Friday, August 21, 2009

A Little Time Off

My husband and I had a little mini vacation in Cape May last weekend. He has a friend from work who has a boat in a marina on Ocean Drive in Cape May, New Jersey. They invited us down to spend Saturday and Sunday there. The weather was really good, although it was pretty hot and a little humid for the shore. I failed to wear sunscreen because I usually feel I don’t need it, and got a nasty sunburn as a result. But it was all worth it. We had a great time.

On Sunday we went over to Sunset Beach. They are famous for the Cape May Diamonds that washed up on that beach from the Delaware River and were discovered by the Kechemeche Indians who believed that the stones held supernatural powers which brought success and good fortune. You can read about then at one of the many sites that talks about the stones. While we were in the gift shop my husband bought me a really pretty ring. I guess you could call it an early anniversary gift because September 6th this year will be our 23rd year together. We also went on the beach and collected a few of the stones there. I suppose if I put them in a rock tumbler I could use them for some jewelry, but I am not sure if I will. The couple who we visited has collected the stones over the years and has a large bottle full of them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kitchen Makeover?

We had to buy a new refrigerator last night. For the last few weeks, I have noticed that the freezer in our 57 year old fridge was not always housing frozen foods. I would reach in one day and the popsicles that I like to eat were fine and then the next day, they were so soft I had to eat them with a spoon. I made a comment to my husband about it and he merely grunted. I tried to explain to him that it is very unhealthy to thaw and re-freeze meat, but that didn’t do the trick. I guess when he came home yesterday from work and there was a puddle around the refrigerator and everything in the freezer was a soggy mess, he agreed that maybe this time he couldn’t fix it.

My husband, although I love him dearly, is a tightwad. He tries to fix things instead of getting new and gets all upset when we have to buy clothes for our son. I totally agree with him most of the time, but sometimes he can be really trying. Take the refrigerator for example. He is very conscience of the environment and while that is great, he didn’t seem to understand that the old one we had was using a lot of energy and probably not good for the environment, and that it was probably costing us more than a new one would. The kitchen in the house we live in is the result of a 1960s DYI effort. The cabinets, even though they match, are not very useable and they are ugly. The dishwasher is rotted out, and the stove is electric, which I hate. The corner cabinets are hard to get into and things get lost in there. When they put the cabinets up, they blocked the one big window in the room and the kitchen is very dark unless you have all the lights on.

So now he’s talking about doing a complete kitchen makeover. Coming from someone who is a tight as he is with the money, it’s a complete surprise. Of course everything is going to be a DYI effort (although his work is far superior to the person who originally did it). Then again, he can be a lot of talk and no action. So we will see where this goes.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The company that I work for has a book lending table in the break room and the other day I looked down and saw the autobiography of Quincy Jones as one of the selections. I thought to myself that maybe I should write an autobiography, but then who would read it. I mean my life hasn’t been that interesting. I could call it “An Autobiography of an Ordinary Person”, but that might not sell unless there was some other catchy title. But then again, there is a certain perverseness that people have; a voyeuristic tendency to spy on your neighbors to see what their lives are up to. I suppose it has to do with the competitive nature we have. As humans in the stone age, there had to be a fierce survival personality in order to live, which I think has carried over in us all to some extent – some more than others.

Competition is a funny thing. I know people, like my brother, who have a strong streak in them and compete with everything they do. When I was growing up, my brother was always trying to beat me at everything. I compensated, I suppose more than competed, but to some extent it was mainly more sibling rivalry to get to him before he got to me. Case in point was the time he broke his arm. We had a rope tied to a high branch in our backyard that he and I would swing on. At one side there was a cement patio where we would start the swing from and at the other a swing set that had no swings. Our biggest game was to swing from the patio to the swing set and leap to grab hold of the top bar. The leap was not very far and we made it every time. I supposed this one time, I decided that the leap was to close and it would be more of a challenge to move the set further so we could “fly” longer. I moved it too far and he fell and landed on a log that was under the set on his arm.

His completive nature was evident years later when we were up at the mountain house with our respective spouses and played a game of Monopoly. He was ruthless in that game and we stayed up until the wee hours playing. My husband and I finally went to bed and my brother challenged us to play more after breakfast the following day. Even his wife said, “give it a rest, already”. I have heard it said that younger siblings have this streak just because they are always trying to get the attention of their parents away from their older sibling. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe he has tapped into the survival mode in life which just might make him the stronger person.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Art of Shopping

So I was in the mall the other day. I haven’t been there in years, but I went to buy a present for my brother who turned 50 this week. I mean, 50 is a pretty big milestone. Not only for him, but for me. It means I AM OLD!! Oh well… Anyway, 50 deserves a present. I used to work in the mall at the Camera Shop before I got the job I am in now. Ages ago…. Decades ago…you get the picture. So there I was wandering around looking at all the shops and trying to make a decision on what to get him.

Anyway, I am wandering around the mall and I come across the Pandora store. A few years ago I got into Pandora charm bracelets. I was buying charms off eBay and got enough for one full bracelet. They were all the rage and I loved to wear mine, even though it was really heavy with all the charms on it. I thought to myself that the Pandora store could be dangerous for me. I don’t really need another bracelet, but they are so pretty…and so shiny…and I fought really hard to resist.

I reminded myself of my mission and ended up deciding on getting him a pen. My first thought was that he should have a fine distinguished pen that men of that certain age have, like a Mont Blanc. My ex loved those pens and longed to have one. I knew they were expensive but I had no idea. So…there is a Mont Blanc store in the mall and I went in. I should have gotten my first clue when I walked in and no one was in the store. The sales person was polishing one of the many glass cases looking rather bored. He blithely asked if he could help me, looking rather disdainfully at my t-shirt and shorts with flip-flops, and I launched into my story about my brother’s milestone birthday and said that I was thinking about the type of gift I was going to get him. I told him my price range and I am sure he nearly choked, silently of course. The least expensive pen is the corporate model for $150 and the least expensive regular model with the custom engraving is $350. Clearly, out of my range. He tells me of another store in the mall which has pens in all kinds of ranges and I went there. I bought a fun pen with notes all over it since he is a musician, along with a journal and two refills, and the total cost was well below my original estimation.

The cost of the pen was still more than my husband would have paid for a pen. When I told him of my saga, he said, “why would you spend that kind of money for a pen when you can buy him a Bic for 38 cents?” You see what I have to deal with?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Old Dog - New Tricks

There is an old saying that goes, “you have two ears and one mouth which means you should listen twice as much as you talk”. I am slowly learning the value of that sentiment. Last night at the end of the trail before it goes into the street, we met a man who was working to clean the wash-out from all the rain we were having. He is a volunteer with the Bicycle Coalition, and we saw that he was working hard and stopped to thank him at the same time as get a drink of water before turning around and heading back home.

In the course of the conversation, we found out he works for the county in their IT department and had some interesting things to say about the new administration. Hearing that, and knowing that he was probably of the opposite party I am a member of, I was glad that I held my tongue and let him rant and rave about what was going on since my party took over. He wasn’t too happy about how things were going but I calmly listened to what he had to say and formulated that he is simply not a fan of change as well as being a party loyal. By staying quiet and just listening, I avoided what could have been a lengthy argument.

We stayed and talked with him for some time about bicycles, county politics, and the MS150 that my husband and I are riding in. It was far longer than I would have like to, but he full of useful information as well as being very complimentary about my bicycle, an old Raleigh that my husband cleaned and detailed when we started this venture. He seemed to know his stuff and had been riding for quite some time. He has done the MS150 several times and was helpful in giving us tips of things to look out for, and we found some things out about the trail that we might not have found out if we had got into a heated political discussion. You see, sometimes us old folks can still learn new tricks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Angry Again

A coworker just came back from a week of working with an organization called Work Camp which sends high school kids out into the community to help people fix up their homes who don’t have the money to help themselves. The organization arranges for schools and churches in the neighborhoods to house the kids and their supervisors while they are there for a week. It’s a very worthwhile program. He came back with horror stories of death threats from roving gangs, stolen property of the kids who came to help, police coming to the door of the house he was working in to arrest the son of the owner, details of constant police sirens, and tales of the horrible living conditions in which some people live.

Yesterday, my husband and I were coming back from our daily ride on the trail. As we neared the area where we cut off the trail to get to our home, we saw four to five police cruisers on the trail with several youth standing around. Apparently a woman was surrounded by some juveniles and forced off her bike. We spoke to the man who came by shortly after the event and called the police for the woman, standing by to guard her bike as she spoke to the police. This is another in a series of incidents which have happened in the same area since the cycling season started. The report was not in the paper today, but I am sure it will be blasted across the front page tomorrow.

I cannot begin to express my anger of these two situations. Although this is certainly nothing new, I have reached my boiling point. As I expressed in an earlier entry, I am to the point that I feel ready to lash out if someone approaches me with intent to harm. I know I cannot fathom someone else’s life who has felt the sting of discrimination and the anger of dealing in an unfair world, but I also see the results of their actions on the outside world and the sense of fear for the people I know and care about. It is abhorrent to me that such crime goes on. Why in God’s name would someone attack an innocent group if kids who are there only to help a poor woman who can’t fix her home, or harass a blameless woman who is simply out trying to get some exercise? What is there to gain by such action? Is that the kind of world some people want to live in; where people live like animals and the toughest survive? I just don’t see it. Even if it is a question of power, the end result of possibly getting caught and arrested with the life-changing consequences that results is more trouble than it’s worth, IMHO. I’d really like to know what goes through their heads.