Thursday, July 31, 2014

Luncheon Guests and YouTube

Spent the morning prepping in the kitchen, getting ready for my luncheon company.  I always like to do everything possible beforehand, so I set the table, assembled a big salad, laid out cheese, peppered ham, and turkey cold cuts, got baskets out for the bread, made iced tea, whipped cream (I don't use the canned stuff), and so on.  I had measured out the ingredients for blueberry buckle the day before; now I put it together, and popped it in the oven, so it would still be slightly warm when served.
Betty, Irene, and Margaret got here at the same time--a little early, but that was okay--and we talked and laughed happily in the living room. What fun it is to be with people who remember Monsignor Moran and know where Damask's was located, and don't have to be told who Scoop Farrell was.  Old friends are so close to family, and I cherish them.
We adjourned to the kitchen--my modest summer lunch offering went over big--and continued our chatter through dessert.  (If I say it myself, the blueberry buckle was to die for; I'll bring some over to Susan before our walk).  Didn't wrap it up until after 5:00, when we parted with vows to get together again.
Two more reasons yesterday was so good: 1.) I received a letter from Judy L.K., thanking me for the long-ago ones she had sent to my husband.  She was very appreciative and said she'd love to see me if I ever get up her way.  That seems doubtful, as it's 110 miles away, but I guess it's a possibility.  2.) His daddy put a video on YouTube of the Tokyo Tot on the balcony splashing in a basin of water.  I'll be looking at that often, I know.                      

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pat and Mike, the Two Irishmen

I finally called my sister-in-law, Lois.  Why I thought it would be an ordeal, I don't know, as she couldn't have been friendlier. I hadn't seen her since Pat's funeral and that was almost five years ago.
She was very excited when I told her about Mike's letter from 1953 and said she'd love to have it.  We had a good talk and caught up with each others' lives.  She has a son and daughter and two grandchildren, one of whom, Patrick, was born without eyes.
A bit of family lore: Lois had always called Mike "Joe," but his birth family and friends all called him "Mike."  My husband, three years older, was called "Pat," although neither brother had been given those names at birth: my husband was christened "Hugh" after a maternal uncle and Mike's given name was "Joseph Gavin."  (I believe there was a general by that name who may have been distantly related to my mother-in-law.) When the brothers were babies, some wag joked that they were "Pat and Mike, the two Irishmen" and ever after, even their own parents called them by those names.  Weird.
Interestingly--to me, anyway--Pat didn't call those parents "Mom and Dad" or a variation thereof--ever.  He referred to his mother, whose name was Jane, as "Big Jen" and his father as "Big John." Only recently did it occur to me that might be significant when it comes to sub-conscious rejection or distancing oneself from people or something.
But hell, all the principals are dead, so what does it matter?
Picked Aline up for lunch at noon, but instead of going to the Old Causeway--I didn't feel like driving to Manahawkin--we went to SeaOaks.  Nice lunch, then I took A. back to my house to see the latest pics of the Tokyo Tot, whom she loves.
Rehearsal had been called for last evening, but Mary wrote it was only the song part of it and, as I'm not singing, I decided not to go. Aline still wanted to and asked Tonya to pick her up.
After taking A. home, I spent time preparing for my guests, Betty and the Fitzsimmons girls, who are due in at 12:30 today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lunch And Stuff

Just household chores until I met Betty for lunch at Italian Gourmet. We both had a rather mediocre pasta/sausage/spinach dish from the cheap menu.  I like I.G. okay, but I'm getting a tad tired of it.
Went to Shop-Rite and Santori's after and picked up a few things for tomorrow when I have the F. girls and Betty for lunch.
Received several e-mails from Mary H. and Brittany M. (mother and daughter) having to do with Tony and the Heiress. They're mainly the lyrics for the songs we'll be singing, including "Master of the House" from Les Mis and "Season of Love" from somewhere or other. Also on the "Tony" front, I'm pulling together some bits for Aline and that I think are funnier than what Jim wrote.  Guess I'll wait until Thursday to demonstrate.
Aline called and I'll pick her up for lunch at noon.  We had planned on The Old Causeway, but that's way down on Bay Avenue in Manahawkin and I'm going to suggest we postpone it until I have more time.  I want to clean the house--well, go over it lightly--before tomorrow and also prepare what I can ahead of time. Then I have to pick A. up again for rehearsal this evening at 7:00.  I feel a little pressed for time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dine Around and High School

Changed the bed, did wash, and otherwise puttered around until time to shower and change for Dine-Around.
It was at Olive Garden and there were about twenty people there. We were in a semi-private back room, which was great, as the place was packed. That's always to be expected on a Sunday at the height of the season, as hordes come over the causeway from Long Beach Island.
Had a pleasant time. Sat next to Tony D., whose birthday was celebrated.  He was with his partner, Joe Somebody, with whom he's lived for thirty years.  I talked a lot to Claire E., also, another Mystic Shores resident, whom I know slightly, but like more and more.  Interestingly, she deals in antiques and is also a doll collector. I was thrilled when Carol B. came over to tell me she had seen my nephew, Tim W., on "House Hunters," as several of my other neighbors did.
We didn't leave until after 7:00.  I had planned to go to the Ice Cream Social at the clubhouse after, but we had had ice cream and cake for dessert and I was stuffed.  Decided to skip it and just go home.
Here's something I'm musing over:  My sixtieth high school reunion is planned for September and naturally I received an invitation: lunch at Smithville Inn.  The cost? Forty bucks!  Now I lunch at Smithville frequently and have never even come close to spending forty bucks, even when I order a beer. What's more, we've had Dine Around dinners there and they weren't even forty bucks. Highway robbery, it seems to me.
I e-mailed John and Theresa G., the chair and his cohort (they started dating in high school), to ask what one received for forty bucks, using a jocular tone.  Their response--damn, why would I ever think it would be otherwise?--was dead serious, beginning with the haughty remark that I must not had arranged any catered affairs lately.  Catered?  What are they talking about, "catered"?  This takes place on-site so I wouldn't call it "catered." Anyway, they really didn't answer my question, which annoyed the hell out of me.  I looked up Smithville's site and found that various buffets are offered for twenty and twenty-two bucks, tip and everything else included. Sent that to them with a comment that I may or may not attend, again in a light tone. I also asked if outsiders could come, as I may bring somebody.  They wrote back that they could, again in a ponderous and somewhat censorious manner. Geez, we'll all be dead in fifty years; why attach such importance to something like this?        
Actually, I'm not so sure I want to go.  Why should I commemorate the most miserable years of my life?  All right, there were some bright spots, but the constant judgmental crap, the back-biting, the striving to be like everybody else--. Hey, I'm well out of it and wouldn't go back on a bet.            

Sunday, July 27, 2014

J. and N.

It's rainin', it's pourin', the old man is snorin'...
And I was snorin' right up to 6:20; can't believe I slept that late. It's just as well that Susan's visiting her daughter in Connecticut and didn't walk today. Otherwise, we'd be sloshing through it.
Yesterday, I left for my friend's house (about 35 miles away) at 8:00 so I could see and say goodbye to my beloved older grandson and his wife, J. and N. They had come to collect the four boys, who had spent most of the month with various family in Jersey.
Arrived a bit after 9:00 to find J. and his hosts in the kitchen and it was such a joy to see him. N. got up and we all talked and laughed while my friend made pancakes with blueberries and bananas in them.  Of course, I'm not talking about pancake mix; these were homemade with flour, eggs, milk, and so on. With coffee and scrambled eggs, we all had a hearty breakfast.  I expressed one of my fondest wishes: that I could take a picture of my two grandsons, thirty-one years apart, together. All right, one's in upstate Pennsylvania, the other in Tokyo, but I can dream, can't I?
We chatted some more, then reluctantly said goodbye. I left shortly after they did and spent the rest of the day on household chores and other mundane pursuits.
Brittany sent the lyrics for one of the songs we all sing in Tony and the Heiress. I want to work up some dialogue for Aline and me to substitute for the lame jokes Jim put in.  If we do it right, I think he'll be okay with it.           

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not a Whole Lot

Didn't do a whole lot yesterday except talk on the phone.  Brother Larry called, and brother Frank and sister Betty called three times each.  I called Betty once.
Now why all this urgent phone-calling back and forth?  Nothing much, just sibling chatter.
Other than that: the letter thing, household chores, and one excursion to Manahawkin filled the day.  The traffic on Rte. 72 going over to Long Beach Island was b. to b., of course.  Why I took it into my head to go there is beyond me.
Highlight of the day was a video call from little Sweetie Pie in Tokyo.  I watched him eating breakfast--oatmeal with things like seaweed in it--then busily crawling around to inspect the furniture, phone, and whatever else struck his fancy.  According to his father, he "knows" the balcony and the bathroom are out of bounds for him, unless Mum or Dad are with him.  Well, darned if he didn't stop at the thresholds of both those forbidden areas.  What a precious angel!

Friday, July 25, 2014


Busy, busy.  Drove the 60 miles or so to the farm and picked for both friend and me.  Stopped at her house to leave off the produce, then went directly home to shower.  Got to Scissor Sisters at my appointed time of 3:00 and Kyle did a nice job on my color.
Now my stomach is bothering me, so I bought some Pepto-Bismo; whether that did the trick remains to be seen.
Had just a bite to eat before picking up Aline and going to rehearsal for Tony and the Heiress.  For some reason, we couldn't get the community center where the show will be held, so met at Jim and Mary's, out in the country.
Lots of the usual LETCO gang was there, including Trish O. and Bob S. The latter I know I've met before, but can't place.  We read the script that Jim wrote, and it's actually not half bad.  It's mostly dialogue strung together to make a loose plot, and interspersed with songs and in Kevin's case, dance.  Aline and I have very small parts--she's Lady Number 1 and I'm Lady Number 2--but that's fine by me.  Think I'll also try to slip in a bit more of a shtick for us, with Jim's approval, of course.
Got home just before 9:00.  I always appreciate the fact the Jim, being a practicing physician and needing his sleep, throws us out after two hours.
Went to bed almost immediately and slept soundly.  Thank Zeus, my stomach ache seems to have subsided this morning.  I still have a low-level pain in my back, but it's mild.  I'm hoping the stomach problem was indigestion and is finished.    

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Judy and Jimmy

About 10:30 am, I finally worked up the courage to call Judith L. K., my-late-husband's-high-school-girlfriend.  A man answered somewhat gruffly, asked who I was, then handed the phone to her.
Of course, she's no longer the sweet-faced girl, just entering the R.N. program at Hahnemann Hospital in Philly whom I felt I was getting to know after reading her letters.  She's an 81-year-old woman and she sounds it; no trace of a British accent, which surprised me slightly, as she told me she and her mother had emigrated here just before she entered HSHS.
Anyway, she was very cordial after I told her why I was calling and we had a nice chat.  She has a daughter, who's a psychologist and a son who's a lawyer, and grandchildren.  She identified the "Nora" as Nora McG., with whom she graduated high school and roomed with at Hahnemann.  They're still in touch.
We talked for maybe ten minutes, if that.  Then I tied the letters with ribbon, added an explanatory letter and some pictures of Pat, wrapped and taped, then took it to the P.O.
Judy said she doesn't use a computer--darn--but asked for my address and phone number.  I hope she'll call after she reads the letters.
Another figure from the past: As I mentioned in an earlier post, among Pat's letters were a number to me from Jimmy D., sister Betty's former.  After I read them, I impulsively looked on Facebook and found he had a page.  Sent him a private message, he responded, and now we're in touch again--what fun!
After our walk, I didn't set foot outside the house all day; I was determined to clear my plate, so to speak, of those old letters.  To that end, I put them in order of correspondent, then made piles for the year, and finally, in ascending chronological order.  Very satisfying.
Had a lousy night last night, though: was up several times with a stomach ache. Not sure if this is connected with my side/back ache; hope not.  Left a note on the door for Susan to the effect I wouldn't walk and went back to bed for a half hour.  Damn, this is a busy day, too: picking at the farm, a hairdresser appointment, and our first rehearsal for Tony and the Heiress.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lunch and Hubris

Spent the morning on the Old Letter Project, then picked up Aline at the Stafford Library for lunch.  It wasn't a work day for her; she was there for a staff meeting concerning a problem employee.  Because I dealt with this kind of thing for so long in my Rider HR days, I was very interested in the circumstances.  I won't go into detail, but in a nutshell, a mildly disabled library clerk had been rude and dismissive to Aline and others and was generally uncooperative. I asked A. to keep me posted on the outcome.
I suggested we eat at the Horizon Diner on Bay Avenue, near the library.  The prices are high--I think the owner is cashing in on his proximity to Long Beach Island--and the service perfunctory. I had a bowl of chili, which was good, but Aline ordered a tuna sandwich and asked if she could substitute cole slaw for the pickle.  The waitress made a face, but wrote it down without comment, and brought it--then put an extra fifty cents on the bill!  That's so bush league I say the hell with the place and probably won't return.
We stopped at Target and both got a few items, then went to my place for iced tea.  While chatting with A., I wrapped the scrapbook I told Mike I'd send, along with the Carole L. letters from so long ago. Got to the post office before it closed--postage to Singapore was only sixty-one dollars, less than I thought it would be--then we went down to Graveling Point to view the water.
Dropped A. off about 5:00 after a low-key, but pleasant day.
WIDER:  Here's a whale of an opening sentence from one of my favorite writers:
Washington, D.C., is a world unto itself: inside the bubble, where politicians and their kept pundits endlessly massage each others’ egos (and bank accounts), the world is America’s oyster, to be greedily gulped and washed down with a swig of the Imperial City’s most popular intoxicant – hubris.
That's Justin Raimondo at and here's the link:  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Back, My Letters, and My Granddaughters

I was so pleased to get a video call from my precious granddaughters in Singapore yesterday.  Their father finally, at long last, deigned to contact  me and how I loved seeing them.  Both are just beautiful children--Vivian on the cusp of double digits--almost ten--and so full of life and animation you have to smile to look at her.  Six-year-old Violet is adorable; so pretty and she has a very distinctive way of talking.  It's not exactly an accent--or if it is, I can't place it--but it's so appealing and very--well, high-class, you might say.  I would certainly love to see my little grandson, too--hint, hint.
Reeling time backward: My back ache woke me at 1 am and I started getting convinced it was a heart attack.  I took two aspirin and actually contemplated calling 911.  However, I thought better of it because I didn't want to alarm the neighbors.  Finally fell back to sleep.
Continued to have sporadic pain and called to make a doctor's appointment for 3:00.  My friend came about 1:00 and we went up to Target, then home for me to shower.  She accompanied me to the doctor's and, I'm happy to say, all is well; I have some kind of muscle strain, pull, or spasm.  Doc prescribed two medications, which I went up to Wal-Mart to get  They weren't too bad, a total of $38, and I took one when I got home.  Back hurts right now, but mildly and I can live with it.
I called Comcast to see how much I could save by dropping television coverage.  Incredibly, not much, so for this month, anyway, I'll keep it.  There's also a possibility, though, of saving through dropping nationwide free telephoning, just getting local, then paying five cents a minute for out of town, or whatever.  All very complicated to support their sole aim, the heartless bastards: to extract every penny possible out of their cowed customers.
Home from The Big Apple--remember that?--Aline called and we made a date for lunch today.  She has to go into work for some kind of meeting, but will call me after and I'll pick her up.
I sat and read all the letters I had received more than five decades ago from Jimmy D., Betty's boyfriend.  Found him easily on Facebook and sent him a private message to see if he wants to have any contact.
I must soon stop spending so much time with those old letters.  I'm getting too wrapped up them and their era and I'm finding myself pulled too vigorously back to the past.  I don't belong there--nobody living does--but it's so tempting to revisit.
News Flash! Incredibly, for the second day in a row, I just got a video call from Singapore.  Reason?  This momentous news: Violet lost a tooth and wanted to show it to me. So glad to see her and her big sister, plus Snickerdoodle and Malibu. I'm going to work on the father of the family to see if they'll come over next summer, right here to Little Egg.       

Monday, July 21, 2014


I found Judy L.!
Here's how: Among the letters Pat kept were not only ones from Judy, but one from her mother, whose name was Edna.  She wrote on her husband's stationary, inscribed "Otto L."  I put that name in Google and got his 2001 obituary, which listed "Judith L. K." as a survivor.  Bingo.
Using "White Pages," I easily found Judith in Pennsylvania and discovered that she's married to an orthopedic surgeon. What's more, he had been at Hahnemann, which is where Judy got her R.N.  Presumably, he still practices, as he's listed on the staff of a hospital in Bethlehem, PA; there's even a picture of him on the hospital site.
I had sent a private message via Facebook to a Michael L. (same as her maiden name) and received an e-mail from him, saying his parents were not aware of any Judy among their relatives. However, he was very cordial and asked to let him know if I was successful in my search.
And that was almost it for the day, aside from a quick excursion to B.J.'s.  I spent it in the fifties, reading and reading the letters my husband had saved.  It's a melancholy task, but also satisfying and kind of sweetly sad.  What ever happened to those young people so strong, so careless of life, so full of exuberance, so sure the future was theirs?  Most of the guys--virtually all of my husband's friends, in fact--enlisted in the military to avoid being drafted into the infantry.  A few of the girls went to college, but many didn't because what was the point?  Their goals tended to be housewifery and motherhood and why would you need higher education for that? I was brought up with that idea myself, and unfortunately bought into it.  One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I didn't get my bachelor's degree until I was 54 years old.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Players & Playwrights

I had almost forgotten what it was like on a sunny (well, semi-sunny) Saturday in July, but was reminded in a flash driving down: The Parkway was jammed, as everybody on the eastern seaboard seemed to be going south to the shore.
In addition, I had a hard time finding Clermont Avenue, so arrived a half hour late.  As it turned out, that didn't really matter, as John P., our leader, had called to say he was in the mammoth traffic jam driving down from Trenton; it was almost 2:00 by the time he got in.
It turned out to be a so-so session.
While we waited, Mary W. asked to read a religious poem about Jesus. The group consists mainly of followers of Abraham, but were courteous enough to listen, while I, the lapsed mackerel-snapper, was bored out of my mind.
We then read Mary W.'s nonsensical offering, which featured a dysfunctional family named "Catholic." (Subtle, no? No.)  The dialogue was incomprehensible overall, and the character sometimes burst out in rhyme--also incomprehensible.  I was given the part of Liz Catholic, the daughter, who is building a corral (she spelled it "coral") with scarves she's folding and tying. Another character is one of the scarves, whose name is Pepe Juan. Mind you, this isn't supposed to be a comedy, but what it was, I don't know, aside from seventeen pages of idiocy.
We actually spent a good twenty minutes seriously discussing this garbage until we turned to Ernie's play.  This was built around Waiting for Godot and I had the part of Gogo.  It had some snappy, ping-pong dialogue, and was actually pretty funny, although somewhat obscure.  Not bad.
The third act of Linda's continuing play came next.  This concerns a woman dying of cancer and her relationship with her sister, husband, and nurse.  It made sense, at least.
We broke up a bit after 4:00 and I met Betty and Alice W. for early dinner at "Bocca" restaurant on Ventnor Avenue.  Had an enjoyable time and got home by 7:00.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blueberries, the Lake, and Judy L.

I had all kinds of chores and errands lined up for yesterday, but happily dropped them after a call from my friend.  The boys were there and they were going blueberry picking, then to the lake.  Did I want to go?  Well, whaddya think?
Met them at Emery's farm about 11:00, picked up our pails, boarded a wagon pulled by a tractor, and went to the fields.  (Jason was with us, too.  He had been visiting his grandparents, but his great-grandmother had had a suspected heart attack.  Turned out not, luckily, but she was admitted.)  Got lots of good berries, paid, left, and drove the short distance to my friend's for a grilled cheese lunch. After that, it was the heavenly waters at Harry Wright Lake, as we joined Lisa, Lindsay, and Lucas.  Stayed until a bit after four, then parted--a fine summer day.
Had a bite, then drove to Staples and Target for this 'n' that.
Earlier, I had finally finished categorizing Pat's letters, a large pile of which was comprised of Judy L.'s letters to Pat in 1951 and '52. Now, unlike Carole Liberty's (see earlier post), this was a romance. Pat had told me something of Judy, but I didn't remember a lot of it; called Flo League, nee Woods, who had been a buddy of Pat's in high school.  She said Judy was a British girl who had graduated a year ahead of them, in 1950.  Flo said she was a "very sweet girl," and Pat was "crazy about her," but they parted because, according to Pat, she "wanted to marry a doctor."  (She was in the R.N. program at Hahnemann Hospital in Philly.)
Last night, I sat and read all twenty-four of her letters.  How very peculiar it was to eavesdrop on two young people barely out of their teens, who might have continued life together if things had worked out more than sixty years ago.  And if so? It would have changed my life radically, and that of my children, and grand-children, and great-grandchildren.  The mystery of time passing is one I've always found fascinating.  

Friday, July 18, 2014


My side/upper right still aches and it's starting to concern me.  Took two aspirin when I got up.
Yesterday, I finally finished going through and categorizing the two hundred or so old letters to Pat, plus other decades-old paper.  I had to throw away a lot of brochures, leaflets, and other items, as they had gotten damp and were starting to disintegrate, but luckily, all but two letters are still readable.
I have a bundle, 21 letters and a postcard, from a girl--now in her eighties--with the charming name of "Carole Liberty."  Judging by the letters, she worked at the Boca Raton Club in Florida, when Pat did, but lived in Lynn, Mass.  They seem not to have had a romance, but were evidently just friends.
On impulse, I put her name in White Pages and what came up was a listing in Florida: "Carole Liberty Barefoot," aka "Bone."  Intrigued--is she native American or an aging hippie?--I called the number listed and darned if Carole herself didn't answer the phone.
She sounded anything but a timid old lady.  In a strong and brisk voice, she asked who I was, I identified myself, and said I'd like to send her the letters she wrote almost sixty years ago.  She agreed and I said I'd like to hear back from her; hearing she uses e-mail, I said I'd send my address.  I'd like to know more about her relationship with Pat.
I already know about his with a girl named Judy Letwin, which was, indeed, more than a friendship.  From her letters, I learned she was in nurses' training at Hahnmenn Hospital in Philadelphia. Pat had told me about her before, so I know they dated in the fifties.  I had no luck with finding her; unless a woman uses her maiden name after marriage, it's much more problematic than it is with a man.  If I'm not mistaken, Judy Letwin graduated from Holy Spirit, probably class of 1950 and, wouldn't you know it, that's the yearbook I can't seem to find.
Speaking of men, I got a charge out of the dozens of letters from Pat's pals.  I know many of them because of the Ventnor background, where we were both born and brought up.
I also found letters to me from my twin sister, Betty's, old boyfriend, Jimmy Downs.  I might share them with Betty after I re-read them.
Aside from that, I drove up to my friend's and we went to the farm. Got squash, tomatoes, garlic, kale, and other veggies, plus picked marigolds and zinnias.  Was asked to dinner, but declined and drove home.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Letters and Lunch

Spent more time on my "letters to Pat" project, which now cover the kitchen table and some of the counters.  Scanned and printed a few of the letters, and will send.
Aline called and I picked her up at 11:30.  Went over to the Hamilton Mall area, as I thought I'd look for a birthday present for Vivian at Justice, but changed my mind.  She already got a lot from there and I'll send her a little something else.
We ate at Red Lobster, another place where the beer ($5.15) costs almost as much as the meal ($7.99), but it was pretty good.  Went after that to BAM!, which would be more enjoyable if it didn't have that asinine name.
We browsed for a half or so, then drove off and to Gravelling Point to view the water.  Mindful of the terrible green heads in the area, we didn't even get out of the car, but sat and chatted.
Dropped A. off a bit after 3:00, then went to Target for Manila envelopes and small containers for the letters.  Sent an e-mail to my children, asking for advice as to what to do with them. Heard back from one of them so far, but I don't think it's feasible to scan them--too many and why not just keep them?
I've developed a kind of ache on my upper right.  I hope it's some kind of muscle soreness, as it comes and goes.  Just took some aspirin, which I hope will deal with it.
It's farm day and I'll leave for my friend's at 1:00.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Visiting the Past on Paper

Had to leave Ellen at the airport--sob!--but we managed to say goodbye without tears.  I had no problem at all getting home; there was little traffic and at that point, it was a perfectly clear day.
As soon as I walked in the door, I turned the oven to 400 and oiled and seasoned the chicken parts I had bought the other day.  Popped two in the oven and the rest in the freezer.
I was determined to continue clearing out and to that end, opened the big, mouldering boxes that had been in the attic.  Armful by armful, I brought the contents from the garage onto the kitchen table.
Almost all paper, these could be categorized into roughly three groups: letters to my late husband, Pat, from family and friends when he was in the Air Force and when he lived in Florida; writings of my own, from college, as editor of the Rider evening school paper, and from other publications; and assorted miscellaneous, such as newspaper clippings and photo book souvenirs from when Pat was stationed in France.
The last were badly damaged and I threw most away.  The others I laboriously examined, discarding those that seemed of least sentimental value (Pat's sixty-year-old pay stubs from the Boca Raton Club, an ad from a car company, receipts from various purchases) and putting the others into categories.  I came across letters from lifelong friends, including one from my brother, Larry, dated 1954.  That one, I scanned and will print out and send him a copy--yes, the old-fashioned way, via U.S. mail.  I'm not sure why, but it seems a secular sacrilege to share it electronically.        
I still haven't read most of the letters.  It's such a time-consuming--as well as melancholy--task, I didn't want to do it.  I do have them in some kind of rough order and will delve into them here and there.
Incidentally, these don't include Pat's and my letters to each other, my articles for Revenews, the Rider Credit Union newspaper of which I was editor, or copies of American Jewish Life, for which I wrote several years running. 
Sam Jacobs, our next-door neighbor in Ewing, was editor of the latter.  I well remember this often-repeated scenario: nudging deadline while sitting at the kitchen table finishing a piece, with Sam right next to me, chomping at the bit.  As soon as I ripped the last page from the typewriter (which had been my father's at Villanova during the nineteen-teens), Sam would grab it and rush to the printer's, which was--how could I possibly remember this?--in Neptune, about fifty miles away.
Aside from all that, I brought in the steel box that holds Pat's several hundred slides, most with metal "frames." Most are from Chaumont, the base in France where he was stationed, others from the short time he lived with his brother, Bill, and family. His slide projector is long gone and I'm trying to find a way to view them for distribution, aside from holding them up to a lamp--very tedious and the subjects are still hard to make out. 
Okay, back to the present: Called Aline, who was in Atlantic City on a bus trip, to see if she wanted to go to the water after dinner.  Yes, indeedy, she said, but by the time she got back after 6:00, the weather had turned mean and we decided to scratch it.  However, I invited her to come with me to get a birthday present for soon-to-be-ten granddaughter, Vivian, and we'll do that today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Island Beach State Park

Another beachy day, but with a twist; see later.
El and I picked up Aline at 10:00 and we three had a convivial and leisurely breakfast at Dockside.  Dropped A. off at the corner bus stop, as she was working until 6:00.
Home, I sliced zucchini and onions and put them in the slow cooker with seasonings. Leslie stopped in to give back the book brother Larry had sent about his (and daughter's and grandson's) trip to South Africa.  (Leslie and Dennis had done missionary work there.) My friend arrived, we chatted for a bit, Les left, then we took off for Toms River and Island Beach State Park.  We took separate cars and left mine in a shopping center parking lot; friend drove to the park, another twenty minutes away.
This is a large and semi-wild park, miles long, owned by the state of New Jersey.  We were pleased to discover that I could get a senior citizen pass free which admits the whole car.  Did so, and we drove the six miles or so to a major beach.
The girls and I settled my chair and blanket, and their shoes and tops on a likely spot, then they left for a walk down the beach.  It was somewhat cloudy at times, but mostly sunny and warm.  A mist, eerie and beautiful, hung over the ocean and flocks of sea gulls sailed and soared over the sand...
A lot of sea gulls.  A whole lot.  So many sea gulls that they put me in mind of Hitchcock's The Birds. The resemblance was even more pronounced when one swooped down to land on the beach chair of the people next to me. Then, another yanked some kind of food--I'm not sure what it was, maybe bread--out of my neighbors' belongings.
Good grief, almost immediately, the air overhead was filled with gulls!  There were surely a hundred of them, making an unholy din squawking and fighting for the spoils.  I jumped up in alarm, but not before taking several pictures.  The man with the bread grabbed it, pushing away the damn birds already tearing into it; he ran to the upper part of the beach and flung it there.  Birds followed, they converged and devoured it all, and finally few away to look for the next victim.
Wow, that was exciting, but now I settled down to watch the ocean and wait for the girls--right?  Wrong. A beach patrol truck came rolling up to announce that everyone had to vacate the beach because thunder had been heard.  The girls were long gone and I couldn't carry all the items we had with us, but I rolled all the shoes and tops up in the blanket and a nice lifeguard carried it while I took the chair and my packed beach bag.
I've heard of vacating the water if a thunderstorm threatened, but never having to leave the sand.  However, I was told that this was the second time that day people were ordered off and that the "alert," if a storm didn't materialize, would be over in 45 minutes. After about 30, while I cooled my heels on a convenient bench, El and friend strolled up, having been told of the situation--I guess, that a summer storm threatened and could fry everybody on the beach.
By that time, it was after 4:30 and the beach was closed, anyway, so we packed up and left.  Said goodbye at the shopping center, got my car, and we drove home.
We were delighted when precious little K.--and his parents--Skyped us and we were able to see him have breakfast and busily crawl around.  I was surprised to see that he was a bit cranky--first time I've seen him anything but smiling and laughing--but poor little guy, he had a cold and didn't feel well.
So sad that this is Ellen's last day here.  We leave for the airport in a few hours and I'll miss her so much.  Can't wait to move near her and I'm determined to work hard to make that happen.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cape May

Wonderful day in Cape May: It was blowy, but the early clouds lifted and sun filled this hustling, bustling resort town.  Ellen and I met my friend near the Parkway and we drove the almost sixty mile distance, chattering away.
Parked opposite the beach and walked the "boardwalk," actually made entirely of asphalt just laid on the sand.  Looked at the various pretty and fearfully overpriced doodads for sale under tents along the way.  At one point, we went down on the avenue and Ellen bought jewelry as gifts for some friends back in Ventura.
We then drove to Sunset Beach and spent the rest of the day there. Ate the lunches we had packed in the car, then got out to explore on the sand.
Now this is where I have pictures from roughly forty years ago when we brought the family here to see the wreckage of the concrete ship out in the bay and look for Cape May diamonds. What fun it was to have my girls here again and yes, to see the wreckage of the concrete ship and look for Cape May diamonds.
We spent the rest of the day here.  After an hour or so on the beach, we went in the nearby gift shop--filled with the usual which, I suppose, prevails from one coast to the other: cutesy-poo little items with anything but cute price tags. These will be received with ohh's and ahh's of appreciation, then put in a drawer to be found decades later by the recipient's heirs whilst clearing out grandma's house after she kicks off.  But, ha-ha, we didn't buy any.
Well, two of us didn't.  Ellen bought some local honey for her honey back on the west coast.
Walked down to a WWII observation tower to check that out, along with the former wildlife site that surrounds it.  Sat and talked a bit, then drove into the middle of town.
Saw a chocolate store and El bought a chocolate and bacon bar for friend; it's one of those trendy things.  I had a piece--it's okay, but you don't really get a bacon taste, which is probably all to the good.
Looked at various restaurant and picked a so-so one for dinner, eating out on the patio.  By the time we finished, it was six-ish and we were really to call it a day.  Drove back, picked up the car, made a date for friend to come down today after work, and parted.
Was happy to get a call from Aline, who's back from her great adventure in Savannah; we'll meet her this morning for breakfast. El, that angel, got Mr. Mercedes onto my tablet.  I couldn't remember how to do it and had been reading it in front of the P.C.
One more day with Ellen--how it wish it could be a longer visit.
Note: Aside from all the above: I finally got info on Tony And The Heiress from Mary H.; must write something pronto for The Breeze. Also, I think I lost my debit card in Cape May; must call the bank and report it.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fine And Dandy

A fine day!  It started off when I got up to find my white kitchen cabinets sparkling clean, thanks to Ellen.  She was up when I got back from our walk and we had a convivial breakfast together.
Incredibly, she then planted some of my new flowers, plus a number of other plants I had set out in pots.  She cut out the rose bush that was encroaching on the Japanese maple and otherwise spruced up the outside. It looks terrific.
My stern daughter then urged me to get serious about clearing out my stuff, or at least taking a stab at it.  After a lot of sighing, moaning, and grumbling, I agreed to at least the attic.  She called my friend and hers, who promised to come down to help after mowing the lawn.
In the meantime, she and I went to B.J.'s for some items and to get a large number of boxes.  My friend was waiting for us at home and after a quick lunch, we three got to work.
Friend pulled down the attic stairs, went up there and systematically handed down--or threw down--the boxes of junk that hadn't been touched for eleven years.  It included lots of stuff that could be thrown away, other things for the flea market area, plus memorabilia: letters to my late husband, dating from the 1940's to shortly before we were married in 1958.
They don't include our letters to each other.  I keep those elsewhere and I told my girls I will burn them before I die.  They're private and I want nobody but him and I to see them.
After we finished the attic, we tackled some of the garage--vases, pots, serving dishes, and the like--for the flea market pile.  Several hours of labor later, we finished up, sat for a bit to relax, made a date to go to Cape May today, and friend said goodbye.
"Let's go to the pool," Ellen and I said practically simultaneously, and we did.  It was almost 5:00 and the lifeguard was about to leave but that was okay, as there were two of us.  The just-cool-enough, sparkling water felt wonderful after our labors and we stayed for forty-five minutes or so.
Decided to go out to dinner and did, but just to poky Dynasty Diner, as I thought other restaurants would be crowded on a Saturday night.  Ellen insisted on treating and dinner was nothing terrific, but okay.
We then went down Green Street to view the water and it was lovely.  A fair number of people were crabbing or fishing and a big orange sun  just going down over the water.  I'll miss this when I move.
Cape May today--yay!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Lake

We put on our suits, packed a picnic lunch, and were down at the lake by a bit after noon. I was happy to use my Mother's Day gift of a season pass; Ellen had to pay five bucks--ha!  My friend and the two boys were already there and friend's daughter-in-law, Lisa, with ten-year-old, Lucas in tow, came shortly after.
What a lovely day.  Ate lunch, then went in the lake.  Weather was a bit too cool-breezy to be ideal, but if we stayed submerged, it was perfectly okay.
Enjoyed good talk and Ellen and I were invited to go to a Trenton Thunder game tonight; I think it's some kind of promotional thing. Thought we might, but on the way home, realized neither of us are anxious to go, so we'll decline.  We talked about going into Manhattan on Sunday and that could happen.
El and I had thought we might go to the pool when we got back--we were already in suits--but by that time, it was after 6:00 and we scratched the idea.  Stopped at Acme for a "green" spray cleaner--I don't give a damn, but daughter says Fantastick and the like are poison--plus sweet potatoes and one or two other items.
As soon as we got home, I turned on the oven, whisked the seasoned chicken thighs I had prepared earlier into it, then added the scrubbed potatoes, and stir-fried onions and Swiss chard from the farm.  El cooked the string beans we had picked on Thursday, and that was our meal--very tasty, if I say it myself.
Went down to Gravelling Point after (by this time, it was 8:00 pm) to see the water up higher than I've ever seen before.  Must bring Aline here at high tide, too.  However, we left after just a few minutes, as the biting green heads were out in force; I haven't experienced the damn things that bad since my girlhood on Absecon Island.
Topped off the day at The Pine Cone, where we treated ourselves to ice cream.  Home, I went to bed while Ellen--she's a stay-up-later--tackled my kitchen cabinets with the new cleaner.  When I got up just now, they almost hurt my eyes, they were so sparkling clean!        

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ellen And Our Activities

I was out of town over Tuesday night, and this is just a quick synopsis of activities during the past two days:
Wednesday: Left for my friend's house about 10, but when I was almost there, got a call to the effect that daughter Ellen had missed her plane (she was scheduled to arrive Tuesday night).  She had to stay in Philly overnight, and friend was going to pick her up.
Hmm...that meant I had several hours to hang out, so decided to look up old friend, Rosalie P., in nearby Windsor.  Hadn't heard from her in ten years until last month when she called me and we reestablished our friendship.  I knocked on her door and she was home. Sat in her garden for a half hour with iced tea, and talked. Rosalie is one of my more eccentric friends and I have a slew of them.  Left and picked up a few things at various stores, drove back to friend's, raided the fridge to make a sandwich, and in less than a half hour, there she was:
ELLEN!  We happily fell into each other's arms and we three gals had a fine time the rest of the day.  El was shown the big, beautiful RV, loved it, of course, and we spent time in there, too.  The girls then made dinner, while I sat and read and even laid down on the couch.  What a pleasure.
Friend's husband got home, we had dinner, cleaned up, then we three went to Spring Lake and took a two-mile or so walk on the boardwalk.  It was fine and later, we were able to see my nephew, Tim, on House Hunters, being showed three century-old house in Brattleboro, Vt., where he has a video business.  What fun to see my late sister's son on nationally syndicated television!  We loved it. (The show had actually run on Tuesday, the eighth, but we missed it.  Thanks to modern electronics, it was recorded and we saw it a day later.) Went to bed--Ellen in guest room, I comfortably on the couch.
Thursday (yesterday): Friend and hubby had to work, but El and I had a leisurely breakfast, then took off for our old stompin' grounds in Ewing.  Visited the old house on Lower Ferry, now a group home for Downs Syndrome men, took pictures, then saw former neighbor Edward outside.  He and Cindy live across the street from where we did for 41 years.  (Their daughter, Jen, is the ex of my grandson and mother of my precious great-grandsons.)  Happily, the boys were there, too, and we went in to say hello to them and Cindy. If all goes well, we'll see them today at the lake.
Stopped at the cemetery, then went to Metro, a rather nice restaurant I remembered from years ago, and Ellen treated me to lunch--very tasty.  After that, we headed to Honeybrook Organic Farm outside the lovely little town of Chesterfield.  Found it without too much problem and gathered up the kale, tomatoes, blueberries, cucumbers in the barn, then went out to the fields for chives, lemon balm, and string beans. Dropped her portion off at friend's house, stopped at Acme for lettuce, El made salad and ordered pizza for dinner, spent a pleasant evening, turned in early, and that was our full and satisfying day.
Note: At 6:15 or so, a half hour ago, got a Skype call from adorable little K., who's growing by leaps and bounds at ten months old.  Too bad Ellen is still asleep, but K.'s Daddy said they'd call back on Monday evening about 6:00.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Pool And Fascism

Got a fair number of "to dos" done early: Took a packet of mail for Mike to the P.O., stopped at the clubhouse to tell Carol the mold was removed from my house, and got the car washed.
Betty got here about 11:00 and we chatted for a bit.  Served lunch at noon, just from what I had in the house: cheese sandwiches, Caesar salad, collard greens (I had cooked them up in the crock pot on Monday), with blueberries, sliced oranges, and ice cream for dessert.
After that, we got our suits on and went to the pool.  The water was heavenly on an incredibly hot day and it was great to loll in salt water and not be assaulted by chlorine.  However, both Betty and I were attacked by some kind of microscopic--well, we couldn't see them--stinging insects; I have no idea what they could be. Nobody else seems to have been bothered, so it's a mystery as to why we were.
We just stayed about two hours, then went home and Betty left.  I showered, washed my hair, re-dressed, and took a drive to Barnegat and environs.  I was gone about an hour and a half--just driving and listening to more of Life Itself (I'm still obsessed with Roger Ebert).
Soon, I'll go up to my friend's and see Ellen--happy day!
WIDER:  "Want to hear the worst idea in the history of horrible ideas?" To wit:
The writer, Michael Krieger, added this:
I've realized that whenever you hear the term "public-private partnership" run for the hills. You are being screwed in every way imaginable.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Brain Research, Round Two

Got to Stockton at the agreed-on time of 8 am for the second session of this year's Brain Research Study.  A very pleasant young woman, graduate student Carol, greeted me and conducted the test.
Geesh!  I was cockily confident going in, considering I was a veteran, but that lasted about three seconds.  In truth, I think I did more poorly than last time.  For the prelims, I was asked the year, date, day, and present location, including the county where the college is located.  "Ocean," I said briskly, with a private yawn at how simple and silly these questions were.
Then we got into it: the lists of words and numbers to repeat back, the pictures to identify, all the words starting with a certain letter I could think of in sixty seconds, and so on.
A few items from last time were omitted: definitions of certain words (damn, that was one of my best categories); figure patterns (thank heavens, as I hadn't done well on that one); and one or two others. There were some additions, such as circling all the "A's" on a sheet with letters scattered across it (piece of cake); pairing numbers with fruits--"one-apple, two-banana, three-peach" (not as easy as it looks); and connecting numbers and letters with a pencil as fast as I could (I have no idea if my speed was fast, average, or shockingly slow).
It lasted a bit more than an hour and by that time, I was wrung out. I was amazed--and horrified--at how many times my mind just went blank, yet I thought I had a pretty good memory.  Now, as before, I'm a bit nervous at the letter promised in a few months that will tell me if I'm average for my age, or--.  Well, I don't want to go there.
After, being fearfully early for my lunch date with Betty, I got some errands run and hung out until meeting her at Outback.  We had a good one and I invited her to come over today and go to the pool. She will and I'm looking forward to it.
Oh, by the way: Before I left the Stockton campus, I stopped at the Career Center and chatted with the receptionist.  I commented sympathetically on the slumped job market and she said, "Yes, especially here in Atlantic County." Hmm...Atlantic County.  Why should that remark send up a "gotcha" flare in  my head?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Aline, Me, and The Smartass Cripple

Aline called early and we solidified our plans for the day.  I told her I had mislaid the first disc of the CD I got out of the library and she mentioned I should check my own CDs to see if I could have put it in one of them.  I did and I had, I'm happy to say.  Picked her up at our usual 12:30 and we went to SeaOaks for a nice lunch, then to Manahawkin for B.J.'s and Wal-Mart.  After, we went down to Green Street, set up our chairs, and viewed the surprisingly rough water--lots of choppiness and white caps.
Also present, unfortunately, were two women and a man drinking beer (illegally) and yelling happily at the top of their lungs.  They were so obnoxious we left after a half hour or so--which, to be honest, is about my limit, anyway, with just sitting.  Aline, a much more relaxed and placid (that's not a dig) person, is content to sit and contemplate nature for hours at a time.
A. came home with me and we had iced tea and pretzels while we talked over our coming plans.  She's working today, and is leaving for her trip to Savannah tomorrow and I'm happily anticipating Ellen's visit, also starting tomorrow.  A. viewed some of the videos of the precious angel-boy in Japan and, of course, ooh and aahed over how big and smart and cheerful and adorable he is.  Took her home about six and we said goodbye.  I'll miss her, but am happy for her; I know she'll love Georgia.  
As soon as I got home, I put chicken in the oven.  Soon got a welcome Skype call from Ellen and we had a good long talk.  Can't wait to see her!
Note:  I'm delighted to have been directed to the Facebook page and blog of "Smartass Cripple," aka Mike Ervin.  He's handicapped crippled, I'm not positive with what, but I'm pretty sure it's congenital, muscular dystrophy or something. Mike is so damn refreshing after the sanctimonious platitudes we get all over the Internet, especially on Facebook--simple-minded crap beloved by the simple-minded crappy, I'm afraid.  Yes, children, people who are different from the norm are just as human as you and me.  I've always had an affinity for those who are "different," because all my life, I've felt that's really my tribe.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Car And Mold

Oh, happy day--my li'l darlin' is all better again!  She wouldn't start on Friday, but yesterday she made an extra effort and did.  Got her to the doctor auto place, nice man put a new battery in, and zoom, zoom away!
Went to the library and got Roger Ebert's autobiography in book form.  I'm fascinated by his life--and death, and what led up to it, poor guy--and I'm listening to same on a CD in the car.  I want to see pictures of his early life, too, and am dying to see the new documentary about him. Hope Aline and I can go to New York before long to see it.
I took another CD back--had listened for a few minutes and found it boring; unfortunately, I was told a disk was missing.  I looked in the car with no luck, renewed it and when I got home, looked more thoroughly.  Nope, it's not there.  Because I listen to CDs only in the car and never take them inside, I'm afraid it must have fallen out. Darn; guess I'll have to pay for it.
My friend's hubby came and power washed the back and side of the house because of the mold letter I got from the home owners association.  It took hours in the broiling heat and I wasn't going to loll in the house while he worked, so I spent almost as much time pulling weeds in the front and sides.  What a job, but that's what I get for neglecting it.
Aline and I will spend the day together, then she takes off for a week in Savannah.  I'll miss her her, but--Ellen will be here soon, hooray!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Party And Pride

Well, the fourth fizzled, with rain, rain, rain all day.  I stayed in--necessarily, as I tried my car and again and it didn't even turn over. I'm desperately hoping Pat's Auto is open on Saturday.  My friend and her husband are supposed to come down and I'll ask them to jump the battery enough to get it to his place on Radio Road, so I can have a new one put in.
Showered, dressed, and strolled down to the H.'s party a bit after four to find the usual gang there.  Good picnic food, including hot dogs, burgers, ribs, various salads, and cake and cookies.  I had intended to bring something--it's customary--but couldn't get to the store with no car, so shoot me.
Had a lively discussion around the table with Iris, Julie, Pat G., and Susan, mostly about religion, but touching on politics and the dismal state of the world today.  I mentioned the Brain Research Study and both Iris and Julie are interested.  When I got home, I e-mailed them the particulars.
Thank the gods, there was no gung-ho, "patriotic," worship-the-flag nonsense, during which I always feel distinctly uncomfortable.  I remember one of the H.'s July fourth or Memorial Day parties a few years ago.  Some crazed boob--or maybe boozer--broke into The Stars Spangled Banner and everybody shouted it out except Leslie and me.  We pacifists sat silently.  What came to mind was the scene in the movie version of Cabaret in the beer garden when the children get up and start singing Urberland or the equivalent. Many of the patrons--the approved, Aryan ones, that is--join in, swelling up with joy at their mighty nation, up from the depths after World War I and poised to rid the world of vermin like Jews and cripples. The phrase applied to Hitler, "criminal pride," comes to mind.
I hope, hope, hope I can get my car up and running today.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Glorious Fourth of July

WIDER:  On this fourth day of July in the year 2014, these words from eight years ago seem much more fitting than the tiresome catch phrases and cliches we hear all around:
Published on Monday, July 3, 2006 by the Progressive

Put Away the Flags
by Howard Zinn
 On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.
Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?
These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.
National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.
Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.
That self-deception started early.
When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession."
When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day."
On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence." After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."
It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.
We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people.
As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness."
We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.
Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.
How many times have we heard President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy"?
One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail last year that God speaks through him.
We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.
We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

The Boys And The Car

A half and half day: Half great and half gruesome.
My friend having invited me, I got up to her house by 10:00, happy to be with her and the boys, J. and T.  I often forget they're my great grandsons, not my grandsons and what a delight they are.
It was Thursday, pickin' day, and we took off for the farm, T. looking like an adorable little hayseed in his straw hat.  There wasn't much to pick except herbs, but we got our allotted Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, zucchini, blueberries, and tomatoes in the barn.
When we got back, T. announced he was going to make us lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and (with Nana's supervision), he did. They tasted great, along with cherries and strawberry yogurt.
After, we played croquet in the backyard, but boy, was it hot and, yes, I got a lot of bites, too.  It was fun, though.  We then walked down the street to Dawn's, whose produce stand was open,  We bought peaches, nectarines, and apricots, some of which the boys devoured before we even got home.
In the deliciously cool house, J. and T. played chess, then I played with J.--badly, I'm afraid, because he was just teaching me and I found it hard to remember the moves.  I left about 4:00 with hugs and kisses all around; I love to be with them.
The six million cars and mine going to the shore the day before the fourth were bumper to bumper on route 539 and stuck at one point for a good half hour.  The jam finally eased and I neared Little Egg about 5:30. Decided to stop at Acme for a bag of ice, as I was worried my refrigerator wasn't cooling properly.
Bad idea. The parking lot and the place itself were jammed; you'd swear a hurricane, famine, and foreign invasion were teaming up to take us all to glory.  However, I valiantly fought my way in and out and, with a sigh of relief, put my key in the ignition and--
Nothing.  It didn't even turn over. Well, I'll cut the rest short: I called Allstate, they sent a guy who charged--I guess--the battery (which I know I haven't changed in many years) and I finally went got home about 7:00.
Now the fridge seems okay--I think.  I put the ice in the freezer and left the car in the driveway (instead of the garage) in case it has to be towed.  Besides, I understand it's going to rain today and I might as well take advantage of that to have it washed.  
Calmed myself by reviewing the new videos of the little darling in Japan, had a bite, and fell thankfully into bed.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Aline's Birthday Lunch

A very pleasant day.  I picked Aline up at our usual 12:30, and told her to choose the venue for her birthday lunch.  She hesitantly suggested Italian Gourmet, a little worried it was too far away, but no, a good choice, and off we went.
We both had the veal Marsala--very tasty--and I surreptitiously asked the hostess to have a cupcake with candle presented to Aline after we ate.  It turned out to be a cannoli and didn't have a candle on it, but the waitress sang "Happy Birthday" and Aline got a kick out of it.
I wanted to introduce Aline to the Barnegat waterfront--see yesterday's post--as I knew she'd love it, so we drove down there after lunch.  She was thrilled to be "on the water" and we strolled the "boardwalk," then sat under the pavilion for a good three hours, talking and laughing and enjoying the glorious Jersey sunshine.  On the way home, I stopped to treat my friend to her favorite: Jeffreeze ice cream.
I knew the musical, Jekyll and Hyde, was at Surflight and closing on Sunday, so I suggested we go if I could get the hefty $45 ticket price discounted. Aline enthusiastically agreed, as we both had seen the star, Bart Shatto, in Les Mis, and he is superb.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the price lowered, and as neither of us were willing to pay $45,*we reluctantly scratched the idea.
My friend called and we discussed our regular picking today.  I'll go up there about 10:00.  The boys will be there from 10 to 2, so I'll be happy to see them, too.
* Highway robbery, it seems to me.  Rick Mellerup, who's in LETCO and with whom Aline and I both appeared in You Can't Take It With you, writes for The Sandpaper. He reviews a lot of local theatre and panned J. And K. for the horribly flawed sound and lighting, although he praised the performances.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

To Sleep, Perchance To Have A Premonition...

After our walk, went to Mastercraft for my 8:15 oil change appointment. I always expect them to come out and tell me I need some enormous repair job; luckily, that didn't happen. This time, the guy just said my air filter needed to be replaced and it was only twenty bucks.  Mind you, any mechanic could tell me anything--"You need a new vector monitor and it'll come to two thou"--and I'd have no way of knowing if such a thing existed, let alone if it needed to be replaced.  But this was okay.
Home, I did a lot of wash and finally tackled the mounds of paperwork I had on the desk: organized into folders, filed, and threw out--very satisfying. Made a few calls, then looked at Craig's List and other sites for possible apartments in Ventura or nearby.  Found some possibles, but the rentals are daunting.
Late in the day, I got in the car and drove to the bay area in Barnegat.  This is a lovely place with a short, wide boardwalk overlooking the water.  Must take Aline there.
Here's something off-putting:  After lunch, I could hardly keep my eyes open for some reason, and lay down on the couch. Very unusual for me, I fell into a deep sleep and had an incredibly vivid dream.  I won't go into particulars--there's nothing more boring than other people's dreams--but it entailed my having a stroke and being unable to talk intelligibly; my vision was affected, too. It was so realistic that when I woke up (I had slept only an hour), I felt a great sense of relief that it wasn't true.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Brain And Justice

Got to Stockton for the Brain Research Study thing as scheduled at 11:00.  Chatted with the two assisting psych students--female--who prepared me for the brain wave (I think it was) scan. One blonde, one brunette, they were both very pleasant, quite pretty, and so awesomely clueless about what kind of job market they're facing, it was scary.
Do they have any idea--a clue, a hint, a vague notion--of how overcrowded the field is?  Why the hell does each think she's the special snowflake?  Of course, they both intend to go to graduate school, another scam by the educational cartel, but so does everybody else. How many of the multitude--and that includes English, history, archeology, and "sociology," that pretend field--of liberal arts grads churned out every year are going to assist Jane Goodall or dig up the equivalent of Cro-Magnon man?  Yes, that's right.
Okay, tirade over.  I didn't say any of the above to the two earnest girls, of course--they'll find out soon enough--and we had a nice chat.  They fitted up my head with dozens of electrodes (or whatever they are), sat me in front of a monitor (stare at a plus sign for three minutes, close eyes for another three); gave me a few papers to fill out ("Do you stay in most of the time?" "Are you usually cheerful?"); and I was outta there in about an hour.  Next Monday comes the nerve-racking memory part.        
Went from there to Justice Brothers, a store in Mays Landing for pre-teens, and got a gift for precious little Violet, who will be six on July tenth.  Stopped elsewhere for a card and rushed home to wrap it, then to the P.O. to send.  Didn't get lunch until almost 4:00, after which I did this and that, re-dressed, and went off to the viewing for Val S., yet another loss of life in this community.  Lots of neighbors there, of course, and I sat and chatted with several.
Was pleased to get a Skype call (on which there was a problem, so we switched to the phone) from Ellen, who's had some fun times with her Greg.  We discussed where I might live when I move to the left coast and she said her friend, Linda, has suggested an independent living situation called Cypress Place.  I went on its web site and sent for a brochure.  It's a possibility, although I'm not sure it's for me.  We'll see.
El will be here a week from today--yay!--and will stay over with her sister for the night, then I'll see her on Wednesday.  We also talked about my budget, which my financial advisor drew up for me.  He and his brother, the Scrooges, have been nagging me about out of control spending, and now I reluctantly think they may have a point. If it will save a fair amount, I intend to drop Comcast for t.v.--I don't watch much and won't miss it--but not while Ellen is here.
Aline called and we had a good talk. We're both looking forward to tomorrow when I take her to lunch tomorrow for her birthday.