Two Fridays ago, I set out to spend a couple of days in Cape May with Dan and Paul and then an overnight stay with Granny in Bridgeton. I was somewhat reluctant to go. I didn't want to leave my Rudy. But he was in good hands with Tony, and I really felt like I needed to get out of the city for a while.
When I posted the photo of the Chocolate-Cherry Ice Cream on Facebook, Dan asked whether there was any left I could bring to Cape May. Tony and I had actually just been talking about the feasibility of using dry ice to transport some of my Coffee and Double Mint Chocolate Chip ice creams to South Jersey; the Chocolate-Cherry was all eaten at the office.
Tony did some research online and determined that it wouldn't be easy. I know that some companies ship ice cream in dry ice, but for me to do that, I would have had to poke holes in my Igloo cooler to allow the sublimated carbon dioxide to dissipate. And I'd have had to protect the ice cream somehow to make sure it didn't get superfrozen and its texture ruined.
Later, I realized I already had everything I needed to get four pints of the ice creams to South Jersey and I should go for it. Tony had bought me cardboard pint containers and lids and a FlexiFreeze bag because he figured they would make it easier to transport my ice cream to the Game Party. The bag was the perfect size to hold four pints, and it worked very well: The ice cream was softened, of course, by the time I put it in the freezer in Dan and Paul's trailer, but it wasn't soup.
For dinner that night, we went to the Bayshore Inn and ate at the bar. The food was really good. Unlike last time. The newish owners must have kicked up their game. I got a chicken steak sandwich with spinach and fries. Mmm.
I took a picture of the fellows at the bar.
The weather was pretty shitty that weekend. We had a few sunny hours on Saturday afternoon during which to hit the city beach, so I could add to my collection of beach tags.
But it got mighty windy after a while, so we didn't stay all that long.
Because it was rainy in the morning, we got our drink on early: Paul whipped up something with mint, raspberries, cantaloupe, lime juice, vodka, and soda that we began downing at 10:30. I had two of them.
That was after I had three small cups of caffeinated coffee; I usually stick to decaf. And later, after we abandoned the beach, we went for drinks at Carneys, and so I had two beers. All before 7 p.m. I'm no Mormon—I almost never drink chocolate milk anymore—but my body was messed up all day, wondering whether I was up or down.
While Dan took a nap on the beach (and Paul went off to meet the sandwich delivery guy), I took this surreptitious photo of Dan to capture his new physique. He's lost 17 pounds. Looking good! Actually, I think he's always looked good. So I'll say, Looking even better!
I also took a squinty selfie.
My new BFF for the weekend was Otto, a sweetie of a dog who belongs to a lesbian couple who have a trailer not far from D&P's. I really like Tori, one of Otto's mommies. I don't think I've met her partner, Cheryl.
Ooh, speaking of woofers, I'd meant to mention in my previous post that Alice, our wonderful doggie driver, had dropped off a card for Missy on her anniversary. She'd mailed it to "Missy Hawley-Pizur" with our correct address, though not the apartment number, and the post office returned it for "insufficient address." So she brought it over in person. That was so sweet of her.
Alice asked me if I remembered what day it was. I said I did: Missy's one-year anniversary with us. Inside the card, Alice wrote: "Missy, It may not be your 'actual' birthday, but it's your birthday with Rudy, Bill, and Tony. So have a very happy day and congrats from Jaz and me." Jaz is Alice's dog, aka Jazmine, who's pictured on the card.
On that Sunday, the guys went paddleboarding while I hung out at the campground and did a little blogging. I also rode my bike to the Westside Market to get a pork roll sandwich for lunch. I have to have pork roll while I'm in Cape May.
I also always have to pick a country music song of the weekend/summer. In a shocking twist, the CMSOTW/S was one I love that neither of the guys had ever listened to: Kristin Chenoweth's "What Would Dolly Do." First runner-up was Carrie Underwood's "All-American Girl," which Paul likes. Second runner-up was Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel," which Dan likes.
Before the fellows drove back to Trenton, we biked into town, and they got a late lunch at Cabanas.
Then we took a long walk—not quite a "death march"— from the city beach almost all the way to the Cape May Point lighthouse. Dan and Paul pointed out that there seemed to be smaller numbers of shorebirds this year.
Back at the campground, I took a selfie with D&P.
Dad came and got me the next morning, July 1, and I closed up the trailer: emptied the poop tank, shut off the hot water heater, etc. "Starting to rain here," I texted the guys just before Dad arrived. "Which isn't helping me one bit in getting rid of the troop of baboons that took over the trailer last night." Hee hee.
I asked Dad to bring a vase so we could take to Granny the gorgeous hydrangeas from D&P's garden they had brought down to the shore with them.
Like last year, Dad and I shared a delicious margarita pizza for lunch at Lucky Bones. I had a salad to start, and we split a piece of cheesecake with raspberry sauce for dessert.
I took a bunch of photos of Dad's garden and yard.
Dad tried square foot gardening this year. He likes it and plans to do another SFG setup.
Dad doesn't know how all this grass grew up so thickly in his basil patch. He didn't plant it. He said if he had intended to grow grass there, he probably couldn't have gotten this good germination. :-)
One of my favorite flowers, coreopsis
A hanging basket of portulaca
Coral red honeysuckle climbing up to the wren house
This is Dad's second year for the cascade of pots on a pole. This year, he put less-sun-loving plants at the bottom because he realized last year that the ones down below really got shaded.
We had dinner at DeLisi, where we were served the brown lettuce last year. I told Dad I'd rather go somewhere else, but he said it was our best option. He really enjoys DeLisi's tomato sauce. It is quite good. And we all like the garlic bread. We took a beer for Granny. Dad, Jean, and I shared a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.
It's very difficult spending time with Granny anymore. She's very childlike. We made her wait until her pasta came to let her start drinking the beer. If we hadn't, she would have drunk it really fast and been too full to eat much of her dinner.
Before this past Christmas, I spoke with my therapist about Granny. The year before, I had yelled at Granny—out of frustration that she kept repeating herself and also, if I remember correctly, because she said something about my finding "the right woman" to spend my life with—just before Tony and I left to go back to New York, and then I felt horrible about it on the drive home. My therapist said I had gotten mad at Granny because anger is the easiest emotion to experience. She said I needed to recognize the sadness I was feeling about Granny's condition. Granny and Pop Pop were very important to Tracey and me growing up. We saw a lot of them and often stayed overnight at their place on Saturday into Sunday. That she's now become like a child herself was something I needed to acknowledge. It was appropriate to mourn the relationship I'd lost with her. So I did. I cried and said I didn't think it was fair what had happened to Granny. She's lonely except for when Dad is around. He visits her a lot, but she still has many hours alone. She hates living by herself, without Pop, but she refuses to move into a nursing home or to let a home health aide help her out. So, of course, there's also frustration at her unwillingness/inability to change her circumstances.
When I saw her a couple of weeks ago, she said something about needing some help around the house. I told her she should have a home health aide come there. Oh no, she said. And I (gently) told her, you don't want to be alone but you don't want a visitor who can help you. And she agreed with me that she's old and doesn't know what she wants. And that's OK, I told her. So she does have moments of lucidity when she can acknowledge her situation.
Mostly, Gran talked about how many kids her parents had: maybe as many as 15, though only 9 lived to adulthood. She repeated the story of the time she asked her father why he and Granny's mom had had so many children, and he said he once went to sleep in the attic to get away from Granny's mom but her mom went upstairs to get him and told him to come sleep in the bed with her. Granny often names all of her siblings and herself in order from the oldest to the youngest: Ralph, Russ, Hap, Maude, Alice, Pearl, Dorothy, Bill, Bernice, and John (who died very young; Granny vividly remembers a neighborhood woman coming to take his body from Granny's mother, who didn't want to let him go).
At Dad and Jean's after dinner, we had some of my ice cream: Dad and Granny had coffee, and Jean and I had the mint chocolate chip. Dan and Paul had enjoyed the coffee ice cream but still preferred my MCC. It rocks!
Dad, Jean, and I had to have breakfast at Green Olive the next morning, so it would count as an official visit to the greater Bridgeton area. (Granny didn't feel like going out to eat.) And then D&J drove me to the train station in Philadelphia to catch the Amtrak home.
I was so happy to see my doggies when I made it back to the apartment. And they felt the same way.
The next day, on my lunch break from work, I went to the Union Square Greenmarket to pick up a few things. I was so excited to see celtuce at the Mountain Sweet Berry Farm stand. I had been intrigued by the notion of a lettuce that's grown mostly for its stem when Tony and I had seen it in our Baker Creek seed catalog.
I braised the peeled and sliced stems and threw the plucked leaf toppers in at the last minute. It was very mildly flavored, but I enjoyed the texture and the taste that was there. And it went very well with the ras el hanout–dusted salmon and roasted potatoes Tony cooked up for us.
On the 4th, Rich and Vince came over to watch the fireworks with us.
The Empire State Building looked amazing, with its changing display of LED lights. Check out this clip, which is far better than anything I could have captured on my phone camera, though we do have a very nice view of the ESB from our greenhouse.
The Schultieses came over for dinner on Sunday. Abbe and Zane know that Rudy is very sick, and Zane said he wanted to say goodbye to him.
I gave the kids a very small salad, and Zane gobbled it up. Abbe ate hers too. Bob didn't like his salad, though. It was probably the celery seeds in the dressing, he said. Zane was going to eat his father's salad too, but I had put some vidalia onion from my Dad's garden on the adults' salads and Zane didn't want the onion and he didn't feel like eating around it. (I had almost put some onion on the kids' salads, but Tony had warned me that they wouldn't eat it.) So, in summary: Zane, only somewhat picky; Bob, very picky. :-) I also put celery leaves in with the mixed lettuces. I would have included some celery stalks, like I'd done the previous day in a salad I'd made for Tony and me, but the stalks had gone limp overnight. So we couldn't have triple celery magic again.
All of the food was wonderful, mostly thanks to Tony. I lightly sauteed shaved strips of cucumber with chopped dill. And I sliced and steamed wedges of russet potatoes to prepare them for Tony to roast. Oh, and I sliced star-shaped summer squash to prepare them for Tony to grill. But Tony did the roasting and grilling, both the squash and the Newport steaks he'd bought at Florence Meat Market.
Here's the whole gang. Tony was still working on his salad because the rest of us had eaten ours (or not) while he was manning the grill.
The Schultieses brought very good potato salad, which I helped finish off over the next couple of days, and chunks of watermelon. And wine. None of us was crazy about the Italian rosé, but we enjoyed the reliable 2011 Wyatt Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Selvagrossa Muschen, a blend of sangiovese, merlot, and cab franc.
For dessert, I had made gluten-free brownies and a cherry sauce and a minty icing to put on top. I had one with the icing first and then one with the cherry sauce. I dug them both.
Bob took photos of Zane and Abbe with the Rudester right before the Schultieses left for Park Slope.
Many of our flowers are coming along nicely now.
Zinnias: Tequila Lime and Queen Red Lime varieties, from Burpee
Love-in-a-mist, aka nigella: They haven't gotten very tall at all, but they're starting to produce the gorgeous seed pods they're known for.
The bachelor's buttons have a similar palette, but they throw in a burgundy color.
The caladiums are going gangbusters. By which I mean, they're literally busting up gangs!
Before I left for Cape May, our serviceberry trees, especially the one closest to our kitchen door, were rapidly dropping their leaves. Tony figured out it was likely a combination of apple scab and not enough water. He's been soaking them with water, and they're coming back nicely even though the one near the door is likely to be pretty bare until the spring.