All Hands on Deck

I’ve been working on the rail-road!

Well not really, but I don’t know any songs about working on the deck! Plus, now you get to have the rail road song in your head all day!

Mrs. Working Stiff and I have been slaving away on a project to refinish our back deck. It has been almost exactly five years since the last time so I guess we can’t complain too much.  The phase of scraping off all the loose junk is complete.  Let me tell you, if you can avoid doing that – avoid it!  It is knuckle-scraping, back-aching, sweat-breaking, sun-baking work.  Not to mention time-taking.  Hopefully though, the result of all this hard work will be breath-taking.

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Winter to Summer

Visiting the mall in the first week of spring

Never mind spring – welcome to summer! It was in the low 80s yesterday and I believe we are expecting around 85 on Sunday.  I guess all the Easter Eggs will be hard boiled!

Just a quick entry today because I wanted to share this picture I took just a few weeks ago in the last few days of winter. Here in the suburbs north of Philadelphia, Old Man Winter decided to give us one final smack in the face just days before the official start of spring.  Ironically, though we had been hit with “shovel-worthy” snow at least a few times throughout the winter, this storm, at the tail-end of March, was the only one for which I bothered to fire up the snow-thrower.

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Birthday Wine in New Hope

The Working Stiff had a birthday just this past Friday, and we celebrated as well as we could, given the dreary day. We have had quite a stretch of rainy and/or cold days, with but a few breaks of sunshine.  I suppose it’s that old April showers thing, though the rainy streak does back up well into March.

At any rate, the Mrs. took a half day off from work and we decided – goll-dern the weather – lets go out! (Note that I knew a real person who used to say “goll-dern”, and variations of that, and it wasn’t me!) We set off towards New Hope, northeast of Le Chateau Working Stiff along the Delaware River.

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Bring it On Home

NOTHING to do with Mickey Mantle!

We spent last weekend in Cape May, where the wintry winds did not prevent us from having a very nice time. As can be seen in the photos (courtesy of Mrs. Working Stiff), we enjoyed a bit of a wine/beer tour of the town on Saturday.   We had a delicious and nutritious lunch of pretzel bites and French fries at The Ugly Mug, which is one of our favorite spots on the Washington Street Mall.  (Both the pretzel bites and the fries are GOOD!)

“The Mug” is known for the hundreds of ceramic mugs hanging from the ceiling.  The process for getting one has always been designed to limit access – meaning that they don’t want any old patron who comes down for a weekend to be able to get one.  It used to be that you had to be there on a certain weekday way off season to apply.  On this particular weekend I made the momentous decision to bring my mug home!  Over the years I have had fun on my occasional visits with getting it down and using it, at least if I was going to be drinking beer.  The policy has always been that if you can find it and reach it, they will wash it and serve you with it.  For me, that has never been a problem, though it has moved around from time to time – or should I say from hook to hook.

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South of The Border

We had occasion just a few weekends ago to drive to Florida and back over a long weekend. Mrs. Working Stiff, who is generally not fond of a long drive, was a very good sport and we had a good trip all in all.  It helped that road conditions and traffic were as good as we could have asked for along the entire trip, and I’m happy to report that we don’t have another flat tire story to relate!

We were scheduled to set out southward several hours before dawn on the morning of February 9th – a Thursday, but the ominous weather-person talk of an approaching snowstorm grew louder and louder.  With the latest available information saying that snow would be starting in our area at around midnight Wednesday, our planned departure of 3:00 AM Thursday seemed less and less appealing.  We made the decision to quickly finish our over-packing, load up the car, ice the cooler, put far too many snacks into a handily-reachable bag, and get outta Dodge!

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Rally in Raleigh

I was going through pictures on my aging iPhone last week, trying to cut back to no more than two or three hundred of our two photogenic cats, when I happened upon this batch that I had taken late last year.  Mrs. Working Stiff and I had gone to Raleigh, NC, to visit my brother and sister-in law at their cool pad – a Boylan Heights bungalow.

We had a great time as always. One fun thing in particular that we did was to visit the North Carolina Museum of Art to see a temporary exhibit of beautiful classic cars.  I’m sorry that I’m just writing this a few weeks after the exhibit has ended, but it was really something to see and at least I have these pictures to share!

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Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Ah yes, Christmas lights! One of those holiday things that is supposed to be fun!  I’ll admit that they are fun to look at, and I have experienced a feeling of satisfaction more than once upon completion of the annual Putting Up of The Christmas Lights.  That in itself is misleading though, because a feeling of satisfaction can rightly come after completion of any task that you really don’t want to do (or dread even), so that is a pretty low bar!  My thought there is – would it be more satisfying to dread putting up the lights and then finally vanquish them, or to relieve myself altogether of the responsibility and just not do it?  Understanding that there is a cost – one choice leaves you with pretty lights in the tree outside and the other does not.  Hmmmm – OK, it is getting deep in here!  I’d better move on and leave the Christmas light philosophy to others, lest Mrs. Working Stiff accuse me of being negative about the holidays again!

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It Isn’t All Bad

At a time when this seemingly endless presidential election is making it look more and more each day like the destruction of the American Empire is truly at hand, I wanted to share a brief but heartwarming story.  Mrs. Working Stiff and I recently took a road trip to Raleigh, NC to spend a long weekend with my brother and his wife at their cool pad in the historic Boylan Heights neighborhood of that city.  The traffic around Baltimore and Washington D.C. is always an adventure, but aside from that – farther down the road we had a “nicer” small adventure.

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Reflections on The Summer of Debby

My blog has to date been mostly a happy and lighthearted thing, sometimes silly and sometimes irreverent. I hope that it has been funny and entertaining at least on occasion, and – who knows – perhaps even informative. Today’s topic is much more serious for me though.  You see, my sister Debby got really sick really fast this past late spring and into the summer, passing away on August 20th just about 11 weeks or so after first going to the hospital due to various symptoms and finding out that she was seriously ill. She was sixty-eight, the oldest of my family’s generation of siblings and cousins and was too young to die.  Let me take a moment to recognize and to thank my other sister Alex, who is a nurse, and her daughter Jessica for taking such good care of Debby in her whirlwind last few months.  Their hard work and devotion made it possible for Debby to remain in her own home, surrounded by family, friends, and with her nutty little dog.

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