Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Fourth Installment of a Five Week Long Series - Preserving Memories - Sharks & Green Vampire Teeth

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

Writing this on Sunday June 29

On Thursday June 26 we took the boys to the Point Pleasant Beach Aquarium.  It’s right on the board walk.  When we got in sight of the amusement area they both wanted to know, “What is this place?”  I told them it’s the boardwalk.  They said in unison, “What’s that?”  
Hmm, it’s clearly obvious that these kids need to have much more schooling in Jersey culture.  
When we got onto the boardwalk, they didn’t know what to look at first.  If you’ve never been to a Jersey boardwalk, it is most definitely an attack on all of the senses. 

Even though the aquarium is not large, it has enough attractions to hold the boys’ attention.  
They were most interested in the scuba divers, turtles, squid, jelly fish, poison dart frogs and of course the sharks. 
After the tour of the aquarium and a bite to eat, the kids wanted to know if they could go on the rides and go into one of the arcades.  I told them they could pick one or the other.  They chose the arcade.  On the way to the arcade, they asked if they could each get a tattoo.  
Hey, we are the grandparents, we only get to see them a couple of times a year.   Of course we said, “Yes you can each get a tattoo.  Do you want the red and black snake or the green tarantula?”  Kenny chose a dragon and Ty picked the spider. 

In the arcade, because they are only 5 and 6, most of the games were beyond their reach, both physically and mentally.  But we did manage to find a couple they could play.  They were thrilled when, whatever game they were playing, would spit out prize tickets.  
I tried my hand at ski ball and I managed to rack up a nice amount of tickets. 
After an hour we told them it was time to cash in our tickets so that we could redeem them for wonderful and exciting prizes. 
I think they got the most enjoyment from feeding the tickets into the redemption machine.

Let’s see the prizes they picked were fake mustaches and green vampire teeth. 

Friday, June 27

Jimmy has off on Fridays. 

My heart is warmed to see him with his boys.

So, Jimmy took the kids to his house for the weekend.   We’ll get to have them with us again on Monday. 

Okay, yeah we admit it, we needed a little rest.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Third Installment of a Five Week Series - Preserving Memories Mummies and Tough Love

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

Writing this on Saturday June 28

I am pretty sure that Kenny and Ty won’t remember this time many years from now. 
These posts will be for them to read when that time comes.

We have fallen into somewhat of a routine.  The boys seem happy.  I’m glad about that.  We were worried that since this was their first long visit, they would be uncomfortable and have homesick issues.  But, so far so good. 

The weather on Tuesday started out looking iffy.   There were heavy low clouds.   The air was oppressive.   I decided that I would take the kids to the craft store to get paint for their pine cones.  Apparently,  Ross decided this would be a good rainy day activity for them.
I also wanted to treat each of them to a new pair of sneakers, and then stop at  “Five Below”.  They carry all kinds of stuff priced at under $5.00.  I thought they could find pool/beach type toys there.
Okay, I will admit it.  The shopping trip was exhausting for me.  It’s been a long while since I have  had to get little kids in and out of car seats.  Climbing in the back seat, trying to get the seat buckle in, making sure everything is secure may be easy for young parents, but let me tell you, it was a chore for this grandma.
They know how to unbuckle themselves and get out of the car.  As soon as I stopped the car, one kid would go out one door, the other out the opposite door. Then I would frantically try to gather them both together to make sure they didn’t go running out into the lot while someone was pulling in or out of their parking space.
So by the end of the trip, Ty had gotten his finger caught in the door latch, I started to drive away with my hatch back door open and I ran up and over a curb.  Crunch!
Yeah, exhausting!
In the afternoon the clouds disappeared and we were able to spend a couple of hours at the pool.
As I was sitting on the edge of the pool, (Ross was in the pool with the kids) I began to notice how all of the grandparents were chanting the same cheers.
“Good job, Susie!”  “That’s it Johnny, you’re doing great.”  “Okay, see if you can swim all the way over to the other side and back.” “Come on Bella, you can do it!”
Except, that is for this one lady. Her’s went something like this:
“What’s the matter with you! Put your face in the water!   Don’t be stupid.  How do you think you’re gonna drown with the life guard there and all of these people around.  Now swim!”
Ay yii yii, grandma!
Well, who knows maybe that kid will be the first one to learn to swim.  Tough love?
We spent Wednesday at the pool again.  When the kids get out of the pool now,  they want Pop-pop to “make me a mummy.”  It has become part of the routine.
Hard as they tried, the kids could not stay awake to greet their father Tuesday or Wednesday night. They fell asleep on the floor, side by side, with pillows under their heads, and wrapped in an afghan.
When Jimmy got home, he picked them up, cradled them in his arms and carried them into their beds.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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

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

I am pretty sure that Kenny and Ty won’t remember this time many years from now. 
These posts will be for them to read when that time comes.

Writing this on Tuesday, June 24

One of the difficulties of my grandsons’ visit is that they won’t get to spend very much time with their father.   That’s because Jimmy started a new job a few month’s ago and doesn’t have any vacation time accrued yet. 
He gets to spend a couple of hours in the morning with them before he leaves for work.   His schedule is 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  He gets back to our house at about 10:00 p.m.

Yesterday we kept the kids active most of the day.  We went to the pool in the morning.  Then we came home and had lunch.  After lunch we made a  stop at the Surf City 5&10 to get sand pails and shovels before we went to the beach. 
The weather was perfect.  Temperatures were in the mid 70’s and the humidity was low.  Even though the ocean was rough those boys couldn’t wait to get into the water.  The first wave knocked Tyler completely over and under.  He jumped right back up, ready to battle the next wave. 
They squealed and laughed as they jumped and chased the waves. 

When they finally had enough, they snuggled under their towels to dry off and munch on a snack.  They had to hold their pretzel sticks close, to hide them from the gulls who were not so patiently waiting to make their move.

Ross and I, well okay it was mostly me, had the brilliant idea to get one of those beach carts.  I convinced him that it would eliminate us having to lug chairs on our backs and be loaded down with beach bags, towels, sand toys, snacks.   We could just pile everything into the cart.
“After all”, I said, it has those big wheels so it will be easy to push/pull in the sand.
In order to protect the beaches from further erosion,  especially after Super Storm Sandy left the Jersey shore pretty much decimated, the beaches have been built high up with dunes of sand.
That means the walk to the water is down a steep hill.  Easy peasy to pull cart down the embankment.  The walk back up, though, yikes!   We actually had to stop to rest a couple of times.  We were a huffin’ and puffin’ that’s for sure.
I’m not sure if the cart is the better option.

Oh my goodness, I have forgotten how such small bodies can hold so much sand.  Even though they hose rinsed, it was like having two real life Pig Pen’s shedding sand all along the way.
Needless to say, the bathroom and shower floors were turned into their own mini beaches.

Dinner was my famous home made gravy and meatballs piled on top of a plate full of ziti.  Either it was really good or they were really hungry, but they both chowed down.
Desert was four scoops of Blue Bunny Chocolate ice cream for Kenny and five pretzel sticks for Ty.
Then, what I am sure seemed like forever for both kids, was the wait and anticipation of Daddy coming home.  They sat on the sofa so they had a full view of the front door.  They would ask every once-in-awhile how long before Daddy would be home.  They fought with valor to keep their eyes open.
At 9:50, at the sound of our squeaky front door, they both jumped up and into Daddy’s outstretched arms.

After spending a full day with Kenny and Ty, it is so dearly obvious how close they are.  They are each other’s playmate, confidant and most importantly comfort for one another.

A Lesson For Me Today From Tyler
Rico is one of those small yappy, barky dogs.  He makes a ruckus whenever we come through the door.   My first and automatic response is always, “Rico, Quiet!”
Tyler said to me, “Why?”  “He is only happy to see us.”
And here all along I thought he was just trying to annoy me.  I guess I never noticed the grin on his face like Ty did.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit The First Installment of a Five Week Series Preserving Memories

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

I am pretty sure that Kenny and Ty won’t remember this time many years from now.
These posts will be for them to read when that time comes.

Monday, June 23, 2014
Jimmy’s boys are up here for a nice long visit and are staying with us.   Kenny is 6-1/2  and Tyler will be 5 in a few days.
They got here yesterday afternoon.  Those first hugs were the best.  They are both on the reserved and shy side.  Even though we don’t get to see them as often now, they do remember the times they did spend at our house.  They seem comfortable and at ease here.
They both love Rico.  Rico is not used to little kids being around.  I would say he kind of likes the attention, because in Rico’s world any attention is better than none.  But, I think it is more of a “Okay, even though I don’t like anyone to touch my back legs, cause I am an old dog with arthritis, I’ll fake smile while I growl under my breath.”
We live in a community that has an outdoor and and an indoor pool.  I suspect we will be spending a good deal of time there with them.
Soon after they got here, one of the first things we did was walk down to show them the pools.  It is a 2 mile trek.  One mile up and one mile back. An easy jaunt for the boys.  It was a cool day and it was after five o’clock when we got there, so the pool area was pretty empty.  They both said “yes” when I asked if they thought they would like to come back the next day to go swimming.
On the walk back Kenny and Ty played tree tag.  That’s the game where you jump as high as you can to try to reach the furthest  leaf on each tree that you pass.
Needless to say they were way ahead of us the entire walk back.   They would sprint ahead, play tree tag and then stop at each corner to wait for us to catch up.
They also picked up pine cones along the way.  I guess they are starting a collection.
Dinner for them was what I have come to learn is the standard fare for kids their age.  Chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.
They spent the rest of the evening in the room they will share with their father, playing video games, and just cuddling.    Time with him is what is most precious for all three of them.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chippy and the $150 Bird Feeders - Part II and The End

So a few weeks ago we put a couple of bird feeders in our yard.   We are newbies at this.  I thought all we had to do was hang the feeders and fill them with bird food.
My novice expectation was that  exotic, cute little birds would immediately flock to our feeders, flutter around, smile for the camera, and keep me entertained for hours on end.
Well, part of that did happen.  The birds did come.  There were finches,  sparrows, morning doves and occasionally cardinals.   I consulted my National Audubon Society’s “Field Guide to Birds - Eastern Region” book
to find the proper names for them. I didn’t realize how many different types of finches and sparrows there were.  I soon fancied myself to be a  budding “birder”.
After a few days, I noticed that the feed was disappearing rather quickly.
I became suspicious when I saw that the chipmunk had taken up residence in the “big foot” planter I have under the tree in our front yard.   Which, by the way, happens to also be the tree that one of the feeders hangs on.

Okay, he is kind of cute.  But he was eating all of the seed.  Bird seed.  For the Birds.  My cute little exotic, okay maybe not so exotic, birds were not getting their fair share.  I figured that soon they would find other feeders that were much more to their liking.  You know, the Johnson’s down the street or Janet, next door.
As I watched Chippie climb up the tree, skim the branch and then jump down onto the feeder, I had the brilliant idea of moving the feeder into the back yard and onto a shepherds crook.  No way would he be able to navigate that slippery pole.

That’s how much I know about wild life.
As Ross says, “Why that little bugger!”

Ross - “I’ll show him!”

I googled to find out how to deter Chippie.  I discovered that we had to install something called a baffle onto the top of a tree hanging feeder or on the bottom of the shepherds crook.
The nearest place we could find that carried such a thing was at “The Bird House of Cape May”.  Cape May is about an hour and 10 minutes from where we live.  It was worth the drive.  The owner was knowledgeable.  The shop was adorable and carried everything a newbie birder would find interesting.   Plus they had the baffles.

Fast forward to today.  We now have three feeders, each with their own baffle.    Yesterday, I saw a squirrel hanging around the backyard feeder.  I might have to install a top and bottom baffle now on that one.

Yeah, so far the tally for this new hobby of mine is at least $150.

The other day, as I was sitting in my sun room, I saw something flit by the window.  I got excited thinking it was a hummingbird.  I had not seen one of those yet.   I watched as it “perched" on the pine tree a few doors down.   As I zoomed in with my camera, and snapped this pic, I was perplexed.  I didn’t find this species in my Field Guide to Birds - Eastern Region.


Oh and another thing.  Yesterday I found a bone on our picnic table.  I don’t know where it came from or whose it is.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chippy and the $150 Bird Feeders

This is the story of Chippy and the $150 bird feeders.

This past winter my next door neighbor put a bird feeder in her yard.   One day, as I was sitting in our sun room watching one of the snowiest storms of the season,  a brilliant red bird flew by the window and perched on the feeder.  Large flakes zig zagged in all directions in the fierce wind.   The bird clung to the dome topped feeder as it swung wildly back and forth.

Before that I had not paid much attention to birds.  But after that day, I started to notice them.  While on our morning Rico walks, I began to recognize the cardinal’s call.  I noticed another bird, similar in looks, but not red in color.  I realized it was the female cardinal.

Then I became somewhat obsessed about photographing all of the different types of birds right in our neighborhood.

 During the winter when the trees are bare, it is easy to spot the birds.  But now that the trees are filled with foliage, I can clearly hear them but they are hidden among the leaves and are not as readily seen. 
The people next door left for their summer beach house a few weeks ago.  That means an empty bird feeder which also means no birds to watch from my sunroom. 
I decided that if I want to continue to enjoy these interesting creatures, I should put up my own feeder. 
And that’s what we did.  We put one right outside of our window on a shepherds crook.  It has a thermometer.  We hung the other one from a branch of the tree in our front yard. 
Cool huh?

He(she?) thought so too.

To Be Continued...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Brain Yoga

 My mind and spirit are in need of brain yoga.  I promised myself that Today I am going to write a post.
Some of it will be filled with hum drum.  Okay probably most of it will be that.  But I know that when I begin to meander and wander down the pathways of my mind, recalling what my week was like, my thoughts will most likely reveal feelings which I have been relegating to my inner sanctum.

Yesterday, Father’s Day.
 My own father passed away over 20+ years ago.  He was quite a character and I could write reams about him.  He may not have been the perfect father, but I know he loved me, the only way he knew how.
My son and my son-in-law are great dads.
I was a little upset for my son, whose boys were not with him yesterday.  But they will be coming in a few days to spend part of the summer with him.   We are all excited and are looking forward to their visit.
Ross was thrilled when he received a text from Bella wishing him a “Happy Father’s Day, Pop-Pop.”
I know how much that meant to him.

I mostly now hold my grief over the loss of Joe close and deep in my heart.  I don’t write about it as much.  I am quiet.   It is always with me though.
I struggle a little more with my emotions on each one of the special days that are traditionally celebrated during the year.
This yesterday’s Father’s day I was filled with anger because my grandson did not have his dad.     From the moment of Domani’s birth, Joe was instantly a father.  He loved that boy so much.   I am sad that I only had a brief time to see my son with his son.  He was so proud of his little guy.
I still have difficulty with acceptance.   I am confused and filled with disbelief.  I shake my head back and forth in a silent gesture of no, no, no.

Sometimes it is so hard to reconcile the joy I feel for my other children and grandchildren with my melancholy.

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted that someone asked him why he hated Father’s day so much.  Only a person who has never suffered the loss of a child would be insensitive enough to ask that question.

So today’s post wasn’t so hum drum or newsy but I did stretch my soul.
Sun Salutation
Tomorrow I’ll tell the story of Chippy and the hundred and fifty dollar bird feeder.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Baubles, Beads, Bangles and Trinkets

For The Record:
Saturday, June 7, 2014
St. Mary’s Flea Market

Ross and I were once in the Antique and Collectibles junk business.  It started a dozen years ago when I walked into an antique shop and bought an old green glass juicer.  It seemed like suddenly I had a collection of juicers.  From juicers we progressed to costume jewelry for me and old postcards for Ross.
We didn’t limit our buying to those things specifically.   But they were our favorites.
We slowly but surely turned into auction and estate sale addicts.  
In order to pass along the “treasures" we acquired,  we rented space in various antique malls.  When our garage and office overflowed and there wasn’t enough space in our rented space to put more stuff, we would load up our SUV and head over to the large flea market in the area.

Ross at the Columbus Flea Market 2010
Finally, when our out of control buying came close to being highlighted on an episode of “Hoarders”, and there was no way we would outlive our stuff, we decided it was time to get out of the business.  It took several weeks but Ross packed it all up and an auctioneer took it away.

Over 90 banana boxes filled

No room for our cars
 Taking it Away
Now, we may go to an estate auction only three or four times a year.  I still like the vintage costume jewelry and sell it on eBay.  The problem with buying at an auction is that you have to buy whole lots of items.  And in those lots there may only be a handful of quality items worthy of selling on eBay.
The rest of the items start to accumulate once again.

This weekend one of the local churches was sponsoring a flea market.  On Saturday, Ross and I packed up our little hatchback with my boxes of jewelry and participated in the sale.

Lyn’s Gems
More Gems
Ross doing his best to convince her she needed it.
I have to say, it’s not hard to attract women to shiny sparkly things.   We sold $650 worth of baubles, bangles, beads and trinkets. 

We didn’t sell it all, though.  Time to call the auctioneer again.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The News of The Day - 82 Year Old Arrested For Shaking His Fist

June 5, 2014
8:26 AM

Waiting Yet Again
We have had a cool spring so far.  One day last week it was hot enough for us to want to turn on our air-conditioner, but the house was not cooling off.
According to the Newcomb & Co. blog, “If it’s two or more degrees warmer in your home than your thermostat setting, the air conditioner is not working.  Most of the time it should be able to maintain your home within a couple of degrees of your setting.” 
Obviously, the temperature has to be warm enough out side in order to diagnose the problem.
This morning we are waiting for the repairman to come between 8:00 and noon.
Wouldn’t you know it,  it’s a dreary, rainy, and cool day today.
But, since we haven’t received a phone call to cancel the appointment,  I assume he is on his way... in the next 3-1/2 hours that is.

In other news
I subscribe to a website which reports local news.  The Patch is an online publication which services areas all over the country.
Most of the time the headlines are sensationally outrageous.  The details of the story usually don’t meet the level of anticipation or expectations of the title.

For example here is a headline from today:

Police Charge Barnegat Food Pantry Volunteer With Harassment

What would you think this would be about?  

Even though I should know better, I took the bait and had to find out:

                Who is it about?
                What happened?
                Where did it take place?
                When did it take place?
                Why did it happen?
                How did it happen?

So here is the rest of the story:

A Barnegat man who volunteered at the Barnegat Food Pantry is facing harassment charges after police responded to a report of a disturbance at the pantry. 
Patrolman Jim Purcell arrested Thomas Taylor, 82, Barnegat at 2:09 p.m. on May 30 at the pantry on North Main Street. Another food pantry volunteer reported that Taylor became irate when she refused to give him a key to a secured area of the pantry to which he was not authorized to access, Lt. Keith Germain said. 
The pantry volunteer told police he had "yelled and cursed at her as well as shook his fist in close proximity to her," Germain said. 
The victim told police she has been subjected to this behavior by Taylor on multiple occasions in the past, he said.  
Taylor was arrested at his home and taken to police headquarters for processing. He was released on his own recognizance pending a court date, Germain said.
Posted by Patricia A. Miller (Editor) , June 04, 2014 at 11:26 PM

While I Waited 
My imagination ran wild as I delightfully pictured the whole scene.
The author answered most of my questions in the details of the story,  but not the Why.
I wondered why Thomas desperately needed that special key to the apparently highly sensitive “secured” area.  
And better yet, why did the holder of said key deny Thomas the privilege?

It has been my experience that volunteers often get carried away with their “importance”. 

9:39 AM
I hope the Air Conditioner repairman gives us good news in the next 2 hours and 21 minutes. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dr. Freakin’ Odd

June 2, 2014

7:26 A.M.

Here I am sitting in bed with the laptop.  I have a doctor’s appointment today with my gyno.  Not as bad as a dental appointment for a root canal, but a close second.
I have been going to this particular doctor for about 7 or 8 years.  He is a little odd.  By that I mean that I think he uses humor to try keep his patients relaxed and calm.  Unfortunately, for me anyway, I find his jokes to be corny, but they certainly do distract me.
One of his favorite things to say is, “Now I don’t want you freaking out about this.”
Apparently, if his patients “freak out”, that makes him “freak out”.  And, as he told me last time he doesn’t like to be “freaked out.”

I am now debating whether or not to go to Curves.  I think I will.  It may help with the nerves.

Be back later.
8:50 - 9:20
I did go to Curves.
After my “workout” selfie. 
Here I am after my workout.  As I was getting into my car three women were approaching.  One had a neck brace on.  The injured woman was going into Curves to drop off her $2.00 for the weekly Curves group NJ lottery.   I’m not sure that was such a good advertisement for Curves.

After my doctor’s appointment Ross and I went to lunch at a cute little restaurant on the water.  It’s called Panini Bay.  Nearly two years ago it got completely washed out in Super Storm Sandy.  During the renovation they had to put it high up on stilts.  You can take the stairs or the elevator to get to the entrance.

Oh, the doctor’s appointment was a pre-surgical consult.  Ross came into the office with me and had a grand old time with Dr. Odd.  Those two freakin’ jokesters.