From Amsterdam to Dusseldorf to New Jersey:
Picking us up from Newark Airport was my dear friend Teri, whom I met in 1981 when I had a Eurail Pass and backpacked around Europe for two months. I had been travelling on my own and we shared a carriage from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf. We can both chat, and the three hours just flew. As a family we visited Teri and Frank in 2001, and then I returned with my sister in 2003.
Going to the store for the American cookout:
Beautiful weather allowed for a barbecue on their deck, with their fun friends Janet and Ted. Earlier I had gone shopping to the “store” with Teri for supplies. Because I had run out of chewing gum I was asking for “chewy” and they found it amusing. It really is amazing how many words we pronounce differently as well as what we call things, as in the USA they call it “gum.” Shopping for alcohol I was impressed at how much cheaper it is in the USA. Australia is renowned for too many taxes on drinks. I found a double sized bottle, yes one and a half litres, of one of my favourite Australian merlots, Yellowtail, and it only cost US $10.99, plus tax. The pleasant evening flew.
What shall we do today? Plan A-Z
After we had been to ten-year-old Frankie’s practice for flag football, there were big discussions on when we would have dinner. It’s hard co-ordinating a large family and the daughters’ boyfriends and overseas guests with most suitable times and arrangements, especially when we had decided to go to the 9-11 tenth anniversary memorial service in the centre of Middletown.
Teri and I ended up going shopping while the guys went to the driving range. At the running store I purchased a new pair of Asics runners, which they call training shoes, to replace the ones I had been wearing. I did that with a few items on this trip. I also replaced a black camisole with a new one that has a beige abstract floral lacy part at the top, and goes very well with the skirt and sandals I brought with me.
The men met us at Billabong to look at watches and sunglasses for Dutchy, both of which need replacement. I told them all that Billabong was Australian, and finally I found information that said it was founded on the Gold Coast in the early 1970’s. We found a potentially suitable watch but thought we would look elsewhere as well, which took us to Macy’s at Monmouth Mall. Bingo, we managed to find a Seiko watch that was on clearance, reduced from $200 to $125. In this part of the world though, the price is marked before tax, so make sure you factor that in when shopping. Because we were from overseas, the saleswoman sent us upstairs to obtain a special voucher that gave us a 10 percent discount, thereby almost covering the tax.
Hooray for clearance sales: I managed to get a tankini and bikini bottom in a beautiful royal blue reduced at the end of the season, for under $20. Now I can throw out the brown ones I brought with me.
It was a sobering ceremony we attended, to commemorate 9-11 ten years ago to the day, where Middletown lost 37 people. Unfortunately we were standing for the whole hour, on top of the standing at Frankie’s practice earlier that day for over an hour. Walking is better for my Achilles than standing.
The family gathered for a pre-thanksgiving dinner, beautifully prepared by Teri. Since we don’t celebrate this occasion in Australia, it was a great idea. The pictures speak for themselves, with a spread of turkey, broccoli gratin, kugel, stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberry jelly, followed by delicious cakes from The Flaky Tart.
As Teri was teaching for the day, we stayed at the Massa Resort, enjoying blogging, their treadmill, some Body Balance and their swimming pool. Later, when she returned Teri drove Frankie and me to visit her mother Edna, who is 91 and amazing for her age. On my request she played a mini recital for me on the piano, still a magnificent pianist. It has inspired me to start practising again.
Dutchy and Frank bonded over Monday night football, which Australians call Gridiron to differentiate between our Australian Rules and theirs, which is entirely different. They drank Bourbon and did the obligatory “half-time hot tub.” Meanwhile Caitlin did a Keratin hair straightening treatment in my hair for a reduced price while we watched the remake of “Arthur” upstairs in her bedroom.