As I said before we started, we are doing without internet on the ship, so there will not be a detailed blow by blow description of our travels, but I’ve been taking some notes on my phone, and depending on how good the internet is in Galveston on turn around day, I hope to post some brief notes about our first week of two on the Liberty of the Seas!!
By the time you read this, Susie and I will be winging our way to Houston, Texas, with our eventual destination the Port of Galveston, where on Sunday the 17th, we will rondezous with Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, have a couple of Texas Ice Teas upon boarding, and then meet up with Our Boys! Our Boys (ie…youngest child Kenny and his husband Chris) have been on the Liberty since mid-January, and we are looking forward to spending the next 2 weeks with them in the Caribbean!
Kenny is one of the 6 Lead Entertainers aboard the Liberty, and Chris is a Lead Dancer/Aerialist and the Dance Captain of the company. The contract the boys are currently on, started with rehearsals at the Royal Caribbean Studio in Miami, Florida back in November of 2018, and they will be on the ship through early November of 2019. The main shows they do are Saturday Night Fever, the Musical and a Cirque de Sole type show called In The Air.
In SNF, Kenny is Father Frank, the Priest brother of the main character Tony. In addition, both Kenny and Chris play many other small parts, and of course, Chris is prominently featured in all the dance numbers. Chris is also Kenny’s understudy in the show. Based on the movie Saturday Night Fever, there are lots of great dance numbers and the very familiar music of the Bee Gees! This is the third contract the boys have done on the Liberty, and our third cruise with them, so we know what to expect, but we are still excited to see them on stage, and honestly, 2 weeks in the Caribbean is much better than traveling through a blizzard to Janesville, Wisconsin in December to see Kenny perform!
The other show, In The Air, is comprised of a number of different scenes, all revolving around music, and featuring spectacular dancing and flying sequences. Kenny is the host of the show and starts it, as well as being featured in several numbers, and the grand finale. Chris is both a dancer and an aerialist in the show, flying high above the stage on rings, swings, and even just long banners of cloth! Oh Boy!
Watch Kenny open the show!
This is a video of one of Chris’ Flying numbers, shot in rehearsal
Kenny also does a 70’s Set on the Promenade Deck during the big, ship-wide 70’s Party!
But the real fun times we’ll have with Our Boys are the times we sit around having a drink, or the places in the ports we relax, and even just hanging out on our balcony!
It’s fun to be on the ship, but it’s more fun to be with Our Boys, and to enjoy whatever they have planned for us! Now, they are working, so that means that sometimes Mom and Dad have to amuse themselves. Perhaps we’ll take another Martini Making Class!
Whatever we do, we know it will be fun and we will have 14 days of great family time! As we have on past cruises, we have opted not to get Internet service on the ship, so please don’t look for an ongoing commentary here about what we’re doing and where we’re going. During the course of the cruise, we will make 3 stops in Mexico, one in Honduras, one in the Cayman Islands, and one in Jamaica. On our return, I would expect that we will be sharing some details of our exploits, but till then, just imagine we’re having 14 glorious days in the Caribbean!
Sue and Frank
So, a vacation is great, but a vacation that you can share with Family is even better!!
Susie and I were very lucky this year to get to spend some time away from the winter of 2019, and get a preview of the Spring/Summer of 2019. Unfortunately, this year Mother Nature wasn’t that cooperative, and the beginning of our Spring preview was more like Winter Light, but then “summer” arrived, and everything was wonderful. Even more so since we got to share it with family!
First up was Susie’s cousin Debbie, who formerly lived in Massachusetts, but who since recently retiring has moved to near Orlando, Florida. She works at Universal Studios, so perhaps a WDW/Universal pass swap is in our future! Her friend Janice was visiting her from the frozen north of The Baked Bean State, and the two of them journeyed over and spent a nice day with us in Indian Rocks Beach. The temps were a little cool, but warm enough to spend a couple of hours around our pool, and to have a great dinner under the sky!
Then a couple of days later, my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt spent a couple of days with us. Jeanne is the daughter of my Mom’s middle brother Bill, and when we were kids she grew up in Chicago, while I was in New York. After years apart, we saw them at our wedding in 1979, and then again just a couple of years ago, when we had lunch between their Connecticut home and our Long Island home. That meeting re-kindled our relationship, and we have stayed in touch since. They are true snowbirds, having a home in Barefoot Bay, Florida, as well as Connecticut, and after our time here in IRB, we will spend some time with them there before heading back to the Frozen North!!!
Finally a visit from our beloved daughter Krissi and her fiancé Michael, who we love like our own son! The older of our twins, Krissi and Mike were running away for a couple of days from the New York cold! They are to be married in June of this year, and they are spending a long President’s Day Weekend with us.
What’s better than family??? In my humble opinion, nothing! Family and/or friends that are like family, is what makes life go round! I hope you all have relationships like this, and get to enjoy spending time with folks you love!!
Although our time in Indian Rocks Beach is coming to an end, our Florida Adventure continues for another week plus. Stay tuned!!
When our kids were little, and the entire family lived on Long Island between Bayside and Huntington, Christmases were a lot easier. It was totally expected that we would all be together in part or whole on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the only thing we had to worry about was a forecast of snow, and traffic on the Long Island Expressway! But times change, kids grow up and head out on their own, parents die, people retire and move, and traditions change. In other words, life happens. Take our family, and Christmas, 2018.
Shortly after their October wedding, Kenny and Chris started their Liberty of the Seas contract with 2 1/2 months of rehearsals in Miami. They had about 10 days off from rehearsals for Christmas/New Year, and they spent part of that time with us in Ocean City, so they were the kids we shared our actual Christmas with this year, and we tried to include just about every D’Elia Family Christmas tradition we could. One set of kids done!
This past weekend, it was time to share our second Christmas up in New York with Krissi and Mike. Susie and I haven’t been back to Long Island since mid-September, so it’s been close to 4 months since we’ve had the joy of Long Island traffic, but we made our way safely to Mike and Krissi’s apartment in Astoria. The plan was a low key Christmas, without a lot of the traditions, just enjoying a couple of days together.
In the course of the afternoon, Krissi, with her Mom’s help, put up a picture shelf in their living room, while Mike and I helped with advice and comments on their progress. Then Mike announced that it was 5 o’clock, and drink time! The Master Mixer went to their bar, and shook us 4 excellent vodka martinis that just hit the spot!
Dinner that night was too many yummy appetizers and wood-fired pizzas at Milkflower, and then we returned to their apartment, drank eggnog, and opened Christmas presents while watching a Christmas movie! As is usual, Kristen Anne didn’t make it to the end of the movie!
The next day we all enjoyed a great trip to the Museum of Moving Image, which is just a couple of blocks away from their apartment, and across the street from the Kaufman Studios. Among the many exhibits was one dedicated to the late Jim Henson, and all the wonderful work he did during his too short life. Of course, well known to our family were his Muppets, and older son Billy’s favorites, the characters from Fraggle Rock!
They also had an exhibit on “ancient” computer games, where we saw our first computer, a Commodore 64, and lots of Nintendo games Susie and I remembered from when our adult children, weren’t! Krissi and Mike enjoyed going back to the last decade and century.
Mom and Dad Ubered home, and while waiting for Krissi and Mike to arrive, commented on what a gorgeous sunset was in progress.
The kids suggested that we visit their building’s roof (where they will get married in June), and we got some wonderful pictures of the New York skyline.
Also, thanks to Mike’s long arms, a good selfie!
Dinner that night, was totally decadent Greek Bowls from Crave, followed by some TV…and another martini!
We said our good-byes to the kids before bed, because they’d be up and on their way to work long before Mom and Dad crawled out of bed! Monday we had an Eye Doctor appointment, so we killed some time driving around Jackson Heights, where I grew up and lived till I was 19, before heading out to Whitestone and our Eye Doctor!
We wrapped up the weekend by visiting one of our favorite old Mineola haunts, the St. James! (after Susie had her nails done!) It was great to visit with our bartender friend Dennis and our waitress friend Mo, and experience one of the things we truly miss from our 31 years in Mineola!
We also passed this very Christmasy house on Roslyn Road, just around the corner from where we used to live.
By the way, back when Billy was a little kid, we had church friends that lived in that house, and one morning, Susie delivered our friend’s baby in her bathroom on the second floor. The house didn’t look like this back then!
Listen to the story of Susie delivering our friend’s baby…courtesy of WABC Radio
Oh, and remember me mentioning traditions back in the opening paragraphs? Well, after 2 years of living in North Carolina, our oldest misses some of the traditions he grew up with. Specifically, Billy told us he missed our Christmas Eve tradition of Spicy Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Baked Clam Stuffed Lobsters, so on January 19th, we are heading down to Raleigh for Christmas 2018, #3! Even though the presents have already been distributed, and the tree will be gone, he wants a taste of our old traditions to go along with their new Christmas Eve tradition of North Carolina Bar-B-Que. Sounds good to us!!
Christmas in Mineola
On this Christmas Eve, 2018, a little Christmas reflection…..
Christmas has always been a big deal in our household. Early in our relationship, it became obvious that it’s Susie’s favorite holiday, and one that she waits all year for. Indeed, because of her love of the holiday, it was on Christmas Day in 1978 that I asked her to marry me, and she said yes! Talk about giving…her saying yes was the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten! So from our first Christmas in our apartment on Firwood Road in Port Washington, just months after we were married in 1979, we have always gone all out to decorate and celebrate the holiday!
Every year, when the kids were small, sometime in early November, we’d journey to Lancaster, PA, for a weekend in Amish Country, and every year, that’s when the D’Elia Family started listening to Christmas music! Indeed, our selection of Christmas music grew over the years to the point that when we cleaned out our 100 CD changer, close to half the CDs were of Christmas music. Now we’re all digital, with music stored on the Amazon Cloud, but Christmas music still makes up a large percentage of it!
Our Ocean City house became ours at the end of January 2005, and when the next Christmas rolled around the decision was easy…we were going to decorate two houses! That first year we got a table top tree and bought ornaments, and house decorations on the cheap from Big Lots. It wasn’t as grand or beautiful as we did on Long Island, but we even had a small Manger we’d gotten at Big Lots, and lots of outdoor decorations.
Over the years, more and more items were added to both our Mineola house and to the Ocean City house. A year ago, on November 9th, we sold the Mineola house, and made Ocean City our permanent residence. That meant we now had to meld two Christmases into one. Think that wasn’t a hard job? Well, the fact that we had to make 3 trips with a fully loaded SUV to transport our Long Island Christmas decorations, to the shore, and the fact that our Christmas Decorations then took up fully half of our rented store room, may give you an idea about the scope of the job! Last year, the consolidation started, and it’s continued this Christmas too!
First things first…the Christmas Tree!
From our first 1979 Christmas, a live tree was the only way to go for the D’Elia Family. We did the “cut your own” version, but the kids got kind of tired of that after a couple of years, and after one year of doing it ourselves, Susie and I tired of it too, so it was a yearly trip to Hicks to pick out a tree! That lasted till we started going to Ocean City and realized when we got home the beginning of January, the tree was severely dead, and we’d missed a lot of it’s life. The next year the first artificial tree made it’s debut in the D’Elia’s living room!
As I said, for our first Christmas in Ocean City (2005), we bought a 4 foot tree at one of the craft stores, and put it by the front door, on top of our porch table, and we decorated it with ornaments we’d purchased at the Big Lots in Somers Point. We continued for a number of Christmases in Ocean City with that table top tree and the our Big Lots ornaments. In 2012 we bought a new artificial tree for Long Island. It was our 2nd “fake” tree, was much more lifelike and sophisticated, prewired with lights, and all the set up we had to do was pop the three sections together and it was done and wired! Of course, the next Christmas we decided to get a thinner version of that same tree for Ocean City. When our last Christmas on Long Island was over in 2016, we decided to take our bigger tree to Ocean City, move some furniture in the living room for the holidays, put the big tree in a new location, and enjoy more room for presents under it! It was worth it.
Mineola Ocean City
Of course, the Mineola Manger won out over the Big Lots version. The Manger scene that graces our Ocean City home now, has been with us since that first Christmas in Port Washington 39 years ago. Bought from a long defunct Long Island department store, (A & S), with additional pieces purchased at a 5 & 10 on Plandome Road in Manhasset, it moved from a table near the front door in Mineola, to the top of a book shelf in our living room in Ocean City!
Mineola Ocean City
For a number of years, Susie put up a huge Department 56 Snow Village display in our Dining Room on Long Island, but furniture and styles changed, and the Snow Village went bye-bye. Susie has always loved Snowmen (and women), and with a desire to go in a new direction, she did a Snowman display on the top of our entertainment center on Long Island, with a smaller version in Ocean City. Of course, now her big production has moved to our corner cabinet in the living room, that transforms from a bar to a winter wonderland during the Christmas Season.
Mineola Ocean City
And that’s but a small part of the Christmas Displays at our home during the holidays. Over the past couple of years, we have weeded through lots and lots of ornaments, bows, house decorations, Hallmark animated displays, and hundreds of Christmas items, big and small, cheap and expensive. It hasn’t been easy. We know that when we unloaded our storage room into our garage this year (2 trips with the CRV fully loaded), we realized we still have too much Christmas “stuff,” and perhaps this year, we will be able to part with some items. But there are regrets….like the two snow globes we had, one from Susie’s Mom and one from my Mom. These globes graced our living room in Mineola for many years, but sadly when we decorated in Ocean City last year, they were nowhere to be found. Did we make a conscious decision after Christmas 2016 to let them go, or did we put them in the wrong box, and it got left behind? We’ll just never know, but every Christmas, we will think about them, and wonder what happened to them.
There you have the story of our Christmas dilemma and how we tried to solve it. Let’s just say, it’s a work in progress!
As we share our Christmas this year with Family and Friends, near and far, just one last thought. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
I’m sure we’ve all heard the 1963 song, made popular by Andy Williams, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Indeed, during this holiday period, it’s hard to go through a day without hearing it on the radio, in a store while shopping, or around your house. You know the song…..
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call,
It’s the hap-happiest season of all….”
But is it?
Yesterday, Susie and I spent some time at the Shoprite in Somers Point, and as we were walking out, I commented to her, “Wow…there are some really, crabby unhappy people in this place”. Sourpuss faces, grumpy dispositions…a generally cranky population!
As we went back into the parking lot and unloaded the wagon into our Honda, the general theme continued. Folks were honking horns at each other, attempting to beat fellow shoppers to parking places, demanding that others move faster, and generally acting like they were the most important person on earth! Wow…”the hap-happiest season of all”?
Then we ventured out of the parking lot and onto Route 9, and believe me, it didn’t improve there! We saw no “kids jingle belling” and certainly never heard anyone telling us to be “of good cheer”. What we did see was the usual crappy driving you see this time of the year. People cutting others off, turning the wrong way down streets, driving while on their phones, and not signaling so you have an idea what their intentions are. Generally living up to my theory that the state issues thousands of licenses that are only valid from Thanksgiving through New Years, and you best pay double attention to your fellow drivers on the road this time of year, if you want to find out what you are “Doing on New Year’s Eve!”
How sad is it, that so many at this “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” act like it is anything but! Are there crowds in the stores and traffic on the roads? Yes, but it’s Christmas, what do you expect?! I’m reminded of a woman I met standing in line a long time ago at the Fortunoff Department Store back on Long Island. We were waiting to pick up some merchandise we’d just purchased, and frankly it was a rather long line, as we all were there for the same purpose. After a few minutes the lady, who was in front of me, turned to me and said, “Why are the lines so long this time of the year?” Huh? I wanted to tell her that if she perhaps did her Christmas or Hanukkah shopping in say July, she might find less crowds, but I didn’t.
I think too many people lose sight of what this holiday is all about. It’s about family and friends, its about “parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow”. It’s about, “hearts will be glowing when love ones are near, and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” Like the birth of a little baby in a stable in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Yes, we all have a lot to do, and sometimes the doing becomes stressful, and dealing with people becomes a chore, but please think of the lyrics of this song, and the real reason we celebrate. Christmas wasn’t created by Macys or Walmart, Target, Costco, Coca-Cola, or even the Hallmark Channel!
It’s about that little baby, it’s about family, and friends that are like family, it’s about spending time with the ones you love, and spreading the joy of the season as much as you can, even if it’s just smiling at a stranger in the store, or holding a door for someone, or thinking of those around you. Yes indeed, it is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and my wish is that we all remember that everyday, and try and make it true. I know Andy Williams will appreciate it!
If you read our recent multi-part story about how, why, and when we ended up being retired in Ocean City, you may remember it said, “We loved being down here, and as we spent more and more time, our Ocean City Family grew. We attended weddings on the beach, parties at neighbor’s houses, Saturday night dinners out, several Pennlyn Place Block Parties, St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve events, and even went to a couple of local fundraisers.” Those Saturday Night dinners I spoke of, are an important part of our Ocean City life. While some weeks it will be 3 or 4 of us going out, some weeks it can be as many as 12 or 14. Some weeks it’s just us, and some weeks, friends will bring friends and relatives and our group expands. While we do go out a lot, many weeks we will get together at another’s house. It can be a planned dinner, a pot luck, or an impromptu “order take out” night. All things being equal, just about every Saturday, some members of our group will be together.
Here’s a selection of some past Saturdays!
Having said that, let me tell you about a recent Saturday, where a number of us headed out to Carmen’s in Sea Isle City, for their last night of the season, and what they call their “Carmen’s Belly Buster”. We’d been there only once, earlier in the year, and our waitress made a point of telling us about the Belly Buster night, and it peaked our interest. Our good friend Denise called and made a reservation, and worked out transportation, and on Saturday October 20th, it was indeed Another Saturday Night…but this time in Sea Isle City!
The funny thing is that the Saturday before, we’d also been with Denise and her husband Chris, and our friends Patti and Meade, but that was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada! It was great having some of our Ocean City Family with us at Kenny and Chris’ wedding, and it was a Saturday night, and yes, we did end up in our room after the close of the wedding! On the side of the Atlantic Ocean, or the shore of Lake Tahoe, a Saturday is a Saturday for our Ocean City Family!!
But let me get back to Carmen’s and The Belly Buster! The place seemed very festive when we got there with large groups of folks at tables on the outside deck. It was a little chilly (Denise wore my jacket) but they did have side curtains and most of us were fine. We started at a tight table, but then asked, and they moved us to a great octagonal table, where we had lots of room and we all could see each other! Lucky they did!
The meal started with a hot crab chowder and a nice salad. Then pass-around fried sea food (shrimp, scallops, clams, etc). Dale and Denise are not seafood eaters, but there were several Chicken dishes in the next round of pass-arounds. Then they lowered the boom on us with the Main Attraction of the evening!!
While we’d seen other tables with big disposable pans of mixed sea food, we somehow got the mother lode, pilled high in a huge fancy bowl! Not quite sure why we got singled out, but we did end up on their web site, so I’m thinking we got the “display” portion! Here’s that picture!
It was loaded with clams, mussels, crab legs, and at least 4 lobsters! Oh My God! By no means did we eat it all, but we tried!
There was lots of laughs that night as we ate and drank our way through dinner (it is a BYOB), but there was still about half left (mostly mussels and clams) when we’d had our fill, and they wanted us to take it with us. Nobody at our table was interested, so we passed it off to a lady at the table behind us! She may still be dining on our leftovers!
It really doesn’t matter what we do, or where we do it. What matters is that we are together, having fun. Family Chosen is a Great Thing!