Ring in the New Year

frozen moment of the fireworks “raining” down in front of the hotel (do watch the live version below!)

And oh PLEASE let 2022 be MUCH better than the last 2 years!

You know by now that I fall into the “extrovert” category. As annoying as people can be, I neeeeeeeed them. 🙂 I love the excitement and energy of New York City. I love parties. I love meeting new people and talking to them. Okay – that last might need a few parameters but it’s essentially true. Covid has cramped my style greatly. Don’t misunderstand – I am EXTREMELY grateful that to date that is ALL it has done to me personally. My family and I are vaccinated, booster’d and wear masks when in public locations. We’ve been eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, being in the NYC holiday excitement. But even I am cautious about throwing a party at my home.

I got brave and decided to have a small dinner party to start the new year. I invited 8 others to join us for dinner on January 2, outside, with propane heaters, and canopies to shield us from the possible rain. (Okay – originally Jan 1 but the weather looked so bad that I moved it to Jan 2.) But if we are outside, we’ll be wearing coats and warm clothes. *I* wanted to GLITTER and SPARKLE. I decided my husband and I would go out for dinner on NYE so I could have someone else do the meal prep & serving & cleanup and *I* could SPARKLE. We made plans for an “earlyish” seating – 8:45pm (earliest I could get by the time I decided to do this) – even though *I* thought we should go for a much later seating so we’d still be in town when they set off the fireworks outside the restaurant at midnight. My husband nixed that but promised he’d stay awake to get in the car and drive to some point where we could see those fireworks. 🙂 I know he thought we’d both be asleep so it was a safe promise. So we were booked for dinner at 8:45pm at Catherine Lombardi in New Brunswick.

gotta glitter everywhere even if i haven’t had a mani/pedi in forever

Well. The best laid plans, right? In this case, however, the plan for fun was EXCEEDED. I dressed up – spent a good hour trying to put together the correct pants and footwear and necklace for my new glitter – oops – GLITTER – top. I felt pretty confident I’d nailed it. 🙂 I even wore makeup (no, the image below is NOT how I did my makeup). 🙂 We got to the restaurant and were seated, right on time. The tables were spaced very well, the wait-staff wore masks. We were at a table for 2 with only one table to our right (no tables directly to the other sides). We ordered cocktails (oh what a GREAT cocktail I had!!!) and as we were doing that the table to our right was seated – a family of 4. Two men in the chairs facing my wall, 2 women on my wall also. We all glanced at each other but kept on with our lives.

No, I don’t know why I don’t publish my RL face in this blog.

A few minutes later, after our cocktails had arrived, the man closest to my husband leaned over and tapped my husband’s shoulder. I, despite my hearing aids, could not hear what they were saying over all the ambient noise. I should have known. *I* am the one who is still living in the same town where she was born and bred decades ago. My husband is the one who knows people anywhere we go. 🙂 The gentleman and my husband had worked together on a construction job. My husband is a structural engineer, Paul is the owner of a construction company specializing in concrete structures, my husband’s personal favorite material. Those of you who know us both will not be at all surprised that from that point on the 2 of them exchanged a few comments, I ended up exchanging compliments and small talk with the women. Just before our dinners arrived, a table to our other side finished their meal and stood up to go. I was astounded when 2 of them came over to us. OMG!!! It was our neighbor Suzanne and her son Michael, who grew up with our son!!! It was great to see them, and hear what was happening. I took a photo to send to my son. Even funnier in the “isn’t it a small world” sense is that Michael lives outside of Knoxville, TN, which is where a good part of my husband’s family lives now as well. It was so lovely and wonderful to see the 2 of them! And I’ve made a resolution to get together with Suzanne one day soon.

We sat back down for our dinner, noticed that Paul’s table had been served as well. We ate our dinners and enjoyed the festive atmosphere and good food and service. Then we were all done with our main courses. In another day and age, the men would have repaired for cigars and brandy and the women off to to their chitchat elsewhere. In this day and age, my husband and the other man started talking construction, totally oblivious to the rest of us. 🙂 It was now around 10:30pm, and they were having a wonderful time chatting. I started plotting.

I excused myself ostensibly to use the rest room. I found one of the managers and asked if the table next to us had been drinking alcoholic beverages. Upon learning that they had, I ordered a round of champagne for the 6 of us. 🙂 I went back and sat down, but slid over the bench (the women’s side of the setup was one long upholstered bench) to join the women and 3rd man in conversation. 🙂 Our champagne arrived and we had to forcibly interrupt my husband and Paul to participate in the toast. 🙂 I learned that Paul had apparently also paid for a round of OUR drinks. Great minds think alike! As you might have guessed by now, we were all still there talking and enjoying when the management gave everyone the 20 minute warning for getting drinks and heading outside for the fireworks. 🙂 I took my champagne glass and we all headed outside to the street. As long as we stayed within the little fences we could bring our drinks with us.

oh just watch the video. 🙂

The weather was cooperating, it was warm, not raining. We had a countdown to midnight, and then the fireworks began! They were a lot of fun and not what I’d expected. They were shot off from the hotel roof across the street. There was music playing through a sound system. Loads of people cheering and laughing. Even so – we were not crowded into anyone else. When the fireworks were done we were still fairly near the other family. We walked over and hugged happy new year. Paul’s wife suggested that we should get together for dinner together some time (they live in the next county). I said that I would LOVE that! I’d just been remarking to someone recently about how does one make new friends at this age if you are not going in to work??? I guess go out to dinner!!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy new year to come, filled with peace and joy. And food and friends and fun and fireworks!

They Also Played Baseball

TD Bank ballpark
TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater, NJ

This past weekend we met up with a group of friends at one of the local semi-pro baseball teams – the Somerset Patriots, part of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. I LOVE going to watch the Patriots play baseball. It’s good baseball, a great venue, and oh what a spectacle! The Patriots aim to make the entire family happy. Between every inning there is some game or contest or event to amuse the crowd.

There were 10 of us. Seven of us have done this before – we’ve come for several years now, although we missed last year. This was the first time, however, for T & J and their son Greg, age 7. They didn’t know what to expect but we assured them that all 3 of them would have a good time.

the next generation
Indoctrinating the next generation

I wandered over to my neighbor’s to discuss coordination for getting and meeting there. We agreed that we were excited about the FOOD!!! One of the BEST parts of going to the game is that we allow ourselves to eat all the unhealthy food we usually avoid. Two of us mentioned the hot dogs, I wanted the peanuts, and someone else wanted the french fries. 🙂 It says a lot about us, doesn’t it, that we get so excited about such food.

The weather was perfect – it was in the mid-70s and clear. We’ve been there and been uncomfortably hot, we’ve been there and been cold. Had we ordered up the weather, it couldn’t have been better. Sometime after dark when a light breeze began, I did switch seats with my husband so that he was on the end of our arrangement and I was sheltered between him and our friend. Our seats were along the 3rd base line, close to home, and close to the field. We were sitting 5 and 5 to make it easier to chat. Although the seats were good, I like sitting on the 1st base line because that is the home team dugout, and all the silliness is aimed that way. Even so, because of the venue, our seats were good. I loved the opposing team’s uniforms! The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have a real old-time look.

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs

We all got food and drink as soon as we got into the stadium. 🙂 Once we were seated we made an attempt at taking selfies with all of us in view. We did get a few, but mostly we failed. *grin* Two women sitting next to us offered to help us out so we passed our phones to them and got our group shots. What would we do without our cell phones???? We ate, we laughed, we cheered (SOMERSET!!! Patrioooootttsss!!), we took photographs and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. It WOULD have been better had the home team WON but, alas, it was not to be. The Crabs had 5 runs on 10 hits and we had 1 run on 5 hits. It was just not happening.

inflated horses
Inflated horse race

The between inning silliness was great. I don’t know how they pick fans from the stands to participate, I assume you volunteer in advance and get picked somehow. There was a very young girl who was trying to “grill” chicken by tossing rubber chickens onto a grill, while she was cheered on by a cow. 🙂 There was a race between 2 men wearing inflatable rings, that were both donuts and ducks (the decoration on the yellow rings was definitely donuts but they had duck heads as well. I learned that race was backed by one of the sponsors, Duck Donuts. Well of course. There were some “cans’ that had some sort of contest to cleanup mess and put it in the recycle bins. I tuned into that one midway so all I really know is that there were 3 cans: Hair Spray, Shaving Cream and Insect Repellent. I believe Insect Repellent won.

racing cans
Recycling race

The other inflatable race had fans riding inflated horses. It’s apparently not as easy as you might think, as we witnessed a wipeout near the turn for home. 🙂

Dancing dinosaur
Dancing dinosaur

There was the traditional throw-rolled-up-tee-shirts-into-the crowd, accompanied by a dancing dinosaur, for reasons I know not.
We also watched the healthy foods race. 🙂 Blueberry won, which is NO surprise to me. Blueberry is my favorite out of the represented foods.
racing foods

There was the traditional race around the bases where the mascot Sparkee races a (very) young fan. In all the years I’ve been going to the games, I have NEVER seen Sparkee win a race. *grin* By the way, Sparkee is the mascot because the team’s first manager, and current manager emeritus, is Sparky Lyle.


The team has two mascots, Sparkee and Slider. I’m not sure why they added Slider but it could have been because there was way too much love for Sparkee to handle on his own. There used to be a third mascot, General Admission (yes, dressed in old-fashioned uniform), but I haven’t seen him in ages. I DO have a picture of him with my son, however, which is why I know he existed.


The Somerset Patriots host fireworks after many of the home games. They post the fireworks schedule on their website and it is a key factor in which games we go to see. I didn’t remember the fireworks as being anything very special in prior years, but this year was great. I don’t know if it’s me, or if fireworks have gotten better, or what, but there is no question that the fireworks I’ve been observing this summer have been much higher quality than my memories of prior shows. As usual, despite saying there’s no point in taking pictures of fireworks, I did it anyway. I took a video so you can enjoy the show too!

Small Town 4th of July

crowd 3

I live in a fairly small town. I’ve spent the majority of my life in this town. My immediate family is/was also in this town. We have street fairs, parades, festivals and, of course, a July 4th celebration. Oddly enough I don’t remember taking part in the 4th of July festivities very often, if at all. July 4th was my parents’ wedding anniversary, and I used to throw a BBQ for them. That evolved into a BBQ with friends (all of whom lived in town). We’d wander out into the street after dark to try to glimpse the fireworks, or we’d all traipse down to the river to have a good view of the fireworks. crowd 2In the last few years we loaded ourselves into the car and drove to a bridge to watch the fireworks from there (with many others who also pulled over and parked on the bridge for just that purpose). But we rarely headed down to the park itself to join the town celebration.

This year I’m a little tuckered out from busy weekends and sweaty weather. I made no plans to entertain, figuring we’d do this long weekend in the ‘spur of the moment’. Early in the week I asked my husband if he’d go down to the park with me and he agreed. You may not understand how momentous it was for him to agree. He isn’t really much into doing things outdoors in the heat. He gets devoured by mosquitoes. He has fair skin and burns in the sun. He’s not really overly fond of crowds. Opposites attract, right? I LOVE being out in the hot sun. I often think I am a form of vampire, because crowd energy is food for me, and I suck it right into my soul.

Once he agreed I started planning (some might say obsessing) with how to make it palatable so that (1) he would follow through on his agreement, (2) we wouldn’t have to leave early and (3) maybe we could do it again next year. 🙂 The park is on the other side of the town from us – about a 20 minute relaxed walk. crowd 1The police were going to shut down the streets next to the park and block parking as well. I figured we’d want chairs for fireworks viewing so I needed to figure out how to have the chairs there and ready and not have to shlepp them and carry them about while we ate, and saw whatever sights there were to be seen. I arranged with a friend to leave my car, with chairs-in-bags, parked in front of her house, which is about 5 blocks from the park. I drove the car over early in the morning and left it there so that I had MY SPOT all set before the crush for parking began in the early evening. I knew also that at the end of the evening we would not want to be hiking up hill all the way back home. We are at the highest point in town and the park is at the lowest. I was also hoping that I’d parked on the road that would have less pedestrian traffic as that road did not lead directly into the park itself. Now you see why some folks describe my planning as obsessing. 🙂

Came 6:30 and it was time. We coated ourselves liberally with insect repellent, long pants, sneakers and socks, and headed off to our car.bubbles in the grass We were obviously ahead of the crowd still and I saw a BETTER SPOT on the next block down so I moved the car. *grin* It’s PLANNING, really. 🙂 As we reached the entrance to the park we met our friends who were unloading passengers and chairs. A propitious omen for a good time. We wandered on down into the park, perused the food vendors, grabbed food and headed to the lawn to park ourselves in our chairs. I’m pretty certain my chair is broken. It sits VERY low to the ground and closer inspection seems to indicate that a bolt might be missing.

We were sitting and enjoying the periodic cool breeze, the beautiful sky, the musical attempts from the stage. We saw some friends we’ve not seen in ages, as she and I both exclaimed “Oh I’ve been meaning to CALL you!” I loved watching all the people. The children with their bubble machines (everybody wins at the carnival games there – play til you pick your prize). Did you know that if you aim your bubble machine at the ground you can make a mountain of bubbles?night sky Everyone has a different idea as to what one wears to the 4th of July festival in the park. There was a lot of happy and energy and good vibrations. Hey – we even met the mayor. *grin* My sister and her husband came down and joined us and soon it was TIME.

The fireworks were fantastic. I wasn’t really sure how good they’d be. I mean, fireworks are never BAD, but some are merely fireworks. These were FIREWORKS!!! They were beautiful and constant and they lit up the sky. People were oooo’ing and ahhhhh’ing and clapping and cheering. My husband thought that the finale might have been the best fireworks we have ever seen. They were truly stupendous. Absolutely great show and I’m so glad we went.

It was a perfect small-town 4th of July celebration. Not a single bug bite. Seeing friends. Eating festival food. Perfect summer weather. Even joining the exodus from the park went smoothly (yay for air-conditioned cars). As my brother-in-law quipped “Our tax dollars at work!” Worth EVERY penny.

5 fireworks

Guy Fawkes

I’ve come across Guy Fawkes in my reading. I know this is a big celebration night in the UK. I confess – I don’t really understand all the emotional content of the holiday. But I DO understand parties and celebrations and fireworks! So I’m very happy that in my SL travels I have found the Crown and Pearl and its sizable contingent of Brits. (I do hope that is a politically-acceptable term and that I am not offending anyone. Sigh.) The CnP regulars know how to party every day, but give them a holiday and they really explode. Literally. Rockets, fireworks, sparklers, streamers, profusion of particles everywhere. I rezzed there last night to discover a huge bonfire burning in the middle of the floor. I did inquire about fire department regulations but was assured that everything met the code. 🙂 I was dubious but I have to admit that although the fire blazed prodigiously, the floor was not consumed.

Prad apparently did the setup, and then turned the crowd loose. Rockets and fireworks lined the floor. No sooner had one round exploded and showered us with brilliant colors, then the next round was rezzed and assembled. People timed the process and grabbed on to the rockets just at take-off and rode up into the sky and fell back as part of the show. (No, of course I didn’t do that. You KNOW that I hate falling. 🙂 I played the part of enraptured audience.) Everyone was giddy and crazed and having a wonderful time watching explosion after explosion after explosion. We were all immersed in the illusion. A wonderful night, a wonderful celebration. Kudos to Prad and the CnP! For more photos of the great show (notice “great show”, NOT “great photos” 🙂 ), click through to my Flickr account.