Archive for the 'RL happenings' Category

Dinner Down the Shore

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I think it must have been the fried clams at the county fair. In the middle of the week my husband suggested that we go down the shore for dinner on Saturday – he had a craving for fried seafood. “Down the shore” – that’s a Jersey thing. You go down the shore so you can go to the beach. I have still not made it to the beach this summer but I’ve been down the shore for dinner twice. 🙂 I am a Jersey girl through and through. We’re the best. Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen know that. *grin*
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There are many places we like to go for dinner, but one of the most fun, most convenient and ultimately least expensive is Moby’s Lobster Deck. It’s owned and run by the same folks who run Bahr’s Landing restaurant (which has been there for over 100 years). We learned about Moby’s from friends of ours when our son was still in single-digits. As you can see from the pictures, it’s not much to look at. It really is a seafood shack. You go to the window and place your order and get a number. Then you go up on the deck and hangout and wait for your number to be called. I seem to remember that when we first started coming the picnic tables were covered with red and white checked plastic tablecloths, but I may have added that memory on my own. What I do know is a factual memory is that my son snitched a piece of fried food from his dad’s plate without asking. He’ll never do that again, because when he found out WHAT he ate, he was not a happy camper. *grin* I don’t remember it if had tentacles or suction cups, but my son did NOT want to be eating it. Some lessons are best learned first hand, pun intended.
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When we left the house it was hot and sunny. Of course we took the convertible with the top down. It’s the best way to go down the shore. 🙂 (It’s the best way to go most anywhere, as I think I’ve mentioned.) The weather was perfect and traffic was light, despite it being a Saturday. We were doing something a bit different than our usual down the shore trek for dinner. We left around 2:30 pm (we had a stop to make on the way). We figured we get there around 3:30 or so and have an early dinner, before the crowds started coming. I’d not had lunch yet so that timing was going to work for me. We took the local roads, not the highway, which led to an interesting observation by my husband. He noted that in one short stretch of road we’d passed FIVE pizza parlors. 🙂 We immediately began counting pizza parlors the rest of the trip. That led us to the all important question: Are there more Chinese restaurants or pizza parlors? I will tell you that we asked Siri, and she failed utterly. But I think we may have discovered the beginning of a new car travel game.
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We were on the last stretch of road on the way to Highlands. There is one hill you climb, and then start down again to the coast. As we crested the hill I thought I was seeing smoke. My husband said no, that’s fog. Sure enough, as we came down the hill, it was fog. What a sea change from when we left! I have been down to Sandy Hook in the rain and the fog, so it was not a new view for me, but it was a bit uncommon. We do tend to go down the shore in nice weather, not fog. I actually enjoy a bit of fog in the mornings, or late afternoons when we are staying for a week. There is something so soothing and exotic about a touch of fog with the salt air, and the sound of the water. I will tell you that when there is NO fog, you would be seeing the sandy stretch of beach on the other side of the Shrewsbury river.
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You can see by the pictures that we did indeed beat the crowd. We had a lovely dinner listening to the seagulls (wow, those are BIG birds) and the water lapping against the pier. My husband indulged with fried clams and steamers. I had a fried fish sandwich and corn on the cob.
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We had time after dinner to drive a little further to what used to be one of our favorite restaurants. It has changed ownership, name and menu. When I’d checked it out online the menu was not especially appealing – it wasn’t seafood oriented anymore. They still have the tiki bar and live music, but I’m not sure that will be enough to pull us back. There is another restaurant next door, that we have always observed, but never investigated. This time we found a place to park the car (parking is an issue in that area – not many spaces for out-of-towners. We wandered over and discovered that this place had a VERY interesting menu, as well as 3 different seating areas – the outdoor tables with umbrellas, an open-air covered area, and then the inside typical restaurant area. We decided we’d really like to try that restaurant next time. It’s going to take a bit of planning, however, because parking really is an issue down there. Too bad they don’t offer valet parking like our old favorite does. That was, I confess, a big lure for that place. We headed back to the car, and I cruised a few more blocks, scoping out where we might be able to park if/when we return. There did appear to be hope of spaces about 2 blocks away, so it’s certainly a stronger possibility now. *grin* All we need now is to find a time to get back there.
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My New Toy

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Memories of Key West

For several weeks I’d been seeing an advertisement on my FB stream. It was for a photo display device called “Skylight“. It was billed as the perfect Mothers’ Day gift, then as the perfect Fathers’ Day gift, and a graduation gift. You get the idea. One day I clicked through on the ad to see what it might be.

It appears to be the perfect gift for the technologically-impaired relative who doesn’t want to mess with computers, phones or tablets, and/or has poor eye-sight so that viewing photos of loved ones on a phone/tablet is not that clear. The part that caught MY attention, however, was that it holds around 8,000 photos. I have a LOT of photos. I always took a lot and once the phone cameras came into being, my picture taking increased exponentially. I thought why not give it a try, it’s a fairly reasonable price, it sounds easy and if I don’t like it I could give it away. I ordered it just before Fathers’ Day and ended up getting a discount on the price. Apparently so many people had ordered it that if I didn’t mind waiting a few extra days, they’d knock off $15. Sure, why not, right? It was for me. I’m not a father. *grin*

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Memories of Rockefeller Center

As is par for me, I did nothing with it for a few weeks. In the meantime, my niece had a baby. This is the first baby of that generation in our family, although I think she must be the 5th of that generation in my brother-in-law’s family. We all met the new addition and I thought that maybe I should just hand over the Skylight to my b-i-l’s mother (who is as a second mother to me – we’ve been mishpacha since before my sister married her son.)

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One of my favorite photographic subjects

I didn’t hand it over but I did finally set it up. (Okay – I know you’re reading this so I’ll confess – my friend set it up.) It took less than 15 minutes to turn it on, connect it to my wifi, and start sending photos. In a nutshell, the Skylight is meant for someone who is the recipient of other folks sending photos. Perfect for a great-grandma with a new baby where the distant parents are sending regular photo updates. Each device has its own email address, and anyone can email photos to that address, where they appear “magically” on the Skylight as long as it has internet connectivity. There are a few settings (how often does the photo stay up before the next one appears, show them chronologically in the order they arrived or randomly) but basically it’s as simple as someone sends you photos and you look at them.

I LOVE IT.

There is no USB connection. I thought at first I’d just hook up a USB cable and dump all my photos. Nope, you have to email them (again – think of the purpose – distant relatives sending regular updates of family members). This means I need to go through all my photos and attach the designated pictures to the email and send it to the device. I am having so much fun going through the photos, recalling things that I’d forgotten about completely, reliving happy memories. Photos of people and pets who are no longer with me, my son’s school events, family gatherings, excursions, office parties – they are all there and I’m reliving them all. After viewing a few folders of photos I find myself grinning ear to ear – so many happy smiling people! I have to smile back.

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Memory of major snowfall – over 2 ft

I loved it so much that I bought one for my other mother (see above *grin*). My sister set it up for her and now her children and grandchildren and I are all sending her photos from all places and ages. I’ve found so many good ones from the past. Every time I send one to her Skylight, I laugh and smile – it makes me feel so good to send her something that will make her happy. And it DOES make her happy – she loves hers, too. She knew about them because a friend has one. She says the friend no longer watches TV, she watches her Skylight. *laughing* It really is captivating. Last night I encountered a myriad of photos from my former office and coworkers. I started sending them out as well. I found the photos from a Passover seder where one of the guests turned 62. I sent those. IT FEELS SO GOOD to send happy memories to people.

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Memory of Cocoa Beach

I guess you could consider this an advertisement. That isn’t usually my “thing” – pushing products. But this particular ‘toy’ has given me such joy that I’m telling everyone about it. I love sorting through my photos, cropping and cleaning them, and sending them off to the Skylight. It’s sitting on a table in my living room at the moment. I’m not sure it will stay there because I don’t actually spend that much time there. I almost think I might move it into the kitchen where I can watch it.

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Memories of St. Croix USVI

I have no idea how many photos I’ve loaded. I’m actually working my way forward from 2 points in time: 2002 when I apparently began taking digital photos, and 2013, the first year I had on my laptop. I’d archived all the earlier photos onto removable drives. It has taken me several days to make it out of 2005. *grin* 2016 is also proving to need many days of curation. I’m not sure 8000 photos will suffice for me. I may need to get another one. Considering the joy it gives me – it’s well worth the price.

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Enough already – pay attention to ME!

Cicadas

To me the sound of cicadas is an “end of summer” sound. This feeling has grown on me over the years – I don’t believe I felt this way as a child. It seems to me that I become aware of the cicadas in September, the end of summer both literally and emotionally. They are sooooo loud once they get going. This year I became aware of them in July. I’m not sure why that was. Did they emerge earlier? Am I listening for them? One day they will be a cacophony wherever I am. The next day it is as if they never emerged. Yesterday morning I came to the office and was slammed by a wall of cicada sound when I got out of my car. Today – nothing but the pterodactyl screech of the adjoining warehouse.

For your listening pleasure, should you like cicadas, I give you the other day at work. That buzzing humming noise on the video – that is ALL cicada. That’s what they sound like. I never see them but oh wow, just listen to them sing.

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The County Fair

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I LOVE the county fair!! When I was growing up I never went to it – it never even registered in my life. Once I had a child, and I was looking for fun things to do with a child, that didn’t cost a fortune or involve traveling forever, the county fair came into focus. Our county fair has all the standard county fair components: the 4-H exhibits (Head-Heart-Hands-Health), the arcades, the rides, the food vendors, the local business exhibits and people, people, people. You know how I love crowds and excited people!
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This year the weather was perfect! The fair runs for a week, and they only had one rain-out day on Wednesday. Otherwise the temperature and humidity were perfect for fair-going. We headed over on Saturday night (after I rested from my 5-hour pruning marathon). I was craving fair food – food on a stick, those fabulous butterfly fries, and maybe even ice cream. I didn’t eat much during the day so I could FEAST at the fair.
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Every year I say the same thing – we HAVE to come on MONDAY so that I can see all the prize winning vegetables and fruits before they have had a week of wilting in the heat and humidity. We have never made it on a Monday. 🙂 I think that seeing the vegetables may actually be my favorite part of the fair. I’m not sure why, therefore, I can’t get myself over to see them when they are at their peak. I can’t even tell you why I like them best, unless it’s so that I have a comparison and goal for my own garden. I like seeing the art work as well, although this year I found I mostly disagreed with every blue ribbon winner. 🙂 Maybe I can get myself on the judging committee?
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We follow pretty much the same itinerary every year. We start with the baby animals, move to the historic machines, see the vegetables and fruits, see the art work, and then to the arcades and rides. This year we got our dinner first (I was HUNGRY) and wandered towards the baby animals. We could see a big crowd just past the baby animal tent, and we could see 2 motorcycles with riders up on a tower. So we headed there to see what was happening. That ring has been where the horse jumping has taken place in the past. This year it was stunt riders on motor bikes. They were definitely stunt-y and very exciting. But all in all – I personally prefer watching horses in action.
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We went into the baby animal tent and of course ooo’d and ah’d at how cute they are. From the calves and goats and emu we went to the rabbits and the chickens and the snakes and the guinea pigs. I think every year I must say that I think there are fewer exhibitors, but there are still a good number. Good thing, too, because what is a county fair without the 4-H part of it? My husband is convinced that he wants us to have chickens when we retire. I am convinced that I want no such thing. 🙂 So while I crooned at bunnies, he was looking at chickens. One cage had 2 chickens, Honey and Stella. I told him I would only consider letting him have a chicken if he named it Stella, so that he could go out in the yard and call “Stellaaaa!!!“.
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I loved the Maytag washer. You KNOW it was the top-of-the-line in its day. Look at the wringer section where you could do the preliminary “drying”. That is a classic for sure, but I’m VERY glad to have a more modern version at home. 🙂
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Many years we spend a LOT of time at the arcades. We all (me, husband, son) love to do the water pistol challenge – the one where you shoot water into the target to try to get it to move to the top first. I wasn’t much in the mood for playing so my husband did a round or two and that was it for the arcades. The racing pigs weren’t there this year (I love the racing pigs) but they had the Axe Women Loggers of Maine. We saw a little of their log rolling – impressive!
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I’d had my bbq’d beef on a stick and my butterfly fries. We’d gotten some fresh-squeezed unsweetened lemonade. All that was left was dessert. I thought I wanted ice cream but the first line I went to stand in was too long for the paucity of flavors. One of the traditional (every year tradition) food vendors sells apple crisp with ice cream, other fresh fruit smoothies, brownie sundaes, and cheese cake dipped in dark Belgian chocolate (so they say). Since the ice cream wasn’t doing it for me, I decided to try the cheese cake. I’m glad I tried it – you should always leave yourself open to new experiences. I have to say that neither the chocolate nor the cheese cake were improved by the pairing. 🙂 The cheese cake was too cold (so it would hold up when dipped) to taste the yummy cheese cake-iness and the chocolate was too sweet. I took a few bites and tossed it. But now I know for the future that it is NOT something I need. I can go back to the ice cream lines.
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My dessert was the last fair experience I needed. We were parked in the ENORMOUS field, and almost at the furthest point from the fair entrance. We meandered back to the car, put the roof down *grin*, and headed home. Another wonderful year at the county fair!!!
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5 Hours

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After the Pruning

This weekend the weather was GLORIOUS! No humidity, low 80s, sunshine – just perfect weather. Beginning on Friday afternoon I began psyching myself for waking early on Saturday to go out and tackle the evergreens in front of the house, which were in desperate need of pruning. I got up a little before 7:30 am, fed the cats, cleaned their litter boxes, and headed out to tackle the pruning. My husband left, came back, left again, came back. When I finally finished all I’d hoped to do, and bagged the evidence, I’d been out there for 5 hours, utilizing 2 different step ladders. Even as I type now, I feel the strain in my muscles. Ouch.

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Before the pruning

On the other hand, although my body feels battered and bruised, the hedge and garden are looking extremely fine, in my opinion (does anyone else’s opinion matter for this???). I even tackled the willow bush along the driveway so that I can pull my car further up without fearing for the paint job. No pictures of that so you’ll have to take my word for it. Would I lie to you, honey? Now would I say something that wasn’t true? *grin*

I spent several hours on the hedge alone – getting the front, top, back and sides. I usually try to do this in the spring, before the flowers are growing, so that it’s easier to clean up the cuttings. I had to keep moving the large step ladder around the dahlias, trying not to damage them. I did at one point lose my balance anyway (on the ground, NOT on the ladder, go figure) and ended up falling on one of the dahlias. 😦 Thankfully I only damaged a piece of it, not the whole plant. There will still be flowers. I don’t use an electric hedge clipper. I use manual loppers and take my time to step back a distance and see what I’ve been doing. My goal is to take the top down sufficiently far to allow air and light to come into the front sun room under the awning, without losing the privacy we get from the hedge. I’d estimate I took off at least 8 inches from the top. I also pruned the little golden arborvitae a bit – took a bit off the top and the side by the golden rod.

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After – look there is yard art!

I also trim the front and sides to give room to the other bushes and flowers there. The one side was reaching out to the andromeda bush and the other side was into the potted plants along the front walk. Perhaps the ‘ickiest’ part of the pruning is the back – clearing a path between the hedge and the house. That’s where the spiders hang out. Ick. Yes, yes, I KNOW they eat bugs. But I don’t like them or their webs touching me. *shudder* I go through first with a broom to clear anything like that before I start cutting. I had a lot of encouragement from the butterflies. Both the black swallowtail and the monarch butterflies were flitting about.

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Before – hedge over the bottom of the awning.

Once I finally got the hedge under control, and took a few cuts at the forsythia on the corner of the sun room, I worked on the willow bush along the driveway. I’d hacked it back in the winter when we were due for a huge wet snowfall. I learned in the past that huge, wet snowfalls cause the willow to bend all the way into the driveway and until we clear that bush, we can’t move the cars. It’s been a wet spring and the willow has flourished. I also trimmed up the pots along the front walk, and weeded them, and removed the ones that were done for the year. I was doing my best “energizer bunny” imitation. 🙂 I am delighted that FINALLY the canna lilies in the front pots are blooming. Sure took them long enough. I still see very little evidence that the ones in the other pot will flower. 😦

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Behind the hedge and weeded container pots

After all of the pruning is done, then comes cleanup. Had I seen any evidence of the teenage boy who supposedly lives next door, I’d have tried to hire him to do get the debris into the big brown lawn bags. But as is usual this summer, there was no sign of life there, so I bagged 4 brown bags full of debris. Ouch. Anyway, I think it’s looking fine now, and there is air and light in the sun room. You can see the metal heron between the bushes. Even the metal & rocks art sculpture can be seen. Pruning the rhododendron and tying up the forsythia will have to wait til fall. I’m not sure my muscles will recover before then. 🙂
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Focus on the Positive

Some days it’s just very very difficult to remain upbeat. On those days I look for the brightest possible spot and stare there, whether literal or figurative. This morning’s bright spot award goes yet again to the mandevilla. 🙂 Look at that plant grow!! Not sure where it thinks it’s heading – I may have to string some rope to support that top tendril.

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Making Do On the Lunch Hour Walk

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I like to get out and take a walk at lunch when possible. I’ve done that at every location I’ve ever worked. Before my current location, I worked in a very nice office park. There was a lake, the lake had turtles, wading birds (crane, egret, whatever it was), lots of green grass, pebbled paths for pedestrians, and of course wonderful coworkers (I have to put that in – I know some of them read this *grin*). Not only was it lovely right in front of our building, but I could walk through the trees behind our parking lot into another area with paths and trees. It really made for a lovely stroll.
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Well, nothing lasts forever. It wasn’t wedding bells that broke up the old gang but cost efficiencies. First they told us we should/could all work from home and they closed the office. (I don’t LIKE not having a place to be with my coworkers so I kept nudging and nagging until I got an assigned desk in a new location, close to my home.) Shortly after they kicked everyone out, they decided that everyone had to be co-located. I was already relocated, but the rest of my group would be relocated to another state. As you might imagine, by now most of them have relocated to other companies or retirement.
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I, however, continue to work and continue to come in to the office (a lot, if not always). I still like to walk at lunch when the weather and my schedule permit. But the current scenery is a far cry from that to which I’d become accustomed. (Speaking of cries – remind me to come back to THAT.) As you can see from the photos, I walk around the parking lot. Yes, I walked around the parking lots before as well, but they were surrounded by lovely trees and green grass. This parking lot is surrounded by fences and warehouses and storage facilities. The parking lot itself could serve as a set for a post-apocalypse movie. I mean – LOOK at the plant above. Doesn’t that look as if it has been exposed to some kind of radiation? It certainly does not convey an image of health and serenity.
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One of the neighboring facilities is a warehouse with large openings for trucks to back in and unload. Unearthly pterodactyl-like screeches sound irregularly from that facility (okay, I don’t KNOW that they are pterodactyl-like sounds but they sound the way you’d THINK a pterodactyl would sound). The sounds are triggered by sensors in order to keep birds from flying into the warehouse. I have no idea how effective they are as bird-deterrents but they enhance the post-apocalyptic sensation wonderfully. I debated recording it for you but that required more patience than I had. 🙂 Not to mention that I didn’t want to stand around too long and become pterodactyl lunch. Maybe they aren’t recordings.
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But still, I get outside and I do get to walk, and there are some interesting leaves. In the spring there is even a row of day lilies along one of the sides of the building. I have no idea what trees are shown in my photos. I know that one of those things looks exactly like the enormous 12 foot tall weed growing outside my dining room window. I usually try to pull it before it reaches the berry stage but I gave up on weeding this year. Can any of YOU identify it? I don’t know what the fern-y tree is either, but I like the pretty orange things on it (seed pods? leaves?). I walk up and down the aisles of the lot, looking at the cars, trying to find attractive distractions. To date my best distraction from the walking and the post-apocalyptic blues has been YOU – I write posts in my head until I get back to my desk! Thanks for reading!!!! 🙂
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