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!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Got to the viewing for Jerry S. at Absecon by about 10:30. It was held--oddly, I thought--in a small room adjacent to the main church. As there were a lot of people there, it was crowded; would have been better in the church proper, where the mass was held after. I didn't stay for that.
Casket was closed, but there were three picture on it: One of Jerry as a boy of about 13, the other probably taken a few years ago before he got sick. I was charmed when I saw the third one: It was of a group of Ventnor boys, and included my husband, Pat, and my brother, Frank, at ages, I estimated, to be about 12 and 9. I also recognized Jack B. and Matt G. Wish I had had a chance to see it more closely, to know if my brother, Larry, was there, too. Will call Nan when I get back from Florida to ask if I can make a copy. I gave Jerry's daughter copies of three pictures taken at my long-ago wedding reception. They show a group of guys who were there, including Jerry and brother Larry, all impossibly young and now, many gone where Jerry is --sigh.
Drove home only to head out again in the same direction a half hour later, after picking up Leslie. We went to the jewelery and sock shop and had a ball examining the stuff. Les didn't buy anything and I got only an inexpensive pair of earrings; not sure, but owner Debbie may have been a bit sniffy about that.
We then went to Shore Diner, several cuts above run-of-the-mill diners and had lunch. I splurged with meatball parm on a roll and a cold Bud. After that, and a lot of good talk, we went to the cemetery for a quick stop. Les suggested and I enthusiastically agreed, that we go on similar excursions every month. Will call her to set a time for November when I get back from Florida.
Dropped Les off and drove up to Manahawkin to pick up my so-scared-to-fly-I-want-to-die medication, commonly known as Ativan.
Put in the other DVD I borrowed, The Soloist, and watched half. Nice story, but for some reason, I didn't feel like watching, so stopped after a half hour or so.
Yoicks, I leave tomorrow! Must turn my attention to that and finish packing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dreary, dark, dull, draggy day. Went to the doctor for BP (it's okay) and a flu shot, ran some errands in Manahawkin, then didn't do a whole heck of a lot. Got The Bourne Identity--yes, the original--from the library and watched it, as I have several times before. Still couldn't quite follow some of the story line, but with Matt Damon to look at, who cares?
Today will be livelier; going to a funeral at 10:00, then taking Leslie to the jewelry/sock store and to lunch.
Guess I'd better start turning my attention to my trip--I leave the day after tomorrow and haven't even thought about it at this point.
WIDER: Here's the start of Jeff Huber's "Don't Ask, Don't Care" essay on
"The righteous are wailing like zombies from sea to shining sea over the recent federal court decisions striking down the cockamamie "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" law that allows homosexuals to join the military but forbids them from being homosexuals. An exemplar of this sanctimonious outrage is Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group. According to his official biography, 'Tony has a tremendous burden to reclaim the culture for Christ.'"
Yes, I'm truly puzzled at the horrified alarm directed at gays--or, for that matter, any other people who deviate an iota from approved "Christian values," which incidentally, include plenty of niceties such as bombing the bejesus--sorry--out of foreigners. Fer cryin' out loud, how does this threaten the sanctity of marriage? First of all, it's questionable how sacred it is to begin with, considering the divorce rate and second, seems to me marriage is a combination of sheer animal need (sex and all that, you know) and the unholy alliance between the state and religion. Yes, yes, I was married for many years and yes, yes, I benefited in many ways, most prominently with the sheer delight of my children, but no, no, I see no reason why my gay neighbors shouldn't do the same.
But I guess the preachers and the nay-sayers think differently. They have a right to follow their beliefs, but not to impose them on others. And that, it seems to me, is the simple bottom line that seems never to be recognized by these soldiers of the lord.
Here's the link:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

There's just nothing on this dark, shattered, godforsaken hunk of dirt as beautiful and interesting as children, especially when they're flesh of your flesh.
Got to J. and N.'s about noon to find N.'s parents there, helping out after N.'s surgery. Her father helped me get the baby seats in my car and we loaded up the two three-year-olds. They were dressed alike, and looked adorable in little red Sesame Place hooded sweatshirts. We went to the Plum Tree in Nee Egypt for lunch and what fun!
We sat in a booth, R. on one side, T. and I on another. R. objected, though, and wanted me to sit with him. This would have caused a big problem with T., I was sure, so I told R. to come over and we all sat on one side. It was too crowded to eat when our lunches came, though, so I solved the problem by moving over to the other side and having them sit together.
The boys both ordered chicken nuggets--horrible grayish little things that probably were more pasty batter than chicken--and French fries. I had a mediocre hamburger. We had much fun, though, talking and laughing together. Eating-out sophisticates that they are, both asked for boxes to take home what they didn't eat.
We then went to the park nearby, muddy though it was, and enjoyed the slides and swings. After, we walked over the little bridge and went to a bigger playground. It was such fun watching them as they ran and climbed and slid and hung from railings and jumped from daring heights and got thoroughly dirty.
Brought them back about 3:00 and stayed until the two bigger boys got home from school. Both immediately started doing their homework, spreading stuff out on the tiny living room floor while the little ones rushed around, barely avoiding stepping on the books and papers. Several of the neighbors came in to check on N., which I was glad to see; I remembered them from the Mary Kay party she had had.
Stayed just until big J. got home, about 4:30, then said goodbye. Had a wonderful day, as I always do when I'm with family. Lucky me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pretty slow day. Went to Manahawkin--twice. First time, picked up a few things at Shop-Rite, but this was about noon and I was hungry, so went home for lunch. After, I was going to go to Hamilton Mall or somewhere to get something for Noelle (I'll see her today), but changed my mind and went back to Manahawkin. Got her a bracelet, body mist, a scarf, and some fancy chocolates. Will wrap or bag them fancy and put them in a pretty basket along with a card. She's recovering from minor surgery and I'm going up there today to help her out. I asked her to have Joel leave the car seats for the two little guys--both three years old--so I can take them somewhere and she can rest. Unfortunately, it's raining--hope it stops before too long.
Good friend and neighbor, Leslie R., gave me two packages of sea bass, all nicely filleted, which husband Dennis had just caught. Sauteed half for dinner last night and oh, boy, was it good. Sea bass may have become my new favorite fish and certainly, when push comes to shove, the bought stuff just can't compare to freshly caught.

Monday, October 18, 2010

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Greatly enjoyed "Sunday Musical Arts" (formerly "Sunday At The Opera") at the clubhouse. Yesterday,we saw an enthralling operatic version of A Streetcar Named Desire, with Renee Fleming as Blanche and a number of other attractive people in supporting roles. The opera was composed and directed by Andre Previn, and presented in 1998 at the San Francisco Opera House. It was faithful to the original in all important respects, although I'm not sure if it was put to music word-for-word. Anyway, it was wonderful.
Went to the cemetery after and removed the two mums from Pat's grave. They're getting a little past their prime and I'll just put them out front until I get around to planting them, if I ever do.
Had a nice web cam session with darling daughter, Ellen, always a treat on Sunday night.
Son Mike directed me to a site I added to my favorites: Joe Sharkey's and in this case, he wrote on what he sees as an entirely untrue portrait of Atlantic City in the Nucky Johnson* thing, Boardwalk Empire. I'm sure he's right and I have no interest in seeing the this particular "docudrama" or any other. It seems to me they tend to be false, ugly, and simple-minded mishmashes of a little splash of truthiness dropped in a big bucket of falsity, and topped off with gallons of show bizzy cuteness and utterly boring cliches.
How do you really feel about docudramas, Mimi?
* As a kid, I saw Nucky Johnson at church--St. James in Ventnor--and believe me, he was an unattractive little gnome of a man, nothing like the suave, fairly good-looking actor in Boardwalk Empire.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It was a perfect day for pumpkin picking! Sky was crystal-clear blue, sun was shining brightly, and there was an autumn nip in the air. Got to J. and N.'s at noon and we left for lunch shortly thereafter. Ate at a little Italian place--so Italian the "waiter," to use the term loosely, didn't exactly speak English and there was a lot of miscommunication. I ordered pasta and he asked if I wanted a fork. When I indicated that might be easier than eating it with my fingers, he obliged--and brought knives, forks, and spoons for the boys, who had pizza. But no matter, it was great fun.
We then repaired to DeWolfe Farm, rode the hay wagon--tricked out to look like a steam engine--to the fields and the kids had a ball running around picking up pumpkins. The rule was they could each get one, but they had to be able to lift it and put it in the small wagon, provided by the farm. The two little ones rode in the wagon, J. pulling, but kept popping out to go after an bigger pumpkin. The place had a corn maze, which we didn't try (it was an extra five bucks each) and a children's maze constructed with hay bales, which the boys loved. They also played on a fire engine, ran around like crazy, and were their usual wonderfully alive and exuberant selves. It's such a pleasure to be with them--I had a wonderful day.
NOTE: Just as I was finishing this, I had a welcome interruption--P. calling on Skype from Tokyo. Loved seeing N.'s latest paintings and seeing her, for that matter. It's hard being so far from my sons and younger daughter, but being able to see them as we talk brings them so much closer. I love the web cam.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Duplicated and put Blithe Spirit flyers in the post office and two branches of the library. Decided not to put out any signs yet, as the wind has been fierce and I'm afraid they'll blow down.
Went to the Sunrise Bay Players show with Dennis and Leslie last night. It was pretty good, very funny in spots, a bit risque in others, and deadly dull here and there. This is, of course, "readers' theatre," which means participants read their lines, usually with the script on a music stand in front of them. I had been involved in the group as a writer, director, and actor for several years. I just tired of it, and the real thing--memorizing lines, actually acting, and performing on a real stage in front of a paying audience--is so enticing, the other stuff seems tame.
Going pumpkin picking today!

Friday, October 15, 2010

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Turned out to be a buzzin' busy day. Exterminator came just at 9:00 and inspected, looking mostly in the garage. He's really a very nice guy. Lives in Ocean Acres in Manahawkin, has a newborn baby boy, and his wife is a nurse at Seacrest. She probably knew Pat, as she's in the rehab section. Am mulling over whether to sign a contract or not, as it's another expense.
Walked down to Leslie's after lunch and we went to the food pantry. Anne H., who runs the place, was there and stayed the whole time. Now the food pantry is roughly the size of my bathroom--seriously--and there were two of us, so why Anne had to stay is hard to fathom. Les and I were a captive audience to Anne's infuriating stream-of-consciousness rantings, delivered nonstop in an excruciating New York accent. She sat in one of the only two chairs--the other is for the clients--so L. and I had to stand the whole two hours. When she started complaining about having to deliver to two people unable to get there, I said I'd do it.
L. and I transferred two separate portions from big boxes to bags, and hauled them out, one portion in the trunk, one in the back seat. Now I'm not talking a package of tastycakes and a bag of marshmallows here. There were giant bottles of juice, large frozen chickens, and a lot of canned soup, vegetables, and other heavy items. To top it off, it was raining heavily, so it was a chore to get the stuff in L.'s car.
Leslie was unable to help deliver, so she drove me home and we moved the stuff from her car to mine. By this time, it was 4:30 and getting dark, so I wanted to get them delivered as soon as possible. Anne had given me the addresses, but had neglected to include the names of the apartment complexes. She had referred to "Tall Timbers," and I drove around there looking, but finally had to call the recipient, who told me it was actually Royal Timbers, an entirely different place. Got there to find the apartment is on the third floor and the stairs on the outside. Took three trips up with bags in the driving rain, and left them at woman's door.
Went to Tavistock to deliver the other load--first floor, thank heavens--woman was very appreciative, although it looked like a hoarder's place. Got home, still in driving rain.
Tidied up, had dinner, then left for a production meeting for Blithe Spirit. That lasted about an hour and a half, so got home after 8:30; still raining hard, but I was finally in for the night.
Slept, again, soundly all night. All in all, a good, full day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The exterminator guy (mice) is coming today, so yesterday, I cleaned up, especially the kitchen. Also cut up cauliflower and carrots and put them in the large slow cooker with spices AND did red potatoes, onions, and garlic in the small one. Had some of both for dinner, along with sauerkraut and ff hot dogs.
Called my Cincinnati sis--dear cousin Marifran--and we had a good talk. Went to the cemetery; mums still look great. Picked up cottage cheese, veggies, and so on at Acme. Stopped at the library after dinner, chagrined to realize it was already dark at seven. Got the DVD Thank You For Smoking; watched about half, found it boring and unfunny, so quit.
Other than that--nothin' going on--SO...
That gives me a chance to rant about the Bank of America and--my old nemesis--Comcast. BOA credited an old, non-existent Visa account of mine with my payment, which meant I was charged a late fee for the legitimate one and I was on the phone with no fewer than five people (was cut off and had to re-explain everything twice) and finally, they admitted--with very poor grace, though--it was their error, but this entailed an hour on the phone and giving them access to my checking account, and...aagh!
Now Comcast: Blithely, without warning, and without even a twinge of conscience, I'm willing to bet, that corporate spawn of the devil raised my bill by $21 a month. I called, of course, and of course, was told my "promotional" fee had ended. After only half-hearted histrionics on my end--I had exhausted myself dealing with BOA--the rep casually offered to lower the monthly bill to $123.36, almost eighteen dollars less than what I paid before! Of course, I accepted this adjustment, but it infuriates me, nevertheless. Where do these hungry whores get off changing their fees--oh, I know, I was told this when I got Comcast, but that doesn't make it right--then switching them again when somebody calls to protest? It's discouraging to realize these practices are allowed--indeed, encouraged--by the pompous crooks in Washington, our "representatives"--note well the sneering quote marks--who are full to bursting after gorging at the overflowing trough provided by just those bandits and stick-up artists who plunder the country without pause or retribution...
Oh, the hell with it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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Had nothing scheduled yesterday, but it turned out to be a fun time. During our walk, Susan asked me for directions to the Sock Outlet in Northfield, where I had gotten my fabulous, "jewel" encrusted cuff bracelet. Wore it to her house when she had me over for dinner with her family. Her daughter, Julie, had exclaimed over the bracelet, tried it on, and so on, and Susan wanted to get her one. Little did she know that I had already been to the place and asked the buyer (also owner) to get another. Well, I told Susan I'd like to go with her, I did, she got the bracelet and eighty-seven dollars worth of other stuff (Christmas presents) and I blacked out. When I came to, I had bought two more bracelets--I just can't leave them on the counter!--although I didn't spend anywhere near eighty-seven dollars.
After this agreeable excursion, I suggested we have lunch and we did, at Shore Diner, one of my favorites. It's several cuts above must diners--large, well-appointed and the wait staff wears uniform black pants, white shirts. Best of all, it has a great variety of terrific food.
Unfortunately, that terrific food seems to have done a number on me: I had a cup of bean soup and half a sandwich. Oddly--I've never seen this at any other restaurant--you couldn't substitute for the sandwich. A cheese, ham, turkey club is standard and, with that order, that's what you have to get. So I did, and later, had a bad stomach ache for an hour or so. Took some Tums and it finally went away. My theory is that, as I don't eat meat at home at all, I had startled and irritated my stomach with the stuff two days in a row (hamburger on Monday night with Vivian) and it was protesting. (I may be completely wrong about that.)
One other thing about the Shore Diner: All the waiters and waitresses seem to be from Greece or Bulgaria. Intriguing, I calls it.
When I got home, went to bed with Tums; later, watched part of Thank You For Smoking, which I had borrowed form the library.. Only mildly funny and interesting, I thought; may not continue watching.
The nice day was topped off by a web cam call from the darlings in Singapore. Vivacious Vivian and adorable little Violet (she talks so well for 2 years, 3 months, I'm always amazed) and their Daddy. Discussed end-of-year plans, which for me, are still in flux.
Good day and I slept like a baby, a log, or the brains of regular T.V. viewers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Aagh! I'm beginning to think Little Egg is the murder capitol of the world! A few days ago, about a mile from me in Mystic Shores, a woman ran her husband over with a car and was arrested for homicide. Could it have been an accident? According to the paper--of course, they use the word "allegedly"--it looks pretty clear she dunnit. Golly gee oh, gosh... Got a teasing phone call from friend Mary about the current murder and the neighborhood is abuzz. Otherwise, didn't do a whole lot. Cleaned up some stuff for The Breeze and cleaned up up some stuff around the house, too.
Met Vivian L. for dinner at TGIFridays. Foolishly ordered a hamburger, although it actually says on the menu that they're cooked medium rare. In other words, like shoe leather. The fries that came with it were mediocre, too. Applebee's is a lot better, if you're going to patronize a chain.
However, had a good visit with Vivian. She just completed her master's degree, and is now enrolled at Kean U. (two hours away in Union County) to get some kind of certification--can't remember what the initials are, an L-something. Anyway, she'll be a licensed counselor, which means she'll be able to open her own practice, an enterprise so fraught with expense and uncertainty, it's hard to believe anybody would pursue it. There are NO jobs, certainly not in a field that's been overcrowded from day one, even in boom times, and she's in her middle fifties, with secretarial work experience only. It's going to be tough, but I hope she makes it, or attains some positive result from all this frantic educatin'.
After I got in, was pleased to find Ellen home when I called her on the web cam. We had a good chat, although poor little Tillie is sick again and not eating. She was so cute snuggled in Ellen's arms purring; hope she's better soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally cleaned the bathroom, virtuous little housewife that I am. It took a while, but it's so satisfying to have everything clean, shiny, and neatly arranged. Then, went to the cemetery and was pleased to find the mums--white with yellow centers--still looking good. Watered, did the same at Jay's, but didn't stop anywhere else; I was hungry and wanted lunch. Had made two crock pot dishes: an eggplant, onion, tomato casserole and cauliflower. The first was okay, but tasted just as it does in the microwave, the c., though, was delish. I had cut it in small florets and added Mrs. Dash and just a splash of water. Devoured the whole thing, which was a good-sized head--oh, yes, when I eat veggies, I eat a lot of them. Also had salad.
Went to Staples later to duplicate a picture Bob Nelson had given me, of our clubhouse being built. Hope it can be scanned at the office and accompany the story.
Watched television for a time. Saw part of an Animal Planet show called Fatal Attraction about people who "adopt," live with, and dote on wild animals, in this instance, chimps. Once the cute little baby-like things grow up, they're dangerous and have a tendency to turn on their owners and kill or maim them, with a special liking for tearing off their faces. This idiocy--convincing yourself that a wild animal is going to care about you--almost (but not quite) argues for the "you got what you deserve" attitude, it seems to me. I wonder how many of these devoted and kindly animal people actively demonstrate opposition to the casual cruelty that goes on toward people, even children? Oh, there's my holier than thou persona rearing its stupid, self-satisfied head--shut up, Mimi.
WIDER: I haven't been commenting--ranting?--on the war and peace thing lately. Still read the anti-war blogs every day, but am beginning to develop an "it's no use" attitude. War and U.S. aggression are, let's face it, simply accepted as normal and natural now, I'm afraid. To even raise the subject in polite society is a breach of manners, it seems; what's wrong with this dodo, why doesn't she concentrate on important topics, like Dancing with The Stars?
So I guess you'd say I'm in moral hibernation. I'll come out of the cave eventually, but for now, need to just read, absorb, and mull over.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Skipped our regular walk, but hustled down to the clubhouse on foot at 7:30 to check things out about the flea market. Talked to Pat H., the chair, and she said I could come back with the car and set up, which I did. What a job! I guess I could have gotten closer, but I parked a distance away from the table and had to walk back and forth carrying things. Luckily, Ray happened to be there, and he and Doug H. helped.
Well, it was a mixed bag of a day. I sold a fair number of things, including the big items I didn't want to haul away. Now, I'm not talking about expensive things, just physically big ones: a hand-painted child's bench, a hose holder, a large artificial plant (I use only natural ones), and finally, a Halloween witch about three feet tall. Sounds as if I made a lot of dough, right? Ha! It just about covered dinner and to top it off, I bought something (nice nautical bookends I couldn't resist) from Joan O.
The flea market was scheduled for 9 to 3, but I packed up at 12:30. Very few "outside" (of Sunrise Bay) people came, partly, I guess, because the thing was poorly publicized. I had gotten rid of the major things at that point, so left.
Put the crap back in the garage, had a bite, took a shower and prepared for going out to dinner with the "Food, Fun, And Friends" gang. Went with the H.'s., as Susan and Walter were hosting. Brought a bottle of what I thought was white zinfandel, but was actually red; drank it anyway. Susan and I had conspired ahead of time to wear the matching shirtwaist dresses that we had bought separately. She looked great and, if I say it myself, so did I. I wore with it my silver turtle bracelet which was extravagantly admired--well, by the women, that is.
Ordered two appetizers--shrimp bisque, which was sublime and escargot and mushrooms, which wasn't (they weren't even in the shells!)--instead of an entree. Had a ball talking and laughing with my friends for several hours.
Today, I'd better get down to brass tacks and do some cleaning before the place is condemned by the Board of Health. Tomorrow, I'm meeting Vivian L. for dinner in Manahawkin.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Spent the morning back at the dentist's. The technician, Danielle, filed and smoothed and adjusted and advised and the upshot is, the things seem better. From there, went directly to Manahawkin to Staples and Shop-Rite, so didn't get home until 2:00. After lunch, loaded up the car with flea market stuff. I hope some of it sells, if only because I don't feel like hauling it back home again.
Annoyed with myself because when I got home, I realized I had left my jacket fifty-five miles away at the dentist's. Called and asked if they'd send it to me.
Put the finishing touches on several articles for The Breeze. Watched another segment of The Producers. Very funny and, I assume, faithful to the Broadway production.
I was busy all day, but reading the above, it doesn't look like it.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Met Mary at the Margate JCC for the "Senior Expo" after running various errands in the off-shore area. Collected an enormous number of pens and other stuff, some useful, some in the I-wonder-why-I-picked-them-up category. We went to lunch at Downbeach Deli after and I had soup and half a sandwich.
Am still getting used to the bridges, or whatever they're called. I had some difficulty eating--it feels so strange--but will persevere. I received a beautiful bouquet of fall flower from the dentist--may see if I can get up there this morning to have this damn problem resolved.
Went to Shop-Rite in the early evening and got the rice puffs I like. I think I'd better switch to eating them with my wine at night, instead of popcorn.
Tomorrow is the flea market at the clubhouse and I have to get stuff assembled for it. Why I ever signed up to participate, I can't imagine, as it now seems an enormous chore. Oh, well, I'm sure I'll make thousands--uh, hundreds--well, maybe ten bucks if I'm lucky.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Well, well, I found out that the "begging on Thanksgiving" thing is not unique to North Bergen. Susan told me it was practiced--or had been--in other municipalities in northern Jersey. Looked it up and found she's right. However, I don't know if it's still done or not.
Interviewed the N.'s, the very first residents of Sunrise Bay, who moved here ten years ago. Fun to talk to them.
Went to the dentist and finally got my bridges. Dr. L. also cleaned my teeth. The "appliances," as I think they're called, seem okay and I've kept them in. Stopped at J.'s after and saw the darling little ones. Precious little T. ran over and sat on my lap. However, they, N., and big J. are still fighting colds.
Busy day today; meeting Mary H. in Margate and have lots of errands in Atlantic County besides.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A neighbor named Libby B. called yesterday and asked to borrow the transport chair. (I run a "classified" column in The Breeze for those who want to buy, sell, or rent anything and I list the chair as free to lend.) Libby, whom I had known only slightly before, asked if I could bring it over, as she doesn't drive. I did and we spent an hour or so talking. Her husband has some kind of vein problem and can't walk, horribly enough. Last week, she had a terrible time trying to get him up from the floor. Libby also gave me a good story for a piece I'm writing called "The Best--And The Rest." This consists of little vignettes on experiences people have had in various situations, some heart-warming, some funny.
Spent a lot of the rest of the day calling people to contribute to that piece and also to a little "Family Traditons" one I write. Got some interesting stories, but one, for sheer peculiarity, stands out and I'll menton it here:
Kathy D. told me that in her hometown, she and all the other kids used to dress up in costume on a particular fall day and go door-to-door asking for treats. Well, duh--who didn't do that on Halloween? Oh, but wait a minute--they "went begging," as they called it, on Thanksgiving! Yes, in the morning every Thanksgiving Day, they went out for trick or treat. That is so bizarre, I can hardly wrap my mind around it. Love the story and I'm going to check to see if I can find out if the town of North Bergen, in Hudson Sounty, New Jersey, still follows this practice. Incredible.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Oh, Lord, we've had multiple murder in our quiet little town. Ellen V. and I had just sat down for lunch in Applebee's when my cell ran and I was told there had been a shooting and the gunman was on the loose. This occurred at the townhouse behind my house on the other side of the woods. At that point, it was believed he also had robbed the bank--I had been there fifteen minutes before--but that turned out to be untrue. The schools were "in lock down," as it was repeated on television--very misleading, as they're always locked. Actually, the school buses were just delayed for a time.
I called Susan, who was home, but hadn't known of the incident. She contacted the K.'s down the street, who told her they had seen the police with drawn weapons at G.'s house, four doors down from me. In a half hour or so, I called the police station and was told it was an "on-going situation" and the gunman had not yet been apprehended. I called to warn the D.'s, who were on their way home from North Carolina. Frank said they had already heard on the Philadelphia radio. I also called the R.'s, who were aware and staying in.
I decided to stay out. After an almost three-hour lunch (we always have a lot to talk about), Ellen and I said goodbye and I went to Kohl's. Got a call from brother Larry in Florida; thought he had heard of the shooting, but he was calling for something else.
In Kohl's, I heard the gunman had taken his own life. Checked with some people and found it was true, so went home. Had a message on the machine from Jack B. and a call from sister Betty. This morning's A.C. Press has banner headlines about the tragedy: A man killed his brother and a neighbor, then himself. Haven't read it yet, so I don't know why.
I stopped at the video store on my way home and got Revolutionary Road and Single Man. Watched the former, which was utterly pointless and stupid.
The local murders/suicide seem utterly pointless and stupid, too. However, in some twisted way, they must have seemed right to the murderer when the dark forces told him to pick up the gun and shoot.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Yoicks, I'm going to Florida! Made the decision to use the fifty dollar credit I got from U.S. Air and booked myself for the end of the month. Will stay only a week and a day--long enough to inflict myself on my brother, Larry--but am looking forward to it happily.
Didn't go out at all, except for our walk and on a wine run to the liquor store. Spent the first half of a dark and rainy day cleaning the kitchen. Moved everything out or aside and worked on the plants, scrubbed the floor, scoured the stovetop, and so on. Was finished by lunchtime and enjoyed the lentil soup I had made the other day. As I ate, I watched An American In Paris.
What a treat! When this first came out, I didn't have a lot of interest in it, but yesterday, I was transfixed. Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron were an incredible pair and danced together so sublimely they seemed almost ethereal. I was intrigued by the supporting players, too, especially Oscar Levant, whom I always found sexy, oddly enough. I actually know a fair amount about him, having read his autobiography years ago. He was, of course, an accomplished pianist of concert caliber, and a raconteur--also, manic depressive in real life. I was struck by the fact that both he and Kelly--and most of the other actors--smoked continually.
The little things in the movie, especially the clothes, are so appealing. Caron wears short, white cotton gloves in several scenes; they were part of one's attire in those days, even in relatively informal wear. Kelly changes clothes and wears an undershirt--decidedly not a tee shirt--wow, I don't even know if they make them anymore. Nina Foch was in it, too. What a stunningly gorgeous woman she was and, as for her clothes, you could wear them today and bring men to their knees.
Maybe it's noteworthy that all those outfits were skin tight. They look almost painted on, showing as much skin as possible and, in the case of the stars, that's a treat. Caron had the most incredibly long, supple legs, and lean physique. I always thought her face, with those cat eyes and big teeth, verged on the spooky, but what a body! As for Kelly, he was short and solid, but without an ounce of fat and oh, man, what a dancer.
Leslie Caron is still living. She's now 79--she was 20 when the picture was made--and she runs a bed and breakfast in France. I looked her up and saw her interviewed on a British talk show in January. She was promoting her new autobiography, Thank Heavens, which of course, I'll request from the library. She looks, naturally, different from she did 59 years ago, but is still attractive. She made had had "some work," as the euphemism goes, but it isn't blatant.
Anyway, I loved the movie.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Took two huge boxes to the recycle place and the nice guys there dumped the contents into a big bin, preparing for the shredder. That's the end of the records I've been saving for no good reason, including a lot of doctor, V.A., and Medicare stuff of Pat's. The only things I didn't toss are income tax returns from the last seven or eight years along with supporting documents, but I know I need to keep only three years past, so I'll probably get rid of much of those, too.
It's so liberating to get rid of things! I want to do the same to the multitude of "stuff" I have in this house--stuff I couldn't live without until I had them and, after the first fine glow of ownership, never gave a thought. Such is life, I guess.
The October issue of The Breeze came yesterday, and looks darn good. I'm glad I decided to shorten the profile piece. Have some further ideas for the next issue and will also call the N.'s, the first people to move to Sunrise Bay.
No plans for today, but will meet Ellen V. for lunch tomorrow.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Susan and I walked under umbrellas yesterday, but even so, by the time we got home, we were soaked from the waist down. Threw my slacks and sneaks in the dryer and was able to wear them to exercise.
After breakfast, thanks to sister Betty telling her tale of woe about trying to sort out paperwork before she comes east, plus Susan mentioning the recycle plant in Manahawkin will shred documents today, I galvanized myself and actually spent an hour clearing out! I could hardly haul the box to the car, it was so heavy, but I did it and I'm proud. Called Betty to tell her about it.
Later, still in heavy weather, drove to Shop-Rite in Mays Landing, then to M & S--charming name--for red cabbage and yams, then to the cemetery. Although I love warm, sunny days, even I was getting a bit tired of the perpetual brightness. It reminded me of some people I know who absolutely insist that this is the best of all worlds and if you can't find the rainbow, you're not looking hard enough, and so on and nauseatingly on. No, I don't think this is the best of all possible worlds--it could be a lot better--and even if I do find the occasional rainbow, I believe it tends to fade fast. So I thought it good to finally have a long, soaking rain. (But now I want it to stop!)
NOTE: Just came across this from Gail Collins in the NYTimes:
"...if a cat gives birth to kittens in the oven, it does not make them muffins."
Laughed out loud.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Drove to Manahawkin to pick up various and sundry, then spent some time cleaning. Friend Mary H. called and invited me to the "Expo" in Margate next week and I accepted. I'm not enthusiastic about the event itself, which consists of a bunch of organizations promoting themselves and giving out all kinds of worthless doodads, of which I have mountains from last year, but we'll lunch after and that's my kinda outing.
Cleaned the kitchen counters with Corian stuff and did a few other chores, but aside from that, not much going on. Queen of cliches that I am, I must write this: "I can't believe it's already October!" (Geez, I can't believe we're in the twenty-first century.)