Indoor Dining and Covid

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Susie and I were sitting in the living room of our Cousins Jeanne and Walt’s place in Barefoot Bay, Florida. The two of them had left that day for a month in Hawaii, and Susie and I were looking forward to spending the rest of the month in their house acting like we were Florida residents, before heading home to New Jersey and another knee replacement for me. Yes, we knew all about the pandemic, and the cases of Covid that had been reported in the country and even in our home state, but we were still weighing our options and deciding exactly how much it was going to affect our Florida stay.

That was until we got the news that MLB, the NHL, NCAA, and every other sports acronym you can think of were canceling their games. Then in quick succession, Broadway, Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando announced that they were closing, and our discussion turned to whether we wanted to be stuck in Florida, or if we wanted to be in our little beach town in New Jersey! In our minds, the very real possibility existed that states would be closing access, and that if we didn’t get home ASAP, we might not be able to travel north on I-95 to the Garden State. That was the moment we decided that it was time to bring our Florida 2020 Adventure to a close, and get back as fast as possible to Ocean City!

Early in the morning on Friday, March 13th, we closed up Jeanne and Walt’s house, turned off the water, put the garbage out, and hit the road! Within a half hour, we were on Interstate 95 heading north. We decided to not stop two nights on our way home, as we usually did, but to rather get home in just two days, driving more each day, and just spending one night in a hotel. That decision meant we would miss our usual stop for the best fried shrimp at B&J’s in Darien, Georgia, but we really wanted to be back in NJ. At about 4:30 that first afternoon, we were approaching Fayetteville, North Carolina and found a Doubletree Hotel on the Hilton app just off I-95, and made that our night’s destination. As luck would have it, there was a Cracker Barrel restaurant just across the parking lot!

The last time we ate inside a restaurant, was at that Cracker Barrel in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Friday, March 13th, 2020! When we got home on the 14th, looking ahead, we’d wondered if we should go to our usual Tuesday night at Charlie’s Back Bar with our friend Sue, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but the day before, on March 16th, New Jersey restaurants closed down, and we no longer had a decision to make. When outside dining opened in New Jersey in June, we did partake in meals at the “Lot at Angelo’s” and the Tent at Charlies, but once outside dining stopped, we just didn’t feel that safe eating indoors, and we went back to take-out only. For close to a year, we had not eaten inside a restaurant, that is not until last Thursday, March 11, 2021 when we joined our Mancuso Family friends at Angelo’s in Atlantic City! So what changed?

Well, on Friday, February 19th, I got my second Moderna vaccine shot at Shoprite in Rio Grande, and on Thursday, February 25th, Susie got her second Moderna shot at the Shoprite in Glassboro, New Jersey. According to the CDC, “Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the final required shot,” which made Thursday, March 11th our “Coming Out Day!” What better way to celebrate than to dress in “going out to dinner clothes” and to return to a place and people we love, and a place we used to be at every Thursday night! We’d been looking forward to it for a long time (really since March 13th of last year), and I’m happy to say we were not disappointed!

We were sad that our friend Michael didn’t greet us from behind the bar as we walked in, as the pandemic has changed schedules for many, but none the less, it was great to be back inside! It was good to see that there were so many people waiting to eat when we walked in, and it was good to see our long time friends Rhonda, Theresa, and Victor were working, along with our new summer friend Suzanne and our take-out friend Wendy. Every week will be a new experience for us, and we can’t wait till we see Patti, Angelo, Ed, Trinidad, and Michael as time goes on, and more and more dining opens up! It was great to be back inside, feeling safe after a year, but we must be realistic and realize getting back to what was our normal will take a bit of time….if it ever happens. I guess the mind set has got to be, be happy for what we’ve got, and not sad for what used to be!

So now that we are fully vaccinated, what else that we’ve not done in the past 12 months is on our horizon? Well, a visit from our daughter Krissi and son-in-law Michael, who we have not seen since August, as well as a visit from our great friends Pat and Steve, who we last saw at Susie’s Mom’s funeral in February, 2020. Then, something we’ve waited so long for, Easter with our son Billy and daughter-in-law Lori in North Carolina, and getting to see our three Grandkids, who we haven’t seen in the flesh since January 30th, 2020! We’ve missed all these people (especially the three youngest members of the D’Elia Family), and can’t wait to see them, to be with them, and to exchange hugs for the first time in a year! Then down the road, there will be the fun of getting back together with our Ocean City friends, and seeing our life get closer to what it was, and maybe even a visit to Florida. My new knee and Susie’s new hip are still on our radar too!

Yes, we have indeed survived the last 12 months, but we are sad that so many other Americans didn’t! With the advancing rollout of the vaccines, we hope that no one else will lose their life due to Covid, that folks who have been financially affected by the pandemic can get back on their feet, and that America will never forget this past year, but will be able to move beyond it!

Our TV Viewing Habits, Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Things We Watched Along The Way:

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

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

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

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

Our TV Viewing Habits during the Pandemic – Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next time.

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.

Memories…the Times of Your Life

If you are of a certain age, you will surely remember the Paul Anka Kodak commercials from the 1970s. If you are of a certain age, you will also remember pictures, and the fact that Kodak advertised more than printers and printer paper back in the day. These commercials depicted the “times of your life”, with the soundtrack being Paul Anka’s song, The Times of Your Life.

That Kodak commercial, and the following advertising campaign was created in 1975, and after the considerable air play that Kodak was giving it, Anka decided to release it as a single, and, as they say, “The Rest is History!” If you don’t remember the commercial, take a look. https://www.youtube.com/embed/iqvKYfB39PI

The lyrics used in the commercials were:

“Good Morning, yesterday

You wake up and time has slipped away

And suddenly it’s hardy to find

The memories you left behind

Remember, do you remember”

In the typical commercial, this would be the soundtrack while viewing a montage of pictures from the past, including some shots of folks using very old Kodak cameras (remember them) to record these “Times of your life.” Then the spots would end with the voice over of, “Kodak Film…for the times of your life!”

I was reminded of this commercial campaign recently, because we are involved in a winter project to try and bring some order to the thousands of picture we have! The Christmas Gift Wrapping Table is back in the den, and we are in the midst of delving into boxes of photos that truly contain evidence of the times of our life!

As the parents of 3 kids, you can imagine that there were thousands of dollars worth of photos taken over their early years. Lots of Kodak film was bought, and lots paid to process once the pictures were taken. Unlike today, when you can instantly view what you’ve just captured, and retake if you don’t like it, back in the olden days, it was days and sometimes weeks before you knew if you got the shot you wanted, until they opened a Moto Photo, one hour developing store near us! Still you had to wait at least that hour to see if the picture was fuzzy, or if perhaps you captured a picture you never even realized was happening!

The above picture was a surprise when we got the film back from being developed. Susie had been taking some pictures of months old Krissi and Kenny, and didn’t realize she’d even taken such a great pose! This surprise picture was good enough to be featured in Twins Magazine and was the cover and the January picture of the next year’s Twins Magazine Calendar!

So as we go through our picture stock pile, there are lots of surprises. Unfortunately, not all as great as this one was! There are lots of, “What the hell did we take this picture for???” and, turning to each other, “Do you know what this is a picture of??” To be honest, as we go through them, we’re having trouble coming to terms with exactly what we are doing. One thought is to break them down by child. Another, perhaps breaking them into different families, or to just lump the obvious pics together, and make sure we separate and label the non obvious ones. Not sure exactly where this will go, but for now (at least) these are basic rules we are trying to follow:

1 – Is there anybody in the picture? If not, to the discard pile, unless its a picture of particular family significance (such as a former house, car, etc).

2 – If there are 4 or 5 of basically the same shot, pick the best one and save it.

3 – If it’s out of focus, too light or too dark, or a really crummy shot, get rid of it, no matter what it’s of!

We’ve so far come across pics from our honeymoon, from the birth of children, from vacations, school functions, pictures from our old boat (Atsa’ My Boat), holidays, trips to Ocean City and Disney World, and just about everything else you can think of. Our work table is an organized mess, with various piles of pictures that may or may not go together, or that we may not even keep!

Take a look….

One thing we are going to try and do, is something that neither Susie’s Mom nor my Mom did. Both of our Moms died at the age of 95, and we inherited a lot of pictures from them, In many cases, we have absolutely no idea of who the people in the pictures are, or where or when they were taken. Our goal is to make notes on any photos that the kids wouldn’t immediately recognize, We hope to not dump pictures like that on our kids someday!

Meanwhile, as we go through this project, we are indeed unearthing the visual proof of the “memories we left behind.” Just like in those old Kodak commercials, all these “memories” started as printed photos, and they are indeed of The Times of our Life!

Enjoy….

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

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

Here are some of my favorites!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Good Friend

For the second time, in way too short a period, I’m writing a blog about the death of a friend. This friend has been in our lives for close to 33 years. A little more than a year ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, and as he has said, from that point on, his life had an expiration date! Sadly, that date came on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

I first met him in the late spring of 1988, when he was assigned a desk in the hall of the 8th floor of the ABC Building, right outside my studio. He had just moved to New York from California for a new radio gig, and sadly, within weeks of the move, his wife left him. I really liked him and knew he was a real radio guy, and Susie and I tried to involve him in lots of things we had going on in our life. The first fall that he was at WABC we started a bar hopping Saturday around Long Island, and included him. For that first bar hopping experience, we made him take the Long Island Rail Road to Mineola, and then traveled around from bar to bar in our Ford van…in subsequent years, he rented a limo to drive us around in style!

He took us out to dinner at his favorite Italian Restaurant, Patsy’s, on West 56th Street in NYC. We took him to dinner at our favorite Italian Restaurant, Piccolos, on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola. He was a mainstay at our annual Post Holiday Parties in early January, where we crammed 70 or 80 people into our house. He good naturedly complained about the fact the house was crowded and our AC wasn’t on, and about the size of our small bathroom off the kitchen! We had him over to our house for dinner and we were guests for dinner at his apartment in NYC overlooking Central Park. We were guests on two luxury dinner cruises around Manhattan for the staff of WABC, including the first one when we were an hour and a half late, because of NY Marathon traffic, and he said the boat wasn’t leaving till we got there, because we were the main reason for the cruise!

Then there was the weekend when Susie and I were his guests on a trip to Chicago to see Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas Concert at the Chicago theater! We flew out of LaGuardia, stayed in a fancy hotel, had a great pre-show dinner, and then partied with Mannheim Steamroller after the show. It was also on that trip that we got to meet his Mom and his brother, and it was an incredible weekend! We’ve been to multiple parties at the 21 Club, the River Club, and some other incredible venues we would have never been to without his friendship!

Of course, if you talk about incredible experiences with him, I cannot leave out being invited to his fabulous wedding to Kathryn 10+ years ago. What an incredible weekend at the Breakers in Palm Beach, and I cannot talk about that wedding without mentioning being 50 feet away from Elton John in a post-reception concert! Speaking of that wedding, let me tell you a story from that weekend that I’ve used many times when people ask me what he was like. The Rehearsal Dinner was supposed to be outside, but a rain storm forced it to move inside. At one point, Susie and I are standing at a tall table, eating some appetizers, when this other couple we didn’t know came up and asked if they could share the table with us. Talk got around to who we were a guest of, and I said we were friends of the groom, having worked with him when he started his radio show and was unknown in New York. When we asked them, they said they too were from the grooms side, and when I asked how they knew him, the man said, “I used to cut his grass.” This is the kind of man our friend was…he didn’t forget people!

I remember going to meetings before he arrived in New York, talking about his show, but strangely, have absolutely no memory of the first time we met. It’s almost like we had always been friends, and even though he was from the mid-west, and I was born in a borough of New York City, we seemed to have so much in common. We were both Capricorns, having been born in January, ten days, and one year apart (1950 for me, 1951 for him). He grew up with a brother and I grew up as an only child, but we were both children of the 50s, teenagers in the 60s, and became adults in the early 70s. We had a lot of common memories growing up, and talked about our shared Baby Boomer history a lot…and talk we did!

Every morning at the ABC Building, I’d stop by his desk, and we’d chat. When WABC and WPLJ moved to 2 Penn Plaza, above Penn Station, his desk was in a small bullpen area about halfway around the floor, and I was disappointed that he was no longer right outside my studio! I’d still stop by his desk early in the day, before the station started getting populated, and when he moved into an office, our morning chats continued. Although we had differing political views, politics was a subject that was never brought up anytime we ever spoke! It was not the basis of our friendship. One of my favorite memories, concerns the day I stuck my head in his office, and he said, “Come on in!” As I sat down, he told me, “I’m always happy to see your face at my office door, because I know that unlike most of the other people that come into my office, you don’t want anything from me.” I replied, “Just your friendship,” to which he replied, “You know you’ve got that!”

I remember one morning when they were re-building the plaza around 2 Penn, and he told me the following story. Construction had been going on for several weeks, and everyday there was a different way into the building. He’d gotten dropped off on the 7th Avenue side of the building, but couldn’t figure out how to gain entrance to the building. He approached a construction worker and asked, “How the hell do I get in today?” In typical NY Construction Worker fashion, his answer was, “Around the corner fatso!” I couldn’t help myself, and laughed at the story, even though he was kind of put off by the encounter. I encouraged him to tell the story on the air, and he did, pointing out to his listeners that he suffered through the same BS that the rest of us did in our lives!

For many years, I played the character Moe Thacker on his show. Moe was the head of the United Screeners of America, and he described Moe as “Union Thug Moe Thacker.” Usually I’d get a call to come around to Studio 17B when he wanted to talk on the air about something his call screener (the first person you talk to when you want to get on a radio show) had done wrong, and we’d go back and forth while I defended Mr. Snerdly (his made-up name for his screener, James Golden) against his charges. It was always fun and I know he got a kick out of my portrayal!

The last time we saw him, was when we went to dinner at a local Italian restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida in February of 2019. It was a great night, and even though we hadn’t seen him in the flesh in a couple of years, we fell right back into the casual easy relationship we’d always enjoyed. We were honored when he told Susie and I that we were the first people in New York who had opened our home to him, and we told him he was always welcome to our new home in Ocean City.

We knew him before he was anybody. We suffered along with his growing pains, we tried to help with his loneliness in New York City, but then we also celebrated along with him when ultimately, success came his way. He was a good friend, who loved sharing his success with those around him, and one who really got more of a kick out of giving, then receiving! He was one of a kind, and Susie and I count ourselves among the very lucky to have the kind of relationship with him we did!

Frankly, I think I was more shocked on February 3rd of last year, when his wife texted us the news of his Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, then when I found out that the inevitable had happened. Back in a text to me in the middle of March last year, he said, “Frank, it’s Stage 4 Lung Cancer. It’s months – a year if the treatment works.” He knew his time was limited, and that nothing he was going to do was going to change that. He knew his expiration date!

Yes, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was a good friend of ours, and Susie and my lives were better for having him in it. We have always loved you Rush, and will continue to, and we will cherish the memories we made over the years!

Our sympathies to his wife Kathryn, his brother David and his family, and all that loved him. I’m so sad today that he’s no longer a text away! God speed my friend…

Rush talks about our Pub Crawl on the air one year

Rush and Moe Thacker

Game Hour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s our 4 PM Game Hour….

Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering our friend Paula

Susie and I were very sad to learn late last Tuesday evening, that our friend Paula had died of a massive heart attack. We learned the sad news, when I read a post from another friend on Facebook just before heading to bed.

Paula was a gambler, with Video Poker being her game of choice, and that was how we met her. About 10 or 12 years ago, I asked a question at an online message board about Video Poker. Paula answered that question for me, and then we started to go back and forth as Susie and I asked other questions, and she graciously answered. She was very good at Video Poker, and anytime she made a weekend trip to Atlantic City, or a trip to Vegas, she always left with multiple “Hand Pays”. (When a single win on a slot machine or a video poker machine is $1,200 or over, it has to be reported to the IRS, so a “hand pay” involves a casino employee actually giving you your money, after they’ve filled out forms for the IRS and given you a W-2G slip.) She was very knowledgeable, and happy to share her understanding of the game.

So, for several months, we were “Internet Friends,” until we discovered that on one particular weekend, she would be at Harrahs in AC the same weekend Susie and I were planning on being there. At that point, she was a Seven Stars player (the highest level on Harrahs gambling rewards), and invited us to meet her and her friend Judy in the Seven Stars Lounge! The Seven Stars Lounge at Harrahs, was in the back of the High Roller slot area, and as you walked up to the door, it opened automatically. This was the pinnacle of rewards clubs, and Susie and I were like kids in a candy store, as we were ushered in and escorted to Paula’s table. Even though we’d never met, and had only exchanged messages on the internet, it was almost like we were old friends who’d not seen each other in some time. We got along wonderfully with Paula and her friend Judy. We talked, and drank (and ate shrimp the size of your fist), and gambled that night. We were no longer internet friends, but were now real friends!

We learned that Paula and her husband Jim were lawyers in Northern Jersey, and although Paula loved gambling, Jim was not a big fan. He came with her occasionally, but mostly she came with girlfriends like Judy. She loved traveling to New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City, and enjoyed several “Girl Trips” a year. We also discovered that she and Jim had a beach house down in Cape May at the bottom of our county, so we were kind of neighbors too!

Over the years, we’d meet up with her if we were all in AC for a weekend, and on one occasion even met Jim, but our favorite Paula Story happened 7 or 8 years ago. We told her we were going to be at Harrahs in AC with our kids, and she was going to be staying at Harrahs and meeting Judy and some other friends who were staying at the Borgota. We agreed that we’d meet up if our schedules coincided. On Saturday night, our family was at the Sapphire Bar in the Eden Lounge, having a pre-dinner drink, and I texted Paula. She said she’d stop by on her way to the Borgota. When she did, we introduced her to the kids, and to our favorite AC Bartender, Ralph. Perhaps, because I was having one, Paula had Ralph make her a Grey Goose Martini. It was cold, and it was good, and it was large (Harrahs martini glasses were very big back then), and went down way too easily, so she ordered a second. About halfway through the drink, she realized that she had to get to the Borgota, where she and her girlfriends had a dinner reservation at the Old Homestead.

Later on, we heard that after her time with us at the bar, she had a hell of a night. She bounced off the wall going down the hall to get the Jitney to Borgota, didn’t remember much of dinner, and had no idea how she got back to Harrahs. Sunday morning, she woke up in her bed, still dressed as she was when we saw her before dinner, and sleeping with her Old Homestead leftovers!

Sadly, we always talked about getting together either at their house in Cape May, or ours in Ocean City. Sometimes things just never get done because you have all the time in the world…sadly, we did not.

We’re thinking about her husband Jim, and all the family and friends she leaves behind, and know that she’s up in heaven with her beloved son Ryan, making up for lost time with him. Paula, you were one of a kind, and Susie and I will always fondly remember our times with you! Hope there’s nothing but hand pays up in God’s Casino!