Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pshaw…Bish Bash Falls - A Local Legend?

Our Little Jaunt
Part I

We are on a little get-a-way.  Actually we were not really trying to get away.  I would say it’s more of a desire for a change of scenery.
So, yesterday, we left the Jersey shore area and headed up to the mountains.

We had to cross over the GW bridge first to get out of NJ.

After the bridge, there was no traffic and the rest of the 4-1/2 drive was pleasant.  

The change of scenery that we were looking for was immediate.   We left behind yellow sand and blue sea to  travel along green, hilly and curvy roads.

The meadows are softly lavender, and wildly golden.

Spotty emerging dabs of orange, and red are beginning to peek through.

Red barns and white silos complete our picturesque drive.

We debated over our lodging.  I have a hard time picking.   Well, that’s because when I go to check out each of the travel websites, the first thing I do is look at what kind of rating former travelers have given the places.  Let me be more specific.  The first thing I really do is read the “poor” ratings first.   
I mean I can generally tell when the negative comments are not pertinent.  
For instance, one woman complained that her son woke up the first morning with a few bites.  Of course she claimed that they were from bed bugs.  Interesting that not one of the other 500 comments mentioned anything about having a buggy stay.  So, I ignore those kinds of comments.
I do pay attention to complaints about cleanliness, outdated accommodations and rude staff.

There are many quaint B&B’s here.  There are also vintage throw back roadside motels.  Actually some of the motels got excellent reviews.

I decided, though, to go with the tried and true Marriott.  I am pretty happy with a comfy bed, reliable  WIFI and a flat screen TV. 

We will check out the other accommodations, though.  I would rather judge those for myself in person.

Yesterday, we tried to find Bish Bash Falls.  We were told by a couple of the locals that it is a pretty spot.  A must see, we were told.  In fact one of the waitresses at the luncheonette gave us, “better” directions than “your GPS.”

We were told that the falls were only 15-20 minutes from town.   After driving for 45 minutes we decided that the legendary Bish Bash falls are just that.  A local legend.

Anyway, today is a rainy day.  I’ve been up since six waiting patiently for Ross to wake up.

Well, time for breakfast.  It’s complimentary with Marriott, you know.

We’ll see what the day will bring. 

To Be Continued.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

When I am 100 and You are 104-1/2

August 31, 2014

I’ve heard many people claim that once they get to that middle stage of their life, they feel more accepting and comfortable with who they are.
I’m not sure I understand what “they” mean by that.  And to be perfectly frank, I don’t believe a word of it.
Well, okay, perhaps it is true for some people.
Personally, I’m not one of those.
Mid-life crisis?  It’s hokey.  Really.  The life expectancy in the US is approximately 79 years.
So half of that would be about 40 years old.   When I look back at myself at age 40, I am quite certain that I wasn’t thinking that I was in the middle of my life or in crisis.
Oh sure, I was raising children, trying to make ends meet, riding that roller coaster, but I was far too busy to be introspective.
If memory serves me, I don’t recall contemplating how wonderful the next half of my life would be.
Yes, when I look back at myself at age 40, I realize I had no idea about life.
Which brings me to this point in my life.  67/79=84.5.  Or nearly 85% of completion.
I can’t even come up with a catchy, fun phrase for that number.   Sorry, but “almost over”,or  “the end is near” are the first things that pop into my mind.
Ross gets upset with me when I mention that.
“Come on,” he’ll say, “We could live to be 100, you know.”
My reaction and response is, “Oh please.”
Anyway, Now that I am an 85 per-center, I do have time to be introspective.
Sometimes staying in the present is much too humdrum and boring.
I shockingly have come to the conclusion that somewhere along the way I may have lost my imagination.  I wonder, “What happened to my stories?”
My body does a fine job of reminding me that I am “not as young as I used to be.”  I can no longer eat the foods that I love.  Although I have started to wear a FitBit, I don’t feel very fit. That is probably the hardest to accept.
I can count my blessings.  I can be regretful.
I can wish I would have and wonder if it is still possible.
I can long for the good old days and be fearful about what might be coming next.
I can be sad for all that I’ve lost and be wondrous about all that I’ve found.
At my age, I have come face to face with the biggest boundary of all.
So, Ross when you are 104-1/2 and I am 100, will we look back at when we were young sixty and seventy somethings and realize once again that we knew nothing.
Will we finally be able to say we are comfortable with who we are?

So I came across a couple of pictures of myself over the past four years.  As I looked at these photos, I have come to the conclusion that what I am really in the middle of is a schizophrenic hair style crisis.

Warning...some of these photos may have been touched up or air brushed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ocean City NJ Vacation - by Guest Poster Isabella - Preserving the Memories Part II

Ross and I spent the week of August 16th-23rd with Jen, Derek and the grandkids in Ocean City NJ.
I am writing these next few posts to preserve precious memories for my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids and maybe even great-grandkids.

I thought it would be interesting to get another person’s perspective on our beach vacation.  
I asked my favorite 10 year old grand daughter Bella to be a guest poster today. 

On August 16, my family and I went on our family vacation. My grandma and pop-pop bought rented a beach house. It was on the first floor and we were only 4 blocks away from the sandy hot beach. Read on to learn what we did on the beach, boardwalk, and how we spent family time together.
                  Like I said we went to the vast beach. We went every single day! My 11 month old baby brother loved to play on the breathtaking beach for the very first time. Except he wasn’t very fond of the loud, crashing waves. The first day we went there we even built a (small) sand castle around our umbrella.
                  We also went to the mind blowing crowded  boardwalk. We went to Pirates Cove and Wonderland. (Which has all the cool rides.) My dad and I went on a ride called Double Shot. It was completely terrifying. You sit on a seat then it takes you high in the air and propels you down while you still are in your seat. I don’t recommend it if you hate the dropping feeling in your stomach. Also we got hermit crabs named Winnie and Onyx. We did a lot of shopping to conclude our time at the boardwalk.
                  Finally, the best part was the family time that we all shared. On some days everybody would go down to the beach AND boardwalk. It was so nice to have family time.
                  As you can see I had the best time at Ocean City, New Jersey. I’ll always remember the time we had at the beach, boardwalk, and with my family.


Thank you Bella.  I would love to have you contribute your writings more often. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ocean City NJ Vacation - Preserving the Memories Part I

Ross and I spent the week of August 16th-23rd with Jen, Derek and the grandkids in Ocean City NJ.
I am writing these next few posts to preserve precious memories for my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids and maybe even great-grandkids.
Part I

We had near prefect weather each day.   The house we stayed in was only three short three blocks to the beach.
We were on the south end of the island.   It’s much quieter there because it’s further away from the busy boardwalk area.
We had our own little neighborhood joints, though.  Mike’s Seafood
was on the corner.  Mike’s has a fresh fish market, if you want to cook your own.  Otherwise, you can enjoy one of their prepared platters and eat on picnic tables under the covered patio.  Their biggest business, however,  is their take out.  We had a good vantage point from our place watching people as they walked back to their cars loaded down with shopping bags filled with styrofoam containers.

Every evening Bella and Ryan would look out across the street to see how long the line was at A la mode Ice Cream Parlor.

Then, one block from the beach there was Ross’ favorite, Mallon’s Bakery.
They are famous for their sticky buns.  Ross was pretty bummed out when the young lady behind the counter informed him that you had to buy six of one kind.  He was hoping for a variety by mixing it up with one of each kind.
But they don’t sell them individually.
If you are interested they deliver all over the country.

One of the best things about the house we rented was the large covered front porch.  It was always cool and breezy.  Since it faced a fairly busy street, we were provided with great people watching entertainment.

Jen, Derek, Bella, Ryan and Jackson would head on over to the beach every day.   Just like most of the families with kids, preparation included loading up the beach cart.

Beach Fun

In the evenings it was boardwalk time.  There are mandatory stops to make on the OC boardwalk.  For the kids, and kids at heart, of course it’s the amusement area rides.

And it has to be Johnson’s Popcorn, Kohrs Brother’s Custard, and Manco & Manco Pizza.

One day, as I was sitting on the porch, I overheard a conversation between a woman and her grandson, as they were walking by.
The little boy, who appeared to be around 6 or 7, was very excitedly asking his grandmother if she would take him to the boardwalk later that evening.
“Grandma, grandma, please, please can we go on the rides later?  Please?
The grandmother stopped and knelt down so that she was eye level with the boy.
In a serene and calm voice, she responded, “Johnny, dear, let’s just stay in the moment and enjoy our walk, okay?”

Good advice, grandma.  Very good advice!

I hope to have a guest contributor help me with one of these posts.  It will be interesting to get her perspective of our vacation.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Grieving Mother Seeks Her Holy Wayne

Finally, after watching six episodes of the new HBO series, “The Leftovers", I have a sense of what the show is really about.

The basic premise is that 2% of the world’s population has literally vanished.  All of them have disappeared at exactly the same moment.

The story takes place three years after the event has happened.  The plot revolves around those who were left behind.

I spent the first five episodes trying to figure out the mystery of what happened to the people who were “taken”.  I wondered, with a lot of frustration, when the great mystery would be solved.  When was I going to know the answers?  When would all be revealed?

There is more than one mystery woven into the story.  For instance, what is the mission of the group called “The Guilty Remnants”?  Why do they wear white?  Why don’t they speak?  And the biggest question is, why must they constantly have to be smoking a cigarette, at all times.

As Ross and I watched each episode, we would exchange confused looks and say, “What the heck?”

Last night, though, I figured out that I had been watching as if the story were science fiction, or fantasy.

I mean how else could the premise of the sudden simultaneous disappearance of millions of people be feasible?

Then last night there was that scene.   It was a most poignant and powerfully relatable scene for me.  (Spoiler Alert, in case you are not up to date).
Before Nora goes to meet Holy Wayne, she has a confrontation with an author who has written a book about moving on and starting over, called “What’s Next.”
She screams at him, “There is no moving on, there is no happiness.”
“What’s next?” she yells.  She screams, "NOTHING!  Nothing is next!”

But, it was the next scene which took place between Nora and Holy Wayne that really got to me.
Holy Wayne asks Nora, “You’ve lost someone?  Someones?”
Her pain is evident.
He asks her, “And you believe you will always feel that pain?”
Holy Wayne asks Nora, “Do you want to feel this way?”
Nora starts to break down, begins to cry and can barely speak.
“You believe you will always feel that pain.”
“If it starts to slip away you seek it out again.”
"You won’t let it kill you.  But you won’t kill yourself.”
“For whoever is joined with all of the living, there is hope.”
"Hope is your weakness.  You want it gone because you don’t deserve it.”
“Nora, you do deserve hope."
“The question remains the same, “Do you want to feel this way?”"
Nora quietly, answers, “No.”
Holy Wayne opens his arms and says, “Let me take it from you.”
Nora softly asks,  “Will I forget them?”
As Holy Wayne takes Nora into his arms he smiles and strongly says, “Never.”
Nora gives into her grief and sobs as Holy Wayne holds her tightly, taking her pain from her.

As I held back my own tears, I realized that the story is not about a futuristic possibility.  And it’s not about finding out why or how.

It is about each and every “left over”.  After all that’s what we all are.   Because everyone, every single one of us, from the moment we come into this world and begin to live, has been left behind.

Nora paid Holy Wayne $1000, to take her pain from her.  Afterwards, she believed that he did.

I understand that type of belief is what enables most “left overs” the ability to “move on”, “have hope”, be assured that their “someones” will never be forgotten.

Today is the fifth of another month that has gone by.  Although the pain mostly stays beneath and under, it is not weaker.   I too am afraid to “give away" my pain.  Afraid that if I do that I will forget him.

I haven’t found my “Holy Wayne”.  I don’t know that I ever will.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Final Installment of a Five Week Long Series - Preserving Memories

For the Record
Kenny and Tyler’s Visit
June 22 - July 27, 2014

Writing this on Wednesday, July 30 & July 31

So, our grandsons’ last day with us was Thursday.  It’s hard to believe that they have been gone almost a week already.  

The five weeks now seem to be a blur.  They went by so fast.  

From the very beginning we quickly and naturally fell into a routine which was comfortable and accommodating for each of us.  

For the most part mealtimes were fairly easy.   
The bowls of Fruit Loops for breakfast had to contain equal amounts of cereal.  It was amazing how Tyler knew if his brother had even one more Loop than he did.   “Kenny has more than me,” was Ty’s standard morning observation.

Lunch time was peanut butter and jelly crustless sandwiches.  Grape for Kenny and strawberry for Tyler.  

Dinner time was whatever we decided would be on the menu, with a plate of food set aside for when Jimmy came home from work.

And always, always chocolate milk to drink in their own special glasses.  They had to remind me each time who got the red one and who got the blue one.

Ross would take them to the pool every day.   Even that became a standard routine.
It would start off by me yelling “Who wants to go to the pool?”  Most times the response would be a duet of “Me!”   Sometimes, though, one of them would say, and mostly in a whiney voice, “Aww, I don’t want to go to the pool.”   Usually, that would be Ty.  But as soon as Ty saw his brother getting his bathing suit on, grabbing his towel and his guest ankle bracelet,  he would immediately change his mind.

By the last week, I think I had a good insight into Kenny.   Everything he did revolved around how much time he could occupy until his father got home.  It was an interesting observation.
I understood that for Kenny, going to the pool meant using up two hours.  That meant two hours closer to when his father got home.  When he would ask to watch a movie or a tv show it was the same consideration for him.
It was really quite touching and a little heartbreaking at the same time.

Another issue for Kenny was staying close to home.  I think that also had to do with making sure he was there when Jimmy got home.

One of the things that we found a little challenging was finding ways to motivate the boys to leave, as they referred to it, “the neighborhood”.

One day last week we wanted to take them to the little zoo here in our area.  It’s really a rescue sanctuary for in crisis animals.  It’s called Popcorn Park Zoo.
We had been mentioning this to the kids since they first got here.  Neither one of them said they were interested.
So we I had to use a little trickery.
The day we picked to go, I told the boys that we were having workman come to the house and that we had to leave for a few hours.
It went something like this:
“Kenny, Ty, hurry up.  You have to get dressed. Quick, quick!  The workman will be here any minute now and we have to be out before they get here.”
They both started to run around and get dressed.
We were out the door within 10 minutes.
I kind of feel bad about that, but sometimes a grandma has to resort to such methods in order for her grandchildren to have fun.  :)
The zoo is a short 20 minute ride from the house.  When we pulled into the parking lot they both wanted to know, “What is this place?”
I told them that it was Pop-pop’s and my turn to work at the zoo.   We had to feed the animals.
“Oooo,” they said in unison.   “Can we help?”
“Well, okay,”  I said.  “I guess you can.”

So, even though they had to leave “the neighborhood” they had a great time.

By the middle of that final week, although he didn’t express it verbally, it was obvious by the increased number of times Tyler would FaceTime with his Georgia family that he was missing home.  

The last day, on Thursday, Jimmy brought his boat down.   He, Ross and Kenny went for a cruise around the bay.  Ty and I agreed that dry land was more our preference.

Back home, after the boat ride, there was a flurry of activity, packing the boys and Jimmy up.  They made sure that the presents that they picked out for their Mom and sisters went into the side pocket of the backpack.  The Minion hats I made went into the suitcase.   
I checked under the beds, dresser drawers and the bathroom to make sure they didn’t leave anything behind.  

But of course they did.  They left behind so many precious memories.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It’s Loop-de-Loop Time

I vaguely, but barely, remember the details of those days.   But, I vividly remember feeling that my life was like a series of amusement park rides.  The ups and downs of a roller coaster, the round and round we go, but getting nowhere, of a carousel.  I was always dragging and tired to the bone.  There was never enough time.
I thought about those times the other day after I left my doctor’s office.  I like my doctor.  She’s young, probably in her late 40’s.  She’s married with two small children.  She’s pretty with blond hair and caring blue eyes.  At my appointments, she never seems in a rush.  She will sit down, eye level with me and intently listen.
I’ve had doctors who come buzzing in the room, fire questions at me and don’t even look up when I answer.  They say, “okay” and mutter “uh huh”.  And after the allotted time granted to me, usually a mere 4-5 minutes, it’s “Take two of these and see the front desk for your next appointment,” as they rush out the door.
But not my doctor, she’s definitely not like that.  At that last appointment, though, when she came into the exam room, she didn’t greet me with her usual smile and the “I’m so glad to see you” look.  It was obvious to me that she was exhausted.  She told me that she hadn’t had time that day to get outside for that breath of fresh air that always perks her up and gets her ready for her afternoon appointments.
Apparently, she had had a bad morning.  I thought to myself, this woman needs a vacation, a good and long vacation.
A few days later, when I went to my hair dresser, I thought again about those past times when I felt as though I needed a good and long vacation.  I like my hairdresser.  She is the owner of a busy salon. She’s about my age and is a natural born schmoozer.  Even though I am not a regular client, I see her about three times a year for a hair cut, she remembers who I am.   I can tell that by the questions she asks me.   She always spends a lot of time on my hair.  But this day, there was quite a definite audible sigh at the end of her question,  “So what are we doing with you hair today, Lyn?”  Oh, she tried her best to muster up some enthusiasm, but it just wasn’t working.  I thought to myself, this woman needs to close up shop.
I am constantly amazed by the grueling schedule that my daughter, her husband and their three small children have to adhere to.  It leaves them with very little free time.
I don’t know where my daughter-in-law summons up  the energy she needs to dedicate herself to a demanding full time job, keep up, as a single mom, with an energetic 3-1/2 year old and among other things, train for a marathon.
I am impressed by the way my son fits in time to be with his boys as he works an unforgiving 11:30 - 8:00 shift.
When I take a look at all of these situations, I am reminded of the time of my amusement park life.   I have to wonder if it was worth it.   Oh, sure, that is the way of this life.  We certainly have to earn our living.
When I reflect back, though,  I can’t help but ask myself if there could have been some other way.
I clearly remember the exact moment that I decided that I had had enough.
It was Thanksgiving Day, 2001.  Just a few short months after September 11, 2001.  I was hosting dinner for my family.  The table was set.  The turkey was brown and juicy.  The last of the fixin’s were ready to be served.  Everyone was seated.  Just as I sat down, my work beeper went off.
I was on call.  I spent the next four hours on my computer trouble shooting a problem.  Was it a life or death issue?  Not even close.  One of the executives was not receiving his e-mail.
I retired in July of 2002 at age 55.

There are times, I admit, when I think I may have retired too soon.
I remember something my father always used to say…”Where are you going?” I realized on that Thanksgiving day of 2001 just what he meant by that.
So no, I have not one regret of my decision to  retire from life’s loop-de-loop.

I appreciate most of every minute of the serenity of my precious time.  Cause after all, “where am I going?”

What about you?  Where are you going?