Ice, Ice, Baby! Weather in South Carolina

Last night I knew that Bluffton, South Carolina, heck the entire state, was going to be hit with freezing temperatures. So I did what I do:

I wheeled my three fruit trees into the garage along with their flowering brethren on the front porch.

Then I gathered all the potted plants on my patio and lanai into one big pile and covered it with a large sheet.

I also hustled out to my vegetable garden and clipped large bunches of parsley, dill, basil, radishes, a couple of peppers and some green beans. I figured if it all froze at least I’d have some of my winter garden bounty left to enjoy.

Throughout the night I heard the wind blow. And blow. AND BLOW, talk about weather in South Carolina! When I walked into the kitchen this morning the flap on the stove exhaust fan was flapping and rattling as the wind blew. I looked outside: Tall, Dark and Handsome‘s cousin was frozen solid.

Yup! It’s a freeze, unusual weather in South Carolina. And it may last more than one day. At least the four lemons ripening on my lemon tree are safe. In the garage!

Is it cold where you are? Let me know.

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South Carolina Living: Ice! Snow!

Wearing my Dad’s old jacket…the only warm coat I had!

One of the reasons my husband Mike and I relocated from New Jersey to South Carolina was for better weather: N.J. winters are cold, snowy and icy. S.C. winters are chilly and sometimes rainy, but the typical snow accumulation? Zero. None. Nada. Until this year. The year we spent our first S.C. winter is the first time South Carolina, Bluffton/Hilton Head area, recorded snow accumulations of 2″-5″. The Snedens moved in. And so did climate change.

Oh, sure. The weather started off magnificently. We arrived November 1st and I immediately worked outside almost every day refinishing furniture. The days were sunny, and I basked in the warmth of it!

And then it was December: Still mostly sunny and warm, until the end of the month, when temps started dipping into the 30s at night.  I worried about my neighbor’s palm trees; they don’t like the cold. And fountains don’t like the cold; my neighbor shut hers off. But still, it wasn’t bone searing cold like the temps recorded in New Jersey for the same period. And we didn’t have to contend with ice and snow. I threw on a sweater and called myself happy.

And then the New Year arrived: Temps dropped like bricks thrown off overpasses in Jersey. They hit fast and low.

First it rained, then it froze solid. I was amazed at the lack of salt/sand/crews to de-ice the roads. Then I remembered: It’s not supposed to ice up like this in the Low Country of South Carolina! They don’t have the equipment to combat this kind of weather.

It was hazardous to walk on our screened patio due to ice.

Our local law enforcement did what they apparently do in frozen situations: They threw up road barriers to prevent folks from driving on the icy, frozen, slippery bridges and roads. Mike and I hunkered down. We can drive in ice and snow, but we won’t do it when the roads are untreated. We’re smarter than that! And so are the folks in South Carolina as we learned.

As the rain and ice turned to snow? Everything shut down. For days. Without the snow removal equipment the Great Frozen North has, you just slooow downnnn and staaaayyyyy hoooommmmeee. No one called to cancel appointments they had with us. I think most folks, particularly those with kids, were outside marveling at all of the cold, white stuff. Some locals were even photographed using their pool toys as sleds!

Inches of snow!

After a few days the sun worked its magic and life in our newly adopted state started to return to what passes for normal. That said? Where the sun doesn’t shine, ice remains a hazard. As does Climate Change, folks. Think about it.

Many days after the snowfall, ice remains on shady paths & roadways.


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South Carolina Living: Spider Encounter!

I’m not afraid of spiders, snakes, or most critters (the jury is still out on alligators since I haven’t met one up close on dry land yet). I’m a Pennsylvania girl at heart, raised by parents who were raised on farms; nothing, but nothing that walked, crawled or slithered scared those two.* And they raised me to take care of business. I got no time for vermin.

Prior to moving to the Low Country of South Carolina I researched the critters who reside here. You know, so I might recognize a poisonous spider or snake before it attacked me. For the first few months I was here I donned knee-high rubber boots when I was outside in the yard. I must have sweated off 5 pounds wearing those boots in the heat, but I wanted to be sure no snake slithered out of the pine straw mulch and bit me before I could identify it. I’ve relaxed a little since then. I only don the knee-high rubber boots if I’m inspecting the pine straw mulched planting beds now. The rest of the time? I feel pretty confident wearing rubber half boot in the grass and on the dock.

But I digress. We have a screened-in porch. It needed to be dusted and vacuumed, and I’m that woman. I was humming and swiffering along, focused on the task at hand. Then I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned toward it? I didn’t see anything. After I finished dusting I pulled out the vacuum. With a flick of the switch it roared to life and I worked my way from one end of the patio to the other, sucking up dust with every pass of the wand.

Then I saw it. A spider! But not just any old common household spider. Oh nooooo. This spider? It was the biggest hairiest spider I’ve ever seen outside the dead ones labeled and stuck to presentation boards in the Museum of Natural History. And those spider, if I remember correctly, once lived in the Amazon.

The spider ran toward a convenient corner. I hustled up to get a better look. And the damned thing charged me! It was the fastest spider I ever saw.

Biggest doggone spider EVER.

I stumbled backwards, headed to the patio door and a narrow escape. The spider returned to its corner. Never taking my two eyes off of it, I hugged the far patio wall and eased my way inside to get my phone. I snapped a few photos. You know, so I could Google the spider before I decided how to dispose of it. Mike was hard at work upstairs so I texted the photo to our neighbor Gabe, asking him if he knew if it was poisonous or not.

A supportive neighbor.

I’m used to disposing of critters that invade our home. My husband Mike only knows about most of the beasts from my dinner table stories about how I vanquished them. Yes, he has disposed of the occasional already dead raccoon, but if he hadn’t been home guess who would have done it?

But this spider? I needed reinforcements! “Mike! Mike?” I yelled. Bless his heart, he must have heard something in the tone of my voice because he arrived at my side almost immediately!

Call me cautious. Laugh at me. I’m a planner! I’m the one who insisted we bring our gas-powered leaf blower from New Jersey, no matter that we hired a lawn service here for our “mow and blow” needs. We’re going to use that sucker when it’s time for me to execute my massive landscape plan.  Mike will bllow the pine straw off the planting beds. And then and only the  will I commence planting. NO pine straw cover for the snakes! I will see those buggers coming.

But back to the HUUUGE spider on the patio. Mike and I approached it slowly. It turned to face us. Eyeballs. All its eyeballs, all stared at us. We moved. It moved. Mike decided the best approach was the one Gabe suggested.

He sucked the spider up. And then he let the vacuum run a bit. You know, to confuse the spider. Make it dizzy. So it didn’t try to run when Mike emptied the vacuum trash bin into a ziplock and tossed it in the outside trash can.

Score: Snedens 1: SC spiders 0.

What critter have you vanquished lately? Share in the Comments section below.


*You want to know what tough is? My Mom. When my sisters and I were young kids, he hand carried buckets and buckets of coal into our house during a raging whiteout snowstorm to keep the furnace going during one horrible PA winter when my Dad was working in NJ. Yeah. Tough. That’s my Mom.

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Snow Day in South Carolina

first came the freezing rain.

My husband Mike and I, after a great deal of list making and agonizing, chose to retire to the Low Country of South Carolina, Bluffton to be exact. Hampton Lake to be even more precise. Mike had done his homework…He said that hurricanes didn’t make landfall in Bluffton because it was justfarenough inland from the coast. He said that the weather was always warm and typically sunny…So we moved.

During Spring and Summer 2017 we had typical South Carolina weather: sunny and warm, then sunny and scorching. We expected that weather so no problem. Then December 2017 the weather took an unexpected turn: Cold. Like really cold. And now we have snow. And ice. In a state that has neither salt/brine supplies for its roads, nor snow removal equipment. Because it doesn’t freeze here. And it doesn’t snow here. Until we moved here.

This is my view today. The weather station reports accumulation of 1″-3″ by the time the storm moves on up the coast.

Say it isn’t SNOW!!

And when Hurricane Irma hit Bluffton, SC in fall 2017? We slapped on the storm shutters and hoped for the best. We were fortunate that our home didn’t sustain any damage:

Our South Carolina home button up for Hurricane Irma.

Prior to David Weekly completing our home, Hurricane Matthew hit in fall 2016. We were lucky the builder was able to close up the house, which prevented any water damage.

Don’t let anyone tell you global warming is fake news. It isn’t.

I have a shopping list ready for my next trip to New Jersey: 2 50-pound bags of salt and 1 snow shovel. I figure if I haul that stuff back I can single handedly prevent any future ice/snowfall in South Carolina. I’ll store them next to the generator we already shipped down from New Jersey. You know, just in case…

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Crafting the Perfect Wish List Can Change Your Life!

Today’s blog post is written by Julie Moore. Ms. Moore is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.

With the holidays starting, now is the best time to craft that wish list! It can be hard for loved ones to decide what to get you, especially if you’re looking to make some major changes in your life. If you haven’t expressed to your family what you want as a gift, you really never know what you’re going to get. Making sure to have all of your wish-list basics covered is the best way to make sure you’ll actually get something you like this season.

  1. Get Into Your Skinny Pants: One of the biggest changes people want to make in their lives at the beginning of the year is getting themselves into shape. If you find yourself wanting the same thing, ask for a gym membership! Finding the gym that is right for you isn’t something that should be left up to your gift giver. It’s a very personal decision, and you should visit a few gyms before landing on the one that is going to make you feel at home. Make sure to consider what type of exercise you want to do, whether your style is CrossFit or yoga. You will also want to hit the gym like a star, so make sure you add some new clothes and shoes to that list, too!
  2. Reduce the Racing Heart: Anxiety affects millions of Americans every day. If you happen to be one of them, finding some things that help calm you down are going to help you immensely! Finding time in your day to help you decompress and de-stress is something that is very important to your mental health. One of the big booms in the last few years has been adult coloring books. You should definitely add these to your list! These might seem a little silly, but art as a therapeutic pursuit has always been a highly rated way to reduce anxiety. Coloring within the lines gives you a reprieve from the tumultuous thoughts that often come with anxiety. It can help shut your brain down and allow you to focus on processing your feelings while you are putting crayon to paper. Getting last summer’s hit of a fidget cube for your work might not be a bad wish list item either!
  3. Save Time, Save Pennies: If you find yourself struggling for time in your day and resort to take-out food most nights, boy, have we got the perfect idea for you! Meal-kit delivery services, like Blue Apron, have become more popular than ever. These companies deliver ingredients and instructions right to your door. That means no planning, no grocery shopping, and no fighting traffic for you. The ingredients show up at your home. You put them in your fridge and follow the simple directions whenever you are ready to cook.

These meals can save you tons of time since you don’t have to plan meals or shop for ingredients, yet you and your family can sit down to a healthy meal. They can also save you from spending money on food that’s either not eaten or not prepared in time. Meal-kit delivery services can be a little costly, so it is a great item to add to your list for a healthier, more stress-free year.

The possibilities are endless for products and services that can help you make the changes you want to see in 2018 so get started on that List!

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My Talented Mom: On Her 85th Birthday

In October my Mom turned 85! It’s pretty shocking to me…that’s a big number. But my Mom is really ageless in my mind. She’s vibrant, active and opinionated. She has friends of all ages, but the two common themes of her friendships? Church and quilting.

My Mom made over 2 dozen “mug rugs” as birthday party favors for her friends. These are some of them. She embroidered a design on one panel then sewed the oversized coaster together then quilted it. 24-plus times!

I learned a long time ago that church is a wonderful place to make lifelong friends. Right, Carole?! My Mom taught me that. All I had to do was watch her and my Dad as they welcomed folks from church into their home and into their lives. Those friendships survived time, distance and significant life changes.

And quilting? My Mom is a talented quilter. And embroiderer. She has done everything there is to do in the world of traditional quilting…right down to once owning her own shop! Her friendships span decades, yet she’s still making new quilting friends too. And she quilts. Every. Day.

Mom is a perfectionist. Can’t you tell from this embroidered machine cover?!

Mom threw herself an 85th birthday party and invited her friends and family. I was so buoyed to see and catch up with the folks who were there. I’ve attended church in AZ with Mom so some of her church friends are familiar to me, but others I met for the first time at her party. What a happy group. Some of Mom’s quilting friends were there too! They are women who take their quilting — and sense of fun — seriously. They attend classes, go on quilting retreats, have quilt-ins and support each other in ways that go beyond quilting into firm friendship.

Mom built an extended family from scratch in AZ, which is where she moved — far from her relatives and friends in NJ — after my Dad died. I don’t think that was an easy thing to do, but she made it look easy. I hope as my husband Mike and I settle into our new life in South Carolina that I can do the same…create an extended family. Way to go, Mom!


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Drumbeat of Change: Downsizing, Rightsizing, Getting Rid of Stuff

Items to be donated.

Do you hear the drumbeat of change? Downsizing, Rightsizing, Getting Rid of Stuff?

It started quietly enough for me — Think Huey Lewis & the News Heart of Rock & Rock: Less is more.

Then the drums got a bit louder a la Atreyu Do You Know Who You Are: Keep only what sparks joy when you hold it in your hands. Let the rest go.

Bags & bags of items donated.

Until the drums and the beat invaded my very soul — John Bonham’s Moby Dick: Give everything away except the bare necessities you need to function as a human.

The truck was full within hours.

Raise your hand if you are currently embracing any of the downsizing, rightsizing, getting rid of stuff trends.

<Eyes scan the crowd for raised hands>

Not really, eh?

I’m done, as in I’m finished, exhausted, ready for a rest done. Over the last year I joined the “less is more” band as I prepped our long-time family home for sale. I held thousands of my things in my hands to see if they sparked joy, and even the many that still did spark joy? I got rid of them too. I had to make sure me and my stuff would fit into my new abode.

At the end? I donated entire rooms full of furniture, boxes and boxes of my semi-precious items. They are gone. Shout out to ReStore of Morris for their enthusiasm for my donations and their volunteers’ willingness to work hard for a cause they believe in: helping homeless people become home owners.

Here I sit, much, much lighter in many ways, but still reaching for things I no longer own.

We Americans who grew up in the age of advertising and marketing learned from a young age to define ourselves, our self-worth, through the things we purchase. The drumbeat of change, of less, is slow to catch on with us, I think. We measure our self worth by the pound…by the sometimes valuable, but always shiny things we collect and save. We’ve been programmed from a young age to desire things., to use things to show how kind/happy/worthy/rich/deserving we truly are. Change is difficult, but necessary.

Will you be downsizing, rightsizing, getting rid of stuff anytime soon?

How does it make you feel?

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Complete Upheaval: Moving

We moved over six months ago. I wrote this blog post before all the boxes were unpacked and while my right arm was still throbbing. Yeah, moving can do that to you.

Our beloved Victorian

Moving. We were moving. After 18 terrific years in our beloved custom-built Victorian home, I packed our belongings and we moved to an apartment in a neighboring town. It was a complete upheaval. We wanted to be out of our home when it was being marketed and shown for sale. We didn’t want the stress of strangers possibly frightening our pets or accidentally letting them out of the house. And honestly?  I didn’t want to risk the possibly of being home/just leaving the house and hearing a potential buyer say, “I can’t buy this house. I hate the color of the paint they used in the master bedroom.” I would have stabbed that potential buyer. And we all know that’s not conducive to a quick home sale.

Have you marketed your home while still living in it? With pets? We have. #welearned

I purged my precious (and not-so-precious) stuff over the course of more than a year. Then I packed a shit ton (technical term, of course) of boxes with the stuff that was left over. It took waayyy too long to pack.


My husband Mike repainted most of the walls in our home. I hated the colors he used, like with a burning passion I hated the colors, but our realtor and home stager (yeah, we hired a stager because “everyone” in our former town does) insisted the colors they chose were “popular colors” that “sell homes.” Did you know the color gray sells homes? Even when it clashes with gorgeous natural oak woodwork? The color gray depresses me, but if a couple wants to move into a home painted entirely gray and try to be cheerful, I say, “Ok!”

Mike also removed virtually every curtain/valence/drape in our home.  Why? According to our realtor and home stager, “Buyers don’t like curtains. They prefer bare windows.” I figure any buyer who love bare windows must have at least some exhibitionist tendencies. I mean our home has large windows. Full length, if you know what I mean.

These were just two of many “must dos” we had to do. We sought and found a realtor who gave it to us straight: what we needed to do to get top dollar for our beloved Victorian. Who were we to argue? By the time we replaced the Waterford chandelier and ceiling fixtures it wasn’t my home anymore, which was, I guess, the point. It was right around then that I realized just how exhausted and sad I really was. Mike looked like he was exhausted too, but he actually didn’t say, “I’m exhausted.” so maybe I’m wrong.

But, but, but. The fun had only just begun. The house wasn’t even on the market yet!

Move #1: Moving to SC

Next up was our dual move. I researched movers and moving companies. I narrowed down our choices to two, then got estimates from both. I wanted to bring most of my outdoor concrete(!) statuary and wrought iron tables/benches/chairs to our new “retirement home” in South Carolina. Did you know that most national and long-haul movers charge by the pound? HAHAHAHAHA. Those estimates were cra zy.

I chose a great family run company out of Bergen County, NJ that does both local and intra-state moves. The price was reasonable. They had all of our belongings packed on one truck without anyone else’s stuff packed on the same truck. The guys left NJ on time, arrived in SC as scheduled. And? I’m getting ahead of my story here, but trust me when I say they were terrific. So terrific that I used them to move the rest of our crap into our new apartment in the neighboring NJ town.

I packed and labeled hundreds of boxes: APT or SC and what was inside each box.

Choices! Crap, the choices. Choosing what furniture went to our apartment versus what would be shipped to South Carolina versus what the stager wanted us to leave  at our former home to help keep the cost of the staging within our budget. Jesus H. Christ. The logistics were enough to make me want to shoot myself. But like a good little soldier I just followed my lists (which I wrote down in a cute little notebook that our stager gifted us; I used every page of it.) and the checklist/timeline our realtor gave us, all the while chanting under my breath … “You can do this. You can do this. You CAN do this.”

Of course, I didn’t have a choice at that point since we did want to sell our home and we didn’t want to be living in it when it was being shown. Go ahead, tell me #firstworldproblems. Honestly? Come back after you’ve managed a dual move, 3 cats, 2 young adults, a husband and all their wants/desires/requests/crap and then we can talk.

I got it all sorted out. And my choices were mostly good ones.

Next on my checklist? I called house cleaners to come in and clean our already clean house. Because when I was looking at houses for sale in our town, most homes I saw in our anticipated price range? You could REALLY eat dinner off the hot water heater because it was THAT CLEAN. So I knew that’s how clean our beloved Victorian would have to be. To compete, you know. And I couldn’t do the cleaning. Nor could I wash the 65 windows in the house. I called a professional window washer to do it for me.

Why couldn’t I do the work I’d done for years on my own? By the time I packed the boxes for our moves I had a terrible case of golfer’s elbow. Repetitive motion injury. Tendinitis. As I put each moving box together then sealed it I used six pieces of packing tape. Multiply that arm motion by the 200 boxes I packed, and well, you get it, right? So instead of me cleaning  the house and washing the windows (and then jumping out of the third floor window to end my miserable life) we paid hundreds of dollars to have three women come for 5 hours and clean from the attic to the basement. And one man come in for 3 hours and polish the windows until they shone. God bless them. They did a terrific job.

And then? Mike and I flew to SC to meet the movers. And unpack the concrete, wrought iron and MANY BOXES over the course of 3 days. Yes, it was necessary, but sure, I think it was stupid. I could hardly move my right arm, let alone unpack the damned boxes. But unpack I did. Hour. After hour. After hour. Day. After day. After day.

Unpacking my clothes. And finding space for them.

And then we flew home, drove to our new apartment, parked the car in the garage (a novelty for us since our beloved Victorian doesn’t have one), walked up the flights of stairs and unlocked the door to our new NJ home. After we unpacked our suitcases? I unpacked MORE BOXES at our new apartment. For days I unpacked, injured arm and all. It was painful. I was sad. I cried a lot when no one was looking.

And then? We signed the papers to get our home listed for sale and hightailed it back to South Carolina to “rest.” Yes, I packed up one Siamese cat and more BOXES, and we drove to South Carolina. I didn’t even want to be in the same state when our home went on the market. I was too emotionally spent.

Brutus, our senior Siamese, was a real trooper on our 13-hour jaunt to SC.


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Apartment living, Moving Day, New Jersey, NJ Blogger, Operation ReloSouth, ReloSouth | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A New Stage of Life: Downsizing and Moving

A fraction of the stuff I purged.

During 2016 I purged a ton (really, a real ton!) of stuff from our Montclair, NJ home of more than 18 years. I was preparing to enter a new stage of life. I downsized in terms of stuff and square footage, but I’m not 100% ready to retire/relocate full time to South Carolina, which is where my husband Mike and I decided we’d retire. Besides, Mike hasn’t retired yet. And our son returned to college in 2016, which means he’s a poor student living at home with us for the next couple of years. Our daughter bought her own northern NJ nest nearby. So what about me?

Cue a life in which Mike and I sold our gorgeous single-family home and now split our lives and time between a NJ-based apartment and a home in South Carolina. Talk about a new stage of life!

Living in Northern NJ presents its challenges. We are a densely populated state with mostly old and often crumbling infrastructure here in Essex County. Our housing stock, at least the apartment buildings, are mostly old and, well, used.

Pia, my car, loves her garage parking space!

Finding an apartment to move into that suited our particular set of “must haves” was a challenge: We needed space to park three cars, we needed to be near the train to NYC, and Mike insisted he would only move into a brand new apartment, one that wasn’t “used.” Seriously. I loved watching Mike explain to friends that he wouldn’t move into a “used” apartment. Some people thought he was joking. After all, how many new apartment complexes are being built around here? Other people gave me the side eye, checking to see if it was really me who required “unused.”

I was charged with finding Mike’s unicorn. But try as I might I couldn’t find an apartment in Montclair that offered 3 parking spots. It doesn’t exist. And brand new? Well, the one apartment building in Montclair that’s brand new has very small apartments (a king-sized bed covers the entire floor space in the master bedroom.) And it is very, very expensive. Like I-put-my-foot-down expensive.

Mike, recognizing that he might be forced to live in a “used” apartment if he didn’t help with the search, jumped in at that point and found three apartment buildings in the neighboring town of Bloomfield that met our need for nearby trains to NYC and his requirement of “new,” but only one offered the opportunity for three parking spots.

The only problem? The 3-car complex was fully rented when we started our search, and the new building being built there wouldn’t be completed in time to meet our move-in date. And the listing agent doesn’t keep a waiting list because potential renters practically hammer his door in trying to score one of the apartments. I stared at my husband, waiting to see what he had to say about the situation.

“The buildings themselves are only a year old, which means that basically only one other person/family has lived there prior to us. I think I can do that,” he said. After I viewed the on-line virtual tour and saw how very nice the apartments are, I was ready to move there too.

I would LOVE a balcony, but it wasn’t meant to be.

We called. And we called. And an apartment came available. It was smaller than we wanted, but it had a balcony, which made me very happy. And the woman who lived there had never fully moved in so Mike was particularly pumped about how “unused” the apartment was. Plot spoiler: After we relaxed “knowing” we had a place to live, the person who was breaking her lease (which meant we could get her apartment) changed her mind. We lost that apartment.

Time was getting short. We were getting tense. Then Mike called and learned a larger apartment was coming vacant — almost 1600 square feet — but it didn’t have a balcony. I sucked it up and rushed over to view it. Two young women had lived in it for a year. The good part was that it is brightly lit and a corner unit, which meant we would only have neighbors on one side and above us. The bathrooms were large and the closets were plentiful and also large. On the downside, although easily remedied with some good old-fashioned elbow grease, the woodwork was covered in inch-high dust, the bedroom window ledges were lined with empty wine and liquor bottles, and the bathrooms were plain disgusting. I loved it! We signed a one-year lease that same day.

We have settled in.

And here we are six months later.

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Apartment living, Bloomfield NJ, Cleaning, Home Manager, New Jersey, NJ Blogger, ReloSouth | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on A New Stage of Life: Downsizing and Moving

PNC Arts Center: Rock Legends Chicago & The Doobie Brothers

Chicago played for more than 2 hours!

Last evening my husband Mike and I attended a concert at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. We hadn’t been to a concert there since, I kid you not, college. Guess what? PNC Arts Center hasn’t changed a bit: It’s still a roof-covered concert hall with the sides open to the weather.

Thank goodness we could (now) afford to purchase one of the 7,000 actual seats, under the roof to protect us from the drizzle, and we also purchased an additional $39.99 VIP parking pass. I felt like a queen as I walked the mere half mile uphill to the main gate. And while I stood in the security line with thousands of other people, many with lawn chairs in hand? I didn’t need to double over to catch my breath. We were thatclose.

Last night’s concert experience was so different from back in the day when we lugged our lawn chairs and carefully hidden booze 1.25 miles up the hill to the main entrance and then chose a spot on the “lawn,” a bajillion acres of grass hard-packed dirt on which we sat cheek to jowl with more than 10,000 strangers, in the name of listening to our fave musical act.

The Doobie Brothers hits are part of my teen memories.

The bands didn’t disappoint. The Doobie Brothers played a tight 45-minute set that highlighted all the band’s greatest hits. Then Chicago hit the stage for more than two hours of horn-laced, guitar music. And the percussion guys? Rock music of the very best kind. Epic! The audience, including yours truly, sang along, frequently swigging from our cap-free water bottles. Yes, things have changed since we visited PNC (AKA The Garden State Arts Center) the very first time.

We got home at midnight this morning. And I couldn’t fall asleep. The buzzing in my ears was too loud. And song threads kept circling in my brain. And memories of high school antics attached to some of the lyrics made for a restless night.

This is me today.


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