How We Write This Blog

If you have been with us at any point during the six years we have been publishing this blog, you may have wondered that since both Susie and my name is listed as “authors” of this blog, what exactly do each of us do. Well, here’s a look….

If I had to give Susie a title, it would be Executive Editor. She is involved in blog idea development, approval of the direction the writing goes, she consults on the pictures that are included, and she is the best proofreader that there ever has been! To be honest, while I love writing….spelling, grammar, and some of the other fundamentals of this blog are not my strength. Without Susie, this blog would look like something pecked out by a third grader! This is truly a collaborative effort!

While I do write most of the words, Susie is the first one to read each post after I write it, and often times adds very meaningful insight into what I’ve said. She will ask me questions about what I’ve written, share with me her interpretation, and then offer suggestions that will lead me to even better word choices or phrases to get across what I’m trying to say. It’s not just on the technical stuff that she helps this blog, but also the work she does helping me flesh out some of my ideas is invaluable! So yes, a truly collaborative effort!

With the exception of a couple of the early posts in this blog, I have written it from my perspective. In those early blogs, I tried to write in the third person, but referring to me as Frank just seemed odd, and didn’t work for me. In the end, this is a blog that deals with Susie’s and my life. The things we do, the people we meet, the places we love and the people we love. It may be a story about a trip, or something about a friend, or a memory of a parent. It truly is OUR blog, because like our life, it is truly a partnership!

As the “ABOUT” section of the blog has stated since the beginning, “Welcome to our blog. We are Sue and Frank D’Elia, and we invite you along for the ride as we move into our next chapter, retirement. We have plans for some great new adventures and are excited to be launching both our next chapter and this blog. As the song says, the best is yet to come!!”

Thanks for being along for the ride as we go through retirement life, whether you’ve been with us for all 270+ posts we’ve shared since our first blog post (Road Trip which we published on February 27th, 2016), have dropped in now and then, or have just started following our adventure lately!

Knowing Your Job From The Other Side!!

In this cause and effect world we live in, virtually everyone’s job interacts with another human being. Sometimes, however, as the receiver, it’s very obvious to you, that the person on the other end, has zero concept of the effect they have on your life. I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and understand how my actions affect them, but some just don’t!

Back in another life, when I was still working at WABC and commuting five days a week via the Long Island Rail Road from Mineola to Penn Station, I had a theory that nobody should be able to get a job as a conductor on the LIRR until they’d served a certain amount of time as a passenger. That theory was born from years of experience, and the realization that while most conductors did a good job of doing their job without overly affecting you as the passenger, some of them seemed to do whatever they could to annoy you! Be it doing horrible WC Field’s impressions on the PA as you were sleepily heading into the city, or waiting to collect tickets on the way home, till after most regular riders had closed their eyes for a brief “I’m done with work” nap!

So, today my rant is directed at the guys and gals from Wise, Lays, Utz, and Herrs and all the other folks that stock the chip aisle in our local grocery stores. Now, I am well aware that shelf real estate in your local grocery, be it a huge Wegmans or a small Mom and Pop neighborhood store, is a scarce commodity, and that to be effective, shelves must be fully stocked. Chips, however, unlike cookies, crackers, cereal, and other fragile items, are not manufactured in boxes or even inside plastic sleeves. They are packed at the factory in a plastic bag, (except Pringles) with their only cushioning element being air!

I am so tired of on the extreme occasion when a bag of chips enters our house, to open it, and discover that beyond 8 or 10 nice chips, the rest are broken pieces! And it is so obvious why that’s the case, if you have ever walked down the chip aisle in the store when one of the above mentioned folks are “packing” the shelves! As I said before, I know that shelf real estate is a scarce commodity, and to get the most packages of chips in their allotted space, they push, push, and push, but then the results for the poor consumer is a bag with mostly broken chips! Lots of fun with a dip…just saying!

I know it’s not a first world problem, and in this age of Covid and the associated issues, probably means next to nothing to most, but that rare bag of chips in our house is a real treat….until you open the bag! Back when we ate anything and everything, we’d taken to buying our chips at Costco. Not because the bag was the size of a small child (that was however an added incentive), but for the fact that they loaded, shipped, and displayed the chips for sale in a very well designed and bolstered carton. When you bought one of those bags, fully 90+ % of the chips were beautiful and whole. Come on guys….nobody wants to eat a handful of potato chip pieces!

Okay…rant over… please return to your regularly scheduled programing!

How’m I Doing?

Ed Koch was a very colorful 4 term congressman and a 3 term Mayor of New York City. Following his time as Mayor, one of the things he did was a daily talk show on WABC, and I was his engineer. During his political life, and when he did the radio show, he loved to measure his success by asking people, “How’m I doing?” I’m going to take a page out of the Mayor’s book, and ask myself, “How’m I doing?”

On January 11th of 2021, I posted a rather long blog post entitled “Writing”, in which I detailed some of my various blogs I’d started and then let go by the wayside. I talked about my desires and my intention, and then made a promise of sorts. Here’s a quote from that blog:

“Look, I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, and honestly I don’t remember making one that even lasted beyond my January 2nd birthday, but I’m going to try one on for size in 2021. As we work our way through the second week of the new year, I am going to pledge that at the very minimum, I’ll publish one new blog post per week in 2021. That means a minimum of 52 posts during 2021, and hopefully many more! “

So, in Ed Koch style, it’s now time to ask the question, “How’m I doing?”

Well, since that post exactly one year ago today, and including this post, I have posted 51 blogs. So, nothing new with resolutions…I didn’t make my pledge to publish one new blog a week! I came close, but as we all know, close only counts in horseshoes!

Looking back on the year gone by, my best month was March, 2021 when I published 8 blogs, followed by April when I was responsible for 7 new blogs. The absolute worst months were October and November, when I only did 1 blog each month! There were a lot of months with two and three blogs on my list, but the only months I did indeed put up 4 new blogs were January, February, March, April, July, and December! I guess 50/50 is the best I had in 2021!

So, should I try again for 2022? I’d like to indeed, but if I do or don’t, we won’t know till January 11, 2023 when I look back at my stats! Stay tuned….

A Look Back at 2021 – Part 2

So, yesterday I started this look back at 2021 by detailing some of the things that happened in our lives during the first 6 months of the year!  Here now is a look at the last 6 months of 2021!

July saw us continue our regular summer routine of going to the beach, sitting for hours a day on our front porch, and being with our friends and neighbors!  Then late in the month, it was time for me to re-start something that should have been long finished, but for the pandemic!  In July of 2019 I had my left knee replaced.  My intention was to start the process to replace the right knee shortly after coming home from Florida in April of 2020, but then Covid showed up!  Well, this postponement had taken enough time, and I was ready for pain-free knees, so off we went to Dr. Zabinski in Somers Point to get the process started! 

At the very end of July, we celebrated a very special birthday with a very special neighbor!  Doie Barnes lives right next door to us on Pennlyn Place, and in WWII she was a member of the Women’s Marine Corp, and on the 30th of July, she celebrated her 100th Birthday!!  There was a huge ceremony at the flag raising ceremony that morning on the Ocean City Boardwalk, followed by a party at the American Legion Post!  It was a special day, and we were so happy to be able to share it with this great lady!!

August saw me taking care of surgery pre-op clearances with the hospital, our medical Doctor and our Dentist, starting the vitamin regime that Dr Zabinski calls for, and even making a decision about our leased 2018 Honda CRV.  Our lease was going to be up mid September, and as there were very few new cars around due to the “chip shortage,” we decided to extend the lease for 6 months!  We also went to a Straight No Chaser concert at the Ocean City Music Pier with our neighbors and good friends, Patti and Meade.  We’d bought these tickets way back in 2019 for a concert that had been canceled in the spring of 2020!  

As Labor Day rolled around at the beginning of September, Ocean City turned back into a small town, after 2 plus months of being a summer resort, and the quiet, calm months of our lives were back!  On Tuesday, September 14th,  I had my right knee replaced by Dr. Zabinski.  It was very different than the left knee, as this time, due to Covid protocols, Susie dropped me off at the front door of Shore Memorial at 6:30 AM, and picked me up in the same place at 4:30 PM!  I now had two prosthetic knees!  The rest of the month was given over to recuperation, physical therapy, and eating all the things I couldn’t before the surgery!

By the third week of October, I was done with PT and the next week was released with a clean bill of health from Dr. Zabinski!  I could again travel distances in the car, and go about my normal life, with painless knees!  Also, October saw the second part of our kitchen rehab take place, when our new subway tile backsplash was installed over the new counters!  Then later in the month, another key part of our rehab took place as we had new plantation shutters installed across the front of the house!  October also saw a visit from Kenny and Chris, who flew up to Atlantic City from Tampa airport.  They spent a week with us, before heading up to New York, and a reunion with his twin sister and her husband Mike!  In case you couldn’t guess, October was a busy month for us!

Unlike last year, on November 2nd we voted in person around the corner from our house.  Masks were the order of the day, but it was good to be enjoying this most basic American privilege in person!  Now that I’d been cleared for travel, it was time to once again see our kids and grandkids in North Carolina, and the second week of the month we drove down to spend 4 days with our North Carolina Family!  Having pretty much decided that we were going to buy our 2018 Honda CRV when the lease extension ended, we were very surprised when we got a call on November 23rd from the Honda dealer, telling us that a red 2022 CRV had just come off the truck.  We went back and forth on price, and when they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, we went over to take a look at the car.  That evening, we drove our new, red 2022 Honda CRV to Charlie’s for dinner!  Thanksgiving, 2020 was a lot different than Thanksgiving 2021, when we hunkered down in Ocean City with Kenny and Chris. It was the first time Kenny was home for Thanksgiving in 14 years!  We went everywhere and did everything in 2021, putting 700+ miles on the brand new car!  We traveled to Maryland to spend Thanksgiving with our son-in-law Mike’s family!  The next day, we loaded Krissi and Mike into the new car and headed up to New Rochelle to spend the night with them!  Saturday morning we headed to Long Island to participate in the big celebration for our Boy Scout Troop’s 100th Anniversary.  Sunday we saw Susie sister and her family, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at our favorite Mineola restaurant, Piccolo’s!  Yes quite a whirlwind weekend and a busy month, which also included both of us getting our Moderna Covid boosters and our flu shots!  

The beginning of December saw the last part of our rehab take place: the removal of our old tile floor in the dining room and kitchen, and the installation of our new laminate flooring.  We love it!  The second week of the month we had a brief visit from my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt, as they made a much belated trip down to their winter residence in Barefoot Bay, Florida. Before we knew it, Christmas Eve was here, and Susie and I partook in some of our usual traditions and some new ones!  We’d been alone last Christmas and were not really upset about spending the holiday alone, but our alone time was not to be for long!  A Christmas surprise was in store, as our son Bill, his wife Lori and our three Grandkids traveled up from North Carolina on December 26th!  We had three wonderful days with our kids and our three little ones, Layla who is 7, Henry who is 6, and Annabelle who is 2 and a 1/2!  What a great treat to see them all and to spend time with the littlest D’Elias!!  

So that pretty much takes care of our 2021!  I know that as the year ended, a lot of people were happy to see it go, but honestly, our 2021 was so much better than 2020 that I really don’’t count us in that camp.  It sucked that Betty White died on the last day of the year, but you must admit that 99 years is a pretty good run!  Of course, with the Covid variant Omicron all over the place, and numbers growing, who knows what 2022 will hold for us, but life goes on and Susie and I are thankful that our whole family is doing well and just hope that continues.  Susie is looking forward to it being her turn, and getting a replacement hip, but then I’m getting ahead of myself!

Looking Back at 2021 – Part 1

A year ago at this time, we were all hoping that 2021 would be better than the majority of 2020 was. We were looking forward to Covid vaccines, getting back to going out to bars and restaurants, and seeing loved ones! So, in retrospect, how was it? Let’s take a look.

January started out as it always does, with my birthday on January 2nd. This year, Susie and I celebrated my 71st trip around the sun with a much quieter celebration than my 70th had been, but we had hope for the future! It wasn’t long before we were both eligible for the Covid vaccine in New Jersey, and we made it our daily job to get appointments. Everyday we signed onto the app, and looked all over the state for appointments. With a little work, and a lot of patience, we both got an appointment for our first shots, me on Thursday, January 21st in Rio Grande, and Susie one week later on the 28th in Glassboro!

In February we continued to do take-out and take all precautions when we went shopping, and then on the 19th for me, and the 25th for Susie, we got Moderna shot #2! We were on our way!

First Night Back

Exactly two weeks after Susie got her second shot, on March 11th, for the first time since just before we went to Florida the end of January 2020, we ate inside at Angelo’s Restaurant in Atlantic City! We called this our “Coming Out Day” as we were now both fully vaccinated and could return to our regular Thursday hangout spot! Then on March 24th, we again were back inside at Charlie’s! It wasn’t our usual Tuesday night at the back bar with our friend Sue, but since the back bar still wasn’t open, it was the second best thing! We may have been back inside, but things were still strange at our favorite spots. No drinking or eating at the bar, masks and strict separation guides, but it was progress! March also saw the start of our kitchen renovations, with the installation of new quartz counters and a marble fireplace surround. The green was going away at 854 Pennlyn!

April was a banner month for us, as on the first weekend of the month, we journeyed to North Carolina to see our son and daughter-in-law, and our Grandkids for the first time since the end of January 2020! Over a year without seeing your Grandkids and being able to hug them when they are 6 and under is a long time for Grandparents! We continued our weekly visits to Charlie’s and Angelo’s, and also had a wonderful visit from our daughter Krissi and her husband Mike, for the first time since a very socially distanced visit in late August of 2020! Then towards the end of the month, we were again in North Carolina for a joint birthday party for our Granddaughter Layla (7) and her baby sister Annabelle (2)! Yes, life was returning to normal!!

The Birthday Girls

Just to prove that life was in fact coming back, after we left Billy and Lori’s, we didn’t head north, but rather south to visit our son Kenny and his husband Chris in Florida and see their new apartment in downtown St. Petersburg! It was a quick trip, spending 3 days in St. Petersburg, and then one in our beloved Indian Rocks Beach before heading north again! This time, we did something we hadn’t done when we ran home from Florida in March of 2020…we stopped in Darien, Georgia to once again enjoy the best fried shrimp we’ve ever had at B&J’s Steak and Seafood!

May saw us back on Long Island for the first time in over a year, as we took care of some Doctor visits, and then spent some great time with our dear friends Pat and Steve Grosskopf! From there we were off to New Rochelle and spending a night with Krissi and Mike at their new condo that we’d yet to see! Now we’d seen all our kids, our grandkids and checked out everything that was new in their lives! Life was getting more and more on track! Of course, May in our household would not be complete without celebrating the birthday of my beloved on May 28th! Susie claims that that birthday would be the last one she would celebrate, but I don’t know about that!!

June saw the island come alive, as many of our summer visitors arrived, ready to have summer fun in a place we are lucky enough to call home 365 days of the year! June also saw us refinancing our mortgage at an incredible 2.65% for a shorter term than we had left on the original! Incredible when you think that, when we’d bought our Mineola home in 1986, we’d started with a 13 3/4% loan!! On the 13th of the month, our son Bill flew up to Philly from Wake Forest, North Carolina with his two oldest kids, 7 year old Layla and 5 year old Henry. Within a couple of hours, Dad was back on a plane headed home, and Layla and Henry were in the car with Grandma and Grandpa heading to Ocean City! For the next 5 days, we got to spoil our Grandkids, and expose them to Ocean City, exactly like their Dad and Aunt and Uncle had been, way back in the 80s! We tried to do all the things we remembered doing with our kids, so our days were spent on the beach and boardwalk, playing mini golf, eating Hose Pizza (AKA Manco & Manco Pizza), picking out taffy at Shrivers, trying everything at the 34th street playground, enjoying the rides at Wonderland, and of course, all the beach activities like digging holes, flying kites and frolicking in the water. It was a great 5 days, but wait, there’s more!!

The end of their visit coincided with Father’s day weekend, and Susie and I loaded the car with Layla, Henry and all their new purchases, and headed down to Billy and Lori’s Lake House in Gaston, North Carolina. Coming via plane were our daughter Krissi and husband Mike, and son Kenny and his husband Chris! It was a huge D’Elia/Mikowicz/Fox Family Reunion/Father’s Day Weekend on the lake, and it couldn’t have been better! Yes, the world was starting to feel normal, and here Susie and I were with our three kids, their chosen partners, and our three beautiful Grandkids!

And that’s how the first 6 months of 2021 went for the D’Elias of Ocean City. Check back tomorrow to find out how we faired during the last six months of 2021!

Little Christmas

Today is January 6th, 2022.  January 6th marks the Feast of the Epiphany, or the day that the Three Wise Men paid their visit to the Christ Child.  January 6th is also known as Little Christmas, and like many across the world, it is the day in our house that the celebration of Christmas ends.  After the 6th, the outside lights get turned off, and the tree and decorations get put away for another year.  As today is Little Christmas, it will also be the last post on this blog having to do with our Christmas holiday.  

For today’s blog, I’d like to tell a story about one of the most familiar symbols of Christmas, The Christmas Tree.  According to Wikipedia, “Sources have offered a connection between the first documented Christmas trees in Alsace around 1600 and pre-Christian traditions. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time.”

Susie and I are never happier in the beginning of the Christmas season, then when we see our first Christmas Tree tied to the roof of a car, and never sadder than when we see our first undecorated, discarded Christmas Tree on the side of the road. 

My story today goes back many years, to the first Christmas in 1968 after my folks and I moved from Jackson Heights to Bayside…..

I grew up in a four room, 4th floor walk-up (that means no elevator) apartment in Jackson Heights, a highly urbanized area of Queens.  Jackson Heights is serviced by the very nearby #7 elevated subway line, which was literally just outside our windows.  When we moved in early 1968 to a single family house in Bayside Hills, it was like we’d gone from the city to the country.  Still a part of Queens county, Bayside is one of the most eastern areas of the county, and was one of the places we used to do Sunday drives to when I was a kid.  On those days we said we were going on a drive to “the country,” and now we lived here!!

In Jackson Heights, when you bought a Christmas Tree, you got it from in front of the local A&P, or from a random guy set up on empty lot.  In Bayside, when you bought a tree, you went to Kiel Brother’s Nursery and chose one from their section of hand-picked trees.  That first Christmas Tree in December of 1968 was a beauty, and a central part of our first Christmas in our new home.  It served us well before and during the Christmas season, but as we approached Little Christmas, it was time for it to go!

My Mom had read something about what to do with your tree when you were done with it in your house.  Perhaps based on that Scandinavian tradition, she’d read that you should stick it in your backyard, and “decorate” it for the birds that had not gone south for the winter.  Things like seed pods, peanut butter, suet,  and other things that could give the birds stuck in the north substance when the ground was snow covered.  As this was the first year in my folks 20+ years of married life that they had a backyard, I guess she was feeling “countrified” in our new home.

Only problem was that almost the day after we got the tree out of the house, it snowed…a lot!  This left the D’Elia Family Christmas Tree buried deep in snow.  It stayed buried for the next couple of months, as snow storms kept coming with incredible regularity.  We really didn’t see it again till almost Spring thaw.  By that time, my Mom had lost her desire to set the tree up, and honestly the need was probably almost non-existent.  Rather than “decorate” the tree for the birds, it went out to the curb to wait for the garbage men to pick it up.  Picking up trees in late December and early January is I’m sure a pretty common thing for New York City garbage men, but I always wondered what they thought that day in March when they picked up our very dead Christmas Tree!

So, on Little Christmas, as we end our Christmas celebration, Susie and I, and our whole family hope that you can keep the light and joy of the Christmas season in your life, until it’s time for Christmas, 2022!   See you again, next year Christmas!

A Snow Day at the Shore

Today reminds both Susie and I why we like Florida in the winter!

The snow wasn’t a surprise…it had been predicted for several days. Our favorite local weather guy, Nor’easter Nick Pittman had been talking about, watching the various satellite tracks, and warning that it was coming since before the weekend. Yesterday when he finalized his predictions for today, he came in on the 8-12 inch snowfall totals, with the shore getting the worst of it! Nick was correct!

On the first “Work Day” of the new year, the rain change over to snow early, just before it started getting light. By 8 AM it was obvious that the snow was here, and between the snow, the cold temperatures (it’s 25 now feeling like 11 when yesterday at this time it was closer to 60), and the howling winds, it’s been a hell of a day!

Video taken by Susie just before 8AM from our front door

Just about 2:30 this afternoon, even though it was still snowing, Susie and I bundled up and headed out to see if we could do anything. While Susie worked on the front porch and staircase, I worked clearing our side of the driveway. After Susie realized she was getting no where fast on the porch, she came down and helped me. She dug out the mailbox and cleared a path to it for the mailman. Not sure the whole Rain, Snow, Dark of Night thing exists for them anymore, but just in case! We worked outside for about 45 minutes, and then said we’d had enough.

There was a picture of Susie here too, but she refuses to let me put it on this blog!

It’s still snowing and blowing as what daylight there was today starts fading. Not sure if anything we did will still be there when the snow stops, and they say it’s going to get very cold tonight. The 2022 Honda CRV is comfortable in the garage, where she will probably stay for several days. Susie had a Doctor’s appointment for her hip replacement surgery, which she rescheduled toThursday, and canceled the cleaning ladies till later in the week. Schools in Ocean City and Somers Point are closed due to he weather. Restaurants like Charlie’s and Sal’s in Somers Point, and Yianni’s in Ocean City are closed due to the weather. We’ve got lots of food in the house, and really have no reason to leave before that Doctor’s appointment Susie’s got at 5 PM on Thursday with Dr Zabinski! Besides, we can’t find the box with our gloves, scarfs, earmuffs and other warm winter things! Thank goodness we’ve got our new, super warm Charlie’s sweatshirts that we wore under our coats! Oh, and Susie just told me it’s going to be 48 and rainy on Wednesday and then possible snow again Thursday night into Friday!

Did I tell you we REALLY like Florida in the winter??