Working From My Western Office

Chandler Hilton pool

If it’s June it seems to be that I am in Arizona. I’m not sure how I manage to always pick the hottest months to go to Arizona, but perhaps that’s just one of my many superpowers. 🙂 I needed to pick my dates carefully because I had a VERY important 2nd birthday for the cutest grand-niece in the world, and then commitments on the coming home end as well. I took an early morning flight out on Monday morning. The last 2 early morning flights (I’m talking 9am here, NOT 5am) both had the sleeper seats – the kind that recline nearly horizontal. Last time that was a complete waste for me as I was not tired, but this time I thought – why not? I reclined and slept. 🙂 That does make the flight go faster. What I want to know is why I NEVER have those seats on the red-eye coming home. That flight has the old basic seat, but that’s when I want to sleep the entire flight. Go figure.

No, you CAN’T come with me

I picked up my rental car and headed to my Arizona ‘home’ – the Chandler Hilton. I have to give them a call-out – they are always so helpful and pleasant. I really do enjoy my stays there. I’d booked us a room on the executive level so we had a balcony, and access to the lounge (water and coffee and snacks all day long!). We also had a view of the pool this time instead of the parking lot. 🙂 I do so love a water view! 🙂

My son and I both planned to work the beginning of the week, and then take off from Thursday through Sunday for vacation activities. I always get a kick out of having him stay at the hotel with me and then “commute to his office” in the morning – his office being his bedroom since he’s been WFH for over a year now, like many of us. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly uneventful activity-wise. We did go out for a celebratory dinner on Monday. We were celebrating my son’s latest promotion (just learned that morning) and the up-coming vacation. We had dinner at Stone & Vine Urban Italian. We’d eaten there my last trip and both loved it. It has great ambience, outdoor dining beside a lake and wonderful waitstaff, not to mention the delicious food. It was a great start to the week!

Love how my son’s landlord recycles house water for the gardening

The Only One

red spotted purple butterfly

Two years ago I had LOTS of butterfly sightings. It was so much fun to snap the pictures and determine what kind of butterfly had come to enjoy my garden. Last year I think I had a total of 3 sightings. 3. Not even a full hand. This year is even worse so far. One. I had ONE butterfly sighting and it wasn’t even on my flowers. TTTT – I’m a little concerned that the only reason this one was on the chair so long was that it was injured or dead. 😦 I have been planting native pollinator/butterfly friendly plants. I have lots of pollinators out front but nary a butterfly. That makes me sad.

Birthday in NYC

New York Harbor, looking upriver – Jersey City on the left, Manhattan on the right

I have very mixed emotions about celebrating my birthday. I’m sure it stems from having a summer birthday and not being able to have birthday parties during my school year. A great number of my friends went away to camp or beach homes over the summer. The last party I remember was in elementary school. I KNOW it was in elementary school because I remember playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. 🙂 How old does that make me??? After that I have no memories of non-family celebrations at all. I had a fantastic 40th birthday because my family threw me a surprise birthday party. I’d always wanted a surprise party and they pulled it off beautifully. My 50th birthday was going to be a full-out no-holds barred party. I’d arrange for hula dancers, an ice cream truck, a huge guest list. Unfortunately that is also the year my father fell down the stairs, into a coma, we had to make that awful decision, and we were sitting shiva on my 50th. After that, my birthday reminded me of losing my father. On my 60th my sister decided I needed to celebrate no matter the sad reminders. She got us concert tickets for the Beacon Theater in NYC to see South Side Johnny & The Asbury Jukes and George Thorogood & the Destroyers. I have some great photos from that, as well as from our yummy dinner that night.

view of Manhattan from the SI Ferry/Mall complex

So if you leave it up to me – I’m not going to do anything. This year was another one of “those” numbers and my sister took charge. This is the summer of the Van Gogh Experience in NYC. There seem to be two competing (?) immersive experiences happening. We went to the one at Pier 36. My sister asked me back in the spring when the publicity first began, and I said it sounded like fun. That was the full extant of my knowledge about the show. 🙂

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge (connects Staten Island (right) to Brooklyn (left))

As the day approached, we began looking at weather reports, and trying to plan other fun activities. I have a tendency to over-schedule – try to cram as many things into a day as possible. I’ve been having some health issues this summer, and the men-folk prefer NOT to be crazed and rushing, so I decided we needed a mellow day. One where we sauntered and savored and sat.

US Coast Guard

The weather decided to cooperate perfectly. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful comfortable day. We began by driving to Staten Island to take the ferry from Staten Island to the tip of Manhattan. The ferry is FREE – yes, FREE. Of course you do have to pay for parking. The last time my sister and I did this both of our offspring were in elementary school (have I mentioned my son is now 30?). At that time the SI ferry terminal was grungy and old. We parked in this ENORMOUS gravel lot – huge and dusty. Now the terminal itself is a destination – right next to an upscale mall. Hey – we even used the bathrooms in the terminal – that’s how new and nice it is! My sister and I dropped the men at the terminal, warning them NOT to buy tickets. *laughing* We’d heard that there are scammers there who will “sell” you a ticket for the FREE ferry. Our husbands are both the type of person who would think “oh wow, I’ll get the ticket now and surprise my wife.” 🙂 They did NOT buy tickets.

Jersey City

The ferries run every 30 minutes and we only had a wait of perhaps 10 minutes before boarding (including the bathroom visit). There is seating inside and out, despite the website still claiming only outside seating. The sail is about 25 minutes (5 miles), with wonderful views of the New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, Liberty State Park and Jersey City. Perhaps the coast guard has always been out there patrolling the harbor, but maybe not so blatantly locked and loaded in the past as it is in the present. I’d mistakenly headed to the starboard side of the ferry, forgetting that The Lady would be on the port side. My sister and I switched sides, but the men stayed starboard and had a view of the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge. My husband has done many bridge inspections in his time, and one of those was the Verrazzano. We have a photo of him WAY up there in the structure, so he was perfectly happy seeing the bridge. But I promised I’d get the side ‘right’ on the return trip.

Statue of Liberty – and/or why I need a new camera

We’re Going to Need a Bigger House

Full Bloom

First it was chair that was too small. Now it’s the entire house. I do love my rhododendron. But even I concede that perhaps the time has come to have someone professional come in and do a little pruning. 🙂 These photos are from May 2021. I’ve been a bit behind in my posting although I have been zealous about taking photos. I have a Skylight in my living room and just last night a photo came up that showed the rhododendron in full-bloom – mid-windows on the FIRST floor. 🙂 I’ve been so fortunate with that bush. 🙂

getting started

August Means County Fair

Since my son was a toddler we have been attending the County Fair. I’d never gone in all my years of growing up here. I don’t know why but the County Fair never registered on my radar. Once you have a child, however, and are looking for shared learning experiences, the County Fair is a winner. Over the years (my son is now 30) it has changed quite a bit. Or maybe it’s my memory that has changed. *grin* That is always a possibility. I seem to remember it having much more in the way of 4H exhibits than seem to be happening now. The other possibility for this year is that it is the first post-covid fair. I remember there being many more equestrian events, and more large farm animals to ooh-and-ah over. Certainly there were WAY MORE bunnies and chickens and reptiles and rodents than there were this year.

We always go on the weekend, so I never see the prize-winning produce in any sort of prize-winning condition. I always say NEXT YEAR I’ll go at the beginning of the fair, not the end. Somehow though we always seem to head there on the weekend for the fair food. 🙂 This year was the first year we qualified for the SENIOR rates, which are cheaper than the regular adult. Maybe that will encourage me to go twice next year. 🙂

We grabbed something to eat because we were HUNGRY when we got there. Then as is our routine we headed over to see the animals. NO pictures of the animals because they weren’t doing anything very cute or photo-worthy. We did spend some time in the Dept of Agriculture (or maybe it was the Rutgers Agricultural Cooperative, or maybe many groups) tent, learning about the Spotted Lanterfly, but that’s a different post. We picked up some pretzels and water and strolled about the midway looking at the people and the games. For me you know being out and among people is a form of “feeding” – I LOVE the energy and the excitement and the smiles. I will say that there was virtually NO social distancing at the fair, and very little masking. But that’s the beauty of being vaccinated. We stayed as distant as we could when we could, and otherwise enjoyed the moment. 🙂

Vaccinated And Out & About!

View from Inlet Cafe – across Sandy Hook Bay to Sandy Hook

I got my second shot the beginning of May. My husband had long since been vaccinated. So when I saw the promotion for a nearby craft show I was ready. I jumped in the convertible, top down and headed up the highway! It was wonderful to be around other people, laughing and chatting. Almost everyone followed social distancing, used masks inside of booths, and in general showed respect for the other attendees. It was great fun and of course I came home with a few little goodies. 🙂

Chester Spring Craft Show

The weather was great so once I was home my husband was easily persuaded to head down the shore for dinner. We went to our current fav, Inlet Cafe. The view and food were great, live music from the venue next door, but our timing was terrible. I thought by going early we’d beat the crowd. Noooo, we should have gone LATE (which would have worked for us also). We waited nearly 2 hours I think before we were seated. We were just about to go the restaurant next door when our beeper beeped. Next time we’ll go down in the middle of the week and avoid that weekend rush. Because we can. *grin*.

it’s blurry because (1) they were fast and (2) we’d already been waiting over an hr for a table (= cocktails)

Check The Size

Yes, but is it waterproof?

My husband needed a new pair of sneakers. Oh wait – using the word “sneakers” signals my decrepit old age. 🙂 Let me start again. My husband needed a new pair of athletic shoes. To me that implies he was doing something athletic. He wasn’t. He wanted footwear that wasn’t sandals, wasn’t boots, wasn’t dress-wear. (/me whispers: sneakers). I made sure he knew how to access the coupons on my big shoe-store account and off he went. He says he’s very happy with the new footwear, but I have my doubts. Although it isn’t all the things it shouldn’t be, I can’t believe that (1) this is the correct fit and (2) that it will be at all comfortable for walking of standing. 🙂

From the Garden to the Counter

The spider wort has taken over the porch border garden. Once I have a decent weather weekend I will go forth and do battle.

I’ve cut back a lot this year on growing edibles. In the past I’ve gotten carried away with all sorts of herbs and we almost never used some of them. There are others, like lemon balm, that we almost never use but since it’s thriving and happy it got to stay. 🙂 I have one cherry tomato plant and one red pepper (sweet) plant. I don’t think I have any other vegetable attempts.

parsely, dill, arugula, romaine, leaf lettuce

I was making some salads for us to enjoy in the intermittent hot weather. Aside: it’s been as crazy here as in other places in the world. For example: Wednesday it was 91 degrees in the afternoon. Saturday morning it was 41. Memorial day we did finally edge up into the 70s, but only late in the afternoon before it then started cooling down again. Here we are on Friday – HUMID and in the 70s and we’re due for thunderstorms (heads up, Honour). They are promising 80s on Saturday and – oh hallelujah! – 90s on Sunday. I’ve been sooooo COLD. Back to the salads! There are 3 types of lettuce: arugula, red leaf, and romaine. They were for my tossed salad. The dill and parsley were for the chickpea salad. Yummy!

Ready to cook. Fire pit at the ready, also 2 propane heaters if needed.

The Memorial Day weekend was, as I said, VERY cold and VERY rainy on Saturday and Sunday. Monday things finally started to dry and warm up. We had TEN PEOPLE on the deck for BBQ dinner. It was GLORIOUS! We’d not been together since Feb 2, 2020. So much hugging and smiling and laughing!! It was wonderful to be back together again. I got to show off my latest acquisition for the deck – my new ice cooler. 🙂 My sister and I had gone to an Antiques & Collectibles show back in April. This Italian ice cart caught my eye, caught my sense of humor, and I thought it would be perfect on the deck. When my husband texted back to say he AGREED, the deal was done. 🙂 He keeps saying “we’ll get a lot of use out of it” and I keep laughing and saying “oh my it is so kitsch that it is art and I LOVE it”. Seriously – it gives me such joy. I smile every time I see it. And yes – it is useful. It holds A LOT of ice. Deceptively so. We had 3 bags of ice in it for the BBQ and it looked paltry. But our drinks were cold!

No need for shade. We did light the firepit at dusk and it put out a good amount of heat and a LOT of beauty.