, so arrived back at the Paradise Suites 'way past my bedtime. No matter--we're on vacation, after all--I took a bath before bed, read a bit, and slept like a log until almost eight o-clock.
While there, I devoured various and sundry food, all of which was incredibly overpriced (you expect that), but wasn't half bad. For lunch, we went to the food court and I had an interesting and tasty beet/goat cheese salad with a cold beer. Stopped at the Mexican pavilion for dinner and I had a Something that starts with an "E," also pretty cheese-laden (anything in the stratosphere calorie-wise appeals to me), which was delicious; indulged in a margarita besides--yum!
Uh-oh, four minutes left--gotta go.
LATER: I had no sooner finished the above than I walked into the other room downstairs at the hotel to see Larry was having the Continental breakfast. "We have to leave right away," he said. I reacted intelligently with "Huh?" and was told Helen was in the hospital. We finished our coffee, quickly went upstairs to pack, and were checked out in roughly fifteen minutes. Got back to Miami in about four hours and went directly to the hospital. It seems Helen had had a rapid heartbeat episode, which she's experienced before. Larry had been phoned by son-in-law Vic to the effect that Helen needed a pacemaker. By the time we got there, the procedure was almost over. It was a success and we were able to see her in the recovery room, then accompany her to her regular room. Daughters Elaine and Karen, as well as younger son, Larry, were there when we arrived and Karen continued to be with her when we left. Larry has just left to go back and will bring her some things she wanted. We understand Helen will be discharged tomorrow, and should recover fully; in fact, be able to do more and feel better than ever--yay!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Here at Kissimee near Disney World, having a great time at a wonderful hotel. Yesterday, Larry, the planets's best tour guide, took me all around Disney; today, we go to Epcot. Must go--Internet runs out in four minutes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another terrific day. Larry took me for a tour of Miami and Biscayne Bay(?). First, we investigated the penthouse at a new high-rise--VERY high, on the 52nd floor, in fact. Of course, there were floor-to-ceiling windows just to scare the hell out of me, but it was fun to see the place. It struck me as incredible that there seem to be hundreds of similar buildings--how could they possibly be filled?
We then went to Viscayne, the estate of James Deering, heir to the International Harvester fortune.
Now this is the kind of thing I love: history, architecture, and opulence combined. The place--a kind of hybrid Italianate villa--was, of course, filled with priceless artifacts and stunning vistas of harbor and gardens.
Got home to have lunch with Helen--she made me a yummy ham and grilled cheese sandwich--then we prepared for dinner at Elaine's. I took a shower, dressed, and off we went.
What fun to be with so many members of this big, vibrant family! I loved the Cuban food--had plantains and yucca for the first time--not to mention the margaritas Elaine had made, one of my favorite drinks. I'm still sorting out my brother's huge family (and this was only one small portion of it), but the party included my nephew, Jim, a terrific guy, his younger son, Lucas, Elaine's and her husband's sons, Alex, Andrew, and Anthony, her grandson, Rudy, Terry and her granddaughters, Mia and Kayla, and hmm...were there others? Not sure, but there were at least three generations present. And what bright, articulate, warm, and friendly people they are! Would love to have my children know them better--know them at all, in fact--I'm positive they'd like each other a lot. (I hope and trust Mike, Tim, and Wes will follow through on their plans for a Byrne reunion in 2011!)
Gotta go--Larry and I are leaving for Disney shortly. I'm sorry Helen decided not to go, as she's been there many times, but am excited about it. Will be back on Friday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Having an absolute ball in Miami. Here's just a mere mention of a few activities, not inclusive, by any means: On Sunday, Larry and Helen took me to a restaurant for breakfast on the "broadwalk" right on the beach, sun sparking on the beautiful Atlantic. Later, two of the little great-grands, Mia and Kayla, 4 and 2, came over with their remarkably young-looking grandmother, my niece Karen. Such adorable kids--bright and feisty and oh, yeah, full of energy. Larry and I went to one of Miami's spacious parks and briskly walked the two-mile path, virtuous exercisers that we are. Later, granddog Rocky came to stay for a few days, as his mummy, Alicia, took her baby, Bella, to Washington to attend her husband's graduation from CIA school Rocky was brought over by either Rudy, Nick, or another young teenager, I think the uncle of a boy who's older than he is. (I'll straighten all this out later.) Helen made a scrumptious dinner of rosemary chicken and sides, and I devoured every bite, recalcitrant former dieter that I am. Got a call from darling daughter, Ellen; she'd have a great time with her cousins, I know; hope she'll be able to get together with them before too long.
Funny incident: I had closed my door, but not tightly, and awoke at about 4 am with the bed shaking. Oh, good grief, an earthquake! But wait a minute, this isn't California, it's Florida. It was cockapoo Rocky who decided he'd rather sleep with me than on the floor--some choice--which may or may not have been made by the other men in my life. Thought I'd move to the other room and let him have it, but he followed me to the hall and I went back to my own bed without him.
Yesterday, accompanied L. and H. to H.'s eye doctor--she'll have cataract surgery soon--then to daughter Elaine's lovely house. Talked to daughter Jeannie on the phone, then went to lunch at a Victorian tea room. Elaine is mother of Alicia, grandmother to others, and doggie's mum to cute little Fritz. After that, Larry and I dropped Helen off at home and went to his gym for about an hour and a half. Had a good, vigorous session on the treadmill and several weight machines. Got home and asked to go in the pool, which I did while L. and H. went out for prescriptions. It was cool, but I got in and swam; when Larry came back, he got in,too, then we sat out in the yard and talked. Was I interested in going to Disney world? Does a bear--uh, live in the woods? Damn straight, I'm interested! So we're going tomorrow and will stay over two nights--yay!
Right now, Larry's getting a shower and he and I will tour downtown Miami after taking Helen to the doctor. Speaking of Helen, she's been waiting on me hand and foot--great food and great fun with my dear bro and sis, a relaxed and happy atmosphere, and a pool in the backyard--geez, they may never get rid of me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Here I am in toasty Florida. Flight wasn't bad and reasonably short. Larry picked me up with no problem and we drove the short distance to Miami. Were joined by Helen and daughters, Karen and Terry; one is the mother of Amber who is the mother of two little girls, and the other lives with them or vice versa, but I haven't been able to short out who's who.
Freshened up at their house and drove about an hour to Helen's sister and brother-in-law's for a nice dinner. Met the aforementioned, as well as their daughter, SIL, daughter's MIL, and the two kids. Good dinner and nice talk.
Turned in as soon as we got home and slept like a log. Up at 5:30, having coffee, Larry and Helen out to church and here I happily am. We'll go out to breakfast when they get home.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Must rush; will be leaving in less than an hour. Will go up north for my ride, then be in Florida this afternoon.
Saw Hereafter. First fifteen minutes were enthralling, the rest a total bore. Matt Damon, looking beefy and puffy, walked through his part and so did everybody else. About a third in French with subtitles, which I don't mind throughout, but is annoyingly--well, annoying--when it switches back and forth so often.
Barely made it to Angeline's the hairdresser's after. Leanne did my hair--I'm always amazed at how so-so it looks and how much it costs.
Had a Skype call from the precious little ones in Singapore; Violet getting so grown up (at two) I can hardly believe it. Still mulling over the possibility of m meeting them in Lake Tahoe at Christmas, but I just don't know.
Okay, I have time to think about that. For now--sunshine state, here I come!