Thursday, May 31, 2007


I regularly eat seafood without really thinking about where it came from. I recently became interested in my seafood's home area because of sustainable fishing concerns, but I never really thought about the people who collect the fish. Horrible, right? But how often do we really think about who actually brings the food that we buy in the sterile market? It's nice to meet the farmers in the roadside stands, etc., because you build a relationship with your food provider, unlike when you buy it in a supermarket.

But I digress (and I'm also a hypocrite because I don't buy all my veggies from local growers, nor do I only stick to produce in season in the area, which is not very good).

Recently in the news we had a fisherman, possibly two, who lost their lives while trying to harvest scallops. Through that story, I learned that commercial fishing is one of the top 4 most dangerous jobs, along with firefighting and mining and other such occupations.

The Manasquan Inlet, where this particular sunken boat docked, is home to many commercial and casual fishers. It's a beautiful inlet and I'm sorry my first visit had to be because of that story.

They erected this monument to honor all the fisherman who have lost their lives to sea. People regularly tie flowers to the railings surrounding the memorial, often below the plaques commemorating certain lost ships. Within sight of the memorial, casual fisherman hang their poles off the edge of the inlet walls, fishing boats head out towards the ocean and seafood restaurants boast their fresh catches.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


EDIT: I wrote this post last week and for some reason it didn't post, so I edited a bit and updated it to make it pertinent after the Memorial Day weekend.

EDIT2: Ok, and by "for some reason" I mean user error. I hit "save draft" as opposed to "publish post."

One of the realities of living in a seasonal place is that eventually "the season" comes around. For Long Beach Island, that season is, obviously, summer.
This past weekend was Memorial Day, which is the traditional kick-off to all things summer and the start of the tourist/seasonal visitor parade to the island. One of the most noticeable changes is traffic.

During the winter months, I got used to careening around willy-nilly, with few cars or traffic lights to bother me. Let me tell you, this island was EMP-TY. Especially January through March-ish, when there are few holiday weekends to bring people to the island until Easter. (There were still regular visits for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc.)

I noticed the traffic start to thicken around April, I'm guessing people started coming out with the Easter weekend. I actually escaped the island this weekend while people poured in, heading to North Carolina to visit my cousin and his adorable twins.

Oh, and the title of this post is a name, somewhat derogatory I think, for what "locals" call summer people. The Wikipedia entry talks about the different possible etymology of the word, but either way its not very nice. I can somewhat sympathize with locals, because it does feel crowded, plus I hear there are some people who spoil the batch of apples by acting boorish and generally like their actions have no effect, but visitors to this tourist area definitely pump economic dollars, as well as tax dollars to the area. There wouldn't be as good of infrastructure if officials weren't constantly preparing for summer.

Nevertheless, I hope everyone pays attention to the second sign and DRIVE SAFELY. I really don't feel like being nosed on my way home from work, simply because you sat in the parking lot called the Parkway for 5 hours.

(PS Someone who is a "local" said I was a "local" now because if you are willing to spend winter on the island, that makes you a local. I dunno about that...what do you think?)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Warren Grove fire

William Gallagher surveys what's left of his Barnegat home.

Today I wrote a wrap-up story on the Warren Grove forest fire, which is now considered 100 percent contained. It is 90 percent controlled, the subtle difference being that contained means it is not going to move forward and continue burning new areas and controlled meaning some hot spots are still burning, but they are not going to leave that area. I hope that makes sense.

I feel odd writing the recap, as if I am taking the story from the reporters who were, literally, in the trenches for this one. But since some of them are taking a well-needed day off, and others resumed their regular beats, it fell to me. And I was glad to do it.

The story I wrote for the paper didn't contain everything I wanted to put in, like the fact that Janice Murray, seen below sifting through a wheelbarrow of china fragments, felt she had to do it for her mother's sake. Her mother, who died 7 months ago, always planned to give Murray the collection of china accumulated over three generations. Murray said she hoped to find at least a cup or a saucer or at least one piece. The family is taking the broken pieces and making it into a mosaic, while Murray's kids are perusing eBay, armed with the names of the china collections Murray's mom had stored.

I didn't put that the National Guard managed to find a wooden cut-out of a bear with a honey pot, inscribed with "a bear and his honey live here" in the remains of William Gallagher's home. Gallagher said his wife would be pleased that the sign, a souvenir from a trip to Smithville, survived the blaze. National Guard members also found the remains of a 35mm camera in the home, curtains Gallagher's wife sewed and remainders of a recently purchased daybed.

The shed's behind the mobile homes both survived the blaze, as did the plastic flowers in front of Gallagher's home. Oddly, several candles in the homes did not burn in the blaze.

Murray said she will always remember summer evenings at her dad's place, where he would pipe in music as everyone sat in the backyard, at a table or on a wooden swing, which also survived the fire. Les Balkie taped music from his travels around the world, and Murray said he had speakers hidden in the woods, so sometimes the sounds of the rainforest, like macau's chirping, would come from the green woods, now black sticks in scorched earth.

Murray found it odd and disheartening that random books, such as a guide to managing diabetes, was found in the home, but books filled with mementos of her mother were lost.

Here are a few more shots from today:

A bonfire grill sits in the middle of once-green woods, burned by a 17,000+acre wildfire. The wooden adridondack chairs survived the blaze.

An American flag taped to a pole by members of the 177th National Guard, in front of a home decimated by the Warren Grove fire.

A member of the 177th National Guard shovels ash from the remainders of a home in Barnegat.

Janice Murray sifts through a wheelbarrow full of china fragments, all that is left of her mother's heirloom china collection.

William Gallagher said his firesafe worked after his home in Barnegat was decimated by the Warren Grove Fire--it saved the insurance papers and mortgage papers he and his wife stored in there. Gallagher said he bought it at a local Staples, several decades ago.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

So big news this week in South Jersey. There was a 17,000-acre forest fire, likely started by a flare dropped by a military person testing missiles.

Unfortunately, rather than covering it, I was home, sick. In my bed. Feeling terrible...and feeling even worse when I looked towards the bay and saw the smoke and knew that I should be out there covering that story. And that this blog should have behind-the-scenes pictures from my reporting.

UGH I am so mad at my health right now, because that was breaking news and I am a breaking news reporter. Perfect fit! Anyway, at least I am feeling better now and besides, it is best I didn't go into work when I wasn't feeling well and then have to go out and report that story while sick with a fever! Much worse!

I am happy for and proud of my fellow reporters, though, who did a REALLY excellent job covering the fire. Better than any other news media outlet around. I had a random person tell me that she turned to to get the news that she wasn't getting anywhere else, after being evacuated from her home. The regular updates kept her in the know and she was very grateful to the paper.

Just wish I was part of that awesome effort...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

I started my gardening this weekend and have already, of course, run into a few snags.

I went to Home Depot on Friday, which was fairly crowded, but, I imagine, much better than if it had been a Saturday. I spent quite a long time there, wandering the aisles confusedly. Let me tell you: the smaller gardening stores may be more expensive, but I bet they provide more help for a start-up gardener. Home Depot is a bastion of people "already in the know"--forget what they say in their commercials about you being able to do it and they being able to help. They had one person who could answer gardening questions and obviously she was quite busy.

So I finally bundled out of there with $40 worth of merchandise: pots, brackets and dirt (oh and replacement tiki torch wicks). I piled everything into my small SUV, and slammed the trunk shut...

...with my keys still inside.

It took about an hour and a half to get all the AAA stuff worked out (lapsed membership, etc.), but about 5 minutes after the call finally went through for the speedy lockout service guy to come.

That meant I couldn't do my planting until Saturday morning, but I did get it done...only to realize I needed to make another trip to Home Depot for another pot. Also, the cute porch railing brackets I bought don't fit and the planters are too heavy for it, so that won't be happening.

But all in all, I started and have most of it planted:

In the main planter, from left to right, is sage, cilantro, hot peppers, cilantro, chives. The pot in the back to the left is mint and the pot to the right is basil. One more long planter will have Cilantro, basil and thyme.

Oh, and how come I couldn't find any cute metal watering cans with rain shower spouts. They all had either single pour spouts or were gigantic. I went to Home Depot, Lowe's, K-Mart and finally found something at Wal-Mart.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Brown thumb (literally. figuratively?)

All last summer, I sat at work and read the Greengirls (then just Greengirl) blog at work and thought, "I wish I could garden."

Today, I went all Dead Poets Society ("Seize the Day!") and Fame ("No day like today!") and stopped by a roadside garden stand and bought 7 pots of herbs to start my own deckside garden.

They are:
--Tri-color sage
--Hot Peppers
--Orange mint

I wanted to get bay leaves, but I couldn't find them at the center. They are all full sun herbs and I have a nice sunny spot to plant them on my porch.

But one more pop culture reference: "I'm so excited! I'm so excited!...I'm so scared." (Saved by the Bell) I have not had good luck with plants. My mom said all I need is some attention, but I swear it is not just my lack of attention: I must have plant killer running in my veins. I killed an ALOE plant. Of course, that's because it fell when I was transporting it to move here, but an aloe plant? easiest thing ever.

Friday is my off day, so I am off to Home Depot (or should I go to Lowe's? We have both...) to get some planters, potting dirt and a cute little watering can to make it even more fun. And then this summer? Fresh cilantro in my guacamole and chicken curry and omlettes; mojitos and tea made from my fresh mint; fresh pesto from my basil and fresh chives for my potatoes.

Unless I kill them all first. eep!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Curse my window.

During the 2.5 years of my last job, I was upset at NOT having a window, besides these slits near the ceiling that let us know if it was raining/snowing/sun had set, etc. I complained that without natural light, I would wither and die, or at least be depressed.

But now having a window is making me depressed. It's like spring is taunting me all up in my face with this gorgeous weather, sunshine, light breeze, blue skies. It's all "doncha wish your environment was hot like me, doncha wish your environment was a breeze like me, doncha (doo doo doo doo) doncha (doo doo doo doo)."

musical interludes aside, I'm getting very distracted with outside-porn images of me frolicking in the sunshine, riding a bike, walking around, breathing outside air.

But instead I am huddled under a blanket (note: WHY do people feel the need to blast a/c the second it gets a little warm? seriously, enjoy the nicer weather, since you spent all winter kvetching about how cold it is), typing away about how great the towns down here are.

Because the towns are outside and I'm not, nanner nanner boo boo.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Day 76 without bucket.

LOLRUS link above. Trust me on this.

Today is my 7th day without TV. No, this is not some big social experiment to see how much of my life I can reclaim without TV, it's called "something happened to my cable and I haven't had it solved yet." Though, I do get ready faster in the morning without TV, but the rest of the time I waste on internets anyways.

Last night I picked up sushi at the local grocery store and ate it on my front porch steps as the sun set. I like living bayside so I can still see the sun set over water. That's pretty cool. The nice weather makes me want to spend lots of time outside, but then the sun sets and it gets cold and that's when I miss my TV.

Good thing I have lots of DVDs to keep me entertained. Though I am slowly running out of ones to the library!