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It's quite possible I've seen this term before. But this is the first time I _remember_ sitting up and paying attention.


"Ellen Sullivan, director of operations for Andover- and Dedham-based Home Transition Resource, one of a growing number of firms in the booming field of “senior move management.”"

"The thriving industry is a symptom of the challenge. While the senior-move specialists assist older clients with the mundane aspects of moving — choosing a mover, say, or calling the cable company — they also play the role of family therapist, buffer, diplomat.

“We can help to soften the blow if the kids don’t want anything but are afraid to tell their parents,” said Kate Grondin, founder of Home Transition Resource. “We can shift the focus to how wonderful a donation would be.”"

"Unknown just a few decades ago, the field now has a trade group — the National Association of Senior Move Managers — that counts 950 member companies.

Prices in Boston average $75 to $100 an hour, according to the association."

I'll probably be back here editing this with more link-fu. I am enchanted by the idea of this industry and want to know more.



Here, "Senior Move Manager".

"There are 37 senior-moving companies in Massachusetts alone, according to the nonprofit National Association of Senior Move Managers.

If you are weighing whether to downsize, you may benefit from hearing how these folks did it."

This article is more about the downsizing, less about the managers / specialists.


"These managers call in estate appraisers and trash collectors, antique dealers and electricians. For their more elderly clients, they study the floor plans of assisted-living apartments and find tactful ways to explain that there simply won’t be room for that recliner bought on sale at Jordan Marsh in 1962."

"Jennifer Pickett, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Senior Move Managers, estimates the average fee is $40 to $60 per hour but says rates in the Boston area may be up to twice as expensive."

The website for the professional organization: https://www.nasmm.org/

ETAYA: A South Dakota firm that does both professional organizing and senior move management is expanding from Rapid City to Sioux Falls.


Charlotte NC, a slightly different set of services offered by "senior real estate specialists". The move manager will help you figure out which / how your furniture will fit into your assisted living apartment and help you empty the rest of your four bedroom colonial ... somehow. The real estate specialist will help you figure out _where_ you are going next and may help with some of the other stuff. I think.

A Virginian realtor explains a bit more about what this kind of realtor might be able to help with: https://pilotonline.com/life/home/you-your-home-and-prepping-for-independence-days/article_170aae96-ab89-5e5e-bba4-f8881978feff.html

OK, so, logically, we want to now see an article doing the compare/contrast, amirite?


People who know me are waiting with bated breath: when will she identify books on topic to read?

If you are thinking, wow, this is what happens when people have only a few kids but enough money to pay for a high level of service quality, well, I couldn't agree more.

Ahem. Now, down to the fun part! Quoting with intent.

"Without a senior move manager, the first instinct of some adult children is to grab a box of garbage bags to get rid of things over a weekend. That’s not serving a parent with dignity. People have a lifetime of possessions. They should be disposed of with the same sort of thoughtfulness with which they were acquired."

I don't understand the argument being presented. But I will say this: apparently, supportive language and a deliberate pace are a big chunk of what the hourly fee buys you.

"Who’s really the client of a senior move manager?

The client is the person in transition, even if the adult child makes the call or is the one paying. When possible, we want the older adult to do all the decision-making."

It's like the aging parents are finally getting revenge for the wedding planning / payment situation a couple decades earlier in the family.

"What are the misconceptions about this industry?

That it costs a lot of money to hire someone. The bulk of our member companies charge between $60 and $80 an hour. The total bill is usually no more than $2,500."

Either they are _really_ good at what they do, or the process of paying $80/hour really brings it all home to people over the course of that week.

Oh, and there are a _shocking_ number of books on this topic at Amazon.
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I did the short loop by myself and later with M. T. and I went to Applebee's and then the horse.

A. objected to her boots when she was getting ready to go to the horse. I asked R. to step away so I could see if I could debug the situation. We last put these boots on two weeks ago; they were fine then when the previous pair no longer fit. Alas, my kids seem to hit an age where they are moving through shoe sizes in unpredictable and rapid ways. We solved today's problem by removing the socks (they were thin, but no socks was thinner still).

After she left, I spent entirely too much time on Amazon, Zappos and a few horse-y sites (forums and places with "saddlery" in the name). I ultimately ordered her the largest of the kids Blundstones (in purple! Supposedly equivalent to a US 4-4.5) and the smallest of the women's Ariat round toe paddock boots (zip heritage something or other I think). Hopefully, one of them will work. Length is not a problem; it is width specifically in the toe box which is the issue. R. is of the opinion she should just suck it up. I however have a long time bestie who used to have to "suck it up" when her feet were growing too fast for her parental equivalent to purchase correctly sized ice skates. The results probably had a life long impact on the shape of her feet.

It is annoying (and not that cheap) to have to buy the next size up so rapidly. But I keep thinking, you know, this isn't going to happen for that many more years. She _will_ stabilize. And it would be nice if she could get to that stable point without permanent modifications to the natural growth of her feet along the way (and yes, I get that just wearing shoes changes your feet -- believe me, I've spent months at a time only wearing shoes a few hours a day if that, so I'm pretty clear on the difference between wearing and not wearing. But there are gradations to this phenomenon between reshaping bone vs. how thick the callous is on your heel and the ball of your foot).

We had dinner at home.

I finally spent the time tracking down a plausible phone stand for a batch digitization project I've been thinking of undertaking. I have absolutely _zero_ desire to do this using a traditional scanner. OMG the nightmare of taking a bunch of randomly sized but definitely smaller than 8.5x11 bits of paper, arranging them attractively and then scanning in a scanner. No. Thank. You. But phone pictures are okay -- I just have enough of a tremor I don't feel like trying to compensate while doing this manually. I ordered a CamStand Scanboard; now I'll just have to get the lighting to something reasonable. I may wind up having to order a screen, but I've been thinking about doing that anyway, to guarantee a neutral / don't expose the contents of the house background for photos anyway. Shopping for that actually took longer than shopping for the paddock boots. And both activities really reminded me of the difference between online retail and bricks and mortar. Decades ago, I probably would have had someone build me something (so I want a c clamp, and a neutral background for the support and height adjustment would be nice . . .) for the scanning project, or just sucked it up and put up with an ordinary scanner -- or just let the files sit in paper form forever. The paddock boots probably would have involved going to a couple specialty stores, having them special order a few things, try them on when they arrived and then walk out of the store a month or more later with something that I was reasonably certain would fit. Now, even tho it took a half an hour or more for each shopping project, the results will arrive relatively soon, and if they don't work out, I'll just have to iterate until they do.

ETA: I did the long loop by myself starting at around 9:30 or 10. For the first 20 minutes, it was perfect. Cool, but still comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, not terribly muggy. Alas, right around when I got to the rail road tracks on Central street, it started raining. The "light rain" that didn't look like much on the radar was not particularly light. It paused a couple times, but it never stopped. I came home completely soaked. Good news: because I was moving at a good rate, and it never got much colder, I wasn't actually chilled or anything. And my various electronics survived just fine (headphones, phone, watch). Also, nobody else was out walking, not even the usual dog walkers. I was the only idiot out there.
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I took T. to Target in the morning. The dojo was closed for the holiday weekend. I bought a bunch of clothes for A. Then I emptied a lot of the remaining 10/12s from her closet and drawers, and packaged them up to take to the B. household where we were going for a playdate in the afternoon.

R. took T. to Costco, and also to the tile place in Natick to pick up our order of shower tile and so forth which had been sitting there for a while.

Then we all went over to the B. household. We had smoke salmon, cheese (okay, not me!), and baguette slices for starter along with drinks. The kids played with the sprinkler and then detached the hose and used it to create a water slide on the play structure in the back yard. Burgers for dinner and lots of great conversation. I always have a great time with them and this was yet another shining example of why I adore the whole family. And am so happy they moved to Massachusetts because when they still lived in Merrimack, NH, it was a really long way to go.

Happy Canada Day! 150th anniversary. Funny story, in a town that shall remain nameless and at a location I will not mention due to recognizability, the Canadian consulate called the private company which runs the highly recognizable location late in the afternoon (around 4:30 or so -- a half an hour before the office part of the company closes up for the day, before a holiday weekend). Could this landmark in this town pretty please fly the Canadian flag for Canada Day? Not this year, sweetie. The logistics would be insane -- the landmark in question is over 600' tall, meaning the size of the flag required to even be visible up there is a little nuts.

R. and I both have lots of Canadian relatives (his are French Canadian and mine are Mennonites). We honeymooned in Canada. But goddess above, a little pre-planning on that would have been so much better.

Apparently, this Canada Day generated a lot of Maple Leaf sales, very much unlike in general/the 125th anniversary. The thinking is that maybe the stark popularity difference of the leaders might have something to do with it.
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I tinkered a bit today. I _think_ I managed to do the OpenID merge between LJ and DW. It may take a while to complete. I also figured out a way to download the Imagine Dragons pre-order from the Imagine Dragons website. I hate doing this -- it doesn't work well between my webmail from my service provider and iTunes. I'd rather buy it on iTunes. However, I pre-ordered in order to get access to the early ticket sales for the concert (rather than buying resale like on StubHub or whatever). We got good tickets, and all I had to do was buy a t-shirt and the album, so it wasn't excessive or anything. But I sure hate trying to get the music from another website and imported into iTunes. I suppose if I did it more often I'd get better at it.

T. went off with A.'s sitter; A. hung out with me until it was time to drive down to see Despicable Me 3, which was excellent. The first movie got him the girls. The second movie married him. The third movie got him a twin brother. Pretty fun! And a unicorn! Sort of. :-) I love that she was flexible enough to love the critter that showed up to eat her bait in the Crooked Forest.

A.'s iPad was low battery in the car so I tried to charge it to no avail. The phone charged fine. After the movie, I stopped at an Apple Store. It charged fine on the chargers plugged into the wall, so I went home, where it charged fine. Apparently, the AUX connector in my car will charge a phone but not a tablet. Who knew? I'm going to try the lighter socket next, but I need to dig out an adapter to test that.

R. and I went to Rapscallion for dinner, where we had a lovely time despite the heat (their AC was having some challenges). They have good cherries now! I talked to C. briefly about how he made them; I want to try that, and I want to try making some cardamom bitters. I've ordered some cardamom seeds (I thought I had some, but I only have coriander seeds) and some saffron threads. Recipes say vodka, but I'm thinking I'll just find a nice strong whisky and use that instead. I also need to figure out how hard I want to try to get sour cherries vs. whatever happens to be at the store.
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DC now has gender neutral ID. Oregon will shortly have gender neutral ID.

Australia, India and Canada already have gender neutral ID. I want gender neutral ID in Massachusetts! Please!

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I saw the headline go by on Alexa and asked for more details "Ask Alexa about the crow". I was very skeptical because "no go zone" was part of the story. And "no go zone" is often fake news. However, in this case, three addresses won't be receiving mail until the hazard to Canadian postal workers of Canuck attacking (and drawing blood) is corrected.

I know a lot of people who love crows and corvidae in general. I am not one of them. I more or less classify them along with squirrels, chipmunks and sea gulls: a rat with a different appearance. While individual squirrels, chipmunks, sea gulls and rats may be lovable, as a class, these are animals which disproportionately benefit from human populations. Which, you know, fine. But crossing the line here.
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We got a Show! I'm so excited about it. It is not flat. It has a weird sort of wedge shape to it that makes it sit upright on a flat surface very nicely. The speaker sounds quite decent. The screen is a bit small, but honestly, we have so many huge screens in our house I do not give a fuck. Placing the Echo Show was pretty straightforward: I wanted it next to my recliner. You know, so I never have to get up again. (<-- Joke.) This thing would have been so flipping perfect when I was breastfeeding. Oh well! But, you know, if you are a Millenial, and staying at home for some months with a little one physically attached to you, you might think about getting this. Also, if you are bedbound or whatever because of other issues (sprained ankle, broken foot, paralysis, etc.), I can see this really being a game-changer.

The main issue with putting it there is that we already had a regular Echo in the front hall, and that thing can hear decently far away (better than me, honestly. I'm old). So I kept having both of them respond, which really sucked. Yes, Dear Reader, you can be home alone and STILL have two people trying to tell you things at the same time and ignoring the fact that the other person is talking and you can't actually distinguish between them. For suitable values of "people". R. fixed this by having the main Echo respond to a different wake word -- it is now "Echo", and the Dot and the Show are now "Alexa".

Over the last few days, I have concluded that the single most awesome feature of the Show is that you can play music on it (wait for it) and it will scroll the lyrics with the music. Karaoke lovers might get a kick out of this, but my daughter absolutely loves it. Singing along is a blast.

It's nice that the weather forecast, your shopping list and similar features now no longer just "speak" at you, but also have a handy little display as well. T. is enjoying watching movie trailers on the Show. I'm sure we'll find more timewasting things to do with it. I hooked up my Apple calendar (my gmail calendar was already attached), and so it now shows on the scroll for the screen saver my next activity, along with random headlines and things that are trending on various social media. It's a little hypnotic just sitting there looking at it all go by. I'll probably eventually figure out how to configure that so it will show me index / stock / commodity prices and business headlines (because I cannot make head or tail out of the sports headlines that are currently scrolling by).

Should you get an Echo Show? I have no mortal clue. I suppose it depends on whether you read that and thought, "Awesome!" or "Why the hell would anyone waste money on that?" But if you _do_ get an Echo Show, and you and I call each other, make sure you call me on the Echo Show sometime because I want to try out the whole video call thing.
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This is one of those posts that I'll have a hard time understanding in a few months. So if it doesn't make any sense, don't worry about it. It is the very definition of ephemeral.

POTUS attacked the two hosts of Morning Joe recently. It was every bit as despicable as you would expect (and honestly, that's being unkind to the word "despicable"). One of the targets replied with an image of a Cheerios box that has the headline "Made for small hands", or some such. Obviously, this is what you would expect -- a reference to POTUS' sensitivity to being described as having small hands, presumably in part because of the whole hand size = dick size thing. And yes, I'm going there. This is a _box of Cheerios_, which are very small o's. I don't _know_ that the host meant that additional commentary, but it was pretty hilarious when it occurred to me.

BI today had an article with the headline, "Trump wants to start a trade war with the biggest countries in the world". I think this is technically incorrect. I think he would greatly prefer if he could just be mean to other countries, and them not respond in kind.

And now I will refrain again from more commentary, in favor of the kinds of posts I generally prefer to make.
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I used to get a lot of inadvertent phone calls. My last name starts with an A., so in my friends' flip phone contact lists, I was often the first entry. There was a pause on that, but in the last week, I've started getting inadvertent phone calls and texts.

One of those -- yesterday afternoon while walking with M., -- was straightforwardly from my sister. I got to hear whatever was going on in the background of her life until I hung up. This morning, I noticed that I had a phone call AND VOICEMAIL from an unrecognized phone number (one not in my contact list and therefore listed as a number, not a name). At 1 a.m. in the morning (this is why I have DND turned on -- don't worry, if you really need to reach me and you know me, you can blast right through that with two phone calls in quick succession. Altho if you _do_ reach me during my DND period of the day and I decide I didn't like that, I will then specifically DND your numbers so that will stop working. Use your powers for good.).

I have also been receiving text messages from the same phone number. I pretty rapidly tracked it back to a group SMS from my sister-in-law. It wasn't my sister-in-law inadvertently contacting me tho. THAT would have showed up with her name. It was one of the other people she had texted pictures of her kids to (graduation and 8th grade completion photos. Gorgeous kids, we just saw them and they are every bit as sweet and smart as they are gorgeous. Sister-in-law and her husband make beautiful people). Specifically, the person contacting us is my husband's sister's husband's mother. My sister-in-law's mother-in-law.

Now, I'm a Certain Kind of Person. I'm the kind of person who will do _your_ genealogy for free, and tell you funny stories about your great-great-great something or other. You would _think_ I would already have my sister-in-law's mother-in-law in my contact list. And I have met her, and my husband worked with her to get a copy of one of her sculptures (metal) (Dancing Miriam -- it was a wedding gift from my husband), and I have one of her small oil paintings hanging not ten feet from me in my kitchen as I write this. And yet, I had no contact information for her.

I have contact information for her now! :-) All I need is a snail mail address, and she's gonna start getting our annual holiday card. This is what happens if you butt dial me in 2017.
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I had two sitters today. I walked with M. in the afternoon (Thursday morning she has another regular activity). I got a long walk as well. I had a lovely phone conversation with J. I wasn't expecting this -- it's going to be tricky during the summer because of kids, but so far, so good.

A. had play therapy. Her new Lammily doll and a few outfits had arrived, so I sent them with her and the sitter to play therapy. Everyone likes the new doll, and apparently that (and another smaller doll) enabled some really good conversations about power, jealousy and control, as well as travel and things like when will her body start changing. Who knew dolls could be so empowering!

Generally speaking, I think criticisms of Barbie tend to miss all the wonderful things that Barbie brought to little girls over the decades: an ability to imagine oneself in any number of careers, vs. the preceding toy (baby doll) which firmly invoked "get married and have babies and nurture". However, Lammily doll in hand, I now feel a lot of what I _wasn't_ letting myself feel about the awful proportions of Barbie that set people off (honestly, I do not care about all the pink. A. loves pink. I'm not prepared to argue). I had not felt that way when encountering other Barbie doll replacements, but Lammily is _very_ satisfying. So, yay! Hopefully it will thrive in the world of commerce and kids' toys, which is a very challenging arena.

Once a year, we have a photographer (the same photographer for 8 years now, I think) come to the house and take pictures of the kids. She came and took pictures, which is always fun, and I'm looking forward to sharing those pictures as we do annually at the holidays.

It was a busy day and I was quite tired at the end of it, having cleaned the kitchen, run roomba in most of the downstairs, and cleaned three bathrooms. None of it done particularly well, nevertheless, it was a lot of work on top of everything else.

ETA: T. went to see Transformers: the Last Knight and is now pronouncing all of his vowels really weird, probably because he is attempting to sound like Anthony Hopkins. He is not succeeding, altho it is a little humorous.

A. went to Nara in the morning and early afternoon.
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The kids went off with their sitters. It's a beautiful day. R. went to work early. The sitters showed up around 10. But the kids were really agreeable and easy to deal with. A. caught up on new episodes of Doc McStuffins and Powerpuff Girls. We all had breakfast. I made blondies and did some laundry. I also went through the paper that came back from this trip (receipts, brochures, ticket stubs, etc.) and rather than shove them all into the gargantuan travel file, I actually took pictures of them, threw them away and put the pictures in an album on Flickr with the ride photos and cell phone pictures I took on the trip. I like the result so much I'm now eying the travel folder and thinking about maybe doing that with the enormous backlog of paper from previous trips. Way better than having 3 ring binders full of this stuff, imo, and a lot easier to do / less time consuming than I had expected it to be. Oh, and I downloaded the ride photos, obviously.

I'm going to scrounge up some lunch and then probably head out on another longer walk by myself. I have a phone call scheduled in about an hour.

Last night I ordered a bunch of stuff I'd delayed ordering because of the trip (clothes for A., replacement baby aspirin and zyrtec for me). This morning I ordered T. some replacement Croc slides because his are cracked pretty severely. I have been trying to order replacement pink crocs for A., but am having trouble finding the right size and color. Then I remembered there were some pink / purple glitter crocs in her closet and got them out and realized they are the right size. So that's cool.

I did indeed get the longer walk. The Echo Show arrived, so that was fun to set up. A canvasser with Mass Saves came by. Even tho we had had an assessment done back in 2009 or 2010 or thereabouts, they apparently want to do this about every 5 years. I'm not going to complain. I have a hard time imagining what they might find, but I guess that's why they do the assessment.

Alexa now has (for about a month or two) the ability to connect with the Apple calendar. So that's kind of cool. That is the first time I've set up an app specific password for Apple, also.

I'm going to have to figure out a place to relocate the main Amazon Echo. I put the Show next to my recliner. I already had a small problem in the upstairs hall where the Dot and the Echo sometimes both could hear me. Problems of abundance, I guess? Or at least the problems associated with really liking gadgetry.
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We drove home from Hershey. We stopped in Easton to go to Crayola Experience, which R.'s brother-in-law J. had suggested. The kids had fun. It is sort of a highly-branded, inexpensive, craft oriented children's museum. If you could convince your kids to NOT always want ice cream or the more expensive things in the shop, it'd be a kind of cool place to take a preschooler. There are water tables, coloring places, modeling clay stations, painting, little climbing structures, etc. My kids are a little old for it, but had a good time.

We had lunch at the McDonald's in Easton. I tried the "signature" recipe with beef, pico and guac. I had to send the first one back to get it without cheese and ranch (I told them -- but it doesn't show up right on the ticket and I don't know if the young man at the register did it wrong or if they haven't figured out how to accommodate on this item or what). It was tasty. The pico makes a nice replacement for the usual onion etc., and I love guac.

Once we got to Massachusetts, the thunderstorms hit in earnest, so we stopped for dinner in Auburn to try to wait out some of the worst of the storms + Worcester rush hour traffic. When we got home, unpacking went super fast. T. was incredibly helpful and didn't do anything to interrupt getting through that task. We got some of the laundry done; the sheets and towels can wait for tomorrow.

ETA: T. pulled a canine out in the van on the trip home. I wrapped it up in a piece of paper and stored it in the little display case when we got home. Not too many more of those to go for him. He warned us it was about to happen and then he told me when it had, so he could hand me the tooth for safekeeping. What a difference a few years make.

It was a really fun trip. Getting to see family was especially nice. I had been sure we would hang out with my sister and her family (this was a Cape Cod replacement and we've done this trip before) but I was less sure of the NJ side trip and as long as that wasn't scheduled I'd been reluctant to make plans with R.'s aunt in Harrisburg. Nevertheless, it all worked out.
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On Monday, we started out riding Comet. Then A. and I rode Trailblazer. We met up with T. and R. accidentally and the kids rode Wild Mouse together. I bought a photo pass for the day (probably should have bought the 3 day pass on the first day but whatever), and got the one with both kids. T. rode it a second time and I got that photo. A. and I stood in line for a while for Laff Trakks. After that, we were supposed to meet everyone else at the Aqua Theater to see a Seals and Sea Lions show but A. was not going for it. We went to Subway and had an instant replay of the previous day's lunch (with only one cookie this time instead of two). She wanted caramel corn on her way out of the park and was pacing herself. We rode Coal Cracker and got that photo. Then we went to Chocolate World and did the 4D show with my sister's family and bought some souvenirs.

No swimming because everyone but us went to the water park. K. and B. went swimming later anyway, but A. wasn't really interested in doing anything but playing Roblox at that point. We had Chinese takeout for dinner; I made the kids burgers and T. ate his but A. had filled up on caramel corn.

R. did some laundry while waiting for the food to arrive and while I was feeding the kids dinner.
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On Sunday, we were going to go to Laff Trakks during the first hour, but they only open Founders Way and the Hollow and Laff Trakks is way deep in Midway. Oh well. We rode the Comet several times and had a ton of fun. Then we lined up for Laff Trakks and rode it a couple times. After that, we split up (all 8 of us went on Laff Trakks, altho T. and R. went on Skyrush while the rest of us did Comet -- even my sister rode once!).

My sister's family and I had lunch at Subway and La Famiglia. They got a pizza and some subs. I got A. a cheese sub and bacon, and I had a veggie delite. She didn't eat her roll so I wound up having it later in the cabin with pb & j because a 6 inch veggie delite with no cheese is a little light on calories even if you have mayo.

Since R.'s family went to the water park, we did not go swimming.

A.'s food obsession of the day was a cookie s'more. Those things are enormous. She didn't even eat a fifth of it, but I did manage to get the rest back to the cabin fridge for later.

I bought A. and my nieces the $19 game voucher booklet. A. played many different midway type games. Obviously, these are mostly unwinnable (except the ones that give crap prizes that you then trade up for slightly better crap prizes). But I mostly was focused on having her play, lose, say thank you and walk away with the knowledge that she'd get to play LOTS of different games during the day. I did NOT want to reinforce an already terrible cycle she's in with arcades and her sitter where she throws temper tantrums if she can't stay long enough to accumulate tickets for a crap prize that I could have bought on Amazon for a lot less money. I am reasonably certain that this is actually a huge emotional regulation task I've taken on, but given the problems some adults have with gambling addiction, I think it is worth it. Probably.

A. and I went to Chocolate World when we were feeling the sun and did the tour. There was a really long line, but it was okay.

R.'s aunt came up from Harrisburg to visit. She had come up in 2014 as well. It's always a pleasure to see her. She got a divinity degree a while back, and officiated at our wedding, which was really sweet.

R. (my sister) did taco night. This turned out to work really well, since we'd debugged the food issues ahead of time. Three of the kids had quesadillas. R. (husband) had some of the costco rotisserie chicken. I brought cilantro, fresh tomatoes and a can of Bush's black beans (low sodium). My sister had guacamole and two kinds of salsa. And we had a ton of fresh romaine. So the person with gluten issues had a salad. My husband got to avoid allium. I easily avoided milk products (there is some whey in the taco seasoning my sister uses so I had the chicken and beans). There were even gluten free corn chips -- I had brought flour tortillas so that was no go for the gluten free person. Since tacos are assembled one at a time, it was easy enough for people to get what they wanted and avoid what they shouldn't be eating. No one went hungry. Burgers would have been trickier for gluten free, but we probably would have just put together a salad and chicken plate for my husband's aunt and it would have been fine. Again, last minute on family visit planning but it worked out great.
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Because we were staying at an associated camping facility, we got one hour early entry. I had not bought tickets, because I had been very uncertain about the family visit timing. In the event, I just bought three day tickets and figured if we needed a fourth day we'd just buy it later.

We did the kids' rides first with my sister's family, while R. and T. went on Skyrush and Comet. Then we wandered around and did some more stuff like Trailblazer, which had been closed for refurbishment in 2014. I love that ride. It isn't a kiddie coaster but more like a junior coaster.

A. wanted to buy lots of food things so after we did the shortest of the Triple Tower (new for 2017), I gave in and bought her Dippin Dots. While she was eating them, I went into Gourmet Grille, which was poor planning from a food allergy perspective. I bought the carrots, celery and hummus, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So I had lunch and A. sort of ate a little lunch. We also bought some popcorn. We left in the early afternoon because it was crowded, our feet hurt and we had done enough rides for the day.

When my sister's family came back, A. and I joined my nieces and their father in the pool while my sister did some laundry next to the pool and chatted with us. They were very tired and had gotten a lot of sun, so I said let's do burger nite at my cabin. We had planned two nights cooking and one night takeout; this was my night to cook. It turned out really well, even tho we didn't have a grill and cooked the burgers (bubba burgers -- costco burgers are slightly better, but bubba burgers are great) in a pan.

I didn't buy T. and R. a photo pass. I probably should have. Oh well.
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Friday New Jersey McDonald's applebees arrive after dark

On Friday, we drove to New Jersey. We stopped at a McDonald's in Connecticut for lunch. I think we've stopped at that same McDonald's on a few previous trips -- it's in a mall in Southbury, IIRC. Then we drove to New Jersey, where we visited R.'s sister, brother-in-law, niece (who just graduated. Congratulations!), nephew (who just finished 8th grade, also Congratulations!) and mother. The kids swam in the pool. We all hung out and chatted and had a pleasant time. Because we are on very different dinner schedules (we eat early at 5 and they eat very late), we left to go to Applebee's in Union before continuing on to Hershey Campingresort. We haven't been to Hershey for 3 years. Once again, we met my sister and her family. It's a much shorter driver for her. We did this in lieu of a trip to Cape Cod this year, because of other planned travel and not wanting to have a completely overwhelming summer.

We got in after dark, but my sister had already checked us into our cabin, so we just unloaded, made beds and slept in them.
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I ran roomba in the kitchen and front hall, upstairs hall, T.'s room and the two upstairs bathrooms. I also did some cleaning in the kitchen. A. only had a half day, her last day of the regular school year. Both kids will start their summer programs after July 4th is over. We've got a little time between now and then, and we're starting to make some plans. We're very excited we're going to go see Despicable Me 3 on June 30.

A. had a play date at Nara. The sitter told the folks there she thought I had a pass. I don't think I have a pass. But the town thinks I have a pass. I'm super confused about this, but they got the right walkitout (there's another one in town with the same name) because they gave my address. I should probably call town hall and try to figure out what happened. Because I never received a pass and I honestly don't think I bought one this year. Altho I have bought in previous years (at least one, maybe two) where I never used it one single time. So, karma?

R. and I went out for sushi.

I was so tired after yesterday's walks that today I did the short walk with M. and later with R. and that was it. I'm optimistic that if I keep consolidating more walks on some days and use the days in between as rest days, I'll build up a bit more stamina.

ETA: I took a look at the 2015 entry summarizing a summer of walking. I had it in my mind that I had had some 7 mile days, but it looks like I never had 7 miles on the road days back then. Yesterday was over 25K steps, 13.13 miles total, 7 road miles (3 + 1 + 3). Getting to this point by the end of June is better than I've done in at least 9 years, possibly closer to 12. I feel bad that 7 miles on the flat wipes me out as bad as this did, but I'm older now. Here's hoping that by this time next year, I'll be looking back going, gee, 7 miles? I can do the 3 mile loop three times in a day, no problem. That's the point at which I started doing more serious hiking in Seattle (when I could loop Green Lake 3 times in a day without really feeling it, so I figured it was time to add hills).
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Today was T.'s half day. I did the long walk by myself. I did the short walk with M. I ate lunch at home (chicken salad -- still eating the leftovers, but they are going to need to be finished soon or they will go bad). We stopped at Starbucks, where T. is now getting an apple juice box instead of hot chocolate and I am getting iced tea. We went to gymnastics -- next lesson will be the last one before the break, which might be short or might be long. T. wants to do some day camps there rather than try to continue his lesson in the summer which often doesn't work out anyway.

I had a great phone call with my sister while doing the long walk a second time. So I got 7 miles on the road today! To be clear: I don't run. I walk. And not very fast. But it was nice to have a not too hot, not buggy, not too humid day.
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Despite the Patricia Briggs debacle, I persist in trying to find a new series to enjoy. This one was available for free via kindle unlimited, and started out strong. Nothing rape-y, and in fact the smart ass heroine makes some really amusing comments about consent issues in someone else's relationship.

Alas, upon reflection, I realized that this is one of a number of series in which the heroine has Special Powers from her father, who was in no way involved in her upbringing. Other examples include: Mercedes by Briggs, Kate by Andrews, Pia by Harrison -- and I'm betting you can think of more. In this case, as with Kate, the heroine is hiding from Dear Old Dad, because he is a god and there will be repercussions if he finds out she is alive / exists. In Briggs and Harrison, dad is dead. I'm sure that this is a Thing that appeals to other people, but I would sort of like to now have a Kick Ass and Take Names Heroine (who is never raped, thank you very much) whose dad was alive for her upbringing and was generally a good guy. Andrews has supplied this in the billionaire / Osiris series, altho dad is dead in that series, too. But it really shows up in the storytelling, because the heroine is that much less of an emotional relationship basket case than pretty much all of the other series I've rattled off here.

Actual review: HEY SPOILERS! Don't tell anyone you know what her powers are or she'll have to kill you to keep Lucifer from finding out about her.

Mid-20s bounty hunter, living in the "Brink" and able to access the "Realm" which she generally stays out of. Some vampires steal her "mark", so she's broke and has to take a case she otherwise wouldn't, partnered with an elder vampire. She goes to meet him in the "Realm" in the vampire "Lair" and then they go -- really, I am not making this up and I did NOT confuse this with the Thea Harrison series -- find out who has been messing with the unicorns and stealing their blood.

This book might be slightly derivative. Or, you know, great minds think alike. You decide.

The very, very, very best thing about this book -- and it is almost but not quite enough to get me to commit to reading the next entry -- is the dual mage couple that alas does not show up for a while. Once Callie and Dizzy are on page, however, I totally lost interest in the heroine, because Callie and Dizzy are completely awesome. I mean, when was the last time you read an urban fantasy with mid 60s mages, married to each other, complaining about each other's habits, and generally wreaking havoc whenever they want. If Breene ever produces a short or -- better still -- a full length novel about Callie and Dizzy when they are at least middle-aged, but better still, this age or older (I don't want a prequel with them being young), I would read that and reread that and reread that again.

If you are a huge Breene fan and think there are other reasons I should keep reading or try something else by Breene, let me know. I'm just kind of over the OMG the vamp makes me want to humpety hump but I Must Not theme. Over. And. Done.
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After school, we waited for T.'s sitter to arrive and turned A. over to her. Then T. and I went to Subway to get him a lunch for his next day's outing. After briefly returning home to pop that in the fridge, we went to Paparazzi's in Concord (that doesn't look right. Hmmm.) and I had a pizza and T. had a grilled cheese. They list their vermouth and they have bulleit rye, so I had a really nice rye manhattan with a twist, because I called the vermouth and the whisky. Yum. If only they had Luxardo's. I'm going to turn into that person who brings her own cherries when she goes out drinking. I can see this in my future.


Then we drove down to the Seaport and parked in the EDIC garage on drydock. No cash -- cards only. Interesting! I made a point of memorizing where I parked and a good thing too, because we saw other people later who had forgotten. We went to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion to see Gallant and John Legend. It poured down rain during the concert, but there is a big tent so I didn't even notice anything at all until we left and the ground was wet.

If you like John Legend at all, you should try to see one of his shows. There are a variety of reasons (it's a good show and his music is pleasant; production is excellent and Legend and his dancers are highly attractive), but the most compelling reason to go see him in concert is the audience. That is the classiest audience possible that is still really fun. It was fantastic -- great vibe, people all sat during the quiet songs and got up and danced when that made sense. People took pictures but were not annoying about it. It felt really safe. People on either side of us chatted before and between sets and after, but not in an intrusive way. When we saw them on the way to the garage after, we continued chatting and it wasn't awkward. It was more like a party where you don't know anyone but everyone is really nice and you're super happy to meet people. I have no idea why this show was like this -- other shows are great, but not in this way -- but it was a wonderful experience.

July 2017

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