The Night They Killed the Donut

I don’t want to talk about it. I am traumatized.

At the Phillies game watching them get eviscerated by the Milwaukee Brewers …

Went to Federal Donuts and find out the only chicken they serve now is on a roll!!!!

WTF!!!

Used to be … Federal Donuts would give you a halved breast (2 pieces) and a drumstick accompanied by their delicious donut.  EVERYTHING was delicious!  Now it’s a chicken sandwich, take it or leave it.  So I left it.

Got two donuts and stomped off in crushing disappointment. Procured an Italian sausage sandwich to ease my pain. Never a disappointment … #wheresthechikin

Impressions of Jamaica

Pano-view of the main Sandals South Coast pool

 

This was our second trip to the beautiful island of Jamaica.  Our first was full 32+ years ago, in October 1985, on our honeymoon.  For that memorable experience we luxuriated at a resort then known as EDEN II in Ocho Rios on the north shore of the island.  Unconfirmed rumor had EDEN II (which we honeymooners were told stood for Every Day Every Night Twice) destroyed during Hurricane Gilbert. Further research – however – showed it had been a Sandals resort (Dunns River), then was renovated and reopened as Jewel Dunns River Resort & Spa (Hilton Hotels and Resorts).

A return trip to Ocho Rios would have been nice, and maybe someday we will.  But for this trip, a birthday excursion for two women who are very close friends, the group decided on a Sandals resort in Whitehouse (Sandals South Coast).  It couldn’t have been a better choice … with the exception of a little weather.

The Jamaicans were all too willing to admit that their wet, rainy season runs roughly from mid-April to mid-June.  It was apparent that we skirted a potential washout of a vacation (Dates of stay: May 1- 8, 2018), but we lucked out.  We experienced only one washout day during our 7-night stay and one very wet evening.  Not bad really since the rest of our time there was sunny and humid with occasional dark clouds that did not always produce rain.  Truly minor inconveniences that gave us the opportunity to work on our bar tans!

We did everything we wanted to (or not), and received all the sun we could handle.

The Sandals South Coast resort is phenomenal, although I imagine during the height of tourism season it could feel a bit crowded.  Our stay was considered “off-season”.

The Sandals property is not big enough to require motor transit (as we experienced at Barceló’s Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic).  Small enough to walk comfortably anywhere, the South Coast was an exceptional experience.  Nine restaurants, seven full-service bars (one out over the ocean), two swim-up bars (always a Big Plus!), four pools, unlimited water sports, top-shelf liquor, on-site spa, and shopping plaza.

img_0226For me, a man of modest needs and even modest-er desires to spend a vacation being active and adventuresome, Sandals was a perfect environment!  Extremely relaxing, plenty of space (at least during off-season) to enjoy the sun (Recommend early as possible poolside lounge chair claims!), adequate bar capacity and locations, excellent food (only one meal of questionable quality … Make sure you hit The Jerk Shack for lunch!), wonderful and friendly hosts, excellent spa (Red Lane), and well-appointed rooms.

Downers:  One disappointment was that our “beachfront room” was a beach/pool view, which did not front on any beach.  Quality of evening entertainment (We were told new acts were being broken in.), although the Silver Birds steel drum band is an act you absolutely MUST SEE!  Room service is reserved for only the top-shelf (i.e. $$$$$) accommodations.  The quality of meal with the special beach-side romantic dinner was not worth the price, though the service was excellent.  Make sure that “beach front” room you reserve is an actual beach-front room.

We left Jamaica with varying impressions on our second trip to the island.

People:  Definitely my most favorite part of vacationing in Jamaica (besides the beauty and wealth of adult libations) were the Jamaicans themselves. It’s practically impossible to walk past a Jamaican without expecting some sort of genuine “I love Life” encounter or leaving their presence without a smile or a laugh.  Almost everyone seems happy, content, and more than willing to spread the cheer around!  Given that Tourism is a crucial column in the Jamaican economy and in the quality-of-life, so the people you encounter tend to grasp the importance of being welcoming and accommodating.  Yet the genuine reactions and positive attitudes gives one the impression that tropical living promotes a most agreeable mindset in those who live there.

 

Peaceful waters and verdant hills

.

 

Beauty:  I imagine somewhere I have yet to visit rivals Jamaica for its verdant scenery and peaceful beaches.  I found that I can stare endlessly at the Jamaican countryside … the mountains, blue-green water, vegetation, people, beaches, etc. … in complete bliss.  The mountains in particular provide a rich colorful background to everything on the island.

chinese-jamaicaRoads:  Our trip over the mountains from Montego Bay to Whitehouse made the Spring roads in my little slice of eastern Montgomery County, Pennsylvania appear merely “blemished” in comparison.  Hard to believe that such a warm, welcoming climate can create so many potholes and road canyons!  However, it was an eye-opener to learn that the Chinese are making HUGE infrastructure investment in Jamaica.  The one major highway project we saw was being financed completely by China who apparently employed contractors from neighboring Korea to manage construction!

Economics:  Cursory observation indicates that Jamaicans are probably better off economically that say those in the Dominican Republic, which we visited in October 2016.  The DR seemed much more impoverished in larger swaths than those in the part of Jamaica we saw.  Certainly, you do see some blight and destitute conditions, but it doesn’t seem nearly as prevalent as I observed in the Punta Cana area of the DR.

Drug Wars:  On our first trip to Jamaica in 1985, one of the first things we noticed on our two-hour trip from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios were the presence of telephone poles planted at angles to the ground on any field of reasonable size.  We were told those poles were intended to prevent the landing of drug-smuggling planes, looking to load up before heading to destinations to the north.  Thirty years later, and I saw none anywhere.  In 2015 Jamaica legalized medical marijuana with a bill so vague it has resulted in de facto legalization.  Naturally, it also eliminated much of the criminal element – and the crime – from marijuana cultivation and distribution.

In the end, I enjoyed my second trip to Jamaica almost as much as the first.  Remember though, we were honeymooning the first time (*wink wink*)!  I would not hesitate to take another Jamaican vacation, and Sandals would certainly be a short-list option.  Between north coast Jamaica and south coast, I would have a very difficult time picking one over the other.

If you get the chance, enjoy Jamaica wherever you decide to go!

Our poolside room view was supposed to be “beachfront” (-10).

Couples Massage Redux, Mon!

Our first experience in the stately art of the Couples Massage was a happening just 18 months ago during a memorable trip to Punta Cana in the beautiful Dominican Republic.  We so thoroughly enjoyed that initial experience, we made a point of scheduling one for our most recent trip to Sandals South Coast at Whitehouse, Jamaica!

This trip intended to celebrate milestone birthdays for Carol and her BFF.  And no, I will not be revealing the specific milestone in the desire to preserve my physical and mental health!

For this Couples Experience we would be in the good … uh … hands of the fine people of Jamaica.  No problems, mon!

As with any comparison, there are obvious and subtle differences, which can render comparisons somewhat unfair.  The most obvious differences were as follows:

  • Sandals SC:  a verdant and fragrant bungalow-type structure in a quiet section of the resort ;  Barceló PC: a somewhat sterile looking storefront in a large retail and restaurant complex in the middle of the resort
  • img_0214

    Red Lane Spa at Sandals South Coast (Jamaica)

  • Sandals SC:  common area in a centralized court for post-massage libations and quiet time and communal Jacuzzi and shock pool available for use any time; Barceló PC:  secluded private personal courtyard with bottle champagne and shock pool (i.e. shock as in damn cold!) with communal Jacuzzi, shock pools, swim pool and shade pool available for use any time
  • Atmosphere:  Advantage Sandals SC; Post-massage amenities: Advantage Barceló PC

As for me, I took a significantly different approach to my second couples experience.  The first time, I opted for Modesty, keeping my bathing suit on for our massage.  I was glad I did since my male counterpart was politely requested to don a “banana hammock” when he went au naturel!

.

img_0211

Red Lane treatment room similar to ours

My curiosity in this regard would give any cat a case of the heebee-jeebees. And yet I decided to go the Full Monty, arriving in nothing but the simple, yet comfortable robe provided.  I was relieved when I was not asked to “hammock up”!  Relieved because I doubt the massage would have been as enjoyable with Carol’s hysterical laughing.

Carol was a bit surprised to see me sans all Decorative Trappings of Modest Society.  But at least she held her laughter.  On the other hand I was a bit perplexed by her decision to retain a strategic piece of undergarment.

My Jamaican masseuse – on the other hand – did not skip a beat, although she discreetly conducted a tactile “undies check” through the sheet that was thinly covering my caboose.  During the massage, she ensured continued discretion through the strategic use of sheeting whenever she asked me to reposition.

Too be honest, I was a bit surprised at how things progressed once my lack of drapery was noted. I was betting on the area just south of the equator being completely avoided.

Boy, was I wrong!

The Jamaicans are nothing if not prepared for anything.

Instead of the entire Equator being tactfully avoided, only the Bermuda Triangle and Death Valley ended up being “no fly zones”!

img_0213

The central courtyard where post-massage recovery is fragrance-filled.

Afterwards we were provided with privacy and the chance to use a rather large and roomy shower.  Then it was out to the central courtyard where fragrant flowers, muted sunlight, and comfortable benches awaited.  Adult libations were served in the form of fruit-blended champagne.  The environment was heavenly.

To say the entire experience was enjoyable and relaxing is a gross understatement.  Although the exfoliation of the feet and lower legs – included at Barceló PC – was not part of the Sandals SC treatment, our Jamaican couple’s massage was slightly more enjoyable. (This is my own personal opinion, likely the result of surface area covered by the Hands of Jamaica!)

Differences in facilities and the extent of treatments are to be expected.  The important constant is the pleasure and relaxing nature of enjoying a sensuous massage with your significant other.

Don’t miss out should you have the opportunity!

Springtime in Cranky Man Land

 

Springtime in Cranky Man Land

When it’s Springtime in Cranky Man Land

Soft dewy footprints impress the fluffy verdant,

Though some may wax eloquent as a spectacular Lawn,

To Cranky Man it’s simply Heaven’s Dawn!

img_0208
So green, so soft … You don’t want to get off!

 

If you like what you see above and below,

There’s a link below to help make YOUR lawn so!

.

7E1FB3DD-9C1B-4ED5-812A-B272575DE348

Coming Soon: Lawn Therapy for Tired Souls

Lawn Care Tips for the Consummate Lawn Amateur:

Cranky Man’s Catalogue of Lawn Tips

38C34660-F21A-4AA0-8AD2-B2EE04EEB5EA

Stare long enough, you can feel stress melt away!

The Irish Catholic Hajj Lived

The trek towards Middle America is daunting in an Econoline van, 700 miles and 11 hours long.  Yet the draw for a 17-strong contingent of Philadelphia area products from the Roman Catholic Church and school systems is irresistible, as witnessed by a core group that has made the South Bend trek to University of Notre Dame football games 17 times now.  

The underside of an obscure card table, inscribed with the names of past participants documents the participants from year-to-year.  Those making the Hajj for the first time dutifully add (R) to their names to signify their rookie status.  We also made habit of marveling at the precision organization, courtesy of Major General (Honarary) Edward Brady (Father Judge ’74), and execution.  Staying out of the way – unless called upon – for fear of ruining the mojo.

The group was not nearly as rowdy as might have been – and probably was – years ago.  Then again most of use are on the downhill side of 50 or below sea-level of 60!  It does seem to mute the wackiness.  The one exception being the call to “Huddle up!!” by Staff Sargeant (Hon) Lenny, a call to imbibe shots of intestinal fortitude.

You learn to celebrate Life more managably as you grow older.

Friday was for a tour of the Notre Dame campus, steeped in history not limited to football.  As a Philly guy, never quite bitten as badly by the ND bug, hearing the story of John Cardinal O’Hara (former Philadelphia Cardinal of the Archdiocese and President of Notre Dame) next to his marble crypt is one example.  The Battle of Gettysburg story of Reverend William Corey, steadying New York’s Irish Brigade in the hours before their date with Destiny at Little Round Top and the wheat field, is quite another.

As for the football experience, the pageantry and loyal following the Fighting Irish inspire is evident at every venue.  For me, the excitement generated by the Notre Dame Band of the Fighting Irish, on Friday particularly with the horn section warming up the crowd inside The Rotunda was simply spectacular!


.

Saturday, the focus was FOOTBALL … not to be overshadowed by perhaps the nicest stretch of weather shining down on the Best Tailgating Experience ever!  (OK … Honestly the guy with the satellite dish and 40+ inch screen might have an edge here.)  It’s difficult to imagine a better day.

The Miami of Ohio – Notre Dame game was anticlimactic, given the obvious talent gap and the Irish’s ability to step on Miami’ s throat in the 1st Quarter (Final: ND 52 – Miami 17).  But the highlight truly is that there’s much, much more to enjoy at the Notre Dame Football experience than just a lopsided victory!

.

View of our rental’s backyard in the vicinity of the University of Notre Dame

The Irish American Hajj

Sixteen men, one determined young lady, two Econoline vans (bench seats), 700 miles, 11 hours … A journey meant for the die-hard fans of The Golden Dome, The Fighting Irish, Knute Rockne, The Four Horsemen, and other Legends of the Gridiron ….

An American Hajj (Commitment)

A two-decade tradition expanded to include wannabes and hangers-on.  The planning intricate, resourceful, learned … Leadership the envy of military staffers ….

We depart at zero-dark-thirty for the University of Notre Dame with kisses from the women folk left behind. (Admittedly some of which are not all that worried about more spacious beds, cooking for one, and quiet evenings curled up with Netflix.)  The assault vehicles are loaded; GPS devices homed in; coffeed up and leisurely fed by one weekend widow, we are Oscar Mike!