Miracle of Science – Part One

Last Saturday, April 3rd at about 8:15 AM, Susie and I pulled the Honda CRV out of our garage and headed towards the Ninth Street bridge. Just about an hour later, at 9:12 we crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge, entered the city of Philadelphia and our neighbor state of Pennsylvania. For the FIRST time since we returned from Florida on March 14, 2020, we had left the state of New Jersey! 4 states, and about 7 hours later, we pulled up in front of our son and daughter-in-law’s house in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Grandma and Grandpa were ready to spend Easter weekend with our three precious Grandkids and their Mom and Dad!

Last year, on January 30th, 2020, on our way to Florida, for what we thought was going to be a two month stay, we stopped overnight to see Billy and his family. The next morning, when we left, headed south on I-95, we expected that we’d see them again in a couple of months later on our way home from Florida. Little did we know that on January 31st, 2020, we would see Lori, Bill and Layla, Henry and Annabelle for the last time till last Saturday afternoon. At that point we knew nothing about something called Covid-19, or what America and our family would look like during a pandemic, or that we’d lose an entire year out of our Grandchildren’s lives!

Our son’s family had been at Busch Gardens for several days, and they arrived home about an half hour after we got there. It took zero time after hugs and hello kisses for the kids to put us in Grandparent mode…and we loved it after a year away! It took Annabelle a bit to warm up, but before too long she was calling us Grandma and Grandpa, and we were so happy to once again be back in our three Grandchildren’s lives! Billy and Lori went out to shop for Easter brunch, and Grandma and Grandpa had Chinese food with the kids and then settled in for a night of playing games!. From Henry and Grandpa playing with his Nintendo Switch, and Grandma and Annabelle playing with Stickers, and Grandma and Grandpa as a willing audience for Layla’s performing, up to and including watching some show called the Haunted Hendersons, we had a great night!! When Lori and Billy came home, they thanked us for watching the kids. We thanked them for giving us several uninterrupted hours with our 3 favorite people 7 and under!

Easter morning was wonderful as we watched them hunt for Easter Eggs and try and find where the Easter Bunny had hidden their Easter baskets. Then we were almost as excited as they were as they discovered what surprises were in the eggs they found, and dove into their Easter baskets!


Then it was time to check out Easter presents from Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa, before it was time to shower and get dressed before the rest of the family arrived!

The rest of the family included Lori’s Mom Kathy, her sister Keri and husband Bill, along with their two kids Molly and Max, and Lori’s brother Sean and his girlfriend Lauren. Lots of hugs and kisses were exchanged, and we were all thankful that everybody in the house (but the kids) had had both vaccine shots! It was wonderful to once again be with family. To eat (oh what a spread Lori and Bill put out), drink, and as they say, be merry! The kids played, the adults played, and a good time was had by all!

We slept very well that night after a day spent with young kids. They were all wonderful and we were so glad to be back on track after a year of FaceTime calls! The next morning, after breakfast and getting dressed, we were off to see Bill and Lori’s new Lake House! The cars were packed, Layla and Henry rode with Grandma and Grandpa, and we departed Wake Forest for the hour and a half trip to Roanoke Rapids lake!

To say we were thrilled by where Lori and Billy’s life has taken them would be an understatement! What a wonderful life they have created for themselves, and their 3 incredible kids, and what remarkable memories they are going to create with this great Lake House! They’ve done, and had done, a lot of work already, but the vision is very clear and we loved it! It’s a 2 bedroom/ 2 bath house, but Lori came upon with this great idea to convert the upstairs bedroom to a bunk room, which is able to sleep 10 people in comfort! A great idea and we loved the execution of Lori’s idea by their handyman Oscar!

We totally enjoyed the rest of Monday, on the large deck overlooking the lake, on the pontoon boat on the lake, and around the fire pit that night! It was a magical time, in a magical place, with 5 people that we love so much!

Tuesday morning, after some more Grandparent/Grandkid time, it was time for Susie and I to head back to Ocean City. The traffic wasn’t the greatest around Washington, DC, but what’s new about that? We safely got home, with nothing but wonderful memories of Easter, 2021! Thanks to the Miracle of Science, and the Modern vaccine that Susie and I got back in February, we were once again able to enjoy hugs and kisses from our family, and to put memories of 2020 in the background, as we move ahead to make many more new memories in 2021 of Family Time!! Stay tuned…we’ve just begun to live again!! Thanks Moderna!

Politics on your Sleeve

This is just our opinion, (but then this is our blog, so what better place to express our opinion), but has there ever been a time in recent history when more folks seem to be wearing their politics on their sleeves? We have never been particularly political folks, and frankly, we are more comfortable keeping our beliefs to ourselves, but boy does that get hard today when you are bombarded by others’ opinions at every turn!

Consider the Trump or Biden flags you’ve seen all over your neighborhood, or the big This Is Trump Country placards you see on porches, or the cars covered in bumper stickers extolling their candidate. Then let’s not even get into Facebook, Twitter, and all the other various Social Media around today! Oh my God! At every turn we are bombarded with what somebody’s political opinion is, as they seem to set their sights on trying to convince us that their opinions are correct! When did this happen, and were we just asleep as this great transition occurred???

We’re kids of the 50s and 60s, and remember the I Like Ike buttons, and other political paraphernalia that the dedicated have always worn, but there was always the old admonition that one should never discuss religion or politics in polite company! That seems to have gone out the window, and boy was that evident during the most recent political season!

I mean, at one time, many of us believed in Political Privacy! The Wikipedia entry for the Secret Ballot starts off with these words, “The secret ballot, is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. This forestalls attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote buying. This system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.”

I think one of the saddest consequences of the loss of political privacy is that many now use others political views as a yardstick to determine if they can be our friends! I’ve always tried to approach people with an open mind and base my reaction on how they interact with me, rather than somebody else’s option or label. If you want to see a great example of how you can vehemently disagree with someone’s politics but love them as a person, do some research on the relationship of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Supreme Courts most liberal judges, and Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative. They were long time friends, even though they agreed on virtually nothing politically. Life and people are more than politics! Remember that old rule of etiquette…never discuss politics, religion, or money among friends! There was a reason for that!

We know these thoughts are so “Pollyanna” in the times we now live in, but boy was life easier when you didn’t have to run the politic’s gauntlet everyday! Everybody had friends that they knew didn’t believe as they did, and they knew that there were hot button topics you avoided at all costs, so you didn’t hit the start button with these folks, but that too seems to be gone. This may be like trying to put the stopper back in the bottle, or get the toothpaste back in the tube, but boy would we love to go back to the times when one’s political view was not the first thing that came up in conversation! We’d love to go back to the days when you could go through Facebook in the morning and see funny cartoons, or great food pics, or you having fun with your kids. We long to go back to the days when what you believed, and which candidate you supported was your own business and nobody else’s. We long to go back to the days when having a differing political view was not a reason to unfriend someone, either on Facebook, or In Real Life!

Here’s a look at our ideal version of Facebook!

Like I said….Pollyanna.

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, on Thursday, January 23, 2020, Susie and I ate our last inside meal at one of our favorite restaurants, Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern in Atlantic City. We’d been steady Thursday customers for a long time, and we were saying goodbye as we were preparing for what at that point, was planned to be two months in Florida, and were in our last week in the cold of New Jersey. We were making choices of clothes to take with us, getting the car serviced, I was making a last minute trip to the dentist, Susie was getting her last hair and nails done, and we were looking forward to spending the months of February and March in Florida, and previewing the Summer of 2020.

One year ago, we had no idea that there was something called Covid-19 that was making people sick in Wuhan, China, or that there had been a first US confirmed case in Washington State. We had no idea that we’d be dragged into a Pandemic, or that we’d be wearing masks when we went out, or that our life would be impacted by this disease that would ultimately kill hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans. We had no idea that we wouldn’t see our Kids and Grandkids for a year, or that we’d wave at neighbors and friends, or that friends who are like family would get the disease.

One year ago today we were smug, thinking that something like a Global Pandemic couldn’t affect our lives here in the United States of America. Little did we know that it would end employment for our sons Kenny and Chris (the Entertainers), force our other children (Billy and Lori and Krissi and Mike) to work from home, and change all our lives like nothing had in our lifetimes.

The last time Susie and I ate inside a restaurant, was on March 13, 2020, at a Cracker Barrel someplace in Virginia on our way home from Florida. When Angelo’s opened their great outside dining during the summer, Thursday nights became Angelo’s Thursdays again. We saw all our regular friends, met a couple of new ones, and got to enjoy our weekly dose of the Mancuso Family and the wonderful food they create. It was great to be back at Angelo’s, but it wasn’t the same.

One year ago today, we had our last martini at the bar at Angelo’s with our bartender and friend, Michael, ate our last meal inside at Angelo’s, saw our Angelo’s Thursday friends Theresa, Patti, Rhonda, Christina, Ed, Gina, Christopher, Victor, and Trinidad. We miss the bar, the restaurant, and the people! We survive now with Angelo’s take-out, and we’re waiting for our time to get the vaccine, but we won’t eat inside till we’re protected.

Hope to see you sooner rather than later friends…we miss you!

Plus Networks

If you’re of a certain age (ie…old…like me), you’ll remember TV before Cable. Back in the days when your only option was to receive the signal over the air from a local broadcasting station. If you remember that, you’ll also remember “rabbit ear” antennas, the good that liberal use of tinfoil could have on TV reception, and how standing in a certain place in relation to the TV could also improve reception.

It may be hard to believe, but Cable TV originated in 1948, in an effort to get TV reception in the mountainous areas of Arkansas, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, yet when Susie and I got married in 1979, and moved to 1 Firwood Road in the Manorhaven section of Port Washington, Cablevision had yet to wire the neighborhood. That means that we did our best to get a signal from NYC stations via a Radio Shack powered TV antenna, that resided in the top of our coat closet.

In 1981, when we bought our first house in New Hyde Park, the area had been wired by Cablevision, and we became cable customers for the first time! Nowhere near as sophisticated as what would follow, our cable box was two boxes, tethered together with about 20 feet of cord between. One box lived at the TV, and the other changed channels, though a series of push buttons. That was the beginning of our relationship with Cable TV, a relationship that continues to the present, with our monthly subscription to Comcast’s Xfinity service, here in Ocean City.

Over the years, that cable coming from the pole to your house has brought you more than just TV shows. After years of dial-up internet, and even DSL service via the phone company, the fastest and most dependable Internet service most of us get, is via the local cable provider. As the internet speed and quality delivered to your house improved, we learned about “streaming” movies and TV shows, and the various ways you get to watch movies. One of the earliest options in that regard was a service called Netflix.

Netflix was launched in 1997 as the world’s first online DVD-rental store, and in February 2007, the company delivered its billionth DVD via the mail, but at the same time, it’s business began to change shape. The move was away from delivery of DVDs via the USPS, and to on-demand viewing via the Internet. As the sales of DVDs fell, Netflix’s digital delivery business grew.

Over the years, as many consumers tried to cut back on the costs associated with Cable TV, another term was coined…”Cord Cutting”. Defined as, “The process of cancelling a cable or satellite subscription and getting TV shows and movies by other means. This typically involves switching to video streaming services that are accessed through the internet”. If you were willing to work a little more at your TV viewing, you could save some serious money over your existing cable bill.

One of those streaming services mentioned in the definition was our old friend Netflix. In the beginning, as a “Cord Cutter” it was easy, as so much was included in your monthly Netflix subscription. It was by no means the only option, but in it’s heyday, it had millions of TV titles and movies, and was exactly what the “Cord Cutter” needed. I know that when our daughter Krissi first moved to Astoria, with a line of sight view of the broadcast antenna atop the Empire State Building, a cheap Radio Shack antenna, a cable internet feed, and a Netflix subscription was all she needed to be part of the cord cutter revolution.

But times change, and in recent years, more and more titles have been removed from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and others. Have you noticed the new trend in cable network’s marketing to cord cutters? I’m calling it Plus Networks, but it goes by many different names. HBO Max, Peacock, Hulu, Crackle, and the pluses…Disney+, Paramount+, Discovery+, ESPN +, etc. As more people abandoned Cable TV and just payed for an Internet connection every month, the cable networks perceived there was money to be made in streaming services. Where once you could pretty much see everything you wanted with a Netflix subscription, now you needed a phone book of subscriptions to see everything!

And how much exactly does having multiple subscriptions cost you? When I Googled that question, I found that there were literally hundreds of streaming services around. While there are a lot that seem to be very narrow focused, here’s a listing of the general services I recognized, and their cost:

Netflix ($8.99 to $15.99 per month)
Amazon Prime Video ($119 per year)
Hulu ($5.99 all the way up to $15.99 per month)
Apple TV+ ($4.99 per month)
Disney+ ($6.99 per month)
ESPN+ ($4,99 per month)
Peacock $4.99 per month)
CBS All Access – about to rebrand as Paramount+ ($5.99 per month)
Discovery+ ($4.99 per month)
HBO Max ($14.99 per month)

All of that is fine for the cord cutters among us, but what of us dinosaurs that still have a full Cable TV package?? I currently pay Comcast $286 for my Xfinity service. This includes Internet access, telephone, and cable service. I used to be able to watch HBO and other services that I paid for, via an app on my phone. I also used to be able to use the services on other Smart TVs or via an Amazon Fire or Roku device. At that point, having an Amazon Prime subscription and Netflix were icing on the cake, assuring me that I could watch virtually anything I wanted, anywhere I was. That’s now changing.

The cable channels have obviously found that there is money to be made even from people who do not pay for cable TV. Disney, CBS, NBC, and others, have decided that the profit from their programing belongs in their pockets, rather than Netflix or Amazon Prime’s, so much of the content that was available on these services originally is now available exclusively on their own streaming service. As I see it, two things are happening here. #1 – Those of us who are still paying for traditional cable TV, are now not seeing content that is being produced by the very channels that are part of our service we pay for. #2 – Folks who have already, or will soon join the Cord Cutters of the world, will no longer be able to get by with one or two generic streaming services, but will have to pay for a laundry list of new streaming services if they want to be able to approach the content that cable TV provides. How much money will they really be saving in the end?

In addition, as I guess an incentive to get people to sign up for the service, virtually every one of the new pay services is featuring “Exclusive Content” that is not available elsewhere. The CBS service features many original titles including The Good Wife continuation show, The Good Fight, and their library of Star Trek themed shows. ESPN+ advertises exclusive content including UFC events, MLB and NHL games, Boxing, International Soccer, as well as a number of original series. Over on Disney+ you get to see a virtual roster of Disney movies, behind the scenes shows, and many original series. One of the newest, Discover+, features exclusive content from their many networks including HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and even the new Magnolia Network with Chip and Joana Gaines. Lots of things that you’ll only see with a subscription to one of the services.

And what are consumers saying? Here’s a sampling of replies on a recent Facebook post by Food Network Chef Robert Irvine, promoting a new episode of his show Restaurant Impossible that’s only available on Discovery+:

“Well, I can’t watch them because I already pay for Food Network through cable and I’m not going to pay for it again through Discovery+”

“Never missed your show, even watch reruns, but not paying extra for Discovery+”

“It sucks that what used to be part of my cable package has now moved to a new platform. No Thank You. I hope Discovery goes bankrupt.”

“Buh-bye! No Discovery+ here. The value of Food Network, HGTV, DIY and others dropped last year when fewer new shows were produced, and our cable costs still went up. Now with a subscription scheme they want even more money from us.”

“Will miss the show. Not paying extra for Discovery+ just to watch it.”

“Miss being able to watch you. Ridiculous that we have to pay for another streaming service! Not your fault, but this is asking a lot from your fans.”

and finally….

“Sorry not watching. Viewers being played big time here! Food Network or whoever is behind this Discovery+ must think we are all awfully stupid. You will lose viewers over this.”

Hmmm…they don’t sound happy.

You just knew it was a matter of time before the folks behind so many cable channels found a way to make more money off their current subscribers, and to find new customers as well. Welcome to the confusing world of home TV viewing in 2021!

2020…Year in Review – Part Three

Here’s the final part of our look back at the year that was the most different of our lifetimes!

Hurricane Isaias

Early in August, the hurricane with the almost unpronounceable name came to Ocean City to visit! There was rain and wind…a lot of wind…and a tornado was sighted just west of Ocean City and cut a path of destruction up through Marmora, our neighbor town to the west of 34th Street. It did damage in OC too, taking the steeple off a small church on 32nd Street and Central Avenue, blowing small structures over, knocking over porch furniture and destroying awnings all over town.

At our house, it tossed about the furniture on the porch pretty good, even upending the couch. Then there was a knock on the front door…it was our neighbor Meade telling us that our Gazebo was now next to his house! Although it was staked down in the back yard, and had seemed fine every time Susie or I had checked on it that morning, at some point a gust of wind was more than it could take! Not only did the wind take it down, but it carried it over the cottage next door, and slammed it into the side of Patty and Meade’s house! With the help from some renters, we carried it away from their house and into our garage, where Susie and I proceeded to take it apart, as the canvas was ripped, and many of the uprights were bent. In short, the Gazebo was no more!

In the entire month of August I wrote one blog! This one was about our Sunday Traditions and how we were trying to maintain them, even in this crazy year! https://rnewadventures.com/2020/08/27/delia-family-sunday-traditions/

Oasis II

After the very casual way Isaias had torn apart our backyard Oasis, we were determined that we needed to make a statement that it might be different, but was still there! We bought a couple of tables from Amazon, strung some new lights, and we were back in business! It wasn’t the same, but we were confident that our new Oasis would withstand whatever Mother Nature threw at her! Early in the fall, we even added a fire pit to the mix!

Family Visit

At the end of August, needing a release from being cooped up in their house with their two teenage children, our son-in-law Mike’s sister Sara and her husband Gabe rented our neighbor Neen’s rental property around the corner on Third Street. Once the rest of the family found out about it, our daughter Krissi thought it might be a great way to have a “Socially Distanced” visit to the old folks. Krissi and Mike got a room with points at a nearby Hampton Inn (Mike would make it a “work trip” by visiting some local liquor stores….Mike works for a wine distributor), and Mike’s folks, Jerry and Paula, got a place at a local Ocean City Bed and Breakfast!

We socially distanced in our garage, in the backyard and our new Oasis, and on the Pennlyn Place Beach! It was different, but it was great to see some family again!!

September and October

We continued our lives in our little seaside community as well as we could considering the year we were in. There was time at the beach, relaxing on our porch, our dinners out at Angelo’s and Charlie’s, and a take-out meal here and there. Rather than real life visits, there were pictures and Facetimes from Billy’s family where we got to see and interact with our Grandkids. There were phone calls and Facetimes keeping in touch with our twins in Astoria and Florida. Having been without wheels since they arrived in Florida, in the beginning of October, Kenny and Chris bought a used car…a 2014 Mazda 2. As the weather got colder, we enjoyed the heaters at Angelo’s and time at our fire pit in our backyard! We continued our weekly traditions and began to play cards every afternoon at 4 for at least an hour!

In September, it appeared I had been bitten by the writing bug again. I wrote 3 blogs! The first was about Susie’s Free Table, which she uses a couple of times a year to get rid of things we no longer want (https://rnewadventures.com/2020/09/07/the-free-table/ ), then one called ‘Atsa My Boat where I talk about our much earlier Nautical Activities (https://rnewadventures.com/2020/09/09/atsa-my-boat/ ), and finally one about our 41st anniversary called 9/29/2020 (https://rnewadventures.com/2020/09/29/9-29-2020/ ). Obviously, I may have been bitten by the writing bug again, but it was a small bite, as in October, I wrote but one blog. This one called My Dad and his Family (https://rnewadventures.com/2020/10/06/my-dad-and-his-family/)

November

In November, as the weather continued to cool off, we enjoyed our last outdoor meal at Angelo’s in AC. Going forward it was take-out or home cooking for us. As many restaurants (including Charlie’s and Angelo’s) had opened for 25% indoor dining, we were not comfortable eating inside, so we didn’t.

The boys decided to come up and spend Thanksgiving with us, and after getting negative Covid tests, they got in their little car and drove up! I wrote a rather extensive blog about their visit, our Twins’ Birthday, our Thanksgiving celebration, and putting up our Christmas Tree with Kenny and Chris. If you want to re-visit that, you’ll find it here…

https://rnewadventures.com/2020/11/29/family-holiday-traditions/

December

After the boys headed back to Florida, we continued our preparation for Christmas. Although, it was only going to be the two of us, for the first time in our married life of 41 Christmases, we did our usual. I wrote about it in a blog called Christmas 2020 Cancelled??
https://rnewadventures.com/2020/12/20/christmas-2020-canceled/

Susie and I enjoyed our different Christmas, and although we missed our kids and Grandkids, I wouldn’t say we suffered in any other way. We used Facetime and saw Kenny and Chris in Florida, Krissi and Mike in New York, and Billy and Lori and the kids open gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. We stayed in our PJs all day, and watched Christmas movies. We also got to partake in one of those D’Elia Family Traditions, as we took drives to look at Santa Lights in Ocean City! https://rnewadventures.com/2020/12/22/santa-lights/

Between Christmas and New Year, and my January 2nd birthday, we continued our quest to watch as many Christmas movies as possible, to continue to eat the wrong food, and to enjoy the holiday season. All in all, different, but not bad.

And that takes us to the end of the year known as 2020! It was by no means a normal year, but our family was lucky in that we got through it better than many. As I write this, we are looking forward to a new year with a lot more promise. Hopefully the vaccine will roll out better than it has in the early stages, people will realize that wearing a mask is not an impingement of their freedom, but rather a medically smart thing to do, and before 2021 is over, we can get back to some semblance of the life we left behind!

Susie and I send our best wishes for health and happiness to you and yours, and look forward to you joining us as we march through the next 12 months!!

2020…Year in Review – Part Two

Here’s Part Two of our look back at 2020!

Susie’s Birthday

As the calendar turned to May, the weather turned better, and a major beach replenishment started in the North End of Ocean City! Seems like 2020 was the year of renewals, and we now have more beach sand, but it did take most of the summer. May is, also, of course, the month of Susie’s birthday, and we looked forward to a celebration at Angelo’s because, like mine in January, Susie’s May 28th birthday also fell on our regular Thursday night Angelo’s night! Alas, Covid changed the plans, so we substituted an Angelo’s take out meal and a cake made specially by her boys!

BLM

Late May and early June also brought protests all across our country regarding what many thought was the out of control behavior of many Police Departments towards our black citizens. The phrase Black Lives Mater was heard across the country, and even in our little beach town on the Jersey Shore! After a march in nearby Atlantic City had turned to destruction, there were fears that a similar thing could happen here when a march to Ocean City was planned, but our community and Police Department kept the action level headed and on target. It was a day to be proud of our community!

Summer Weather

June also brought beach weather, and since our porch was completed and in great shape again, a lot of beach and porch time. It’s what living at the shore is all about, and we made sure to take advantage. Susie and I always like going to the beach early in the day, and we continued doing that this year, which made it very easy to not get too close to our fellow beach goers!

The Oasis

Let’s just admit something here…”Our Boys” (Kenny and Chris) were bored! Sitting on the beach or sitting on the front porch reading was not their cup of tea! They did exercises, walked the beach and neighborhood, but really needed a project! One day, Chris came in and told us that Doc got a new backyard grill and that he’d said that Chris could take his old one. Suddenly we had a grill and the boys had a project! The Oasis was born!

As we share a backyard with our co-owners, the first task was creating a private area on our side and easing access to the back yard. We headed over to Lowes and purchased pavers to make a walkway to the back, and some palm trees for a little privacy. The boys now had a project! Neighbors across the street were throwing out some old small wicker tables, and Chris had another project…repaint them! Then Susie saw a gazebo structure online at Lowes, and we went back and purchased that. Another project…build the gazebo! The Oasis was well on the way! Then a set back…suddenly one day, as steaks were grilling, flames came out of the firebox and started the control panel on fire! Oh Boy!! The fire was put out, Doc’s old grill went to the curb, and we went back to Lowes and purchased a brand new grill. Stools were ordered, lights were strung, and the Oasis was in great shape! The boys had enjoyed the project, and we had a new backyard feature!

Outdoor Dining

The last time Susie and I had eaten in a restaurant was back in March, at a Cracker Barrel on our way home from Florida! We’d done take-out, and a lot of cooking, but we missed our Tuesdays at Charlie’s Back Bar with our friend Sue, and our Thursdays at Angelo’s in AC with all our Thursday Angelo’s friends! Early in June, many places started outdoor dining, and we were lucky enough that two of them were our weekly favorites!

Angelo’s converted their parking lot to outdoor dining. They had an extensive waiting area, a beautiful outdoor bar, a free-standing bathroom, and a very nice “dining room”, not under a tent, but covered by colorful sails! All our regular Thursday friends were back, and it was great to be back in the fold! We missed sitting at the bar with our friend Michael, but many times, Michael was our waiter. At other times it was our friends Theresa, or Rhonda, or Patty who’d serve us a couple of Grey Goose Martinis and a selection of the food we loved!!

Charlies took half of their parking lot and erected a tent, and although they were not open on our usual Tuesday due to staffing issues, and were serving a limited menu, we went Wednesdays when our friend Sue (or her daughter Carlye) was the hostess, and other friends like Jessie and Brett were delivering food! It was good to have two of our favorite weekly anchors back in place!

The Boys Head to Florida

Late in July, Kenny and Chris made good on their plan to move to Florida! Entertainment was gone, the cruise industry was closed down, and they needed to move on to their next adventure. Chris had been studying for months to take his Florida real estate broker license, and they’d found a nice Air B&B in St. Pete’s beach and paid for 6 months rent up front. It was time to leave Mom and Dad, after being locked up in the house with us for 4+ months at this point! After a couple of “Good-Bye” Dinners, it was time.

The boys rented a mini van, loaded as much as they could into it, and headed out! Once down in Florida, Chris continued his studies, took the test, and was now a licensed Florida Real Estate Broker – – color us proud! Kenny is now taking the same online course that Chris did!

Please stay tuned as we finish up our look back at 2020 in 2020…Year in Review – Part Three

2020…Year in Review – Part One

The 2020 version of Susie’s Christmas Letter started this way:

“I ended last year’s letter with, “ I wonder what the next year will bring.” Well, to say it’s been a doozy is an understatement! I’m sure we can all agree it’s been a very trying year.”

As the clock approached midnight on December 31st, 2019, 2020 appeared to be shaping up to be another good year for the D’Elia Family! Our kids were all married and healthy. A third Grandchild had joined our family in 2019. The boys had been with us for Christmas, Billy, Lori and our 3 Grandkids had visited us right after Christmas and we were looking forward to 2020, including our plans to spend several months of the winter in Florida!

in January, we celebrated my 70th Birthday! First with the boys at Angelo’s because January 2nd fell on our usual Angelo’s night of Thursday!

Then a week later, the twins and their spouses (Krissi, Mike, Kenny and Chris) surprised me with a birthday weekend at Harrahs in Atlantic City!

It was a great way to celebrate my 70th trip around the sun and the kids totally surprised me!

The next weekend, Kenny and Chris started their new job of flying to various cities around the country and officiating at Dance Competitions. All expenses were paid, they got frequent flyer miles, and working 4 days a week, they made what they’d have made in a regular job. It was a lot of work, with long hours, but they seemed to be enjoying it. Meanwhile, Susie and I were putting Christmas, 2019 back in tubs and transporting it to our storage place. We were also packing and getting ready for our trip to Florida at the end of the month! On January 30th, we left Ocean City, with our first stop at Billy and Lori’s brand new house in Wake Forest, North Carolina! Little did we know that would be the last time we saw them in 2020!

You can follow along on our trip to North Carolina and our trip to Indian Rocks Beach in our blog, Florida, Here we come! https://rnewadventures.com/2020/02/01/florida-here-we-come/

Our rental condo in Indian Rocks Beach was right on the Gulf of Mexico, and ours for the entire month of February! See our Blog Week One In Florida for more….https://rnewadventures.com/2020/02/11/week-one-in-florida/ for the rest of the story!

Then, towards the end of the month, Kenny and Chris had a weekend off from their job, and came down and spent mid-week to mid-week with us! It was great showing them a place we liked a lot, and they liked it too! They loved going to the beach, exploring the town on foot, and checking out several great restaurants

The last week of February, on the 25th, Susie got a call that her Mom had died. She was 95, had been in full on dementia for a while, and had been in a Nursing Home on Long Island for several years. We were very happy that we’d had a great visit with her in January before heading down to Florida, but now the problem of the boys and us being in Florida and planning and getting to a funeral that was taking place that weekend on Long Island.

I wrote an extensive blog about it back in early March. Life Happens will give you more details. https://rnewadventures.com/2020/03/03/life-happens/

The morning after the funeral, Kenny and Chris drove back to Ocean City, Billy caught his flight out of JFK, and that afternoon at 4:15, Susie and I were on another Delta flight, heading back to Florida (where our car was waiting for us at the long term parking at the airport), and what we thought was going to be our second month in the Sunshine State! After a brief overnight at a Hampton Inn near the airport, we were off to six wonderful nights at the Double Tree Resort in Hollywood Beach! To say we love being at Hilton’s Double Tree Resort in Hollywood Beach Florida would be an understatement..see what I mean in this blog! https://rnewadventures.com/2020/03/12/doubletree-resort-hollywood-beach-florida/

I think the morning we drove away from the Doubletree’s Valet Parking, was the last time that Susie and I thought that 2020 was going to be a normal year in our lives! Our next stop was at my cousin Jeanne and Walt’s in Barefoot Bay, Florida. Just above Sebastian on the East Coast of Florida, we’d stayed with Jeanne and Walt several times in the past, but this year was going to be different. A couple of days after we arrived, Jeanne and Walt were heading to Hawaii, and Susie and I were going to be residents of Barefoot Bay for the rest of March! “Were Going to Be” are the operative word of that sentence!

If you want to know what transpired, I wrote a blog post called A Very Strange 6 Weeks that detailed our Florida visit 2020, and how it ended! .https://rnewadventures.com/2020/03/19/a-very-strange-6-weeks/)

Two days later, on Monday the 16th, the boys returned from what would be the last weekend of their new Dance Competition job. Susie and I wondered if we should go to Charlie’s the next day for St. Patricks at the back bar with our friend Sue. We didn’t have to make the decision, as Charlie’s and most of the rest of our Jersey Shore Community closed down! One week later I wrote another blog about a Strange Time…little did I know!
https://rnewadventures.com/2020/03/21/a-strange-time/

Honestly, most of 2020 has been a blur that went by way too fast. I wrote one blog post early in April (https://rnewadventures.com/2020/04/) and then nothing again till August! In the midst of all this, I just didn’t feel like writing. I started a couple of blogs, but they just never went anywhere! Therefore, my plan for the rest of this Review of 2020 is to look back at the calendar and some of our pictures, and try to recreate the “high” spots of the next 9 months!

The Front Porch Gets Rebuilt

April brought the start of major work on our house’s front porch. We had an issue in the front right corner, figured that we had some rot, and made arrangements for OC Fiberglass to start work when we came back from Florida.. Of course, nothing could be determined till it was opened up, and when they did open it up, there was much more damage than we imagined. Turned out we had to have the 4 front columns replaced, the entire outer structure of the porch, and it involved our upstairs neighbors too! Because of the supply issues with Covid, and Mother Nature, what should have taken a couple of weeks took well into mid May! A lot of time, and you don’t want to know what it cost us!

We’ll pick up with May in 2020…Year in Review – Part Two…stay tuned!

Christmas 2020 Canceled???

Christmas is now, and always has been a big event in the D’Elia household. Early in our relationship, I discovered Susie’s love for Christmas, so much so, that on Christmas Day, 1978, I asked her to become my Mrs. Claus, and she said “yes!” This Christmas Day will be the 42nd Anniversary of “the day she said yes!” On our first Christmas in 1979 in our Port Washington apartment, I wanted everything to be perfect! We bought a much too expensive real tree ($75 way back then), but then forgot to get a saw to cut the bottom off before we put it into the stand, so we used our Ginsu knife to do the task! Christmas morning we opened presents while drinking Andre Champagne (it was $3.99 then) and watching Susie’s favorite movie, White Christmas! Unfortunately, WABC TV was showing the movie, and had cut it to 60 minutes including commercials, so unless you knew the movie, it made no sense! After our morning alone, it was time to pack up and move on to Susie’s Mom and Dad’s and the Johnson/Vincent/D’Elia Family Christmas Day Celebration! That first Christmas pretty much established the pattern that would be our Christmas for years to come!

Once the kids came along (Billy in 1982 and Krissi and Kenny in 1986), it just got more so. The entire period from Thanksgiving to Christmas was full of events like cookie-making, shopping (Dad took one of the 3 kids out alone on 3 days after work so they could shop for Mommy while Mommy did the same thing for Daddy!), wrapping, decorating, and just enjoying Christmas and all it meant to our family! Even before there was such a thing, we did our best to make it a “Hallmark Christmas Movie” holiday!

I think back fondly to our Christmases when our three were small. It always included Christmas Eve Lobster Dinners at Grandma D’Elia’s in Bayside, then running to the Community Church of East Williston for the Christmas Pageant and Christmas Eve services (Krissi was miss-cast as an Angel one year), returning to our house, often with my Mom in tow, and the D’Elia Family traditions of Italian Cold Cut Sandwiches, more Andre “cheap Champagne,” and watching Christmas Vacation! Once the kids were all in bed, it was time to attack their stockings, making sure to remove any Toys R Us tags from the packages and Dad’s task of assembling any toys requiring it! Christmas morning ALWAYS came too early, but the rules were the kids couldn’t go downstairs without us, so “Santa” would always leave a little something at the foot of their beds to occupy them, while the adults pried open their eye lids! Downstairs, everybody took their established places around the living room, presents were passed out, and the chaos of opening presents and keeping the presents separated from the wrapping paper got underway. They were fun days, that I’d love to be able to turn the hands of time back to….even the one year Kenny hated all his presents because he hadn’t gotten a kilt! Soon after presents and something to eat, it was time to either (A) clean up, because the entire clan was coming over to our house, or (B) walk away from the mess, dress, and travel to Susie’s Mom and Dad’s or her sister Barbara’s house to celebrate with the entire clan!

This year, however, how many folks will be singing along with the Christmastime classic, “Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? A recent Good Housekeeping article, had the rather ominous title, IS CHRISTMAS 2020 CANCELED DUE TO COVID 19?”. In Italy and Germany, all Christmas Markets around the country have been canceled. In NYC, visiting the tree at Rockefeller Center will be a new and different experience this year, requiring tickets! Why, even here in our decidedly “Hallmark Christmas Movie Town” of Ocean City, NJ, many holiday events like Miracle on Asbury on Black Friday, the Christmas Parade, First Night and First Day celebrations, have gone the way of our 4th of July Fireworks, the Night in Venice Boat Parade, and the Boardwalk Air Show…all events where folks might gather, have been canceled!

Obviously, things will be very different for many families in 2020, and a lot of folks are really having trouble finding their Christmas Cheer! Thanks to the Corona Virus, over 300,000 of our fellow Americans have lost their lives, and millions are affected by those deaths! A lot of folks are unemployed with little prospect of getting jobs, and entire industries have shuttered and many have no idea when, or even if, they will be able to get back to work. For many, many families this year, Christmas is indeed canceled!

It’s sad, but I’ve heard so many people say that they just can’t get into the holidays this year. They wonder why they should put up a tree or decorate the house. “It’s just not going to be the same,” many of them say, “so we might as well forget it and skip it this year!” Why even my very own Mrs. Claus had some trouble finding her holiday spirit early on! I’m sure a huge part of the reason for us is that this will be a very different Christmas for the D’Elia/Fox/Mikowicz Family. Blessedly, Covid has not directly touched our family’s lives, as it has so many around the world, and in our local communities, but for the first time in our married life, we will be spending the holiday alone! On one hand it’s very sad, that we will not see our kids, their spouses, and our Grandkids, but there is a part of us that’s kind of looking forward to the luxury of doing whatever we want, whenever we want, on Christmas Day! We may absolutely hate it, but for now, we are looking forward to finding out what we’ve never had in our 43 years of being together is like! In the end, Christmas Spirit did indeed find the D’Elia Household, and kind of like in Show Business, The Show Must Go On!!

So the tree is up and decorated..

The Manger is in place…

and Susie’s got her SnowMan/SnowWoman Village together…

The Windows are decorated…both inside..

And out!!

The outside of the house is in the Christmas mood…

And even the Honda CRV is ready!!

Susie’s got her wrapping station set up in the den, and gifts for our kids and Grandkids have been wrapped, packed into boxes, and after multiple trips to the Ocean City Post Office and UPS, just like Santa and his sleigh, the gifts are on their way to North Carolina, Florida, and New York!

Traditions are an important part of our holidays, and while some are going to be different this year, the ones that have been and will continue to be maintained are like a warm hug! Lord knows, we all could use a hug this holiday season! So no matter what you celebrate, I hope the magic and the spirit of the season is able to find you, and bring just a little bit of joy to your heart. We can’t forget the people who are no longer with us, or those suffering spiritually, medically, and financially this Christmas. All we can attempt to do is to share the warmth of the season with those we love, and look forward to a better Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa in 2021! Susie and I send our love to our whole family…those that joined via birth, those that became members through marriage, and those who who are part of our family because of friendship!

Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!

PS – Two pictures from our first married Christmas, 41 years ago! Susie that morning in our living room in our Port Washington apartment, and the Manger under the tree..the same Manger I might add, that is pictured above! Bought for our first Christmas in 1979 at A&S in Hempstead and still with us!

Family Holiday Traditions

We are now in probably the most “Family Tradition” intensive time of the entire year. The period from a couple of days before Thanksgiving, through the New Year’s celebration are the time when tradition after tradition unfolds almost daily. I know that this year, many of those traditions are going by the wayside thanks to the Corona Virus, but even in our amended holiday season, many of those traditions will take place, albeit a much more limited version. Here’s a look at our family and what traditions are taking place this Thanksgiving, and which ones we’ll hope to resume next year!

On Thursday November 20, 1986, just 7 days before President Ronald Regan declared the 27th as “a national day of Thanksgiving”, our twins, Krissi and Kenny joined the D’Elia Family! That means that as the date of the 4th Thursday in November moves back and forth, our Thanksgiving celebration often starts a little early with a Twin Birthday celebration! For the last 14 years, youngest child Kenny, has been away working, and has not been a part of our Thanksgivings or have we been able to celebrate his birthday with him! That changed this year, as Kenny and his husband Chris, joined us for both his birthday and Thanksgiving! Once again this year, he wasn’t able to co-celebrate with his sister…..

A new tradition that we started 2 years ago, was traveling to Maryland to celebrate the holiday with our son-in-law Mike’s extended family! Mike’s sister Sara and her husband Gabe, play host to their extended family, which we are lucky enough to be included in. From little kids to teenagers, Moms and Dads, cousins, and in-laws, it’s a huge family celebration, with Gabe spending most of the day outside smoking a turkey or two! It’s been so much fun to spend the day with our Maryland Family, but sadly, like so many others across America, a celebration like that was off the table this year! Fingers crossed for next year!

So Thanksgiving 2020 called for the smallest celebration in Susie’s and my married life…just the 4 of us, but small or large, some Thanksgiving traditions are written in stone!! We had all the traditional D’Elia Family Thanksgiving dishes…just a little less! There was turkey (just a breast as nobody wanted dark meat), and Susie’s traditional stuffing – some in the turkey, some in muffin cups, and some in a bake-in bag. The boys made a great creamed corn and their own version of the long standing traditional green bean casserole, but with all fresh ingredients! Then there was the one staple of D’Elia Thanksgiving that always is a part of the meal, almost as important as the turkey: Turnips, Mashed Potatoes and Cheddar Cheese.

This is a dish that Susie brought over to our family from her Johnson Family Thanksgivings, and really uses rutabagas rather than turnips, but the names are used interchangeably many times. This involves pealing and chunking the rutabaga, cooking it till tender, and mashing. We usually do that the night before Thanksgiving. The next day, the potatoes are pealed (usually during the Macy’s Parade), cooked and mashed, with lots of butter and heavy cream. Neither of these things could be done without Susie’s Pressure Cookers (due to the smaller size of this years celebration, she only used one, not her normal two!), which she’s used for years, and swears by! Then both mashed “vegetables” are mixed and lots of shredded cheddar cheese is added. By the time it’s done, it has a golden yellow color, and a taste loved by the whole family! It was even a part of the Smith Thanksgiving in Maryland, as it was made and brought the last two years!

Of course, almost as big a part of the holiday as the dinner on Thanksgiving, is the day after “leftover” sandwich! Ours are on white bread, with mayo, turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce! Yum!

Thanksgiving weekend is also traditionally the time that our Christmas trees goes up in Ocean City. This is a holdover tradition from the years we didn’t live here, but were always here Thanksgiving weekend. In preparation for the holiday, Susie and I made 3 trips from the storage unit to our house with our Christmas boxes. As the boys were here, we put the tree up Friday….

And yesterday, while listening to Christmas music, we all decorated the tree!

Susie also set up the Manger, which has been a part of our Christmases ever since our first married Christmas in 1979!!

During the rest of this week, we will continue decorating the house, including assembling Susie’s Snowman (and Woman) Village! Traditions are a part of the holidays, and although our holidays are all going to be smaller this year, many of the traditions will still be a part of them.

Susie and I hope everyone enjoys their holiday traditions, and the celebration of the special times that are a part of the coming weeks. They may be smaller this year, but they are still an important part of all our lives. Be it Christmas, Chanukka, or Kwanzaa, we hope you enjoy them, that you stay safe, and that you do what we need to do so that next year at this time we can all enjoy our traditional holidays, shared with family and friends that are like family, and share HUGS!!!

A Strange Time

It was exactly one week ago that Susie and I cut short our two months in Florida, and arrived home in Ocean City. To say it’s been a strange week would, I think, not be an exaggeration!

Our Country is still coming to terms with the Corona Virus, and what it means to us. Being a place where normally we’re asked to send money to some other part of the world to help them survive, finding this strange disease within our midsts is, to say the least, a new and quite uncomfortable position for many of us.Travel bans, having Major League Sports canceled, finding Disneyland and Disney World closed, and having fellow Americans hoarding everything from hand sanitizers to toilet paper, goes beyond even the Milk and Bread runs we are used to before a major snow storm. This is new and uncharted waters for us, and everyone of us has to come to terms with it in his or her own way.

Living here in Ocean City, New Jersey, a barrier island that is connected to Southern Jersey by four bridges, this past week, concerns were expressed that reminded me of an old episode of the Twilight Zone. Entitled “The Shelter” , it originally aired on September 29th, 1961 and the plot centered around a dinner party that was interrupted by the news of an impending nuclear attack. The problem looked at in the episode was that only one of the families in the neighborhood had installed a bomb shelter. It’s a great episode in which friends and neighbors keep trying to get the family to let them join them in their bomb shelter, but are all refused. In the episode, writer Rod Serling studies the effect that the closing of the shelter door has on both those living inside THEIR bomb shelter, and those outside who didn’t think there was a need for a shelter, but now feel they are entitled to access. As an 11 year old in 1961, I clearly remember having “Duck and Cover” drills weekly in school, (like there was ever going to be a way for us to survive a nuclear attack by cowering under our desks!) so this was not a random topic Mr. Serling pulled out of the air, but a real issue in contemporary America.

 

26FDB6E5-6A37-4E0C-9D74-479DB92D1971Here in Ocean City, this past week the current situation with Corona Virus and how we have reacted to it, has fostered discussion on Facebook and other places not unlike the situation depicted in “The Shelter”. As a bit of background, Ocean City is the northern most town in southern Jersey’s Cape May County. According to the 2010 census, there are just under 12,000 residents in our town, but for the busy summer months of June, July and August, that population soars to between 115,000 and 130,000 people. So for 9 months a small beach town, and for 3 months of the year, a full on summer resort, populated by second home owners, and daily, or weekly visitors. Many of the businesses in town operate as seasonal businesses, only being open during the busy summer months, but others, that are open all year, base their operations at this time of the year, on the smaller full-time resident levels of business. That’s where the problem has developed this past week.

It seems that many of our second homeowners have decided to come down to Ocean City from their full time homes in Pennsylvania, Delaware and even New York. This has caused some Ocean City full timers to go to Facebook and other places, saying things like, GO BACK TO YOUR HOME, SHELTERING IN PLACE MEANS TO STAY AT THE ADDRESS ON YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE, THANKS FOR COMING DOWN AND EMPTYING OUT OUR STORES and worse things. These people are blaming the empty store shelves and the crazy atmosphere at local stores, directly at the feet of second homeowners and out-of-state visitors. What these people are calling on the City to do is to close the four bridges linking Ocean City to the mainland to anybody who’s driver’s license doesn’t show an Ocean City address.

Two of the four bridges connecting OC to the rest of NJ

This is obviously not a small issue, as Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian late this week issued a regular situation update in which he asked residents to “stay at home, limit travel to essential destinations” as the CDC suggests. He went on to say, “In order for this request to have any meaningful effect, it must apply to all unnecessary travel – not just to out-of-state visitors. It saddens me to see the divisiveness spawned by recent statements singling out this population.” Wow, sounds very much like those folks in the Twilight Zone episode. At his briefing today, NJ Governor Murphy even brought up the topic. He requested that second homeowners refrain from heading to the Jersey Shore, and he said, “The local infrastructure, especially in offseason, is not prepared for the influx of part-time residents.”.

I’m not sure exactly which side of this discussion I fall on. I don’t think I’m ready to join the folks blaming out-of-towners, for the shortages in stores, as honestly, it’s just as likely that the very people bitching about what the visitors have done, are the same people who have emptied the shelves! On the other side, carloads of folks from out of state, unloading bikes and boogie boards and kids, acting more like the Spring Break kids in Florida than responsible citizens doesn’t help our situation either! And then what about the folks, who split their time evenly between their shore house and another home? More questions than answers.

The bottom line is that many people are living in fear right now, looking for someone to blame for that fear. Some will take it out on the President, some the Governor, some Government in general, and, as has been demonstrated here in Ocean City, some will blame those folks who don’t call this place their year round home! I guess we all need to realize we are all now living in, “The Twilight Zone”…and who knows when we’ll get out! Welcome to our life in 2020, as the pandemic comes to a neighborhood near you! Let’s all be safe, do what we are suggested to do by the experts, work together, and get through this. Let’s not be jerks or hostile towards folks who may think differently than us. Who knows what our towns and country will look like when this is over, let’s just hope we’re all still here to deal with whatever we find!

Good luck everybody! Be smart and be safe!