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. read more

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. read more

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! read more

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. read more

The Green Light Bar

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Wow how time flies! Part of me feels like we are “gearing up” for summer, though in fact here it is!  The Dog-Days are upon us and it is going to be in the mid-nineties today.  When I was a much younger Working Stiff growing up at the Jersey Shore, it was understood that the unofficial beginning of summer was Memorial Day weekend.  I guess that had to do with businesses opening up and rental rates increasing, but didn’t really make much sense, to me anyway, as a marker for the start of the summer season in part because the kids were still in school at that point.   Living in Cape May and working at a busy restaurant it always seemed to me that the season really kicked into gear with the Fourth of July weekend.  That’s when things really took off.  That was the point at which the Monday morning following any weekend was NOT substantially quieter. read more

Coney Island

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Mrs. Working Stiff is from the Detroit area, having grown up in the “down river” suburbs south of The Motor City. Back in the day when she was out late dancing or at a club with friends and it was time to find a place for some late junk food, the gang would drop in to a local “coney island”.  Not a coney island as in Coney Island, but a coney island as in a coney island.   Put down the cheese fries and raise your hand if you’re not confused yet.

I’m from the great state of New Jersey, which is considered by many to be the world headquarters of the type of restaurant that I’ve always call The Diner. Big on breakfast all day, burgers, meatloaf, and other short-order cooking and simple comfort foods.  Diners are frequently built to look like a train car – a “dining car” – and are frequently clad in stainless steel and chrome, but that isn’t strictly required. read more

Cruz Bay vs. Coral Bay

Harbor view in sleepy Coral Bay
Harbor view in sleepy Coral Bay

I’ll stay out of the global warming discussion on this blog, but it certainly is the case that we have been having some strange weather lately! Today it is drizzly, grey, and in the high sixties, while my in-laws have reported that they are experiencing blizzard-like conditions in the Detroit area.  Of course, for them, that lake-effect snow is always lurking out there over those vast lakes, ready to pounce.  Mrs. Working Stiff has lamented the possibility that we may not see snow this year, but it’s really too early in winter to consider that possibility.  In any case, as the chief operator of both the snow thrower and the snow shovel, the thought of no snow is not all that terrible to The Working Stiff! read more

Return of The Blob

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The Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA

All this talk about turkey this week has reminded me of something.  A memory long buried, (or should I say frozen?) – and perhaps best left so, but alas, here follows the story!

Mrs. Working Stiff is visiting her parents in the Detroit are for this Thanksgiving weekend.  I was with my own family in Cape May for a few days but returned home for the bulk of the weekend and am trying to make the most of my time.  (See prior blog entry re: Operation Fireside.)

After breakfast this morning I drove out to the historic town of Phoenixville, PA, about 20 miles away and roughly to the west, just a few miles from Valley Forge National Park.   Phoenixville has a charming downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants to check out and sample.  The area where I parked and strolled around, the eastern part of Bridge Street, was somewhat bohemian and seemed to be favored by a young-ish crowd who enjoyed the Steel City Coffee house and the incense-burning gift shops.  It looked like a great place to have a meal, a stroll, and some holiday shopping.  I have personally made a mental note to take the wife there for an evening of seasonal merry-making next month! read more

Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, PA

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Today has been a beautiful fall day and a perfect day for a trip about 15 miles up the road to Peddler’s Village.

We first discovered Peddler’s Village, in Lahaska, PA, as a pleasant stopover on our way to or from the historic town of New Hope, which is perhaps 5 miles farther to the east on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, opposite Lambertville, New Jersey.  New Hope is a historic town full of cafes, art galleries, and all sorts of interesting and unusual shops.  Mr. and Mrs. Working Stiff, along with friends and family have many times taken the 30-minute drive there for lunch, dinner, shopping, or just a pleasant stroll with an ice cream cone.  We are overdue for a trip to New Hope along the river and I’ll plan to write about that soon. read more

Halloween in Cape May, New Jersey

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I had the pleasure to be in Cape May for a few days just recently, right before Halloween. As it is the habit of the town to get all done up for holidays, so it was for that special spooky October date!  Public areas, such as the famous Washington Street Mall and the new Convention Hall area up on the promenade were festively decorated with cornstalks, pumpkins and other squash, and a fall rainbow of mums and similar flowering plants. Many home and shop owners had done the same, with some adding a skeleton or a witch hat here, a mummy there, all to help visitors get in the spooky mood. read more