The Free Table

Have you ever hosted a garage sale? In the almost 41 years that Susie and I have been married, she has hosted a couple of Garage Sales at our house. She did them in combination with her Mom and her Sister, and largely without my help. Why you may ask without my help? Because I am not a big fan of Garage Sales. In fact, I think my feeling about them mostly falls on the hate side. The idea of people picking through your stuff, trying to tell you that your $2 price really should be 50 cents, and doing their best to beat you down, and get the things for pennies on the dollar, really doesn’t seem like fun to me. And let’s not even begin to talk about the folks that try and show up before you’re ready to open and then become belligerent when you say no! Nope, not for me! I’m sorry but the amount of money you gain in holding one of these sales, just doesn’t seem to me to be worth the work and the aggravation!

When we sold our house of 30+ years in Mineola in 2017, and consolidated two houses we’d had since 2005, many people would have had a garage sale to rid themselves of excess items they no longer needed, but we didn’t. First dibs went to our kids. All three of them took items that were in our house and that they’d grown up with. Next we donated lots of items to the Vietnam Veterans Association, and other worthwhile charities in the area. Furniture that nobody wanted (too many of the Baby Boomer Generation are downsizing) went to needy families that could really use it. For the couple of high ticket items we wanted to get rid of, we turned to eBay, getting them sold the clean and simple way! But what, you may ask, does the preceding two paragraphs have to do with the title of this blog…The Free Table? Read on, and you will see!

Now that we call Ocean City our full time and only home, we love the fact that we have downsized our number of “things”. Frankly, the lifestyle we now want to live, in the house we now live in, just doesn’t lend itself to the way of the hoarder. Things like my complete set of High School Yearbooks or Susie’s extensive Cookbook Collection, just don’t have a place at the shore house. But, as the days, weeks, months, and years go by, we still manage to accumulate “things” that eventually just don’t have a place in our lives. Now the question is, what to do with these “things”?

Rather than throw out things that you no longer have a need for, but that somebody else may be able to use, Susie has taken an idea from our neighbors up Pennlyn Place, Jane and John Griffith. A couple of times a year, usually on a busy beach Saturday or Sunday, Susie places a table by the curb with a big sign on it that says

HELP YOURSELF

FREE

EXCEPT TABLE


Yesterday was her second Free Table of the Summer of 2020, and it was very successful! In fact, it was more like a community Free Table, as our next door neighbor Doc contributed two wicker stools to the effort, and our new across the street neighbor Heather contributed a toaster to Susie’s Free Table! For her part, Susie’s items included excess ball caps, an old game system Kenny and Chris had left here, little knick knicks we’d picked up, a hand food processor, beach towel clips, old night lights, a hair dryer, some DVDs, a pair of new windshield wipers from a car we no longer own, a couple of bags, a grill pan, and a few other items. By the time Susie folded up the table, and put it back in the garage yesterday afternoon, all that was left was Doc’s two stools!

Susie was happy, folks who picked things up were happy (like our other neighbor Patti who took Heather’s excess toaster), and Susie got rid of a tub of “things” Win – Win all around…except for Doc with his stools! Oh, and we really owe a debt of gratitude to this lady who helped herself to a lot of “things” and who was caught on film by Heather!

I wish we knew her address…we’d just deliver the items to her in the future!

Week One In Florida!

We’re a little past our first week in Florida, and thought it was time to update you on our journey. There will be a lot of pictures this time around, because strangely, we remembered to take them…no guarantees going forward! So, here we go!

We arrived in Indian Rocks Beach late in the afternoon of Saturday ,February 1st. We have a new condo this year, that we’d only seen via the internet, so turning the key and walking in, there was a little mystery. Would it be as nice as what we saw on the internet, or would those pictures have been old, old, old! Well, our fears were unfounded, it’s very nice, but also HUGE! Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge kitchen, huge living/dining area, and huge balcony. Not the decor that we’d choose for a beach house (more dark Mediterranean than beachy), but probably bigger than our Ocean City house! Take a look and see for yourselves!

Of course, the sunsets in Indian Rocks Beach, on the Gulf Coast of Florida are legendary, and our first night on the beach was exactly what you’d expect!

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Last week was a bit chilly and windy, so a beach day was in shorts and t-shirts, which was more than I’m sure we would have been doing on our home beach in Ocean City! The pool was warm, and sheltered from the wind, and we got to sit by the side and take a dip, so again, a win!

Did we eat out yet? Yes, we crossed the street and went to Keegan’s, one of our favs from last year. We also had breakfast at JD’s, and on Tuesday, instead of the Back Bar at Charlies with Sue, we walked down a couple of blocks, and enjoyed our night at Guppy’s!

Towards the end of the week, my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt joined us from the East Coast of Florida. They spent 4 nights with us, and joined us as we tried some new places to dine!

One afternoon, we traveled down to Madiera Beach (a place Susie used to go with her Grandma a long time ago) and had lunch at the Mad Beach Brewing Company. Lunch was good, the surroundings were great, but the waitress was a pip, and soured it a bit for us!

On Saturday, we traveled up the coast to Clearwater Beach, for a wonderful lunch at the Columbia Restaurant! A great place, with incredible food and drinks, and this day, Taylor a wonderful waitress just enhanced the experience! Such good things like a 1905 Martini (their original location in Tampa opened in 1905), a 1905 Salad made table side, an incredible Cuban Sandwich, Sangria (made table side), and desserts to die for! We will be back!!

Sunday night, we tried another new place..PJ’s Oyster Bar, just down the road in “downtown IRB”. A nutty setting, a great waitress, and wonderful food!! It checked off all the boxes!!!

When we got home, there was a great light show out on the balcony, as the Full Moon rose to the east! A great Sunset, followed by a great Moon Rise!

Today Jeanne and Walt headed home (we will be back with them in about a month at their home in Barefoot Bay, Florida), and once we made some beds and such, we headed to the beach and pool! 80 degrees on February 10th, is nothing to dismiss as unimportant! We spent a wonderful couple of hours on the beach, and then took a dip in the pool! Also met and talked to some folks from Ohio. Life DOESN’T suck!

Then tonite, we returned to where it all started! Three years ago, we stayed at the Indian Rocks Beach Holiday Inn. After getting settled, we ventured down to the “Hotel Bar”, Jimmy Guana’s, where we met our new friend Lindsey Sterry. We had such a great time with Lindsey, in Jimmy Guanna’s and in Indian Rocks Beach, we turned our 2 day stay into 4, and started our love affair with a little Florida Gulf Coast town! It was good to go home tonight with Tony, one of our favorite local performers on the bandstand, but we did miss Lindsey!

So that’s a wrap up on week one in the Sunshine State. We’re here in IRB till the end of February and in Florida till almost the end of March! Stay tuned…lots more of Sue and Frank’s Really Excellent Florida Adventure 2020 to come! We’ll save a seat for you in the back of the CRV!

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See you next time!

Sunsets

Well, after a glorious five plus weeks away, we are back in the frozen north.  Although we had a great time down south, for the first couple of weeks, winter followed us!  Visiting Billy and Lori and our Grandkids in Raleigh, North Carolina, Susie and I woke one morning to a temperature of 17 degrees!!  A couple of days later in Charleston, South Carolina, we woke one morning to find the temperature at 37 degrees!  Even later that week, during our stay in Savannah, Georgia, the morning temperature was 47 degrees!  Then came Florida!

img_1150-1We had 3 weeks in a condo right on the Gulf of Mexico in Indian Rocks Beach, a wonderful place we stumbled on last year, that’s located just south of Clearwater.  We looked out the sliding doors of the living room, and there was the Gulf and a beautiful beach!  Unfortunately, for almost the entire first week, we sat on the couch in the living room, looking out at the beach, with the heat on and blankets across our laps!  Oh boy…looks like we made the wrong choice coming the last Saturday in January!

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As I said, we literally stumbled on to Indian Rocks Beach last year during our swing through Florida, and the plan was hatched to return in the winter of 2019.  Unlike a lot of the towns up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, IRB is made up mostly of homes and small condo buildings, feeling a lot more like a Florida beach town of old, rather than a modern interpretation.  Eventually, Mother Nature shined on us, and we had many lovely days with warm temperatures, and really got to enjoy the beach and pool!

For me, one of the real changes of staying on a Gulf Coast beach, was the fact that what looks like the “Ocean” was to the West, rather than the East!  Growing up on Long Island, and now living at the beach in Ocean City, the “Ocean” has always been generally to the east of us.  Now, here we are, still on the east coast, but on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the “ocean” is to the west!

One thing that I can not deny though, is that staying on the Gulf Coast, facing to the West, made for some great sunsets!  Be them via our iPhones or our Nikon digital SLR camera, the pictures are memorable!

Take a look at some of our favorites!

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We loved our time in Indian Rocks Beach…so much that we’ll be back next February for the whole month!  Let’s hope Mother Nature is nice to us!

Snowbirds

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Wikipedia defines Snowbirds as, “”a North American term for a person who migrates from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada in the southward direction in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean. Many “snowbirds” are from either the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, or Canada.”

So, basically it’s somebody who runs away from winter and desires to have an early preview of Spring or Summer. Is that us????

Well, right after I retired in 2016, we headed to Florida to partake in some Spring Training Baseball, and to use my Disney Retiree benefits at Walt Disney World.  Were we Snowbirds???  Unknown.

Then in 2017 we were part of the Kenny and Chris journey to the West Coast.  We started in Atlantic City, had a stop off in Walt Disney World, and continued to New Orleans and Boser City, Louisiana.   Were we Snowbirds???  Not quite.

Then last year, in February of 2018, we traveled down the Gulf Coast of Florida, journeyed down to Key West, spent time with my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and then spent 5 days in Walt Disney World.  Snowbirds??  Who knows.

But, this year, we had a plan.  We started with our children and grandchildren in Raleigh, North Carolina, they journeyed south through Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, before we entered the Sunshine State, and what we hoped was a preview of Spring/Summer of 2019.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not on our side, and although we were heading south, we woke up to temps in the teens, 30s, and then the 40s.  It was not till we were in Florida that the thermometer hit the 50s, but it still wasn’t WARM!  

img_1150-1Our plan this year was 3 weeks in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, which we’d fallen in love with last year.  We rented a condo right on the Gulf of Mexico, and were expecting gorgeous weather and warm temps.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was laughing her ass off at us! The first week we were here, it was cold and the foggy!  Come on now….we’re in Florida!!!  WTF!!!!  But not to be dismayed, we did other stuff.  We went to Walmart, Publix, and got the stuff we needed for the condo.  We visited Total Wines and More, so at least we could drown our sorrows!  

Then the sun came out and life was good!!  Temps in the 70s, sunny blue skies, and wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico!!

So, as I write this, we have been in our condo for a week and a half, about halfway through our stay.  Susie’s cousin Debbie and her friend Janice have already visited us, and we had a great afternoon by the pool, and then a wonderful night at Crabby Bills!

Tomorrow, we’re expecting our cousins Jeanne and Walt.  We’ve got lots of plans for things to do with them, and we are looking forward to hours of talking and just having fun together!  

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We went in the pool last night after dinner.

Next week, our daughter Krissi and her fiancé Mike will join us.  Again, lots of fun things planned, as well as enjoying the beach, sun, and warm temperatures!  

So, are we Snowbirds??  Well, we’ve already rented a place a couple of blocks down the beach for ALL of February next year.  I’d say, yes, we are Snowbirds!!  What do you think???

Next year’s condo!!

Where are we?

 

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In case you’ve been wondering where we are, for the last week, we have been in Indian Rocks Beach on the Gulf Coast of the Sunshine State, in a condo on the beach we’ve rented for 3 weeks.  I know that many of you folks in the north are suffering through some incredible cold, but those of us who ran away from the cold north to Sunny Florida have been suffering too!  I know it’s 19 in Ocean City as I write this and 70 here in Florida, but it’s been a hard week…trust me!

So we arrived last Saturday afternoon at our condo, and even though the temps were not where we’d have liked them to be, it was sunny, and we liked what we saw.

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This is the complex at 1904 Gulf Blvd and we are in the front building on the left as you look at this picture from the street.  Here are some condo pics.

So, what exactly have we been doing here?  Too cold for the beach or pool, although there were some hearty souls trying to enjoy both this week wherever the sun was shining.  The sun was nice, the blue skies were nice, the view was nice, the temps in the 50s (as a high) and the 20 mph winds were anything but.  No, we stayed inside, and when we were out, we were in the car with the windows up and sometimes with the seat heaters on!  So, where did those car rides take us?

Well, one day they took us to Costco and we bought a couple of things, and we coupled that with a stop at a Total Wines and More!  Another day, the ride took us in search of martini glasses (none in the condo), and we finally found them in a local Bed Bath and Beyond.  We combined those 3 stops most effectively for one of our evening cocktail hours!

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Some of the rides have taken us nowhere…just exploring!

Another day the ride took us to a local movie theater, where we saw Mary Poppins Returns.  Seems like a lot of theaters here also make you pick your seat when you buy your tickets, and when we bought the tickets on line a couple of hours before we went to the movies, every seat in the place was open!  Easy to choose.  

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When we got to the theater, we discovered these very comfy chairs…in fact, they were motorized recliners that you activated by touching a button.  A little odd, and we wondered if we’d (all right…Susie wondered if I’d) stay awake during the movie.  Actually we found them very comfortable, and a nice way to watch a movie.  Oh by the way, we loved the movie and how it struck it’s own ground, but really paid homage to the original!  Good job.

So, what else have we been doing??  Well, we’ve seen some wonderful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico from our balcony windows.  See what you think…

Oh, and we’ve gone out and eaten several times too.  We had a great dinner at Keegan’s Seafood Grill, just a couple of blocks down Gulf Blvd last weekend.  We also had a great breakfast at JD’s Restaurant, along with two Bloody Marys!  

Then last night, we returned to the place we fell in love with last year, Jimmy Guana’s in the Indian Rocks Holiday Inn.  That’s where we stayed last year, and Jimmy’s had been our go-to place, probably because the first night we went there, we sat at one of it’s many bars, and met our friend Lindsey Sterry, who was bartending.  Have you ever met anyone, and minutes after your relationship starts, you feel like they’ve been your friend for years?  Well, that’s the way we were with Lindsey.  Would love to be able to say that we had a wonderful time last night with Lindsey, but the last night she worked was the night before we got into town.  Unfortunately, Lindsey is at home recovering from the first of two surgeries she’s got to have for Stage 4 Sinus Cancer.  She’s already survived brain cancer, and now this!  She’s a sweet, wonderful girl, and it really makes you wonder why something like this happens to people like this, and not the many true SOBs in this world!  The poor girl’s got a long road ahead of her, but she’s a fighter, with many folks who love her pulling for her…including the two of us!  If you want to read the whole story, follow this link!      https://www.gofundme.com/hope-for-lindsey-part-2

 

We had a fun night, with some great food, good drinks, and entertainment.  Our waiter Mark was a good guy, and we will see him again before we leave…just not Lindsey…unfortunately.

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                                                The bar we first met Lindsey at!

Then today, we got to the beach!!  Sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s, the Florida we’d been looking for!!

Oh by the way, this is our condo’s balcony.

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So the temps are up, and we are going to enjoy every minute of the Florida weather, and our preview of the Spring of 2019, till the end of February when we return to the winter of 2019!  Stay tuned!!!

Those People

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FYI…we’ve become “those people” who lunch at Costco (come on..two huge hot dogs with sauerkraut and all the toppings, plus 2 sodas for $3.20 including tax…why not?) and who run off to Florida in the winter!

Susie retired in 2013, and in just a couple of weeks, it will be three years since I left WABC on January 29, 2016.  In February of 2016, we headed down to Florida for a few days at Disney World, and to catch a couple of the Mets Spring training games.  It was a real treat to experience a bit of a preview of the Summer of 2016, and I guess we got bitten by the bug!  In February of 2017, Susie and I participated in the  southern swing of the “Kenny and Chris Relocating to LA Tour”, and spent some time in Disney World with the boys, and then New Orleans with the boys and Krissi and Mike, before they headed off to California and we headed back to winter.  Last year we toured a large part of Florida, heading down in February and starting at Indian Rocks Beach on the Gulf Coast, traveling down the Gulf Coast, then across the state, down the Keys to Key West, up to Hollywood, then to my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and we ended up with 5 nights at the Boardwalk Hotel in Disney World!  All told, a little over 3 weeks away from the winter!

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23d34fcc-bfe6-455b-98e7-d47076bcdfa0So, this year, we are being pigs!  We leave this Saturday with our first stop being Raleigh, North Carolina, the home of our oldest and his wife, and our 2 grandchildren!  It will be Christmas #3 for Susie and I, this time complete with Christmas Eve traditions of Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Lobsters stuffed with Baked Clam Stuffing!  After a couple of days there, we start slowly making our way to the Sunshine State, with stops in Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Darien, Georgia and our favorite shrimp place, B&J’s Steak and Seafood!  

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Last year we fell in love with Indian Rocks Beach, Florida and we’ve decided to return to the scene of the crime.  We’ve rented a condo right on the Gulf Coast for 3 weeks, and we look forward to a lot of warmth, sun, surf, pool, and fun!  During the course of our time there, our cousins Jeanne and Walt will come to visit, as will Krissi and Mike for a long weekend!  We only hope our favorite Florida bartender Lindsey, who we met at our hotel bar last year, is back on her feet and we can spend some quality time with her!

After that, it’s off to the East Coast and a 3 day stay at the lovely Doubletree Resort we really didn’t take advantage of during our stay there last year in Hollywood, Florida.  More pool, sun, warmth, and Tiki Bar time we hope!  Then we are off for 5 nights with our cousins Jeanne and Walt at their place a little further up the coast in Barefoot Bay, Florida!

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Although a stay at Disney World has been a part of our last 3 escapes from winter, we decided to pass on it this year.  Even with my Disney  Retiree benefits and discounts, it’s still an expensive stay, and that 3 week condo rental is costing us enough.  Plus, we were so disillusioned by all the crowds there last year, and the attractions that broke down, that we think we’ll take a year off, and decide again next year.

So that’s it.  If you did the math, you’ll have come up with five plus weeks away this year.  We hope to be in warm weather for the better part of 5 weeks, only dipping out of shirts and flip flop weather on the way down and back up.  I told you we were being real pigs, but there is nothing like that Summer Preview you get from spending some time in warmer climates, when it’s snowing at home!

Ahhhh…RETIREMENT!!

Christmases Past, Present, and Future

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Christmas in Mineola

On this Christmas Eve, 2018, a little Christmas reflection…..

Christmas has always been a big deal in our household.  Early in our relationship, it became obvious that it’s Susie’s favorite holiday, and one that she waits all year for.  Indeed, because of her love of the holiday, it was on Christmas Day in 1978 that I asked her to marry me, and she said yes! Talk about giving…her saying yes was the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten!  So from our first Christmas in our apartment on Firwood Road in Port Washington, just months after we were married in 1979, we have always gone all out to decorate and celebrate the holiday!  

Every year, when the kids were small, sometime in early November, we’d journey to Lancaster, PA, for a weekend in Amish Country, and every year, that’s when the D’Elia Family started listening to Christmas music!  Indeed, our selection of Christmas music grew over the years to the point that when we cleaned out our 100 CD changer, close to half the CDs were of Christmas music.  Now we’re all digital, with music stored on the Amazon Cloud, but Christmas music still makes up a large percentage of it!

Our Ocean City house became ours at the end of January 2005, and when the next Christmas rolled around the decision was easy…we were going to decorate two houses!  That first year we got a table top tree and bought ornaments, and house decorations on the cheap from Big Lots.  It wasn’t as grand or beautiful as we did on Long Island, but we even had a small Manger we’d gotten at Big Lots, and lots of outdoor decorations.

Over the years, more and more items were added to both our Mineola house and to the Ocean City house.  A year ago, on November 9th, we sold the Mineola house, and made Ocean City our permanent residence.  That meant we now had to meld two Christmases into one.  Think that wasn’t a hard job?  Well, the fact that we had to make 3 trips with a fully loaded SUV to transport our Long Island Christmas decorations, to the shore, and the fact that our Christmas Decorations then took up fully half of our rented store room, may give you an idea about the scope of the job!  Last year, the consolidation started, and it’s continued this Christmas too!

First things first…the Christmas Tree! 

From our first 1979 Christmas, a live tree was the only way to go for the D’Elia Family.  We did the “cut your own” version, but the kids got kind of tired of that after a couple of years, and after one year of doing it ourselves, Susie and I tired of it too, so it was a yearly trip to Hicks to pick out a tree!  That lasted till we started going to Ocean City and realized when we got home the beginning of January, the tree was severely dead, and we’d missed a lot of it’s life.  The next year the first artificial tree made it’s debut in the D’Elia’s living room! 

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IMG_1556As I said,  for our first Christmas in Ocean City (2005), we bought a 4 foot tree at one of the craft stores, and put it by the front door, on top of our porch table, and we decorated it with ornaments we’d purchased at the Big Lots in Somers Point.   We continued for a number of Christmases in Ocean City with that table top tree and the our Big Lots ornaments.  In 2012 we bought a new artificial tree for Long Island.  It was our 2nd “fake” tree, was much more lifelike and sophisticated, prewired with lights, and all the set up we had to do was pop the three sections together and it was done and wired!  Of course, the next Christmas we decided to get a thinner version of that same tree for Ocean City.  When our last Christmas on Long Island was over in 2016, we decided to take our bigger tree to Ocean City, move some furniture in the living room for the holidays, put the big tree in a new location, and enjoy more room for presents under it!  It was worth it.

 

 

 

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The Manger

Of course, the Mineola Manger won out over the Big Lots version.  The Manger scene that graces our Ocean City home now, has been with us since that first Christmas in Port Washington 39 years ago.  Bought from a long defunct Long Island department store, (A & S), with additional pieces purchased at a 5 & 10 on Plandome Road in Manhasset, it moved from a table near the front door in Mineola, to the top of a book shelf in our living room in Ocean City!

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The Big Lots Manger

 

 

 

Mineola                                                             Ocean City

 

Snowman Village

For a number of years, Susie put up a huge Department 56 Snow Village display in our Dining Room on Long Island, but furniture and styles changed, and the Snow Village went bye-bye.  Susie has always loved Snowmen (and women), and with a desire to go in a new direction, she did a Snowman display on the top of our entertainment center on Long Island, with a smaller version in Ocean City.  Of course, now her big production has moved to our corner cabinet in the living room, that transforms from a bar to a winter wonderland during the Christmas Season.

 

 

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And that’s but a small part of the Christmas Displays at our home during the holidays.  Over the past couple of years, we have weeded through lots and lots of ornaments, bows, house decorations, Hallmark animated displays, and hundreds of Christmas items, big and small, cheap and expensive.  It hasn’t been easy.  We know that when we unloaded our storage room into our garage this year (2 trips with the CRV fully loaded), we realized we still have too much Christmas “stuff,” and perhaps this year, we will be able to part with some items.  But there are regrets….like the two snow globes we had, one from Susie’s Mom and one from my Mom.  These globes graced our living room in Mineola for many years, but sadly when we decorated in Ocean City last year, they were nowhere to be found.  Did we make a conscious decision after Christmas 2016 to let them go, or did we put them in the wrong box, and it got left behind?  We’ll just never know, but every Christmas, we will think about them, and wonder what happened to them.

There you have the story of our Christmas dilemma and how we tried to solve it.  Let’s just say, it’s a work in progress! 

 

 

As we share our Christmas this year with Family and Friends, near and far, just one last thought.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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Another Saturday Night in OC

If you read our recent multi-part story about how, why, and when we ended up being retired in Ocean City, you may remember it said, “We loved being down here, and as we spent more and more time, our Ocean City Family grew.  We attended weddings on the beach, parties at neighbor’s houses, Saturday night dinners out, several Pennlyn Place Block Parties, St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve events, and even went to a couple of local fundraisers.”   Those Saturday Night dinners I spoke of,  are an important part of our Ocean City life. While some weeks it will be 3 or 4 of us going out, some weeks it can be as many as 12 or 14.  Some weeks it’s just us, and some weeks, friends will bring friends and relatives and our group expands.  While we do go out a lot, many weeks we will get together at another’s house.  It can be a planned dinner, a pot luck, or an impromptu “order take out” night. All things being equal, just about every Saturday, some members of our group will be together.

Here’s a selection of some past Saturdays!

Having said that, let me tell you about a recent Saturday, where a number of us headed out to Carmen’s in Sea Isle City, for their last night of the season, and what they call their “Carmen’s Belly Buster”.  We’d been there only once, earlier in the year, and our waitress made a point of telling us about the Belly Buster night, and it peaked our interest.    Our good friend Denise called and made a reservation, and worked out transportation, and on Saturday October 20th, it was indeed Another Saturday Night…but this time in Sea Isle City! 

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The funny thing is that the Saturday before, we’d also been with Denise and her husband Chris, and our friends Patti and Meade, but that was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada!  It was great having some of our Ocean City Family with us at Kenny and Chris’ wedding, and it was a Saturday night, and yes, we did end up in our room after the close of the wedding!  On the side of the Atlantic Ocean, or the shore of Lake Tahoe, a Saturday is a Saturday for our Ocean City Family!!

But let me get back to Carmen’s and The Belly Buster!  The place seemed very festive when we got there with large groups of folks at tables on the outside deck.  It was a little chilly (Denise wore my jacket) but they did have side curtains and most of us were fine.  We started at a tight table, but then asked, and they moved us to a great octagonal table, where we had lots of room and we all could see each other!  Lucky they did!

The meal started with a hot crab chowder and a nice salad.  Then pass-around fried sea food (shrimp, scallops, clams, etc).  Dale and Denise are not seafood eaters, but there were several Chicken dishes in the next round of pass-arounds.  Then they lowered the boom on us with the Main Attraction of the evening!!

 

While we’d seen other tables with big disposable pans of mixed sea food, we somehow got the mother lode, pilled high in a huge fancy bowl!  Not quite sure why we got singled out, but we did end up on their web site, so I’m thinking we got the “display” portion!  Here’s that picture!

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It was loaded with clams, mussels, crab legs, and at least 4 lobsters!  Oh My God!  By no means did we eat it all, but we tried!

There was lots of laughs that night as we ate and drank our way through dinner (it is a BYOB), but there was still about half left (mostly mussels and clams) when we’d had our fill, and they wanted us to take it with us.  Nobody at our table was interested, so we passed it off to a lady at the table behind us!  She may still be dining on our leftovers!

It really doesn’t matter what we do, or where we do it.  What matters is that we are together, having fun.  Family Chosen is a Great Thing!

Ocean City – Part 11

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As you read in the last stanza of this epic story, we’d gotten rid of just about everything we could in the Mineola house, and now the next big task was selling the house!

We’d lived and raised 3 kids in a house that was built in 1928.  It was old, and needed some work, and we assumed it would go the way of other old houses on our street…demolition or gutting!  I was really concerned about the how and why of selling the house, but once people heard that we were moving,  we kept getting “keep me in mind” messages about the house.  By late summer of 2017, Susie had a list of 4 people that were interested in buying our house!  Who knew!!   When the first person dropped out because of financial reasons, Susie called the second person who’d messaged her.  This was a teacher that Susie used to call in when she arranged the substitutes at  Hampton Street School, and she was still very interested in the house.  She knew the house and the location because her cousin lived right across the street from us.

Susie set up an appointment late one afternoon for her family to come look at the place.  She came with her husband, two kids and her father.  They wandered from the attic to the basement, all around the property, and through the garage.  About a month earlier, we’d worked out a price with our Lawyer Glenn, when he told us our original asking price was way too low.  Susie had shared our price with the prospective buyer, and after the tour, we told them to go home and talk it over, and if they were really interested, make us an offer.  They called us that night, made a slightly lower counter offer, we agreed, and like that, we’d sold our house!

We felt good about the fact that a house that had been good to us, was going to go on and be part of another family’s life.  We probably could have asked more, and had the house on the market for months, but in the end we decided on a price that was good for us, and still left some money on the table so the new buyers could start to make our home their home.  The house sold quickly, we didn’t have to pay a real estate agent a commission because we used none, we got the price we wanted, and after all our expenses, we were able to replace the money we’d taken from my 401K.  We figured it was a win win for all!

So now, it was real. The house had a buyer, we had a closing date, and now we really needed to empty out the house.  We gave whatever we could of our furniture to friends and family, took what little we could to Ocean City, and called the guy we’d had recommended to us to clean out the house.  He showed up one morning, we handed over $3000 in cash, and before we we left for Ocean City, he told us he’d found needy families for our furniture.  That made Susie feel better!

 

The next time we saw the house was early on the afternoon of November 9, 2017.  That day, we drove back to Mineola, and after stopping at McDonald’s in Carle Place, had our

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Our Last Meal after 31 years

last meal in our old house.  It was very strange to walk around a now totally empty house, that in just a few hours wouldn’t be ours anymore.  After eating, we cleaned up, threw our camp chairs in the car, and drove to the lawyer’s office on Mineola Blvd.  Within an hour, we no longer owned 40 Fairfield Avenue, and walked out with a handful of checks, which we quickly deposited in the TD Bank in Garden City, before returning to Ocean City and our one and only home!

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A couple of days later, we went to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission office in Egg img_0820Harbor Township.  We turned in our NY Driver’s Licenses and got NJ Driver’s Licenses, we got NJ License Plates for the Sonata (the Mustang already had them), and even registered to vote!   In every way we could think of, we were now New Jersey Residents, and 854 Pennlyn Place was our one and only home!

We’ve been back to Long Island a number of times, since that November day when we sold the house, and of course, there’s no way we can go without driving down Fairfield Avenue.  We’re happy to report that the new owners are well on their way to turning our old house, into their new house.  We are excited to see what they are doing, and looking forward to the tour we’ve been promised when the work is completed.  

 

Early work to the latest progress..so happy to see it live on!

Since that fateful day in November, Susie and I have survived our first winter at the shore.  Sure, we’d been here before, but for just brief glimpses of what winter in Ocean City is like.  What we’ve discovered is that we love the small town Ocean City turns into in the winter.  We love the ability to go across town on any street you like, rather than UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2d2aour summer MO of only crossing town on streets with traffic lights.  We love going to places like Ready’s or the Varsity for breakfast, and having staff know the customers.  We love the quiet of our street, but also seeing the many folks who call Pennlyn Place their full time home.  We did discover that it did snow a lot more this winter than it seemed to in the past, and that even though we gave away our gas snow blower, we might need something here, so we got a battery powered snow blower to supplement our shovels.

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving at the house, and had Susie’s sister and her family join us.  Although we’d always done Christmas decorating at the house, we did an extensive D’Elia Family Christmas this year, with our family tree and ornaments, and white lights all around the outside of the house, as we’d done in Mineola.  We were joined by Krissi and Mike and even Kenny and Chris came from the West Coast!  All the D’Elia Family traditions were in force, from the kids putting their special ornaments on the tree while decorating, to Lobsters,  Italian sandwiches and Cold Duck on Christmas Eve, to stockings Christmas morning!   It was a very successful transition of the holidays from Long Island to Ocean City!

 

As we had done the two years before, late January found us heading south to Florida, for 78FD7BA1-8112-43FE-9CD3-5E46701611C9what is fast becoming a Susie and Frank in retirement tradition! We love car trips and we traveled down the west coast, came across the Tamiami Trail, went down to Key West, spent 5 great days with my cousins Jeanne and Walt, and ended our stay at DisneyWorld.   It was wonderful to have a 3 plus week visit to summer, but when it was over, it was also great to get back to our home!  

As spring came to the Mid Atlantic States, we enjoyed the longer days and the increasing temperatures.  There was work to be done in and around the house, but knowing that we’d be the only ones to enjoy it, and not renters, made it fun to do!  Summer came, and so did friends and family, and the activity level in Ocean City ramped up.  While we do enjoy the quiet of the off season, there is a lot more energy in the town during the summer, and although we could do without a few of the summer renters, it is wonderful to see all the happy families that love our now hometown! 

So that’s our tale. We now call a place that I first went to when I was 5 in 1955, took Susie to in 1980, a place we both loved, and a house in a location we dearly love, our home. It’s a story about family and friends that are like family, about making choices for your future, and about making decisions that pay off in the end.  It’s also the story of a house that we’d lived in for 31 years, that was a great place to raise our three kids, go on to another life.  It wasn’t demolished, but rather a new family is making it their own, and it’s life, and memories of happy times will continue!  Yes, we could have sold it a lot sooner, could have spent less money carrying it for a year plus, could have realized our grand Tag Sale plan wasn’t going to fly, but in the end, we got what we needed, left a little on the table for the new owners, and started life in our “new” home that we loved. 

Our dream was to have a house in Ocean City, and to not only have that dream come true, but to have it come true as successfully as we now have, well, we figure we must have done something right along the way!  It’s a story with a very happy ending about living out your life, living your dream!  What could be better!

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Ocean City – Part 9

img_0788If you’ve read every chapter in this saga, you’ll recall that our original plan was to buy and then flip this house down the road.  The details of the plan were simple….to buy the house and then sell it in a couple of years for substantially more than we’d paid for it, and then do the same thing again.  It sounded good when we bought in 2005,  but several factors intervened and changed that plan.  

First, the collapse of the housing bubble and the subprime mortgage crisis that occurred between 2007 and 2010 severely reduced housing prices across the country, including in Ocean City.  The bottom line was that we’d bought the place near the top of the curve, and our house just wasn’t worth what we’d paid for it.  Unlike many others, we’d made a pretty substantial downpayment, and had no problem paying our mortgage. We were not in risk of losing the property, but the ability for us to be able to sell for more than we’d paid just wasn’t there.

The second reason was that we no longer had any desire to sell the house, and it really didn’t matter to us if the house was worth more or less than we’d paid for it!  We were surrounded by friends who we’d started to think of as family, and between our perfect location, and our life we had in Ocean City, Susie declared that there was no way we were ever going to sell this house!

She was soooo right!

U1%FWAFbRJGRlp2oEKUPZQ_thumb_31a1Living right next door to Pennlyn Place’s Mayor, Doc Anderson, just made it a perfect location.   Everybody on Pennlyn Place knows Doc, so anytime we’ve ever met new people on the street, we just say we live next to Doc, and everybody knew where we were!  I met Doc the morning after we bought the house, and he has been a huge part of our life ever since.  Doc has been the one who has introduced us to neighbors, who has made sure we’re included in events, and who has helped our Ocean City Family grow.  I’m not just using that word, because to our minds, these friends are our family.

For example, let’s talk about when that wonderful hurricane Sandy decided to aim at the Jersey Shore!  The Governor had ordered an evacuation of Cape May County, but several of our full time neighbors decided to stay.  Doc on one side, and Patti and Meade on the other side were here through the storm, and fed us updates on what was happening on Pennlyn Place.  Luckily, Sandy decided to make landfall just a couple of miles to our North, which lessened Ocean City’s damage.  That’s not to say that it wasn’t a devastating storm, and that there wasn’t millions of dollars worth of damage on our island, but it wasn’t as bad as some of the pictures you saw on TV of other Jersey Shore communities!  

So, as the storm approached, Doc would send us pictures and reports from Pennlyn.  Even before the storm hit, the high winds caused us on Long Island to lose electric and cable.  We continued to communicate via our cell phones, finding info on the web that img_0806we shared, and hearing first hand stories from OC.  I remember Doc sending us the first pictures of the Atlantic Ocean rolling down Corinthian towards Pennlyn after it had breached the dunes north of us.  Then there were pictures from Patti and Meade’s of the river Pennlyn had become, and pictures Doc took of what our houses looked like.  Our Ocean City Family had weathered the storm on Pennlyn, but there was a lot of work ahead for all!

On the second day of no electric on Long Island, we went over to our friends Pat and Steve’s for dinner.  Steve had hooked up a generator and had satellite TV, and for the first time in several days, we were actually seeing the damage the storm had caused.  As we were sitting in their den, Fox News cut to a feed from their Fox 29 affiliate of a helicopter flying over the Jersey Shore.  We were shocked when we realized that they were over Ocean City, and even more when we recognized Pennlyn Place!  By this time the water had receded, and everything looked normal, but it really wasn’t.

On the third day, we heard from Doc that electricity was back and that they were going to open the island at noon.  At that point, we were still without electric or cable in Mineola, and laughingly decided to evacuate to the Jersey Shore!  After waiting in line for more than an hour for gas, we started on a roundabout route down to the shore, attempting to avoid any of the bottlenecks we’d heard about.  As we passed our first rest area on the Garden State Parkway, and saw a line for gas that backed up onto the parkway, we realized we’d made a good decision to gas up before we left.  Those conditions also existed at the next rest area we passed, but as we got further south, there were no lines.  As we got off at exit 30, we realized why…electric was on, gas supplies were plentiful, and it was business as usual!

We decided to stop at Acme in Somers Point before heading to the island, and were shocked to see fully stocked shelves, including shelf after shelf of bread and cases of milk.  Both had been long gone from Long Island.  When we got to the house, we found all that the receding waters had left behind, but we had electricity, heat, and even cable TV.  We decided that we were in much better shape than we’d been in Mineola that morning!

Because of the way our house is built, we were fortunate that no living space was damaged.  The ocean water invaded our under-house garage, coming up about 2 and a half cinder blocks from the floor.  Yes, we’d lost some things, but we’d been lucky that the water stopped about half a cinder block from our furnace.  We lost our garage refrigerator, some golf clubs, a lot of booze and soda, but boy did we have a mess to clean up!

For the next couple of days, we were dragging everything out of the garage, power washing and bleaching the floors and walls, shoveling “sludge” in the street, throwing out things that had been ruined, cleaning everything else, and trying our best to erase the effects of Sandy.  It was hard work, but the great thing was we were all out there doing it together!  We laughed with each other, we realized how lucky we’d been, we ate and drank together, and we continued to solidify the relationships that turned friends and neighbors into family!  It was the Silver Lining of the Cloud called Sandy!

And that’s the way it continued to be.  On any given Saturday night, year round, there is always a group from Pennlyn out to dinner in a local restaurant.  It can be 3 or it can be 18, but it’s one of the givens in our life! Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, if we are in Ocean City, we feel like we are home!  From the minute we drive over the new 9th Street Bridge, we know we are home and that our friends and family are close.  If we need help, we know where to go.  If were on our front porch, we’re just as likely as not to have someone walk, bike, or drive by, and stop up and join us.  It’s just a place where we have a life that we really never had on Long Island!

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Just part of our OC Family on a recent Saturday Night

We were very fortunate when it came time to retire, because we knew exactly where we were going to go!  We didn’t have to be scared we didn’t know anybody, or were unfamiliar with the lay of the land, or wondered if the decision we made was the right one.  We knew all along!!

As I said earlier, all through our ownership of 854, we would spend at least 2 out of 4 weekends a month here.  As the years went by, we rented less in the summer and kept more weeks for ourselves.  The last full year I worked at WABC, we spent the entire 5 weeks of July here, and much of the shoulder season.  When I retired at the end of January, 2016, one of our biggest thrills was Sunday nights in Ocean City!  Having always had to head home for work on Monday, Sunday nights seemed to be a “forbidden fruit”, if you will.  Now that we both were retired (Susie had retired a couple of years before me), we NEVER traveled anymore on a Friday or a Sunday, and discovered how much easier it was to make trips to and from Ocean City on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  Sunday nights were just Sunday nights, and we loved it!  

In the next 2 sagas of our story, join us as we rent 854 for the last time, empty out a house we lived in for 31 years, and turn a second home into our primary residence!  Next time on Our New Adventures!