Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Meditation and Manning

Took our good, brisk walk in the morning, then hung out and did various low-key stuff during the day. Got gas, went to the bank, then a nursery, where Ellen bought some nice plants for her garden.  I was so enthralled by the Rieger begonias--the blooms were huge and colors incredibly brilliant--that I took pictures of the display.  I guess the fact that plants can live here all year makes a huge difference in horticulture.
We thought we'd go to the pool, but decided it was a bit too cool.  I was tired--not sure why, as I've been sleeping fine--and actually took a little nap for an hour or so.
We watched some episodes of Weed, a really funny, very adult, and quite risqué series on Showtime, which Ellen can record and watch whenever she wants.  I loved it.
After dinner, we went to the "Peace To All" place and participated in a gathering of about fifteen people, like-minded in the sense that the are probably not conventionally religious, but aim to explore their spirituality otherwise. 
I was a little apprehensive--I tend to prize reason above all--but was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I met Ellen's fellow teacher, Rachel, a very nice young woman, and chatted a bit with others.  We sat in a circle, most on the floor (Ellen had called ahead to ask that a chair be provided for me) introduced ourselves, then spent a fair amount of time making a "vision poster."  Cutting words and pictures out of the many magazines provided, we pasted onto poster board depictions of what we wanted in life--e.g. cash, romance, a new car, and so on.  Incense was burned--it got pretty smoky, actually--and perfumes of various scents were handed around. 
After that, we meditated, led by the group leader, Linda.  I've tried before and never was able to reach a meditative state--last night was no exception, but it was very relaxing.  There was a bit of conversation in the circle after, and several women mentioned they had felt a presence near them.  I'll reserve judgment on that, but they were clearly sincere and not pretending.  We left a donation and said goodbye.
We were home by a bit after 9:00 and watched more of Weeds, me with a glass of wine, a nectarine, and a handful of almonds, then turned in.  We're meeting nieces Carolyn and Francine and their families, plus nephew Steve and his boy, at Universal Studies today.  Should be great fun.
WIDER:  Along with thousands--or millions, I hope--of others, I was thrilled to learn that Bradley Manning was found not guilty of "aiding the enemy."  He's still far from safe from the fury of the American Gestapo, of course, for daring to reveal its maniacal secrets, but at least the most serious charge has been dropped.  He could have been put to death in real time, instead of enduring the slow death to which he's been subjected for several years past.  Courage, Brad! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Z

Movie day.  After a brisk morning walk and lunch, we went to World War Z in Oxnard, which I loved and Ellen liked.  True, it was larded with violence, terror, and mayhem, but it wasn't human against human, more like human against ex-human.  And wonder of wonders, it didn't deliver a sanctimonious "message," along with the action.  True, a "help each other" from the star was tossed in at the end, but I can stomach that.  I just grit my teeth at the smarmy "inspirational" stuff you see on Facebook, especially the most infuriating type: "If you want this three-year-old to survive cancer...," "help my daddy quit smoking...," "show your love by hitting 'like'...," and so nauseatingly on. 
After communing with Brad Pitt (who else was in it? Dunno, but who cares?), we went to The Avenue and tried on a few clothes.  I decided against them, but bought two pairs of earrings, one gold, one silver (read "gold" and "silver").  Stopped at the supermarket for supplies and, as ever, I was bemused by the prominent displays of wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages.  To this Jerseyan, it seems the tiniest bit naughty to sell booze along with the soap and linguine.
Called niece Carolyn and we made a tentative date to meet her and other relatives of that generation at Universal Studios in L.A. tomorrow.   
  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ojai

After a good, eggy breakfast, courtesy of Ellen, we enjoyed a Skype--actually now Google, I think--from P. and N. in Tokyo,* then took off for Ojai in the afternoon.  Had a California-style lunch at a nice restaurant outside on a gloriously sunny day: salmon salad on a halved avocado.  We stopped to get sunscreen and E., with larceny in her heart, took the bag it was in, so we could gather some illicit avocados on the "shelf walk."
I've walked this many times before.  Most who have would, I guess, call it a easy, broad, gently ascending path with lovely views of the valley below.  I regard it as a death-defying teeter over a treacherous precipice that's worth your life to attempt.
Maybe I exaggerate.  Anyway, it's moot because I was so full from lunch and it was so hot, I asked if we could turn back after five miles--well, three--actually, more like one....  Okay, we may have walked a quarter of a mile, but I was pooped.
After leaving Ojai, we went to the Ventura Museum.  It's a modest one, heavily Hollywood oriented, and exactly the kind I like: interesting artifacts and not so large you wander through room after room for hours.  Guess I'm a philistine, all right.
We had planned to go to pool after, but by that time, it was past five. We cleaned up, then watched Hedda Gabler (I had brought the CD), pausing it long enough for another delicious E-dinner: curried vegetables and chicken.  
Another wonderful day with my darling daughter.
Turned in at 9:00, slept like a log, and got up incredibly late for me, at 8:00 am, full of beans and rarin' to go.
*Oops--E. just pointed out that we saw the Tokyo Twosome yesterday, not today.         

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rancho Camulos

My first full day in Ventura was yay-fun.  Ellen and I went to Rancho Camulos, a fascinating place of 1800 acres and the only Mexican land grant rancho in California open to public.  The main adobe was built in 1853 and it was the inspiration for the book, Ramona, and the site for the 1910 movie of the same name. Beautiful grounds, interesting house and fascinating history.  It was very warm there, as this place is in a valley, but being built in the adobe style, it was comfortably cool inside.  A man named August Rubel and his family has owned the property since around WWI, most of them gone, but not all.  His daughter, now in her eighties, comes to tend the beautiful rose garden out front. 
We spent several hours there, then went home to get on our bathing suits and go to the pool.  It was so refreshing, but cool, so the hot tub after felt heavenly.
Ellen made Margaritas--yum!--which we enjoyed during a Google call from the Tokyo twosome.  We discussed a question of great import, but lightheartedly, and it was so good to see both P. and N.  Ellen made wonderful chili and salad for dinner, we watched her WI-FI (? or whatever), which is very similar to those I play on the computer.  Turned in by 9:00 and slept like a... 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Here

Here I am in Ventura at Ellen's.  Had a relatively smooth flight and slept like a log when we got home. Not sure what we'll do today, but one thing is certain: We'll have a ball!

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Trip And Amash

Yesterday was devoted almost entirely to Getting Ready For My Trip.  Aside from things I have to add today, I finished packing.  Washed several loads, including my sheets, as I want to come home to a clean house and bed.  Also did whites and lights, and--
Wait!  Why in the world do I enumerate in such excruciatingly boring detail all the crap I seem to be unable to skip?  When somebody else does it, I send out a snooze alert, but when it is I--huh, different story.  Not!
Okay, I'm ready for my trip.  Also went back to A.C. Moore to return two feathers I don't need and bought a jar of mayonnaise at Shop-Rite.  (Now that's the kind of exciting detail I should include in this journal!  Ha, I'm in a silly mood.)
Enlarged on my new play and, in an unrelated literary endeavor, started a new comedic verse (which may turn into a sung ditty) called Why Do You Have To Be Young?  It ain't bad, if I say it meself.
Talked to Betty, who's anticipating a visit from son, Wes, and is Scarlett.  Talked  twice to Aline, who's again off to Manhattan today.  Ate or otherwise got rid of most of what was in the refrig; will put my final trash in Susan's container.
Soon--I'm off to Californ-ee-ay!
WIDER:  The dem and repub toadies in the House have gotten together to trash the Amash amendment.  From Glenn G.:
"Remember when Democrats used to object so earnestly when Dick Cheney would scream 'The Terrorists!' every time someone tried to rein in the National Security State just a bit and so modestly protect basic civil liberties? How well they have learned: now, a bill to ban the government from collecting the telephone records of all Americans, while expressly allowing it to collect the records of anyone for whom there is evidence of wrongdoing, is - in the language of the House Democratic Leadership - a bill to Protect The Terrorists."
The G.G. article:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/25-2

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hat Of A Prince

Mindful of Rachel's tiresome dictate that we include costumes in our (already ill-fated, it seems to me) Ugly Duckling presentation, I went out looking.  Found an unadorned straw hat, kind of unisex, at the SOCH thrift store for two bucks, which I think will do for the prince.  Went to A.C. Moore and picked up some long, fancy feathers to add. 
Home, I sewed up the brim on one side to make it look properly rakish, I hope, and tied a neon-green scarf around the crown, then stuck in a long brown and black feather.  It actually looks pretty good and does suggests the chapeau of a prince in fairy-tale land.
Other than that, and mundane domestic chores, I didn't do a whole lot productive.     

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Allentown

Picked up my buddy, Aline, at noon and we zipped up 539 to Allentown.  It's a beautiful old place and before we started exploring, we noticed the tiny, two-hundred-year old cemetery across from where we parked.  We stopped there and enjoyed deciphering the few--only a dozen or so--ancient tombstones under a shady tree.
I had wanted to eat at DiMattia's, where I've been before, but it seems it's only open for dinner, so we went to La Piazza (or something).  I had something the name of which I forget: sausage, peppers, onions, and cheese inside a dough cylinder, sort of, that came with tomato sauce.  Very tasty.
After lunch, we strolled the town, going into the shops and admiring many of the nineteenth century houses.  We especially loved the library, where we spent a half hour or so.  It's in a beautifully restored building, formerly a Baptist church, built in 1820.  The very nice woman on the desk told me there had been a pipe organ in the far corner, which was struck by lightning in 1972; thereafter, the congregation presumably went elsewhere.  Anyway, it was lovely.
After, we walked down the street to where the lake goes over a dam and sat on a bench and chatted, then went back to the car.  By then, it was after 4:00 and I called a friend who lives on the way home.  We stopped there, visited for a bit, then drove back to Little Egg.  Before we got home, stopped and had an ice cream at Carvel's.
Lovely day, lovely experiences, lovely companion---lovely, lovely, lovely.  (That's an inside joke between Aline and me that relates to Hedda Gabbler dialogue).  
Woke up to see a message from my friend, Pat R., alerting me to a Little People, Big World showing.  Darn, I missed it, but hope to see it at Ellen's on her whatever-it-is-that-allows-you-to-run-TV-shows-anytime.  Thanks for the tip, Pat!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pool And Play

During our walk, Susan told me she had to go to the ophthalmologist at 11:00.  She has glaucoma and the pressure behind one eye is increasing.  Boy, I hope it can be stopped or at least, slowed.  My biggest fear is blindness, which is why I'm still holding off getting my cataracts removed.
Actually bestirred myself long enough to pull weeds out front, the recent rain making it easy.  Ran (drove) up to Manahawkin to take something back and, having a yen for  rotisserie chicken, stopped at Shop-Rite and bought one.
After lunch, I threw on my suit and went to the pool.  Incredibly, I was the only one there at one point.  After three, though, a few others came in and we chatted for a bit while in the glorious cool and wet.  So refreshing.
Took out my suitcase in preparation for California.  Can't wait to hang out with Ellen.  After all, I deserve a vacation from my strenuous, debilitating, nose-to-the-grindstone, dreary life.  (Believe that and I have a bridge in Pomoma...)
Started a new play (it's set in Atlantic City, but that's all I'll reveal) for which I needed some info on a particular activity.  Looked some stuff up and hope it comes across accurately.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dine Around

Okay day.  Did a few domestic chores early on, then prepared for Dine Around.  Mary Ann V. picked me up at 4:15, as these things start ridiculously early--old fogy time, doncha know--and it was on Long Beach Island.
LBI in the summer is a place I usually avoid, considering the crowds, but Rosario's proved to be a pretty nice place.  We had a private room and there were about 35 of us.  With a choice of fish, chicken, or pasta, I had the rigatoni Bolognese.  We played the usual silly games conducted by the K.'s; on this occasion, I was in a jaunty mood and enjoyed them.
During dessert, a thunderstorm and downpour descended and the streets rapidly flooded, as they always do on LBI.  Geez, to hear Mary Ann (and several others) go into hysterical high gear, you'd think we were going down on the Titanic.  We did have to walk through six-inch high (literally) water to get to the car, and our shoes and shoes got soaked, of course. 
All the way to the causeway, Mary Ann groused and moaned about the water, which did indeed, as it always does, reach all the across the main boulevard.  However, we got through, so one should express her dismay once or twice, then shut up about it. She also has a nasty tendency to vocalize her annoyance with other drivers as if they could hear her, with "oh, that was some dumb move, buddy" and "what kind of an idiot driver are you, jerk?" and so on. 
The third strike against her is her over-lasting jockeying to get something or other out of people.  I thanked her for picking me up (she had called and offered) and, of course, she immediately said, "Next time, it's your turn."  I was noncommittal about that.
Home after 8:30, I immediately Skyped Ellen and we had a great cyber-visit.  I'll be there in just four days--yay!          

Sunday, July 21, 2013

P & P And Dinner

I thought it might be complicated to get to Rachel's house in Egg Harbor Township for the Players & Playwrights meeting, so I left early.  Had time to stop at Canal's for a few bottles of wine, and still arrived a half hour before the designated 2:00.  Drove down the road and found a nice little cemetery, so went in there and checked out the tombstones. Saw one in the shape of a car--cool--but didn't stay long.
Drove back and went in.  Rachel's house is roomy and attractive, and obviously only a few years old (her husband is a retired physician, don't know what field), but pretty messy.  I'm puzzled at people who know they're having visitors, but don't bother to clean up beforehand.  I'd be embarrassed.
Anyway, others got there after I did, but only Louise, Denise, and Bernice made up the distaff side (that used to be a common expression) and Joey, Ernie, and Jim the guys.  Chairs were arranged in a circle and I was surprised that Rachel's husband and fortyish daughter stayed within it, although they didn't join in the discussions.  The daughter, Miriam, who is in her forties, is clearly handicapped; not sure if she has cerebral palsy, but she is mentally slow and physically awkward.  The husband is nice enough and at one point, cautioned Rachel to end whatever off-the-wall comment (her specialty) she was interjecting.
Ernie ran the meeting and there was a discussion on where we go from here, now that we no longer have John as a leader.  I was asked to take over the group, but declined--I have too much else going on.  I did agree to run the September meeting and Denise will take August. 
Ernie submitted the second act of his "Scottish mother and daughter in 1850 or whenever," play which Denise and Louise read.  It was excruciatingly boring, just as the first act was. 
We then heard Joe L.'s play about a doctor (he had been one) treating the son of a friend for addiction, which was more absorbing than the other piece.  The addict was portrayed, however, as both a jazz musician and a sculptor, a combination I find hard to get my mind around.
Thanks to Rachel's rambling talk, including about the Ad Hoc Players, which has no relevance in this group, we didn't break up until 4:30.  I zipped right over to Betty's, where she, Muckie, and I had a nice interlude on the porch.  Betty served dinner of salmon, zucchini, and roasted potatoes--very tasty--and we had a good time, as ever.  I left a bit before 7:00, as I'm always anxious to get home before dark, after a varied and enjoyable day.
Dine Around tonight, and I want to get some chores done around the house beforehand.
            

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rehearsal And The Lake

After our walk and breakfast, I sped up to Manahawkin to get a present for Tristan, the soon-to-be six-year-old.  I never buy guns for children (or anyone else, of course), but I made an exception for a "water cannon," which shoots water twenty feet and can go around corners.  Got home before 10:00.  Did a load or two of wash and prepared for the Ad Hoc Players rehearsal.
It was called for 1:15 and I got to Ventnor early, so stopped to say hello to Mary H. and her sister, Madge.  Stayed for just a few minutes--they were getting ready to go to the beach, where they sit and bake regularly and boy, is that in the realm of To Each His Own.
Arrived at the library right on time and we rehearsed The Ugly Duckling.  It's a silly little one-actor by A.A. Milne, of Winnie, The Pooh fame, and wouldn't have been my choice, but what the hey.  We learned that Sondra M. has dropped out, so Bobbi C. was given the part of the princess, against whom, I, the prince, play most of the time.  Bobbi is no actress, and I wonder how that will turn out.  Yesterday, she wasn't there and Rachel took the part.  Much as Rachel drives me crazy, I think she'd do a lot more with the princess than Bobbi.
Rushed off at 2:30 in order to meet up with the guys at the lake, and I got there in just over an hour--record time, I think.  They had to leave in a half hour, but I got that much water time with them, anyway, and it was so much fun.  What great kids they are--high-spirited and exuberant, but courteous and curious--a great combination, it seems to me--and I'm proud of them.
Thought I'd go right to the pool when I got home, but then realized I didn't have my card with me, so scratched that and settled on showering instead.  After dinner, I drove down Radio Road to the water; was surprised to see how choppy it was.
Nice, nice, busy summer day, a long series of which I've been lucky enough to enjoy, and today should be no exception.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Karen And Lunch

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got to Hammonton.  It's only 27 miles and I was very early, but no matter.  There's a Shop-Rite next to The Silver Coin and I had time to get a few items before Karen got there.
But get there she did, and we had a grand time together.  She brought me a dozen eggs from her own chickens, for heaven's sake--what a treat.  She and I are such kindred spirits, in almost every way.  We're both pacifists, godless infidels, and we regard our government with the utmost distaste and suspicion.  We're both fans of Blue Moon and both enjoyed the brew with the meal.  Karen is also involved in standing up to Montsano and GMO--good luck with that--and brought me a list of companies it's recommended be boycotted. 
While we lunched, I got a call from Rachel, whom I told I'd call when I got home.  Did so, only to find she wanted to talk over my characterization of the prince in the godforsaken reading we're doing in September.  I'm so sorry I ever agreed to stay in this silly group, but I won't quit now.  We meet today at 1:15.
After a leisurely lunch, we parted, and I zipped home to get in my suit and repair to the pool.  It didn't seem possible that it could be even hotter than it has been the last few days, but this was a lulu.  Enjoyed the water for an hour or so.
Got a call inviting me to the lake with the boys, so I'll go to the rehearsal in Ventnor, then drive up there.  It's going to be tight--hope I make it before they have to leave.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Doozy, But Fun

A doozy of a day.  Arrived at Stockton State at the appointed time of 11:00 am for my second and final "brain research" session.  This consisted of various memory tests with Dr. F. herself.
Naturally--and stupidly--I was pretty cocky going in.  I was sure I'd sail right through the stuff.  After all, I'm fairly intelligent and I'm able to memorize whole scripts and I write quite a bit and...
Ouch.  Boy, a lot of it was very challenging.  It isn't, after all, an I.Q. test, so it's not as if you're playing Trivial Pursuit (hmm...guess that isn't exactly an I.Q. test, either).  Anyway, there was an hour and a half of repeating back lists of numbers to Dr. F., easy with three or four, not so much with six or seven.  And after that, you have to repeat them backward.  She gave me (orally) long lists of objects, and I had to tell her which I remembered.  I was asked to indicate what was missing from certain patterns--with simple illustrations at first, but they got increasingly complicated, of course.  I was relieved when we got to the printed words that I had to describe: "shirt," "lunch," "mollify," and so on, but there was a word I've seen before, "reptircate,*" for which I  just couldn't remember the meaning.  Another, "pravid,**" eluded me altogether.  Don't recall ever seeing it before.
Anyhoo--I finally escaped alive and rushed off to meet Betty for lunch at Italian Cuisine.  I had suggested she bring her bathing suit and we'd go to the pool after.  She did, we did, and it was perfectly sublime in the water.
Went home close to 5:00, Betty left, and I spent some time washing clothes and on  leisurely pursuits.  Interesting day. 
* Couldn't find this in the dictionary, so I must be misspelling it.
** Means "trembling with fear."  Geesh, it's so obscure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crab Trap And Our Government

Stopped for Aline at 10:30 and met her nephew, Jonathan, who was doing some yard work for his mother, Susan.  Met him and stayed to chat for a bit, then we took off for Somers Point.  I thought it would take longer to get there, so we arrived at The Crab Trap much too early--11:15--for lunch (for me, anyway; I prefer to eat at least two hours later).  I suggested we drive to Longport first, and we did, then was back at the restaurant at noon.
The Crab Trap was pretty crowded, as ever, but we didn't have to wait to be seated.  I got deviled clams, spinach, and roasted potatoes, along with a Stella Arios (on draft).
We had a leisurely lunch, then drove over the soaring new bridge into Ocean City.  That was jammed, of course, as it's the height of the season, and I parked on Central Avenue, three blocks from the boardwalk.  No prob, though.
Conveniently, an ice cream store was the first thing we saw and we both got cones, then sat on the boardwalk with them.  Had to eat them as fast as we could, because they melted away rapidly. 
Aline wanted to get home to see more of her nephew, and I heard the pool calling my name, so we drove back.  Dropped A. off about 3:00, then changed, and zipped to the pool.
It was heavenly, of course, but sparsely attended, as usual.  I did talk to "Buck" (Susan and I see him every morning outside feeding his nicotine habit) and Mary Lou S.  I was taken aback to learn she has lung cancer and will be operated at Penn tomorrow.  She quit 18 years ago, but you never escape, I guess.  It reminded me, although I didn't want to be reminded, of my own habit of so many years.  But I quit 25 years ago, so surely it's been long enough...
Guess that can never been said confidently.
WIDER:   If this doesn't make your blood run cold, noting will.
"Just beyond the view of the rest of us, (the U.S. government) began recreating its famed tripartite, checks-and-balances government, now more than two centuries old, in a new form. There, in those shadows, the executive, judicial, and legislative branches began to meld into a unicameral shadow government, part of a new architecture of control that has nothing to do with 'of the people, by the people, for the people.'” 
Here's the rest of it:
http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2013/07/16/can-edward-snowden-be-deterred/

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pool

Before I set off on my rounds, I oiled a Rock Cornish hen for the crock pot, added homemade spaghetti sauce (just fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic sautéed in oil) and seasonings, and set it at low.
Finally, at long last, I weeded some stuff out of my closet and drawers.  Separated it into what I think Betty might want, and things for the thrift store.  Meant to stop and donate them on my way to Manahawkin, but forgot, so they're still in my car.  Well, I'll do it another time.
Went to Target, looking for one of those "face fans," as I call them.  They're handheld, battery-operated and include a spray feature.  You fill the container with ice and water, then spray wherever--so delightful in this Draconian heat.  Stopped at a few other places for various.  When I got home, the hen was already finished and I had a good portion of it for lunch. Very tasty. 
Went to the pool, and stayed about an hour, the entire time in the water.  Only a few others there, but I chatted with them, including Rich N., who used to be in our now-defunct drama club.    
Harmonious day, though played in a minor note.   

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hairspray

Picked up Aline at 10:30 and we were on our way to Margate, having planned to meet others at Downbeach Deli an hour later.  Of course, we were early, even for then, but my other guests, Louise and Bobbi, joined us shortly.
After Betty and Hazel (whom she had mysteriously asked to come) got there, we still had to wait a good half hour to be seated.  Once we were, though, we all enjoyed lunch.  I just had latkes (potato pancakes), as I usually eat lunch late and had had  breakfast a few hours earlier.  Bobbi joined us, but had another commitment after, so wasn't able to attend the show.
Got to the Performing Arts Center a good half hour before people were admitted, but had no problem--at least, four of us didn't--with standing in the (very warm) vestibule and chatting. The exception was Hazel, for whom we found a chair; otherwise, she may have dramatically fallen over.  Hazel suffers--she says--from a wide variety of serious/minor/imaginary maladies.  They range from neuropathy (some kind of foot condition), to arthritis, to a back something-or-other, to a vague, undeclared vision problem.   She hobbles on a cane and wears her white, wispy hair in two bizarre pigtails.  She no longer drives or does much of anything and essentially, it seems, considers her present life just a long waiting time before she...
Okay, moving right along:   Aline later said she was taken aback to learn Hazel is less than a year older than Betty and me, as she seems a good decade longer in the tooth.  Throughout the day, Hazel proved to be a pain in the ass--but amusing, in a way-- moaning and whining about this and that.  She had to sit on the aisle, natch, and at intermission, asked me to take her to the ladies' room--which had a long line, of course.  I asked the frontrunners if they would allow Hazel to go first and the were all very gracious, but what a bore.  When we went outside for a breath of air, she had Betty massage her neck, for heaven's sake, and gasped and sighed throughout.  This kind of baby behavior went on all day.
Hairspray was terrific and after, I was able to congratulate Dawn, my NP, on her performance.  We said goodbye to Betty and Hazel, then Louise, and I asked Aline is she wanted to drive down to Longport. 
Yes, indeedy, and we did, only to find there's some kind of construction going on at the jetty and you can't even get near it.  I then suggested we go to the Ventnor boardwalk, which always thrills Aline, and we did.  Sat and talked for a good hour--so enjoyable for both of us.
I was hungry then, but Aline had had a regular lunch and just wanted ice cream.  I suggested we go to The Pine Cone in Little Egg, which we did.  I got a tiny bowl of chili, my dear friend her favorite confection, and it was fine.
Didn't drop her off until well after 7:00 and got home to see Ellen on Skype (I'll be out there in little more than a week--yay!) and receive two phone calls from Betty.  Wine, popcorn, and a good night's sleep followed after a great time with my friends.
Nothing going on today, but I have a variety of activities scheduled on every following one until next Monday.   

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gap Day

Gap day.  In between fun stuff and lunches, there's sometimes a gap with nothing much of interest happening.*  Went to Shop-Rite after putting broccoli florets and white beans (just thought I'd combine them and I had some, but it isn't that terrific) in the crock pot, and did a wash.  Sent Mike's mail off.  Picked up the book I requested at he library: Christopher Hitchens' Mortality.  He has died since, of the cancer he describes, and for some reason, I've delved for years into writings on the great sleep.  Half in love with easeful death?  I don't think so, just fascinated by it, in a way.  I can't conceive of simply not existing.
Wrote various e-mails, notes, and stuff on the computer.  I have an idea for a play buzzing away in my mind--will take place in an Atlantic City casino--but haven't started it yet.  Made a date to meet my pacifist friend, Karen N., whom I met on the bus to Ft. Meade, for lunch on Thursday.  Toyed with the idea of going to the pool, especially after the perpetual clouds gave way to sun, but didn't. 
Ho, as they say, hum.
*Interesting to me, that is.  Hard to believe my little doings would interest anyone else.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Aline's Birthday

What I love about summer is there's so much going on so much of the time, practically all of it fun and games. 
No exception yesterday:  I was due at Aline's at 1:00, but got there beforehand and presented her with her birthday gift and card.  She loved the bracelet, which I had bought at Fabulous Jewelry.  I made sure it wasn't too fancy or bulky--she's not the type--and chose a silver and stone (beige and off-white) piece that will go with almost everything. 
I was taking her out to lunch and had told her she was to choose where we went.  She decided on Smithville Inn, which I like, too, so we went there.  Had a dinner-type lunch of beef brisket with mushroom gravy, string beans, and potato pancake, with a Blue Moon added for me.  I don't think I've ever had brisket before and  boy, it was good.
After, notwithstanding the grey clouds and drizzle, we walked the shops.  Aline and I both bought a few little over-priced doodads--she for her little niece, Penny, I for my grandchildren--but mostly browsed.  By the time we left, it was about 5:00 and we zipped up to Jeffreeze for ice cream.  It was so windy and cool, we ate it in the car, but it was good. 
Dropped A. off after conducting (as we always do, with no exceptions since we met), our usual running discussion on politics, philosophy, and the events of the world.  This is interlaced with opera topics, the books we're currently reading, occasional reference to movies and T.V., and news about family and friends.  It almost never includes health topics and never, never touches on how cruel everybody's being to Paula Deen or what celeb is screwing what starlet.  
That's why it's such a pleasure to be with Aline.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lunch, What Else?

The rain held off until after our walk, but it came down steadily after that.  No matter; I had a slew of errands to run in Atlantic County and years ago, I made the conscious decision not to use the weather as a reason for changing my plans (barring, of course, the occasional hurricane or ice storm).
So I set off with an umbrella, first to Bam!, then Fabulous Jewelry, then a few other places.  Along the way, no surprise here, I called Betty to suggest lunch.  She was seeing some patients not far away, so agreed immediately, no surprise there, either.
After some mix up with our cell phone functions--mine ran out of minutes and I had to rush into Rite Aid to buy more, and Betty's sound quality was poor--we met at Friendly's.  Betty had taken Muckie to get her car after repair--the car's 17 years old--and she joined us, which is always a pleasure.
After a nice lunch, during which we firmed up our plans for Sunday in Margate--lunch at the Downbeach Deli, then Hairspray--we parted.  The rain had stopped by then and I did various and sundry--so important I can't remember what--until beddy-bye time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Terraces

Got to my appointment at The Terraces at 8:00 am and was greeted by Carolyn R.  Her grandiose title is "Community Relations Director"--read "Sales Manager"--and she is, of course, a warm, welcoming type.  (They don't hire introverted grouches for a job like this.) 
Actually, I enjoyed talking to her once I learned she had been a theatre major at Montclair State.  We chatted, she promoted the establishment, I nodded, she took information, then I got the tour.
The Terraces include "apartments" from studios (single room and bath, quite small) to two-rooms and expanded kitchenette.  (Stoves aren't permitted--not sure if this is a state law--nor are bathtubs.)  I liked the big windows, most overlooking the grounds, and the corridors are broad and nicely carpeted.  There's a wing where the rooms open into a large expanse with sofas and easy chairs, nicely carpeted; a nice touch.
I'd be willing to bet shrinks and focus groups were involved--they always are--in extensive studies to uncover what décor would appeal most to potential clients and their families.  I've yet to see a facility that doesn't vaguely suggest an English manor house.  They all abound in cozy sitting areas, plush furniture, artfully draped window treatments, fireplaces, and here and there, tea service on a tray. 
Carolyn told me they have twenty-two residents at present--it opened less than a year ago--but I was surprised there aren't more, as I think they have room for about fifty.  The lousy economy, we agreed, was mostly to blame.
I thought it was interesting--and this would appeal to me if I ever thought of moving there--that residence are rented, not bought.  If you need or want to, you can move out with thirty days notice.  Incidentally, the place is privately owned by the same family that owns Seacrest rehab (where my husband stayed several times) and nursing home.
I thanked Carolyn, said I'd mention The Terraces to friends, took some material, and went off to pick up Aline.
We had breakfast at Dockside--very enjoyable--then I dropped her off to work at the library in Manahawkin, and ran some errands there.  Little of note went on the rest of the day.
    

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Pool

Betty got here about 11:00 and we had a nice chat before we picked up Aline.  All agreed on Dynasty Diner for lunch, where I enjoyed my ideal summer meal: a rare hamburger and a cold Bud.  (By the by, I was annoyed to be charged forty cents extra because I asked that the onions be fried.  What's next, a buck fifty to cover the plate and napkin?)
Had a leisurely meal and good talk, as ever, then went back to my house and Betty and I changed into our bathing suits.  Aline never, ever immerses herself in water (as I do, she even takes showers, not baths), but she came with us.  Betty and I cavorted in the wonderfully refreshing, sparkling pool while Aline read her book on a lounge under the shade awning. 
When we got there, before 2:00, there were exactly four others in the pool enclosure and two were guests.  I guess that was because it was somewhat overcast, but still very hot, and many of my neighbors won't venture out of the house (makes no sense to me, as it isn't as if they're expected to hike in the heat or something).  However, later, about a dozen others came in and we chatted with them.  Susan had been in the clubhouse and came to the pool to say hello, having seen my car outside.
We stayed about two hours, then went out.  Betty changed and left for home--she had to see a patient on the way, so that worked out for her--and I asked if Aline would mind waiting while I showered and dressed.  She happily assented and continued reading her book until I was finished.
We then sat and talked for a good hour and a half, ranging over topics such as her brother, who's a leading light in the Objectivist Society, and various and sundry members of my huge extended family.  I showed her a few of the many photos I have of my antecedents, including my German great-grandfather in his Civil War picture and my Irish great-grandmother in her 1887 studio portrait in Dublin.
We looked on my computer to see if we could catch her brother's live-stream lecture at the Objectivist Society Summer Conference in North Carolina.  We were too late for that, but caught him in an earlier appearance on YouTube.   
We didn't part until almost 7:00, when I took her home after a good, satisfying day.  This morning, I'm going to tour The Terraces, an assisted living facility nearby, then pick A. up for breakfast at Dockside. 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PRECIOUS VIOLET, A BIG FIVE-YEAR-OLD TODAY!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Brain Research

Went to Stockton State at the appointed time of 12:30 for the first (of two) sessions of brain examination.  This is actually a research project by a psych faculty member to study brain waves (or something) of the elderly.  The elderly?  Ouch, guess that includes me, folks.
It was pretty interesting.  I was greeted by two grad assistants (read "cheap labor") and after preliminary questions, form-filling-out, and chit-chat, I was fitted with a kind of cap made out of plastic net, with electrodes on it and cumulating in a plug or something that, I guess, would be attached to a computer.  All the electrodes had to be affixed to my head and face, which took a good twenty minutes, but wasn't particularly uncomfortable, aside from a few drips (the cap had been immersed in distilled water and "no tears" baby shampoo). 
Once I was duly outfitted, all I had to do was stare at a white cross on a dark computer screen for three minutes.  After that, I was asked to close my eyes and just sit there for three minutes.  Cap was then removed and I filled out a question/answer form, the kind beloved of all shrinks: "Do you think people are out to get you?"  "Do you feel friendless?"  Well, maybe not quite that bad, but close.
It took and hour and a half and I found it interesting.  Next time--next Wednesday--I'll see Dr. F. herself and she'll do some cognitive tests.  Called Betty after I left to see if she could meet for lunch, but she couldn't.  We talked later, though, and she's coming over today to go to the pool.
Dreadful news:  I was just sent an Asbury Park Press article saying a man drowned at the lake about an hour after we left on Sunday.  I'm not sure what the circumstances were, but he was only 35.
But wonderful news from the east--which I can't reveal here!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Wunerful


Wunerful, wunerful, as the old German used to say.  I had nothing scheduled, so thought I'd hang out at the pool, but I got a morning phone call.  Did I want to meet at the lake about 1:30?  Yes, indeedy, I surely did.
Changed into my bathing togs, assembled towel, sandals, beach bag, and other stuff, cut up some oranges, and zoomed down Route 539 to Harry Wright Lake, in Whiting, New Jersey.
Oh, it was delightful.  Had a fine time with the darling boys and their decrepit old granny (ha!) on another heavenly summer day.  We spent most of the time in the lake where Joel practiced his handstands, and just a bit on the beach, where T. made a sandcastle.  Lots of people there, but not too many, and there are big trees for shade, as well as bathrooms and even a snack bar.  It's mostly rustic, though, being smack dab in the middle of the pine barrens (oops--I forgot you're supposed to called them "the pinelands" now, as they're anything but barren).
We stayed until after 4:00, then parted.  I repeat: Wunerful day with those wunerful boys and their wunerful Nana at that wunerful lake. Why, it was--vunderbar!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Pool and The Pines

Spent the morning on mundane missions in Manahawkin and the afternoon at the pool.  Went over after lunch and found just a few there.  Children are allowed between 11:00 and 3:00 and a lot of the old fogies won't come until after.  Actually, the only kids there yesterday were Joan O.'s two grandchildren of 2 and 6 and they were cute and quiet.
Oh, oh, oh, the water was lovely.  It was cool, but not too cool, and so clear.  It was fine to glide around in it with the big pines overhead and the incredible blue sky and clouds so white they hurt your eyes. 
I kept hearing whistles, fairly loud, outside the fence, and I thought some kids were blowing them.   But Art M. told me it was two hawks--he pointed them out far up in a towering pine--signaling back and forth to each other.  They sounded so mysterious, but perfectly right for that intensely sunny day and me in the pool.
Later, more residents filtered in, including Mary and Don S., who sat with me and with whom I chatted for a half hour or so.  Hank G. and his strange son (I think he had had some kind of drug problem) came in, and so did Barbara B., and Jay and Marilyn P, with whom I'm friendly.  Stayed until about 4:00, a long time for me, showered and dressed and felt so good.
How is it possible to love winter?

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Day With Aline

Spent a low-key, but pleasant, day with Aline.  We first went to lunch--natch--on Jimmie Leeds Road, this time at the Irish Pub.  We both like Italian Gourmet, but I suggested this just for a change.  Had soup and sandwich, along with "Celtic Red" ale--very tasty.
After, Aline asked if we could go to Wal-Mart so she could pick up a few things.  Went to the one in Manahawkin, after simply forgetting the one across from Hamilton Mall.  We both bought sundry items, then at Aline's suggestion, stopped at Jeffreeze.  She got a cone, but I didn't want one; just had water while she ate her butter pecan.
Dropped my companion off about 5:00 and went home for a dinner of the chick pea stew Susan had brought over before our walk.  She had made a big batch for the H.'s party and had a lot left over.  Yum, it was good and I have more for tonight.  Talked to Betty later; she'll come over to go in the pool someday next week. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Fourth of J.

So I was in a dilemma: Much as I hated to miss the H.'s party, I didn't want to see a certain person there.  I had also been invited by Aline to join her, her sister, and the lunatic lady next door to view the fireworks in Tuckerton after a hot dog at Stewart's.  That sure as hell didn't appeal to me, either.
Solution?  I called Betty and asked what she was doing.  "Nothing," she said, "so come on down."  I did, and found Muckie with her son, Matt, and two grandsons there, too.  Latter went to the beach and we three sat on the porch talking for hours.  Muckie and Pat R. have been good friends for years and she and Betty were interested in hearing about my visit to Pat the day before.
I had brought two Buds and a hard-boiled egg sandwich and the others got lunch from the corner, so we happily munched away.  Muckie, Matt, and the boys left, then Betty and I took a nice walk on the boardwalk.
The boardwalk, the beach, all of Ventnor, it seemed, were packed (and probably the whole island, too).  Betty and I marveled at the lunch/dinner setups under open-sided tents, most with barbecues and some very elaborate.  We even saw beer on the beach, illicit or not.  These things were never permitted in our youth and would have given the residents of that day the vapors.  We agreed it looked like great fun, though.
Later in the day, we strolled over to the ice cream store nearby and got cones.  By the time we performed the last lick, it was 7:30 or so, and I said goodbye.  Got home before full dark after yet another pleasant summer day.  

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Pat's Place

A good day, in an enjoyable succession of good days.  Left for Moorestown at 9:00, giving myself plenty of time to get lost, which I did, but not for long.  The rain held off most of the time, and I got to Evergreens a bit early.
Wow, what a place.  Imagine an elegant--and, let it be known, expensive--country club, set in a beautifully maintained campus behind stately brick walls.  Flowers and well-tended greens surround it and the main building is reminiscent of an historic Georgian home.
That, I learned, is deceptive.  It's not evident until you go in, but extending back from the foyer, lobby, dining, and other "greeting rooms" is what amounts to a large apartment building.  Pat's digs are down several long corridors and up three floors--we took the elevator--and she told me there are a variety to choose from. 
Hers has a small entrance, an attractive kitchen--compact, but efficient--a bright and cheery living room with attached study, plus bedroom and bath and a nice balcony overlooking the back lawn.  She isn't fully moved in yet (yesterday was the end of her third month there), but her place is shaping up well.       
We chatted for a bit, then went down to the dining room--white tablecloths and well-appointed settings--and were joined by Nancy T., also from Absecon Island.  Nancy's mother, who lived to be 105, and mine had been friends, and Nancy graduated from HSHS in 1941 with my brother-in-law, Bill.  Later, another friend of Pat's, "Sunny"--love the name--joined us, and we perused the printed menu, which had three choices.  I picked the chicken stir-fry, and the others had quiche or liverwurst and onions on rye.
After, Pat showed me around.  Holy smokes, you could live there without ever stepping outside the door and, I suppose, some people do--or don't.  There are several large meeting rooms, a "key club," a fitness center and in-door pool, beauty salon, doctor's and nurses' office, a kind of luncheonette (The Atrium), with a small store attached, a library, and a multitude of other amenities.
Naturally enough, Pat had some second thoughts after she moved in--will I like it here? Was this the right choice?--but pretty clearly, it suits her fine.  Several of her nieces and nephews, with whom she's close, live nearby, and she's made friends with many of her neighbors.  Because she has a curious mind, she has participated in several activities, including a seminar on comparative religions. 
After lunch, we chatted a bit, then Pat offered to have me follow her while she guided me back to route 38.  Once she got me there, we waved goodbye, and I made it home with no problem.
I'm endlessly fascinated by how people live, and this is one way.  It contrasts with a thatched hut in the Congo and living in the White House, and calling a big house on Rosborough Avenue "home."  At the Evergreens, Pat has pretty clearly, found her place and I'm happy for her.
   

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Sahara Sam's Water Park

Another wonderful day with the boys.  I got up north at 10 and we left shortly thereafter for Sahara Sam's Water Park in Berlin, N.J.  Took about an hour and we were resigned to staying in the indoor part, but that wasn't necessary later in the day because it cleared and the sun even came out for a time. 
The kids had a ball and so did I.  There were all kinds of water activities, including their favorite, the wave area.  This is a good-sized construction with very realistic waves--actually, they are waves, but machine-made--starting with big rollers and, as they do on a real beach, dwindling to a slow wash at the other end.  It was great fun and I loved it, too.
Most of all, I loved just being with the boys and their Nana.  They went on lots of other water rides, along with sixteen million other kids, half of them, it seemed, boys just-turned-eleven, and almost six.  It's amazing how much alike kids look with soaking wet hair and in trunks. 
But the more I see of my great grandsons, the more I appreciate their individual uniqueness (excuse the construct).  Their intelligence, generally cooperative ways, and interest in the world make them a pleasure to be with.  J. can discuss serious subjects with ease and T. is so bright and funny; I always have a ball with them. 
Besides being great fun, the place is rip-off heaven--for the owners, that is.  Admission is thirty dollars, (although over 65s, such as your truly, get in free) and you're not allowed to bring your own food.  My modest chef's salad came to a hefty $10.99, in addition to two something for coffee.  Combined with the boys' and their grandmother's lunch, the bill came to just a few cents under fifty bucks.  I didn't, however, pay for any of it.
Besides...what would I pay for a such a bright (figuratively speaking) and beautiful day with these bright and beautiful children?
Nothing, because it was priceless.
   

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

No Lake, But Beach

I was so pleased to receive a (phone) call from my dear nephew, Dave W., now settled into his Foreign Service job in--lucky guy!--Rome.  He and Polly, a bright and adventurous couple, are greatly enjoyed the city, where I hope to visit before they leave.
The weather did not cooperate for a lake day, but we managed to have fun, anyway.  Arrived up north about 2:00 and the boys blew in shortly thereafter.  We played Janghi (or whatever it's call), in which you pile squared-off wooden stakes, alternating in each direction, then each player has to removed one until they all fall down.  I like the game because it couldn't be simpler; I never considered complicated "strategy" games no fun. 
After a tasty dinner, we went to the beach at Belmar.  It was foggy, cold, and damp, but so what?  The boys raced around gathering shells and getting sandy and wet, and we had a ball.
Back to their place about 8:00 and to mine a bit after 9:00.  Ellen and I happily Skyped for a bit (I'll see her in a few weeks--yay!), then I had my usual and fell into bed.
Today, it's the indoor water park in Berlin.  The heck with the weather!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Dine Around

After our walk,  Aline called.  She declined my invitation to Dine Around, but may go next month. 
Made up a batch of crystal pickles.  While they sat for the obligatory two hours in the refrigerator, I zipped over to the bank to get money for Dine Around.  Added the sugar and vinegar, packed them in containers, and put them in the freezer for later.
Dine Around was at The Captain's Inn in Forked River.  It's a nice place and we had a semi-private area in a big room on the side.  Joint was jumpin' and so was all of Forked River, now the summer season is in full swing.
I had the broiled seafood combo--mediocre--and sat with people I've known since I moved here almost a decade ago now, as well as newcomers, Bob and Eleanor.  They're nice enough, but seem a typical older generation couple.  He's the leader and talks about weighty topics, such as politics and the state of the world today (comes across as to the right of Krauthammer, of course), and she discusses Paula Deen and how these teenagers are getting worse all the time.  (Hey, maybe they are; I don't know any teenagers.)   
It was a nice evening, though.  Judy and Roman led the usual silly games.  They invited me to accompany them, with Susan and Walter, to Albert Hall in Waretown, to hear bluegrass music.  Hey, I'd rather do that than hang by my thumbs for three days, but I politely declined.  It was nice of her to ask, though, and I told her that.
Today, the lake with the boys, IF (and it's a big if, considering the rain lately) weather permits.  Otherwise, we'll just hang at their grannie's house.  It's always such fun to be with them--can't wait.