Choose Your Campsite With Care

It’s time to pretend we are moving again, so I have been going through closets, cabinets, and various cubby holes deciding what stays and what goes. The first hit was a bunch of clothes which I donated to a local thrift store whose profits goes to a homeless shelter.

Next, I donated sixteen wine glasses to one of Dad’s golf tournaments, which he had a nearby printer engrave for him. That freed up a shelf in the kitchen.

Now I am working on organizing my photographs. I purchased a box which contains sixteen sleeves, and each one holds the contents of one album—minus duplicate pictures as well as just awful photos that have no idea why I chose to immortalize in a book. I have been referring to old school pictures to date them based upon hair styles.

One particular photo of Jamie appeared at first to be of her swollen little face when she had the chicken pox, but upon further examination of her hairstyle, I concluded that the picture was taken several years after that nasty illness visited us.

I realized it was when Jamie went “camping” in the backyard and decided to make a nest from a pile of leaves. I remember that she came inside and mentioned how she was relaxing in a cozy bed of green, which I later learned after her skin reddened with a horrible, unbearably itchy rash turned out to be poison ivy!

Poor Jamie! She could not bear anything touching her skin but a soft nightgown. The look on her face told the story of her misery!


He Has Chosen Who and Why?

Do any of us really enjoy watching commercials, except possibly during the Super Bowl, when businesses compete to be the best and most memorable? When we record our shows, it is possible to avoid them, but at times, we are all unwilling viewers.

A prime example is when watching videos on YouTube. At times, we are not subjected to any advertisements, while at other times we must watch only a few seconds. Then there are those commercials that no matter how hard we try, we are forced to sit through an entire 20-30 second clip.

No one is immune, and I must say, it is sometimes puzzling to determine why certain shows are targeted by a particular product or person. I began thinking about this after learning that Bryce, a six-year-old little boy, is now one of the 9% in this country who has already decided on his presidential candidate. It’s Tom Steyer!

Bryce is a kid who does not watch the nightly news nor does he watch shows where one would anticipate being exposed to political commercials. Instead, he watches YouTube shows such as the Kids Learning Channel or marble races. He is learning about math, geography, root vegetables, and now, Tom Steyer, since this candidate’s campaign has determined that “The Countries of the World with Flags” is the place to capture votes.

I recently asked Bryce about his preferred candidate, and after a little coaxing, he told me he likes Tom Steyer. I then told him that Bampa and I had seen several of the candidates in person, and because the environment is so important to him, I suggested he make sure it is equally important to his guy as well. I also asked if he would like to hear any of the candidates speak, particularly Tom Steyer of course, and he told me that he was interested.

Since he has been under the mistaken impression that a woman cannot be president, I hope he can see one of them when they come to town so I can set him straight. Too bad he has to wait until 2032 to vote for president.



Letting Go

Daddy got a surprise call today from the new “father” of his baby yesterday, and he was so excited to learn about what had happened since that child left us over five years ago. He had not had any contact since last seeing her. I know that seems unusual. They parted ways on good terms.

I remember the day we said goodbye. It was a cold day in February, and there were remnants of snow on the ground, which is quite rare here in South Carolina. We both watched as she pulled out of our driveway and we waved so long.

I know how difficult it was for Dad to let go, but it was time. After all, his baby was twenty-seven years old. Still, it is always difficult to watch our babies leave.

But Dad was happy to learn that his baby had been well-cared for and had actually garnered some fame in her new life—even appearing on a poster among her peers. She even had an encounter with Jerry Seinfeld out in California where she now lives.

I think Dad felt a sense of closure now knowing what had happened to his baby. She is moving on again and he asked that he be kept in the loop during the next chapter of her life.

Here is a photo as she looked when we last saw her.

Watch Who You Date in Boonton USA

Growing up in a small town, it was always said that everyone is related to one another, so one must be very careful when dating another resident of town. Perhaps we should have all done our family trees first.

While at our recent reunion, I discovered an interesting connection between the families of my cousin Bobby and his wife Jackie. Apparently, Jackie’s parents bought their first home from my grandparents back in 1955. (That house was the home that my parents moved into for a brief time when they returned from Grandpa’s short stint serving in Texas during the Korean War.)

My grandparents could not move all their furniture into their small two-bedroom home, so some of it remained in the house that Jackie lived in when she was born five years later. The furniture included a bunk bed, which Jackie slept in, as did her future father-in-law, my Uncle Bob when he lived in that same house with my grandparents.

I located the deed to the house, which provided the proof and pertinent dates.  Skip all but the last paragraph.

After speaking with my cousin and his mom, Aunt Peggy, I decided to return to her family tree. I discovered another interesting connection. I located her grandparents’ marriage record and discovered that they were married in the same church I attended when I lived in New York—the church where my first two children were baptized—St. Patrick’s Church in Yorktown Heights, New York. Aunt Peggy verified that she and her sister once visited St. Pat’s.

I need to continue climbing her tree to see if there are connections to any other members of the family. I bet there are more family connections.


Biker Grandma

During my recent reunion-trip weekend, I surprised Jamie by informing her that riding on a motorcycle was not ever on my bucket list, so she made it her mission to encourage me to do so. I had no interest in hopping aboard, but I must say Jamie was quite persistent and also conscious of my concerns of going splat on the pavement outside her condo.

As she saw me waver away from a definite “no” toward a “just maybe,” she focused on assuring me that safety first was the top consideration. We would not venture onto any public roads. In fact, the plan was a single loop around the parking lot.

I postponed the decision as long as possible, thinking that just perhaps it would be fun. After all, riding a motorcycle is apparently so much fun that people in my state defy death every day by riding in shorts, flip flops, and without helmets (No, no, no for me!)

She finally broke my resistance and helped outfit me in a long sleeved super professional looking black biker jacket with a cute pink helmet. I climbed aboard the teeny weeny seat (not easy with my two-year-old hip) and grabbed ahold of my driver (Geoff) with a death grip.

I did not feel the least bit secure as I sat straight up but once I was told to lean into Geoff, I felt more protected from certain death. He started the engine, I squeezed tighter, and closed my eyes. We were off!

I felt a combination of fear and enjoyment. I worried about the turns, but I increased my hold on my son-in-law (I hope he understood) and was surprised that NOTHING BAD HAPPENED!  “Whee!!! Not so bad,” I thought as I rounded the bend.

As we approached the finish line, I thought that I was glad I had done it, but I have no desire to do it again. Incidentally, my poor old butt did not find the ride to be comfortable. I would rather have my big comfy seat, air conditioning, and the security of lots of steel to protect me!

I am one very cool grandma!



What Happened?

I returned from my reunion road trip to New Jersey a few days ago. I met cousins for the first time and connected with a few I had not seen in years, and I was able to see my two aunts. For that, I was happy.

My cousin Ellen and I planned the event. We picked a date seventeen months in advance based upon input from various family members, and we put a deposit down on a venue which could hold one hundred fun-loving members of our family.

I stressed that the church hall I rented was not large enough based upon the size of our extended family, which exceeds two hundred. I knew not everyone could come, particularly because we don’t all live in New Jersey. We don’t even all live in the United States. Still, we thought, it would be an epic event, wouldn’t it? After all, our family funerals are legendary in attendance.

Ellen and I contacted our cousins and started making plans. She reserved a block of rooms at Embassy Suites, and people booked flights.

As the date got closer, we decided to order sandwiches from a local venue, Jamie volunteered to make her famous pasta salad, and I made a non-mayonnaise-based coleslaw because our family all knows that we can’t serve Jamie any products with mayo. We purchased fruit, veggies, ice, drinks, and some cookies. I made the funeral cake.

While we were disappointed that we only filled a quarter of the room, I am looking at the positive side. I got to chat with my two aunts who I have not seen since my breakfast with them two years ago, along with three of their children and the grandchild and great grandchildren of my Aunt Peggy. Two traveled straight through from the mountains of western North Carolina, not stopping overnight like Ellen and I did. (They are younger!)

I met one of the children of the best member of our extended family—my cousin Meghan, whose dad is Tim from Texas. Tim visits Grandma often despite living in Houston and calls her every week. Tim is awesome, regardless of being a Texas A&M fan. (Go Cocks!) Meghan traveled from Scranton, even though she had to work on Saturday and Monday and to attend a funeral of a close friend that week. Thank you, Meghan.

I was happy to be asked by one of my cousins for the contact information of my cousin John, whose great grandfather, the brother of my grandfather, owned a huge ice house near Lake Hopatcong. FYI, according to the Landing, NJ historical site: At the time of its construction, its fifty-six-foot height made it the largest ice house in America. It was said to be able to hold 100,000 tons of ice. It was the largest single-span construction in the United States until Radio City Music Hall was built.

Cousin John introduced me to his wife and daughter. I am happy he came and made enough of an impression that another cousin wanted to meet him again.

I met a cousin who was a friend of my oldest friend, yet I never knew she was related to me. I spoke to another cousin who is an attorney in New York, who told me about going to the Texas/Mexico border in December to work with the immigrants. Cousin Jerry told me that “the stories we hear on the news are all true. I was there.” I met his sister and a few other cousins from that branch of the family—the descendants of my grandfather’s brother Joe. I chatted briefly with my cousin Christine, whose Carnival ship followed my Norwegian cruise liner around Alaska last summer.

I talked with two of my cousins who are the daughters of my mother’s oldest brother. I have not seen them since the funeral of my Uncle Bob three years ago. I used to play school in their basement as a child. Uncle Larry had somehow gotten actual desks from a classroom, which we all thought was so cool.

And last, but not least, I spent several days traveling with my co-reunion-planning cousin Ellen, who lives just outside Charleston. Ellen, along with her brother Eddie from Wilmington, left the reunion and returned to face Hurricane Dorian. Thankfully, they were spared the wrath of the storm felt by the people of The Bahamas.

In the end, I enjoyed the weekend. I hope that it was just a poor choice of date rather than apathy that resulted in the small turnout. In any case, I am glad I went, but I will pass the reunion planning baton to someone else next time.

P.S. Thank to my dear friend Mary, who helped me to look on the bright side.