Monday, August 13, 2018

My Kind of Day... any day that includes walking waterfront, playing ping pong on the public table there, and renting a giant four-wheeled contraption to pedal it madly up and down the boardwalk.

It could only have been better with scooters.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Homeward Bound

Our route today took us across the northwest corner of New Jersey, through the Poconos, and onto I-81 from Scranton to Syracuse. The landscape was beautiful: rugged and mountainous, and I remembered driving on 81 from Binghamton to Harrisburg on my trips to DC from college.

For the first three years, I didn't have a car, and so when Thanksgiving rolled around I relied on those signs in the student union that had phone numbers on little tear-offs at the bottom to find my transportation south. Of course that usually meant ponying up gas cash up front, jamming a duffle bag in the trunk, and smushing in between strangers in the backseat of somebody's Chevy NOVA. Eight hours later, my aunt would pick me up at some parking lot off of the Baltimore Beltway, and drop me off there the following Sunday afternoon.

It was all more than worth it to me for four days with family. Three weeks later, I would be on my way home for winter break, which was an entirely different sort of trip involving airport limos, helicopters, and a first class ticket on Pan Am from JFK to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Longer and certainly more comfortable, the promise of family time sweetened those travels as well.

And the same was true today as I piloted our Subaru from Hightstown to Buffalo-- up and down mountains, through cities and towns, over rivers and around lakes, in sunshine and in rain, on empty roads and stop and go thruways-- our final destination was dinner waiting on a round oak table with five places set, and space for the dog underneath.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Beware of Dog

The parking lot was full when we pulled into a nearby park this afternoon. Several white picnic canopies were arranged over at the edge of the fields, and speakers were pumping out upbeat music from the bandstand. To be honest, the mostly African American crowd was an unusual sight for this semi-rural little hamlet, but the mini-buses labeled "Trenton Pentecostal Church" sort of explained the unexpected diversity, and reminded me that nothing is really very far away from anything in New Jersey, where suburbs melt effortlessly into farms, and almost every east-west road includes a bridge over the turnpike.

A group of five little kids led by a boy of perhaps 10 or 11, stood wide-eyed as we unloaded the dogs for the walk we were there to take. First out was Odie, a springy little miniature schnauzer who bounced to the end of his leash.

"Whoa! A dog!" said one of the children in utter surprise.

"Wait until you see the next one!" Heidi told the little girl.

The group gasped in surprise as Lucy bounded out of the station wagon with her typical tada! flourish.

"Okay," said the leader, stepping in front of his charges and spreading his arms, "which one bites?"

Friday, August 10, 2018

Local History

Today I did what I do when I visit a place that seems interesting: I found a little history book and started reading. Did it help that we're in New Jersey, the state I truly consider to be where I'm from? Maybe, but all those Victorian houses on South Main Street really seemed like there had to have been something going on.

So far I've uncovered that the couple for whom this hamlet is named was lost to history a mere 20 years after carving a town from woods along the former Indian trail that became the main road from New Amsterdam to Trenton. There's also a couple of haunted houses, and the little known fact that the "Etra" in Etra Road and Etra Park is actually an acronym for Edward Taylor Riggs Applegate, one of 19th century Mercer County's most prominent citizens.

All evidence of a good day's work, and who knows what I may discover tomorrow?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Auntie's Taxi Service

After a single day of driving 2 teenaged girls and their friends around to jobs, camps, rehearsals, boyfriend's house, hair appointments, shopping etc. and back, I am exhausted! As a teacher, I am certainly aware of how crazy kids' schedules can be, but I honestly don't know how families manage the complexities. Or rather, I do. Family time is the obvious casualty: there simply isn't time for dinner at the table, homework help, family TV or games, or other activities.

Back when I was a kid, things were a lot different. Were we bored without so many activities on our agendas? Maybe, but we were bored together!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The P is not Silent

We were talking vegan options at dinner tonight with Heidi's friend Betty and her 2 girls, Allyn and Delaney.

"Pea protein is very big these days," Heidi told Betty, who nodded.

As Betty started to tell Heidi that pea protein was in her smoothie powder, I looked across the table at Delaney, who looked horrified. Allyn noticed the expression as well.

"They mean the vegetable," she told her sister. "P-E-A."

"Oh good!" Delaney replied. "I was really worried about where people were getting their protein from these days!"

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Inside Recess

When the day is hot and sticky
But you want to have some fun
And bowling is so last week
There’s still some place to run

Indoor mini golf!

Heidi and Annabelle and I went when we were in Atlanta, and at the time I made note of the fact that they had a location not too too far from our house. And so on Josh’s last day with us and in between running errands to prepare for our next road trip to NJ and Buffalo, we made our way to Monster Mini-golf, where all the clubs and balls and bumpers on the greens are fluorescent, and you play under black lights with retro music pounding too loud for you to have a normal conversation, but just the right volume to make you shake your bootie on every green while waiting for your turn to putt. This location also had duck pin bowling, a laser maze, and a neon color challenge that were included, along with 10 dollars worth of arcade games in our flat rate admission. And yes! I put the high score on the basketball game again, proving Atlanta was no fluke! It was cheesy fun at its finest, and gifting our tickets to a family of little boys on the way out the door, I laughed all the way into the muggy afternoon, where, yes, it had thunderstormed again.