Saturday, August 31, 2013

Betty And Me

Yesterday was the thirty-ninth anniversary of Betty's husband's death.  In six years, Wes will have been gone from this world longer than he lived in it.  I had picked up a pretty lavender rose at Acme, then met Betty at the cemetery.  We talked and laughed and cried for a while at the grave where Wes, Jay, and other family members are, then stopped at Pat's (and my) site. 
After, we went to lunch at the East Bay Grille, my choice, and not a good one.  I had leathery slabs of "grilled" (those marks were painted on!) chicken atop a so-called Caesar salad (limp lettuce and vinegary dressing).  Betty's bacon-wrapped scallops were mediocre, too, but of course, we enjoyed our talk and visit.
We parted and I hustled down to Produce Junction, where I got a beautiful pink and white orchid with lots of blooms for a measly five bucks.  Looks lovely in the living room.  Also got Romaine and tomatoes for my luncheon tomorrow.
Got home and cleaned part of the carpet in the living room.  This is where I have my wine and popcorn at night and it tends to get messy.  Made out a list of what I'm going to serve tomorrow and what I must buy.  Will do that today, after the termite people are here--I hope not for too long.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Busy Day

I don't know why I'm not as skinny as a rail.  Yesterday, I ran around all day at a fast pace.  Well, maybe not so fast...
Leslie called early to say she thought she'd better not join Aline and me after all, as she had to go out with Dennis at 3:30.  Well, okay.  I called A. and we decided, in that case, we'd start out at our usual time of 12:30, as she wanted to go to Acme with her sister and there was plenty I had to do in the meantime.
Greeted my pal, and we drove to Galloway; went to Romanelli's Garden Café for lunch.  Wow, what a find!  I hadn't been there for about three years and they've changed the layout, plus acquired a liquor license.  I had a decadent and scrumptious sausage sandwich and A. a lovely glazed chicken salad, both delicious.  The Blue Moon wasn't bad, either, and happily, the place is even reasonably priced.  We'll be sure to go there again.
After, we drove the half-mile to "Days of Olde" (silly "e" on the end), a large, but under-one-roof collection of antique--and "antique"--shops (or maybe "shoppes") of varied, and no doubt dubious, value.  I wanted to find Claire, a woman I know slightly from Dine Around, to show her my sampler and some comic books I found in the garage.  I did so, but she didn't believe she could afford to make me an offer on the former; she asked another dealer to look at the comic books.  He did and was interested, but I said I'd have to research them first before entertaining an offer, and he admitted the same.  Actually, these belong to my older son, so I'll contact him and ask what he'd take for them--or if he wants to sell them at all.  Claire is interested in opera and asked if she could attend Mary Ann's gathering at our clubhouse.  I said I'd call Mary Ann, but I see no reason why she shouldn't.
After more than an hour and about 4:00, we left and A. asked if I'd mind dropping her at the library.  Not at all and I went in myself.  While A. occupied herself at the computer, I looked at a book on Steel Pier, one of the high points of my youth.  Mom used to pack a big lunch and take her brood--sometimes all six, later the younger four--up town on the trolley, and we'd spend the day there.  I clearly remember seeing African-American conjoined (at the head) twins there--yes, exhibited as the snakes and monkeys were, poor little things.
Took A. home and got home to see an e-mail from Julie S.  I'm going with her next Saturday to the Our Town audition at Surflight and, as I had used one of her scripts when we were both in it for LETCO, I asked to borrow one.  Sure, said she via e-mail, so why don't you come over now and get it?  I did so, and we visited for a bit.  By the time I got home, it was close to 8:00, and I topped off the day with my usual.    
Must prepare today for my luncheon on Sunday, as well as for the termite guy tomorrow.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More C. and C.

Got a bunch more cleaning up and clearing out done, this time in the guest room.  I had had a lot of theatre stuff on the beds, along with other crapola that had to be either tossed or put away.  Very satisfying to get that done. 
Went to the store, watered and trimmed plants, then pretty much kept my nose to the domestic grindstone all day.
Called Leslie and Aline to tell them I'd pick them up at 10:30 today for our little excursion to Galloway.
I was thrilled to see on Facebook that Surflight is holding auditions for Our Town on Saturday, September 7.  E-mailed Julie S.--we were both in LETCO's production of it two years ago--to see if she wanted to go.  She does and I'll pick her up.  I printed out three pictures of myself on stage in the part I want and will take them along with my theatrical resume.  Am far from confident I'll get a part; I'm sure there'll be plenty of competition, and everybody and her sister has been in it, but yea or nay, I'm going to give it a shot.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pleasant Day And Immunity

Termite man called early to ask if he could come Saturday instead of Friday, which is fine by me.  Was in e-mail touch with nephew, Rob, and we firmed up plans for him, his brother and sister, her spouse, Betty, and my friend and her husband to come here for lunch and possibly, the pool, on Sunday.
Aline called.  She wasn't able to get together yesterday, but we'll go to lunch tomorrow, then go to Days of Yore antique shop in Galloway.  I invited Leslie, too, and she accepted with pleasure.
I'm making real headway in the garage now and spent time happily throwing away, consolidating, and neatening it up.  Next-door Frank and Barbara saw me and invited me over for cookies and iced coffee.  Barb gave me a bowl of homemade peach cobbler to take home and the pair invited me to go with them to the Miss America Parade in AC on September 14, which I surely will. 
Joe M. from down the street stopped over when he saw me in the garage.  I showed him the termite "mud tunnels," which he'll look for.  He asked if I wanted an outdoor light cover (mine broke years ago), and I took it.
Neighbor Bob O. also came over and we discussed the termite situation.  He doesn't have any, but had seventeen crickets in his bathroom, and used the same exterminator for them.  
I spent time connecting up my new digital camera.  I'm embarrassed to admit I couldn't get the battery cover to open, so took the whole thing to Wal-Mart and was shown that you have to slide it over, not pry it up.  I hate, hate, hate things mechanical--that is, I like to use them, but I'm hopeless at dealing with their configurations.  I really want them to come equipped with a nice young fella or girl to explain all that stuff.
Susan came over to give me some extra "flags" she had, with which we're supposed to mark the sprinkler heads in the back before Meticulous comes to put stuff on the lawn. Frank was there, so kindly put them in for me.
Late in the day, I drove down to Graveling Point at the bay and took some pictures of Brigantine over the water.  Will go back to the book to see how to put them on the computer.
All in all, a very pleasant day.
WIDER:  Well, the monsters hang together, what else is new?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Yet More Garage

Cleared out and cleaned up yet more of the garage, and set some things out for Big Brothers and Big Sisters to pick up.  Ran errands in Manahawkin, then impulsively got my suit on and went to the pool.  It was heavenly, of course, and as ever, very sparsely attended.  Talked to Harry and Pat V., Buck T., and Pat M.
When I was about to leave, I got a call from my friend, who asked if she could come pick up the stuff she and her husband are taking.  Sure thing, and she got there after I had showered and dressed. 
When I got home, I discovered somebody had taken the big container I had out with various stuff in it.  That leaves only a few brooms for BB & BS, I'm afraid.  Their truck is supposed to come at 7:00, so I hope I can see them and apologize.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dine Around

I'm on a roll!  Yesterday, I spent several hours continuing the garage clean-up.  I emptied the wheelbarrow (plastic), then rolled it to the back of the house and used the hose to wash it thoroughly.  Pulled out the dozen or so earthenware plant containers and discovered half had dirt in them, so had to dump.  Some are so big and heavy I had to use the handtruck to move them. Discovered an army duffel bag with a government issue canteen and raincoat in it.  It's marked "Byrne," so was surely one of my brothers'.  I wonder if its worth anything.  Will keep for now, I guess.
After I threw in the towel (there's plenty more to do, which I'll tackle today), I ran over to the bank to get money for Dine Around, and to Acme for cottage cheese.  Jumped in the shower, dressed, and went to Vepusio's.
I hadn't been there since a Dine Around of a year or so ago, and doubt if I will be again.  The amenities could be rated on a scale from mediocre to dumpster level: uninspired décor with mundane pics of Tuscany on one wall and, inexplicably, a gigantic bas-relief eagle on another; so-so food--I had a blah veal piccata; and service that was absolutely abysmal.  There were three casually dressed (pedal pushers and skin-tight tank tops on the chubbiest) female servers.  They were pleasant enough, but the salad and soup (canned broth and canned vegetables indifferently thrown together) weren't even served until 6:30 (we had arrived an hour earlier) and there were long waits between courses.  What's worse, the cardinal sin of service was committed: Our table (I sat with Betty W., Doris H., Anna P.) got our entrees first and we finished eating long before two other tables were served.  This prompted hostess Mary Ann V. to ask that desserts be delayed until those tables were finished and until after her silly, question and answer game.  It was so noisy most of us couldn't hear it anyway, and she had obviously gotten the content from a dumb Internet site ("Bore Your Guests With Obscure Questions").  They included such gems as "Where in his house did W.C. Fields keep his library?"  Answer: His bathroom.)       
Anyhow, I cut out after a few minutes of that, saying I didn't want to miss my daughter's weekly Skype call and skipping the cannoli dessert, which I dislike anyway.  Home at 7:30 and had a nice chat with Ellen.      

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The "Rehearsal" from Hell

Spent most of the day in my hometown.  Ventnor was jammed, of course, as I'm sure the rest of Absecon Island was.  People seem to have suddenly realized summer is waning, so they rush to the sea to broil themselves red.  Parkway was bumper to bumper, natch.
The "rehearsal" was simply an exercise in wasted time.  It started at 1:00 and we were there for three and a half solid hours.  (If it had been up to Rachel, we'd still be there.) Incredibly, we never did do a complete run-through.  Several of us, including the nasty, most vocal one, yours truly, had said we were leaving at 4:30, come hell or missed lines, and we did. 
Most of us brought our costumes and Rachel objected to my white shirt--said she wanted to avoid black and white, although I had a very colorful wide scarf to use as a cummerbund.  Said she'd bring one of her husband's shirts, instead.  Sure, sure, fine, let's just get on with the rehearsal.
But that never actually happened.  It's impossible to adequately describe Rachel's indecision, meandering speech, pulverizing lack of coherence, and time-wasting, off-topic forays into theatrical Neverland, so I won't even try.  I might mention, though, that we didn't even start to rehearse anything until twenty of four, and never did finish. 
Bobbi was very late--didn't get there until almost 3:00--and, typical of how bereft Rachel is of even the most elementary system of organization, she didn't have Bobbi's phone number.  Of course, she didn't have anyone else's number, either, so couldn't contact us in case of a sudden change in the schedule.   
(I was interrupted after writing the above for a welcome reason: a Skype call from Tokyo.  All well there and we had a nice chat.  I picked up Susan for our walk and now I'm back.)
After the "rehearsal" (aagh!), I went to Betty's for a delicious meal of tilapia, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and salad.  Helen C. then joined us and we went around the corner for ice cream cones.  Left by 7:00 and was home just as darkness came over the world--or at least, over Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Garage And Super Soldiers

Got a lot accomplished yesterday, thanks mostly to my friend and her husband.  They came roaring up on a motorcycle and we all worked for several hours on the garage.  I had already gotten a fair amount done, but needed to have them move the heavy stuff and decide what they could use and what should be scrapped.  On my request, they switched the bookcase in the guest room closet with the small chest of drawers in the garage.  They also loaded the large bureau into my car and drove it to Public Works (I was delighted to have learned you can bring stuff over yourself--don't have to wait for them to pick it up.)  I had put all the tools in order, keeping a hammer, pliers, and screwdrivers for myself.  They took a lot of the rest, plus paint brushes and rollers, and a slew of other items. 
Aside from that, we all worked diligently clearing away the junk.  Both large trash cans (regular and recycle) are almost filled and I have piles of other stuff I brought in the house to go through.  The garage walls that abut the house are now free, so the termite people can drill next Friday, but I still want to get to the other side and see how much I can clear.
Gave my helpers a lunch of hard-boiled egg sandwiches, salad, broccoli, and iced tea, then they roared away.  Drove to Manahawkin to get Tristan a "get well" (the poor little guy has a broken arm) gift, which I'll pack and send today.
Talked to Betty, who is probably going to brother, Larry's, Florida "reunion" in December.  I may, too, not sure yet.  She also reminded me that our nephew, Rob, from Oregon, will be visiting over Labor Day.  I'll probably have them up for dinner.  
WIDER:  Here's a hair-raising article about the Brave New World coming up.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Met my friend at Wawa around ten after stopping at Public Works to leave some old boards from the garage and at Acme to buy a white rose.  We drove to the cemetery, then sat on the grass and talked, laughed, and cried, reminiscing about Pat.  My friend asked if it had been a good marriage and I said yes, most of the time.  Four years, four years, four years--is my memory of him still fresh or is it, ever so slightly, fading at the edges?
We stopped at Jay's grave, then I picked up my car and followed her to her house.  She changed and we went to her dental appointment in Manalapan.  Hit heavy rain on the way.  Back to her place after, where she changed again and we took off for the co-op, Holly Brook Farm, in Chesterfield.
Muddy!  Muddier than it was last time, in fact.  I helped a bit selecting and weighing veggies in the barn, but sat out--actually, stood out, as I didn't have a key--most of the time by the car and let her do most of the picking.  I'm not afraid of getting dirty, but I am afraid of slipping and falling.  Back at her place, she made a simple, but delectable, dinner of pecan-encrusted chicken and a salad of tomatoes, zucchini, onions, fresh basil (purple, which I had never seen before) and for good measure, a purple sweet pepper.  Drizzled with a little oil, it was superb.
It was almost 7:00 when I left--my friend was planning to run several miles after she cleaned up the kitchen!--and I was home by 8:00.  I had spoken to Betty and Aline earlier and got a number of condolences about Pat on Facebook.  It was a melancholy day, but not a bad one.  Bittersweet, I guess you could say.   

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Ran around doing lots of errands, mostly in Manahawkin.  Exterminator called and will come next Friday.  Now I have to get the garage partly cleared, so they can drill around the two walls that adjoin the house.  Got some done yesterday--at least threw out some stuff and thought about what's left.  My friend called and will come help me next week.
Today is the fourth anniversary of my husband's death.  So hard to believe it's been that long.  Will visit the cemetery with my friend.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Pukey And Holgate

I conceived the notion of an adaptation of the short story, "The Pukey," and writing a play about it.  I did so--it's remarkably easy when for the most part, you're just picking up somebody else's words--and it's not bad, if I say it myself.  "The Pukey" is a kind of allegory about a certain aspect of modern life.  It can be found on-line if anyone's interested.
Had time to complete the play, then pick up Aline at 1:00.  We stopped first at Wal-Mart and I looked at a camera--my six or so year-old one is shot--but I wasn't happy with them. 
Drove to Long Beach Island on a brilliantly sunny, but comfortably mild, day and had good hamburgers at a small luncheonette.  After, off we went to Holgate at the southern tip of the island.
What an incredibly beautiful panoramic view of the ocean!  It crashed and smashed against the pilings and bulkhead with a wonderfully exciting and satisfying roar.  The water was a clear, bottle-glass green that can't be duplicated anywhere, the foam white as snow, and the sand all a-sparkle.  
Those in the mid-west have their mountains and city people their hustle and bustle, but the Atlantic Ocean is mine.  I was born and bred on its shore and no matter where I am, I carry it with me.
Aline and I sat and read and talked and viewed for a good two hours.  We finally packed up close to 6:00 after a fine day, only slightly marred when I got home by a phone message from Rachel, asking me to call her.  No, don't think I will.  Naturally, I found an e-mail from her this morning, assuming I'd work with her on a brochure.  When will I ever get shut of her?  (That was a good movie and I love the line.)     

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lunch and LETCO Meeting

Aline called early to say she had decided to skip her van trip to Cape May, so she'd
be able to attend the LETCO meeting.  She was working until 6:00, after which I picked her up at the bus stop and we drove to the Henry's for the meeting.
Early in the day, I went over to Canal's for wine.  Called Betty to suggest lunch, and sure thing, but we couldn't think of anywhere to meet but Friendly's. 
Now this is an establishment which I've often vowed never to enter again.  I don't have any strong reasons except that the food is terrible, the service indifferent, the place bordering on the crummy, and the clientele seedy.
Okay, I exaggerate, but I don't like it much.  However, I ordered chili, Caesar salad, and iced tea, and it was okay.  Had a nice visit, then went on our ways.
I stopped at Boscov's, but didn't buy anything, then at the cemetery to water on the way home.  Got in, showered and changed, and off we went to the meeting.
Jim and Mary Henry have a lovely home out on Nugentown Road, to which I 've been several times, and they're wonderful hosts.  They had wine, beer, and munchies, in which we all indulged during a good, lively executive board meeting.  Besides those mentioned, it was attended by artistic director and founder Desi, of course, as well as Tonya N., Ellen V., and Tara C. 
The discussion--lively and sometimes profane--circled around "where do we go from here?"  Our big problem is finding a venue for productions.  Second to that is selecting, scheduling, publicizing, and producing shows.  Third is beefing up our membership.  So, yes, we have a long way to go to revitalize our theatre company, but it was heartening to know we're going to address the problems.
And, of course, it was so good to be back with LETCO colleagues.  As a little added bonus, I, the early-to-bedder, appreciate the fact that Jim, being a doctor who needs his sleep, won't stay at meetings past 9 pm, so we broke up shortly before that.
Aline and I have a nice excursion planned for today, too.  Stay tuned.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Les Mis A Joy

Wonderful, glorious, fabulous!  They're the only words to describe Le Miserables, also "moving," "inspiring," "triumphant"--well, you get the picture.
My spunky sidekick, Aline, and I had lunch at Buckalew's first--sushi and a Corona for me--then went around the corner for the 2:00 matinee.
The theatre was mobbed--may have been sold out--and I saw several neighbors in the crowd.  Broadsides were posted in the lobby, and I were surprised to see one for a September 25 opening for Our Town. What?  It had been advertised that "local talent" were invited to audition for lesser parts, but I had never been able to find mention of when.  We saw Bill Somebody, who was selling refreshments and is Surflight's sales and marketing director--yes, in showbiz, you wear many hats, most unpaid.  (Bill and I appeared together in Surflight's fund-raiser murder mystery in October.)  He said to ask Hannah Whatsername, the new assistant executive director, who was in the ticket office.  I did, and she said auditions would be posted "soon."  Good grief, they're opening in five weeks and they haven't even held auditions yet?  I smell a rat, or rather, a possible situation in which the play has already been cast.  We'll see.
So how to describe Le Mis?  Okay, see the above.  The singing was sublime, the acting perfect, and the whole production simply one of the most enjoyable I've ever seen.  We were in the third row, so absorbed we both had tears streaming down our cheeks half the time.  After, the cast greeted the audience in the courtyard outside and we were able to chat with them and express our enjoyment and thanks.  What a pleasure!
When we could finally tear ourselves away, we drove up to Holgate on the southern end of the island, which had been badly battered by Hurricane Sandy.  We were delighted to see we could now get through to the breakwater and thrilled to the waves smashing against the bulkhead and sending spray thirty or so feet in the air.  I had been wanting to show this to Aline and she loved it as much as I did.  We decided on the spot we'll come back on Tuesday for lunch, then bring books and so on to read on a bench by the water.
Home about 7:00 for my Skype call from Ellen.  Had a good talk, then e-mailed Julie S., who was also in LETCO's Town, to give her the Surflight audition news.  I'll probably see her tonight at the meeting at the Henry's, also. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

P & P And Dinner

During our walk, Susan, who knew I was bringing dinner to Betty's, asked if I had dessert.  I didn't, exactly, but had some blueberries and a cantaloupe and thought I'd mix them--.  Put them on pound cake, sez S., and proceeded to give me a large portions of the gorgeous cake she had made from scratch the other day.
I had enough left of the delectable sausage/onion/garlic dish I had made on Thursday to use it as an entrée, then went over to Acme to get green-leaf lettuce, Cool Whip*, and a few other ingredients.  Made a green salad, a macaroni salad (with Italian dressing in place of mayo),  added peanuts and tiny crackers for appetizers, packed it all on my foam cooler, along with artificial ice, disposable plates, "glasses," and tableware, and put it in the car.  Put a can of Bud and bottle of Heineken in the smaller cooler, and was set.
Arrived at Bernice's in Margate for the Players & Playwright's gathering and soon, eight more came, including Rachel, of course.  The meeting was lively, to say he least, and lasted until after 4:00, thanks partly to Rachel, who orated at every turn, interrupted at will, and generally made an ass of herself. 
Betty called twice during the meeting, first because she thought I had said I'd be there at 2:00, then to ask me to pick her up after church, thinking I was in Ventnor.  We got that straightened out and I drove to her place after the meeting.  She wasn't yet there, but arrived shortly, and brought with her Alice E., the older sister of Cassie O., with whom we went to school.  Of course, she was invited to stay; luckily, the food I brought was enough for all of us. 
We had a nice dinner and visit, then I packed up and got home by 8:00, just before full dark.
*Ordinarily, I whip my own cream, but I was in a hurry, and didn't.  I'm afraid there's a whole generation who have never tasted actual heavy cream that's been whipped, and think the sugary white fluff they buy in a plastic container is the real thing.  Sad. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lunch With Leslie

More fun in the sun:  I rolled three doors down the street to pick up Leslie and off we went to the Crab Trap.  The parkway wasn't bad, but boy-oh-brother, the Somers Point exit was so backed up, it took fifteen minutes to get through.  I guess that was because the road also leads to Ocean City and, of course, a slew of people no doubt realized summer was waning and wanted to get in their beach time.
However, we were in no rush and got to the restaurant by 12:30.  Already it was mobbed, of course, and when I put in my name, I was given a little, round plastic thing that lights up when a table's ready.  I don't frequent a lot of restaurants that have such a high volume, and I was charmed by the device--wanted to play it.
We sat on benches outside on a beautiful day--I was overdressed, as it had been cool when Susan and I walked at 7:00--but were called before long and had a yummy lunch.  For me, it was fried oysters and chicken salad, which came with sides (I chose Brussels sprouts and oven-baked potatoes) and Leslie, salmon-topped salad.*
After, we drove over to the Atlantic County Historical Society, a small museum nearby.  The artifacts are not terribly historic, though engaging--mostly housewares and clothes from the Victorian era--but we didn't cover the whole thing, as we got into a discussion with volunteer docent, Norm, an Atlantic City native.  It covered politics, race, and changes to Absecon Island, along with other topics, and was pretty interesting--some agreement, some not.  However, the museum closes at 3:30, and that left little time to examine other stuff, such as some wonderful old photos.  I saw one of about fifty trolley car conductors, taken in 1928, and another of an early lifeguard crew, but there must be many more.  We'll have to go again one of these days.
After dropping Les off, I changed and puttered around with various, then drove to Shop-Rite in Manahawkin about 6:30.  Of course, going there on a Friday in the summer equates to taking your life in your hands, but at the dinner hour, it wasn't as crowded as it surely was earlier and would be later.  Got ingredients for some of the dinner I want to bring to Betty's today after the Players & Playwrights meeting, then stopped at Wal-Mart for my prescriptions.
*Just in case my son, Mike, reads this, I wanted to add what we ate.  Drives him crazy. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


After getting a Facebook tip from cyber-friend David S. about "Terminator" being a good product, I called an exterminator in Tuckerton.  He'll come Monday for an estimate--hope it's less than the other guy's.  It turns out Susan and Walter had this very guy for their termites, and were happy with him.
Actually swept one side of the garage and got rid of a few things.  There's some old wood in there and I don't know what I'd ever use it for, so put it by the curb.  Looks better, but don't get me wrong: It's only the left side I cleaned up a little.  The other side is the one with all the stuff.  Don't want to think about it.
Cooked myself up some sausage, onions, and garlic in oil for lunch and with a salad, it was so good.  I have some left, so may actually have that for dinner.
Looked into excursions and interesting places to go today with Leslie and found little appealing in Ocean County.  I then saw the Somers Point Museum in Atlantic and thought that would be interesting after lunch at the Crab Trap.  Called Les and she was enthusiastic about it, too. 
Impulsively called my old friend, Marge D., to ask if she was up for a visit.  She was, and I went over to chat.  Marge seems sadly depleted; she's very, very thin, and is having a number of physical problems.  She said Fred was in Cape May, visiting his aunt and uncle....  Aunt and Uncle?!  Good grief, Fred's 84; it's incredible he has living relatives of an older generation.  Turns out, though, the uncle is only three years older than Fred and his wife is six or eight years younger than that.
In the evening, I was pleased to get a call from longtime friend, Jeanne P.  We had a nice chat and one of these days, I hope, will be able to "meet in the middle" (between our two homes) for lunch.  She lives in Montvale, NJ.
I came across a program for the "St. James Minstrel Show of 1949" and posted some pages on Facebook.  My brothers, Larry and Frank were in the cast, as was my husband and, oh, there are so many others I knew as a girl.  All but a handful are gone, now.  I guess I was in eighth grade then, and I already had a crush on Pat.   
In Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe wrote "O lost/And by the wind grieved/Ghost, come back again."  How we yearn for those we love to "come back again," but they never do. 
The mystery of time passing--and finally ending, I suppose, for the dead--has always fascinated me, as I think it does every thinking person.  It's such a puzzle and such a wound to the heart when people die, yet there's an excitement in it, too: What's around the next corner?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What A Day

Boy, oh boy, what a day.  Susan followed me up to Parkertown Auto to drop off my car, then took me back a few hours later to get it.  In between, I thoroughly cleaned the master bath (hmm...guess it's the mistress bath now), something I've managed to put off for some time.
Picked up the car, then continued on to Manahawkin Shop-Rite for this 'n' that, completely forgetting the exterminator was supposed to be here between noon and one.  He was when I got home, but luckily, said he had just driven up.
The guy, Frank, sprayed or squirted or whatever he does, inside in and out to rid my home of the dreaded crickets.  (I haven't seen any yet this year, but I think it's too early.)  I can't abide the ugly things, especially because they jump and glide--ugh!
Frank did his work in the house, then moved on to the garage.  When I went in there, he told me I have a bigger problem than crickets: termites!  He showed me a "mud tunnel" which the damn things leave, a dead giveaway that they're busily chewing up my home. 
Okay, bottom line: $829.25 to get rid of them.  I'll just pass over my screaming and gnashing of teeth and write that I'll get another estimate or two, which I doubt will differ by much, then have to do it and pay up. 
Other than that, I honed my new play a bit, talked to Leslie about our lunch date tomorrow, and to Betty about dinner at her place on Saturday, which I'll bring.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Les Mis And The Gestapo Grope

Alarmed about the noise in my car, I drove over to Mastercraft after our walk.  The guy diagnosed it as a "hub bearing" problem (huh?  I never even knew I had a hub bearing) and would fix it to the tune of $540.
Now this is one of those periods when all kinds of money needs are converging.  I have big credit card bills from my trip to California, I paid Dennis for the driveway, the exterminator will demand $150 today, and--not to beat a comatose pony--there are all kinds of other needs.  (Such as?  Well, that I have to go out to lunch so often--.  Okay, I've been squandering dough, too.)
Decided to get another opinion on the car and went down to Parkertown Auto.  The guy there gave me a fix-up price of $375.  I'll take that and will drop off Baby Buick at 8:00.
We had a terrific rainstorm yesterday--I should have thought of leaving baby in the driveway to get washed--but it cleared, and I picked up Aline at 12:30.  We went to SeaOaks for lunch, then back to my place where I showed her Skype and we called for Les Mis tickets for Sunday at Surflight.  Chatted for an hour or two, then left for the library where A. did her thing on the computer and I talked to Branch Manager Kelly.  I wanted to discuss yet another dismal occurrence that points up how my native land is morphing into something very, very different from what I've known since childhood--and quickly, too.
WIDER:  I requested a book at home on-line and was asked if I wanted to maintain a list of material I had withdrawn recently.  I don't remember clicking "yes," but I must have, because what followed is this hair-raising message:
"The feature you have selected is associated with personal data in your patron account. Such data may be accessed by law enforcement personnel without your consent. Do you wish to continue?"    Then there are "yes" and "no" response boxes for "the patron" to check.
Yes, this abomination sprang from the Patriot Act.  It's probably also known, in thinking circles, anyway, as the "Police State Snoop," or the "Gestapo Grope."  Kelly explained that, until recently, books withdrawn were expunged from the system after they were returned.  Now, though, the library have the capability of retaining that information and, on request, you can keep a "list" in the library's system.  But oh, of course, it's up to you to ask to have your withdrawals listed; it's entirely voluntary, you understand, and the storm troopers have to have a subpoena.  The idea that someday (could that day be already upon us?) whether you request it or not, information on books you withdraw can be accessed by the authorities is crazy...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Drumsticks and Vietnam

Went to Acme and got chicken legs, prepared them with oil and lemon/pepper flakes, and roasted in the oven.  Very, very tasty, and I have plenty left for today.  Cut up and cooked zucchini, too. 
Was pleased to get an e-mail from Mary H. about a LETCO meeting at her and Jim's home on Monday.  Finally, at long last, something's happening with that group.  Mary said there'd be wine and cheese, too--hey, think I'd stay away?
Betty and Aline called.  I'll see the former on Saturday after the P & P meeting, and told her I'd bring dinner this time.  Asked the latter about three activities coming up:  the aforementioned meeting, Dine Around, and hmm...what was the other one?  Can't recall, but unfortunately, she's working or otherwise engaged on all three dates.  I will, however, probably see her today unless there's an (ugh!) R.H. lunch.
Stopped over at the R.'s to bring Dennis a check for sealing (or whatever) the driveway, and Leslie and I had a nice visit over lemonade.  Called the exterminator and he'll come today after 3:00. 
My car has developed a kind of hollow roaring noise and I want to bring it to Mastercraft this morning.  Also, I don't think my sprinkler system has gone on since I got back from California, almost a week ago.  Darn, I hate these kinds of mechanical problems.  I'm always just stopped in my tracks with them.
WIDER:  Sick, sick, sick is the current effort to pretty up the slaughter in Vietnam, but the refusal to accept that filthy lie by Viet Nam vets is heartening.  Here's David Swanson's report and the vets' petition (I signed):

Monday, August 12, 2013


Had the vague idea of going to the pool, but it was a little too cool for my taste, so didn't.  Returned P. and N.'s Skype call, and we had a nice chat.  Puttered around with domestic chores and computer stuff and, after lunch, impulsively decided to take a drive. 
I actually traveled up to Ewing, a good hour and a half away, and skulked around my old haunts.  As I've remarked before, going back always makes me feel as if I'm revisiting not just a former life, but somebody else's life.  What was it like to be a young mother in the little house on the corner of Lower Ferry Road?  I barely remember.
Went past that old house, rode around the neighborhood, stopped at the cemetery, and--having satisfied some obscure need, I guess--drove home.
Back to my new and improved self, I enjoyed my virtual visit with Ellen on Skype, always a high point of the week.  Have a number of chores I want to clean up today, including some domestic bookkeeping stuff. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cooking And Acting

Oddly enough, I spent a lot of the day in the kitchen.  Had several pounds of tomatoes, which I chunked, then combined with onions, garlic, green peppers, and a bit of oil.  Added the nice fresh dill and cilantro I had gotten at the organic farm, and put all to bubbling on the stove.  I had defrosted a Cornish hen and I prepared it by approximating the balsamic chicken I had enjoyed at Betty's.  It fit into my small crock pot nicely and several hours later, came out wonderfully tender and tasty. 
I was on a roll, so I continued my cooking frenzy by hard-boiling a half dozen eggs and making a big salad; had that for lunch.  Cooked up elbow macaroni, put my tomato thing (it's not as thick and smooth as spaghetti sauce, but not really anything else I can name, either) on top, and that was dinner, along with some of the chicken.  Not half bad, if I say it myself.
Otherwise, I worked up an agenda of the acting classes I hope to conduct eventually for FELS.  Also composed some "situation" exercises for improv.  Here's one: "You were brought up in a strict orthodox Jewish home and your father is a rabbi, but you have converted to Catholicism.  Now you must inform your parents."   Another: "You've been visited by aliens from outer space and want Stephen King to write a book about it.  Convince him to do so."  The idea is to have members of the class improvise (with little time to prepare) an explanation or persuasive argument of some kind, addressed to another person and with a time limit of about a minute.  This is designed to promote thinking on their feet and combat self-consciousness. 
Got a call from Aline, on her way to Manhattan to say goodbye to her brother, who is soon leaving for North Carolina to begin his summer lecturing job at Clemson State.  ("What?" says Sister Gabriel, "Another run-on sentence?!")
Had to get out of the house, so drove to B.J.'s for supplies after dinner.  I have nothing scheduled today, so think I'll cook up the eggplant and zucchini, but probably not together.   

Saturday, August 10, 2013


At 10 am, I got a call from Ravin' Rachel, telling me she had had "the worst night in her life" and would I direct the rehearsal for The Ugly Ducking, scheduled for a few hours later?  She then informed me she hadn't told the rest of the cast she wouldn't be there.  I'm not sure why, but fathoming Rachel's motives is a losing game, so I just agreed.
I actually do enjoy directing, although something like this--standing in for another--not so much.  The actual director needs to fulfill whatever vision he or she entertains about a production, and substituting isn't the same.  In any event, I'm not a fan of a cast member directing the play he or she is in.  Riders to the Sea, the first play in which I performed for an audience, was directed by Kathy D., who also played my daughter.  I badly needed confidence back in those days.  (I still do and you can raise an skeptical eyebrow at any actor who pretends he or she doesn't.)  I respond best to a director who can convey correction in a supportive manner and, when warranted, isn't hesitant about praise.  Kathy, otherwise a pleasant young woman, didn't have that knack and I think the performance could have been better.   
As it turned out, the Duckling rehearsal went well.  I was especially pleased with Sondra M.'s performance.  She's a late entry and we play "off" each other, so to speak, beautifully as the prince (my role) and princess.  She made it more fun than it had been previously. 
I sat in the back when I wasn't in a scene and made a few notes, then discussed them with the cast.  After that, I mentioned that I had submitted a proposal to FELS (Friends of Encore Learning at Stockton) several months ago to teach an acting course, but had been told Rachel was already scheduled.  I confided to the group the fact that I intend to re-apply for next semester.  They all urged me to do that, and said they'd sign up for the course.  Then, somebody suggested that, even if FELS didn't accept my offer, I simply do it myself.  I was taken aback at the idea, but will consider it.
We dispersed after that and I got to Betty's about an hour earlier than I thought I would.  She was at the Richards Avenue beach, but no prob; I called her, then picked her up on Atlantic Avenue.  She had a delicious dinner bubbling in the crock pot: chicken with balsamic vinegar and herbs as the main course.  She added salad, rice, and zucchini, and oh, yum, yummy, yum.  We ate on the porch and had a nice visit. 
I'll be back on Absecon Island next Saturday for a Players & Playwrights meeting, and will probably see her again.  Think I'll plan to bring dinner myself at that time.   

Friday, August 09, 2013

Lottery and Veggies

Great excitement in our tiny town yesterday:  A multi-million dollar lottery ticket was sold at the Little Egg Harbor Acme, a place I regularly frequent.  I happened to be over there when a T.V. crew was recording an interview with the manager.  Now people won't be asking me, "Where's Little Egg Harbor?" I betcha!  However, I understand there were three winners, one in Michigan, so they have to share the 500 mil or whatever it is.  Hey, in that case, who wants it?  (I do.)
Stopped at the thrift store across from Acme to pick up a man's white shirt, which completes my costume for The Ugly Duckling (and the "ugh!" part about covers it in my book).  Rehearsal in Ventnor today, after which I'll stop at Betty's for dinner or whatever.
Zipped up north in the early afternoon to go veggie picking at the co-op farm with my friend.  She's going on vacation shortly, so gave me potatoes, onions, eggplant, zucchini, and garlic, along with a bouquet of flowers, which I picked myself.  Boy, was it hot and humid--that shower felt so good when I got home.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Lunchie, Lunch, Lunch

Low-key, but nice enough day.  Picked Aline up at the Stafford Library and we went to lunch at Olive Garden.  I think I was spoiled when I was at Ellen's, as we had good meals at several non-chain places. (The best was her own kitchen!)
I've always liked O.G., but wasn't thrilled with yesterday's lunch.  I ordered a "fried lasagna" thing, which was actually an appetizer, I was told, although the price was about what regular lunches run.  It consisted of five clearly frozen, then zapped, little humped objects--I can only describe the shape as that of the old-fashioned radiators we had on Rosborough Avenue--with a splash of spaghetti sauce on top.  It didn't bear a resemblance to any lasagna I ever saw and it wasn't much for taste, either.  Well, I'll try something else next time.
We stopped at Wal-Mart after, then I dropped A. back at the library and got home minutes before my friend came.  She and her husband are vacationing in New Mexico soon and she wanted to borrow my largest suitcase. Unfortunately, we couldn't find it and something tells me I may have given it away.  Not sure.  I'm going to see her today, also, as I said I'd "pick" with her at the co-op farm and take some produce home.
Not much else went on, except for an infuriating e-mail from crazy Rachel, still trying to get me to agree to something I have no intention of doing.  I wrote her a stiff note back and will see her tomorrow at rehearsal for The Ugly Duckling, into which I allow myself to be cast against my better judgment.
I usually sleep like a--yeah, you know--but woke this morning at 2:45 and couldn't get back.  Darn, I'm not used to insomnia and now feel like the walking dead.  Will try to nap before I travel north.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Dinner and DISCOVER Card

After I got home yesterday, I cleared out suitcases, washed and folded clothes, and went to Acme to replenish supplies.  Got a call from Aline and we made a date for lunch today.  I'll pick her up at the library at 1:00 (she volunteers in the morning), then drop her off for work from 3 to 9. 
Returned Betty's call late in the day to hear she and some friends were having early dinner--ten bucks covered all--at Smithville and would I like to go?  Well, sure, and I did.  Had vegetable pasta and took half home for dinner tonight.  I dislike eating so early--we met at 4:30--and this group of Betty's friends seems a teensy bit old hat and pokey to me.  However, they're nice people, so it  was pleasant and, as all who know me know, I'd eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I could. 
FURIOUS NOTE:  Just opened the mail I received while I was away and found a letter from Discover Credit Card, dated July 29, saying "regulations require that we have current and accurate information contact, employment, and income information on your account."  It went on to instruct me to call an 888 number or go on-line to provide the info.  I was sure it was some kind of scam and called the Discover number on my bill.  Talked to three people, the third of whom blithely assured me that this "regulation" referred to some kind of credit card legislature--or something--but that compliance was "voluntary."  "Then why does it say 'required'"? I asked and, of course, got no answer.  I asked if I was in arrears and was told, no, not at all... . To make a long and squalid story endurable, I informed the guy I'd pay my current bill, then would tell Discover where it could shove its frigging credit card.  May the Commerce God damn their usurious hides to hell! 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Got back into Philly safely at 7:00 pm.  Was picked up and spent the night up north.  Was fed a delicious ham/potato/salad/ice cream/cake dinner, then turned in an slept until--get this: NINE AM!  Drove right home and feel great. Unpacked, returned a few calls, and intend to go out for supplies shortly.  Made dates to pick up Aline for lunch tomorrow, go up north to the co-op to help pick veggies on Thursday, and to an Ad Hoc Players rehearsal on Friday. 
Yep, I'm back and rarin' to go!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Last Full Day

We went to the Dudley House yesterday, another built in 1892 and in Ventura itself.  It wasn't as large or elaborate as the Camerillo one, but somehow seemed more authentic.  Maybe that was because the home had been occupied by descendants until it became an historic site.  Also, the décor was more in keeping with fussy Victorian and it included a number of Victorian pieces.  After, El and I went for a late lunch in town at Dargan's, an Irish restaurant and pub.  I had a good hamburger, but could have kicked myself for not ordering a shepherd's pie.    
Linda had invited us over to see some of her antique acquisitions and they were impressive.  She haunts yard sales and flea markets and also has some lovely pieces inherited from her parents.  She has stacks of reference books and clearly, has a strong knowledge of values.  She then took us to her backyard, showed us her orange, apple, clementine, and two lemon trees, and invited us to pick ourselves some fruit, which we were happy to do.  Imagine being able to go get an orange from your backyard instead of the grocery store!
Said goodbye to Linda and headed home.  I was so full from lunch that I just waited for wine and popcorn time, and went to bed early, even for me.  For the first time since I've been here, I had trouble sleeping: woke up at 2:30 and wasn't able to get back.  Oh, well, I'll sleep on the plane.
It's now 5:57 am and we leave for LAX in an hour and a half.  I'm always sorry to go after a wonderful visit with my darling daughter.  I do, though,  have some interesting activities at home coming up, and am looking forward to them. 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Camerillo Ranch

In the morning, El and I took a long-planned excursion yesterday to that loftiest of destinations, a mani/pedicure establishment.  It was staffed entirely by Vietnamese--I'm not sure why, but people of that ethnic origin seem to be drawn into that occupation.  Ellen had her fingernails done in a deep-red shade of "gel," a finish that results in a beautiful shine.  I decided against fingers and went for toes, enjoying the first pedicure of my elderly youthful life.  Ooh, I can hardly keep my shoes on, my tootsies look so great!  (I chose an elegant mauve because it complements my bathing suit.)  Went home for an early light lunch, then Linda joined us and we took off for the Camarillo Ranch.  This turned out to be mainly a tour of the big Victorian (1892) home of Adolpho Camarillo, for whom the surrounding city is named.  
Now this is my kind of sight-seeing.  I love learning about the history of areas and, especially, seeing some of sites--and sights--that contributed to that history.  The Camarillo house is huge and has been lovingly restored with appropriate furniture and other fittings.  The foundation that supports it is run partly by revenue from renting out the estate for weddings, and one was being prepared for when we were there.  The setting is so beautiful I almost wanted to get married again.
Back at Ellen's, Linda said her goodbyes and we decided to go to Ventura Harbor.  We did and agreed to make our first stop Blackbeard's Barbeque.  (Yes, we had already had lunch, but we're just morally weak, I guess--runs in the family.)  Oh, yummy, yum, yum, those ribs were the best I ever tasted.       
Strolled about the waterfront, then went down to the small sort-of museum about the Channel Islands at the end of the harbor.  There are several islands just a few miles off the coast--you can see them on clear days--and they're not inhabited except by animal life.  Of course, lots of scientific research goes on there.  We climbed the stairs up to the observation tower and enjoyed spectacular views of the bustling harbor. 
Home, I had the chicken and rice I hadn't been able to finish at Applebee's and we watched a silly, amateurish video called "Marilyn in Manhattan."  We were interrupted, I'm happy to say, by a more enjoyable reason: the Skype call we received from V.and V. and their Dad in Singapore. 
Today is my last full day here and I'm already feeling melancholy about it, but I'm going to bear up.

Saturday, August 03, 2013


El and I spent yesterday at the Ronald Reagan Library in nearby Simi Valley.  I've been there before, but had forgotten how incredibly weird and truly bizarre it is.  You'd swear you were in some cockamamie cathedral dedicated the epitome of moral rectitude, the source of all life, the Savior, the King of Kings--in other words, God.
Here are words, pictures, and videos designed with great care to record even the mundane doings of the greatest personage who ever strode the earth.  At the same time, the shrine emphasizes the joys of the conservative--oh, and by the way, Republican--way of life, and, by misdirection, demonizes those anti-American losers, liberals and Democrats. Visitors are made to understand that the U.S. of A. was an over-taxed, poverty-ridden, crime-plagued cesspool of the modern world until Ronnie was elected and waved his magic wand to raise up the downtrodden billionaires and create Paradise. 
I understand that Nancy Reagan (the second wife, don't forget that) helped design, or at least, had final say on the museum.  It's amusing that in all those thousands of words and pictures, one small photo--placed below waist level in an easily overlooked glass-fronted alcove--shows the first Mr. and Mrs. Reagan.  Yes, the Anointed One had goofed early in his movie career by falling for a cute little brunette named Jane Wyman, a star in her own right.  In fact, he was married to her for eight years and they had two children. 
But what saintly personage hasn't sinned, then been made whole by divine intervention--or something?  A year after Ronnie's divorce--well, we're told he wasn't still hitched--Nancy and he made contact and the rest is heart-warming history.  There's a section here dedicated to the Second, Forever In His Heart, Wife, which includes some of her ball gowns and formal portraits, as well as gushing, worshipful praise that challenges even the God-King's.
There was a temporary exhibit on Lincoln, though.  We enjoyed it, but I was taken aback to realize it included a fair number of artifacts from the recent movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as clips of him as Abe.  Hey, this is Hollyfroth, and the fact that a dress displayed was warn by Sally Field, not Mary Lincoln, should be of no concern.
Notwithstanding all of the above, we had a neat time, as we always do on our excursions.  The weather was perfect, the company congenial, and the "library" (I didn't see any books and nowhere was it mentioned that Ronnie could read) was in one of those gorgeous, high-in-the-hills settings that only California seems able to pull off.
Stopped at Applebee's for dinner and we both enjoyed a Margarita beforehand.  Home, El went over to the pool (at nine o'clock at night!), while I vegged out and watched a LPBW re-run.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Girls At Getty

We picked up Ellen's friend, Linda, about 11:00 and drove back to L.A.  Parked and took the tram up to the glorious Getty.*  Perched--or sprawled--over acres of soaring California real estate, the place is gorgeous and the views indescribably beautiful.  Everywhere you look, there's a vista majestic or quietly elegant, enhanced by the gleaming white exterior.  Much as I like the art, I think the outdoor setting is even more enjoyable.  The broad swaths of grass, huge labyrinth made of hedges, waterfalls, lush flowers, and greenery make you want to just wander for hours.
However, we had things to see inside.  I've always loved the European paintings of various eras--guess I'm the poky, old-fogy type--and favor the middle and late 18th and 19th centuries.  There were plenty of those and we also enjoyed the somewhat later paintings, as well as the decorative arts section.  I was particularly interested in a temporary exhibit of the work of two Japanese photographers, which contrasted their eras and styles.
We stayed until closing time at 5:30, then rode happily back to Ventura.  Went to a place Linda described as "a hole in the wall," where I had my very first fish taco.  Very tasty, and I'll enjoy them again.
After dropping Linda off, we stopped at Trader Joe's for supplies, then watched an episode of Little People, Big World, which Ellen had kindly recorded.  Turned in and--I'm rapidly falling into decadence, that's clear--slept until almost 8:00.
*For those unfamiliar with the Getty Museum, endowed by the late oil magnate, gazillionaire,  J. Paul Getty, it's worthwhile looking up on-line.  A magical place and, aside from $15 for parking, it's free. Nobody should dream of going anywhere near L.A. without experiencing it. 

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Just A Terrific Day

What a terrific, fun day!  We arrived at Universal Studios about 11:30, parked and paid (a king's ransom), then waited near the gate for nieces, nephew, and their families.  After a delay--computers malfunctioned, which brings modern life to a screeching halt, of course--we were delighted to meet up with Francine, Charlie, Aiden, Dillon, and Rowan; Carolyn, Finn, and Claire; and Steve and Dexter, with Steve's friend, Carla.  Carla actually works at the park, portraying Princess Fiona from the Shrek movies, and is a puppeteer, as well.  She graduated from Emerson, as Steve and Robyn did, and was a great addition to our group.
Went on rides, viewed others, attended shows, talked and laughed, and enjoyed watching the boys and girl as they bounced around happily with their cousins.  Yes, Universal Studios is fearfully overpriced,  overcrowded, and over-commercialized, and possibly, stands as evidence of the death of culture in America, but it was perfect, sunshiny summer day, and we were with family, and it was fine.
I had a very interesting conversation with Charlie, who is my brother, Frank's, son-in-law.  Charlie is on sabbatical from Holy Names University while he writes a biography of Harold Camping, who predicted that the end of the world would occur on May 21, 2011.  Unless I missed the event, it didn't happen; and Mr. C. then modified the prediction to October 21, 2011.  Nope, not then, either.  Now in his nineties, the Christian fundamentalist has since suffered a stroke and seems to be somewhat incapacitated, but according to Charlie, not to a huge extent. I can't wait until Charlie's book is published; I'll be first in line to buy a copy.
It was impossible to find a table big enough for our party of 13 to sit together for lunch, so we split up and gathered again after.  (Steve, Ellen, and I got Mexican; I was stunned that my can of Corona was $9.99.)  We continued our theme park day with pleasure, staying until almost 8:00.  Excitement ensued when little Dillon (6, I think), found a hundred dollar bill on the ground.  Francine asked Carla to contact the proper place to see if anyone reported the loss.  If not, I assume the lucky little boy gets to claim it.
Steve lives about fifteen minutes away, and invited all of us back to his place (Carolyn and her two beautiful offspring were staying over).  It's a compact and nicely laid out house in a pleasant neighborhood, just right for the family of three.  Robyn got home from work toting several bags of groceries and proceeded to cook us a wonderful dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, various sides, watermelon, and blueberries--delicious. Most of us ate in the nicely enclosed backyard and we talked and talked and laughed and had a marvelous time.  After some group portraits of the adults--it would have been impossible to corral the six high-spirited kiddies--taken by Carla, we parted.
I guess there are other extended families as bright and warm and giving as ours, but I've never come across them.