Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the category “New Jersey”

Ocean City: Ready for Visitors!

Ocean City, NJU

After the devastating Superstorm Sandy went through our area last October, things looked quite bleak. But with everyone pitching in to help, the Jersey shore looks much better now. Of course, some areas of New Jersey and New York still need more help and more work, but they, too, will recover. Ocean City, in the meantime, is ready for company. C’mon down.

Here’s one more weekly fun event in Ocean City.

Wednesday is Farmers and Crafters Market Day in Ocean City on the Tabernacle Grounds at 6th Street. Come get your “Jersey Fresh” produce. The market opens at 8 am.

O cean City Farmers Market Wed...

The Last Meow

Hey! What’s going on here? Word on the street says this garden has catnip. But this just looks like stinkin’ parsley. What gives? Where are you hiding the good stuff?

Meow for Now. =<^;^>=

Jersey Shore Towns Reopen and Welcome Visitors

download from camera 4-2011 328The terrible devastation ($38 billion in damages) of many New Jersey shore towns caused by Hurricane Sandy (October, 2012) required enormous clean-up and reconstruction projects in a relatively short period of time. Now, seven months later, these resilient NJ shore towns welcome tourists back to the beaches, ocean, boardwalks, and their communities.

President Obama visited the New Jersey shore on May 28, 2013 to check on the rebuilding progress. He walked with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on the Asbury Park boardwalk and spoke to the crowds gathered there to see him. School children lined the route of President Obama’s motorcade. President Obama noted the enormous work that had been completed, but he acknowledged that repair work needed to continue before recovery would be complete.

New York Daily News photo

New York Daily News photo

USA Today photo

USA Today photo

The next post reviews the hurricane situation, showing how one community, Margate, NJ, prepares to meet the challenge of revitalizing storm damaged homes still in need of repair.

N is for Nora’s Ark: In Times of Trouble People Help People (Hurricane Sandy)

Hurricane Sandy makes an abrupt left turn and heads directly to New Jersey coast.

Hurricane Sandy makes an abrupt left turn and heads directly to New Jersey coast.

Ocean City, NJ is my favorite beach town and I have written about it before:

O is for Ocean City, NJ 2012/04/18

download from camera 4-2011 1143

Saturday Silliness – Basset Hound Doo Dah Parade  2012/08/04

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Bike MS-Video-City-to-Shore Success 2012/09/30

Bikers walk their bikes to the staging area after completing the race.

Bikers walk their bikes to the staging area after completing the race

Bike MS City-to-Shore 2012/09/30

Brianna enthusiastically marches around the area carrying a sign with the positive news that a cure for MS is in sight. Children can learn the value and positive benefits of volunteering at an early age.

Breanna enthusiastically marches around the area carrying a sign with the positive news that a cure for MS is in sight. Children can learn the value and positive benefits of volunteering at an early age.

Relay for Life (Cancer) 2012/06/25

Relay for Life opening parade

Relay for Life opening parade

P is for Parade, Pies, Paint–Doo Dah Parade, 2013 2013/04/18

I. Will. Not. Go. One. More. Step. And. You. Can't. Make. Me.

I. Will. Not. Go. One. More. Step. And. You. Can’t. Make. Me.

O is for Ocean City, NJ: Pizza, Saltwater Taffy, Frozen Custard, Caramel Popcorn  2013/04/17

Eating ice cream on the Ocean City Boardwalk with my grandchildren and their cousins.

Eating ice cream on the Ocean City Boardwalk with my grandchildren and their cousins.

A Cat, A Crab, and a Sunny Day 2013/05/09

Photo credit: David Nahan, Ocean City Sentinel

Photo credit: David Nahan, Ocean City Sentinel

The Last Meow

Good idea. Time for the beach. Let’s go!

kitten in pink car

Meow for now.  =<^;^>=

Favorite Posts from My Archives


Blog Every Day in May, Prompt 21:  A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives.

Those wonderful WordPress stats have identified my most popular posts over the past year:


Italy: It’s 4 P.M.  Have You Had Your Gelato Yet?  2012/05/30

Italy: A Visit to Tuscany  2012/05/16


New Jersey: My Home State

Got Blueberries? 2012/07/12

Easy-Peasey Blueberry Tart

Easy-Peasey Blueberry Tart

Bike MS: City-to-Shore  2012/9/30


B is for Big Brother’s Bits about Being Blind  2012/04/03

Adam cross-country skiing with Ski for Light buddies

Adam cross-country skiing with Ski for Light buddies

Social Media:

They Laughed When I Sat Down to Twitter  2012/03/22


This post did not get many comments, but it got a surprising number of views.

Q is for Quirky Dreams, Susie Q, and Prepositional Phrases  2013/04/20

The Last Meow.

And my cat....must be fed before you have coffeeReruns. Blah. I hate reruns. I’d better go take a nap.

Meow for now.  =<^;^>=

A “Little Bobby” Story from My Childhood in Vineland, NJ

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May. Prompt Number 18: Tell a story from your childhood.

I posted about Mom, Ellen Mason Carlton Kroelinger, and our life in our big chaotic household with ten kids and two adults for Mother’s Day. We also had one or two dogs, a dozen cats, and a wacky duck to add to the confusion. You can read that background to this story here in “Missing My Mom.”

We kiddos all have funny memories of growing up on Brewster Road in Vineland, New Jersey. One story in particular surfaces at almost every family reunion: The Ten Siblings and The Incredible Disappearing-Sticky-Cinnamon-Bun Story.

With ten children and two adults eating at every meal, Mom had to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Though the kids helped in turn, she still prepared the bulk of the meals. For dinner, Mom had to cook a dozen of everything: twelve ears of corn, twelve potatoes, twelve pork chops, twelve big meatballs, or twelve whatever happened to be on the menu that night.

Mom didn’t have to bake bread though, because our old reliable Palmonari Bakery delivery truck came by every afternoon to dropsticky-buns-lg off giant loaves of crusty Italian bread. We all loved to go out and check out the goodies that Joe, the driver, had tucked in a long pull-out drawer in the back of the Palmonari truck. Sometimes he had crumb buns (yum), and sometimes he had sticky cinnamon buns (double yum).

Joe was always full of news of the neighborhood, and since we were near the end of his run, he often had a few minutes to chat. The problem was that sometimes his goody drawer was empty when he came to our house.

On our luckiest days we got cinnamon buns.

How many cinnamon buns are in a dozen? Twelve?

Nope. Thirteen. Palmonari’s sold a “Baker’s Dozen” which has thirteen delectable sticky cinnamon buns.

Little Bobby, the darling of the family.

Little Bobby, the darling of the family.

Do you get the picture? Twelve family members eat their allotted cinnamon bun, sitting around the twelve-person dining room table. One cinnamon bun remains on Mom’s big, white porcelain platter in the center of the table. Ten children with bottomless pits for stomachs stare at this incredible, delectable bun, their childish minds whirring at the speed of lightning, calculating how best to claim that last mouth-watering, caramelized-brown-sugar-pecan-nut-and-raisin-topped cinnamon bun before anyone else could get it.

There are conflicting reports on how this all came about, but everyone seems to agree that sweet little Bobby, the youngest sibling, Mom’s little darling, grabbed the bun and shoved it in his mouth before anyone could think of a more democratic way to handle the situation. And being the youngest, he was the most capable of getting away with this kind of self-centered assertiveness. First off, he was little, and second, he sat in the coveted, protected spot next to Mom at the end of the big table. Little Bobby could do no wrong in Mom’s eyes. Of course, Bobby was special in our eyes, too. And he was so clever that we all had to laugh at his high jinks. Oh well, who needed that cinnamon bun anyway?

The Last Meow

CAt Swag  cat and cat food bagIs it time to eat yet?   What? All I wanted was a little snack to tide me over until dinner time. No big deal. I can still eat my dinner.

I promise!

Meow for now.  =<^:^>=

A Cat, A Crab, and a Sunny Day (Blog Every Day in May Challenge)

DBlogEverday[1]ay 9. Prompt: A moment in your day

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I walk outside for my moment, and I want to sing the song made famous by Mr. Rogers. You can listen to it here.  It brings back lots of memories.

This kind of day I call, “The Cat’s Meow.” It couldn’t be more perfect. Here’s one of my little friends soaking up the sun.


After weeks of cool and rainy weather, we are excited to have this perfectly lovely sunny day.

Further good news is that our local crustacean clairvoyant, hermit crab Mr. Martin Z. Mollusk, saw his shadow on the beach, Thursday, May 2. This means that summer will arrive one week early in that slightly wonky beach town, Ocean City, NJ.

Illustration credit: eaglestaleonline.com

Illustration credit: eaglestaleonline.com

Don’t laugh. This is a big deal. The Ocean City Sentinel did a half-page, six-column, six-captioned-photo article on this annual event. (The newsroom was a little slow last week.)

The Ocean City High School Band came out and played “Pomp and Circumstance,” while a whole host of critters and creatures (Shelly the Mermaid, Dr. Ernest Frankestein, Mr. Trash Buster, Mama Llama, Nurse Perfect, and others) paraded down the beach to the shadow-checking ceremony. You can peek at the whole crabby ceremony here.

Photo credit: David Nahan, Ocean City Sentinel

Photo credit: David Nahan, Ocean City Sentinel

Listen, when you live in a small, coastal town in Southern New Jersey, you do anything you can to lighten things up after a dreary winter. And why predict the weather in the coldest part of the winter like that Pennsylvania Puxtapuny groundhog guy (or whatever his name is).  By the way,  the word “winter” is not in the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce vocabulary bank. They say that summer unofficially arrives on January 1. But what do they know? I think they are just in denial.

This Martin Z. Mollusk shadow-checking ceremony is all serious business. Dr. Frankenstein took great care to determine Martin’s fitness for beach duty and declared that Martin was healthy and free of illegal sea-roids.

Photo credit. nbc40.net

Photo credit. nbc40.net

Now, seriously, don’t you want to visit Ocean City, NJ and take part in these shenanigans history-making events?

And don’t forget. In early August every year, you can participate in the Miss Crustacean Hermit Crab Pageant. Rumor has it that a representative of the Krabdashian family attended the bash last year. A big feature of this annual pageant is the Hermit Crab King of Klutz Race.  Better make your reservations now for this event.  Well, I bet it will even rival the Miss American Pageant when it returns home to Atlantic City this September.

Photo credit: Travel Times Magazine

Photo credit: Travel Times Magazine

The Last Meow

Oh, so what’s the big deal over there on the beach?
A hermit crab that predicts an early summer?
Give me a break. I coulda told ya that.
I have supernatural powers, too, ya know.

Meow for now.  =(^;^)=

Fear? Blog Every Day in May, May 7

BlogEverday[1]Post number 7 in the Story of My Life: Blog Every Day in May challenge posted by Jenni at Story of My Life. See list of prompts for the month of May here and here.

Things you’re most afraid of. . .

This is not an evasive answer; it’s the truth: I can’t think of anything that I fear.

Spiders? When I first moved into my new house eight years ago, several large spiders came to visit. Our house is in a newly-developed 55+ community in the sandy pinelands of Southern New Jersey. In an area that once was woodsy, one can expect a few invasive critters. At first, I was horrified at the size of them, but I just yelled for my husband, and he came to the rescue. Ken is My-Heck-of-a-Guy. (Apologies to Leonard Cohen at 1heckofaguy.com.) At this point, it seems as though the spiders have moved back into the nearby woods, and I’m happy about that.


And did you hear about our out-spoken, but lovable, Governor of New Jersey, Mr. Chris Christie? He protected the children of New Jersey from a tiny little vicious spider and got a memo from PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals). Read all about it here and watch the full over-blown event here on CNN national news.  Turns out President Obama and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, did the same thing. It’s all in the CNN news report. That’s what our world leaders do on their jobs, only when they do it, it makes world news. My-Heck-of-a-Guy is jealous!

Heights? True, I don’t like high places. You won’t find me out on the glass platform hanging precariously over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Nor will you find me going up in the new World Trade Center.  And don’t get me too close to the edge of a cliff. I know I will fall right over the side.


Closed Spaces? You won’t find me going up in the St. Louis Arch, no matter what the viewing reward. I just don’t like enclosed spaces. Claustrophobia? Closed spaces make me feel uncomfortable. (I forgot that one on my May 3 post: “A Few Uncomfortable Things.”) 

Speaking to large audiences? I have done that a number of times, and although I was scared witless, I made it through. Public speaking is not my favorite thing, but I have conquered that fear. The secret is to be thoroughly prepared.

What is fear?

But really, what is there to fear in life? I think we all fear the things we can’t control. Losing a spouse or a family member. Getting a major illness like cancer or heart disease. A serious accident. Losing a job.

We can’t control these, but we can’t let fear about these things control us.

For me, my faith keeps me grounded. As a Christian, I believe in eternal life with God. It is hope in this eternal life that keeps me from fear. Other religions bring hope to their believers as well.

Of course, I am not on the frontlines of the war in Afghanistan, in battle areas of Syria and Iraq, or at any other military hot spots. I think I definitely would feel fear there. But I would still have to rely on my faith in those situations. It’s not a que sera sera kind of thing; just a firm belief that our earthly lives are short, and our eternal life is forever.

fear not poster

Grandson Evan and mad cat

Grandson Evan and mad cat

The Last Meow, A Message from A Cat Friend

Put me down. I do not want to ride on that bike. No, I’m not afraid. Do fish ride bicycles? Elsie the Library Cat..riding a bike.No. Well then, cats shouldn’t ride bicycles either.

Now lookee here. Some smart alec is going show me up by riding a bike. So what? I still don’t want to ride a bike. Put me down, NOW!

Meow for now.  ={#;#}=

W is for Whose Woods These Are

Friday, April 26 is W-Day in the A to Z Challenge. The end is in sight. Three more letters to go.a-to-z-letters-2013

Robert FrostWhenever I see a woodsy area in Southern New Jersey (or anywhere else for that matter), I think of the first line of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” a poem I learned in 10th grade English I’m not telling how many years ago a number of years ago.

Whose woods these are I think I know.

Lately, I have thought of this line a number of times, although I have always incorrectly remembered this line as “Whose woods these are I do not know.”

Last year, on June 30, 2012, many patches of wonderful woodsy areas in Southern New Jersey were devastated by a severe wind-storm (derecho) as it hopped-skipped-and-jumped through our area. I wrote about that storm in this blog post: Blame it on the Derecho a few days later in July of 2012, and I posted pictures of the damage in and around my hometown.

This year, on various walks and rides around the area, I have looked to see how well the area has recovered from the storm.  In some places, you hardly notice the damage. Old trees have been cut down, and new smaller trees have been replanted on local city streets. But in the out-lying woodsy areas, it is a different story.

I decided to take more pictures of the area to show how long-lasting the damage is.

WalkingTrail AC 019

The tops of these pines were sheared off and left standing like telephone poles. So far, there is no evidence of recovery. The pine cones that weren’t blown away may start new pine growth, but that will take years.

WalkingTrail AC 035New growth can just barely be seen in the twinges of red buds on the still-standing trees.

WalkingTrail AC 026Trees were broken off like matchsticks at mid-height.

woodsy shots-derecho 001

Huge trees were pulled up by the roots.

cropped woods-derecho

Large sections of trees stripped bare stand next to sections of trees hardly touched.

Whose woods these are I do not know, but it saddens me still to see such devastation.

On bright note, though. There are new buds on the bushes and red twinges of buds on the branches. Hope springs eternal.

The Last Meow  

We cats love trees. Here’s the proof!cats  in trees 1

cats in trees--get down

cats in trees oops

Meow for now. =(^,^)=

S is for Stats and Milestones–10,000 Views Milestone! WooHoo

a-to-z-letters-201310,000 views of my blog? Really? How did that happen?

I hadn’t really paid much attention to the stats that WordPress keeps for each blog, not realizing how broad the reach of a blog can be. So in early April, when out of curiosity I clicked on my blog stats, I was surprised shocked to see that my blog had well over 9000 views.

Getting StartedThey laughed

I laughed when several years ago my daughter said, “You ought to start a blog.”

Why on earth would I do that? I laughed.

But once the seed fell out onto the ground, it began to take root and grow, not right away, but over time.

One of my first blog posts was, “They Laughed When I Sat Down at The Piano.” You know, sort of like, “They laughed when I sat down to blog.”

wana imageWANA: We Are Not Alone

I have been blogging for a while now. I muddled around started with a BlogSpot.com blog,  titled GED Writer, in September of 2010, writing about the GED (high school equivalency testing for dropouts) and adult education topics. I realized this was not a hot topic for a blog and decided to think the matter over a bit more.

I tried again with WordPress in December of 2011, finally getting a blog going in January of 2012. I met Kristen Lamb online and began to follow her posts at Writing Warriors. I read her book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, and I joined her WANA112 group: 100 writers who wanted to get better at blogging.  Kristen advised us to use our own names as our blog titles because we needed to build name recognition as serious bloggers. She also advised us to branch out and write about multiple interests rather than just write about our primary, more narrow, writing interests.  All of this was great and encouraging advice.

In the process of building my blog, I made lots of new writer friends. Of those 100 original writers in WANA112, 88 of us still keep in touch on Facebook on our closed group page.

And more amazing than that was that I gathered followers, kind readers who left encouraging notes.  I learned a lot from reading their posts, too. Such clever people, I thought. I will always appreciate these early followers. These are the best friends I have never met:

Tami Clayton, Taking Tea in the Kasbah
Elaine Smothers, Wonder in the Wild
emaginette, Shout With Emaginette
Glenda Mills, Meet Me On The Mountain
Barbara Forte Abate, Scribbling Outside The Lines
Judythe Morgan, Voice and Views from The Front Porch
Mike Schulenberg, Realms of Perilous Wonder
Sheila Pierson, Wonderstruck
Ellen V. Gregory, to beyond and back
Jodi Lea Stewart   Walking on Sunshine
Liv Rancourt, Laughter, life and romance under partly sunny skies
Elizabeth Fais, Where the awesome begins
Sara Walpert Foster, Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
Siri Paulson, everyday enchantments
Linda Adams, Soldier, Storyteller
Sherry Isaac, Psychological Sizzle
Sherri Martin-Hutchins, live wonderstruck
And none of us could get anywhere without advice from Laird Sapir, of Shabby Chic Sarcasm

A to Z Badge 2012 (1)A to Z Challenge, 2012

But I didn’t really get into more serious blogging until the April 2012 A to Z Challenge (to write 26 posts in the month of April). I took the challenge seriously. I decided that if I could do 26 posts in that short a time, I could probably do more. The A to Z format certainly made it easier to come up with ideas.

I finished the 2012 A to Z with a hey,-I-can-do-this-blogging-thing attitude, further reinforcing Kristen Lamb’s yes-you-can-do-it encouragement.

Of course, blogging daily is tricky to do what with all the other commitments in life, so I settled into a doable pattern of two to three blog posts a week and continued through November of 2012 before taking a break because of family health issues. When that 2013 A to Z Challenge flashed around the Internet, I was hooked again!


In May of 2012, I traveled to Tuscany and Rome in Italy for two weeks with my sister-in-law and two other friends and found many topics to writevilla-Il Cortile del Borgo about there. We rented a villa named Il Borghetto near San Gimignano and wrote about that. We visited other intriguing Italian cities, and I wrote about them: Florence, Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, aother charming towns. We traveled to Rome, and I wrote about our adventures there, staying in an old family-run hotel near Piazza Navona.

After Italy, I returned to Southern New Jersey and wrote about surprising things there: blueberry festivals, derecho (severe wind storm), veggie farms, Relay for Life, Ocean City, and a few other events of interest in my home state. And I added recipes for my favorite foods using “Jersey Fresh” vegetables and fruits.

For the 2013 A to Z Challenge, I have focused more on Writing PLUS Grammar-You-Can-See. Let’s just wait-and-see what comes along next!

Thanks, again, to all my faithful friends and followers. You truly are the best. My blogging adventure has been fun, though I must admit it has had its hours and hours moments of frustration. The learning curve is steep, but it does level off get less steep as you move along. Just keep writing!


Here’s a post from Ellen Gregory, a WANA112 friend, on her recent accomplishment of writing 200 posts. It’s so nice to see my blogger friends hit their own milestones. Congratulations, Ellen.

The Last Meow

Of course, kitties have been a big part of my blog. They always have something smart to say. They really don’t care for myTerribly Cute pic...cat attitude grammar posts, but they seem to like the rest of my blog topics. They celebrate with me on our 10,000 views. After all, that means they get 10,000 views, too. No grumpy cats here!

Meow for now.   ={^;^}=

P is for Parade, Pies, Paint–Ocean City Doo Dah Parade, 2013

a-to-z-letters-2013Day 14 in the A to Z Challenge: P-Day

Parade, Pies, and Paint

I missed the Ocean City Doo Dah Parade this year because we were painting in our church in Margate, NJ, getting reading for volunteer groups coming to help repair Superstorm Sandy damage.

Ocean City had damage, too, like many other coastal towns, but volunteers have helped here, too, and life is returning to normal. To prove that, The 2013 Doo Dah Parade went on as scheduled. Here is a video clip of all the silliness that went on. The shaving cream pies were a big hit.

See my post from 2012 for pictures of a Doo Dah Parade.  Saturday Silliness: Basset Hound Doo Dah Parade 2012/08/04.

Here are more Ocean City stories from 2012.


The Last Meow

cats dressed upBy the way, don’t ever dress up us kitties like this. It is beneath our dignity. Save it for the dogs. They don’t have enough sense to care!

Hey. WooHoo. Lookee. I can see the weekend from here. WooHoo, WooHoo.

Meow for now. =<^y^>=And my cat...judo

O is for Ocean City, NJ: Pizza, Saltwater Taffy, Frozen Custard, Caramel Corn

a-to-z-letters-2013A to Z Challenge, Letter O, Post #15.

Wow, we are moving along in this A to Z Challenge!  Day 15 with 11 more posts to go.

O can only stand for one thing for me: Ocean City, NJ.

And guess what. Food Network Magazine says the same thing in its May 2013 issue “Walk the Walk: 001These amazing boardwalks are worth a stroll this summer.”

Ocean City, NJ is right in there with Myrtle Beach, SC; Kemah, TX; Old Orchard Beach, ME; and Santa Cruz, CA. The authors of this article acknowledge that there are many great boardwalk towns along our coasts, and they loved them all: big, small, run-down, flashy–and especially those fighting their way back after Hurricane Sandy (Coney Island, NJ). They settled on five boardwalks in the article.

For Ocean City, NJ, they got most of my boardwalk favorites: Manco & Manco Pizza, Shriver’s and Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy, Kohr Bros. frozen custard, and Johnson’s caramel popcorn.

We also love George’s Homemade Ice Cream, Hula Restaurant and Sauce Company (formerly Hula Grill) for the best coconut shrimp anywhere, Bashful Banana for yummy muffins, and Ward’s and Mallon’s Bakeries for the yummy cinnamon rolls.

If you want to do something other than eat, you can go down to the beach, or stay on the boardwalk and ride the rides at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, Playland’s Castaway Cove, Gillian’s Island Water Park. Miniature Golf? We’ve got plenty of that, but watch out for gorillas, sharks, alligators, and pirates along the courses.

You can tell that I love Ocean City, NJ, and I have written about it before, and I’ll probably write about it again.

download from camera 4-2011 1021O is for Ocean City, NJ   2012/04/08
Dining Out: Pizza at Home and Pizza in Italy  2012/08/08
Saturday Silliness: Basset Hound Doo Dah Parade 2012/08/04
Relay for Life: Wash Out or Not 2012/06/25
Bike MS: City to Shore, September 29, 2012

download from camera 4-2011 328

The Last Meow

We kitties love the beach, too. And lookee there, we even have a shop just for us, right next to Johnson’s Popcorn. I can get my very own Ocean City Beach Patrol sweatshirt.  Meow for now. =<^,^>=cat-on-beach1 Travel Times Mag

Ocean City Dog and Kitty

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