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.