Sometimes Less is More… Final Days in NJ and Rita Plays Favorites


After days and days of being in “super-warp-tourist-mode,” the time we spent AFTER the NYC Marathon Day (I’m sure we clocked more than 26 miles of walking), were much needed, and very special.

Having a daughter 3,000 miles away, working for a major news organization, in one of the biggest cities in the world, brings both a sense of pride, and a sense of dread. While we talk, text, facetime, e-message, and g-chat all of the time, there is always a bit of parental detective work that goes on to answer the question, “how is she REALLY doing?”

As it turns out. Great. I mean really great.

Yes…we had a couple of minor tense moments when we talked about the wedding plans for next summer (yes…we still have a full year of wedding planning), but for the most part, the final days, including the 4th of July were just “chillaxed” and wonderful.

Deb made her world famous potato salad, Ryan made some killer burgers on the grill, Katie made an avocado, cucumber tomato salad, and we just hung out in the back yard and watched the kids negotiate for just one more activity. Ryan’s sons are about as cute as you can get, and are a constant ball of energy.

TheFeast theMeal



We tossed baseballs, footballs and frisbees, while swimming in the backyard pool.  All of this was interspersed by constant “mini-bouts” of Brandon’s version of the WWF (with which he is obsessed to the point of spending much of his “padular device” time, watching reruns of classic WWF matches).

He takes it seriously, as witnessed by the challenge board he left for us in the hallway by our bedroom.


Pretty complex use of language for a kid who just passed 1st grade…and a vast improvement over the graphic drawing of a butt that he had on the board before that, taunting his little brother.

Ryan made his family favorite for us…something we had heard about for a while now, and was the favorite dish to prepare for large family gatherings, by Ryan’s grandma (who passed away recently). So, it was with a great sense of pride and tradition, that we shared several helpings of “American Chop Suey” with Ryan and the boys. They are nuts about this stuff…as it is topped with Campbell’s Tomato Soup (which is where the recipe comes from). It is a meal more fit for “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” than the “Iron Chef,” but after the third helping, I had to admit to its addictive nature.

The last “dining adventure” came in the final hours of our stay (as we all needed to get to bed early for Katie’s return to work at 4A and our departure to “hit the road” at 6A).

Rita’s Italian Ice has become a tradition when we visit Katie, and believed it to be a New Jersey exclusive, until just ten minutes ago…when I Googled it looking for locations, on the East Coast.

There, in clear, undeniable terms, was a taunting message from Rita’s, that if I want their “Ice Custard Happiness,” I can get it almost anywhere in the country…EXCEPT FOR OREGON. 
OK… so there are a few “Gray States” on the map…but damn…the whole West Coast EXCEPT OREGON?????

For any of you have haven’t had the sinfully delicious and refreshing treat that is a Rita’s Gelati, on a sweltering hot, humid day…you really don’t get what “Ice Custard Happiness” is all about. Look at these faces!

Ritas2 Ritas3

Now…Look At These Calories!

You think that freaks me out??  HellstotheNO!

When I start wondering if something I like, is good for me at my age, I just pop a couple of these babies in my mouth…
(card compliments of my daughter, Ali)

Seriously…I’m on the vacation of my life…a true bucket list trip…and I’m going to get the “Kid’s Size” because it is “healthier for me?”  I’m in New Jersey!!!  I survived the Turnpike!!  SCREWITALL!

Deb and I are lucky and blessed by our children. Ryan is a great dad, and an amazingly doting, sweet, responsible partner to our daughter (who can exhibit behavior that could be termed “high strung, type A, and driven”…especially when behind the wheel).

They are both successful, and more than just “making it” in the meat-grinder-of-souls that is New York/New Jersey. Watching them with Austin and Brandon, enjoying even the smallest of family moments together, makes me realize that “they get it.”

This picture, taken at Northlandz Model Railroad (see my other post), really says it all. A family that can be immersed in just being together for a moment of discovery…


We can’t wait for next summer when the McGuire clan (about 35 of them) head out to Oregon for the wedding. We’ll have to treat them to a Prince Puckler’s Ice Cream. They don’t have one of those in New Jersey. 

On to Virginia and the Eastern Shore!



About crankyoldguy067

I'm a very complex I am. It may seem like I only golf, watch TV, and listen to Randy Newman, Tom Waits and Little Feat...but I am a deep, deep deep that at times I just have to lay down. I love my family. I love my wife for putting up with me. I have held more jobs than a Pakastani immigrant...and have had three complete career cycles. 1. In my first life (rymes with first wife) I did almost every blue-collar job you can imagine...all with alarming ineptetude. 2. In my second cycle, I owned an ad agency, was an award winning music producer, and recording artist. And now, since the advent of the Internet... 3.I have been pretty much locked into providing services and marketing support to radio stations across 160 markets...while dablling with writing...continuing to write music...managing several blog sites, the country club web site, and being a grandpa...while working to pay for the weddings of my last three daughters. I will be working until I am 70...or 75...or 80. My advice to anyone who wants to emulate my life... DON"T!!!!! Stay in college. Have a good, long career in something with a decent retirement program and good benefits. You can't pay for your gallbladder operation with an Emmy Award. Really. I've asked.
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