Weddings and funerals

The last time I saw my cousin and his wife may very well have been at their wedding. Seven years later, for a funeral of sorts. And that’s just crazy. I love my cousin. I even like New Jersey. Most of the trouble is the flights… four hours to get there, a two hour time shift… Day One is blown from the get-go. Day Last is similar. So four days is kind of the minimum. But then… I want to see my sister. My cousin. My uncle and grandmother. Manhattan. Ikea. Now I’m spending a week couch-surfing through New Jersey, and hello? That is NOT a relaxing vacation.

My last trip to NJ, in October, was spent in Brigantine, near Atlantic City. Lovely, but not “home.” My cousin lives near Sussex, which is about an hour northwest from where I grew up. Geologically and topographically, though, it looks a lot like home. Rolling hills, rock outcroppings, canopies of trees. Considerably more wild turkeys running through the yard than I remember, though. 🙂

Click on the photo for more:

Gravy fries and diner pie!

I may have perhaps possibly mentioned that I’ve been slightly dreading this trip to New Jersey. While I very much look forward to catching up with family, I don’t much enjoy slipping into my role of “mediator” trying to keep the peace between, well, my mom and anyone my mom is mad at.

And I hate flying Continental. Which once again, failed to fail to disappoint. Trapped in the plane, with the seatbelt light on, for TWO HOURS before finally taking off this morning… ugh. No place (that I could find) on their web site where I could request a vegetarian snack, though my mom pointed out that the “beef and swiss” sandwich sure didn’t taste like beef…

But okay, my point is this: what I’d forgotten, in my tenseness, about New Jersey. That it is filled WITH DINERS.

Let me say that again, out loud: DINERS.

Say it with me: DINERS.

DINERS!

We sat in our booth, surrounded by chrome and rockface a la Garden State Brickface (And Stucco), and I stared, wide-eyed, at the menu so full of choices (meatloaf! stuffed grape leaves! monte cristo!) plus all of the “specials” tucked into their pocketed sleeves (THREE sleeves!) and finally chose a Happy Waitress with GRAVY fries. Nomnomnom. Mom had a patty melt, Jahn had a pastrami reuben, little Troy had chicken fingers. All with creamy cole slaw and a pickle. We split a slice of chocolate cream pie for dessert. Shortbread crust. Approximately four feet of whipped cream on top, coated in a melted-then-cooled chocolate armor. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

I have been promised bagels and lox for brekkie tomorrow, and TAYLOR FRIGGIN’ HAM for brekkie on another day. Ooooh, maybe I can buy Jahn and Cindy’s leftover Taylor ham from them, and bring it home. Unless we have time to stop at a ShopRite or PathMark on the way to the airport. Which would seem slightly less crazy than me shopping out of my cousin’s fridge. Oh, right, and there’s the whole “I’m vegetarianish” thing. But it’s TAYLOR HAM!!! Some vegetarians are done in by bacon… I’m done in by pork roll.

Also: The first photo I took on this trip was of the rust hole on my cousin’s truck’s running board. Rust! I remember rust! Jahn thought it was an odd subject for a photo, then remembered who he was dealing with.

And as for family… My mom has not yet been exposed to the potentially threatening family members. My cousin is a hoot. His wife is sweet, too, though I’ve barely gotten to know her over the years. Today was the first time I met their kids, who definitely have mixed feelings about me. I just don’t exude “kid friendly” even when I try. Also, my aunt is here, whom I don’t believe I’ve seen in probably 25 (or more) years. Oddly, she looks exactly the same. I, on the other hand, am taller. 🙂 At some point tomorrow, I’ll have to point out to her that one of the rings I’m wearing, which I wear every single day and even sleep and shower in, was a gift from her nearly 30 years ago. (Have I ever mentioned my freakishly small hands? Like a child’s?) Anyway, she says that the only part of me she recognizes is my smile. I bet if I put my hair in pigtails, and brush my bangs to the side… and maybe put on a velour shirt and start singing, “My brother threw up on my stuffed toy bunny, now you may laugh but it really isn’t funny” … then it would all fall into place for her.

A fresh report, and photos, after the weekend is over.

More about nothing

First off, my apologies for missing yesterday’s post. I usually write at night, but I was wiped out after the weekend, and I spent the morning catch-up opportunity CLEANING MY HOUSE. I still have days (and nights) of organizing ahead of me, and I’ll do as much as I can before I head out of town for my uncle’s memorial service. I feel much better now that I’ve packed my sweaters away for the season, and finally untangled the shoe collection. I have once again run out of shoe cubbies in the closet, but the remaining pairs are now neatly stacked instead of the threat-to-walking-across-the-floor that they’ve been for a shockingly long time (and found a shirt that I was starting to think I’d never actually bought). I still have to deal with a crazy amount of laundry, both clean and dirty, before I can finally allow people upstairs again. Because I know that Jessi has been sneaking up to use the empty second floor bathroom during parties, and I don’t want to subject her to the chaos any longer. 🙂

The weekend with my father was a joy. It is perhaps best summed up, however, by a conversation he had with his neighbor/friend/dogsitter when he returned home:

Deb: How is G’s jewelry business going?

Dad: I don’t know. I didn’t ask.

Deb: How are the dog tag sales going?

Dad: I don’t know. I didn’t ask.

Deb: What did you two talk about?

In case anyone else is wondering, or my father discovers my blog: The jewelry business isn’t really a project that I actively pursue/advertise. I make stuff because I enjoy the process, and if somebody buys something to help offset my costs, then yippee. I actually fear becoming successful, and having to make stuff. Then it becomes work. The dog tags, on the other hand… well, their sole purpose (other than to decorate your dogs/cats/similarly-sized animals) is to provide a small boost to help defray the extensive costs of operations over at Colorado Pit Bull Rescue. So by all means, buy ’em up!

Oh, and I rec’d a sweet handbag in the mail today, purchased from an eBay auction:

Man, the cats who stripe are so talented.

Okay, back to cleaning!