The Dog Days of Summer

Breaker Boy and Beach Boy show the only way to enjoy the beach during the Dog Days of Summer!
Photo courtesy of Doc Anderson

Wikipedia defines the Dog Days of Summer as, “the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius (known colloquially as the “Dog Star”), which Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.” According to the Old Farmers Almanac, “The “Dog Days” of summer last from July 3 to August 11.” Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer, 2021! Yes, as I write this, we are smack dab in the middle of the Dog Days. I know here at the beach, we are well aware that we are in them, as the humidity and the temperatures sore to beyond uncomfortable heights.

According to the web site Mentalfloss, “Dew point readings between the freezing mark and about 55°F are pretty comfortable. A dew point between 55°F and 60°F is noticeably humid. It’s muggy when the dew point is above 60°F, and it’s uncomfortable outside when it ticks above 65°F. Any dew point readings above 70°F are oppressive and even dangerous, the kind of stickiness you experience in the tropics or during a brutal summer heat wave.” For the better part of the past 2 weeks, our daily dew point (which is a combination of the temperature and the humidity levels) has hovered in the mid 70s! As I write this, our mid day temperature is 83 degrees with a real feel of 89 degrees and the dew point is 73 degrees!

Even when you’re actually on our beach, unless there is a nice breeze from the ocean, believe me, you feel that kind of temperature and dew point. If the wind is coming from the land instead of off the ocean, you get a dry warm breeze, which is often accompanied by bugs! Even better!

As Facebook reminds me daily, back before we lived at the beach full-time, this was the exact time we’d set aside at the house for our vacation. It started as two weeks in July, then went to three, and the last year I worked at WABC, we took the entire month of July in Ocean City. Now, we were admittedly younger back then (anywhere between 5 and 16 years younger), and all we had was our vacation time down here, so the heat and/or humidity wasn’t as much of a yard stick that determined our beach time. Today, that situation is different!

Luckily, we are just 500 feet from the boardwalk and just beyond it, the beach, so on the way down, after coming out of the beautiful air conditioning, the trip is easy. We traditionally love to get down there early (between 9 and 10 AM), when it’s both cooler and less congested. We unload our beach cart, set up our chairs, and settle in for 2-4 hours of beach time. Honestly, the length of our stay is determined by the weather conditions, if there are bugs or not, and how many jackasses decide to invade our space with their tents, canopies, etcetera. The issues come about however in the Dog Days when it’s time to leave. If we could only twitch our nose like Jeannie did on I Dream of Jeannie, life would be grand, but by the time we pack up, walk back to the boardwalk through the no longer cool sand, and then make our way back to the house, we are drained! A dew point like today really makes it hard to enjoy any part of the beach frankly, and so on many days like this, we choose not to go. We often say that we live here so our beach time is infinite, and although I know that’s not true, we just don’t feel like killing ourselves just to say, “we’ve been to the beach!”

The draining heat and humidity that the Dog Days bring us, change the experience for us. I still need a new knee, Susie needs a new hip, my asthma doesn’t like humidity, and spending EVERYDAY at the beach just isn’t that important to us. I know this may sound like blasphemy from someone who lives at the beach, but sorry, that’s just how we feel. We continue to love being in Ocean City, seeing the water every time we go on or off the island, and love our time at the beach…under our terms! Feeling like you’re in a blast furnace is just not what we’d call, “under our terms.”

On another note, the Dog Days are also known for lethargy and bad luck, and I’m going to add another symptom…writer’s block! The last time I posted a blog was July 3rd, when I talked about the wonderful Father’s Day Weekend we’d had with all our kids and Grandkids. Since then, although I have sat down in front of my MacBook Air multiple times, and even started a few essays, nothing has jelled for me. Yes indeed, lethargy has been rampant in my brain!! But here I am, breaking the curse of Dog Day Lethargy by writing an essay about the Dog Days of Summer! Kind of poetic justice you might say!

Stay cool my friends, and like I do, thank God every day that we enjoy the legacy of Willis Carrier, the man credited with designing the first modern air conditioning system in 1902…probably during the Dog Days of Summer!!

See you on the beach….maybe.

Living in a Beach Town in the Summer

In January of 2005, Susie and I lived our dream, and bought our beach house in Ocean City, NJ. Located in the north end of town, about 500 feet down the street from the beach, it was truly our home…except during the busy summer months, when we shared our home with some renters, to help pay the mortgage! In November of 2017, we sold our home of 31 years in Mineola, New York, traded our New York license plates and driver’s licenses for the Jersey variety, and the home we bought at the beach in 2005 became our one and only home, and we became full time residents of Ocean City, New Jersey.

Ocean City is the northern most city in Cape May County. Estimates put its 2020 full-time population at around 10,800, but in the busy summer months of July and August, the population of our little beach town is closer to 150,000 men, women, and children. Befitting its start as a Christian Summer Retreat, Ocean City is a dry community. No liquor sales in town, no BYOB at local restaurants, no kegs on the beach. There are, however, two huge liquor stores just outside the city limit, over the bridges on the mainland, in Marmora and Somers Point. We are about 12 miles south of Atlantic City, and we get off the Garden State Parkway at Exit 30, so we are 30 miles from Cape May and the end of the Jersey Shore.

What we love about the place is that for better than 8 months of the year, it’s a sleepy little town. The kind of place where people in the local coffee shop and hardware store remember you, and where neighbors look out for neighbors. In July and August, it’s a hopping resort town, full of families looking to spend their week or two at the shore in our town. Are they all wonderful folks? Not always, but the vast majority of them are long time repeat visitors, who consider Ocean City their home at the shore. For years before we bought in 2005, that’s how we felt. Back when we rented out our house, we had lots of folks that came back year after year, and noted in our guest book that they felt they were home when they moved into our place.

So, how do we adjust during those months when our little sleepy down gains over 140,000 residents? Obviously, with more walkers, bikers, and cars driving around, you must be more vigilant than in say, January. It really seems that for some on vacation, turning their brain to “OFF” is a part of the decompression process. People walking and on bikes may pop out in front of you as you drive down the street. When you’re walking, you run the risk of our visitors not stopping at crosswalks when you’re trying to cross the street. Occasionally you’ll find yourself stuck behind a whole family riding 5 or 6 bikes all the way across the street you’re trying to drive down. Some consider stop signs and parking rules just suggestions, while others will drive down the street at 5 miles an hour sightseeing all the way! So # 1 on our list of Summer Rules is Be Vigilant!

Rule # 2 we try to abide by is only going across town on streets with traffic lights. There are a lot of stop signs in Ocean City, and in the winter months, it’s very easy to go across town on any street you desire. There are also streets all across town that have traffic lights in every block. From about mid-May through September, these are the only streets we use!

The third rule is all about traffic control. There are two exits for Ocean City on the Garden State Parkway. Exit 30 is the main exit and Exit 25 is for the southern end of town. In 2012, a new 9th Street Bridge opened up, replacing the 1932 bridge. Exit 30 leads to this new bridge which in turn leads right on to 9th Street in Downtown Ocean City. As such, it’s the main gateway to our town, and because of that, is avoided at all costs on Saturdays in season! House rentals in Ocean City typically run from Saturday to Saturday, starting between 2 and 3 PM the first week, and ending at about 10AM the second Saturday. Both the bridge at 34th Street (Exit 25) and the 9th Street Bridge need to be avoided Saturday morning as folks leave, and Saturday afternoon as people arrive. If you don’t have to leave Ocean City on a Saturday, DON’T, but if you do, take one of the two secret resident bridges into town! (They’re not really secret, but rather not bridges that most visitors know about or use…all the better for us!) So rule #3 would be to think twice before leaving town on a Saturday!

Ocean City has a great 2.5 mile boardwalk, filled with family friendly stores, places to eat, amusements, and mini golf! On a typical summer evening, it is THE thing to do in town if you are a visitor. However, there are lines to get food, back-ups at the mini golf courses, and lots of people trying to get on and off rides at the two amusement parks. If you’re a visitor to our fair city, it’s a wonderful way to spend the night, but for residents, not so much. The summer of 1983, oldest son Billy’s first summer on earth, we stayed in Ocean City for a week and did the boardwalk. For the next 30 plus years, we came with all three kids, and others, stayed in Ocean City and did the boardwalk. Even the years both before and after we bought the house, when Susie and I came alone to Ocean City, we did the boardwalk! Now, unless we have visitors that need to be on the boardwalk, we just don’t go! I guess rule #4 would be avoid the boardwalk unless necessary!

And then there’s the beach! We are very fortunate that we like going to the beach early in the morning (9-10 AM), while most visitors seem to do things in the morning, and come to the beach later in the day. Some wait till they’ve had lunch, some bring it with them and dine with the sand and the seagulls! By about the time the beach starts getting crowded, we’ve been there 3 or 4 hours, and are ready to head home for a cool drink and some lunch of our own. So, I guess part one of Rule #5 would be to go to the beach either early or very late (like 3 or 4 o’clock) in the day. We also use the behavior of renters as a rule of thumb. For most folks who arrive on Saturday afternoon, Sunday will be their first beach day, and at the other end of the week, Friday will be their last beach day. We find that Sunday and Friday are the most crowded beach days, so part two of Rule #5 is no beach for us on Friday or Sunday!

Rule #6 is simple…take your business elsewhere! While we love supporting our local businesses during the off season, during the summer months there are limited places to go to eat or shop, and lots more folks eager to experience the local businesses. We just find it easier in the summer to head off island for everything from hardware to bagels! Since we bought our house in 2005, we have discovered more things off the island that we never knew existed in all the years we’d been coming to Ocean City since my first year in 1955. We now consider our neighbor across the bridge, Somers Point, to be part of our community, and find it’s easier in all ways to shop there. While we may still run to the local Acme on 8th street from time to time, it’s far easier to shop at the Shoprite in Somers Point, a store that most visitors have no idea exists!

The pandemic that hit in March of 2020 did change things up. Starting almost immediately after we came home from Florida mid-March, we saw more folks moving into their second homes. Many stayed through the summer, and many more than usual were with us all through this last winter. The real estate market in Ocean City is nuts, with very few properties for sale, and the ones that do come on the market, stay available a very short time and sell for sometimes more than asking. Rentals are also very tight, as we hear that more and more new buyers are planning on using their houses, rather than renting. What this will do for the economy and for our Summer Rules is yet to be seen, but whatever it takes, we will adapt and find a way to make it through the summer, counting the days till our beach town turns back into our sleepy little hometown!

Our TV Viewing Habits, Part Two

In part one of Our TV Viewing Habits, I detailed what I’m calling our First TV of the day, and the shows that have sustained us through the past 12 months. Now let’s take a look at some of the other titles we have enjoyed along the way. All of them are limited episode series, many of them have been with us for years, but some of them were new to us when we first started watching them in the last 12 months. Here’s our list!

Lost in Space – Loosely based on the popular 1960s show of the same name, Lost in Space details the plight of the Robinson Family as they try to survive against all odds in the hostile environment of space. Of course, with the technology available today, the on screen dangers are much more real than they were back in the 60s, and although not huge SiFi fans, we did enjoy this series. We started watching it a couple of years ago, and there were 30 episodes of this series available on Netflix, that we sadly finished watching way back on March 23rd, 2020. According to sources, there will be a final season coming in 2021!

The Kominsky Method – Staring Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin, and hundreds of faces you will recognize, the series has so far produced 2 seasons with 8 episodes per season. The Netflix series, follows the exploits of Sandy Kominsky, a not so successful actor and aging Acting Coach, and his very successful best friend/agent Norman. We’d been watching the show for several years, and sadly we finished the second season on April 2 of last year. There will be a third and final season produced, but unfortunately without Alan Arkin, and the date of release is just given as “2021”.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – Based on the character created by Tom Clancy, and that has been played in the movies by people like Alex Baldwin and Harrison Ford, this version on Amazon Prime stars John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce, and debuted in 2018. There have been 16 episodes produced over its first two seasons, and sadly we finished season two back in early May of 2020. A third season has been promised, with no release date, but most likely we won’t see a new season till 2022.

Bosch – This Amazon Prime series is based on the Harry Bosch books, written by Michael Connelly, and debuted back in 2014. Always a huge fan of the Connelly books, I actually started to watch season one before I left the house in the morning, way back before I retired from WABC! After I watched the entire first season, Susie thought she might be interested in it, and we watched the entire first season together, and she was hooked. Starring Titus Welliver as Harry, the episodes follow the life of an LAPD Homeside Detective as he interacts with the politics of the LAPD as it affects his life’s creed, “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.” If you are into binge watching, this is the perfect series, as there have already been six seasons released, with 10 episodes per season. We finished watching season six mid-May of 2020, and season seven (the last season of Bosch) is likely to be released in the Spring of this year. Also, just got late news that although this is the last season of Bosch, IMDB TV has announced that it has picked up a new spin-off of Bosch, and it will follow Harry as he enters into a new chapter of his life, and will still star Titus Welliver! Can’t wait for season seven, and the spin-off!

Grace and Frankie – Let me start by saying that we have loved this Netflix series starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston since it debuted in 2015. To date, there are 78 episodes comprising six seasons, with a seventh season expected to start filming in June of this year. Sadly, season seven will be the last for this beloved series, and from what I’ve read, that seems to be more of a Netflix decision than the folks working on the show. Of course, all the actors are getting older, and honestly, perhaps its an audience that Netflix doesn’t really want, but based on all the streaming services out there, perhaps it will continue somewhere else! We finished Grace and Frankie one day after finishing Bosch last May!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Like many others, we were smitten by this Amazon Prime series right from episode one back in 2017. Staring Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Tony Shalhoub, and many others, the series follows the life of the newly divorced Midge Maisel, as she tries to make a career in the world of stand up comedy in the last 50s and early 60s. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino (who also created the Gilmore Girls), there have so far been 26 episodes released over the course of three seasons. Although filming was delayed during the pandemic, hopefully season four will debut sometime in late 2021, which means we will have had a year and a half wait to see what happens next, as we finished season three mid-May of 2020!

Sweet Magnolias – We had started to watch this Netflix series, that follows the lives of 3 South Carolina women, best friends since high school, back during the summer, but for some reason stopped. We did, however, pick it up in the fall and watched the last of 11 episodes in December. A new show, season one ended with an incredible cliff hanger, so although it has been renewed for a second season, when exactly we will see that season is a mystery. The show, based on 11 books written by Sheryl Woods, is expected to start production on season two sometime this year.

Virgin River – This Netflix series, is based on a series of 21 books written by Robyn Carr, and deals with the changes in the life of a nurse practitioner, who moves from LA to a remote Northern California town after the death of her husband. To date, there have been two seasons of the show, with 10 episodes each. Reflecting on the age we all are in 2021, the cranky old Doctor in the series is played by Tim Matheson and his equally frankly and eccentric wife by Annette O’Toole. Season one was released in 2019, and season three, which has already been given a green light by Netflix, may be available late in 2021. We finished season two, just after the beginning of January 2021.

The Undoing – Called a modern twist on a classic “whodunnit”, staring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland, this six episode miniseries on HBO really kept us guessing right up until the last moment of the last episode. We were captivated by the whole story, and had a hard time waiting till the next episode to see what was going to happen next! It was very interesting to see Hugh Grant play a much darker and sinister role than his usual fair, and how his relationship with the other characters changed during the series. Released by HBO on a weekly basis, we started in October and finished it at the end of November, 2020. Thanks to Susie’s sister Barbara for the recommendation!

Big Little Lies – Another HBO series staring Nicole Kidman in addition to Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, and in season two Meryl Streep, the 14 episodes over two seasons concern the relationship of a group of 5 mothers at a prestigious elementary school in an upper class California Beach Town. You see their lives unravel as infidelity, abuse, rape, and bankruptcy crack the surface perfection of their upper class lifestyles, and how friends turn on friends. Thanks again to Barbara for the suggestion to watch this show. As disturbing as it is, we enjoyed it and if they were to do a third season, we’d gladly watch it. We finished watching this show mid-February.

Firefly Lane – Susie and Krissi loved the book by the same name from author Kristin Hannah, so when we saw this Netflix show was being released on February 3rd of this year, it was a no brainer! Staring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke as the main characters Tully and Kate, the book and the show deals with the lives of two very different best friends. The story line jumps back and forth between their teenage years, their college years, early work years, and their present day lives. I’m not a huge fan of Katherine Heigl, but think she’s doing a good job as the adult version of Tully Hart, the career obsessed media woman who is still dependent on her best friend Kate Mularkey to ground her in the real world. It’s a show all about relationships. There were 10 episodes in Season One, which we just finished at the end of February. It hasn’t officially been renewed for a second season, but the cliffhangers that ended season one, will make every fan want more! In fact, I downloaded the book to my Kindle, and I am now enjoying the original version of Kate and Tully’s adventure!

Good Girls – This NBC series, starting Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman deals with the lives of three suburban mothers, as their lives take turns they never in a million years could have predicted! The show debuted in 2018 and there are so far 34 episodes over three seasons available for viewing. Season four debuted on NBC on March 7th, so the girls will continue into new uncharted waters for at least one more season! We’ve been watching the older seasons on Netflix, but have the DVR set for the new episodes, which we will get to when we finish season three. From grocery store holdups, to smuggling, counterfeiting, and even murder, you really never know where the next episode will take the girls, as they go through their very complicated lives! We’ve just finished the last episode in season three, and recorded episode 1 in season four on the DVR! We’ve yet to decide if we watch it weekly, as any other current show, or store up a few episodes, so we cab watch them daily.

Other Things We Watched Along The Way:

Story of God with Morgan Freeman – We really liked season one of this, but found that season two didn’t captivate us quite as much. Part of the reason seems to be that Morgan Freeman did less of the interviews in season two, and we really liked his style with people. There is now a third season of the show, but we stopped at Episode 3 of Season two. Not sure we’ll go back.

Barry – The story of a Midwest hit man, who moves to LA and tries his hand at acting, while still fulfilling contracts for hits. It stars Bill Hader and a lot of recognizable folks, but we never made episode 4 of season one. There are 18 episodes over its two season run on HBO, and although a third season was approved, the pandemic has so far caused production to not resume. I’m gonna say that the plot just wasn’t our cup of tea.

The Imagineering Story on Disney+ – Let me start by saying we only have Disney+ because son Kenny is paying for it. Back when I worked for ABC, if I couldn’t get an ABC product for free, I had no desire to have it! As a Disney Retiree, for much the same reason, I won’t pay for it myself. This series is made up of six episodes, and its purpose is to pull back the curtain on the Walt Disney Company through interviews with historical Disney folks (we’re really called Cast Members) who were there when it happened. We’ve enjoyed the 3 episodes we’ve watched, and will get back for the rest.

Cheers – The story of the iconic Boston Bar, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” was on NBC for 11 seasons and 271 episodes, and although we knew about it, we’d never watched an episode during its original run. It’s a half hour show, and sometimes that’s all you are looking for. Staring Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, Shelly Long, Kirstie Alley and so many more talented folks, we were in the middle of season 5 when we put it on hiatus. I have no doubt we will get back to it, as we haven’t seen Shelly Long leave and Kirstie Alley arrive yet!

Our TV Viewing Habits during the Pandemic – Part One

So, in the past year, I’d guess I’d have to say that we’ve watched a bit more TV then we would have, had we not spent the last year in a pandemic lockdown. Rather than “binge watch” tv series, we tend to watch one episode a day, extending our time with the show over weeks or even months. At some points during the past 12 months, we have watched more than one series at a time, and during other periods we were exclusive to one show, and any additional viewing was from our DVR. Unlike a normal TV season, last year’s season ended rather abruptly for many series, and this year’s started late with sporadic episodes for many series, so we watched more “other stuff” then we might normally have, had shows ended with their normal number of episodes, and started on schedule.

I don’t want to make it sound like we are stuck in front of our TV every hour of the day, because we don’t spend hours a day in front of the TV, but do have a rather established pattern to our viewing. The first TV we watch everyday is during our first meal of the day. During either breakfast or lunch (we eat just 2 meals a day), our habit is to watch one episode of a series we are immersing ourselves in. Our mission is to watch from the pilot episode to the last episode, getting a real look at the whole arc of the show.

Once that one episode is completed, we are done with TV till sometime after 5 PM, when we settle into our evening routine. The 5 PM hour is the usual time for us to watch “other” shows that we have added to our repertoire.

So, what have we been watching, you ask? Well, here’s a look! Let’s start with what I’m going to call our First Meal Series.

Las Vegas – The first thing that we started watching soon after coming home from Florida last March, was the show Las Vegas, starring James Cann and Josh Duhamel. Las Vegas was on NBC from 2003 to 2008 and was comprised of 106 episodes, many of which we watched when they were first broadcast. Son Kenny had found the show on an obscure cable channel back in March, and we were able to record all but the last two seasons on our DVR during a weekend Las Vegas Marathon. Wanting to complete the entire series, I found the DVDs of season 4 and 5 on Ebay and bought them. After we watched them, I was able to re-sell them on Ebay for more than I paid for them! Win/Win!

Vega$ – Desirous of keeping our first meal viewing in Sin City, the next show we went to was Vega$ staring Robert Urich as Vegas Private Eye Dan Tanna. Those of us of a certain age remember Dan driving around the sights of Vegas in his red 57 T-Bird during the 69 episodes of the show that ran on ABC from 1978 to 1981! Lots of familiar faces from that era of TV and movies, and even the occasional big guest star like Dean Martin, Shelley Winters, and Tony Curtis. The entire DVD package of all 69 episodes cost me $19 on Ebay..how could I pass it up? We’ve passed that on to my cousin.

S.W.A.T. – Big fans of the new version of SWAT that’s on CBS staring Shemar Moore, and looking to stay within Robert Urich’s body of work, we got the DVDs of his earlier 1975-76 series on Ebay. I always remembered this show, and it’s opening of the guys jumping into the the SWAT truck, but never realized it was only on for 37 episodes over the 2 years it was on ABC. For comparison, the new version has far surpassed that with 78 episodes over the past 4 seasons, and is overall a much better show. We were shocked to see so many of the same locations used over and over again, the same footage used in multiple episodes, and even the fact that they started multiple episodes with the exact same footage, but with a different story line. Really looked like they’d given up as we got to the last episodes. The DVDs of that are up for grabs!

Monk – USA Network’s legendary “Defective Detective” show staring Tony Shalhoub as former San Francisco PD Detective Adrian Monk ran for 125 episodes from 2002 to 2009. Over the years, we definitely watched it, but not with any regularity, so since we get it for nothing on Peacock thanks to our Comcast cable subscription, we figured, “Why not!” Currently we’re in the beginning of Season Two, and since we watch just one episode a day, we will have a lot more time with Mr. Monk, Sharona, Captain Stottlemeyer, and Lieutenant Disher. Enjoying it!

And that list takes us to the end of our First Meal TV viewing. Those four series have carried us through the last year, and into the future, In Part Two, I’ll give you a look into our other viewing habits, and some of the shows that we have enjoyed since last March. Of course, whenever possible, we have DVRed and enjoyed watching our usual shows. This includes all the NCIS shows, SWAT, Law and Order SVU, Magnum PI, Blue Bloods, The Neighborhood, Bob Hearts Abishola, The Good Doctor, Hallmark Movies, and several things from the Food Network.

See you next time.

Its All About Me…or, I’m More Important!

Okay, be honest. Please tell me I am not the only one who runs into those “self important, oblivious to their surroundings or those around them” folks in the course of daily living. You know, the ones I mean. The “I have to go there even if you’re in my way,” the “I don’t care what the door says, I’m going in here,” or the “So what if you want to get by me in the grocery store…I’m stopping right in the middle of the aisle to find the right mayonnaise,” and the hundreds of variations of those folks that we run into daily!

Here are some of my favorites!

You are driving along a busy road, and suddenly with no warning, somebody throws open their door, or even worse pulls away from the curb. Yes, they do have a side view mirror they could use to check traffic, but let’s face it, they’re too important to do that! A corollary to that is the person who opens a car door, and leaves it open while they walk to the trunk, or just sits in the car!! Yep, it’s all about me!

Ever been in a crowded parking lot, driving around looking for a spot, finally see somebody get in the their car, they start the car, some even put it in reverse, and then sit there, and sit there, and sit there! An even bigger parking lot nightmare is as you are waiting for someone to pull out of a space, before you can pull in, somebody comes from the other direction and pulls in! Oh, you were waiting? But I have to go to the store! Yep, it’s all about me! Or how about the folks who either walk or drive right down the center of the aisle, without regard for other people or cars? All About ME!

When I used to travel on the Long Island Rail Road to work in Manhattan everyday from Mineola, I’d often do the trip with my good friend Steve. The people on the train always amazed us, especially those folks who, when we got to Penn Station, couldn’t wait their turn on the platform to go up the stairs like the rest of us. I’d turn to Steve and say, “No problem…just push your way ahead of us…I mean, you have to go to work! We just took the train into Manhattan to have breakfast!” Self important ass wipes who were, of course, too important to wait with the rest of us peasants! About me!

How about the ones at the courtesy desk in a store. You are one of 3 or 4 people, who are patiently waiting in line, when suddenly somebody comes out of left field, walks right up to the desk, turns to the folks on the line and says, “I just have a question to ask.” Really??? What the hell do you think we’re doing on this line, waiting for our health?? Yep, it’s all about me!

One “Bagel Sunday,” pre-Covid and social distancing, I’m over at Hot Bagels and More in Somers Point waiting to place my order. In those days, you’d come in, stand on line, wait for one of the counter persons to be free, and then step up and place your order. Once your order was placed, you’d step to the side and wait to get called. So on this one Sunday, I’m like #2 on this line, when this guy comes in behind me. He says to no one in particular, “How do you order here?” I turn to him and say, “You wait behind us on this line, and when you get to the front and a counter person calls NEXT, you go up and place your order.” I guess he was too important to stand with the rest of us, so when the guy in front of me got called, this guy just walked up to the counter. My Hot Bagel friend Sue saw exactly what he’d done, looked directly at me, and said, “What can I get for your today Frank?” Sometimes even the All About Me folks get put in their place!!! Thanks Sue!

One of my favorite happens when you’re driving and somebody blows through a stop sign, or does some other traffic infraction that could affect you. There you are, driving along the perpendicular road, with no stop sign, they power right through their stop sign, you blow your horn, and they give YOU a dirty look, as if to say, “How dare you…don’t you know I’m more important than you?”

If anything, going through the Covid pandemic has only made it worse! New Covid variations are, “I know I’m supposed to wear a mask, but I left mine in the car;” “I know there’s a socially distanced line of folks waiting to pay, but I’m in a hurry;” or my favorite, “I don’t care that this door is marked as exit only, I’m not walking around to the other door!” Tell me you haven’t seen all these and many more, and you are either not being honest, or you really don’t get out much!

Take our local Shoprite in Somers Point. It’s been very organized since we went back to shopping in person back in June. Go in one door and out the other, hand sanitizing stations all over the store, socially distancing marks on the floor, and many other changes as answers to where the world is right now. When we go, we park closer to the door that is now the exit, and walk back to the other door that’s now designated as the entrance, but twice in the last week, we’ve had to fight our way through folks who are more important than us! One day, I’d dropped Susie off to pick up a couple of things we needed, and as she was trying to get out the “OUT DOOR,” here comes a woman in a Crossing Guard vest pushing a cart in the “OUT DOOR!” When Susie told her that she was coming in the “OUT DOOR,” she laughed and sad, “Oh Well.” Then last Sunday, when we both went to go shopping, here we are going in the “IN DOOR,” and out comes a guy pushing a cart with a “Yeah, but I’m parked over here” attitude! Dear God, please save us!

Last week, Susie went into the local UPS store to drop something off. This particular one is in a local hardware store. As she went in the door, there was a man standing smack in the middle of everything, on his phone! She went around him, and got on the line for UPS, when she realized he was behind her. She said, “Sorry…didn’t realize you were on the line (sarcasm), go in front of me,” which he did. When he was done, Susie was standing to the right of an island, he could have easily passed on the left side, but instead, he walked right up to her, gestured for her to move, and she had to get out of his way! When she came out and told me, I said she should have just looked at the self important, situationally unaware jerk and give him the finger!

All the actions I’ve mentioned, and even more, are one of the main reasons Susie will sometimes, under her breath mumble, “I hate people!” I guess as long as there are more than two people in any given situation, someone will always feel they are more important than the rest of us. To those folks, it’s always All About Them and it always will be. So just count to ten, laugh a little, and realize that these people spend their whole lives in this self important vacuum, and honestly, there is karma in this world! As the T-shirt says, “My Karma just ran over your Dogma”!

Game Hour

Back in late August, I wrote a blog entitled D’Elia Family Sunday Traditions (https://rnewadventures.com/2020/08/27/delia-family-sunday-traditions/). Since then, we have added a new tradition, but unlike those that I mentioned in that August post, this tradition takes place 7 days a week. Let’s call it Game Hour.

At 4 PM, every afternoon (or close to 4PM), we stop what we are doing, and head to our two assigned seats at the dining room table, where we start playing whatever that week’s game is. We usually play for 45 minutes to an hour, and doing it 7 days a week, we think it’s probably a good thing to do to stimulate our brain waves, as we continue to spend most of every day in the house. It also gives our days an anchor, and is a bridge from the afternoon to the evening. It’s something we’ve continued to enjoy doing since we started back in the early fall.

We first started with an easy two handed game we’ve played since son Kenny taught it to us a number of years ago, called 5000. 5000 is a rummy style card game, where the object of the game is to be the first player to get to a score of, yes, you guessed it… 5,000. Its a relatively simple game to play in limited space, using one deck of cards, and because of that we’ve played it in hotels all across the United States, on airplanes, and even on the Amtrak Southwest Chief as we traveled across the country in a sleeper compartment several years ago on the way to Kenny and Chris’ wedding in Lake Tahoe. If you’d like to know how to play 5000, here’s a link to some online rules. https://gamerules.com/rules/5000-rummy/

For Christmas, I got Susie Hoyle’s Encyclopedia of Card Games, and we have broadened our two-handed card game repertoire. While we really can’t play popular games like Uno, which we played for years and years with the kids, we can play the game that Uno was derived from, Crazy Eights! Unlike Uno, Crazy Eights has much of the standard play of Uno, but without the Skip or Reverse cards, which are really hard to do with only 2 players!

Another blast from the past for us, that we had to learn again, but are enjoying is Cribbage. As I said, we’d played this game years ago, but over time, less and less, to the point we had to start from zero knowledge, and relearn how the game play goes. One thing that we did remember, and still had in the closest, was the Cribbage Score Board. This is the only one of the various card games we play that Susie doesn’t have to keep an official score on her pad. One oddity is that as we were putting the game away recently, one of the blue scoring pegs decided to jump off the table….we’ve yet to find it, so I fear I’m going to have to transition from blue to green for scoring! (an update since I wrote the last sentence…Susie found the missing blue peg on the edge of the inside of the clothes dryer door! Go figure)

The one game that we’ve played during recent Game Hours that is not a card game, is a game that has been a part of our life since there first was a Susie and Frank, and that game is Yahtzee! According to Wikipedia, “The present-day commercial Yahtzee began when toy and game entrepreneur Edwin S. Lowe filed Yahtzee as a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office on April 19, 1956.” I guess you could say that like us, Yahtzee is a Baby Boomer, and has been around for most of our lifetimes! My earliest memory of playing with Susie, was back on a car trip we took in October of 1980 and of sitting at a bar table at the Club House of Mountain Manor Golf Resort in Marshall’s Creek, Pennsylvania, playing and drinking beer! Over the years we have had travel versions, electronic versions, and we even remember playing a Yahtzee Slot Machine, where the dice had faces and little legs, and ran back into the cup after each roll! We’ve bought pad upon pad of score cards, and even went so far as to make our own a number of years ago (please keep our secret). I imagine Yahtzee will be with us for all time!

Our horizons will broaden as we delve further into Susie’s card encyclopedia, but for now, it’s those 4 games that we are rotating on a weekly basis!

One constant during our daily game hour, is a cup of something hot, to go along with our play (you can see our cups in the picture above). With the help of our Keurig, it could be anything from low calorie Hot Chocolate, to regular tea, or to any one of several different flavored tea K-cups we have on hand! Susie even bought a sugar free Hot Spiced Apple Cider mix!

We’ve also recently bought these No Sugar/Zero Calorie Syrups with a wide variety of flavor profiles! We can have hot chocolate with raspberry flavor (tastes like one of those chocolate candies from an expensive box), or a Chai tea with caramel flavor enhancement! So good, and no calories??? A really win/win!

So that’s our 4 PM Game Hour….

Exercise

The Mayo Clinic says, “Exercise boosts energy. Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.” Sounds like exercise is a good thing, and something we all should participate in, during the course of our lives. Spending 11 months locked down during a pandemic, only amplifies the need for most of us to exercise, but do we?

Back in April, in a blog post called Quarantine I wrote the following about our son Kenny and our son-in-law Chris, who were living with us in Ocean City, and started exercising along with Chris’ sister Michelle.(https://rnewadventures.com/2020/04/03/quarintini/)
“Speaking about the boys, they have gotten involved with Chris’ sister Michelle and her on line fitness classes! She lives out in Reno, and conducts a class at 9:15 Reno time on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday! No way the boys could handle that, but at the 12:15 Eastern time her class starts in Ocean City, they are in it all the way! After the half hour or so of the class, they come out of the den everyday dying, but every morning of her class, they are back in it, using their cans of tomatoes or jars of pickles as weights, and enjoying the work out! They’ve even gotten our neighbors Patti and Meade involved! Michelle’s class is every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 9:15 AM Pacific Time, and the link is https://zoom.us/j/428504901

That was early on, but they eventually got real weights and even moved the exercise classes down to the garage, so they no longer shook the whole house! The past 6 months that they’ve been in Florida, they have continued with her classes, three days a week!

If Michelle’s class kicked the ass of two 30 somethings, there was no way one 60 something and her 70 something husband were going to get involved! In a burst of realization that we should probably be doing some kind of exercise too, Susie purchased a DVD at the end of March called, Grow Young Fitness Starter Pack. This was a series of exercises by a young man named Deron Buboltz that were aimed at older folks and their abilities or lack of them. So we got going with them as soon as the DVD was delivered, right? Ah…not exactly. I’m embarrassed to say, that the DVD sat on the shelf in it’s shrink wrap till we did our first session with it on October 7th! Wow!!!

So, we started with a couple of the exercise routines on this intro DVD. They were each about 30 minutes long and some of it was done while seated and some on your feet. You moved your shoulders, your arms, your legs and feet, and his purpose was to get your heart rate up. Once you got to the end of the routine, he taught you how to stretch and then took you into a relaxation period. If you’d like to see what I’m talking about, here’s a link to an example on their YouTube Channel. https://youtu.be/P-g7TAjjAE8

We may have started late, but I’m proud to tell you that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning since we started, (we did miss a couple of days Christmas and New Year’s week) we have religiously spent 30-40 minutes with Deron, and his exercises! Having spent 2 months with the samples on the Starter Pack DVD, under the Christmas Tree, Santa gave Susie the next DVD, Cardio Weight Loss Chapter One.

We’ve now moved into the routines on that DVD, and even have added dumbbells to our workouts.

I should also say that occasionally (like every time we do them), we do tend to yell at the screen, and what we yell is not always complimentary to Deron and/or his exercises!

Is it even close to what Michelle does during her workouts? Absolutely not, but then we are not in our 30s, and let’s face it, the most exercise we’ve gotten before this was walking in the sand on the beach! An alarm goes off on my phone at 9:30 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, signaling us that iPad time is over, and it’s time to get ready for our session with Deron. Do we always want to do it? Absolutely not, and honestly, some days are harder than others, but I will tell you that we always feel better and a sense of accomplishment after we’ve done that day’s routine…especially on those days when we really didn’t want to do it, and were just a hair’s breath away from skipping our session!

Hey, as the phrase goes, Better Late Than Never!