Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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Wonderful weekend! Left car up north and drove into Trenton with one of the couple to meet Marilyn and Clorinda at 7:30 am. On a gloriously sunny day and, after stopping a few times, met N. and the two little ones about 2:30 at the Wal-Mart in Mansfield (yes, it takes that long to reach my grandson's house in upper Pennsylania). Noticed lots of large trees down--one had smashed into somebody's roof--and discovered the power was out in Wal-Mart and the surrounding area.
Got back to J. and L.'s house in the country shortly before the bigger boys got home from school and enjoyed so much being with them. J., who was working, met us in Wellsboro at Pizza Hut, where we had dinner. When we were almost finished, all the lights went out; same with traffic lights, and so on. Got back to their place and, to my consternation, found not only the lights, but the water was off because they have an electric pump. However, we all went to bed and electricity was on in the morning.
On Saturday, I checked into the Canyon Motel and was disconcerted to see there was a "boil water advisory." The motel supplied bottled water, but no ice was available--I didn't miss it, however. We then all went to the indoor (heated) pool and had a ball; stayed until after 6:00 and I told them I'd stay at the motel until they picked me up next day. Walked over to Acme, got a sandwich, ate in the room and went to bed early. Sunday, Joel came in the morning and took me back to their place. Their friends, Chris and Holly and their four-month-old baby had stayed over and two other boys were there to play. Had a barbecue, which we all enjoyed, and another friend and co-worker and his teen aged son came over. Great fun watching Joel squirt the hose at the boys, who had a ball. J. and Chris also shot arrows into a target and Chris demonstrated his big model car, which can go 55 miles an hour. Was driven back into town, read for a short time, then slept like a log. J. picked me up in the morning and got me to the Turkey Ranch Restaurant in Trout Run, about 25 miles away.
We were invited to stop up north for dinner and enjoyed it on the deck: grilled salmon, potatoes and onions, and fresh asparagus and strawberries made a wonderful late spring dinner. Marilyn and Clorinda were shown around the property--lots planted and thriving--and loved the house.
That's just the bare bones of my weekend, which was great fun--best of all, as ever, was spending time with my family. Talked to Ellen when I got home; mentioned that Marilyn said she's going up again to Canton in August and invited me to come. I asked Ellen is she would, too, and she's considering it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Was annoyed with myself for going over to Pat L.'s at 1:00 and interrupting her lunch. I had 1:30 on the calendar and just forgot to check. However, she was very gracious about it and made me a cup of tea while she ate. I told her that knitting probably isn't for me and she's okay with that, too. I might take it up later--unlikely--and at least, I know the mechanics of it now. With that out of the way, we had a good conversation and got to know each other better. I want to have her over for lunch next week and will call her.
Finished packing and getting things arranged for when I'm away. Talked to Marge, whose condition seems to be about the same. I hope things improve for her and Fred sooner rather than later.
Called cousin Marifran in Cincinnati and we caught up with all our doings. She and daughter Ilona are going to the U.K. in September--it would be nice if they could meet up with son Mike, who will be there then.
Went to rehearsal last night and Frank and George, my two actors, "read" several times. They're pretty good and will get better as they get into the roles. I wish,though, that this one-act play thing--two of them, actually--was better organized. They were originally going to be on June 25 (when I won't be here) and July 9, when I will, but now there's some question whether both dates will be kept. George can't be here on the ninth, so I'll have to get somebody else for that date, and it seems we still don't have a full program. Oh, well, I guess it'll work out.
This will probably be my last entry until I get back on Monday or maybe, Tuesday. Goin' up north to see my boy and his girl and their boys, six or more hours of traveling, but so what, I'm on my way--yay!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Firmed up weekend plans with Marilyn--who'll be driving--and Noelle, my hostess. Hit a snag, though, on reservations at the motel where we stayed before. No vacancies, I guess because this is the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Checked with another motel and am waiting to hear back from that one. I may have to stay at J. and N.'s, at least for a night. Wouldn't mind at all, and I hope they wouldn't.
Grumbling and groaning--well, internally--all the way, I completed the three-mile at the clubhouse. Thought I'd better, as I'll be in upstate Pennsy for the next three days. It's amazing how much longer it seems than the two-mile--a piece of cake on Mondays and Fridays.
Found a good recipe for the chicken breasts I had bought, which includes browning them in a pan first, then putting in crock pot with a lemon/garlic sauce. I also cut up a yam and put that in the smaller pot. Made a salad and added broccoli, plus fresh Jersey strawberries--unadorned--for dessert and it was yummy.
My dinner guest arrived about 4:00 after running, took a shower, then we ate and went to the "baby baseball" game. Enjoyed it, although the gnats were terrible. Left after the third inning to go to the wellness fair at the school. I wasn't in agreement at what they were pushing as healthy food: granola loaded with all kinds of additives and heavy on the sugar, for instance. Enjoyed the day, anyway, as I always do with this particular guest.
Have decided to tell Pat L., my knitting teacher, that it isn't for me. I have a second lesson today, but just don't want to continue it. Hope her feelings aren't hurt; will bring her some strawberries as a thank-you gift.
First rehearsal tonight for my one-act play--a skit, really--tonight with Frank and George.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Glorious sunshine almost the whole day! Got the rest of the flowers in and even took a few pics, which I sent to P. and N. and--as long as we're using initials-- put on FB. Picked up a basil plant, too, and put that in out back. The place doesn't look bad, if I say it myself. Now all I need is my tomatoes and must get a new drip hose.
Got chicken, broccoli, and salad ingredients from Acme for the dinner guest coming tonight. We'll be going to a wellness fair at the school, then a baby baseball game after. Speaking of wellness, I'm following a kind of modified Atkins--meat and other protein, but lots of veggies, too. It's processed foods, especially those loaded with carbs, that I'll avoid. We'll see.
Found luscious Jersey strawberries at B & B, bought a quart, and went home to wash, hull, and slice them. Will serve for dessert tonight.
Made final arrangements--wait, that doesn't sound good--arranged with Marilyn for our trip to upstate Pennsy this weekend. I'll get to my SIL's by 7 am, then drive to work with him, where Marilyn will pick me up. Five or so hours later, grandson Joel will get me in Mansfield, then drive to his place.
Read over my "Pets Of The Past" piece for The Breeze and decided it would work better to divide it in two. First will be pets I remember as a kid, then those my own kids had. This is for the July issue and we have a very early deadline. Don't know what else I'll have time to write and submit.
The three-mile exercise today--ugh!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

As noted, it was an unscheduled day. Went to Manahawkin where I bought no fewer than four--well, not exactly hats, but close. Three are visors, as I don't like the sun in my eyes, and the other is a crocheted hat with a big brim. I fondly believe I look like Scarlett O'Hara in it--or at least Vivian Leigh--and want to take it to Florida.
Called Marge to see what I could do for her and Fred; ran an errand for her. She's so depressed, as her pain hasn't eased much and it seem such a long, hard recovery. Wish I could help more.
Went to Bob's in late afternoon and bought three impatient plants in white and five more geraniums in red. Will try to plant today.
Heard from Julie S. Her husband, George, will be in my play and we're tentatively meeting Thursday night. I don't want to go too late, as I'm leaving for Wellsboro early the next day.
I HOPE the sun comes out one of these days!
WIDER: Fred Reed again. He just tells the truth and boy, if certain subset, a very large one, of people should read him, they'd think he was ripe for hanging. Here's a bit of his latest, in which he equates "patriots" to members of dog packs:
"...Part of patriotism is nationalism, the political expression of having given up to the pack all independence of thought. Patriotism is of course incompatible with morality. This is more explicit in the soldier, a patriot who agrees to kill anyone he is told to kill by the various alpha-dogs—President, Fuehrer, emperor, Duce, generals."
But the whole piece must be read:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Betty and Muckie got here, as scheduled, about 10:00 and we chatted a bit before heading to the Tuckerton Seaport for the Irish Festival. B. and M. enjoyed the venue; I took them to the lighthouse and along the boardwalk to the little cabins with woodcarvers and so on working. The festival was okay, with Gaelic music and food, including Philly cheesecake (about as Irish as Sylvester Stallone) and the usual overpriced jewelry and other items. It was, however, overcast and cool, not the most festive weather for affairs like this.
We decided not to have lunch there, but tried ScoJo's--no luck, there was a long wait--so went to Dynasty Diner. I foolishly had a big hamburger and a beer, knowing I was going out for dinner. They dropped me off about 2:00 and I puttered around until it was time to go over to Susan's for the Dine Around Dinner.
This was in Bayville, about 20 minutes away, and was in a private room. I had great fun with this crowd--about thirty attended--and, incredibly, the fixed price included wine and beer, along with a full-course dinner. Being already full from lunch, I had the stuffed flounder (mediocre), sides (so-so), and three glasses of Chardonnay (excellent). We got home after nine and Ellen had left a message. I called her back, but was so tired, we decided to get back to each other today.
I have a wellness fair and a baseball coming up on Wednesday, but aside from that, nothing much until Friday, when I go with Marilyn to Wellsboro. I'm actually looking forward to a lull--of course, it may not stay that way.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walked down to Barb's (three doors away) at 7:30 and she, her sister, Pat, and I left for Wells Mills Park, where we boarded a van. Went to Bartram's Gardens in Philadelphia, right on the Schuylkill Rider. John Bartram was an early botanist and farmer, who was a friend of Franklin and others. He was instrumental in bringing a lot of plants and flowers to the area, as were many of his descendants. We toured his house, too, a fairly modest two-story, all stone on the outside. Brought lunch and ate it under a gazebo and glorious sunshine. All in all, it was a wonderful day.
Got home to find an invitation from Susan for Walter's surprise birthday lunch on June 5. Will be delighted to respond in the affirmative.
Betty and her friend, Mookie, are coming up at 10:00 and we'll go to the Irish Festival at Tuckerton Seaport. Tonight, I have a "Dine Around" dinner in Bayville; will go with Susan and Walter.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thrilled and overjoyed that I finally got the flowers in. I seem to go into a kind of trance while I'm buying--oh, these are so pretty and those I have to have and that would look gorgeous right in the middle--but then I have to PLANT them. What a chore, especially when the abrasions on my knee are just healing. Got it done, though, and it looks great.
Had a wonderful time last night at the D.'s next door. Frank and Barb are such wonderful hosts. Besides me, it was Ray and Barb H., Joe and Barb M., and Leslie and Dennis R. We all live in a row and what a good, convivial group we are. We played dominoes, but of course, the whole purpose was to be with our friends. The talk was good and the laughs were many. Barbara served wonderful homemade pies, Les brought tiramasu, and the wine flowed, too. The party didn't break up until 11:00, an unheard of hour for me, but what fun!
Going today with Barb H. and her sister, Pat, to the Bartram's Garden, billed as the oldest living botanical gardens, in Philly. The three of us often go on van tours sponsored by Ocean County and this is one of them. Must be at Barb's by 7:30.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Decided to go with red and white in the front flower bed, as it combines well with the yellow "roll mop" bushes. Drove over to Bob's in the morning and bought more red saliva and those white things--bopeca or something--but couldn't resist adding the little "gold mullion" plants I had last year. They look great set out there; now all I have to do is plant them--groan--if it ever stops raining.
Went over to Pat L.'s for my knitting lesson. Damned if I'm not a virtuoso on the knit phase--I can knit with the best of them, even though it takes me about three minutes a stitch. It's the purl thing that gets me. My mind and fingers seem unable to grasp what to pull through what. I'm going to persevere, though, at least for a time. It was fun to get to know Pat a bit more. I made friends with her cute little Isabella, too, one of those tiny terriers.
I'm coming to the conclusion that Atkins isn't for me. I find it so difficult on the emphasis on meat, rather than vegetables, for one thing. It's not that you can't have them, but at least for the first two weeks, you must limit them because of the carb content. I'm used to large portions of salad and veggies, so I don't like this. The other problem is in the snack area. My treat at the end of the day has been a glass of red wine and a big bowl of popcorn. I switched to Chardonnay--no problem there--but can't come up with anything non-carb that's satisfactory. Well, we'll see. I might devise my own diet that I can follow successfully. I did that before when I went to Weight Watchers.
Dominoes tonight at Frank and Barb D.'s and the van tour tomorrow.
WIDER: Checking my bank account on line, I was amazed to see that a check for $25 had cleared. I had sent it out in December, five months ago, and at this point, assumed it was lost or had been confiscated. Why? Because it was made out to Wilileaks for Julian Assange's defense fund. I sent it to an address in Australia to try to help in some way a person being vilified and demonized ("he's a rapist!--or something") for shedding light on some of the horrors perpetrated by our exalted leaders. Of course, Bradley Manning, who turned over the video of laughing military murdering unarmed civilians, is incarcerated and, if everything I read is even half true, is being inflicted with something close to torture. Oh, but that's okay--it's OUR torture.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

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Arrived at Marge's at 9:00 am. Her son-in-law had already taken Fred for the medical procedure. I had made sandwiches and a big salad for lunch and added some bananas, chocolate chip cookies, and packets of tea. In my Little Red Riding Hood guise, I packed it all in a basket and covered it with a pretty cloth.
Marge seems marginally better than she had last week. She's still very frail, in some pain, and alarmingly thin, but I think her spirits have lifted a bit. We enjoyed good-friends talk, I served her lunch, then bustled around washing up the dishes and so on.
Marge's physical therapist came in and instructed her in some mild exercises. He's probably in his sixties and a big talker. Somehow we got on the subject of the world ending, which I had understood will occur on Saturday, but he assured me that it would be on my birthday, December 21, 2012, because the planets would be aligned or something. Well, things to worry about...
I stayed until Fred and Tom got back, made soup for the former, chatted with the latter, and left about 1:30 in yet more rain (it's been raining since the beginning of the world). Went to Shop-Rite, worked on a new article for the paper, then puttered around with this and that.
Having my first knitting lesson today, thanks to new friend, neighbor Pat L. Hope I can grasp it without too much problem.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Met Flo, Barbara, and Rita at The Golden Corral--dumb name--for lunch. It's a buffet restaurant and the cheap ones aren't usually my favorites, for a variety of reasons, including the temptation to overeat. However, the food wasn't bad, as these things go, and I pretty much stuck to Atkins: Had meat, fish, and a small salad. Skipped the dessert section.
The others were going on to a movie after, but I decided not to. I see these women only once a year at Flo and Joe's annual Christmas party, and we get along fine. Yesterday, though, it occurred to me that we have little in common except a shared background--Holy Spirit High School and Absecon Island. They seemed a bit befuddled-old-ladyish to me, although they're only a few years older than I am. With great interest, they discussed a dancing program on t.v. with Kirstie Alley, mentioning how they "didn't like" somebody or other, because he had such an attitude. They seemed a little shocked when I mentioned the people may have been coached to project a certain stance. "But why?" asked Barbara. "Well," I responded, "We're talking about it now, aren't we? It gets attention." Oh, well, it was mildly enjoyable and I may go another time.
After, stopped at Produce Junction for lettuce and eggs. Couldn't resist a pretty little plant with purple flowers, which I put in the hallway. Got home and assembled a big salad--I'll leave some for Marge's family--and made a few calls. Bestirred myself to start a piece on pets for the July issue of the paper. Called Pat L. and we postponed my knitting lesson to tomorrow.
Dressed again and went next door to Frank's for the Irish-American Club thing. Barbara wasn't feeling well, so didn't go, We picked up Desi and drove to Absecon.
The presentation was okay, but not as good as the Irish tenor one. It consisted of a grad student from Stockton reading his own script and protraying Brendan Behan at the end of his life. Desi said it was about a half hour too long, and Frank and I agreed. Had a glass of wine, then we left. The evening was more enjoyable when Frank, Desi and I discussed future productions of the theatre company. We drove home in the driving rain.
Will be with Marge today while Fred has his procedure.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nothing going on yesterday, so I called Betty to chat. Her car was supposed to be finished on Friday, but wasn't, so I suggested I come down to have lunch. "Great!" says she, and I did. Brought her the half of the half-sub from Sacco's I didn't eat Saturday and brought myself chicken and salad. As ever, we had a nice sisterly time together.
Back home about 4:00 to find the game (I like to call it "baby baseball") to which I had been invited, was postponed because of possible rain. Just as well; I stayed put and did a wash and stuff.
Got an e-mail from Mike, now at the Manhattan office of his new company, to the effect that a colleague he just met has an aunt and uncle in Little Egg, possibly Sunrise Bay: Maureen and John W. Did I know them? Yes, indeed, I know Maureen well. Will call her.
Marge D.'s daughter called to ask if I would stay with Marge on Wednesday while husband Fred (the one I took to the hospital last week) gets a procedure. Sure, I will. I had had a date with Pat L. for my knitting lesson, but I'm sure she'll understand if I call to postpone. Hope she's free Thursday or Friday.
Lunching with ladies today, then the Irish-American thing (what is it? Can't remember) in Absecon tonight.
Literary Note: I seldom read fiction and I sure as hell don't read that abomination, fictionalized 'fact,'" although people are constantly assuring me that gussied up "history" or "biography" is as good or better than just the plain truth--ugh! A friend of mine subscribes to this notion and just tried to press on me a book of the genre concerning Barbara Bush. If I ever express a desire to read anything about Barbara Bush, in particular one that puts words in her frozen patrician mouth, please stick a fork in my eye. With that lengthy aside, I'll recommend two books of fiction: The Silent Land, by British Graham Joyce, which I just finished, and The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, which I read a year or so ago. Did I buy them? Of course not; got them through the library. They're not the something-appeared-to-me-in-a-veil-of-light-and-cured-me-of-my-cocaine-habit, let along feel-good types, but well worth reading, sez I.
Medical Note: Yesterday, BP was 120/70. I'm pretty sure that's good.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In heavy rain, Mike and I drove to Boscov's, where he bought two pairs of shoes, three shirts, and four ties. I saw a darling, solar-powered kitty with a green glass body, which I must have for the front or I'll sicken and die. Didn't get it, but maybe will later. Bought two pashima scarfs I'll probably use as gifts.
Luckily, the rain had stopped by the time we left, and we decided to go to the "Blue Grass and BBQ" festival at the Tuckerton Seaport. Did so, and had an enjoyable time. There were several blue grass combos and other attractions and we enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches and, in my case, Jersey-brewed beer. (I can never tell the difference between these and Budweiser, but like to support local beer, anyway.)
Toured the seaport area, climbed to the top of the lighthouse, and took pictures--the sun came out full and it was such fun to be with my boy.
Home, we played Scrabble. I'm an abysmal player and lost badly. After that, it was time for Mike to go. He did about 5:00 and, while I always miss him when he leaves, it was marginally better this time. For one thing, I've seen a fair amount of him recently--in December, February, and now May--and for another, they'll be moving to London in July, which is a helluva lot closer than Singapore. Can't wait to visit.
Went to the viewing for Jim B., Libby's husband, about 7:00. Stayed about a half hour chatting with friends, then left. It's funny that I never saw the guy until last night when he wasn't--uh, quite himself.
Got a call from Rose G., asking about son P. in Tokyo and we had a nice chat.
May go to a kid's baseball game tonight, depending on the weather.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Having a great time with son, Mike. After dropping off his things at the cleaners, we went over to the cemetery, then to Sacco's Subs in Absecon. I just threw Atkins (diet) out the window and had half of a half regular; took the other half home. We then met the couple from up north at Batsto and hiked through the woods. It rained, but only lightly, and we didn't mind getting wet.
Got back to my place and started a gin rummy game. Interrupted it for dinner, then resumed. It was a hard-fought battle, with some up, some down, but so much fun for all. The others left about 8:30 and shortly after, Mike and I both went to bed. He leaves this afternoon (sob!), but it was so good to have him here, even for a short time. Looking forward to visiting them in London before too long!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just before 8:00, Mike called me from the parkway in Toms River and asked me to call for pizza. I did, went to pick it up, and just as I got home, so did he. He had most; I had one and half--just interrupted by a web cam call from Paula and the two sweetie-pies. Had such a good time seeing them and talking to them--when we could get a word in. I love Skype.
Mike said the first house they were going to rent slipped away somehow, but they found another. This has seven bedrooms and a larger yard. It was a disappointment, but the upside is it's closer to Vivian's school (but not as close to the train station).
Mike wants to go to Target to get a sleeping bag for Vivian--she wants pink--and then our plans are open. Don't know if we'll get to Ventnor, but will get in touch with those up north and work something out. I prepared a roast pork I'll slip in the oven when we get home, and have new potatoes ready to go in the crock pot. Will just add a salad and that'll be dinner. Didn't have time to make dessert, so bought chocolate chip cookies.
Such fun having Mike here!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Well, darn it all. I had posted an entry yesterday for Wednesday and Blogger went down. I didn't realize it then, but the whole thing is gone. Okay, just a synopsis: I had gotten the promise to weed from a dear heart up north. She came, I helped a bit, then got a call from Fred, Marge's husband, asking if I'd take him to the hospital. He had been to his cardiologist and was told to go to the ER immediately. I took him, they put a bracelet on, so I left. The weeding all around the house was almost finished--boy, does it look good and boy, am I grateful. We also put the nice porch furniture, with cushions back, a wonderful spring chore. To top it off, I switched my cold weather dinnerware to my summer ones (yes, I'm the kind of cockamamie type who does that).
Yesterday (Thursday) was the Women's Club Luncheon/Fashion Show at SeaOaks. I modelled two outfits; loved both of them, but they're from Coldwater Creek and their stuff is very pricey, so I didn't buy. Had a great time at the luncheon.
After, I changed, then drove to Bob's and bought a beautiful hanging basket of fuchsia for the shepherd's crook out front, a pot of inpatients for the porch, and six each of red salvia and a pretty spreading plant with a white flower. Put the last in the front flower bed, although I haven't put them in the ground yet.
A lot more went on in the last two days, but the hell with it.
Spent today cleaning for my visitor--son Mike will be here about 8:00--yay!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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NOTE: This is my Thursday, May 12, 2011 entry. Too long and involved to explain why it's after the picture one, but there it is...
Oh, boy, what a day. It started off normally enough: I walked with Susan, then did the three-mile exercise at the clubhouse. While I was having breakfast, Libby called to say her husband had died. She asked me to put something about it in The Breeze and to write something up about the bed rails and shower stool she has to lend. Told her I'd pick up the wheelchair I had lent her; she asked me to do it right away, as somebody was coming for her in a half hour. Went over her house and, of course, listened to her talk and talk before I got away. I think she's so wound up after her caregiver duties, she just has to rattle on compulsively. When I got home, I immediately wrote up a little piece about the death and sent it off.
Cleaned up the guest room and cut up a huge cauliflower; froze most of the flowrets, and had some with the nice salmon I cooked for dinner.
I had gotten for Mother's Day the promise of weeding the flower beds--a terrific gift!--and person who gave it arrived a bit after 3:00. She told me I didn't have to do any, but I started helping just a bit when the phone rang. It was Marge's husband, Fred D., who asked if I'd take him to the emergency room at Atlanticare. He had been to his cardiologist and was told to go in right away.
Of course, I said I would and picked him up in a few minutes. Drove there without incident and went in while he explained to the in-take person and got a bracelet put on. I assumed that meant he'd be admitted, so I decided it was okay to leave him. I did and got home to see most of the weeding done--yay! The two of us then tidied up a bit and brought the porch furniture out. What a job and I'm so glad it's done.
I was pleased to see a lot of lily-of-the-valley nicely filling in the back bed. I got the original plants from the home of my dear friend of forty years, Elaine M., after she had died. I cut some and they are gracing the living room.
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I wanted to show Susan some porch furniture Naomi had bought, so we stopped on our walk to see it. Not realizing there was a step, I fell--on the same (right) knee I had in Tokyo. Luckily, aside from two large abrasions, there seems to be no damage.
Joined the other four of the editorial staff to have our picture taken for the June issue of The Breeze. This is to commenmorate the first anniversary of the paper; the picture is meant to be humorous.
Went practically everywhere in the universe looking for something to wear to the luncheon tomorrow. No luck except at Hamilton Mall, where I picked up a lacy overthing (yes, that's what it's called, an "overthing"). I'll wear a top I already have under it.
After, I stopped at the cemetery. Was steamed to see somebody had removed the three shells from Pat's grave. They didn't interfere with mowing; they were leaning against the headstone, so why in the world--? Was further annoyed when I stopped by Jay's grave and found the stones forming a heart on the stone had been removed. Will call the cemetery today to ask about the two removals.
Got a call last night from my friend, Libby, to tell me her husband is on hospice, and probably won't last the night. She talked and talked and talked and I listened and listened and listened. Not much to say except "I understand."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brett, with whom I had contracted to clean out the flower beds, came about 9:15 and it's the last time I'll ever have him do anything. The other day, I walked him around and showed him what needed to be done: remove the dead leaves and weed all the beds around the house. He assured me he could do it and had all the tools necessary, but ended up using only a rake, a shovel, and a wheel barrel. That's because he didn't do any weeding, aside from picking off the heads of a few, which have probably grown back already. I should have been more suspicious when he gave me such a low-ball estimate for the job the other day. Anyway, I expressed my displeasure, gave him the twenty-five he asked (I should have refused more than twenty), and chalked it up to experience. However, I got the offer of weeding from a family member, who will be over this afternoon to carry it out.
I finally got The Breeze profile written and sent it and the picture to the subjects. It came out pretty good, actually, and is a big load off my mind.
Went to Staples to duplicate some old family pictures and sent them off to my nephew in Chicago. Stopped at two thrift stores to see if I could find a man's hat--fedora or boater--and asked several neighbors, but had no luck...
Now WHY would I want a man's hat? Because we're photographing the cover for the June Breeze this morning and it will depict the five-member editorial staff acting as old-time reporters. Wasn't able to find a hat, so will take one of my own and stick pencils in it.
Or not.
Had a nice chat with friend and neighbor Leslie R. We're of like minds when it comes to pacifism, war-mongering, and other things, too. Always refreshing to be able to talk to a kindred spirit.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Lovely Mother's Day. Got a Skype call from son, Mike, who's now in London with Paula, looking for a house to rent. It was great fun to see his room at the Savoy, an historic hotel I've read about. They'll move there in July and boy, I'm packing my bags for a long visit.
Arrived up north about 1:00, then we left for Sayen Gardens. What a beautiful place! It had been a private estate, but was taken over by the county or township a few years ago. It was crowded--a lot of people had the idea of taking their mothers there--but so festive and fun. Filled with gorgeous azaleas in bloom, other flowers, and a huge variety of trees, it has paths, fountains, and gazebos, as well. There's a house that can be rented out for parties, too; here's a link to some good photos of it: http://www.pbase.com/reflectionsbyruth/sayengardens
Besides the natural--and manufactured--beauty of the place, yesterday there were stands for vendors in a separate area, and entertainment here and there. Different combos and musical groups performed and we stopped and listened to many of them. The Sayen house is not a mansion--more like what's called a Craftsman's Cottage--but it was exquisite, all decked out with party themes and with a harpist on the porch.
We left there to have dinner with my son-in-law's mother and brother. Really enjoyed it, especially hearing her stories of her early life in Iowa.
Later, saw J., N., and the little boys on the web cam and after I got home, darling daughter, Ellen, too. Got a call from my brother, Larry, who tells me three more of his family have signed up for the cruise--wow, we're practically taking up the whole ship!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Slow-pokey day. After our walk and breakfast, I surveyed the front flower bed with a sinking heart. Tons of dried leaves caught in the bushes, acres of weeds, and a general air of disrepute says it all. Happened to see Dennis and his helper, Brett, down the street, walked up and heard from Brett he cleans out stuff like that. He came out to look and gave me an incredibly low-ball estimate. Agreed on the spot and he'll come over on Monday.
Talked at length with Naomi P. and Anne Mary H., who called to thank me for a Mother's Day card for those who "mother" dogs. Just happened to see it and she appreciated the gesture.
Got a Skype call from P. and N. P. led me through an attempt to retrieve a picture from Picasa, but we had no luck. Pic is of my mother on her wedding day. I finally took a picture of it with the camera and put it on. Thanked them for my lovely (original, of course) card and droll pin. Received a beautiful gardenia plant from Mike and a gift card for Red Lobster from Ellen, as well as a darling card from the little boys in Wellsboro. Will meet the other offspring up north today.
The big news is I started the Atkins diet. Went to Shop-Rite for a chicken and olives. So far, so good (twenty-four hours down--whee!)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Got a call in response to my letter to Dr. Kasper from a woman named Carolyn, who said she was the owner of AccuClaim. She went on and on, talking over me just as her employee did. She explained that, although I first got a bill for $145, then a second one for $280, then the rep from Horizon quoted $320, they had actually lowered the amount. Do I understand this? No. The only valuable thing she told me was to register a complaint with the N.J. Department of Banking and Insurance that Horizon isn't paying it. What a drag.
Finished the "Collectons" article for the June issue and started the profile on the P.'s. Must call Naomi to get a few more questions answered.
Met Jeanne S. for lunch at ScoJo's. She wanted to sit on the porch, which we did. Sunny, but very windy. We both ordered turkey rice soup and a half liverwurst and onion sandwich. Boy, was it good.
Stopped at Mastercraft to get the dial for my AC. Spent the rest of the day trying to find the three pictures I scznned onto Picasa. They were there before, but when I got back from lunch and opened it again, were gone. So frustrating.
Nothing scheduled for today, but I have plenty I've neglected, prominently weeding and writing the other article.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Called sister Betty to see if she was free for lunch and she was. I made myself a hard-boiled egg on "pockets" sandwich, grabbed a cold Bud from the freeze, drove on down, and we enjoyed being together.
Betty asked me to take her to Somers Point to get things out of her "totalled" car. It's a good thing we went over, as she had been contemplating having to buy another. However, she talked to the mechanic and in discussion, found he could fix it for a certain amount, probably less than what she'd have to spend on a new one. That was a big relief, of course.
On the way, I stopped at Dr. Kasper's office in Ventnor to drop off a letter detailing the nigihtmare treatment I'm receiving from the billing agency he employs. I intend to send a copy to AccuClaim, Inc., the agency, Medicare, Horizon Medicare Blue, and Atlanticare. I don't want to detail the whole thing here, but if anyone wants to go into it (I can't imagine why anyone would--just the usual horror story thousands of people endure every day), they can let me know.
At 8:00, went over to Windstar to interview new residents (and newly-weds!)Naomi and Wayne P. for a "Blowin' In The Wind" article. They're nice people and, as Naomi was born and brought up in Ventnor, too, we have a kinship.
Meeting Jeanne S. for lunch today.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Had a ball at the Rider Longtimers' Reception. I drove up there--it takes an hour and a half--in heavy rain all the way. Met Marilyn and we discovered it was being held in the Student Recreation Center (not to be confused with the Student Activities Center). In good weather, it's held in the president's backyard across from the campus, but this was even better.
What a terrific affair it was! They had a drinks (wine, beer, soft drinks, water) table set up, along with a wonderful array of international food--tapas, several kinds of salsas, pot dumplings, and so on, in addition to roast beef (a chef stood at a meat table and carved a huge piece of meat to order) on tiny rolls. There was a desserts table, too, of course, with small cannolis, bite-sized cream puffs, little cheesecakes, fruit, and so on. An elegant presentation altogether.
As ever, it was SO much fun to greet former colleagues. Marilyn knew only a handful of people, as she left Rider thirty years ago, but there were some. Also, she's a graduate of Westminster Choir College, which Rider acquired about fifteen years ago, and I was able to introduce her to Bob A., the dean. I chatted with Bart L., Rider's prez when I was there, and his wife, Linda. Their son lives in Singapore where my son and family do, until they move to London in the summer.
I caught up with so many others, both retirees and present employees. There were lots of folks getting twenty-year awards who reminded me that I had hired them. We stayed until about 6:30--it was supposed to end at 6:00--and walked out with a group to talk for another fifteen in the parking lot.
Anyway, it was great fun--and the best part was, I could walk away until next year.
Called Naomi P. when I got home and set up an interview with her and her husband for 8:00 pm. He works and isn't in until then--practically the middle of the night for me--but I want to continue my "Profile" articles for The Breeze, so will bite the bullet and stay up.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Full day yesterday, even for me. Stopped at Mastercraft to make an appointment for today so they can fix the dial they broke while doing the A.C. the other day. Went on to Manahawkin; bought a pair of slacks and some sneakers. Ran into Acme and bought a rose plant to take to Marge. Got home and called the godforsaken billing agency for some doctor at Atlanticare I never even heard of, got into a screaming match about socialism with the idiot who answered the phone (don't even ask, you don't wanna know), scarfed down a salad, and was just calling Horizon Blue when the doorbell rang.
What? Fred had told me he'd be over at 2:15 to take me to see Marge and it was only 1:00. But for some reason, he came early, not realizing, I guess, that I'd want to change, put makeup on, and so on. However, I just had him wait while I grabbed the first thing I could put on and we were outta there and on our way to Toms River.
Marge, lying in bed, looked terribly frail. She's still in considerable pain, but seemed slightly less unhappy than she did at home. We stayed about an hour and a half--plenty long enough for me, as I found the familiar sights and sounds of a rehab center depressing.
We got home about 4:30 and I had a visitor from up north. Had a bite to eat, then went to a Little League game one of her students had asked her to attend. That was actually fun--it's been decades since I've been to one--but lasted until 8:00 (they have lights) and it got chilly.
Got home, said goodbye to my visitor, and settled down with my usual. Long day, but--aside from the fight with the billing agency--a good one.
Meeting Marilyn for the Rider Award Ceremony today.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

When the library opened, I went over to remove the Our Town stuff from the display window. An hour later, the other models and I (geez, if we're representative, the fashion industry is dead) drove to SeaOaks to "rehearse." Got home and scrubbed two pounds of carrots to put in the crock pot. I never pare them, as I was always told most of the nutrients are in the skin; always try to eat potato skins, too. Got a nice thank-you note from sister-in-law, Regina, who doesn't use the computer. Will send her back one and make a point to call her again for lunch.
Bob S. came in the afternoon to get the sprinklers operational and that was more-or-less my day, aside from a coupla other this 'n' that.
WIDER: On Facebook, my relatives and I are having a lively discussion about the killing of Bin Laden. Clearly, those silly old ideas about "innocent until proven guilty" or trial by jury are dead. As one of my nephew's friends reminded us, the prez now has the power to kill anybody, any time, for any reason he chooses:
"[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or person."
Joint Resolution of Congress, 9/18/01.
So the assasination of the foreign national was legal as all hell. Moral? Oh, who gives a damn about that?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Yesterday was a winding down day. Unpacked, washed clothes, caught up with the Press of A.C. news, read this and that.
Was alarmed by a call from sister Betty telling me she totalled her car. Thank heavens she wasn't hurt, but this can't be good, especially as it's being considered her fault.
Another unwelcome call was from Fred D., my friend, Marge's husband. It turns out that Marge has indeed broken her coccyx in two places. She'll be in Health South Rehab in Toms River for eight to ten days. Asked Fred if I could call her, I did, and boy, she sounds so down and no wonder. Is still in some pain--I can't understand why this can't be controlled--and said the staff is very unresponsive. Told her I'd go see her on Tuesday; will ride with Fred. In the meantime, her daughter, son and their spouses have been with her.
Got a welcome Skype call from Ellen and we caught up with each other. Would love to see her in the summer.
Busier day today. I have to dismantle the library display window, then go to fashion show rehearsal, then Bob S. is coming at 3:00 to blow out my sprinklers. (Love that phrase--it sounds so provocative!)
WIDER: David Swanson on the killing of Bin Laden:
"(Regarding)...the morality of cheering for the killing of a human being. A decade ago that would not have seemed as natural...The automatic assumption would not have been that there could be no dissenters to that celebration. A decade ago torture was considered irredeemably evil. A decade ago we believed people should have fair trials before they are declared guilty or killed. A decade ago, if a president had announced his new power to assassinate Americans, at least a few people would have asked where in the world he got the power to assassinate non-Americans..."
He goes on: "As we put bin Laden behind us, can we put the degradation of our civil liberties and our representative government, and our honesty, accountability, and the rule of law behind us too? Can we recover the basic moral decency that we used to at the very least pretend and aspire to?
Not while we're dancing in the street to celebrate death."
It's so intensely disheartening to see the jubilation at the death of another human. It becomes more and more evident that we are a savage and blood-thirsty people. Those traits are not only noted, but celebrated, as the worship of the military is. I turn away from this unseemly joy often, I despair of my country. Where are we headed? To oblivion, I think, and sooner rather than later.
A question: Why, why, why, after this deed was done--if it was done--would the body be buried at sea? Will it not foster, now and forever, the belief that he's not really dead, just in hiding? And will not someone rise who purports to be his emissary? And won't he become even more of a prophet and a saint to his followers?
Idiotic decision and I wonder who made it. And why. Maybe to continue the carnage, our way of life, after all, as it has become.
No, I'm not celebrating.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Unlike my usual early morning blogging, I'm writing this in the afternoon. Got home an hour ago from my weekend with Mary Ellen M. in Philly and what a fabulous time we had. On Friday morning, I drove to her son's house in Manahawkin, where she met me after the closing on the property she sold in Barnegat Light. We stopped in Medford for lunch at the Blue H 2--I guess it's a play on "H2O"--where I had an excellent fresh tuna dish. Got to her condo, freshened up, then we went out to the Philadelphia Festival of the Arts. We watched the setups for Saturday's events, which included a children's "park" with sod, flowers, and topiary animals. Freshened up back at her place, then walked the block or so to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and saw a terrific light show at a replica (about 50 feet high) of the Eiffel Tower in the lobby. We ate there, too, at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. Went home to relax and talk and enjoy the bell-ringing we could hear easily from her balcony and living room.
Mary Ellen is selling her condo on the tenth floor to buy another on the thirty-seventh. Her R.E. agent came with the prospective buyer, a young doctor at Jefferson, and then took us up to see the new place.
I have never--never!-- in my life seen such a place. You walk in the door and gasp at practically a panoramic view of the city, including a huge expanse of the river and three bridges, the magnificent old Bellevue Hotel, and a side angle of William Penn on City Hall. It's just incredible. She won't be in until the summer and plans an open house to celebrate and hey--I wanna go.
On Saturday, we spent most the day at the fair, which was hoppin' on a gorgeous spring day, flooded with sunshine. We sampled wines and bought a bottle each, talked to little theatre people at their stands, and generally did all the fun things you do at a street fair. Went to a nearby park later, then ate at a bar and grille called "Parc." I had Salad Nicoise, although I had had tuna on Friday, but I didn't care.
Strolled back to M.E.'s and sat talking about a range of subjects for hours. She had been a nun for three years and we discussed religion, as well as her marriage which ended after 40 years. At 6:30, we went back to the street to see the French bell-ringers, who also, as well as I can understand, were hoisted up by a huge crane to ring in the heavens--or something. I didn't see that part, because after an hour and fifteen standing in the midst of thousands--certainly five thousand--people, I told M.E. I was going to stand up against a building instead, as I got a litle claustrophoic. It worked out fine because I went in the bar and grille and asked if I could sit in the waiting area with a beer. They were okay with that and I sipped my brew, and stayed there while poor M.R. was out in the fray. (She said the police and an ambulance was called--don't know how they could get through--because a man near her had had a panic attack and needed treatment. He was taken to the hospital.
We found each other after and went to yet another fabulous--and expensive--restaurant right across the street from her called "Estia." We both had swordfish and it was superb. (However, I shudder to think how much I spent over the weekend.)
M.E. was going to a shower for her niece in Waretown, so we left early and got back down to Manahawkin about 10:00. Said goodbye with many thanks.
NOTE: I mentioned to M.E. my high school journalism teacher, Sister Gabriel, whom I contacted a few years ago. (She left the convent years ago and lives in Florida.) ME. believes Sister Gabriel had been her teacher, too, in--I think--Perth Amboy. Would love to find out if she had been there--any readers have a clue?