Down here, we have a lot of intersections where the traffic lights are on sensors rather than timers. What this means is that in one or more directions, the light will stay red until it senses a car waiting for the green. In theory, this is a pretty good idea. In practice, though, it depends on the first person in line actually advancing far enough into the intersection to trigger the sensor, and that doesn’t always happen. Coming out of Bey Lea Plaza onto Bay Avenue East, I’ve been stuck more than once behind someone who doesn’t get it, and gone through two or three light change cycles before someone turning West triggers it and we can finally go. The same thing happened this morning at Indian Hill and Bay. It was going on six minutes, and I was about to make an illegal and dangerous u-turn out of frustration. Finally, though, someone came into the left turn lane and moved far enough to trigger it, so I was saved. Sometimes I think that if people just knew about these sensors, they’d change their habits accordingly, but then I come back to reality. Maybe that’ll be my next letter to the Ocean County Observer.
After a lazy morning (except for the hour long walk to get bagels. . .I walked there, called hubby to pick me and the bagels up!) of reading Sunday papers, having coffee and bagels, and taking Carolyn out for gym sneakers (with a stop at the animal rescue adoption area. . .AWWWKITTENSANDPUPPIES!) we finally managed to get everyone showered and dressed and headed off to Island Beach State Park for the annual Beach Plum Festival.
It was a nice little setup, although we got there too late to actually go pick beach plums. We were glad we’d driven only 20 minutes to get there, not nearly two hours. We wandered around, looked at the craft displays (briefly) and tasted beach plum jam, then headed up to Seaside Heights.
SH was having its seafood festival. Well, it was a lot like Bloomfield’s Harvest Festival, only with more actual crafts and fewer flea market booths, and seafood instead of zeppoles and sausage. We wandered up and down Grant Ave., decided to sit down at the Cantina on the boardwalk and have mexican and margaritas instead of standing and scarfing fried fish and beer. The weather at the beach was a bit cool for bathing suits, what with the stiff breeze and all, and the water looked. . .well. . .nice to look at. So we had a lovely time sitting by the second floor balcony and looking down on it all. Needless to say, getting onto the island, finding parking, and getting back onto the bridge was pretty darned easy.
Now? We’re waiting for the kids to finish practicing their music, and then we’re going to watch “Shaun of the Dead.” We need to get that and “Sin City” back to Netflix asap, because the kids now want to see “Tron” and “The Omen” (the original. I don’t think the remake, despite its meteoric trip from the front pages of the Entertainment section of the paper to obscurity, has made it to DVD yet.) If we get them in the mailbox tomorrow, we’ll have the new ones by Wednesday. I love Netflix.
I drove up to Monmouth Feed Co. because they advertised a big sale on pond supplies, and it’s time to start thinking of covering the pond to keep falling leaves out, and giving the fish some protection for the winter. I also needed some more filter media, and just wanted to check the place out. I was very impressed with the prices and the knowledge of the people there, and ended up going with a Pond Palace instead of a heater for winterizing. The initial cost is higher than a floating heater, but it costs less to run, and had a few other advantages. It’s essentially a plastic shelter with fixed louvered sides for circulation of air and water, and a solid top, which I used for a couple of plants – the cattail, zebra grass, and parrot feather fit quite nicely. Around the outside, you snap in a bubbler hose, which connects via a tube to an outside air pump. This provides shelter for the fish from predators, not only because of the plastic top, but also because the bubbles make it harder for birds and such to see them. In addition, it aerates the pond, which helps keep the water cleaner, and provides water movement, which prevents mosquitos from laying eggs. Unlike water circulation, which is bad for fish in winter because it brings the cold surface water down to the bottom, it’s blowing air – keeping the surface from freezing without making the entire pond deadly cold. I’m looking at it and thinking that maybe I should have gotten a weaker pump, but it was a package. The little fish seem to be having a good time with it, though.
After getting all filthy climbing around in the pond, then washing up, then folding laundry and catching up with Project Runway, I’d gone way past the time I was supposed to start cooking dinner, so we drove up to Brick to check out Ikko, which was recommended to me as a good Japanese restaurant. Well, it was OK. I mean, the food was decent, but not up to the quality we’re used to.
Then hubby and I watched “Sin City”. . .it was JUST LIKE watching a moving graphic novel. A grisly graphic novel. With characters that get shot and stabbed and hit by cars, and never stop talking. I learned two things – a movie can be visually interesting, maybe even innovative, and still not really engage you, and second, if it’s not engaging you and you’ve played around enough with image editing, you start thinking “wow, they didn’t grayscale this, they just desaturated, I can tell by the greens and pinks in the highlights” instead of paying attention to the movie.
We’ve been setting the alarm clocks earlier and earlier each day, which has made this weekend far less of a last hurrah than something we’re all dragging through like zombies. This morning, though, we took advantage of being up early anyway and drove out to Ortley Beach. We parked the car and watched the sun rise over the ocean. The kids had never seen a sunrise, and they thought it was really cool.
Afterwards, we stopped at Ob-co’s for doughnuts. Hubby got a blueberry muffin, I got a cinnamon croissant doughnut. Carolyn wanted nothing to do with doughnuts, Audrey got an apple fritter, but decided she didn’t like it.
Even though I’m sleeping better, finally, I didn’t sleep well at all last night, so I took a nap after lunch, then finished reading jPod by Douglas Coupland. What a strange, strange book. After dinner, Audrey and I took a nice walk, and now I think we’re only an hour away from bedtime. First day of school tomorrow for the girls, first day of Middle School for Carolyn.
Yesterday we drove up Route 9 to check out Insectropolis. It’s a bug museum that was started by an extermination company, of all things. Love/hate relationship with bugs, I suppose. Anyway, it wasn’t huge, but there was a lot of stuff to see. The collections of beetles, arachnids, moths, butterflies, and such, were pretty varied and came from all over the world. There was a lot of interesting information about them, a couple of interactive parts to the exhibit, and a fair number of live critters to look at. However, it took not all that much time for the kids to go through it, twice so we could make sure we didn’t miss anything. On our way out, though, the lady in the gift shop said we should stay because they were just about to bring out bugs for the kids to touch! What timing! She came out with a millipede (these things gross me out to look at, but I touched it anyway) a rosy tarantula, a Madagascar hissing cockroach, and this scorpion:
Yes, Carolyn touched the scorpion. It ended up being worth the trip, a tad bit pricey ($5 each with coupon) but certainly a fun little jaunt. The link above will take you to their site if you’re interested in going.
We went to a restaurant last night for my birthday, and in the ladies’ room, I saw this truly horrid piece of art that I need to share with you all:
It’s. . .Dutch midgets?? I mean, they’re proportioned like children, the faces have those big eyes and tiny noses. . .first thought is children, but then you see the purse, the umbrella, and. . .the cigar.
And if this isn’t bizarre enough, it was a Mexican restaurant.
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s entry. . .you see, I’d gotten to the part where I was supposed to put the grommets into the vests for the RenFaire costumes. I hoped against hope that the grommets and grommet tool I’d gotten would work, despite the fact that they came from the craft store and were manufactured by Prym-Dritz (under a subsidiary label, the sneaky bastiges!) Needless to say, those hopes were dashed, but thankfully on scrap fabric rather than the costumes themselves. The amount of time and money I’ve wasted on their second-rate products should have taught me something by now, but I guess I’m just too optimistic about it. So my first call out to find a decent grommet setting tool that doesn’t cost $150 is to boating/fishing supply store – hey, they must have stuff for repairing sails, right? Well, they had something in their catalogue, but not in stock. No good. I find a couple of places online, and the kits are under $10 – you do need to buy one for each size of grommet, but that’s OK, I’m not going to be making tons of stuff with grommets. However, add in the shipping, and you almost double the price. Hubby, in the meantime, had suggested checking with Ken’s, since they’re local, and have every friggin’ tool and piece of hardware under the sun – and they have a website! He checked, and sure enough, they had these kits, in stock, and they were still open.
I went in, and not only did they have the size I needed, but a whole bunch of others, and additional packs of grommet sets, too! The hole punch needed some help, but the grommets worked, unlike the Dritz ones. Hooray for Ken’s! (They’re on Fischer Blvd in the Cost Cutters plaza in Toms River, BTW. . .)
My friend Gayle, whose brother is a birder, got me the information a while back about the bird whose song I found so entertaining. I thought it was multiple birds, but it turns out that it was a Carolina Wren with a very full tummy. These are tiny, adorable little brown feathered birds with a repertoire of song, and what I read said that they will sing continuously for up to 30 minutes after a good meal. My kind of bird!
Unfortunately, Dave’s kind of bird, too. I went out to get the mail today, and there inside one of the sandals I’d left outside the door to dry off from the beach, was a little feathered body. Audrey said she would give the cat a stern talking-to, which I told her would have little or no effect. Hubby tried to console us with the thought that the bird was probably too sick or injured to escape Dave. I assured him that the cat had amazing predatory skills. Audrey agreed. . .”Dave has mad skills” she told us. We’ll start calling him Napoleon, I guess.
The vegetable garden has pretty much been a bust, first garden here, horrible weather, not much dedication to gardening on my part, but we’ve had a few interesting sights.
This was supposed to be zucchini. As soon as it started to grow like a cucumber vine instead of a zucchini bush, I knew we had something not-zucchini. They’re long squash, and quite tasty except for the tough skin:
The tomatoes have also been largely unproductive, unless you’re a chipmunk or a pill bug, but this big ugly brute was right tasty:
Now, back in Bloomfield, where I had a busy, thriving garden, I begged for one of these guys to feast on the veggie parasites – even paid for egg cases that never hatched. Here’s our visitor doing a Superman impersonation:
There you have it – the sum total of the excitement in the vegetable garden all season long.
When we were living up North, one of the things that drove us nuts was drivers jumping the light to turn left. This is patently dangerous, especially when done by older drivers in large cars who take the entire light change to cut you off. They jump the light. . .very. . .slow. . .ly. . .Still, as nerve-wracking as this was, at least you could anticipate the idjits. Here in South Jersey, we face a far more dangerous threat – the curve cutter. Below, I have a little tidbit from the NJ driver’s manual:
Ideally, this is the way it should be done. The guy in the blue car has nothing to fear. However, note the other, cruder arrow that I’ve drawn in for your edification. This is the Toms River Trajectory. The guy in the blue car is gonna get creamed if he approaches the intersection like a normal driver, because the Toms River guy in the red car isn’t going to waste his time driving all the way around that turn on the right hand side of the road. Oh, nosirreebob! Normally, NJ law also asks that you stop approximately three feet before the stop sign, so you can check for pedestrians (not that anyone anywhere does that, mind you), then you move foward into the intersection to look for oncoming traffic. Down here, better make that three car lengths, especially if the guy in the house to your right has mature landscaping. Up north, you see the guy. . .you see the wild look in his eyes dammiti’mnotwaitingforyoua**holei’mturningthesecondthelightchanges. . .you can anticipate it. In fact, it’s almost a time-honored tradition to yield the right of way rather than have to deal with the cops and the insurance. This curve cutting can’t be predicted, because you can’t see the guy who’s about to do it. I have no idea how many accidents are caused by this halfwit maneuver, but I’ll betcha it’s a lot.