829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Something nice to eat on a cold and dreary day!

Thanks, O Docker, for the inspiration to cook this today.
There are few things I'd rather do on a day off than plan a nice
dinner for me and my wife.  Today's poisson du jour was Tilapia.
If you feel like it, tell me what else is on this plate.  You may need 
some help with the sauce, but I'm here for you.

Monday, January 21, 2013

For Sail

It's time to put sentimentality aside and admit
to myself that I'm not going to sail my old Laser 
again.  I saved all summer long as a sixteen year
old and bought my brand-spanking new boat
from Skip.  Toward the end of the BBYRA 
season, on a Saturday morning at Toms River
Yacht Club, he delivered it, screwed on a 
couple of jam cleats for the mainsheet, and 
shoved me off.  Rocket ship!  It was a far cry
from the water-logged #802 I had been sailing
since 1972, and I immediately started beating
more boats.  A couple of years later, my brother
bought the boat from me, then a few years after
that, he sold it to my sister.  The boat has sailed on
Barnegat Bay, Lake Champlain, and a handful of
reservoirs and ponds throughout VT and MA.

By now some of you are familiar with my nostalgic
ways.  For me, knowing that the boat was really
the first big thing I actually worked hard for and got,
it's getting me a bit misty thinking about no longer
having her.  But she's certainly not getting any love
 in my backyard under an old tarp.  Anybody know
someone looking for a used Laser?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Long Way To Go, Still

It took me this long to make my way back down to the new
 'ground zero', the old 'new' inlet at the eastern foot of the 
Mantoloking bridge.  As much as it seems to have changed here,
much still remains quite the same.  The dunes have since been
built up rather high; the most immediate remedy to the Atlantic
Ocean freely spilling into the upper Barnegat Bay.  But a lot of
the carnage that was chronicled in the days just after Sandy flowed
through these blocks of houses still remains.  I drove down this part
of the bridge, anticipating some leftover damage, but I wasn't ready
for the letdown that awaited me.  

How could this be?  These people have money.  They have resources.
They have connections.  Two and a half months later, why are there 
still houses uprooted and sitting crookedly in someone else's back-
yard?  And why is there an exposed sandbar where they once had
a somewhat deepwater slip?  This is still so unthinkable to me.

After crossing the bridge, I could only turn right and go south on
Rt. 35.  For anyone wanting to go north, they would need to prove
 they were residents or contractors.  There were cops, local and 
state, everywhere.  Lights were flashing and ID and documentation 
of residency were required to get through the checkpoint.  Still.

I drove for a few hundred feet, constantly looking to the east, 
until I came upon this sight.  It seems so long ago that all of this
happened.  It's shocking that so much is still the same as it 
was when it plopped itself down after the storm finally passed 
through.  I thought of a guy from Michigan when I saw this Sunfish.

More Kansas/Dorothy-like house relocation, but with a lot
more sand and beachy scrub pine trees.  No ruby red slippers
were spotted.  What a world.....what a world!

Ocean Beach destruction.  I wasn't really supposed to be able
to drive around these neighborhoods.  There were cops everywhere.
Nobody was supposed to stray from 35, nobody was to go more
than 25 mph, nobody was to stop their car, and  
most importantly, nobody was to get out of their car. 
Guilty, guilty, guilty, and guilty. 

A humbling sight next to...

.......a more humbling sight.  This pretty much sums up the attitude 
of Jersey Shore folk.  There's no other place they'd rather be.

Stairway to heaven.

After all this shit, someone still wants to build.  There you go.
No matter what part of the world you're in, if it's near the water,
people want to be there, and I can relate to that.

The view north from the Mantoloking bridge.  More or less halfway
 between the tallest water tower and the left side of the photo lies
829 southdrive.  My Grandparents' house was grand according to
1940's standards, but the houses that now occupy that lot on 
South Drive would cast long and tall shadows on that old building.
To this day and forever, that kills me.  Tough shit, man.

A full frame to the right, Herring Island was always a sight on my 
horizon.  It was a destiny to be reached, a mark to be rounded,
and an oasis to be revered.  I never dreamed it would be a witness 
to a natural disaster so devastating as the one the world saw last 
October. Toward the eastern end of this island lies a displaced
structure, sitting upright and surrounded by baywater.  

Upon further review, there sits the portion of some poor soul's 
family legacy, a family's generations-old summer house, a place
where the grandkids came every June through August to go to
the beach, to go crabbing, to sail, and revel in all the goings on 
that a summer house at the shore could afford.   

One hundred and eighty degrees from 829, the Mantoloking Yacht 
Club appeared unscathed.  I'm happy for them, for the houses 
to the left fared not so well. 

Consider this:  This photo, as well as the others, was taken on 
Monday, January 14, 2013.  These conditions still exist.
Even I assumed that all this shit would be cleaned up by now.
Remember, this is the first visit I've had down here since Sandy.
I've seen a lot on TV about Obama and Christie and FEMA
and Bon Jovi and Springsteen and The Who and McCartney.
But then every day I see folks from Staten Island crying because
they still have no power or water, and there's garbage and debris
piled up on their streets that's rotting away.  There are still 
thousands of  residents of the New Jersey barrier islands who
can't yet re-inhabit their houses because the gas, electric, and
water services have yet to be restored.  This is a crisis that
no one had ever imagined possible.  

It's amazing to me how bayside homes are sinking into their
foundations, while houses across the street and closer to the
beach are still upright.  

I felt obligated to visit my favorite boatyard before I headed back 
home.  After all, it lies just west of the Mantoloking bridge and 
it's on the way home so......  Rusty Manheimer's sloop didn't take
too well to the Atlantic disturbance.  If it were someone else's
boat I would be more worried.  But look where Sjogin is chocked
up.  If I were an old boat in need of some TLC, this yard would
be my emergency room, hands down.  Note the dude walking
in the background to the right.

Through the gaping hole, I took this shot.  The sardine stove has
since been removed, as well as Russ's library of salty, sailboat
literature.  I'm hoping he removed the books from the shelf before
Sandy came knocking.  He and I once sat down below here
drinking 'Full Sail' beer and chomping on pastrami sandwiches
made on Miami onion bread with arugula, stagianato, and
whole grain mustard.  A lunch I'll never forget.

I threw our Christmas tree in the back of my Expedition, with the
 intention of contributing to the dune-rebuilding effort going on at
the shore. They lay the trees down in the dunes and then pile 
sand on top, hoping that those trees will provide strength and 
longevity to those piles of sand. While driving up and down
 Rt. 35, I asked several people, cops and utility workers alike, 
where I might leave my tree to help bolster the dunes, in hope that 
our dead holiday memento might be of service to prevent similar 
devastation from occuring.  I might as well have had two heads.

Then I got to Beaton's.  There I saw a pick-up with a Christmas
 tree in the back.  I sought out the guy walking in the background
of the photo two photos back, and convinced him to take mine
with his to Cattus Island, where they were collecting trees to rebuild
the dunes.  Mission accomplished.  

On the way out on Beaton's Road.  If it didn't sink in by now 
that something wicked this way came, this image reminded me.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Heaven on Earth

I can't wait to have this in sight again.  This summer
may be a dangerous one with so many boats lost
and/or sunken in Barnegat Bay.  Those of us with 
deep drafts need to be extra vigilant.  I expect to
see many extra markers on the water this season.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Elevation Was The Key

In the past thirty years, I'd been by this house countless
dozens upon dozens of times, unknowingly no doubt.
There were houses more attractive, whether smaller and 
quainter, or bigger and grander, and I can say that I
never remember seeing this suddenly extraordinary
structure.  Never once did I glance at it and think to 
myself that if a 'superstorm' ever hit this idyllic peninsula 
on New Jersey's eastern shore, that this house may be the 
only building left standing on its block.  I was amazed, 
along with millions I'm sure, when I saw this photo plastered
 on the internet, along with aerial photos and videos 
documenting Hurricane Sandy's path of devastation.

Amazing as it may sound, I have yet to personally survey
the destruction at this section of my beloved Jersey Shore.
Life often gets in the way of things one really wants to do.
Check out this article on the house left standing at
the base of the Mantoloking Bridge.  I wonder how Betty
Wagner's family is getting on.......

Whaddya Sink?

At first glance, one might think he is seeing a sashimi assortment.
I'm here to tell you that this is my sink strainer, untouched and 
appearing naturally as things were captured during this evening's
dinner preparation. Wouldn't that be kitschy for a sushi joint to serve
 an appetizer in a clean sink strainer?  Let's see who can identify 
the most items.  BTW, dinner was good.

Monday, January 7, 2013

NFL Rules

You cannot remove your helmet in celebration!  15 yards any way
you look at it.  Only during time-outs and between quarters.  Even
if you're the Secretary of State or the former First Lady.  Once we
start making exceptions, everything goes to hell.  Come on man!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Last night I had a dream.  It was late August, and I was 
sitting at the kitchen table staring at a stack of sliced
Jersey tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, with some kind
of balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over it.  There were shreds
of fresh basil scattered over and around it, and what 
appeared to be sauteed mushroom caps on top 
and surrounding.  I was somewhat confused, half knowing
that it was a long way til summer, yet thrilled that 
somehow I'd managed to travel forward through time to
savor the dish that I crave nine months out  of the year.

Then, as if by magic, there appeared a most brasserie-type dish:
Onglet grillé avec des oignons frits!  Hanger steak with frizzled
onions.  Anthony Bourdain, eat your heart out.  This cut of meat,
 being situated so close to the kidneys, has that oh-so-subtle 
nuance of offal offerings (I can just imagine the snide comments 
coming).  It's like no other steak you've ever had.  This is the kind
of stuff I dream about.  Tony, eat your kidneys out too.

My dream was cut short by the sight of yogurt with fresh fruit
and granola.  What did I do to deserve this?  It seemed like 
there were sirens going off and all of a sudden I felt a 
sharp pain in my ribcage.  I quickly woke up and realized I
had set the house alarm, forgetting that college daughter was
home on break, and out earlier with friends, and that she 
would actually be sleeping home tonight. The sharp pain came 
from my wife jabbing me to get up and disarm the alarm. 
Shortly thereafter, the house phone rang:
'Yes, this is so-and-so security.  We received an alert that
your security system has been tripped.  May I have your 
password please, Mr. Dog?'  Er Uh......................tomatoe?   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Good Sign

The Lavallette boardwalk showing signs of rebirth.  Yeah baby!
..................there's a long way to go.  Real long.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

After cleaning over 5 pounds of lobster (2 1/2 # plus each), I 
thought a little lobster roll hors d'oeuvres were in order.  I know
New Englanders don't use dill; we're not in New England.

Melted leeks and mushrooms would be the base for the pasta.
White wine and heavy cream were added to coat the pasta just
before plating.  We eat family style most of the time, but on days
when I have the time, I like to plate in the kitchen.  Restaurant
habits die hard.

The basis for any good sauce is a good stock.  The lobster bodies 
were browned, and onions, celery, mushroom trimmings, garlic, 
tomatoes, thyme, tarragon, basil, fish fumet, white wine, and 
Gosling's rum were added.  This simmered for two hours, was
strained, reduced, and cream was added and then reduced a
bit more.  The pre-steamed lobster meat would be gently warmed
in this sauce just before plating.  Nothing is quick in this house.

Mezze Rigatoni tossed with the leek and mushroom mix formed the
 base of the plate, with asparagus, spinach, and lobster piled on top.
The lobster cream sauce was spooned liberally over the entire mound.
It was kind of good and there were no complaints.

After dinner I found myself lying on my back, with head to the 
hearth, looking up at the warm fire.  
I ain't gonna last much longer.