Friday, August 31, 2012

More Projects

I've been busy.  I think I'll be posting to the blog only once a week or so unless something big happens.

On Monday James and Jessica had 'brunch' here with me and Dave and Karen Bernstein and their kids Marty & Claire.  Claire is so cute!  Marty likes to screech. . . .  just a passing phase in his young life, I'm sure.  Karen brought a great breakfast and we ate on the deck.  Eggs and bacon, French toast with shredded coconut, granola squares, and fruit salad all homemade.  My mouth is still watering just from the thought of all that great food.

David volunteered to do a few of Jamie and Jessica's adoption letters.  J&J are writing to 3,000 women's health care providers nationwide in an effort to find a "donor mom."  I gave David 49 to do. . . .  I know he's busy with his work, and I'm grateful that he volunteered at all.  He made short work of them.

J&J left for LaGuardia around 11ish after the brunch.  I took the 1,000 letters that had been completed by the Mann-Fox-Frank conglomerate (during the trip to Chincoteague last week) to the Post Office here at 1pm that day.  The postal clerk was nice enough to pose for a snapshot:

Went to Liz's on Tuesday with Ruthie.  We celebrated Ruth's actual birthday and divvyed up the remaining 476 J&J letters that were alloted to us.  Between Tuesday and today Liz and Ruth banged out 275 and I did 201. 

Liz is mailing the 275 out tomorrow and I sent the 201 out from the P.O. here this morning, after which I took the Prius to the car wash. 

When I got home, I decided I'd better start a repainting-the-wrought-iron-railings project.  I could have started it in late September, but I plan to paint the front of the house then and figure why not get at least the railings done now.  The old paint on the railings at the side-entrance to the house was really scaly and flaky, so I spent a lot of time chipping away at it.  The front stoop railings weren't at all scaly, but they looked really bad because a coat of earlier, white paint is showing thru the worn-away layer of black paint on top. . . .  so no need to chip or scour there.  I was able to paint just one side of the front railings before 6:30, which I planned as my knock-off time for today.  I'll paint the other side of it tomorrow morning along with the entire side-entrance railing.

Here's what they look like at present:

The paint chips were flying off the steel wool wheel as I did this.  Needless to say, I did wear a mask.

One of these things is not like the other.  Can you tell which side is the finished one and which side is on tomorrow's agenda?
One more item to paint is the lamppost in the backyard by the deck.  I just remembered that.  Hopefully, I'll get the railings and the lamppost done before midafternoon tomorrow.
The fun of homeownership never ends!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Party All the Time

After the trip to Chicoteague, you'd think I'd need some time to recover.  I do. . . .  but didn't get it just yet.  JohnO and Ruthie's friend Sandy threw not one, but two surprise birthday parties for Ruthann today.  She has reached a milestone birthday number, but I won't reveal it here.

JohnO planned the events of the day, and they came off without a hitch. 

James and Jessica arrived at the Mets' CitiField with perfect timing - having driven all the way up from Chincoteague (they left there at 6am) - and met me at the old "Big Apple" outside the Main Gate of the ballpark at exactly 12:45.  We went in and took our seats with the other esteemed guests, rehearsed using the cards Liz had made (spelling out  H A P P Y  B I R T H D A Y  on one side and  R U T H A N N  on the other, as well as a separate set that said, of course, LETS GO METS!)  When Liz hollered "Flip!" we turned them over from the HAPPY BIRTHDAY side to the RUTHANN side.  When, during the game, the Mets needed some encouragement, we took out the LETS GO METS! ones and hollered it out.

Everyone had a great time, and the game itself was all anyone could have asked for.  It doesn't get any better.  Ike Davis of the Mets hit a homer in bottom of 4th.  Astros tied it up 1-1 in top of 9th.  Ike comes to bat in bottom of 9th (Liz says "Gee, wouldn't it be something if he hit another home run."  And he does!)  It literally bounced on top of the outfield railing and over, for a walk-off homer.  If you don't mind watching a 10-second advertisement preceding it, here's a video of it:
All his teammates greeted him at home plate as he literally pirouetted in.

After the game we all gathered outside the Main Gate and had our group photo taken at the Big Apple.  Then we said our goodbyes to Ruthie, pretending it was all over.  Little did she know that, when her friend Sandy invited her over to her house for coffee that we'd all be there again as well.  We hugged and kissed her goodbye at the stadium and put one over on her again.

The party at Sandy's was great.  Good food, wine, beer and lots of catching-up with out-of-state friends and relatives of Ruthie's.  Must have been at least two dozen folks there.  Ruthie opened her presents. . . . one of them, a blanket made from her Casey's old logo tee-shirts (logos from his elementary school all the way thru college and the sports teams he rooted for) was the biggest hit.  JohnO's old roomate's wife sewed it all together, and it was absolutely perfect:

And, here's a bunch of photos from the game:

She hasn't figured out what's right in front of her just yet.

Aha!  I KNOW these people!

The party-planner and his Mom

Some folks up from Virginia (actually all four of them in that row. . . Pat & Don Sodo, too!)

Rick & Aimee

Artiste at work

The fashionable Aimee & her Bear

Jimbo supplied hats and 'toys' for not only our group, but for the folks in the row ahead of us, too.

See the plane to the upper-right of the Gecko/GEICO billboard?  LaGuardia sends one directly overhead above CitiField every 5 minutes or so.  James and Jess will be aboard one - slingshotting from LGA back to Oakland tomorrow.

After the game, Ruthie wears Jamie's piece de resistance.

Most of the attendees, at the "post-game show."

As they say on TV: "A promotional consideration has been provided by. . . ."  Not really, but thought I'd give him a plug.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Leaving Chincoteague, Saturday 8-25-12

I hit the road from Chincoteague at about 9:30 this morning.  Jamie and Jessica will leave for here tomorrow morning.  The Manns and Foxes will be staying on at the cottage thru tomorrow. . . .  among today's events, I'm told, will be a guided pontoon boat ride thru the bay to see the wildlife (and hopefully some of the ponies on the island).

I got to Liz's in Bergenfield at 5pm and had dinner with her and Rick.  Picked up some supplies for tomorrow's events and continued on my way.  Got home here at a little after 9pm.

Here's some remaining photos from the trip:

Pregos and babies at the fairgrounds.


Interesting boat parked on Main St.

Around the corner from the cottage. . . .  One of the last things I saw this morning on my way out of Chincoteague and on my way back home to COMMACK.  Just thought it was kind of neat.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chincoteague, Friday August 24th

I'm at the library in town as I write, at 2:15pm.  It's a cute little old white wooden building in the middle of town, with a 3-year-old addition on the back that really is nice. Outside it is surrounded by park benches, picnic tables and a big open-walled roofed pavillion with more picnic tables.  Even when the libary is closed lots of folks sit outside it and take advantage of the wireless access that is continuously on in the area surrounding it.

We went out for ice cream at a local shop at noon.  Wills and Emily especially enjoyed it. Then we walked thru town and I stopped off here to check my email and post this blog.  They're all still wandering around town. . . .  and I told them to go on ahead back to the cottage without me if I didn't finish in here before they got tired.

I made breakfast for the gang this morning.  Just pancakes and bacon.  But everyone seemed to appreciate it. 

We are all in the midst of Jamie and Jessica's 'project'.  They have us all - in our 'spare time' - hand-addressing envelopes that they are sending out to prospective adoption sources all over the country.  They have a total of 3,000 addresses to do, and it looks like we will get 1,000 of them done while here.  A labor-intensive job, but everyone's helping out.

Last night, Dave went out and got a bushel of steamed crabs.  We all sat around the picnic table on the screened-porch and bashed and clawed away at them.  I had to rinse some of the Old Bay off some of mine (my delicate tumtums, you know), but the beer helped wash down and quell some of the spices, too.

Tonight we had pizza and beer.  I did the beer-run and while I was out drove over to the fairgrounds to snap a photo of the ponies being held there from the July roundup.  Denny, at the lighthouse on Tuesday, had told me to take a ride to the fairgrounds to see them - they are being held there until they get bigger.  There was a few pregnant mamas among the colts, too.  All of them swam across the channel during the roundup, but I'm not sure if they were among the ones sold at the auction or they were considered too fragile to be sold and will ultimately be returned to Assateague Island once they are in condition to be taken back there again.  I'd think that the second of these is the more likely scenarios.

Here's the photos from our trip to the ice cream shop and last night's (Thursday's) "Crab-fest" and today's events:

Andy takes Wills for a spin at the ice cream shop.

Grammy keeps watch over Emily.

Interesting architecture on Main St.


Jenn and Wills work on their ice cream.

Andy, Jenn, Jess, Dean & Wills "clawing away."

Jimbo's old pal, the renown Ranger Brian Gomes and Dave at the "Crabfest"

Workin' on it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chincoteague, VA - Mon. 8/20 thru Weds. 8/22

Tues. 8/21/12

I arrived here in Chincoteague on Monday at about 5pm.  Met Barb and Dean – Jessica’s Mom and Stepdad – and we went to dinner at a local seafood place.  It was good seeing Barb again, and I realized I had never met Dean in-person before this. . . altho I know so much about him from Jess telling me and Barb telling me that we hit it right off from the start.

Jimbo and Jessica arrived here in Chincoteague this afternoon.  James goes to his conference in Assateague starting at 4pm tomorrow.  Before that, we may kayak or just go to the beach for the day.

Barb and Dean and I explored the area a bit today.  Dean found a boat ramp where we can ‘put in’ when we use the kayaks, then he and Barb biked around the National Wildlife Refuge awhile while I went to the lighthouse on Assateague Island and climbed it and chatted awhile with the volunteers there, comparing notes on what it is like there versus at my Fire Island lighthouse.  The history of theirs intrigued me.  Theirs is 9 years newer.  It was built alongside the village of Assateague, of which absolutely nothing remains – but a bit of a clearing in the woods - today.  View from top of the lighthouse was spectacular. . . .  all the marshland, the bay, the ocean and everything surrounding it is so pristine, unspoiled and natural.

The mosquitoes here are voracious.  When I was at the lighthouse – sitting on a bench outside the entrance to it – the mosquitoes were attacking me in swarms.  I didn’t stay on the bench very long. . . .  walked on over to the Visitors’ Center where they have a nice area with rocking chairs.  Addressed a few postcards while there, waiting for Barb and Dean to return from their bike trip.

Barb made a great meal for dinner.  A bean salad, homemade potato salad and a huge platter of crabmeat that she got at a local seafood store.  She said the place was run by some folks who were very busy cracking open crabs and pulling them apart. . . .  seemed to me like what she was describing was like a busy Chinese restaurant, but only for cleaning crabs that must’ve just been caught – maybe by the fishermen in the family? – locally.  Jimbo – when he got here - said he thinks the crabs weren’t locally caught because the Bay has had such a dwindling crab population in recent years and the price of true Chesapeake crabs is much higher than what Barb paid.  Whether they were local or not, they sure tasted fresh!
Jess’s sister Jennifer and her family – as well as her Uncle Dave – are supposed to arrive here later tomorrow.  We will then have ‘the full contingent’ and plan to take Jenn’s kids to see the ponies and to the beach.

Here's the photos of what I saw this day:

The tower
The original Fresnel Lens that was in tower in 1867.  Unlike ours at Fire Island, this one did not rotate; hence it is shorter, has no clockwork wind-up mechanism box, and the back of it, facing the marshland, is covered by sheetmetal.

Denny, the top of tower volunteer.  He was very infomative and we compared notes on what it's like to be a volunteer at a lighthouse.

A visitor

The original plaque, just inside the door at base of tower.

Weds. 8/22/12

Was up at 7am and had quiche – made by Jenn and sent here ahead of her and her family’s arrival with Jamie and Jessica.  It was really, really good. . .  lots of veggies and tasty, not spicy nor bland at all.  After breakfast we planned our day.  Jamie and Dean and I to go kayaking while Barb and Jess went to a salon/spa to get their hair done and some pampering. 

Dean has brought two kayaks with him, so we needed to rent only one.  We headed out towards the beach and went to a kayak rental place along the way, where we picked one up and car-topped it on Dean’s minivan, which had the two he brought inside in back.

Stopped also at Ace Hardware.  Jamie bought a rod and reel  and some hooks and weights. . . .  He decided he wanted to fish from his kayak. 

Finally made it to the boat ramp by about 11am.  We paddled across the bay to beneath the lighthouse and then out and under the bridge that connects Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island.  Lots of birds. . . .  neat to see white heron flying by, with wide wings outstretched. . . .  so close it felt like you could almost reach out and grab it.  Cormorants floating nearby. . . one of them took wing near the kayak and it amazed me how easily it just paddled its feet , gaining speed, then outstretched its wings annnnd liftoff!  Flying fish, jumping close by, too.  Jimbo caught a total of 7 croakers in his kayak, but lost 3 of them when his stringer holding those 3 came undone, providing a meal for the waterfoul.

This place is so unspoiled compared to Fire Island.  It was very relaxing to spend the day on the water.

Didn’t see any horses on Assateague, tho I was told yesterday that the herds are near the lighthouse.  Figured they are farther back in the woods and that they come out to water’s edge at dawn and dusk, like the deer back home on Fire Island, maybe?

Jess’s Uncle Dave arrived today at about 5pm.  Interesting fella.  He lives in Wisconsin but spends his winters sailing in Florida and the Carribbean.  His boat is currently in port in south part of Georgia and he says he and his wife will be starting their journey for this year in October.  (Hmmm, I wonder if he ever hires-on any amateur deckhands?  Nah, I’m too old to be climbing sailboat masts!)

Jenn and Andy didn’t make it here today.  They and Wills and Emily will be here tomorrow, barring any further problems.  Andy ran over some “road junk” today and blew-out a tire, so they had that repaired and the time it took to get the repair done put them so far behind schedule that they decided to wait till tomorrow to leave for here.

Jimbo-Bubba went to his first conference meeting tonight.  Some Conference of Park Rangers of some sort or other, being held over near the NASA Wallops Island facility.  (I had thought that this conference was going to be in Baltimore, but now I see why he was saying that this would work out so well as a “working vacation” for him. . .  his meeting place is only a few minutes away from here.)  He left here a bit after 5pm and was back by 8pm.  Basically, tonight’s meeting was just for registration and to meet and greet and to have dinner.  The food was terrible, he says.
Today's photos:
Jamie preps the rental kayak for me.
Before getting to the boat ramp, we stopped at Ace Hardware and Jimbo bought some fishing supplies.
What the lighthouse looked like from the boat ramp on the bay.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Milford Oyster Festival

Had a great time at the New Milford, Connecticut Oyster Festival today with Beth and Greg and Greg's sister Erin and her Michael and their kids Brian and Lauren.  The event was huge. . . . easily 500 vendors there, selling everything of all kinds.  The crafts area especially interested Beth.  Jewelry, paintings, carvings, you-name-it.

I was the only one to actually have any oysters.  Not many of the food vendors had them, tho.  And they didn't come cheap!  After last week's first taste of oysters for me in a long time (at Liz's birthday party) I thought I just had to try them again - especially since I'm at an Oyster Festival this week.  I could enjoy a regular diet of them now. . . .  Who says I don't have good taste?

The BoSox Fans

Beer, as opposed to. . .

. . .Wine

. . .to infinity and beyond

Ever feel like you have a gun at your back? Outside Milford Public Library.

Brian almost sank him!


Beth reacts to my offer of an oyster.


Greg seems a bit tuckered-out.


Butterfly bush enroute to the parking lot. (Taken by Greg. . . or was it Beth?)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Crossing the Sound to Beth and Greg's

Took the Port Jefferson to Bridgeport ferry this afternoon.  I'm visiting Beth and Greg this evening and tomorrow.  We will go to an oyster festival in Milford with Greg's sister's family tomorrow.

The ferry trip here was good.  I got to the ferry terminal in Pt. Jeff a bit early and they asked me if I wanted to get on the 2pm crossing instead of waiting for the 3pm, so I took them up on it.  Regretted it when I got the car on board the boat and they 'shoehorned' the car in, in an unusual position and very close to another car (see the photo).  When we got to Bridgeport and the driver of that other car started backing up instead of moving forward I had to lay on the horn and holler.  Got his attention with only an inch to spare!  I actually got out of my car to make sure he hadn't made contact. The car is a year and a half old and I still want to keep it 'un-dinged' for as long as I can.

Too close for comfort

Leaving Port Jeff

Topside on the ferry