Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My Beautiful Pennsylvania

"PA Grand Canyon"

During my childhood in Wenonah, New Jersey, I found that South Jersey was quite flat. As a family in the 70s and 80s, we would drive to the Jersey shore towards Ocean City or Strathmere. Dad and Mom preferred driving the back roads, winding our way down through corn fields and tomato fields, then through cranberry bogs. Or we would drive through miles and miles of Pine Barrens. Not a hill in sight, just miles of flat fields or, with the Pine Barrens, miles of forests. That's what I grew up with and that's what I knew. The trip to the shore only broken that up in terms of marshes and wetlands. Still flat, but just a different terrain.

When I was a young child of six or seven, my father brought me to the home of his dear friend Dr. Rachel DuBois, an esteemed author and educator, for a summer visit. She was diminutive in stature but enormous in terms of wisdom. Dr. DuBois also happened to live on one of the highest hills in South Jersey. We drove up and up and still further up a long gravel driveway. Why, we were above the very treetops themselves!

How far up are we Dad? I asked astonished.
Well, we are on one of the highest points in South Jersey, He answered surveying the view.
WOW, was all that I could muster...

Years later in the 80s, I would travel to see my grandparents, Leslie and Lavina Haynes, who lived in Pueblo, Colorado. We would drive out through farmland, ranches, and desert as far as the eye could see. I even once say a tornado miles away slowly making its way across the horizon.

The view was suddenly overtaken by the great looming Rocky Mountains running straight through the middle of Colorado. Pikes Peak, 14,000 plus feet in all of its glory, rose up over the prairieland and the surrounding Rockies. It's height was awe-inspiring and at the same time unfathomable to this South Jersey born kid. I had never seen anything like it.

When I turned 21, I moved into Philly. Prior to this my family would take day trips to the Brandywine Valley in Chester County or the Amish County out in Lancaster County. Brandywine farms and fields are interspersed with a forested ruggedness cut through by many a lively brook forcing its way through the lands. Amish country in turn is a patchwork of extremely well manicured farms being worked by the salt of the Earth.

The rolling hills of the coastal plain are dotted by many towns or villages, white or stone farmhouses, barns and silos. The green hills eventually stop at the foot of the last Appalachian chain, the long Blue Mountain. This formidable wall stretches diagonally for 255 miles from Maryland to New Jersey. Beyond that, the old Appalachians continue their drive through the Wilds of Pennsylvania to the top of the state. During one of my many "teachings" and discussions with my father, I specifically remember him telling me of how the Appalachians curved their way northward. And now how ironic that I live in a community named Lake Wynonah nestled between these ranges.

I love my state of Pennsylvania with its ancient mountains rising up North as far as the eye can see, one after another. The rolling hills and farmland of Eastern Pennsylvania are cut in two by the mighty Susquehanna River meandering through the state, ever widening to an impossible width at the southern most portion. Countless waterfalls and rocky, mountain streams eventually make their way into this incredible river.
"Winter in Lake Wynonah, PA"

Due to my frazzled nature, part of me loves Pennsylvania because it always seems to be a safe stable state to live in. Sure we have the occasional rare earthquake or tornado. Major rains and storms barrel through from the West and sometimes floods follow. Heat waves struck in July or August. In fall and winter, a nasty Nor' Easter or a late hurricane spin through the state sometimes causing destruction. Our winter blizzards, ice and snow storms dot the cold winter months. But we seem to be very lucky. I count on the stability of the four seasons and look forward to each one bringing it's own distinct beauty and unique experiences.

I am continuously delighted by the flora and fauna which I come across in my hikes and travels. Eastern hemlocks and mountain laurel abound statewide. I have been lucky to spy or view many of our state's animals in their natural habitats: black bears, countless deer, elk, skunk, raccoons, coyote, porcupines, weasels, beavers, grey and red foxes, flying squirrels, eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, turkey vultures, pheasants, many wild turkeys and our state bird, the ruffed grouse. I have yet to spy a bobcat but have seen evidence of several while hiking. I would also love to see an otter one day, or a mountain lion ... from the safety of my car.

South Jersey will always be my original home state but I've settled quite comfortably in Pennsylvania, now having lived here longer than New Jersey.  I am very lucky to reside in such a beautiful state.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Trying to Call my Dad

July 2017 "Dad and me"

I was watching a movie this past lazy Sunday afternoon, a romantic comedy. The central character's father dies. It's a sad scene tinged with comedic moments as happens in rom-coms. She attends the funeral and gives the eulogy. It's a touching scene.

It made me melancholy thinking about how much I miss my departed Mother but also how much I love my Dad. I wiped away a tear and I decided to call him right then there and tell him I love him. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed his number in California.

A pre-recorded operator answers and states "All circuits are busy, please try your call again later. Welcome to Verizon. Please try your call again later."

I started laughing out loud exclaiming.... "Whaaaaat?".  It just figured.

I called a couple more times to no avail. No calls were going through. Then I got worried. Was there an earthquake which knocked out power? I checked the local media, even the LA Times online website, nothing.

There was one on February 6th, a 4.4, which occurred 13 miles from Arcata. Back on March 22nd of 2018, there was a 4.6 off of the coast. Luckily no tsunami warnings were issued. So, it's always in the back of my mind when I can't get in touch with the Humbolt County Haynes Family.

Maybe they had gone away for the day? Did I pay my cell phone bill? Was a storm happening? Different scenarios went through my mind as the day progressed. I am such a worry-wart.

I finally got in touch with him at around 6 pm East coast time. Their power had just been restored. Dad and Martha woke up to a surprise 6 inches of snow dumped on them the previous evening. Branches were down, the snow was heavy and wet. The power went off and they had no heat for the day. AND Martha's close friend was visiting from San Francisco! Welcome to Arcata!

He was so excited to tell me about the rare snowfall that I completely forgot to tell him half of the things I had been meaning to!

I convinced Dad NOT to shovel. I know my stepbrother Scott will help dig them out. He and I had a nice convo about this health and how he was doing. We tend to talk over each other out of habit, then stop and apologize and urge each other to continue. And then we both start talking over each other again. LOL.

It was great to hear his voice. And I did tell him that I loved him. Make sure you remember to tell your parent(s) you love them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Winter Poems

"Lake Wynonah Snow"

For my 24th Frazzled at Forty podcast
episode entitled, "Snowcast", I discussed all things snow while taking a snow day from work. I hate to say it but when you are an adult and take a snow day, it usually does not mean it's gonna be that fun. It usually comes down to spending your day shoveling at different times to keep up with the snow OR doing housework, dishes, laundry etc.

This particular snow day was no different. I enjoyed my morning coffee and grabbed a bite to eat the day's news but then I got my ass up to work on stuff around the house. I also took a nap for a bit. Well shoveling is exhausting! Or perhaps it was the whiskey I was sipping while shoveling....

At the end of each podcast, I recite a famous quote which is complimentary to the topic at hand. For the "Snowcast" podcast, I decided to do something different and recite a winter poem. I enjoyed researching the winter poetry and read close to 15. I settle on the two below. One by Romantic poet Thomas Hardy and the other by the famed American poet Robert Frost.

Frazzled at Forty Podcast:

The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy  1900

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
     Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
     Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seems to be
     The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
     he Wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
     Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
     Seemed as fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
     The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
     Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush frail, gaunt, and small,
     In blast-beruffled plum,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
     Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
     Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
     Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
     his happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
     And I was unaware.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost  1922

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Childhood and Adult Musings

Frazzled Marc as a Babe 1970 😊

Years ago when my Mother was alive, she once told me of two miscarriages that she had early in her life. At least one was before my sister. Maybe both were, I don't remember her specifically telling me when they occurred. I don't even remember how we got on the sad subject but her telling me of those miscarriages stuck with me. I sometimes think about those children which she had lost. Those brothers or sisters which did not make it. I could have had other biological siblings besides Adam or Sheryl.

I do remember the sadness in her eyes and face as she thought about them. She was of course so thankful for the children she had but I could sense her mind wandering as we talked about it, perhaps thinking about what could've been.

It is kind of an odd thing to ponder I guess. For if they had not passed away during the pregnancy, I may not have been conceived at all. In some weird twist of fate, I guess I have them to be thankful for, those unnamed children which had come before me. Their life and very early death paved the way for Sheryl, Adam and Marc's existence.

Another interesting thing which my Mother had told me was that I was almost named Alex. It is kind of unsettling as obviously my entire identity is intertwined with the name Marc … with a "C". Someone told me once that they could see me as an Alex. I don't know, 48 years as Marc has taken a hold of my psyche! Marc is frazzled, an Alex seems to put together. Ha-ha!

Mom had also stated that I when I was born into this world, I was very loud and cried immediately. Well THAT doesn't surprise me! I'm still loud but I only cry now when I watch those darn ASCPA commercials with the abused dogs and cats.

I often think about who I am and my purpose here on this planet. I try to give and have joy in my life. I also try to experience more as I get older. I find that I have less connection to all of the items I have collected in my life. I've started giving things away to those who I think will enjoy them. Sure, I still love my nic-nacs, but I am less likely to hold onto them anymore or add to the collection of dust-collectors which I surround myself with. "Experiences" are now becoming much more important to me.

One of the latest trends which is if I am not mistaken, a Japanese trend promoted by the author and expert organizer Marie Kondo, is to declutter your home and life by taken an object, looking at it and questioning to yourself, "Does this bring me joy?" If it does, you keep it. If it does not, then it gets tossed or donated.

I have begun to do that with my nic-nacs. If I don't have joy from them, I pass them on. Hopefully someone else will feel the joy that they once brought me. This is an excellent way to regain control of your life and living space while focusing on enjoying the experiences in life.

As one gets older, they begin to hopefully look at the bigger picture of it all: what is meaningful and what is not worth the trouble. This can refer to experiences, items, or even relationships with people. Where I used to sometimes revel in competition or confrontation, I take that step back, weigh my options and more often than not, take a pass. It just isn't worth my aggravation.

Ah wisdom, what a late but welcome friend you are!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Stuff I Learned Cabin Camping

Worlds End State Park    


This weekend, I will be going up to Sullivan County Pennsylvania to look at a cabin for sale with the Big Ragu. For the past 10+ years, we've traveled up there a couple times of year to Worlds End State Park to go hiking and chill. Usually we go over Thanksgiving. We figured let's start looking for a cabin in the mountains so we have someplace permanently to unwind over the weekends.

Nothing set in stone yet, just starting to look. Depends on finances, the perfect cabin, location, etc. If we aren't gonna make a major move somewhere else, we'd like to invest in a small place to go to whenever the urge hits.

Over this past Thanksgiving, the Big Ragu and I stayed up at Worlds End State Park for the long holiday weekend. We rent a rustic cabin and usually put on a smoked turkey for the holiday. It's been the 8th or 9th year we've been doing it. Lotsa fun. It also really relaxes you just to get away. I love getting back to the peace and serenity of nature.

During one of my down times, I thought about things I've learned on previous camping trips. I recorded a podcast about it but wanted to do the blog version as well. Here they are in no particular order. Just some rustic nuggets of wisdom:
  1. Always wear flip flops in the camp shower. You never know what that slime is.
  2. You will either be constipated or have the runs. Pepto is your friend.
  3. Duct tape works wonders with minor cuts and can help take out splinters.
  4. Cleanliness becomes very subjective in terms of the body, dishes, bed linen, etc.
  5. You get used to your own funk. I’ve gone 3 days before without showering. But 3 days is long enough for me. Don’t be surprised if you need to air out the sleeping back!
  6. Handy wipes work wonders and can keep down da funk.
  7. Knives and dishes can be cleaned with hand sanitizer in a pinch.
  8. You do things you normally wouldn’t do like just wipe off utensils so there’s no visible dirt or leftover food.
  9. Fingers and tissues work as a good substitute for Q-tips
  10. Any spice goes a long way with camp food. Hot sauce becomes a staple.
  11. Having a mouse in the cabin becomes an acceptable fact. Seal up the food!
  12. One of the greatest experiences is just staring and becoming mezmorized by the campfire or fire in the wood stove. It's just so beautiful and hypnotic. 
  13. There is a bonafide art to making a good fire. After 10 years, I've mastered it. 
  14. Alcohol is not allowed in the state park system. OK? (wink wink)
  15. My favorite thing to do: bourbon by the fire, toasted marshmallows, and cigars!
  16. The stars never looked so crisp and bright in the late fall moonlight and sometimes you don’t even need the flashlights, only the moonlight to guide you. Another hypnotic thing about camping. :) 
  17. A puffy jacket makes a good second pillow. So does heavy sweat shirts and pants.
  18. Waking up in the morning in the extreme cold is the most hated part. Which to do first? Coffee or fire ... or pee?
  19. Peeing at 3 am in the woods in not fun. If you have to do more, you hold it.
  20. If you pee at 3 am, things shrink. LOL 
  21. A skunk can be easily mistaken for a black and white cat in the middle of the night.
  22. You don’t mind the occasional mouse, the chipmunks or squirrels. You may even name them. You still mind the skunks though.
  23. I love smelling the camp fire smell on my clothes or jackets a week after camping.
  24. Water will freeze in the cabin after the fire goes out. I woke up this fall to a frozen water bottle. 
Anything else I missed?
LOL This was fun to write. I love my camping and of course cabin camping which is a step up, but still can be rustic. Remember this list and you may not be so surprised. But I will say a skunk or even a mouse still surprises me!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Stuff in my Car

Stuff just in the center armrest compartment! 

I have had a bad habit in the past of leaving my spare cell phone charger in my car. After I get home from work I usually try to grab it and put it in my messenger bag to be used later in the evening either in the family room or kitchen. I usually try to do this but this didn't happen the other day.

John had asked to borrow the spare charger as he misplaced his two chargers. I was amiss as to where it was. It wasn't in the house so I figured I must've left it in the car on the front seat. Or perhaps it fell between them. I did remember grabbing it on the way out of office.

Now my main turbo charger is plugged in behind my nightstand by the bed. It's just annoyingly difficult to reach if I need it so I usually keep it plugged in and use it at night. And there was no way I was giving up my turbo charger for him.

I did offer to go out to the car and look for the spare charger. I guess John could've plugged in his phone on my nightstand for a bit. My brain didn't get that far. LOL 😊

My best gal, my Camry
The charger was not in the car! UGH. I checked between the seats, under the seats, in the back seat, in the center armrest, in the glove compartment and even in the trunk. NOTHING. I was getting annoyed. But then I realized something, I had a lot of random crap, useless crap, and car-related crap in my car. So I forgot about the charger and began just looking and cataloging everything in my car. The list below is the result of that search. And like my usual frazzled life, it is in no particular order.

Now I insist that my car is not dirty, except for the chicken nugget, pretzels and carrot found below the seat. I just have a lot of stuff in it!


Sunglasses which I fit over my regular glasses while driving towards the morning sun and then I look like a complete dork
Wrap around sunglasses which I forget I have but when I wear them, I look like I'm 70.
Hand grip exerciser in the driver's side door pocket
A ball of tin foil
$1.17 in loose change found in both door pockets, in the glove compartment, in the seats and under the drivers seat.
An expired AAA card
A lotto ticket for a free ticket
Several non-winning lotto tickets
Several pens and one disassembled pen. Two of the five pens do not write.
2006 Toyota Camry guide
Extra car bulbs and an expired drivers license
A half dozen store extra value cards
An LA baseball cap in the trunk. I was mocked by my family members because they said no one buys an LA baseball cap when in LA. LOL Probably right.
An old stained and bleached Yuengling Lager beer baseball cap
An Elmer Fudd orange fur hunting cap (in case the case breaks down in the winter)
2 sets gloves
1 set light gloves black
1 set light gloves red
4 sets of emergency reflectors
First aid kit
Cough drops
Reusable grocery bags to save the Earth
3 oil funnels
One moustache-patterned cloth trash bag
1 Gautelmalan worry doll named Consuela
Portable tire inflater
Tire repair goo in a can (which I don't think works)
Various cds: Madonna, 70s disco, 70s rock, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Sinatra
Snow tracks if I get stuck in the snow
Snow shovel if I have to dig my way out
2 windshield covers
Windshield cleaner (as seen on TV)
A can of windshield ice defroster, 2 cans
Keyhole defroster (does a lot of good for me keeping it INSIDE the car)
Tissues, 2 boxes
Chinese-made buck knife
A cross for protection
A Mezzuzah for protection
A car Buddha for protection
Chewing gum, Orbitz
Fresh naps
Old maps
Food menus and a couple aren't even open anymore. For a while I was putting the menus on my friend Jack Ross's windshield to jokingly drive him crazy.
A seashell which was my Mom's
Old hotel lotion
A book of matches from the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood
A chicken nugget
Some pretzels
A baby carrot
2 pairs of scissors
20 ft of rope
Several bungee cords
Books and DVDs I have meant to donate 4 months ago
One dead flashlight
Windshield tool which will smash the windshield
1 burgundy umbrella
Old cell phone charges I won't use anymore because they don't even fit my new phone. I chucked 'em.
Blue shop towels
Regular paper towels
Emergency blanket (the spacey looking one, like you are covering yourself in a huge piece of tinfoil)
An electric portable tire inflator
A can of Fix-a-Flat Tire Inflator
Various Dunkin Donut, bank, and gas receipts
A hammer and a small screwdriver set
Two writing pads and more pens
USB adapters
One good Jabra hands free device
2 old Jabra hands free devices. I chucked 'em too.
car mats

Oh and by the way, after ALL OF THAT, my spare cell phone charger was NOT in my car. It was in the side pocket of my messenger bag the entire time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Different Clothes, Different Times

90s Marc in my favorite club shirt (With Ritz-Carlton besties Grant and Serena)

Do others mourn the loss of a favorite piece of clothing? That favorite shirt gets bleached and we have to toss it. A favorite sweater gets an unmanageable pull and it can't be salvaged. That pair of sneaks which are so old and worn, they may walk away themselves. Or sometimes it's as simple as a favorite shirt getting washed so many times it has shrunk down to where it no longer fits. (Um meee and ma belly! LOL)

I had to "retire" a favorite shirt a couple weeks back. I did so with a bit of sadness as I have enjoyed wearing it these last couple years at work. I tend to favor blues in some form or another. It has sort of become a signature color for me. This one lasted way longer than it should have. It "served me well" you could say. The picture to the below right is it's replacement "blue shirt."

I still have a another fav blue shirt from way back in my Philly days. It's a dark blue button down from H&M clothing store and let's say it's ... WOW almost 20 years old! It is actually in pretty good shape. Some clothing designers are such classic looks that you can getaway with mixing older pieces into your current wardrobe.

The late 70s Glassboro State windbreaker!

In my Favorite Color! (9/2018)
I have a large yellow windbreaker from Glassboro State College which was my Mom's from the late 70s. It's that nylon material which is pretty indestructible, perfect for the Fall or Spring. I also have a t-shirt from my Phi Kappa Psi fraternity college days harkening back to the late 80s. Great stuff. I wore the t-shirt to a fraternity reunion this past May. Still fits, although the Dad-bod beer belly is starting to show prominently. 😊 

From my clubbing days in the 90s I have this polyester skin tight grey shirt as well as a retro flashy bright blue one. They barely fit me these days but still bring me back to great memories ... those that I actually remember from my Roaring 20s! Fun times. I laugh thinking that I actually fit into and wore that stuff out and about.

I have an authentic vintage 60s dark blue Navy pea-coat which I wore for years. I still say it's the warmest winter coast I've ever worn which doesn't make me feel like a bloated snowman! The pockets do need to be sewn. I've been meaning to sew them for a good year now. Whelp, LOL, since last season! I think I'll finally do that before it gets too cold. I love that coat.

I used to have these baggy JNCO brand skateboard jeans I used to wear circa '96 or '97. I don't know what I was thinking. I imagine I looked quite ridiculous but they were in style for the clubs for a bit.

With my great Fraternity bros in my vintage '88 Phi Psi t-shirt! (5/2018)
Then again, I rocked the Z. Cavaricci's in the late 80s too! I had 6 pairs in different olors. Now those jeans were quite the investment. I spent all my hard earned cash on them at the local men's stores Oaktree and Chess King at the Deptford Mall. I remember spending $75/pair back then which comes to $160/pair in today's money! ( WOW. No wonder my Mom would freak out when I came home with a pair. I even had a Z. Cavaricci suit I wore to a fraternity formal. Hey baby, I was in style! My sister and I also always shopped at the trendy Canadian store Le Chateau. I was obsessed over their ties. Places like that were good for trendy items but not to much for the classics. I then moved onto Banana Republic and Kenneth Cole  (when I could afford them). H&M also became the clothing store of choice for me later in my Philly days.

I will say though that some clothes are worth keeping and get better the longer you wear them. Think about that comfortable holy sweatshirt or that frayed bathrobe. Some people hold onto pairs of Chuck Taylors until the end of the earth! I like a great pair of jeans which has been worn so long the cotton gets softer and just hugs your body. Talk about comfortable.  I wish I still had a pair of those Z. Cavaricci's though just to see if I could fit in 'em.