The List

Are you a list person? I really wasn’t/aren’t, but after almost 42 years of marriage, it’s a skill I am starting to understand, thanks to the love of my life, my Susie!

Susan Lynn Johnson D’Elia is most definitely a list person, and has been from the first day I met her way back in 1977. I don’t know if this is something that comes from her former life as a Registered Nurse, or something borne out of her slight OCD tendencies, but my wife has been a huge proponent of making lists for as long as I can remember. She loves making lists of things that need to be done, and then gets great enjoyment when she can cross completed items off that list. There are two steadfast rules, however for Susie’s lists. #1 is that nobody but she can place items on her lists (and most surely not me with my chicken scratch penmanship), and almost as important, NOBODY but Susie crosses things off one of her lists!

Over the years, there have been many, many lists. I don’t recall if I knew it at the time, but I’m pretty sure there was a list pertaining to our wedding. I’m sure she had a packing list for our honeymoon, and I know for a fact, we have long had a list for the things we were going to do when we win the lottery! Now that list has changed over the years (like we no longer have to have “Buy a House in Ocean City” on our wish list), but you best believe that there still is a list! Once the kids were able to write, she started them on Christmas Lists, which she still asks them for today!

Of course, there are the day to day lists, like our weekly meal planning, our grocery shopping lists (which Susie has organized by the aisle in our local Shoprite, so we zip through the store), jobs around the house, and that sort. There still are the long range lists too, like projects we want to do around the house, but not things we can accomplish right now. As always, she feels very accomplished when she crosses things off the “To Do” lists, and even more so when she gets to rip a completed page off her clip board, and throw it away!

Oh yes, Susie has a dedicated LIST clipboard. It’s a small 5 by 7 clipboard that is loaded with the mini size legal pads, and thanks for our Cousin Walt’s gift, always has a pen at the ready. As I write this, the lists on the clipboard include our meals list, a shopping list (two really…one for Shoprite and one for Costco), her long term to do list, and a list of various things we want to do this week, broken down by days. My wife is nothing if not organized!

But I have to agree, she is 100% right about lists. They help you stay organized, make sure you get done the things you want to get done, help you stay focused during a project, and at our age, help you remember that thing you just had on your mind, but forgot by the time you go to do it! She has even got me making lists, and I have to agree that there is a great sense of accomplishment when you can cross an item off! Sometimes, I even tell her to write a task we’ve completed on a list, that wasn’t on the list, so we can have the pleasure of crossing it off the list!!

This whole discussion of lists was started because on September 14th I am having my second knee replaced. Two years ago, my left knee was replaced, and in September it will be my right knee’s turn. I mentioned to Susie the other day, that I felt much more organized two years ago, and that I didn’t feel that I had as good a handle on the tasks I must accomplish before the surgery this time around. Her answer, “Make a list of the tasks, put them in order, and cross them off when you’ve taken care of them.” She was right! Sitting down, going through the paperwork from Dr Zabinski, writing tasks down, and putting them in order was the perfect way to wrap my head around the tasks. Lists are a great way to get organized and to really feel like you are prepared, and now on the fridge is a nicely printed out list with 13 things that MUST be done before September 14th! I feel organized now, have a handle on what I have to do when, and even have 4 items checked off already!

Thanks Susie for your lists! They do work…

Miracle of Science – Part Two

Back in the end of August, we saw our daughter Krissi and her husband Mike, when Mike’s sister Sara, her husband Gabe, and teenagers Maddy and Ethan rented a house in Ocean City for a week from our neighbor Neen. It was the first time we’d seen them since they surprised me and helped me celebrate my 70th birthday back in January. As we were in the height of the pandemic, Krissi and Mike didn’t stay with us, Mike’s parents Paula and Jerry stayed at a local Bed and Breakfast, we observed social distancing by visiting together in our garage and at the beach, and we exchanged the briefest of hugs. It was something, but it wasn’t what we really wanted.

Turn the clock ahead 7+ months, and now Krissi, who is an administrator at Weill Cornell Medical Center in NYC, and Mike, who sells wine and spirits with MS Walker are both fully vaccinated. Add in the fact that Susie and I are fully vaccinated too, and it’s time for a real, old fashioned weekend with our favorite daughter and our son-in-law! Last Friday, Mike dropped Krissi off with us, while he worked some clients with one of his local salesmen Bryce, which was the beginning of a weekend they spent staying in our house! Old times were back again!

Our time together started with hugs and kisses all around, and then a good old fashioned weekend of visiting. Rather than heading here, there, and everywhere, Krissi decided on a laid back weekend, with home-cooked meals, and lots of time for visiting! She had a hankering for some grilled food, as living in their new condo in New Rochelle doesn’t give them a grilling outlet. Luckily, Susie and I had visited Costco just the day before, so Pork Chops and Pork Tenderloin Medallions were on our Mixed Grill menu. Krissi, Susie and I hit the local Acme to get the fixings for a big salad, while Mike headed off to work with Bryce, and because they looked wonderful, some grilled asparagus were added to the menu! The weather wasn’t wonderful, so I headed down to the grill, while Susie, Krissi and Mike stayed upstairs. After all was done and said, it was a great meal, accompanied by some great wine that Mike had brought for us! Earlier in the day, Krissi also joined Susie and I in our daily exercise routine, and a new chandelier was also put up over our dining room table, by Susie, Krissi, and me, but we don’t need to talk any more about that.

Saturday was a hanging out day around the house, watching some TV and being lazy! Poor Mike was subjected to our Wedding Album when the topic of weddings came up. Then Krissi and Mike proceeded to cook us a wonderful dinner. It was a Turkey Taco Salad, with lots of wonderful vegetables. There was lots of chopping to be done, and the two of them were a perfect team! It was a great meal, and during it we watched one of their favorites on TV – The Masked Singer.

We carefully checked the weather, and although not perfect, Saturday night looked like the best chance of the weekend for some time Fire Pit time, so that’s what we did!

Sunday morning was, of course, Bagel Sunday, so orders in hand, I headed off to see my friends at Hot Bagels and More in Somers Point! As usual they were yummy!!

Again, Sunday was not a great weather day, but we were able to get out a bit with the kids and hit BF Mazzeos and Tilton Market, to both get some things for us, and for Krissi and Mike to bring home. Then it was time for Sunday Stir Stir Vodka (for Susie and I) and Gin (for Krissi and Mike). We decided that Sunday night dinner would be a hors d’oeuvres buffet of sorts, so I was called upon to make my Dad’s Stuffed Mushrooms. It was accompanied by Shrimp Cocktail from Costco, Eggplant Meatballs from BF Mazzeos, Buffalo Chicken Sausage from Bagliani’s (along with Blue Cheese Dressing from Charlies), and a charcuterie platter with delicacies from Bagliani’s and Passion Vines!

Susie and I relaxed while the kids took a walk around the neighborhood. That night we played a rousing game of “That’s What She Said,” and laughed a lot! After a good night’s sleep, about 10:30 on Monday morning Krissi and Mike headed back to their new condo in New Rochelle, where we will turn the tables and be their guests in two weeks!

It was a great weekend with our middle child (by 2 minutes) and her husband, and just another clue that our lives are returning! Stay tuned…we’ve just begun to live again – we may even have a road trip in our future!! Thanks again Moderna!

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!!