Quarintini

Susie and I arrived back on Pennlyn Place the afternoon of Saturday, March 14th, after making the trip from my cousin’s house in Barefoot Bay, Florida in just two days. Kenny and Chris returned from Iowa, their last weekend of work, on Monday, March 16th. Since then, for the past two plus weeks, our lives have been materially different than any other similar period, and probably much different than any other stint in any of our lives ever will be. All because of a virus, that has the unfortunate happenstance to share a name with a very popular Mexican beer! So what’s been happening??

Well, first of all, we are very fortunate to be in the position we are. Unlike so many of the folks in the world who either have to go out into the working world daily because they are deemed “indispensable”, or else are at home and no longer getting a salary because they worked in industries that were not considered “essential”, we are in the enviable situation to still have our Social Security and Pensions direct depositing into our accounts. Secondly, we live in a small beach town in one of the southern most counties in the state of New Jersey, so unlike our fellow Jersey residents, who live in the congested New York Metro area, our Corona virus numbers are low. Thirdly, we are fortunate to have “Our Boys” with us (Kenny and his husband Chris) during this stay at home time, and as Susie and I are more in the demographic that all the reports say this virus is even more dangerous for, Chris and Kenny have not let us go to the grocery store, CVS for prescriptions, or the very necessary liquor store for supplies.

So what are we doing? Well, we’ve been enjoying adult beverages and we’ve been eating!

0F068F30-AE31-425F-BB8B-1830AA5D4006

We’ve taken on some interesting jobs, that should have been done a long time ago, but we are putting the time to good use. We’re doing things like organizing the freezers in the house!

68C0ED5F-6B26-4A8D-ABEC-8B786FA286EE

We’ve been exchanging texts and photos with our daughter Krissi, who along with her husband Mike live in Astoria, NY, and who have been working from home, even if sometimes she feels she needs to dress like she’s at work to get the job done!

0348DE48-E1DC-4EBF-8AAC-265E6E12AEDB

We’ve been Face Timing with our son’s family in North Carolina, and wishing our Grand Daughter Layla a Happy Sixth Birthday!

7440E274-713B-415C-A156-11A3BBBCF53F

We’ve been playing games. We’ve done Sequence, 5000, and May I, and there is a threat of Monopoly, but we are not sure as a family if we are ready for that.

80EAF8E5-2805-4F8D-A984-0B682DA2B10E

We’ve been watching our two Dancer/Singer/Actor fellow residents trip the light fantastic in our kitchen!

Susie worked on a very difficult puzzle! It was one given to us last Christmas by our neighbors and friends Patti and Meade, and was a nautical chart of the Ocean City area! The puzzle was started on Sunday…

27B97592-3CF9-4A56-A156-D66F6F0E3FF8

Continued to work through it on Monday (look at all that blue!!)

455AE1A4-08D2-4D30-BA98-A1D705AAE2FB

And it was successfully completed on Tuesday! I’d say it was a “family project”, but honestly Chris, Kenny, and myself had just a little involvement, with the majority of work done by our Puzzle Master, Susan!

6E580C70-9BB7-4622-9334-4E58224E81FC

Did I mention we’ve been drinking?

7C671897-9BF8-4F93-85CD-EDD01DCE6148

But sometimes we also cooked! These were some stuffed mushrooms I made last weekend!

A3D61E65-6994-4F44-89F2-AD12D3571865

And sometimes we combined drinking AND eating! What an idea!

DD7D3F5C-296C-4475-B2CF-9FE043CC3A48

The boys have created beautiful cocktail hour scenes (appitizers by Chris, pretty pink drinks by Kenny!).

4EC5EFD6-AE15-46B5-8ED0-31C481F1BA4B

And the old school play book has come out too, and Susie has made some delish old school recipes like a family favorite Spinach/Rice and Meat, and yummy Chicken and Dumplings!

FD4F4C82-1C79-45D4-AA83-F652CE2559F6

We’ve also ordered in food! In an effort to help support the local restaurants that we love, we have bought gift cards to use when this is all over, and ordered take out several times during the last two weeks! We’ve enjoyed Sunday bagels from Hot Bagels and More in Somers Point, which sadly seems to have closed for the duration of the lockdown, We had a great dinner a couple of nights ago from Sal’s on Route 9 in Somers Point…lots of great food for an incredible price! But in keeping with our usual habit of you being able to find us on any given Thursday night at Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern in Atlantic City, for the past three Thursdays, we have ordered from them! For an incredibly reasonable price, we have gotten so much good food, including their incredible salads, a huge tray of an entry and another of pasta, and even wine and dessert!

Okay, so what other things have we done beside eating and drinking? Well, Son-In-Law Chris has worked with Susie and picked up knitting again! He’s knitted a couple of things and continues to work on his technique!

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

Patti and Meade have also loaned the boys a couple of bikes, and they have been riding around the neighborhood, but the weather has been kind of on and off this last week, with some damp, cold, and windy days…definitely not March going out like a lamb!!

Susie and I have taken to walking around the neighborhood. We keep crossing the street when people approach to practice proper social distancing, and somedays when the wind is blowing cold off the ocean, it’s not fun, but we have to do more than sit on our butts! Today, we passed a house we’ve probably walked, biked, and driven by hundreds of times, and saw for the first time this cute lawn statue!

69C3C722-71B1-409A-8862-94D5FCBECBF0

We are also so thankful that if we have to be doing this staying-at-home thing, we live in a time when we are blessed with the most incredible digital entertainment venues of all time! Susie and I have tried to be sparing and not binge watch shows, but we’ve finished the current seasons of Grace and Frankie, The Kominsky Method. and Lost in Space, but we still have episodes to go in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and haven’t even started the Ranch or Jack Ryan! Kenny also told us that one of our favorites, Bosch, returns in a couple of weeks, so we’re looking forward to that! Then there are old movies on TCM that we’ve been recording. Today we watched the original version of The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 with Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw and an incredible cast of character actors from 1974! We’re even starting some shows that were big hits, but that we’ve never watched! We are 11 episodes into the first season of Cheers…which went 11 seasons and 20+ episodes a season! Then there’s Facebook, and online news sources that we read daily. I refuse to watch TV news because I don’t need any more bad dreams than I already have!!

What else?? Well, Susie dug her craft boxes out of storage, and she’s revisiting some of the projects she’d had in the planning stages. These boxes have been in storage for several years, and honestly, she has lots there to keep her busy! If she only had a few more corks!

But, it’s not just staying home and keeping our distance from friends and neighbors, but also other things that we’re having to put on the back burner…like my second knee! When we left in January, I’d made an appointment for this next week to get the process started for my second knee. My left knee was replaced July 11th of last year, and I hoped to start the procedure next week, so that I could get my right knee done sometime in May or June. Well, that’s not happening, so I postponed the appointment to the middle of May, and honestly, that’s probably not happening either. Like so many other things in our lives that are on hold, it will wait, and I’ll start the process again when it’s more appropriate! One silver lining of that cloud…I no longer have to be under a certain weight goal by next week, so pasta, bread, and rice are back on the menu…for a little bit!

So there you have it. I don’t expect anybody to read this, and honestly wrote it more for myself. If you do get a kick out of some of the things the D’Elia/Fox shut-ins are doing to pass the time, that’s great, but if not, that’s fine too! Remember we are all in this together, and we can beat this thing! Just please be smart, follow the guidelines, keep yourself and your family safe, and be ready to live again when this crap is in our past! Love to you all from our family of shut-ins and our little beach town in South Jersey!

A Very Strange 6+ Weeks!

Susie and I have just had a very unusual 6+ weeks trip to Florida…here’s a look at it.

It started off like a perfectly normal trip, as we left Ocean City on Thursday, January 30th! The car was packed for a 6 to 8 week visit to Florida, and our first stop was with our son Billy’s family at their brand new house in Wake Forest, North Carolina. It was a great visit with Billy and his wife Lori, and our Grandchildren, Layla, Henry and our brand new Granddaughter, baby Annabelle! A great time was had by all, and we left with 10 boxes of Layla’s Girl Scout Cookies….the perfect stop!

The next morning we were off, and the next stop was Darien, Georgia, so that we could go to our favorite fried shrimp place in the world, B&J’s Steak House and Seafood! It was incredible!!

img_2479

Our Post, Florida, Here We Come from February 1st contains more details!

The next morning, we continued our journey south on I-95 again, arriving at our rented condo in Indian Rocks Beach Beach about 3:30 PM! If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve read about week one in IRB…if not, check some of them out on the right side of the home page!

AF533C36-8A09-42C8-BD08-167FDBFF5092

We were thrilled during our month long stay there that my cousin Jeanne and Walt joined us for 4 days, and then “Our Boys”, son Kenny and his husband Chris were able to join us for a week! We had a wonderful time with the boys, exploring many wonderful places and finding both new places to eat and wonderful places to have a drink! Of course, lots and lots of beach time, perfecting our tans, and making us look like we really had been in Florida!

It was at the end of the week the boys were with us, that we got the call that Susie’s Mom had passed away. We scrambled getting plane reservations, and making arrangements. The boys headed back to OC (Spirit Airlines from Tampa to AC for under $200 roundtrip for both of them) and a day early, on Friday, Susie and I drove across the state to Ft. Lauderdale airport, left the Honda in Long Term Parking, and winged back to NYC for the weekend! (Life Happens from March 3rd has more details)

 

Then it was 6 wonderful nights at the Doubletree Resort in Hollywood Beach Florida. If you haven’t read details of that yet, check out our blog Doubletree Resort, Hollywood Beach, Florida from March 12th.

0B045309-C2C8-427C-BDF8-3BC1174FB068

BC51AB4E-BE98-4640-9F5B-B81A1FDE2418Then we were off to my cousin Jeanne’s in Barefoot Bay, Florida. We were there for 3 nights with them, and then they were winging their way to Hawaii for 4 weeks, and we were planning on staying in their house for a couple of more weeks! We were looking forward to pool time, a Spring Training Mets game at Port St. Lucie, and my first visit to Cape Canaveral, and the Kennedy Space Center…then the shit hit the fan!

We started reading online of the ramp-up of measures to prevent the spread of Corona Virus in the US. The one that really got our attention was the suspension of travel between the US and Europe! If that was reality, might there be a suspension of Interstate travel in the US? In my visions I saw State Trooper’s vehicles lined up across I-95 as it crossed from one state to another. Then MLB, NBA, NHL, and all the other initial organizations started canceling games, and then one that seemed un-imaginable…Broadway, Disneyland and Disney World CLOSED! This was real, and we started talking. Would we rather be possibly stuck at Jeanne and Walt’s, where we knew but one person (their friend and neighbor Bruce – Jeanne and Walt had left that afternoon for Hawaii), and were 1000+ miles away from our Ocean City Family and all our Doctors, or would we rather be back in our little New Jersey beach town, surrounded by our family (Our Boys are with us), our Ocean City friends, and a phone call away from our Doctors? We decided that Ocean City won out over Florida!

So on Thursday last week, two weeks or so earlier than we were originally planning, we started packing and before the sun went down, the Honda was loaded, and by the time we went to bed that night, we were ready to head back north! At 8:30 Friday morning, we locked up their house and drove out of Jeanne and Walt’s driveway, and headed out of Barefoot Bay! Within about 20 minutes, we were on our home for the next two days, I-95 North, heading to our beach town! Our plan was to do the trip in two days, stopping just one night, rather than the two nights we usually do. Let’s face it…at this point, we wanted to be home in Ocean City!!

Day one went well, and at 12:35 PM, this came up on the GPS, showing that we were 777 miles from the Atlantic City Expressway!

A0790650-8409-4374-8D93-E7D03C9071D4

After driving for about 8 hours, and having a cold cut lunch in the car, our stop that night was at a Doubletree in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We splurged and had our only Cracker Barrel meal of our trip! Of course, there was a women in the next dining room coughing up a lung…just what we needed to think that our decision to eat out had been ill advised!! We slept well that night, and were off again Saturday morning at 8:15…without stopping for the free breakfast we were entitled to!

We made great time on Saturday and were projected by the GPS to arrive home, a few minutes after 4, but we decided to stop at our favorite Italian Market, Bagliani’s in Hamilton. Just 2 miles off the Atlantic City Expressway, they have great cheeses, meats and Italian products, and we figured this might be a good place to stock up on some items to eat during the coming weeks. Here’s the meat we ended up with after Susie had split them up and used her Seal-a-Meal to vacuum pack them!

710E0D9C-3D27-4890-9514-6BA1AB63E42A

Even with the stop, we arrived back in Ocean City a few minutes past 4:30. On our entire 6+ weeks trip, we drove 3302.6 miles in the Honda (and got 31.3 MPG for those miles), and we were home in Ocean City, and happy!

All was well, we were home, and the house was stocked with all the necessities!

07CFE2F0-055F-402B-9CAE-E5957E6CAE6D

Kenny and Chris were out in Iowa doing one of their weekend gigs, and arrived home to Philly airport early on Monday. They drove home, we sanitized them with antibacterial spray, wiped the car down with antibacterial wipes, sent them off to shower and wash everything in their suitcases, and the four of us began our days of hunkering down in Ocean City! Their weekend gigs have been postponed for the next two weeks at least, the house is stocked with lots of supplies, and there’s nothing left to do but take walks through the neighborhood (while avoiding anybody we may meet), catch up on TV and movies (we’ve got a long list of Netflix shows that we’d been saving for summer, but which we will dip into now), read a book, write, and take care of household tasks. We have no idea what the days ahead will bring, what else will be closed by government mandate, or just by the owners not interested in putting workers in harm’s way, and how long we’ll be forced to remain close to home. We’ve bought some online gift cards to our favorite restaurants in hope that some cash infusion will help them still be there when this is over. What the future will bring, we have no idea, but as I read on Facebook the other day, “Your parents were called to a world war…you can sit on your couch for a couple of weeks”.

Hope everybody we know is safe and staying that way. We have no idea what the world will look like on the other side of this, but we will get through it as we follow the rules and realize we’re all in this together. Please be smart and take care! Love to all!

Mother Nature

So, all things being equal, our view tonight should be of Pier 21 in Galveston, Texas, but instead, thanks to a Tropical Storm named Imelda, and the 40 plus inches of rain she dumped on Southeast Texas, our view is instead of the atrium of the Embassy Suites hotel at the Philadelphia Airport!!!

Our original plan was to leave home this morning, and be on American’s 12:30 flight to George Bush International Airport in Houston. That was till we got the notification last night, while having dinner at Angelo’s, that today’s flight had been canceled!   They booked us on a flight tomorrow morning at 8:30, and we lost our First Class seats, but got two together in the Main Cabin!  Just hope we don’t have to fight to get the difference between First Class and Main Cabin returned!!  Rather than leave home before the sun rises in the morning, we decided to drive in tonight,  and stay at the airport!  A little bummed, but hey, we’re still TSA Pre!  

Fingers crossed everything goes right, and this time tomorrow we are indeed at the Harbor House Hotel at Pier 21 in Galveston!   Come on now…let’s see those fingers crossing!!

703FD30D-16D3-4CCC-9A2B-D509CB732379

See you in Texas! 

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

img_1488

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?

img_1062-1Yesterday, 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!

img_1063-1

Day Six and Day Seven – October 8 & October 9, 2018

Day Six – Monday October 8, 2018 & Day Seven – Tuesday October 9, 2018 

We are a Family!!!

We woke without an alarm today for the first time in what seemed liked days, as we had an empty morning, while the boys had some pre-wedding tasks to accomplish.  They’d hoped to exchange the huge Ford Expedition Hertz had given them, for something more human sized, and then they had a meeting scheduled with their Wedding DJ.  They were going to pick us up about noon, and then we were going to David and Lexi’s and get The Family Day started! 

A little hungry, Susie and I went to the Hash House a Go Go on the second floor of Harrahs. This is a place that has made its reputation for the size of its portions, and unfortunately, Caesars has placed it in many of its Nevada properties as a replacement for their traditional style  Coffee Shop. The menu is overwhelming but eventually I settle on a Corn Beef Scrambler, while Susie decided to go small and have Banana Pancakes.   The corned beef was very fresh and my meal was good, but we both could have eaten it!  Susie’s “pancakes” turned out to be PANCAKE…about the size of a pizza!   Needless to say, we did not join the Clean Plate Club.   

We got a call from Kenny telling us they’d had a little bit of a rough morning (they stayed in the casino last night) and would get to us about 12:30.   Turned out, they didn’t get the car switched because they needed more time, but they did have a very good meeting with the DJ, and both felt they had a much better handle on both Friday night and the actual wedding on Saturday.  Time well spent. So then we were off to David and Lexi’s!

When we got to the house, nobody seemed to be home, but it was a beautiful sunny day, and we quickly discovered everybody was around the patio table. Lexi and David have a beautiful back yard, with an incredible view looking down to Reno.  Who knows how many more glorious weather days like this we can expect, so we took advantage of the weather and the view and the company!  David’s Mom Gerry and his sister Kim had arrived earlier from Oklahoma,  and although we’d met his Mom very briefly as we exchanged cruises last time the boys were on the Liberty of the Seas, we’d never met his sister.  A couple of David’s Bloody Marys, and we started getting to know our 2 newest family member!  

img_0669 

After a bit of getting to know David’s Mom and Sister, Chris’s sister Michelle showed up, and our outside family time group grew again!

Then it was time for today’s big family event….lunch. The location was someplace we’ve heard about from Chris for years: Sushi Rose and all you can eat Sushi.  Since it was Monday, it also meant it included all you could drink Beer or Saki…some of us had both (sheepishly raising his hand)!  Really good sushi, new and interesting things, some we didn’t even know what they were, and we tried and liked them, and the beer and warm saki kept flowing. The amazing thing about this??  Just $16.95 per person!  Everything Chris told us was true, and Lexi’s daughter Victoria joined us for lunch! 

Before…

After…

img_0678

Then after a brief detour to Walmart,  (where for some inexplicable reason we let Chris buy a Selfie Stick?!) we all went to Lexi and David’s house and family time ensued!  Michelle’s husband Bobby joined us, and the Family Group grew again!

If you’d been there, you’d have had a hell of a fun time.  If you weren’t there, you missed a hell of a fun time!  

img_0715

Some remember this happening, and some don’t!

We got home thanks to Lori the Uber driver as we might have been slightly over-served!  

Kenny and Chris went to the room to change and then we were going down to the casino for a bit.  10 minutes later, Chris showed up without Kenny.  Our son had passed out on their bed fully clothed.  We went back down the Hall with Chris, and Mom tried to wake him, but to no avail, so off we went with our other son!

We had a couple of drinks, played some video poker, and then the 3 of us headed up to the rooms….Good Night Moon!

Day Seven

So, this morning Kenny shows up sans Christopher.  Kenny having slept since about 11:30 last night was in fine shape.  Christopher, however, who had returned to the casino after taking us back to our room, and found his way back to their room about 5AM, was dead to the world!!  So, the three of us decided to head to a place we’d been last year, Peg’s Glorious Ham and Eggs!  If you are ever in Reno, great breakfasts!

Susie and I decided on two things off the Hawaiian menu, Fried Spam and Eggs for Susie and Loco Moco for me, while Kenny had a Southwestern Omelet.   They were good!

Then it was time for some errands, and number one on the list was Costco!  Chris’ Aunt Kim, Susie and I, and the boys, ventured out.  It soon became obvious that poor Kim was the most under the weather of the 5 of us, (not that any of us were cranking on all 8 cylinders) plus she’d never been in a Costco before!  We shopped…oh boy did we shop!

Yes, we were those people you see in Costco and wonder, “what the f*#k are they going to do with all that sh*t???”.  From 5 cases of Prosecco, to cases of water and soda, to bags of chips, plates, napkins, buns, hamburgers….you name it, we had it!  We started with one cart….by the time we were leaving the store, we had 2 carts and 2 of their flatbed trucks!  $990 later, we started loading the cars.

Kim and the boys had a couple more stops to make, but since we had perishables, we loaded up our car with them, and off we went to David and Lexi’s.  Let’s just say we all kept a much lower profile today than yesterday, had some pizza, a couple of beers, a lot of family laughs,  and the boys and Susie and I headed back to Harrahs on the early side tonight!  A couple of drinks and a little gambling (Susie won $300 in a Penny Quick Hit machine) and now it’s approaching 12 midnight, and are approaching our bed!

36DC2C59-6C79-4670-A008-A4C74493AA34

Tomorrow we’re off to Virginia City, and tomorrow night, the boys’ Reno Batchelor Party, as planned by sister Michelle.  Who’s got the bail money!?

Good night!

Ocean City – Part 8

DSC_0402

When we bought 854 Pennlyn back in January of 2005, the building was 4 years old, and we were the 3rd owner of the first floor unit.  In the thirteen and a half years we have owned the first floor, the second floor has had 4 different owners.  This part of our story will deal with the relationship we had over the past 13 years with these folks.   Our first owners were the two young couples we spoke of in the last chapter.  They were truly absentee owners, and with the exception of a couple of winter rentals they had during our early years, they were good to interact with.  

I should tell you that when Susie and I bought 854, we found out that the former owners were the ones charged with the insurance needs of the Condo Association, and after buying, we continued with that task.  It involved a Liability and Comprehensive policy and another for Flood Insurance.  We used a local insurance agent, so all that really was involved was collecting the other owner’s share of the premiums, and getting them to the agent.  The Condo Association’s documents specified that because of some differing footprints between the 2 floors, the second floor owned 54% of the building and we owned 46%, so that was the split on expenses too, like the insurance.  Easy, right?

Yes, it was with most of the owners.  We’d get the bills, copy them to their attention, and a check would be returned in short order.  It was like that with our interactions with most of our co-owners, but as with every rule, there are exceptions.  We woke up one day, and discovered that the upstairs unit had been sold to a new owner.  Let’s just call this owner “Bob”, and like on Dragnet, the name has been changed to protect the..well, you get the idea.

img_0791Bob had a wife and three sons.  Bob, I think, was going to go into real estate and make enough money to send those three boys to college.  In addition to our upstairs, Bob also owned a rental property in Brigantene.  Sounds like just the kind of person you want to co-own a building with, right?  Well, we hoped so as our relationship started.  He had a good job with a company car, and provided us with all his contact info.  That was the good part.  The first year when the insurance bill came due at the end of May, I guess he hadn’t yet pocketed any rent money, so the check was a little slow in returning and I believe we carried him for a week or so till he made us whole.  Okay, new owner, new procedures, we were good with that.  Well, we really shouldn’t have been, because it was a pervasive part of our relationship with him.

Turns out that he had bought the two properties on a shoestring, and was stretched really thin on the money side.  That made him do stupid things.  The first of the stupid things was taking a “Senior Week” rental.

Most people in Ocean City, avoid “Senior Week” rentals like the bubonic plague!  The idea img_0789of 4 or 5 drunken high school or college seniors doing God only knows what in your beautiful beach home, is just not something that most owners can stomach.  Factor in that since “Senior Week” is in early June, and you will be getting the least rent of the entire rental season, and its a no win situation for most.  I guess that $1200 was too attractive for Bob to pass up, so he went for a “Senior Week” rental.  

While we were thankfully not there during this rental, our across the street neighbors Georgia and Vinny told us many stories.  Like the piles and piles of black bags that were filled with empty beer cans on trash day.  Or the reveler that they saw sound asleep on said pile of empty beer cans one morning.  Or the people they swear they saw sleeping in the garage, and the loud parties that they had a clear view of from across the street.  

So Bob made his $1200, but in the end, it probably cost him that and more.  There was the hole in the master bedroom wall that he had to fix (somebody put their fist through it).  Also the rugs he had to replace because of the burn holes in them, from the cigarettes that were not allowed to be smoked inside the property.   Let’s just add that after they left, there was a great deal more than the usual after-rental cleaning to erase their stay.  All in all, a mistake from beginning to end!

In addition to his bad decisions, Bob and his wife also had 3 sons who made questionable decisions.  Like the time they managed to lock our garage door, so that when we came img_0793home and hit the garage door opener, instead of opening, the door folded like an empty Budweiser can.  Or the time that they were in the house alone, and decided it would be fun to stand on the second floor front porch, and hurl glass soda bottles at our neighbor Doc’s recycling can.  Unfortunately, their aim sucked, and they left Doc with red stains and a number of shattered bottles to clean up, and never admitted they’d done it!  Oh yeah, they were lovely little boys!

I think Bob owned the place for about 3 summers, and as time went on, it appeared that his financial situation got worse and worse.  Like the summer we had to replace our original air conditioning unit.  Of course, both of our air conditioning units were installed at the same time, but for some reason he thought he wouldn’t have to follow us img_0792and install new AC.  We discovered it was because he couldn’t afford to change it, but alas his AC unit suffered the same fate as ours.  Did he replace it?  Nope, he installed a WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER in one of the living room windows.  I’m sure his renters were dismayed and probably mad when they showed up at the house they had rented that listed it had Central Air, only to find a noisy cheap window air conditioner!  There was no way that one window AC unit was going to cool the house, and in addition, the evaporation drain dripped on and ran across their front porch, and right onto ours!  This was really the beginning of the end for Bob.

I say that because in addition to our having to wait for his part of the insurance money even longer than usual that year, we found out that he’d apparently also stopped paying the mortgage.  It wasn’t long before we heard that his place was up for sale as a “short sale”, because it was on the verge of being foreclosed on by the bank.  While the new owners got the place for a reduced price, they also had a lot of work to do because Bob had been scrimping on everything!  

He’d apparently never had the air conditioning/heat plant serviced, and even was too cheap to install a couple of dollar air filter in the system.  Not only did the new owner have to update the air-conditioning, he also had to have the ducts professionally cleaned since the system was run filterless!  In addition, walls needed to be repaired and painted, carpeting needed to be replaced, and the whole unit updated, as Bob had done nothing that wasn’t absolutely necessary during his years of ownership!

With the exception of Bob, we have been very lucky to have good neighbors and co-owners during our 13 years in the house.  We are fortunate to have had our current co-img_0790owners John and Kim for the last couple of years.  There is never a wait for insurance money, plus they have been great partners as we update and provide upkeep for the building.  From power washing, to new fencing, to landscaping the property, we’ve handled it all as partners. Our home is better for their partnership, and we hope they remain our co-owners for many years to come.

Would we like to own a home that was all ours and not have to share with others?  Yes we would, but the reality of our situation is that there is no way we could live where we do, just 500 feet from the beach without living in a two unit dwelling.  It’s just the way it is, and for the vast majority of the time, it is just fine for us.  However, once that lottery win comes…well, that’s a story for another time!

Next…a House becomes our Home!

The Magic Kingdom

FBF0275F-DC0D-4364-BEC7-4D931CDACE54

Let me start by saying that both Susie and I have been coming to Walt Disney World, since very soon after it opened. In fact, when Susie and I started coming to WDW, the Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness, the Contemporary Resort, and the Polynesian Village was all that existed.

We headed out to the Magic Kingdom this morning, arriving about 11 AM, with a fast pass for the Jungle Cruise at 11:25 AM. We have been on the Jungle Cruise probably 30-50 times over the years, and as one of the legendary rides that dates to Disneyland, and one of the original rides in WDW, there is a lot of history on that ride for us! We remember going on it when it was an E Ticket ride! It is the Magic Kingdom to us, and if we can go on it, we do!!

Well, that was one of the last rides that worked for us! We couldn’t get a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean because it’s closed, because some people didn’t like the red head scene, so the ride is being revamped. Don’t start me.

Then we had a fast pass for the Haunted Mansion, a ride we love and remember riding shortly after it debuted at WDW. Guess what??? Ride temporarily closed..sorry. It was closed for 5 hours…we never got on it!

So, a stupid ride (well not really a ride), but something we love was next! Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room! If this was a ride at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, we’d call it an “air conditioned/seat ride”. It’s something we do every year, and we were able to do it this year!!

So since we couldn’t get on the Haunted Mansion, we did the Hall of Presidents. It was closed last year due to the election, so this was a brand new show, and it was very different, but very good. Unfortunately, our current President looks like an ass in audio animatronics too! (And the heaviest one! He was huge!)

Then, we were off to a ride I’ve loved since the NY Worlds Fair. No, not, It’s a Small World, but Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress! I remember it as the GE Pavilion at the World’s Fair, and come on….Jean Shepard does the voice acting!!! How could that not be a favorite for me!! Guess what…the ride broke, and we sat there for 10 minutes till they got it rebooted!!

Then to our last fast pass, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and guess what happened? It too broke down!! As were were getting to the end of the ride, it stopped and after trying to reboot it 3 times, it was discovered that our car had come off the track! It was our fault!!!! In case you’re interested, Susie beat me!

In short, the Magic Kingdom was a zoo today! There was a 45 minute wait for the WED People Mover, a ride that, but one other time, have walked right on. We didn’t wait today, but use that as a yard stick to how busy the park was. Did we have a great time today? I’m sorry to say we didn’t, and this is what we think are the reasons for that.

#1 – We have an institutional memory of this place that goes back to the 70s. Not to sound like two old farts, but we remember the “good old days”, and that’s not always good!

#2 – We are 40 years older than when we first started coming here…trust me, that makes a HUGE difference. (Our minds say yes, but our bodies say NO!)

#3 – The park is getting old! Rides like the Carousel of Progress (by my count 54 years old), the Haunted Mansion (at least 40+ years old), Pirates of the Caribbean (again 40 + years old) are showing their age, and breaking down. Hell, even the monorails are starting to look old!

#4 – There is more of everything at WDW, including people. Has the park reached it’s breaking point?

9AFCDF39-3AE8-4D7F-86DD-4BB316D13E97

Now don’t get me wrong, thanks to my Disney Retiree status, we don’t pay for parking and get into the parks for free, but is there a breaking point? We were talking to Tim the bartender at the Boardwalk Bellevue Lounge tonight, and he too wondered when the point will come that people will say NO to spending $160 for a park hopper and find long lines and broken rides.

Saying all the above, let me end by saying we still love this place and always will, and at these prices, how can we not come back! Tomorrow EPCOT, or perhaps a few hours by the “ Quiet Pool”. Stay tuned, and find out!