Checking off another concert..

This past weekend we (DW and I) were in Scranton to see DS2 perform in his last undergraduate Marywood Wind Ensemble concert.  We arrived Saturday afternoon and grabbed DS3 from the clutches of his GF who happened to be A. In Scranton (she lives on Long Island), and B. Heading back to Long Island as we arrived. I must have missed the memo that she was in town.  The concert went well. After the concert I took some pictures of the seniors and the conductor. The Drop Box link to those pictures can be found here.

After the concert and before dinner we went to the Best Western to check into our room for the night. We have stayed at this hotel dozens of times over the last five years. It is relatively cheap, clean enough and not far from Marywood. This time when we arrive the hotel was in chaos. People everywhere, cars parked in the wrong places, just crazy busy. I got my room key and headed to the room. I opened the door to the room and was overpowered by the stench of cigarette smoke. Somehow we were given a smoking room. We don’t smoke. I called the front desk and was told that since we booked through Hotwire they could put us in any room they wanted. And, there were no other non-smoking rooms available. Sucks to be you, have a nice day. Not!

I called Hotwire and got them to cancel the room and book us into the Holiday Inn near the Wiles-Barre – Scranton airport. The hotel was a little further out of town, but it was a step up in cleanliness and customer satisfaction.  Dinner was at Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant with DS2’s GF and her mom who drove drown from upstate New York for dinner.  The food was fine and we had a table out of the way and had plenty of time to talk and visit without the hustle and bustle of the main part of the restaurant.

Sunday morning we went back to Marywood for mass. DS2 plays his trumpet during mass. After mass we went to lunch with the same crew as the night before except for DS3 who “did not know what time” to be there. He stayed in bed Sunday morning. Enjoy college life son, the real world is waiting for you!  The drive home was uneventful except for the various people that seemed blinded by the lack of bad weather and did there best to occupy our space on the highway while we were using it.  Go figure!

Thanks for reading, enjoy the pictures!
Namaste

Personal experiences wanted..

Or maybe some advice if you are “in the business”

Here is the picture..

My DW and I stopped in Bloomfield on Sunday on our way home from visiting the college boys in Scranton. Bloomfield is where her mom (and dad) are buried. Her father died in 1972. If you follow this blog you will know that her mom died January 3, 2014. Recently, for sure.  This was the first time that we have been back since the graveside service on January 7, 2014.  That day was bitterly cold. The whole winter has been cold and nasty here in New Jersey.  We attended the service, placed our flowers and were happy (kind of) to get out of the wind and into our warm vehicles.

When we got to the cemetery on Sunday, the gravesite was partially filled in with dirt and the remnants of the flowers from that day in January were sitting there on top. It would appear that in the last four months nothing has happened to the gravesite. There is a secondary grave stone of her fathers’ that tells about his service in the Marine Corps. This stone is still pushed out-of-the-way where they moved it four months ago, when they opened the gravesite to bury her mom.

The question is this, should they have cleaned up the remnants of the flowers and filled the grave in to grade level already? I agree that the winter has been a harsh one but the snow and cold have seeming subsided of the last month.  As we looked around the cemetery on Sunday there four or five groups of people tending to the gravesite of their loved ones. The trash barrels were over flowing.  Are we expected to go back, level the ground, reposition the secondary stone and put down topsoil and grass seed?

The funeral bill had an expense for the opening of the grave, should there have been an expense for the closing of the grave?  It was really discouraging to me to see the apparent neglect in the cemetery. Do I bitch or wait?  My plan is to stop by this Sunday after riding in the Tour De Staten Island with some top soil, grass seed and a shovel and rake and straighten things out.

My parents were placed in a  mausoleum so I don’t have any real world experience in this matter.

Thanks for reading and commenting if you see fit.

Pictures?  Yes, but not of the gravesite.

 

 

 

Tampa Sunday..

We went to Davis Island in Tampa to look at houses and eat breakfast. We had eaten at our hotel the previous days and wanted something “better”  We ate at an Irish Restaurant on Davis Island. We ate outside at a picnic table. My meal was slightly interrupted when the children that had been eating decided to play Frisbee in the parking lot. They could have used more adult supervision since the Frisbee hit me in the back of my head while I was eating.  I don’t think the parents even knew. Hum and smile, throw it back and keep eating.

The homes in the area start at 775 k and go up. This is a pretty exclusive area and near Tampa General Hospital. I would image that a fair number of the doctors and administrators live there.  But, we can dream, and dream we did. By the way, the most recent lottery tickets were a total bust!

We drove north after eating and touring Davis Island with our final destination being Crystal River, Florida. We were told about an excellent fish market and seafood restaurant. We did not have anything planned and we had a nice new rental car, so we went for it. The toll road had a plaza every 10 to 12 miles (60 mile drive). Maybe they could charge a little more and not make us stop so frequently.

While driving we looked on Trip Advisor (my DW, not me, I was driving) and discovered that the restaurant got bad reviews. We stopped by anyway and found the fish market closed and a line at the door to the restaurant. The top rated seafood restaurant was just up the road so we changed plans. The top rated seafood restaurant was in a mall food court. Really! We went in and walked past and kept going. They need to vet these reviews a little better. We did get some ice cream before leaving the mall.  On the way back to Tampa we purchased a Sun Pass for the car. Sun Pass is like EZ Pass in the north-east. You pre-pay the tolls and can drive through the toll plaza without stopping.

Sunday evening found us back in Tampa for outdoor yoga. Hixon Park in downtown Tampa is where they have a free yoga class on Sunday evening. The park has a terraced area that the students can lay their mats on and the instructor is at the bottom. This was really cool. Check this off as another great, free, outdoor yoga venue.

Here is a Drop Box link to all the yoga pictures.

I will post a few down below.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Namaste

 

Tampa/Sarasota Saturday afternoon..

Saturday morning we spent in Tampa at the Flan Festival and the Ybor City Farmer’s market. You can read about that here. Saturday afternoon we drove south to Sarasota, Florida to visit the distillery at Drum Circle Distilling. This is the company that makes Siesta Key Rum. Their website can be found here.

The distillery has a tasting room and also gives tours. What could be better than free rum and a tour?  Nothing that day for sure.  While we were there they had a camera man video taping the tour to be used in a promotional video.  My DW and I are in the video which I will post below. We are in the video in seconds 20 -23, in the tasting room talking to the owners.

The rum was good. I wish it were available in New Jersey near us. The only liquor store that carries the rum is in Union, NJ which is about 80 miles from home. The best rum was the spiced rum. The aged rum needs a few more years to age.  Here is the video.

 

http://youtu.be/7d7Bgcy8nr0

 

The crazy part of the afternoon was that the rental car would not start.  The battery was dead while we were in Sarasota. I called Allstate Roadside (we have with our cars at home) and they came out and jumped the car for free. The car, which we rented from Dollar Rent A Car, was a 2012 Altima with 41,000 miles. The tires were beat and the body showed the miles. When we picked it up at the airport there were not many cars to choose from. Next time I will walk back inside and get something nicer. Really, 41,000 miles at a major US airport in your rental fleet?

When the mechanic opened the hood we discovered that the positive terminal on the battery was corroded. I have never, ever, had a battery that corroded on any of the cars that I have owned over the years.  The mechanic removed the negative terminal and cleaned that (it wasn’t too bad). He went to take the positive terminal off and the connector started to bend. Then next stop after bend is break. He stopped working on the terminal and just jumped the car. He advised that we don’t shut it off and return it ASAP! Nice, huh?

We drove the car back to Dollar after talking to them on the phone. We picked up a 2013 Impala with 7000 miles. That is the kind of mileage I would expect at a major US airport from a major car rental. Shame on you Dollar Rental!

Here is a picture of the battery terminal on that car

2014-02-22 14.58.46

Here is a link to the Drop Box containing the pictures from the distillery tour.

Here are few distillery pictures.

Enjoy and Thanks for Reading!

Namaste

Gone and never forgotten..

Yes, a bit melodramatic. The reality is the DS1 moved out on Saturday, September 14, 2013. He is sharing an apartment 45 minutes closer to work with some high school friends.  He will be back this weekend and next weekend since he has things going on in town that are good excuses for sleeping in his old bedroom.  When I asked him why he was moving out (several weeks ago when the move was announced), his response was that it was time. He pointed out that I was out on my own at age 18 or 19. I think he has a romantic idea of what it is like to be booted out of the house when you are 18 years old. Time and beer has softened the experience, but I would not wish those years on anyone. I survived as will he.

If you follow along with this blog, you will have figured out that we (DW and I) are again, empty nesters! The oldest has moved out, the younger two are away at college probably until Thanksgiving (at the earliest) and more likely until the end of the semester. We will see the college kids off and on during the fall. I unplugged the big screen, the cable box, the surround sound and the X-Box in the cellar since there is nobody in the house to use the electronics. Maybe I can save some money on my electric bill this fall.

Speaking of electric bills, the power in our neighborhood has been sketchy for the last month or so. The power has gone out four or five times since the beginning of August. The most recent power outage may have prompted the power company to solve the problem once and for all. Sunday morning at 2:45 am the power went out and the smoke detector in the house started beeping every few minutes. I contacted the power company via an app on my smart phone. They called the house 15 minutes to inquire if the power was out. Fortunately one of our phones is old school and works when the power is out.  After walking me through the stupid customer questions, they promised to dispatch a truck to investigate. At this point I was the only person to have reported the outage.

Looking up the street and down the street, I could see lights. Not in the middle of the street. That was odd since when we loose the power, most of our devolvement goes dark. The truck showed up at 4:30 am and drove around with a spotlight looking a the wires and the poles. After about 20 minutes the truck left. The app on my phone said the approximate restoration time was 6 am. Then 7 am, 8 am, 9 am, 10 am..  You get the point. At 9:30 two trucks showed up and they replaced the transformer on the pole across the street. Then like magic, the power came back on. Yea!

Here is a link to pictures I shot during the transformer replacement.  The pictures below are from the move on Saturday.

Enjoy!

Namaste

2013-09-14 15.44.48 2013-09-14 15.44.37

A distinct dislike for August..

Seems like the past few years, this being the third year in a row, that things and I just don’t get along on August. They break, get lost, break again and so on. Here are a few examples from this August.

  • My knees at the Lake Placid Tournament
  • DS3’s driver’s side window. It was a misbehaving. One child put the window down and then up. It has not worked correctly since. DS3 and I have replaced the window motor and parts. Today we replaced the window. Still the window will not stay on the track. This week before he goes back to college (hopefully) the car will go to the mechanic and see what he can do.
  • Last Tuesday was an election day here in New Jersey. We also had a tornado in our town. This is quite unheard of. My DW drove her van though a large puddle and the fan belt came off. The van got towed though the tornado zone and the fan belt replaced.
  • Saturday, DS2 re-ended a SUV on his way to work. The bumper, hood and other front end stuff are messed up The radiator was not punctured. The mechanic says that the problems are cosmetic and the car is driveable. They got the hood to close correctly.
  • Tuesday, while eating my Election Day lunch I chipped a tooth. I will be visiting the dentist soon.
  • Tonight, DS1 came out of the bathroom and asked why there is no hot water in the house. I guess I will be making that call tomorrow.
  • Friday, my laptop battery would not charge, I ordered a new battery from Amazon with Saturday delivery. By the end of the day it became apparent that the laptop was plugged into the wrong laptop cord. I now have an extra, new battery.
  • On the plus side, the student loans appear to be complete so the two younger children can go back to school.
  • The garden is between harvests. That is to say the cucumbers are about done and there are a few green tomatoes waiting for the sun.

Overwhelmed, I am. But, I will carry on. Due to my knees being bad from the tournament, yoga, lacrosse and bike riding are currently out of the question. Time for a new hobby, perhaps?

Here is a video from the storm that spawned the tornado in town. I was working the poll and went outside for some fresh air.  The person running across the parking lot was my DW. The siren in the background is the lightning siren at the ball fields adjacent to the polling place.

Enjoy!

Namaste

 

Oh Brother, Where art thou?

This was the title of a movie released in 2000 set in the 1930’s Deep South.   That is according to the IMDb website. I have never seen the movie. The title is also appropriate to the bike ride my brother the weatherman and I did on Sunday, July 28, 2013.  We rode in the Harlem Valley Rail Ride 2013. The ride started and ended in Millerton, NY. Millerton is about 200 miles from where I live down the Jersey Shore.  Sunday morning, at 5 am, I drove to North Jersey and put my bike on the weatherman’s car and threw my gear in the backseat. He drove the other half of the ride to Millerton.

The ride had several choices for bike riders. 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles. Each of these rides had increasing difficulty due to elevation changes on the routes. I looked at the description of each of the rides and decided that I was not in good enough shape for any of the rides. Then listed on the bottom of the webpage, as an almost after thought note, that a 40 mile ride would be available with “no significant elevation changes”  I figured, I should be able to push myself to 40 miles. My longest ride for the summer was 36 miles. What is another 5 or so miles?

We found out what elevation changes are considered “insignificant” over a 41 mile ride. Notice the extra mile that crept in there?  The ride had many insignificant elevation changes that added up to 1040 feet of elevation gain. I was pretty beat by the end of the ride. Between miles 27 and 31 we rode through a torrential downpour. When it rains like that and you are on your bike, you just put your head down and ride. Set a pace and try to avoid the bigger puddles. After the ride they had a festival where you could eat all you want from the county BBQ that was set up. The local VFW had a beer truck set up selling beer to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.  The food was good and the beer was cold. Just what was needed after chasing my brother though the “valley” around Millerton.

I walked a few of the hills, it was all I could do. He rode them all. I got to the top of a few of the hills and he had ridden on ahead. I eventually caught up to him each time. I think he would have finished the ride 30 minutes sooner if he had not peddled slowly waiting for me. Thanks for waiting for me!

He shot some pictures on his cell as we rode. I will add them to the bottom and caption them as necessary.  Thanks for reading!

Namaste

 

 

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