Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Picnic!

Monday evenings are otherwise known as Burger Night. Burger Night usually takes place at Joe's Place in Union. The Joe of Joe's Place is not the same Joe of the Triangle of Shoe Changers.

However, this Monday was Memorial Day, and as such we remembered our fallen soldiers and sailors by enjoying a picnic at the park by the train station in Maplewood. There was a lot of food and projectiles. The food included all sorts of cold cuts and cheeses for making sandwiches, potato and macaroni salads, pickles, chips (which we never even opened), orange blueberry scones, brownies, Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen, raspberry salsa, and a watermelon, which almost ended up in the projectile category.

Speaking of the projectile category... this evening's projectiles consisted of baseballs, a football, a frisbee, and Bocce balls. All this playing with projectiles was quite a nice workout for us, and is something we should do more often.

From left to right, there's Kenji, Leanna, Kevin, Lex, Tiff and Joe.

Will Lex catch the frisbee? I don't know - I was too busy taking the picture.

Kevin getting ready to toss the Bocce ball, with everyone taking turns as they are supposed to.

And I realize it's difficult to tell from the picture, but this is a shot of what I like to call Speed Bocce. Speed Bocce is when everyone tosses their Bocce ball at the same time, and like regular
Bocce, whichever team's color lands closest to the white ball gets the point.

After Bocce it was time for brownies. We had a big visitor while eating our brownies. This guy just wandered over to us with his bunny toy, took a seat and made like he was going to stay for a while.

Bike Ride!

Kenji and I took our first bike ride of the season today. Originally we planned to take the bikes down to Frenchtown or Lambertville and ride along the Delaware & Raritan Canal. However, because we had a picnic to go to at 5pm and it was already past noon before we would even begin driving down that way, we decided that maybe it was best to just ride around somewhere nearby. So we decided on South Mountain Reservation.

While riding, we came across a little bit of wild life. We saw several chipmunks. Then we saw this deer, as well as a few others. They had their little young ones with them too, but the baby deer were running around too fast for me to snap a picture of them.

We also saw this giant dog. I think he scared Kenji. :D

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Black River County Park Hike

Today Kenji and I went on a nice hike in Chester, NJ at Black River County Park. This was a hike organized by my friend Jason. Eight of us met at Cooper Mill, and then we carpooled to the Wildwood Arboretum where we began our hike. The trek back to Cooper Mill was about 7 miles over fairly level terrain, through fields and forest and eventually following alongside the Black River back to the Cooper Mill.

We saw some nifty stuff, like this little blue bird. We also came across several millipedes and a few tent caterpillars.

While we were eating lunch, a lady came by who said she and her boyfriend lost her brother's dog. She gave us some phone numbers to call in case we came across Sadie, and continued with her search. After lunch, we came across her again, and she borrowed one of our cell phones to call her brother and father to see if they could come help her locate the dog. About ten minutes later, we came across Sadie. Unfortunately, Sadie wouldn't allow us to pet her, so we weren't able to capture her. But here she is, sitting a little ways off from us in the woods.

Some other photos from our hike...

This is a bathtub we came across shortly after we left Sadie behind. I don't know what it's doing in the middle of the forest, but it does serve the purpose of bearing a red blaze on it to mark the trail (the blaze is on the inside of the tub and not visible in the photo).

This is the Cooper Mill, as seen from the trail. It was built in 1826, and still has two grinding stones in operation today.

After hiking, we stopped at Alstede Farms for ice cream and to pet goats!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Today it took me almost an hour to get home from work. Normally it takes about a half an hour. Route 24 was all jammed up. But at least it smelled nice. That's because there's honeysuckle all over the place. So things could have been worse. But then after a while I decided the honeysuckle smell wasn't worth sitting in all that traffic, so I turned off and took another way home. The End.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tastes Great! Less Filling!

Or in this case, the conflicting shouts went like this:


Yep, it's the third ballgame for us this month. And this time it was at Shea Stadium.

Our group of baseball game goers is growing. Last year it was just Kenji and me. Earlier this month, it was Tiff, Kenji and me. This time it was Dave, Tiff, me and Kenji. Who will join us next? I guess it will depend in part on how many tickets Kenji can get off of eBay at a time. :)

Shea Stadium is planted in the land of the World's Fair, otherwise known as Flushing Meadows Park. There are several funky looking structures around, like that big globe, the Unisphere, and that wavy looking building, the New York Hall of Science. There are also some rockets we found right next to our parking lot.

Anyway, the Yankees debuted a brand spanking new pitcher, 22-year old Tyler Clippard, and he turned out to be pretty good. He even hit a double - pretty good for a pitcher who hasn't swung a bat since high school.

I think my favorite part of the game though was the crowd. Just lots of heckling back and forth between Mets and Yankees fans. Quite entertaining.

Kenji says he wants to mow our lawn like Mets do theirs.

Friday, May 18, 2007

OJ Kitty

I probably mentioned before that Spammy likes orange juice. Whenever I have a glass of orange juice, he's always right there hoping and waiting to get his share. And almost always I let him lick the glass when I'm finished. Usually, I can see he tries really hard to be patient, sitting and watching and waiting for me to finish. Probably more accurately, he sits and watches for a moment of distraction, leading to the opportunity to sneak a sip if he can get it.

Tonight he was sitting on my knee, doing just that. As soon as I pulled out the camera, he was all over my glass. When I finished, I set down my glass and waited for him to stick his head inside. And he did. I should have used one of the tall glasses; then he would have had to stuff his whole head instead to get all the juice.

Tonight Kenji, Tiffany and I watched Sin City. It was pretty oogie.

1st Broadway Show: Phantom of the Opera

This year I actually made a list of New Year's resolutions. I didn't write them down, so the list grows and shrinks as I think of and forget about various items. One item that's been on it since the beginning and that I did not forget about was to go see a Broadway show because I had never been to one before. So when my friend Gail said she was coming to visit NYC with her daughter, and asked if I wanted to go see Phantom of the Opera with her, I jumped at the chance. So we had a foursome with Gail, her daughter Leicie, Tiffany (who made sure we knew where we were going), and myself.

The show was at the Majestic Theater on 44th Street, and our seats were pretty good - center stage and maybe between five and ten rows behind the orchestra seating. Of course the singing, set, and costumes we wonderful. I was a little worried that it might be difficult to follow the story if the singing was too operatic, but that didn't turn out to be a problem. My only complaint would be that the seats in the theater are rather uncomfortable - sitting with good posture was making my back hurt, so I found myself curling up in a slouched position for most of the performance.

So now I can cross going to a Broadway show off my list for this year. Other things on my list of New Year's resolutions include getting a new hobby that both Kenji and I can do together (we picked rock climbing), and doing some volunteer work (delivering books for the library to shut-ins every other week). I think there were some other items too, but at the moment I can't recall what they are.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Highlawn Pavillion Anniversary

Today is our Highlawn Pavillion Anniversary. I'm not sure what other couples call their 3rd anniversary, but ours is Highlawn Pavillion. That's because we finally went to eat at the Highlawn Pavillion - which is at Eagle Rock Reservation, a place we have visited on a number of other occasions. Our 2nd anniversary was our Coffee Table Anniversary.

One of the reasons we chose to have our anniversary dinner at the Highlawn Pavillion is that the restaurant has a nice view of the New York City skyline. For the last week or so, the weather in New Jersey has been beautiful; however, halfway through today big dark clouds rolled in, opened up and dumped a bunch of rain on us. The rain had died down by the time we went to eat, but clouds and fog were still all about, and we didn't have much of a view at all.

After dinner, the rain stopped completely, and we were able to snap this photo of the skyline. A far cry from the photo we took last year. But at least the sky looks kind of cool with the clouds the way they are.

Highlawn Pavillion is a really nice restaurant. Kenji had fillet mignon and I had venison - both dishes were yummy. The building itself was erected in 1909, and was at one time a "casino" (I put that in quotes because the history blurb on the menu used the word casino, yet it didn't really sound like there was much gambling going on, which doesn't strike me as very casino-ish). But it sounds like the Florentine style building has spent most of its years in disrepair. In the 80's Essex County decided to demolish it; but when confronted with the cost decided to sell it for restoration by a revenue-generating business. So now we have a fancy restaurant instead of a broken down, grafitti-covered eyesore.

Highlawn Pavillion came with some interesting friends. I noticed that birds were painted on the ceiling here and there. One of the birds was painted directly above our table, so I snapped a picture...

I like how they give the bird a little drop-shadow to make it appear more real.

Kenji noticed that I had a 100-legged friend crawling along the wall towards me. I supposed I could have gotten up and run away, but then you all wouldn't get to see the picture.

Quote of the evening: "Thanks for not liking jewelry!" -- Kenji

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Paul and Storm

Last night I went to a very tiny little concert (audience of no more than 20-something people) at the library in Maplewood. The music and comedy was by Paul and Storm, a duo I'd never heard of until I went to see them with shoe-changer triangle member Joe.

Paul and Storm are a comedy music duo, and indeed they are very funny. They are also very interactive with the audience. I had the fortune (or misfortune) of admitting I didn't know what the next words were of a particular song they were singing... which resulted in Paul and Storm serenading me personally with some very silly lyrics that I won't repeat here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mariners Lose :(

Yep so so we went to our second Mariners-Yankees game of the weekend. This one the Mariners did not fare as well as the game we went to on Friday night. But that made Tiffany happy, because she's a Yankees fan.

We arrived at the game a couple hours early, so we were there when the park opened, and were among the first in line to go visit Monument Park. Monument Park is behind left-center field, so after looking at all the plaques and stuff, we spent some time watching batting practice from the seats behind left field. While we were out there, I managed to get a picture of Ching Ming Wang. He nearly pitched a perfect game the night before, but lost it on a home run by Ben Broussard. Too bad we didn't bring our baseball gloves with us - we had some pretty good opportunities to catch balls during batting practice.

Here we are with our three hats...

I don't know why Tiffany looks so not happy in this picture. It was taken before the game, so maybe she thought the Yanks were in for another loss. ;)

Oh well, even though the Mariners didn't win, at least the game was entertaining. In the seventh inning there was almost a fight when Scott Proctor nailed Yunieski Betancourt with a pitch - both benches and bull pens came out on the field to play...

I was a little annoyed during the seventh inning stretch though. Tiffany and I were in the middle of singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game when Bob Sheppard interrupted the song so that Red Sox traitor Roger Clemens could make his announcement that he was going to be a Yankee again. Kenji missed the whole thing because he was in the bathroom.

My favorite part of the game, however, wasn't even part of the game. (That's almost a Yogi Berra kind of thing to say!) My favorite part was the celebration of Vera, before the game. Vera is a grandma who, just a few weeks ago, beat the snot out of a would-be robber of the store she was working in with a miniature Louisville Slugger from 1961. They brought Vera onto the field behind home plate and told her story to the cheering crowd. But the cutest was the look of utter surprise and delight on her face when Derek Jeeter came on to the field to present her with a full size Louisville Slugger.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

We Will Never Forget & Gabriella's Flag

This weekend's letterboxing adventure took us to Eagle Rock Avenue. Originally we set out to find three letterboxes - two in West Orange and one in Roseland. However, the park in Roseland where the third one was located was closed by the time we got there.

The two in West Orange were both conveniently located at a park called Eagle Rock Reservation. This park has a really nice 9/11 memorial because it offers a fantastic view of the NYC skyline. We've been to this park several times, so I supposed that's why it didn't occur to me to take a picture of the skyline or the memorial. And going through all of the photos I've taken since we moved to New Jersey, it appears I've never taken a photo of the memorial and skyline before, either. Oh well. Instead here's a big tree stump with me standing on top of it. Apparently the tree was cut down because it was not doing well - the inside of the trunk was all hollowed out.

The first stamp we found is called We Will Never Forget. It's located near the southern wall f the memorial, and was very easy to find. So easy that I forgot to take pictures. Unfortunately the box was waterlogged - while we were able to stamp our books with the letterbox's stamp, we were unable to leave our stamps in the letterbox's book because it was so wet. Which reminds me that I need to contact the placer of this box and let her know that it is in poor condition.

The second box was also an easy find, but required a little more work on our part as it was hidden about a quarter of a mile into the woods. This box is named Gabriella's Flag. Gabriella is the little girl statue that is part of the 9/11 memorial.

Gabriella's Flag was placed back in 2004, so its book has many stamps in it. Ours are the first ones of 2007, however. In flipping through the pages, Kenji discovered a nice Totoro stamp, which, of course, is super-cute. :)

As I mentioned earlier, we had set out to find three letterboxes today, but the third one was off-limits to us because the park where it hides, the Essex County Environmental Center, was already closed. But that was okay with us because it was getting nigh supper time and we were hungry. Turns out we weren't the only hungry ones though... Looks like we caught Punxsutawney Phil's cousin getting his share of greens in this evening.

Mariners Beat Yanks

Last night, Kenji, Tiffany and I went to Yankee Stadium to watch the Seattle Mariners beat the Yankees. At least that's what I told everyone who asked me what my plans were for this weekend. I kind of didn't really believe it though, since the Mariners have had such crappy seasons for the last four years or so. But at the same time, I also didn't totally disbelieve it because I know the Yankees are having a pretty crummy season this year. I think their big losing streak of the season is even longer than Seattle's.

That first inning lasted more than a half an hour. At that rate, we were on track for a four and a half hour game. Most of that half hour was spent by the Yankees scoring five runs and the Mariners none. Thus there was a lot of mumbling and grumbling from Kenji, and none of it nice. However, on the previous night in Boston, the Mariners started off with a five run lead - yet they still managed to lose the game. So we had that hope that perhaps the Mariners could do the opposite against the Yankees this time.

Half way through the 2rd inning, Tiffany and I went off in search of a bathroom and $8 ice cream in a hat. We found the bathroom, and it turns out the ice cream was only $5 because it was Carvel's soft serve and not Ben and Jerry's. When we got back to our seats it was the beginning of the third inning, and things were starting to look up for us - the Mariners scored a run. By the end of the third inning, the Mariners scored two more runs. Inning by inning, the Mariners runs went 0-1-2... so in the fourth Kenji said that they need to score 3 runs to keep the pattern going.

And they did! Could they keep the pattern up?

Sort of - here they are with 0-1-2-3-4, but that didn't last for long. Turns out the Yankee's relief pitcher was even crummier than the Mariner's relief pitcher. In the fifth inning, Colter Bean pitched more than 8 balls in a row and gave up several hits, which led to his being taken out of the game mid-batter. By the end of the fifth, the Mariner's piece of the scoreboard read 0-1-2-3-8 - a break in the pattern that Kenji and I didn't really mind.

By the last half of the ninth inning, the Mariners were still winning by four. However, I've learned time and time again that it's never too late for the team I'm rooting for to screw it up - after all, I did grow up in Red Sox country. And it really looked like that might be the case when after only an out, the Yankees brought in Jason Giambi and loaded the bases. But then Red Sox traitor Johnny Damon flied out, followed by a ground-out by Derek Jeeter, ending the game.

Now let's cross our fingers and hope they can pull it off again on Sunday!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bed Kitty


Last fall I planted some flowers in front of our house. Today, they finally opened up!

April 22

April 28

May 2 - before work

May 2 - after work

UPDATE: May 4 - afternoon