Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or treat

I've never been a huge fan of Halloween. At least not since I became a mother. To me its just a huge amount of work, between making costumes (because I couldn't afford to buy them) and buying candy and making treats for their school parties, it was week of aggravation and I hated it.

The kids dressed in costumes for school and the classes had Halloween parties, but we didn't have a neighborhood that was appropriate for trick or treating. Once they came home from school I'd pile them into the car and we'd make the rounds of friends and family, accumulating enough of a stash to make them happy but not enough to keep them sugared up for months. I pretty much let them pig out on the junk for a couple days and get it over with rather than hide it and take it out a little at a time. Truthfully that was more for my benefit than theirs - I knew I'd be the one who kept hitting the bowl, not them.

When my youngest son was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 5 that complicated Halloween to the point that I hated it even more after that. I had to plan out everything carefully, imposing on family members to have sugar-free selections for him and having a good quantity on hand myself so I could trade out anything he got that he couldn't eat. It was just one more thing to add to the list of annoying things about the whole event.

I'm very happy to say Halloween is not longer as stressful as it used to be. The only difficulty is that I always have to prepare for visitors but I rarely get any. My grandsons come, but that's about it. So I'm still trying to get rid of the candy afterwards...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I'm legit!

After all these years, and after doing many things other than what I really should have done as a career, I am starting a legitimate job as a writer. I sort of can't even believe it!

About two months ago a local writer posted on Facebook that she was looking for free lance writers to help with a new venture and I immediately wrote to her to say I was interested. She knew me and my blog and immediately said yes, she'd like to have me contribute to her project. So as of right now I can call myself a legitimate writer as I'm contributing to the new East Hampton Patch, which just debuted. Patch is a "home page" for your computer, very personalized to the local community. On this site you'll be able to see late-breaking news, local weather, community calendars, learn about great things to do here on your free time, and find opportunities for volunteer work or a place to worship. In short, it will be a one-stop shopping spot for all things "East Hampton" and I'm very excited about it.

Once a week I'll be contributing an opinion column and I hope my blog readers will put "Patch" as their home page and check it out!

Articles on Patch

Friday, October 29, 2010

Phone calls

We don't have "call waiting" at our house. Nor do we have caller ID. I guess I'm old fashioned, and I can hear my father talking when I say this, but I just don't want to spend money on things like that. Except at this time of the year.

We're on the "no call" list for telemarketers and I find as long as I set my answering machine to not pick up until at least four rings, they don't leave messages anyway. But...what I can't seem to escape right now is the political phone calls. Some are recorded messages, some come in the form of "surveys", and some are real live people, calling on behalf of their favorite candidate, wanting to know who I intend to vote for in the November election. I'm not a rude person by nature so these calls present a real dilemma to me. I don't like to just hang up, but when I try to politely tell them I'm not interested they jump into their script and hardly let me get a word in edgewise. I don't like to not answer the phone because most people who want us call in the evenings when they know we'll be home. And I find that many people, if they get the machine, just hang up rather than leave a message so I don't even know who to call back. But one recent evening we had no fewer than six political calls within a couple hours. I was frothing at the mouth by the end of the night. One even came in after 9:00, which was really over the line.

I know this will end soon and I'm trying to be patient. But politics has become such a dirty business anymore and it really is so unpleasant. None of the candidates talk about what they offer, they simply tell us why their opponent is unfit for the job. I'm really pretty sick of it all.

And the phone calls - well I suppose I should just let it ring...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Windows

I've been taking my exercise routine to the streets this past week or so, mostly to fight the boredom of the gym but also because the weather is perfect for early morning walks right now. I leave the house while its still dark so I stick to the sidewalks and head up into the commercial core. Once there I circle around all the shops, then walk to the library, turn around and head home. It's a route that takes me about 40 minutes at a brisk walk so I'd guess about two miles from what I know about my normal walking speed.

What's especially fun about this routine is breezing past all the store fronts in the village. Many of them, being corporate stores, have teams of people that descend to do their window displays every couple weeks or months and they are really beautiful. Cashmere Hampton, a store I've never set foot in, is looking quite lovely all decked out in various shades of beige and orange, with autumn leaves bordering the entire window. Of course, all of Ralph Lauren's stores look gorgeous, filled with corn stalks and pumpkins along with the mannequins in all their splendor. With the exception of the real estate windows (which never look good in my view - who wants to look at photos of houses we can't afford?), they all look really nice right now and with the crisp chill in the air it makes for a nice way to start the morning.

I hate exercise - always will - but at least this gives me some pleasure while suffering the agony of gasping for breath and sore feet.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Theme songs

Its amazing how the theme songs from movies or television shows can evoke so many memories. Music in general does that, but theme songs are so specific to times and events it really takes you right there.

I was thinking about this recently while watching the new edition of "Hawaii 5-0" on CBS. As soon as that very distinctive drum cadence rolls out over the air waves I can see the original cast set against the beautiful Hawaiian backdrop the way the show opened back in the 1960s. Those images are so ingrained in my mind that I know exactly what was onscreen as each measure of the theme song is played. It was - and is - one of the greatest theme songs ever written.

There are others of course - the movie "Jaws" comes to mind (I'm sitting in the local cinema for this one), as does "Gone With the Wind" (in my parent's living room). But among TV themes, "Hawaii 5-0" is right up there with the best. And I enjoy hearing it every week.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Soup

This is definitely the time of year for "comfort" food and I've been thinking a lot about making soup lately. There are many comfort foods and I love them all (meatloaf, chili, mac and cheese, stew....) but my absolute favorite is soup.

I learned early in my marriage that soup was a wonderful way to stretch the budget. When my husband's business gave everyone a turkey for Thanksgiving I celebrated because I didn't have to make Thanksgiving dinner and I knew that turkey was going to feed my family for a week. First, a few weeks after Thanksgiving I'd defrost the bird and we'd feast on a nice turkey dinner. Then I'd strip the carcass down and put all the bones in the freezer for later. During the following week we'd have turkey tettrazini, turkey a la king, and turkey pot pie, which all used a small amount of meat and lots of veggies. Then the carcass would come out of the freezer and I'd put it in my big soup pot, cover it with water, and cook it down. Once done the bones would be tossed and any leftover meat would be tossed in along the with onions, celery, carrots, chard, or spinach - whatever I happened to have in the refrigerator. In no time at all the house would smell glorious and anyone who walked in the back door would ooh and aah, wishing they could sit right down for a big bowl of whatever it was that was filling the air with such an aroma.

Dinner was simple. I'd fill every one's bowls with soup and slice them a nice fat piece of home made bread slathered with butter. It was heaven. And an easy week on the pocketbook.

Soup is nostalgic for me, reminding me of the difficult (but wonderful!) early days of marriage with all those mouths to feed. And its my favorite comfort food. Because not only does it smell wonderful and taste delicious, it reminds me of how I was able to feed my children a healthy, filling meal for almost no money at all. Good memories!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Choices

I'm finding myself too distracted in the grocery store these days. I'm trying hard to stay on my diet but it seems as though every time I go shopping I'm tempted to buy things I shouldn't have in the house. I never buy cookies, chips, or candy simply because I know I'm the one who they'll be a problem for - I don't have enough will power and find that removing the temptation is the best defense. But these past few weeks its been a challenge. I want to buy everything I see.

Which brings me to another issue: big grocery stores. I almost always shop in my small neighborhood grocery store. I know many people who make the trip to Bridgehampton to roam the aisles of the much larger King Kullen, but I find I'm better off in a smaller venue. When I occasionally do stop in Bridgehampton, or when I wander through the huge and beautiful grocery store in my daughter's neighborhood in Pennsylvania, I'm like a kid in a candy store. My eyes dance from package to package, taking in the huge selection with awe. I pick up boxes, read labels, compare ingredients, and stand longingly in front of the big, fancy bakery departments, salivating over fresh donuts, huge muffins, and luscious cakes. If I find myself running in for a specific item I end up wandering around looking for interesting things I've never seen before. My little local grocery only has so much shelf space and choices are few! For me that's a good thing.

Sometimes less really is more.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Closets

We have small closets in our house because it was built in the 1920s when people didn't have much "stuff" to put away. Combine that with the fact that we have a wet basement and a difficult attic to access (with a pull-down staircase) and you can see that storage is a big problem for us. It's been an issue since the day we moved in and has only gotten worse over time as we accumulate "things" and need places to put them.

One frustration is that all of my children still have things here. Some I'm sure they've totally forgotten about and some they may know about but don't have any place to put them at their own places so I'm not upset about it, but I often wonder what to do. I go into my attic and find a box of things one of my daughters put up there. I can't bring myself to toss it, although I know at least one of them would say to do so, because I am by nature a pack rat. I find great pleasure in the pieces of my past and coming across an old treasured memento allows me to escape into nostalgia for hours. I love it. I know its crazy and I should just throw things out, but I can't bring myself to do it. So - the result is that I can't throw their things out anymore than I can my own. It's almost as though having their things here is keeping a bit of them home.

I'm in the process of trying to go through my junk room/home office, pack things up, and throw (hopefully a lot of)things out so we can empty the room completely for a renovation. It's a painful and slow process for me. This is where I stored school photos and papers and anything I ever saved from my children's childhoods. It's almost like throwing my history away. It's difficult to describe but I can say for sure when I watch one of those TV shows about hoarders, and I hear their feelings expressed, I can identify.

I need to build on a few more closets....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yuk

I like cooking but there are certain jobs that just aren't fun. Cleaning chicken comes immediately to mind as one of the most unpleasant ones, and this weekend I'm tackling another that I really don't relish: making meatloaf. I actually detest making meatloaf, not because its difficult but because its so messy. It's really a nice quick and easy dish to throw together but you really can't do it effectively without getting elbow deep into the mush. It begins with cold ground meat, and by the time you've added eggs, milk, bread crumbs, and the other flavors, and then begin mixing it with your hands its a yucky task. Messy hardly covers it! I've tried mixing it other ways but nothing really works well other than getting your hands in there, so that's what I do.

This weekend I'm making meatloaf for Sunday lunch. That entails about 12 lbs of ground beef and a huge mixing bowl to fit it all in. It will make enough to feed over twenty and the aroma is going to make the house smell great when everyone arrives. Sunday lunch is one of my favorite traditions and as much as I appreciate it being dropped in the summer while everyone heads to the beach, I miss it and look forward to it coming back again. I don't mind the work and I don't mind being tied up every Sunday because staying in touch with the family is so important to me. I love my nieces and nephews and their children and it would be so easy to lose track of them all if we didn't make a point of seeing each other every week. It's a worthy effort and an investment in the future - because it strengthens the ties that bind us together. And its worth some messy hands.

Today, although it may not be my favorite task, I'll be making meat loaf for a crowd. And enjoying it very much.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shelter Island

Last weekend we drove onto Shelter Island to watch my daughter run in a 5K fundraiser for breast cancer. It was a beautiful day for the ferry ride, sunny and bright, but very windy. There were whitecaps dancing on the water and we enjoyed watching the captains maneuver the boats into the slips with the double challenge of tide and wind. There wasn't much traffic and we were able to drive right on in each direction, none of the boats being full when they left the dock.

The race was on Crescent Beach and the wind was wreaking havoc with the competitors, hair covering faces and hats blowing off. But the mood was upbeat and everyone seemed happy to be there. We cheered my daughter on as she took off at the start and then we walked to the finish line which was a bit of a distance and in the opposite direction that the runners went. Between the walk to and from the car and the hike up the hill to the starting gate, I suspect we walked about a mile ourselves and I was grateful for the exercise.

Once she crossed the finish line and we congratulated her with hugs and tears, we made the long walk back to the car and drove to the South Ferry for the short ride back to the mainland.

I could happily live on Shelter Island. It's a small town - like East Hampton used to be. What a nice way to spend a sunny Saturday morning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deliveries

We had been in this house about 5 years when the front doorbell rang one day and I opened it to find a young man of about 12 years standing on the porch. He asked if we'd like to buy a subscription to Newsday, which he promised to slide into the mail slot on the front door so I'd never have to go out in the bad weather to grab it in the morning. How could I resist such an offer - especially when made by a cute, sincere kid? I was charmed and of course I said yes.

Well that delivery boy lasted about a year. I've never been happy with things since.

I guess young kids no longer deliver newspapers. My brother had a route when he was about that age and I remember him rolling the papers early every morning and heading off on his bike to deliver them. But nowadays you never see that anymore - since my young friend dropped his route back in the 1980s our papers have come in cars, delivered by adults. And none of them has done as good a job. We find it under the hedge, in mud puddles, and sometimes missing altogether. It does come nice and early, but here's the rub: our currant delivery person pulls into our driveway about 5:30 am and his radio is loud enough to wake the dead. It blasts heavy music with a loud bass line across the driveway and into our bedroom windows. It's like our alarm clock.

I wonder if there are kids delivering newspapers on bikes anywhere anymore...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Laundry


I often wonder: if we still had to do laundry the way our grandmothers (or great-grandmothers) did, would we have as many clothes as we do?

There are only two of us in this house so we do laundry only a couple times a week. But even at that it seems like a lot of clothes! I find it annoying to have to do it - sorting, loading, switching, re-loading, switching, folding - it can be a day-long process when there are two or more loads. So I can't even imagine what it was like when clothing was washed with a tub and a washboard!

I remember my mother having a mangle when we were very small. That was a contraption they used before electric dryers and it consisted of two rollers tightly positioned together. The wet laundry was rolled through with a big handle and the rollers squeezed most of the water out. It was a big day when the first electric dryer entered the house!

Mom always had a huge basket of clean clothes to iron. She spent every Saturday morning ironing clothes, sprinkling them first with a little bottle that had a yellow top full of holes. She rolled them up so they became nice and damp, and then ironed them to perfection. A good ironing job was an art! Everything was ironed with the exception of the underwear - there were even handkerchiefs for the men and pretty little hankies for the women that had to be done. This was pre-kleenex! It was a huge part of her life - even the bed sheets had to be ironed.

Life is easier now in terms of how we do things like our laundry. But the fact that we own so many clothes makes it still a big job. Our house was built in 1920 and each bedroom has tiny little closets. No doubt the two house dresses and two "Sunday best" dresses fit in there just fine alongside the one good suit and two sets of work clothes that the original owners hung in the master bedroom closet. Why would they own more than that when cleaning them just meant so much more work?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Of mice and men

Every year at this time I worry about mice coming into the house. It seems to be a regular occurrence in the fall as the temperatures drop lower and those nasty little creatures seek warmth, finding their way into the smallest crevasses (not hard to find in an old house like mine!) and taking up residence in my basement where they make regular reconnaissance missions to the upper floor where all the crumbs and tasty treats are. I hate it!

So, we have a regular routine now of putting poison in the basement. We buy big boxes of "D-Con" and open up the little cardboard containers, distributing them throughout the lower level, hoping to keep the creatures out of the house (I believe the poison makes them go back outside looking for water, where they eventually die.) Most years it seems to work well enough and in a month we'll go back downstairs to find them all empty. We still seem to catch glimpse of one every other year or so, at which time the traps come out. I don't want poison on the main floors with children in and out of the house so we set up old-fashioned wooden mouse traps on the floors behind or under furniture, cheering if we hear one snap shut while we're settled in for the night.

I know we have to share the world with many small and disgusting creatures but the mice and rats of the world are among my least favorite. Spiders I can deal with. Rodents not so much. I try to think of them like sweet little Disney characters - what would Cinderella have done without them? - but it just doesn't work for the most part.

So far I haven't seen any yet this season. I'm crossing my fingers and keeping the poison supply ready though!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mallomars

I walked past the cookie section of the grocery store the other day and there they were: the Mallomars. When I was growing up it would have been a day for celebration at my house.

My father loved Mallomars. I enjoy one once in awhile now, but they don't hold the same cache they used to when I was young. Because my father gave them way more importance than they should have had. I don't know if it was the depression mentality or what, but Dad had a real unhealthy relationship with food he unfortunately passed on to some of his children. Mallomars were a perfect example.

For the uninitiated, Mallomars are delightful little cookies that are as much little cakes as anything - part candy even. They're comprised of a small round graham cracker base with a large rounded marshmallow on top. All covered with a wonderful coating of dark chocolate. Biting in to one is a unique pleasure of taste and texture, the chocolate coating yielding to the teeth with a nice crunch and the soft marshmallow providing the perfect companion. They are quite yummy, no doubt about it.

But I think the thing that made Mallomars so incredibly desirable to my father was the fact that they were not available from about May until October. As soon as the warm weather hit the northeast, they were no longer on the shelves at the grocery store due to the danger of the chocolate melting and developing the dreaded chocolate "bloom", making them inedible. So when my mother brought that first October box home, my father was thrilled.

Sadly, there are only about 16 cookies in a box, making them rather pricey by my father's standards, therefore he rarely shared them with his four children. That fact, and a blossoming eating disorder, made them all the more appealing to me and I was known to sneak one occasionally. Ah, the issues surrounding food in my house! No wonder I've been fighting weight issues forever!

Well, the good news is when I saw those bright yellow boxes of Mallomars lining the shelf at the IGA I smiled...and I walked on by. If I'd brought a box home I would have eaten every one of them before my husband even came home. Resisting the urge was a victory.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Falling leaves

I've begun to notice the leaves falling this week. It always begins slowly, with a few on the walkway and some in the yard, and then it's a deluge of color as they come down in waves as the breeze takes hold and the tenuous threads that are holding them to the branches break away at last. There seems to be too much green still in the trees to have many of them come down yet, but soon. It's such a wonderful time of year!

The lawn is still growing and needs mowing, but not as often as it did a month ago. The air is pretty cool in the morning and evening but the heat is not on yet. Sweaters and sweat shirts are a daily staple of the wardrobe and nights call for light jackets. The scenery is awash with color and the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. Within a short month the world around is has become like a different place and we're all preparing for the long winter, like the squirrels I've seen scurrying around my yard grabbing nuts for storage.

I love the vibe of fall. I like thinking about being inside for a few months, socializing in more intimate settings and breaking out the crock pot and stew meat. I don't mind the winter - I welcome all the seasons.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Interpretation

Writing a blog has been interesting these past two years and I've found that it has the same pitfalls as face-to-face conversations. There's the word spoken and the word interpreted. In this case the word written and the word interpreted. Over the time I've been writing I've had more than one occasion to discover I'd offended one of my children (inadvertently, of course!) and usually it completely took me by surprise. Because I knew the intention behind my words, never guessing that they could be interpreted in a different way. It hasn't happened recently (I don't think!) but the fact that it ever has at all makes me think a lot about the weight of words.

Which all leads me to think about how we communicate with each other in life. How many times do we innocently say something to someone and they take it another way, causing irreparable harm to the relationship? How many people are hurt by our words, when we meant no ill will? How many times do we misinterpret what others say to us, taking up an offense when none should be had? It boggles the mind, really.

I've known many people in my life who are what we might term "ultra-sensitive". Recently a friend told me she didn't want to attend a class reunion because of some perceived offense at the last one. I was hard pressed to imagine that the person she thought was unkind to her truly was because I know them well and it doesn't seem to be in their nature. I was sure something had been misunderstood. Sadly so.

They're only words....isn't that what the BeeGees sang? But how very powerful they are!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time

I feel time flying by lately. I suppose it has to do with the fact that I feel good now and my recent health issues have probably made me more anxious than I used to be about making the most of every moment if my life. I don't want to feel as though I've wasted time and I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Is that a typical response for people like me who've faced an enemy like cancer? I have no idea but I know it seems to be driving me in ways I never used to be driven.

This past weekend was picture perfect. It was warm, sunny, breezy - just absolutely beautiful. I wanted to bottle it up and relive it over and over, making use of it again and again. I wanted to get so much more accomplished than I did and almost felt as though I was throwing time away because I wasn't doing something significant with the hours of sunshine. At the same time I felt as though I should be traveling somewhere wonderful on the holiday weekend, making full use of my husband's day off and seeing part of the world I'd never seen before. In short, I feel as though every day I need to somehow celebrate life because I have no idea how long I have to live and it makes me sometimes feel a bit frantic.

The Bible tells us that life is like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. And tomorrow seems to be coming at me quickly. If only we could slow the treadmill down a little and make it all last a little longer....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Words, words, words

I think I'm running out of words. I imagine my husband never thought he'd see the day! But after two years and over 700 blogs I'm feeling a bit of writers block, wondering how long I can do this every day. How much can I possibly say and who cares to even hear any of it anyway? Of course, I don't really write for others, I do it for myself. But at the same time, I don't want to put words down just for the sake of doing it. I want my words to have some meaning, whether to touch others or to explain my thoughts or whatever - they need to have a purpose. I'm not sure I have anything pertinant to say and I'm not sure my own words are significant. What to do?

I think the end is coming soon. I've already talked about how much I love what I see outside my window. Everyone knows I love where I live and I've surely talked so much about my community that my son-in-law once said he was afraid I was going to be very disappointed when I died and heaven wasn't just like East Hampton. (I got the point!) So I'll continue to write my thoughts, with the realization that when people are bored they simply won't read them. But as long as it feels like therapy I'll sit with my laptop and write. Readers or not - it doesn't matter. When I first started I had no idea anyone would ever read what I wrote so if they no longer do so, I guess that's OK...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

RR Bridges

Yet another truck hit the railroad bridge over the weekend.

I've lived here in this little space between Montauk Highway and the railroad tracks nearly my entire life. (With the exception of the first few years of my marriage and two years after high school, I've been right here in nearly the same spot forever.) And I would guess that over the course of my lifetime I've been witness to hundreds of accidents involving the two underpasses within sight of my house. Sometimes more than once a month, the undeniable sound pierces the air and I go for the phone. We all know, without a doubt, someone has rammed their truck into the trestle.

After all these years I'm never surprised. But it does still beg the same questions. For instance, why are people driving trucks that have no idea how high they are? Many times they're rental trucks - Ryder or Hertz are common - and that I totally understand. Those are amatures and they make mistakes. But many of these trucks are driven by professional drivers, who've been driving for years (with CDL licences) for the same company - how can they not know? And how can they not see the sign that announces how low the bridge is?

It's always a source of entertainment for the neighborhood when one of these trucks loses its top to the bridge, but its an expensive mistake and calls for hours of police time to sort out, not to mention the detouring of traffic which is annoying to me since its often sent by my front door! But mostly its dangerous because it sometimes dislodges the bridge and the big urgency is to get to the railroad and make sure they check it out before a train comes by.

Wouldn't you think they'd raise the trestles?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sleepovers

Last weekend we had our two grandsons sleep over and whenever there are children in the house I'm mentally transported thirty years into the past when my own children were young. How different our life is now!

It's funny how when we're in the midst of raising kids and "making" our lives it seems as though this is where we'll always be. Our lives revolve around children's issues and parenting problems and our houses are all about the younger members of the family. We sacrifice many things so they have the things they need and we focus all our energy on making sure their lives are full of promise. We run them around to piano lessons or dance lessons or whatever their interests happen to be. We shop for the foods they want and need, cook with their likes and dislikes in mind, and generally make our worlds totally envelope their worlds. And so it seems that life will always be.

And then they grow up. Suddenly our world is a different place and we morph into adults who do adult things and enjoy adult television and eat adult food. Everything changes - our shopping habits, our schedules, our holidays - and our pocketbooks.

Then they bring us their children. And for a few glorious hours we're able to once again enter the wonderful world of childhood where everything is an adventure and fun is easily had. I really love sleepovers!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkins

I'm amused at the different types of pumpkins we can buy today. I remember going for pumpkins when we were kids and the only choice we had to make then was what shape we wanted. I was a traditional pumpkin person and always looked for the most perfectly shaped, round pumpkin to carve into my jack-o-lantern. Some people were more adventurous and looked for the long lean ones or the grossly misshapen models but for me it had to be round.

Now when I stop by the farm stand I'm confronted with so many choices I'm not sure what to do! They have white pumpkins! They have more types of gourds than I could ever have imagined! Yellows, greens, oranges, golds...some small and some shaped like swans - its a regular smorgasbord of autumnal colors and shapes and I want to buy them all. I want to cover my back deck with dried corn stalks and piles of pumpkins and gourds and decorate inside covering my table with big fall displays. But some years ago I put a pretty display like that outside and was dismayed to see that the rats and mice were as charmed by it as I was. I won't make that mistake again.

But I love the Indian corn, the colorful squash and the many varieties of pumpkins out there now. It just adds to the fun at this time of the year!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10/10/10

How many times will we ever see a date like this one? I heard the class my son graduated with in 2000 is celebrating its reunion today - how clever is that? Their tenth reunion on 10/10/10. I love it. Apparently its a very popular date for weddings too and many people are getting married today. I hope it brings them all good luck!

Dates are so interesting - birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, births - they all lend new meetings to otherwise random dates in our lives. Of course dates are only numbers, but how important does a number become when you have a baby on it? And how can anyone ever forget numbers like 9/11? Dates are significant and become touchstones for us. None of them are really random. They're all significant to someone.

Today is, I'm sure, a magical date for many people. It probably means something to people who are numerologists, psychics, mentalist, or whatever. And no doubt many people have planned special events for today. Because dates are important.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Elizabeth


Today is my daughter's birthday, but this is not a blog about how much I love her. Of course I do, immeasurably, just as I love all my children. But I've done that before on her birthday and this is not that. This is about her name.

I've truly loved each of the names I've given to my children. I was determined not to give them names that didn't have deep meaning to me, which made the choices more difficult, but they also had to be names that I liked the sound of. I've never liked my own name. I don't like the sound of it (too harsh with too many hard consonants!) and I was always disappointed by the story behind it. My mother used to tell me that I was named after a cute little girl that lived next to her - someone she used to babysit for when she was a teenager. I'm sure that was meaningful to my mother, but not to me. My brother had my father's name and my sister had my mother's. That seemed right to me. (My youngest sister is in the same boat as I).

Anyway - I carefully chose names that I loved and that had good meaning, and I tried to make sure each of them had one name that was a family name as well. In the case of my second daughter, we used my mother's name. We called her "Elizabeth". And since the day she was born I've come to love it even more. The name Elizabeth means "consecrated by God" and I love that. And its a name that has been used in each generation since my mother's, because she was an amazing person and I imagine we all hope her generous spirit and tender heart will somehow be transferred to the children who bear the name. My sister's middle name is Elizabeth and my granddaughter's is as well. I hope it continues beyond these three generations and becomes a heritage as much as any family trait or possession.

Elizabeth. I loved it thirty-two years ago when I gave it to her and I love it now too. It's a beautiful name.

Friday, October 8, 2010

HIPAA

I have to say, I think the HIPAA laws are pretty silly. You know what I'm talking about, right? I'm referring to the law which says we have the right to privacy in our medical records and that no one who has access to them is allowed to give any information to another person without our permission. We sign forms at all our doctor's offices which inform us of this law and whenever we try to get information about a beloved family members we're told they are not allowed to give that information out.

Earlier this year I traveled to Buffalo to assist an elderly aunt who was having surgery. In the past I've had a very difficult time getting any information about her on the phone from her doctors because of the HIPA law, despite the fact that she has no other family and we are over ten hours away from her by car. In other cases family members who are from away try to find out about their parents or other relatives and are told the same thing. Now I totally understand the purpose behind this law. After all, there may be people who I don't want to know certain things about me. I'm sure insurance companies could use information to deny coverage.

But here's the problem I have - two recent examples: I was sitting in the waiting room at a doctor's office one day and it was impossible not to hear the office receptionist on the telephone with the hospital. She said something like this: "I need to make an appointment for an abdominal CT scan for Mrs. Jane Smith". In another doctor's office I heard this from another receptionist on the phone: "I'm calling to speak to Mr. John Doe please. Hi Mr. Doe - this is Dr. Jones office and I wanted to let you know that the doctor would like to see you so you can go over your blood work and bone scan with him as soon as possible."

Now I may not understand what this law is all about but in my mind, if I'm not allowed to find out about my elderly aunt and how her biopsy came back, why am I allowed to know that Mrs. Smith needs a CT scan or that Mr. Doe is probably in trouble? Shouldn't there be private rooms for phone calls like that to be made? Why is it that these laws seem to be selectively enforced?

Is it just me or what?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Holidays


Another holiday weekend is coming up and it reminds me of some of my most exciting holidays from the past.

At the top of my list would have to be Columbus Day 1978 when I woke up to discover I was in labor and within six or seven hours my daughter was born. It doesn't get much better than that on the happy holiday scale! My husband had begun a cleaning project outdoors but I called out the window to him that he needed to forget his project and get me to the hospital. It was indeed a special day and I think about it every Columbus Day, even though the actual date varies from year to year.

Christmas is everyone's favorite holiday I guess, but Thanksgiving is one I always look forward to as well. I like the fact that its a non-denominational day and one we all share as Americans, like the 4th of July and Memorial Day. I also love the fact that its more like a holiday weekend than a day - always stretching from late Wed to Sunday.

Summer holidays don't hold as much interest for me. They're fun, but they don't seem as warm and fuzzy. The winter holidays are just full of cozy homes and big, hot comfort food meals. No hamburgers or hot dogs will do - only a fully dressed turkey with all the fixins! Families gather around tables, sharing stories and making memories.

As minor holidays go, Columbus Day is right up there. I love the time of year and it all works together to make it one of my favorites. Now that its always a long weekend we can enjoy it as a big fall festival - buying pumpkins, baking pies, and looking at leaves. Bring it on.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Switchover


Last weekend we made the official switchover - we changed out the bedding for the heavy down comforter. Saturday night was so cold that I got out of bed about 1am and threw on a pair of sweat pants! Time to get rid of the summer-weight blanket. We've had the winter down on ever since.

I actually love this weather for sleeping. I love having the windows wide opened without it being so hot I can barely sleep or so cold I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. I love it right now when its cool enough to be comfortable but not cold enough to see your breath. For the next few weeks - months - I'll be sleeping like a baby and loving this weather day and night.

The autumnal nights are glorious and sleeping is a joy and the days are equally wonderful so I'm enjoying every one of them. I've pulled my cardigans out of the bottom of the drawers and I've located by long-sleeved shirts, but I'm not quite ready to put the tees away yet. There could still be warmer days to come and I don't want to get caught putting things away too soon!

This weekend we were hoping to go away but that doesn't seem to be happening, so I envision going through my drawers and closet and re-organizing things. It's just that time of the year, you know?

I love the autumn!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dates

Certain dates become ingrained into our heads over the years and just the mention of a specific month and day triggers excitement, anticipation, sadness, joy, or dread. Anniversaries of special events are among the most emotion-producing, often being sad days, albeit filled with memories.

Today is my husband's birthday so for the first twenty-plus years of my life it had no special significance at all. But since we fell in love it's been a day that brings me great joy and I love to celebrate it. When my mother-in-law was alive (and before her Alzheimer took over) I usually sent her flowers on his birthday, with a note thanking her for raising such an amazing son. It was my way of acknowledging the fact that I knew he didn't just come into the world with kindness and generosity in his heart but that he was taught those things and it was to her credit that he was the man he was. I still think about her on his birthday because I know how hard it is to produce wonderful adults! She must have been a great mother.

When the kids were small I tried to include them in the celebration by doing things like buying helium balloons for them to take to his office or allowing them to help bake the birthday cake. they usually wrapped their own gifts and we fussed over him at dinner.

Now that the kids are grown the celebration isn't always as much fun - children are what make things like blowing out candles fun! But the grandkids are getting to be old enough to join in and tonight they'll be here to help enliven the festivities.

This is a date that will never be "just any other date" for me. For the rest of my life it will be a day of special significance, a celebration of a life that changed mine forever. Happy birthday my love! Hope you enjoy every minute of it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Busy weekends

I looked back over my past days of blogs and realized how short some of them were. It was a sign of how crazy life was over the weekend!

Thursday night my daughter arrived with her family and whenever the kids descend life gets crazy. They seem to be up with the sun and there's not too much time to rest, but I never mind. I thrive on the activity and love it when they come. I'm thrilled when any of the grandchildren are in the house. They bring energy and life to every moment - tt seems as though we never sit for long and there's always something - or someone - to entertain you. They're in constant motion and they're pure and guileless in their desire to be with you and I love that about them. There is rarely a hidden agenda unless its to get a cookie! When is it exactly that we change?

When my kids were growing up I knew if I had the patience and stamina I would be constantly raising new ones. I was fascinated by their personalities and watching them grow, discovering the world and becoming mature adults. They are a gift. I could see myself being like the woman on TV who has all those kids! But I don't think I would've been a very good mother though - I knew I'd reached my level of incompetence once there were four of them!

It was a great weekend - lots of family around. One of the things I love about having them come here for a visit is the rest of the family gathers as well. I get to see all my children - and all their children - all in the same place at the same time. And that makes me feel very blessed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bad days

Some days you just wish you didn't get out of bed. I'm so grateful to be alive and don't want to take life for granted so I hate to admit it, but I do have days like that.

Last week was a perfect example. I headed to Southampton for a "routine" medical test - a bone scan. (For me it was a follow-up and not because there was a problem. My life has become a long line of medical tests and doctor's appointments...) Anyway, I intended to stop at a specific gas station for fuel because tank was quickly approaching empty. Then I forgot to stop. I was nearly at Bridgehampton when I knew I was in trouble. Then I remembered that my husband had encouraged me to use the business gas card he had given me so I knew I could stop in Water Mill. I pulled into the station, slipped my card into the machine, and this message flashed back at me: EXPIRED CARD. I should have known then it was going to be one of those days.

Once at the hospital I checked in for my test. This one, a bone scan, involves injecting some radioactive material into my veins. Since venous access is always a challenge for me, I am always prepared for a bit of a trial. And so the technician began. One attempt, two attempts, three attempts - now she's getting agitated and embarrassed. I did my best to put her at ease, which was the best course of action for my own good. Finally she got a vein. She began to inject the serum and then - not good - the vein collapsed. Now we need to find another vein. She called another technician in. Long story short: One hour ten minutes and 9 attempts later there was finally enough to make my bones glow. I was sent out for two hours to come back for the test after my bones had absorbed it all.

So I wasted some time in Southampton - shopping at Hildreth's, eating a McDonald's hamburger at the beach, browsing a children's store, then back to the hospital to connect with a friend there who I could impose on to chat a bit. Once the two hours had passed I went back for the test which took about 45 minutes and then I headed home. Or tried to. I discovered to my dismay that I had locked my keys in my car. My heart sank as that realization set it because I knew I had to call my long-suffering husband to bring the extra key over. Which he did.

Long story short, it was one of those days when nothing went quite right from beginning to end and by 6:00 that night I was exhausted. I didn't want to be social or smile at anyone and I was ready for bed about 8:00. I'm so glad that those days don't come around very often. I think Murphy's Law was in effect and there wasn't even a full moon...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reunions

Tonight is my fortieth high school reunion. I can barely write that without gasping! Forty years? How can that be? Wasn't it only yesterday that I was practicing for the high school musical, and pining over the guy who would never look twice at me, and worrying about the future that seemed to loom so ominously ahead? Wow - what a quick forty years this has been!

I had a great class in high school - perhaps everyone who grew up in East Hampton did - but among our number were a Grammy winner, an Oscar winner, school board members, elected official, doctors and nurses, and many other wonderful members of society! It was a class to be proud of. This was a really wonderful community, diverse and yet somewhat isolated from the problems of the world. I counted among my friends different religions and races and never gave it a thought. I was surprised by the unrest of the late 1960s because I was so protected from that world out here. I was surrounded by a community that cared about its kids and wanted all of us to do well. How lucky were we?

I think the best thing about high school class reunions is that we get to reconnect with people we have a shared history with -rather like getting together with your siblings and talking about old times. There are memories no one else will ever share and threads of connection that are strong and serve as the base of your life's tapestry. No matter how far flung we may be, we are of the same roots and those roots are deep - many of us spent thirteen years in class together.

I'm looking forward to seeing old and dear friends tonight. Some day I'm hoping to see an "all school" reunion weekend here in East Hampton so I can enjoy time with some of the people who graduated ahead of and behind me. They are also part of that history and I'd love to reconnect with some of the as well. I think its one of the things I most love about living here, the fact that so many of us stay and are able to touch each others' lives for a very long time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October

Surely there's not much more exciting than the first day of October. Just the sound of the word makes me smile as it conjures up visions of colorful roadside displays and the woods ablaze with color and light. The sun sinks lower in the sky just in time to set the trees afire as it streams in and through their branches. I think any life in the tropics, for all its wonderful pluses, is surely bereft at the loss of its glory. The azure waters and pink, creamy sands are a wonder but the heat of the autumn colors sets the world on end and makes us step back in awe at the show

Today we step out into October and there are thirty more days of it ahead. Each one will hold special sights and sounds for us as the East End begins its slow descent into winter. There are wonders ahead for us and as long as we keep our eyes opened and our hearts smiling, we'll enjoy every day of it.