Friday, July 21, 2017

Something Old Or Perhaps Something New... all depends upon your point of view and for how many days you have been spending (immodesty prevents me from writing "wasting") a portion of your day here.  For reasons that are equal parts unmemorable and unimportant, a few of us in the office had a brief, three-way conversation about music (in general) and several songs (in particular).  The one highlighted in the piece that first appeared here three years ago on this very date, Eric Church's Springsteen, was one of the songs that came up in that conversation.  If you are so inclined, give it a listen.  It is not a July Saturday night but...

MONDAY, JULY 21, 2014

The Beat of the Summer

The Missus and I spent quite an enjoyable Saturday afternoon and evening at the beach.  Our pilgrimage began in Bradley Beach.  Our search for a place to allow this old man to live by the sea took us there.  We extended no offers but we did see a couple of homes that intrigued us - including one for which the term "move-in condition" appears to have been invented.  

After scoping out prospective resting places for Yours truly, we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the hospitality of one of Margaret's customers.  Joe and his wife Ricki own a condo that is right across Ocean Avenue from - well, as its name might have hinted at - the Atlantic Ocean.  Quite a peaceful way to spend a summer's Saturday afternoon.  

Then, later on, we made the great migration south on Route 71 to 'Squan.  Saturday night was the Annual Edition of "The Kennys Being Bennies"that Margaret and I enjoy so much.  One night every summer for as long as I can remember we go to Point Pleasant Beach for the sole purpose of spending a couple of hours on Jenkinson's Boardwalk - soaking up the uniquely Jersey experience that is a Shore Boardwalk on a Saturday night.  Several years ago - most likely against their better judgment in a manner akin to which it has always been against my wife's - the Sisters Kizis began accompanying us.  Then once Jeff joined the travelling party he seemed to sense that I needed a wing man in my campaign to make us all continue to engage in this silliness annually and he has embraced the role with gusto.

So, off we went again on Saturday night, over to the parking lot behind the Kohr's stand ($20.00 to park your chariot) and then up into the maelstrom.  We ate cheese steaks and French fries at Little Mac's (save for Lynne who dined on a veggie burger).  We played Whack-A-Mole where once again this year my wife emerged victorious.  We played twice.  She won twice.  She was awarded a stuffed Dalmatian that she dutifully toted around with her until she found a little boy she deemed worthy of her trophy at which point - with the blessing of his Mom and Dad - she gave it to him.  

It took some detective work but we were able to locate Frog Bog.  For years, a Frog Bog game has been located next to Joey Tomato's Pizza and across the way from the entrance into Jenkinson's Bar.  However, it is there no longer.  When it appeared as if Frog Bog may have been vanquished from the Boardwalk entirely I was one unhappy human being.  Courtesy of the nice young lady working the imitation game "Lobster Flop" we learned that a Frog Bog is now up and running at the Boardwalk's south end - adjacent to the rides.  We all played.  We all lost.  Such is the way of the Bog. 

Once we tasted defeat (channeled our inner fly if you will) at Frog Bog we did battle on the Bumper Cars and then jammed ourselves into one car on the Tilt-A-Whirl in the hopes of generating maximum whirling action.  In that regard we were only partially successful but it mattered not.  We laughed and laughed.  As did the people standing around the ride who watched four adults cram themselves into - and then pry themselves out of - a car that fits three adults uncomfortably.  Lynne who soldiered on in spite of still recovering from a broken ankle recently sustained at one of Atlantic City's soon-to-be former casinos, wisely sat out the Bumper Cars and the Tilt-A-Whirl.  

Finally, as we always do, we ended our sojourn into the American experience at Kohr's.  There is no ice cream that is quite as delicious as Kohr's boardwalk stand ice cream on a summer Saturday night.  Our evening's romp completed and with Aurora rising behind us we trekked back to Lynne's in 'Squan, feeling a little queasy due to the combination of greasy food and stomach-flipping rides but feeling more than a little happy at having yet again enjoyed one another's company in a place we love to visit. 

Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night...


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hope Never Dies

Most of the eyes perusing this silliness this morning are situated in heads belonging to people, who have heard the harrowing tale of that young couple who scampered up the hill for a seemingly benign purpose - only to fall victim to life's circumstances.  We might have even believed - if only for a moment - that no couple in the history of hill-climbing had ever endured the hardships that they had (what with Jack's broken crown and Jill's tumbling down the hill thereafter). 

That belief, however earnest, cannot in good faith exist any longer.  It simply cannot.  For when the tale of Jack and Jill is compared to that of Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, it does not hold water. Not a pail's worth.  Not a mouthful.  None at all. 

One week ago, on Thursday, July 13, 2017, a maintenance worker at Glacier 3000 ski area at Les Diablerets in Switzerland (on the side of the Tsanfleuron glacier that is located in Valais canton, in case you are keeping score at home), found the mummified remains of two people, a man and a woman. Working theory is that they fell into a crevice and remained frozen there.  Over time, the glacier receded - at least to the point where their remains became visible to persons working at the ski area, including the aforementioned maintenance worker who, irrespective of his/her salary, is not getting paid nearly enough to deal with mummies as part of the day-to-day.  Not getting paid anywhere close to enough.  

It turns out that the forensic testing upon which the Valais cantonal police insisted identified the two corpses as Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin. The couple, who had seven children, apparently left their home on August 15, 1942 in order to milk their cows.  They left together to perform the chore, from which they never returned.  For three-quarters of a century their family knew not what had become of them.  Now they do.  Apparently, Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin died as they had lived - together.  Their remains were found next to one another, well-preserved by the ice in which they had been entombed.  

Their youngest daughter, Marceline, seventy-nine years young, has announced that she shall not wear black to the funeral of her parents.  Instead, she shall wear white.  Her reasoning is, I think, simply beautiful.  White, says Marceline, represents hope, which she never lost.  Not once.  Not in seventy-five years.   

It is, after all, a good thing.  Maybe, in fact, the best of things...

...and no good thing ever dies. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

An Old Man and The Sea

This fall, I am bidding farewell to the happy insanity that is (for me, anyway) running in marathons, by participating in the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, October 22, and, then, two Sundays later, the New York City Marathon.  In the latter, I am running not simply for myself but for the good people of Stomp the Monster.  

I have a training schedule taped to a wall in my office and, truth be told, while I have enjoyed a lot of running days thus far this summer, I have not paid particular attention to the training schedule. Instead, I have taken to the beach and headed down by the waterline in an effort to better develop my legs and my heart.  So far, so good.  As my great, great grandpa Phineas never tired of saying, "Jersey sand is tough.  Be tougher."  

Early on Sunday morning, at or about sunrise (which I might have missed because I was tending to my faithful canine companions, Rosie and Leo), I headed up to the boardwalk, intending to walk the width of the 17th Avenue Beach down to the waterline before heading south.  I fully expected that my journey south would end before I reached the beach in Manasquan, which expectation was fueled by my mistaken belief that water separated Sea Girt from Manasquan.  Five-plus miles south, as I stood on the jetty of the Manasquan side of the Manasquan Inlet and looked across the inlet to the Point Pleasant Beach side, I was ecstatic to have learned the error of my ways.  

On a Sunday worthy of the name, under blue skies that reinforce my belief that weather indeed has no memory, I covered ten-plus miles down by the waterline.  No musical accompaniment needed.  Just the sound of the ocean to keep me company...well, along with the thousands of dead mussels and the gulls feasting upon them at low tide.  

Once upon a lifetime ago, someone (Rod Stewart, I think) crooned that every picture tells a story. Think of this, I guess, as the story of an Old Man and the Sea, as it unfolded bright and early on Sunday morning...

Shortly after sunrise - 17th Avenue Beach (Belmar)

The Journey's Beginning - 17th Avenue Beach

Spring Lake on the journey south

Beach in Manasquan on the journey south

A view east from the jetty on the 'Squan side
Manasquan Inlet

Westward view from the 'Squan side of the jetty
Manasquan Inlet

"Proof of Life" shot on homeward leg 
Sea Girt

From down by the waterline on journey home
Sea Girt

Moving north on the way home
Spring Lake

Almost home...

The Journey's End - 17th Avenue Beach


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Penultimate Go-Round

On Saturday, September 23, 2017, albeit not in celebration of the as yet-not-recognized (although not for lack of trying on the part of Yours truly) national holiday that the birthday of Bruce Springsteen should be, Sue's Crew shall lace them up yet again.  This year's edition of the Crew, the Ninth, is the second-to-last edition.  All good things come to an end, after all.  2017 brings us one step closer to the end of a most unfortunate, yet inspirational endeavor.

Margaret and Me - Sue's Crew II (2010)
(She's no taller now than then but I'm much grayer)

This year's undertaking carries a bit greater significance than past ones have for me because of Mom's death in June.  Mom carried the battle scars of her ferocious fight against Stage IV breast cancer with her for the final three-plus decades of her life.  And while it was not cancer that finally took her life in early June (one day later than her great friend and Crew namesake, Suzy B., had passed away in June, 2009), its presence in her day-to-day for more than thirty years certainly did not help her cause. 

To register for this race, you simply need to go to this link and follow the instructions the YMCA has provided.  I do not mean to imply that on-line registration is an idiot-proof process but I am an idiot and I figured it out.  

For one and all who have participated in past years and those who shall do so this year, whether again or for the first time, our heartfelt thanks to you for doing so.  


Monday, July 17, 2017

Back On The Bicycle

Barring something unforeseen, today will be the first of what shall likely be several days spent on trial in Morris County.  Happiness is a twenty-minute commute to and from court for trial...especially since it was supposed to be tried in Sussex County, which would have meant an almost an hour each way in the car.  I have not yet exercised a single peremptory challenge and I am already a winner.

Me?  It's not easy being me...


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Thought Morsels

Running country is everywhere.
Open your door and you're in business.
Run in a schoolyard.  At the beach.
In a vacant lot. 
- Bill Bowerman

Coach Bowerman in his lifetime forgot more about running than I shall learn were I to live to the age of one hundred, which interests me almost as little as it does you.  Trust me.  Taking his wise words to heart, this morning I did one of my favorite things.  I used the beach as my "running country".  

The neat thing about running down by the waterline is that I have less need for music to keep me company than I have when I run on the boardwalk or on the road.  There might very well be a better acoustical accompaniment to one's morning run than the sound of waves crashing onto the sand but I know not what it is.  For me, it is a sound that puts me at peace.  And in the absence of music, it opens my brain up to ponder something other than the lyrics of a particular song.  Not big, complex thoughts mind you.  Consider the source, after all.  Something smaller.  A snack. A tidbit.  A morsel. Ah, happiness is the thought morsel. 

It occurs to me that it might be easier to suppress the desire to punch DJT, Jr. in the face, which response in me is triggered even BEFORE he opens the orifice in his face's center, if he did not, with his permanent smirk and his lacquered hair, awaken the echoes in my mind of just about every douche bag "bad guy" character in every movie John Hughes made in the 1980's.  But for the fact that he is the visual representation of Webster's definition of "rich prick", it might almost be possible for me to cut him slack every now and again. Well, right up until he starts to exercise the aforementioned facial orifice.  For those keeping score at home, he is someone you can fairly label as "entitled", a term that tends to be egregiously misused.  At least, in my experience. 

Also, it seems to me also that the time and energy of any reasonable Republicans and Democrats in Congress is better spent than by doing what Congressman Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California, is doing presently. I do not know Rep. Sherman, either personally or politically, but I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt that this particular Quixotic quest has a good-faith basis and his not his attempt to fulfill his own, personal Warholian prophecy.  As a Republican, and more importantly as an American who is more than a bit troubled regarding our nation's current trajectory, I implore you to listen to me on this one point:  MIKE PENCE IS NOT A GOOD HUMAN BEING. Spend a minute or ten examining his position on any number of issues - particularly those that impact the rights of women and of homosexuals - before you embrace the notion of him ascending to the Presidency as a good idea.  

There is no zealot as scary as the stealthy zealot - the one who looks like your uncle or, perhaps, the proprietor of the neighborhood hardwood store - but whose personal political bent is so far tilted to one side of the political spectrum that he views those opposed to him not as adversaries but as enemies. Pence is a stealthy zealot.  As long as Mitch McConnell has a District of Columbia mailing address, Pence will not be the District's most wretched elected official. His spot on that competition's medal platform is nevertheless secure.   

On a day on which it might seem difficult to attain the motivation necessary to get out of bed, it bears remembering that the presence of McConnell, Pence, DJT, Jr., and Yours truly on this planet is counterbalanced by truly exceptional, wonderful human beings.  The latter's number includes, but is by no means limited to, twenty-year-old United States Marine Dan Baldassare of Colts Neck, New Jersey and his fifteen fellow service members who were killed in a plane crash Monday night in Mississippi.  It also includes (again for purposes of illustration and not limitation) the approximately eighty people on the beach in Panama City, Florida who formed a human chain to rescue people, including children, who had become endangered by a rip current.  

Thought morsels.  They are not just for breakfast anymore. 


Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Current Situation of Desmond and Molly Jones

We have arrived, for all intents and purposes, at July's midway.  Already.  Summer, the season, is less than thirty days old.  Summer, the feeling, is already moseying towards the exit.  It will be August in an eye blink, then September, then the autumn and - well, you get the idea.  Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, right? 

Summer, thus far, has gone where time always goes - whizzing by me at one hundred-plus miles per hour.  As I get older, my speed has decreased (from a crawl to "barely moving at all") but time's has continued, unrelenting and unabated.  Maggie, the little human whose existence makes my heart the happiest is already more than two months old. Mom, the not-so-little human whose death broke that very same heart, is already gone a month and a half.  

If Life is in fact a highway, it seems to me that a significant amount of one's energy is necessarily devoted to not being reduced to a road apple.  I know not how one knows how successful one has been in that particular endeavor.  

I suspect most of us never know for certain.  Present company included.