Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun Stuff To Do During the Winter

Winter can be dull. Winter can be boring. No one wants to do anything. Everyone suffers from SAD!!!! (Seasonal Affective Disorder for all of you non-psycho types.)  Well in the words of Cher in Moonstruck, "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

Winter does not have to be any of the above! There is so much to do, you just gotta get off your lazy winterized ass and do it!  You need to bundle up and get out, or do something fun in the warmth of your own home. With a little creativity, you can enjoy yourself and for a short time, forget that Old Man Winter is knocking at your door!

I used to plan drink nights out with friends when I lived in Philly. I would plan several in January and February just to get out of the house and forget about winter. They were so much fun. I had a steady group of about 10 or so friends come out once every 3-4 weeks for dinner and drinks at different hot spots in the city. It was the Ritz-Carlton crowd I worked with along with some other close friends of mine. People brought people, new friendships were born, it was fun. Unfortunately when I moved further and further into the 'burbs, I didn't get together as often. It's these days where I really do value those "reunions" in Philly. I have a lunch planned in Philly this weekend with 5 close friends from the hotel and I am so looking forward to it!

Here is a list of some fun things in the winter time to beat the wintertime doldrums! Some of them involve money, others do not. Some involve friends, and some do not! It's all about having fun!

1. Have lunch with some of your best friends. Do appetizers at one restaurant, entrees at another, then dessert and coffee at another!

2. Shop with friends at several different stores for a perfect outfit for a night out in the future. Pick one store for shoes, another for the dress/outfit, and another for accessories. Then have drinks and pick which night you will show off your fabulous new outfit.

3. Forget the museums, shop the day away at all the different museum gift shops in your city. (This is a GREAT idea my sister Sheryl came up with and actually had a blast doing up in NYC!)


4. Have drinks and then movies! It makes the movie so much more enjoyable (Even if it sucks!)

5. Rent old movies, bad movies, sappy romantic movies, action flicks, or whatever floats your boat! Spend a day and watch a at least two or three. Make popcorn, fun drinks, and just eat your way through the afternoon.

6. Bundle up & go on a small hike in a nearby park or nature preserve. Bring hot chocolate!

7. Do a midnight hike in the woods under a full moon. Sounds crazy, right? I did this and it was so quiet and you could see everything. So cool!  (Just bring a flashlight along so you don't stray off the trail!)

8. Ski, snow tube, or snowboard the afternoon away at a nearby ski lodge and then enjoy dinner at their restaurant (try Bear Creek Mountain Resort, in Macungie, PA).

9. Revisit your childhood and buy a pair of goldfish! Name them ridiculous names like Romeo and Juliet, Matisse and Picasso, Laverne and Shirley, or Salt and Pepper.

10. Bundle up for an afternoon stroll on the boardwalk or beach! And if you are in Atlantic City, play those penny slots!

11. Get active and fit! Try a winter sport you have never tried such as ice skating, skiing, or even stay indoors and go roller skating!

12. Visit a great bookstore with a friend, splurge on a trashy novel, then read the first chapter over a hot steamy cappuccino in your favorite coffee house.

13. Buy a bird feeder and feed the poor birds which didn’t fly south for the winter. If you have bird houses, fill them with some wood chips or dry grass to make a winter overnight shelter for our feathered friends.

14. Buy plants or try your luck at a bonsai tree and bring nature indoors.

15. Go thrift store shopping in your nearby city. Hit Salvation Army, Goodwill, Green Street, and Philadelphia Aids Thrift if you are in Philly!

16. Go through your old photographs and pick out one of you and a friend or your favorite pet and frame it.

17. Buy flannel sheets & a new pillow & snuggle for a cold winters night!

18. Who says you have to only bake during the holidays! Bake your favorite cookies and then spoil dinner by munching on them hot out of the oven with hot chocolate or hot apple cider.

19. Go for high tea one afternoon at your favorite luxury hotel … or put together a high tea afternoon at your house for you and some friends. Include several types of tea, finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries!

20. Have a sports afternoon for you and your best buds. Watch any number of sports games on TV during the winter: football, basketball, hockey, winter sports, or the X- Games! Grab some microbrew that you have always wanted to try, make chili, and scream at the TV!

Whatever you do, make the best of winter. Don't hibernate! No one likes a shut-in ... except other shut-ins. As Victor Hugo said, "Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart."

Let eternal spring be in your heart, even during winter.

If You Live in New Jersey ...

I can't take credit for this, but wanted to post it. I love it and I am proud to be from New Jersey!!!

IF YOU LIVE IN NEW JERSEY:


If you live in or have ever lived in Jersey ...you'll appreciate this...if not, you may be surprised!

New Jersey is a peninsula.
Highlands, New Jersey has the highest elevation along the entire eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida .
New Jersey is the only state where all of its counties are classified as metropolitan areas.
New Jersey has more race horses than Kentucky .
New Jersey has more Cubans in Union City (1 sq mi.) than Havana , Cuba .
New Jersey has the densest system of highways and railroads in the US .
New Jersey has the highest cost of living.
New Jersey has the highest cost of auto insurance.
New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation.
New Jersey has the most diners in the world and is sometimes referred to as the "Diner Capital of the World."
New Jersey is home to the original Mystery Pork Parts Club (no, not Spam): Taylor Ham or Pork Roll.
Home to the less mysterious but the best Italian hot dogs and Italian sausage w/peppers and onions.
North Jersey has the most shopping malls in one area in the world, with seven major shopping malls in a 25 square mile radius.
New Jersey is home to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island .
The Passaic River was the site of the first submarine ride by inventor John P. Holland.
New Jersey has 50+ resort cities &towns; some of the nation's most famous: Asbury Park , Wildwood, Atlantic City , Seaside Heights , Long Branch , Cape May .
New Jersey has the most stringent testing along our coastline for water quality control than any other seaboard state in the entire country.
New Jersey is a leading technology &industrial state and is the largest chemical producing state in the nation when you include pharmaceuticals.
Jersey tomatoes are known the world over as being the best you can buy.
You haven't lived until you have eaten New Jersey sweet Corn.
New Jersey is the world leader in blueberry and cranberry production (and here you thought Massachusetts ?)
Here's to New Jersey - the toast of the country! In 1642, the first brewery in America , opened in Hoboken .
New Jersey rocks! The famous Les Paul invented the first solid body electric guitar in Mahwah, in 1940.
New Jersey is a major seaport state with the largest seaport in the US , located in Elizabeth . Nearly 80 percent of what our nation imports comes through Elizabeth Seaport first.
New Jersey is home to one of the nation's busiest airports (in Newark ), Liberty International.
George Washington slept here. Several important Revolutionary War battles were fought on New Jersey soil, led by General George Washington.
The light bulb, phonograph (record player), and motion picture projector, were invented by Thomas Edison in his Menlo Park , NJ , laboratory.
We also boast the first town ever lit by incandescent bulbs.
The first seaplane was built in Keyport , NJ .
The first airmail (to Chicago ) was started from Keyport , NJ .
The first phonograph records were made in Camden , NJ .
New Jersey is home to the Miss America Pageant held in Atlantic City .
The game Monopoly, played all over the world, named the streets on its playing board after the actual streets in Atlantic City .
And, Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world.
Not to mention salt water taffy...
New Jersey has the largest petroleum containment area outside of the Middle East countries.
The first Indian reservation was in New Jersey , in the Watchung Mountains .
New Jersey has the tallest water-tower in the world. Union , NJ !!!
New Jersey had the first medical center, in Jersey City .
The Pulaski SkyWay, from Jersey City to Newark , was the first skyway highway.
NJ built the first tunnel under a river, the Hudson (Holland Tunnel).
The first baseball game was played in Hoboken , NJ , which is also the birthplace of Frank Sinatra.
The first intercollegiate football game was played in New Brunswick in 1889 ( Rutgers College played Princeton ).
The first drive-in movie theater was opened in Camden , NJ , (but they're all gone now!).
New Jersey is home to both of " NEW YORK 'S" pro football teams!
The first radio station and broadcast was in Paterson , NJ .
The first FM radio broadcast was made from Alpine, NJ, by Maj. Thomas Armstrong.

All New Jersey natives: Moe Septee, Al Attermann, Howard Attermann, Sal Martorano, Jack Nicholson, Robert Attermann, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Jason Alexander, Steve Rosenbaum, Queen Latifah, Susan Sarandon, Connie Francis, Sam Rosenfarb, Shaq, Judy Blume, Aaron Burr, Ruth Septee, Joan Robertson, Ken Kross, Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughn, Lt. Aar on Attermann, Budd Abbott, Lou Costello, Alan Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Marilynn McCoo, Flip Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, Whitney Houston, Eddie Money, Lauren Sasha Attermann, Linda McElroy, Eileen Donnelly, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Walt Whitman, Jerry Lewis, Tom Cruise, Joyce Kilmer, Bruce Willis, Caesar Romero, Lauryn Hill, Ice-T, Nick Adams, Nathan Lane, Sandra Dee, Danny DeVito, Richard Conti, Joe Pesci, Joe Piscopo, Robert Blake, John Forsythe, Meryl Streep, Loretta Swit, Norman Lloyd, Paul Simon, Jerry Herman, Gorden McCrae, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta, Phyllis Newman, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Eva Marie Saint, Elisabeth Shue, Zebulon Pike, Elisa Septee Lunzer, Neal Attermann, James Fennimore Cooper, Admiral Wm.Halsey,Jr., Dave Thomas (Wendy's), William Carlos Williams, Ray Liotta, Robert Wuhl, Bob Reyers, Paul Robeson, Ernie Kovacs, Joseph Macchia and, of course, Francis Albert Sinatra and "Uncle Floyd" Vivino, Kelly Ripa.

Bob Meade adds: The Great Falls in Paterson , on the Passaic River , is the second highest waterfall on the East Coast of the US .

You know you're from Jersey when . .
You don't think of fruit when people mention "The Oranges."
You know that it's called Great Adventure, not Six Flags.
A good, quick breakfast is a hard roll with butter.
You've known the way to Seaside Heights since you were seven.
You've eaten at a diner, when you were stoned or drunk, at 3 A.M.
You know that the state isn't one big oil refinery.
At least three people in your family still love Bruce Springsteen, and you know the town Jon Bon Jovi is from.
You know what a "jug handle" is.
You know that WaWa is a convenience store.
You know that the state isn't all farmland.
You know that there are no "beaches" in New Jersey --there's the shore--and you don't go "to the shore," you go "down the shore."
And when you are there, you're not "at the shore"; you are "down the shore."
You know how to properly negotiate a circle.
You knew that the last sentence had to do with driving.
You know that this is the only "New" state that doesn't require "New" to identify it (try . . . Mexico . . . York .! . Hampshire-- doesn't work, does it?).
You know that a " White Castle " is the name of BOTH a fast food chain AND a fast food sandwich.
You consider putting mayo on a corned beef sandwich a sacrilege.
You don't think "What exit?" is very funny.
You know that people from the 609 area code are "a little different."

Yes they are!

You know that no respectable New Jerseyan goes to Princeton --that's for out-of-staters.
The Jets-Giants game has started fights at your school or local bar
You live within 20 minutes of at least three different malls.
You refer to all highways and interstates by their numbers.
Every year you have at least one kid in your class named Tony.
You know the location of every clip shown in the Sopranos opening credits.
You gotten on the wrong highway trying to get out of the mall.
You know that people from North Jersey go to Seaside Heights , and people from Central Jersey go to Belmar, and people from South Jersey go to Wildwood. It can be no other way.
You weren't raised in New Jersey --you were raised in either North Jersey, Central Jersey or South Jersey .
You don't consider Newark or Camden to actually be part of the state.
You remember the stores Korvette's, Two Guys, Rickel's, Channel, Bamberger's and Orbach's.
You also remember Palisades Amusement Park and Olympic Park.
You've had a boardwalk cheese steak and vinegar fries.
You start planning for Memorial Day weekend in February!
And finally . . .
NEVER, EVER pumped your own gas.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Projects

Every year around this time I make a list of things to do to pass the time during the dreariness of winter. These projects include doing stuff around the home, special projects, fixing items, and reorganizing files, photos, and CDs.

Starting with the last one mentioned, this always ends up on the list. It is also the least likely to be done. Hence, it continues being added onto the end of whatever list I am working on at the time. “Must Reorganize Files, Photos, and CDs”. I mean, really, it is the most boring thing to do, but if I finally do it, I know it gives me a sense of satisfaction. I think I try and do it some of it every 6 months. The files are the easiest, I toss articles I haven’t read or looked at again. I shred old bills. I combine files. I toss catalogs. It’s a productive event which is good to do while watching an old movie. CDs are the next easiest task. The hardest part is deciding whether to organize by artist or genre. I have them stored in old Coca-Cola and Pepsi crates from the first half of the 20th century. I usually end up getting rid of at least a dozen CDs that I don't listen to anymore. They are passed onto family, friends, or co-workers. If they don’t want them, I take them to the consignment shop or sell them at a flea market. Reorganizing photos takes forever because I have so many online and in photo boxes and albums. I try and toss photos that don’t mean anything anymore like the photo of that dog from Scranton that looks like Andy Rooney, or the photo of some old friends which was photo bombed by that jerk coworker that I never really liked. I have started tossing duplicates as there is no point of keeping them anymore. How many shots of the Liberty Bell does one really need anyway? It requires at least a good afternoon, but ultimately, is a satisfying and nostalgic trip down memory lane.

I spend time “doing stuff around the house." I know it sounds generic, but where else can I lump in the following fun (yeah right) projects: cleaning out the junk drawer; throwing out melted Tupperware; tossing expired bathroom lotions, medicines, and old cleaners; finally getting rid of the skinny clothes (while accepting the fact that I have moved up 2 waist sizes); cleaning the fridge out of mold experiments; emptying the food pantry of cans of fruit cocktail from 2003. You get the idea. It is boring, but it is a task that needs to be done. The upside is that you feel pretty good afterwards getting all this stuff done.

Special projects are also moved from list to list each year. I bought some great fabric 4 years ago with the intention of reupholstering a foot stool. The foot stool got tossed during a springtime purge event of the garage so that never happened. This fabric is an incredible colorful tweed pattern which now is slated to become pillows this year, or the next.  Most likely the next year! I also have a lamp in the living room which needs to be rewired. This particular Art Deco lamp was supposed to be rewired 2 years ago. I have the rewiring kit; it was placed into the drawer of the table on which the lamp is sitting. The lamp sits on the table, extinguished, looking dark and sad.

I guess the lamp could also qualify for my next winter project subject:  items which need to be fixed or repaired. This includes bulbs that need to be replaced, cold drafts that need to be closed off, painted walls that need to be touched up, rugs that needs to be cleaned, etc. I have three bird houses that need to be repaired before the springtime. Two were blown off of their respective trees during a particularly fierce storm we had towards the end of the fall. One lost its flooring at some point. I can only imagine the poor bird which went to seek shelter and fell through the bottom! Sorry Mr. Wren, my bad! The other one lost its roof upon a rough landing ala The Wizard of Oz. I found it sitting on the lawn like Dorothy’s house with the roof scattered about a 5 foot area. Lastly, I bought a bird house at an "end of the year" yard sale which needs some loving care. It looks like an old general store and needs to be repainted and renailed. I am actually excited to work on this one.

For the record, I have every intention of completing these winter projects. They are all perfect to do on a cold wintry day. But if not, there is always the beginning of next winter! I am sure there will be more birdhouses to repair, light bulbs to be replaced, paint to be touched up. And don’t forget the files, CDs, and photographs to be reorganized. It’s a given they are just gonna be moved to the next list!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lovingly Terrorizing My Mother

My sister and I were talking the other evening on the commute home. She was heading north from Wilmington, Delaware, as I was heading west from Allentown, PA. The nice thing about her new job is that we are able talk during our commutes, making the drives that much easier and faster. It's great and I have been enjoying it.

Sheryl was telling me how (I am laughing as I am writing this) she was cleaning off her car the morning of the latest snowstorm and her perfectly coiffed hair ended up becoming a wet matte of hairspray and hair. She was preparing to meet that day the CEO of the company. Thankfully, the weather kept  him away from seeing the weather related hair disaster that befell my sister! Sorry Sheryl for laughing! I know I shouldn't laugh as I have only had buzz cuts since the mid 90's and have no idea about the issues women have with their hair ... but it was pretty damn funny.

Sheryl continued complaining about her weather related hair disaster and we were laughing together as traffic sped by . There was a lull in the conversation where my mind wandered and I began to crack up uncontrollably. I told her I was thinking of way back when in the late 70's when Mom would come to the Wenonah Pool Swim Club to show off the latest from her hair stylist, Terri, from Mantua, NJ. Well one hot summer day, Mom decided to take a dip in the shallow end of the pool to cool off while my brother Adam and I were swimming around like fish with goggles. We swam up to her and she immediately froze. I think I remember her exclaiming, "Don't you dare splash me! I am just coming in to cool off! DON'T SPLASH ME!"  And of course, Adam and I started immediately splashing her with water, leaving Mom's freshly blown out hair looking like a wet mop. Mom FREAKED! She screamed at us, "God damn it! I just had my hair done!!!!"  Yes, it was a little harsh. Mom did just spend the last two hours at the hair dresser and have the highlighted feathered creation destroyed in 5 seconds by my brother and I. Mom immediately left the pool grimacing and went home, leaving us with our sister. Adam and I laughed and laughed and laughed.  I still laugh now, but of course with a touch of adult remorse.

I recounted the story to my sister and we just laughed out loud, the feel good belly laugh, for several minutes. I was a terror child, more stories about that later, but that one creeped out and took my sister and I off guard on an otherwise boring trip home. After I hung up with her, I am sure she was smiling just as wide as I was.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Losing a Pet

Losing a pet is traumatic. It is one of the few times a hardened man will break down and cry. It is one of the very few times I cried along side my father. Still to this day, I remember back to the times when I have lost my dear furry friends with pain and sadness. It stays with you as does the similar pain of losing a family member. Maybe that's why many people now call our pets, "animal companions." With all due respect to those who do not have pets, it is hard for them to understand the connection that you develop over the years with your cat, dog, bird, or other animal friend.

Today, my brother and his family lost their dog Bingo, who was 15 yrs old. They, as a family, are in extreme pain over this loss. Bingo had lived through the loss of his best friend, Bo, a Lhasa Apso, dealt with various cats, and moved from one home to another. He led a gallantly happy life and was the quintessential loyal dog friend. Adam, Teresa, and their kids, Angelica and Johnny, took such good care of Bingo, even when he was at his worst, physically. Hats off to them, Bingo lived a good life, loved you all, and he knew he was loved by you all as well.

My father and I cried when we lost Gretchen, our beautiful German Shepherd.  I cannot go into detail about this day, 20 some odd years later, as it is still too, too painful. Even when a pet's death is expected within couple months from ailing health issues, it doesn't make it any easier. My cat Smokey's death is too painful to go into detail as well. What matters is how well we treated our pets and took care of our pets, right up to the end. Many said, with Smokey's illness, that he should have been put asleep months before. I refused to and nursed him back to health, often feeding him liquid pet food, little by little into his mouth with a syringe, and he rebounded for another several months. I am so thankful I had those last precious months. I am so glad I did not listen to others who did not understand the connection I had and currently have, the connection that we all have had and currently have, to our "animal companions."

Our pets love us unconditionally. Maybe that is why it is so painful when we lose them. They are there when we are single. They are there when we come home alone. They are there for a cuddle, a lick, or a snuggle when there is no one else.  Always happy, and always forgiving. They become your companion through thick and thin. They are the ones that always greet you with a meow or a tail wagging when you come home from a hard day at the office.

To my brother and his family, I am so sorry for your loss. Take as long as your need to grieve.
Love, your brother and uncle, Marc

For those of you who have never read about Rainbow Bridge, where our pets go when they pass, please read. It will make the loss a little easier.
http://www.petloss.com/rainbowbridge.htm