Monthly Archives: August 2006

Saturday was somewhat of a celebration. The weat…

Saturday was somewhat of a celebration. The weather was threatening but it didn’t stop friends and family from gathering to welcome the Bald-headed Wonder back to Cinnaminson.

An opportunity in NYC brought Dooner East and he had the weekend off so he took the train and visited with us. It was very weird having him home – I’m thinking that we’ve sort of gotten used to it just being the two of us in this house.

In any case, it didn’t rain and I didn’t cry. The food was yummy and the laughs were many. Tim’s shirt was salmon! There are more pictures if you click this link :

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28922249@N00/

We hope to see him a few more times before he returns to California! If the weather’s nice on September 9th, we’ll go up to Madison Square Park and check out the venue like we did last year. And perhaps he’ll have a few days to stop home again at the end of his gig, do some laundry and catch up with a bunch of other folks.

I’m looking forward to that :-)

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September 28, 2006. The Banana Stand and other ven…

September 28, 2006. The Banana Stand and other vendors
In Italy, and other European countries, I’m guessing, there is a vendor for every facet of life. There are no “super” Acmes, no Walmarts, no Macys.
There is the gelateria, my personal favorite, where they sell gelato, the shoe store, the electronics store, the clothing store, the farmacia (pharmacy), the tabacchi (tobacco store, that also sells bus and metro tickets), the cosmetics store, the butcher, the alimentari, a sort of general food store but tiny. There are street vendors everywhere and they sell newspapers, bibite (beverages) maybe sandwiches and fruit, maybe gelato.
For eating, there are bars which serve liquor but the real function is as a café. Prices are different if you order al banco, standing at the bar, or al tavolo, sitting at a table being “waited” on. There are pizzerie, a more casual sit-down restaurant where you can order pizza and other foods. There are tavolo calda, meaning “hot table” where you can take food to a table cafeteria-style. There are also osterie, where you can get a basic pasta dish and wine, trattorie, where you can get a simple full meal, and ristoranti, that are fancier.
And then there are the Auto-Grille, found on major highways like our turnpike rest stops, but Molly Pitcher never had food like the Auto-Grille!
We left Florence on Thursday morning and began our drive to Rome, stopping at the Auto Grille for a quick breakfast. The trip was without incident and we actually were able to find Termini Rail Station and return the rental car quite easily.
We walked out front of the station to the cab stand and Jerry remarked – “That was too easy!” There was a pretty long line for cabs and there seemed to be some disturbance to our left.
Sure enough, there was a demonstration. We never were able to determine their “cause” but Sue and I remembered, 3 years back, a man caused a lot of confusion near the Coliseum because he was threatening to jump. The police stood below him with a net and others tried to grab him. Seems the Italians will demonstrate or go on strike at the drop of a hat! We were the unfortunate victims of their latest cause. They had the entrance to the station blocked – the entrance for taxis and buses… so no one was leaving the station.
Somehow, we got bus tickets and found the 64 bus, ran to Via Nazionale where it was supposedly picking up riders, and then, ran back to the area where it was scheduled to pick up riders.
All six of us, luggage in tow, squished onto this bus filled with other commuters, some with luggage, some with briefcases, and some with shopping bags. For those of you a little claustrophobic, it would’ve been out and out torture. At this point, we could only laugh.
Luckily we had directions to the apartment we rented and were happily surprised when our bus stop was just past St Peter’s Square.
Unfortunately, it had been a long time since Shelden had eaten and he walked up to a street vendor intending to buy a Coke to raise his blood sugar. He must have started to crash because he fell onto the ledge of the cart, knocking over a basket of bananas, while reaching for his Coke. He weaved his way up to where we were waiting and handed me the Coke to open because he was shaking so bad. I also gave him a pack of peanut butter crackers. In no time, he was as good as new, but had a real scare!
We got settled in our apartment and ventured out for lunch. Right next door is a Chinese restaurant but another door down was a little tratoria. We ordered pranzo with wine of course and then made our way down to the Vatican.
We stood in line to get in to St Peter’s and were soon in awe. The piazza, itself, is wonderful but inside the church, it is just a wonder. We saw so many amazing sculptures including one of Michelangelo’s Pietas. We also saw the Bernini columns, the ceiling, the stained glass, the dead popes – all incredible to behold.
Unfortunately I had a bit of a medical disaster. Sweating profusely, I had to leave the church. So THIS is menopause????
Shelden and I went back to the apartment, while the others did a nice stroll of Campo De Fiore, Piazza Navona, Fontana di Trevi, Scala da Spagna and had a nice supper.

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So today’s topic actually began to take shape 2 da…

So today’s topic actually began to take shape 2 days ago – a typical rainy day and Monday. I was scheduled to drive up to our Pennington location so I found myself driving north on Route 130 instead of south… Either way, it would’ve been a crappy day because southbound 130 was flooded as was Route 73 and I would’ve used either of those routes to get to work in Swedesboro.
The point of this story is that it was raining and I was driving through Burlington on Route 130 – just before the Burlington Bristol Bridge. I looked up and noticed a the light had turned red and was slowing down when the three cars in front of me seemed to be braking suddenly. I think I was going about 20 mph but I slammed on my brakes and found myself gliding into the rear of a red Nissan Altima.
Well, there’s no need to go into the prayers followed by the string of obscenities issued from my mouth! Yah – I prayed. “Please don’t let me hit it. Please don’t let me hit it. Please don’t let me hit it.” (The three thing again!) Yah – I hit it.
I wasn’t going that fast so the airbag didn’t open. Apparently, the damage wasn’t so bad either. The worst thing was that the screws on my license plate holder left an imprint on her rear bumper. I was pretty shook up and upset at the stupidity of the situation, so much so that I neglected to check the obituaries when I got into work.
Also, I tried to call Shel and I had to leave a message because his cell didn’t pick up. When he finally called me, he started yelling because I didn’t call the cops… really the damage was so minor… I finally hung up on him because I had had enough crap all day! I even told Andy to take a walk out to Postal to check the time on their PCs.
SO… yesterday morning, I’m driving to work – the southern direction and I catch the light at Riverton Road. This woman using a walker is crossing Route 130 at the street, not using the famous overhead crosswalk that Erika used to love crossing to go to Clover to get her birthday present. No – this woman was crossing at road level and, while she was making good progress, it was unusual enough to make me giggle – especially when she motioned for oncoming traffic to inch up on her!
Then, a little farther down the road, still in Cinnaminson, this little blonde chick hopped the medial strip and got stuck there as she tried to cross Route 130 – not even at a light let alone over the cross walk! I wasn’t going fast, but someone with a little speed, could get her caught in their draft and fling her up like Dorothy’s house in the twister!
So now, I’m approaching Cinnaminson Ave and I noticed there was a car stopped at the light going northbound and an older guy was standing beside it pouring gas into the gas tank. The light changed and everyone begins to move and I noticed that a police cruiser is up ahead with its lights flashing. This cop has decided that he’s going to cut through the medial strip and go back north on 130 to the guy with the gasoline can.
I started braking (probably because I was still freaked from the fender bender the day before) and it was lucky that I did so! The guy in front of me slammed on his brakes but slid into the rear of an old taxi. The taxi then, pulled to the right to avoid hitting the SUV in front of him, but clipped it anyway, knocking the rear passenger lights off.
There was a younger guy driving the Mazda in front of me so I told him I’d be a witness if they needed me. He was a wreck. Then I called the cops because this was a much worse collision then I’d had the day before. A cop came, took my info and told me I could leave. Then he stopped traffic so the other cars could pull off to the side of the road. As I drove away, the guy in the Mazda waved a thank you.
This morning – it was quiet.

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September 29, 2006. Rome – History

We were up early so we could get to the Coliseum and get in early. We took a bus to the Coliseum and then walked up the Palatine Hill to purchase our entry tickets. We breezed into the Coliseum and got our audio tour players.

The Coliseum is pretty interesting. It was built in the 70s AD and it could seat 50,000 people. It was used for gladiatorial combat. It could also be flooded for naval battles. Historians are pretty sure that there weren’t any Christians sacrificed there.

The Coliseum

Then we toured the Roman Forum. It was really neat to go through there and actually figure out what each building or ruin was. Sue used the Rick Steves tour book for the information.

The Roman Forum

We walked over to the Pantheon. They were doing some work on the marble floors but it was awesome as ever. From there, we walked over to the Trevi Fountain which was so crowded but amazing.

Did I mention this yet? Every fountain in Rome is fed by aqueducts. The water is so refreshing and delicious. We would fill our water bottles often.

We walked over to the Spanish steps and played Where’s Waldo with Vicki. We all went into the McDonald’s which is the largest in the world apparently. It looks like the Coliseum inside. Shelden refused to set foot in there! It was so funny!

Rome

We took the Metro back to our apartment.

The apartment is located about 2 blocks from the Vatican. It must have been very nice at one time, but it was very dark… mainly because there were a lot of burnt out light bulbs. Also there are only windows on one side of the apartment – the side that faces the street, which, by the way, is a main thoroughfare, particularly for ambulances that scream past our open windows at night.

That being said, it was a little tough to fall asleep, but I was pretty exhausted at night so it really didn’t bother me TOO much!

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Got Wedding?An amazing adventure began somewhere b…

Got Wedding?

An amazing adventure began somewhere back in 1979. Two families became inexplicably bound – first, through the Spirit, then through music. I won’t get into the details except to say that this Saturday, we celebrated together the wedding of the youngest J. sibling after having celebrated a total of 10 weddings, myriad christenings and several very difficult funerals. The P.’s and the J.’s have shared a lot of ups and downs and although it seems impossible, more than 25 years have elapsed and the music still flows as does – the milk. In fact, two of the culprits in the picture are highly successful children’s musicians… but that’s a story for another day.

So the point of this entry is that sharing music with the J boys and my brother at Church was inspiring to say the least. There’s such a feeling of heaven when you share space and time with folks you love. So much so that we immediately went into buffoon mode at the reception – you know we really know how to balance our lives!

First, Mike spilled beer on Jerry, which, of course, prompted the “Spiller in the Family” discussion. We have one in our family too… although he wasn’t at the wedding. Sue asked Karen, “So which of your kids got the ‘spilling gene’”? “Oh,” she sighed, “Peter got it.”

Well, don’t you know? Peter comes over to our table with a gallon of milk which promptly slips from his grasp, hits the floor, pops the lid and spills all over the floor. (Thank God, they had the sense to stick us in a dark corner.)

Karen and Sue just shook their heads and sighed together. You can’t make this stuff up!!

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