Sunday, July 31, 2011

Anniversaries

For so many years of my life this was a significant date because it was my parent's wedding anniversary. My father's been gone over ten years now but even after that I always made sure to acknowledge the date for my mother because I knew how significant it was for her. She's been gone 4 years now but the date still resonates with me and I remember the stories they used to tell about their wedding day.

The wedding was in Buffalo where my mother lived. They met at college upstate and were going to move immediately to Michigan where Dad would get his business degree and Mom would teach school, then come here to East Hampton where Dad would begin his own business. Apparently it was in the midst of a heat wave similar to the one we just went through because Mom said it was over 90 degrees. The wedding was at 7:00 at night but with no air conditioning in those days the heat was still unbearable. The men were wearing white dinner jackets and she mentioned that the minister kept handing my father his handkerchief to wipe the sweat off his brow.

Perhaps it's those early stories of a hot summer wedding that prompted me to set my own wedding date in November back in 1974. I felt fairly certain that it wouldn't snow and for sure it wouldn't be overly hot.

I imagine I'll always remember this date as the one my parents chose to tie the knot. It's interesting how dates stay in our heads forever when they are significant for one reason or another. For me, this one surely is!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fair day

Today is fair day in East Hampton and as everyone knows that means the LVIS Fair. For over a hundred years the LVIS has been holding their annual summer fair and it simply seems like summer in East Hampton at the end of July.

For the past twenty years or so I've been working in the office on fair day, doing a two hour shift counting money. There's a system in place that has been many years in the making, and I simply do as I'm told. I count money, mark slips of paper, make change, etc. I follow instructions and do my annual duty to assist the organization of which I am not a member. And on fair day I'm so grateful for that! Because all the members are working a very long day, in the heat and humidity, and I get to come in, work my two hours, and leave. And on my way in and out I get to peruse the booths, check out the food, and maybe even buy a raffle ticket. And I won't go home exhausted.

Of course that's not why I'm not a member of the LVIS. That has more to do with limited time than anything else. I am already busy with church, the Historical Society, the Healthcare Foundation, and the Ambulance Association. I simply don't have any more time to give to anyone on a long term basis. But on fair day, I'm all about the LVIS and am more than happy to do my part.

Happy fair day ladies! Here's to a beautiful, sunny, prosperous one!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pundits

As I watched the TV the other day, it occurred to me that I could make a living as a pundit. Strange word. No idea what the origin is, but it's an interesting one.

There are people on every channel that specialize in giving their own opinions. I can do that! They argue and they pontificate, they get angry with each other and they love to tell everyone what they should be thinking. There are always opposing views - people on both sides of every issue discussed, and I sometimes wonder if the opinions expressed are truly theirs or if the talking heads can argue whatever side they're presented with. I imagine some of them are just good at talking, witty and quick enough to come back with just the right comments when called on. They think on their feet and they roll with the punches. And sometimes I think they just make things up as they go along.

So where to I go to apply for one of those jobs?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet corn

When my father was a soldier during WWII he served as an interpreter for his unit's officers. He wasn't an "official" interpreter, but he was the only one who could speak French, which he had taken in high school, and he had a gift for picking up language so he could communicate pretty well and was pressed into service. He always said how lucky he was for that little twist of fate because when his fellow privates were sleeping in a barn, he was sleeping in a house with the officers, who were guests of the town's mayor. It was there that he met the mayor's son, who was about the same age, and they became lifelong friends, both making trips to visit the other in the post-war years and sharing letters as long as they were alive.

All that is a long introduction to the time he and his wife were visiting in East Hampton and my folks had the entire family over for a cook-out in their back yard. One of the menu items was sweet corn, picked that beautiful summer morning in a local field. The French visitors would not even touch it. To them, it was food for the animals - apparently feed corn was the only kind they had ever eaten and they weren't about to try it, even at my father's urging and in the face of my mother's hospitality. They just couldn't bring themselves to do it.

Every summer as I'm enjoying some sweet corn from a local farmer's field, I remember that summer day twenty years ago and smile. I think our local corn is one of the gifts of the season and I always think to myself that they sadly had no idea what they were missing....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Parties

A couple weekends ago we had a party in our back yard for our son and his new wife to celebrate their marriage that took place in May. Because their wedding was so small and only included the immediate family, I promised my large extended family that I'd have something in the back yard for them later in the summer, and this was the date. With all our family and the new couple's friends, our total guest list was about 80 people, including lots of kids.

I wanted to do a nice party but on a shoestring as much as possible. We had to rent a tent because of weather potential, but other than that we did it all ourselves. My niece made the pasta salad and my daughter pitched in alot, but for the most part everything was done in-house, including the decorating and grilling. I used ebay for tablecloths and napkins and paid less then I would have if I'd rented. (Now I need to find a place to store all these linens.)

The key ingredient though was the weather and that we totally lucked out on. It was a comfortable day, with low humidity and clear skies. When the following Saturday turned out to be a record-setting scorcher, I raised a little prayer of thanks skyward for our good fortune.

All of my children are married now and I have to admit to some relief as weddings in these parts are not easy to manage. Restaurants and busy and expensive in season and its difficult to keep guest lists low when your family is as big as ours. I'm thinking I can officially retire now from the party business. I hope I didn't just jinx myself...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More tropics

Speaking of the tropics, I noticed that the first tropical storm of the season developed earlier this week. I had almost forgotten - we do get hurricanes here every so often and this is the time we start thinking about the possibility.

It's been some time since we had a real blow here and we've become pretty complacent about it. Of course the tourists have no idea what a real hurricane is like. I remember quite a few years ago now we took a cruise to Bermuda in September and a managed to get to port there as a big storm passed about 200 miles to the north. It was stormy - windy and rainy - and I overhead another passenger saying "So this is what a hurricane is like!" and laughed to myself. It was more of a nor'easter than anything else and a far cry from a real direct hit from a true hurricane. Whomever that passenger was has a real misconception now of living life through a real category 2 or 3. But we all know better. Although we haven't taken a direct hit from a category 3 storm since 1938, those of us who have seen the fury of a real storm can well imagine what our ancestors lived through on that fateful day. And all of us have family stories connected to it as well. So we live with that fear, watching every year for the potential "big one". I hope I never see it in my lifetime.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grief

Some bad news over the weekend has made me think a lot about grief. A friend - not a close friend but someone who worked in a local salon whom I've known for a long time and was a nice person - has suffered a heart attack and is not expected to live. She is forty-seven years old.

This is the not deep grief one feels when someone close to you dies, or betrays you, or is sick. But it's a grief that comes from the realization that good people sometimes die too young and that every contact we have with another person could be our last and that life is way too short. Its a grief that is more of a universal sadness for the tragedies of life. And its strong enough to keep me awake at night thinking about how fragile we are, how life needs to count for something, and how we need to make the most of every waking moment. It gives me an urgency to my days and it never leaves me. Its a grief I first learned about at the age of forty-three when my husband suffered a heart attack and I had no idea if he would live or not. It's a grief I know from my own brush with death. It's a grief that feels as though you've walked into a closed door and knocked yourself silly. And we all feel it. Especially in a small community where every member is important and valuable and appreciated.

I'm not unfamiliar with grief. No one my age is. But its not something I live with like some people because I've had a blessed life. When it comes it shakes me to my core. Without my faith I'm not sure how I'd deal with it at all. As a community we pull together. As an individual, I tend to pull away. It's not a place I like to be and sometimes its easier not too get to close. It's one of the demons I deal with.

I love East Hampton. And I grieve over the loss of any of its members. God help us.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Brown berries

Having my grandchildren in the house brings back so many memories of my own childhood. One that came to mind the other day was the way my grandmother would declare every summer at about this time "Look at you - you're brown as a berry!" I never quite understood it because I'd never seen a brown berry - blue or red maybe, but not brown. So I didn't really know what a brown berry looked like. Nevertheless I knew what she was saying: we were getting really tan from spending so much time at the beach.

My five-year-old granddaughter seems to be the one who tans the most. Her little legs are so brown against the protected parts of her body, like her belly and her little rear. It's really amazing to see. Fortunately none of them had any burns this summer. It seems as though its pretty common to have a little burn every year around where the bathing suit straps are or near the neck. The best efforts of Mom's still sometimes miss spots! But not this year - their mother must have been especially careful when applying the sunscreen.

Watching the kids get browner and browner makes me happy because it means the weather has been great and there has been plenty of beach time. This has been a fabulous summer for their vacation and both the ocean and bay beaches have seen them along the sand many times. They've gotten plenty of vitamin D along the way and lots of exercise, and they look for all the world to be Bonac babies, even though they were all born in Pennsylvania. Their roots are here and that's what really matters. They are brown as berries and I'm so glad!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cole

Cole Porter definitely had it right when he wrote that it was "too darn hot" to do basically anything. Yesterday we were hit with the heat wave, which I know was not as bad here as in other places, but was pretty uncomfortable nonetheless. I so rarely wish for air conditioning in my house but yesterday I would have killed for it.

Today is supposed to be more of the same so I'm not looking forward to it. I know that those who are suffering with temperatures over 100 degrees aren't sympathetic with our 90 degree heat, but I'm not so sure it makes all that much difference. Once the humidity climbs, anything over 80 is way too hot for me. Even the beach, which offers relief in the way of cool breezes, is not fun when the sand gets so hot you can't stand to walk across it. But the local beaches will be busy nonetheless.

I think I may spend lots of time in my bedroom, which is air conditioned. Perhaps a good book or a nap...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bonac heat wave

As the rest of the northeast was wilting away yesterday, we were socked in with fog and a very overcast day which made for a pleasant way to escape the extreme heat. It was downright chilly in the morning as I sat in front of the open window checking my email. By 2pm the temperature registered 78 degrees on my car thermometer, while the radio was announcing the 90s in and around NYC. I was happy to know that although it was humid, it was not stifling, and we were escaping the worst of the heat wave.

Today may be different, I don't know, but for one day at least, we were comfortably living in our little Bonac bubble as the rest of the world melted around us. I was never so happy to see the fog rolling in.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tropical

I could never live in the tropics. As the weather people continue to warn us about the high heat and humidity that has been settling in over us this week, I feel more and more blah! I cannot stand humidity and anytime the temperature climbs over 80 I want to wilt. It's not in my DNA.

I actually had a grandmother that was born in the Bahamas. But she wasn't a "native" in the truest sense of the word - her ancestors had moved to a small island during the Revolutionary War, as many loyalists did. She ended up coming north again as a teen-ager when entire family was wiped out in a measles epidemic there, with the exception of her older brother who had already left the Caribbean for the fishing village in Montauk. So he sent for her when she was suddenly alone, and the rest is history as they say (at least my family history!). She did love the hot weather though and although I only knew her more than forty years after she left the tropical climate, she often mentioned how "beautiful" the weather was there. She never returned to her original home, but there is still a village there that carries her family name. I assume I have many third and fourth cousins there is ever I decided to go and look.

Well Grandma may have liked this weather but not me. I was as happy as a clam last week when the humidity dropped low and the temperature stayed tolerable. I knew it was too good to be true, especially in July.

And we still have August to get through.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tents

Last weekend we had a tent erected in our back yard so we could celebrate our last child's marriage. I love watching tents go up!

This is the last of our children to marry so I imagine it will be the last time we see a tent go up. Fortunately, with the price of restaurants around here, it offers a nice alternative for a large party and we've enjoyed using the yard for receptions. But the real fun of the whole tent thing is in watching the process of putting them up.

First they haul out a huge canvas bag and empty it in the middle of the yard. This is tougher than it sounds because it's heavy and it takes three men to manage it. Then they roll out the tent canvas one way, then pull it the other - much like the process we see whenever it begins to rain at a major league ballpark. Once its all laid out they start pounding spikes into the ground in various places, then attaching ropes to the 4x4 framing pieces, and one section at a time the canvas is brought up on the supports. The final support is the tall one in the middle which makes the peak of the tent, and that takes some extra help in the form of a huge mallet which they use to hammer the bottom until its nice and vertical.

It's a great, entertaining thing to watch and each time I've sat on my deck doing just that. And as I watch, I can hear the soundtrack from the movie "Dumbo" playing in my head. I see the elephants pulling the canvas up, and the roustabouts hammering the spikes into the dirt, and I hear that music -  every time! I really love watching a tent go up...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pools

I have to confess I don't quite get the obsession with swimming pools. Not that I wouldn't want one of my own if I were to live in some other place in the world, where the beach was a long way from my house. But here in East Hampton, with the ocean a mile and a half in one direction and the bay only a few in the other, why in the world would I want a pool in my back yard?

I suppose I am still influenced by my father, who I remember saying once about friend who was putting in a swimming pool, "What's the point of living near the water if you're going to put a swimming pool in your back yard?" It does seem to me to be the ultimate advantage, to be able to jump in one's car and drive to a beach which costs us nothing at all to use.

I am also influenced by the fact that I like having a back yard for other things. Years ago we had a volleyball net out there for a long time. We've been able to have wedding receptions in our yard and we love watching the grandkids play on the gym set that was put up a few years ago. We don't need to worry about them being too near the water - just an occasional glance to make sure they haven't wandered into the neighbor's yard is all it takes.

I think it might be a nice thing to walk out your back door and take a quick dip every once in awhile, but with a small yard like ours, I prefer grass and weeds to cement and decking. And as my husband says, we have the biggest swimming pool in the world just a hop, skip and a jump away anytime we're so inclined.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Baby showers

This weekend I'll be attending a baby shower and I'm so looking forward to it! I know its a real woman's thing, but I do enjoy those female bonding times and this one is for family so it will be especially fun.

As a rule I think women don't need many "bonding" experiences. I think we bond very well over the little things in life, the conversations and sharing we do as a matter of course as women. Men aren't as apt to do this as we are - they don't like to delve into one another's personal lives or become emotionally involved with many people. But women just do it. It's who we are.

But a wedding or baby shower is a great opportunity to just be silly and laugh and share on a more open and communal level, in a crowd instead of one-on-one. It's always fun to hear the things other women say about babies and wedding and their own experiences and because women are so open about things in their lives we get glimpses of people we don't know all that well and would otherwise not be sharing with.

We're complicated people, we womenfolk. But for a baby shower life becomes really simple. It's all about babies.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pickers

We've really enjoyed watching the show "American Pickers" on the History Channel this year. The characters are interesting and the show is well done, but the best thing for me is that I can imagine myself in this career, driving across the country looking for great collectibles to re-sell to a unique clientele. I could totally do that!

Everything they see and like, I like as well. I love the old signs, the wonderful early cars, and the quirky little things I remember from my childhood. I remember the signs with the dinosaur at the gas station and I smile at the old pinball machines. The modern video game just can't compare.

I think if we lived in a different place, I could have a great time being a picker. Around here no one would sell anyone for a price that would allow profit, not to mention the fact that there are not many barns full of old things anymore. Between the value of real estate and the savvy owners, no one is going to get a bargain out on the East End! But if I lived in Ohio...or Indiana....or Iowa - well that would be another story altogether.

Sometimes the best thing about any television show is the fantasy.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nice!

The weather at the end of this week has been really nice. After the early heat and heavy humidity, the temperature has settled in perfectly, the humidity has dropped to nothing, and the evenings have cooled  off beautifully. It is the best of the summer and we've been enjoying it immensely. We're eating dinners outside, lounging on the chaise, watching the kids on the play equipment, and cleaning the house without too much drama. If the humidity never returnes I'll be very happy. I don't like that feeling that the air is closing in - I know its a nightmare for asthma sufferers because the ambulance was busy helping picking them up early in thee week. But now its pretty  comfortable and everyone is happier. Especially me.

Every season has its challenges. In the winter its the ice I dread. In fall its a hurricane. In the spring we have too much rain and in the summer, its most definitely the humidity. So for now, while that humidity is MIA, I'm just enjoying the break. I think everyone is.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cleanout

My daughter nudged me into a major clean-out at my house this week and it feels so good now that it's done! We've been talking about cleaning out this room for a long time now - it's the room that has collected stuff for years and would make a hoarder feel very much at home, causing us to climb over boxes and piles in order to get from one side to the other. It was badly in need to a good cleaning and as much as I wanted to do it, working up the energy to tackle it alone was holding me back. When she suggested we take it on I was more than happy to jump in.

Now that its clean I'm already planning its future.I've had things picked out of the IKEA catalog for some time now -  new desktop and cabinets. I am going to change the layout a bit so I'll have an L-shaped desk and can actually look out the front windows when I'm at the computer. I anticipate being inspired to start that new book I've been wanting to write about life in a small town.

It was hard work and I'm not sure I ever would have managed it without my daughter's help. I remember a time when I loved taking on a challenge like that but my stamina isn't what it used to be. I was holding off for the fall when the weather would be kinder. But having her here to help made it the perfect time to work on it, humidity and all!

I am beginning to feel as though the parents are becoming the children and vice versa.....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Laptop

I have really taken to my laptop computer. Not that I've given up the other one, but I this little thing that sits on my lap is pretty handy.

I've taken to doing all my writing on this laptop of late. I can sit in the living room watching TV or I can sit at the kitchen counter eating my breakfast, all the while click-clacking away on the laptop, multi-tasking like crazy. I'm really enjoying the portable nature of the thing, taking it with me on trips and moving it from room to room in my house. When I'm unable to get an internet connection I'm totally bummed.

It's amazing how addicted we've become to our cell phones and computers - things we didn't even own only a short time ago. When we attended a Broadway show last month I was shocked at intermission to see all the cell phones lit up as people texted and checked their emails. Do we really need to be that connected? Not me. I rarely use the cell in fact. It's a great tool but its not something I can't live without.

That said, the idea of computer access on my cell is intriguing. I may have to look in to that at some point in the future....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beach days

The beaches have been busy during these hot days, but of course the term "busy" is relative. On any weekday, even now in July, there is plenty of space at any of our local beaches. For that matter, even on weekends its not all that hard to find your own stretch of sand as long as you're willing to walk a little. Years ago I was lucky enough to visit Hawaii and let me tell you, Waikiki is one crowded beach! So I do know the difference!

One of the best things about living near the beach is the ability to go down any time you want to and enjoy it. My husband does this more than I do, and he sometimes comes home from work, changes into a swim suit, and goes down for a quick swim. Where else can you do that?

I prefer the beach at night and I love going with the kids to have a beach fire and toast marshmallows. Of course at that hour it means sharing the sand with dozens of dogs but most owners and considerate and it's not a problem. Occasionally we have one run through our group, kicking up sand and shaking off its coat after a swim.  We grin and bear it.

The thing I love the most about living near the beach is the fact that any time I'm moved to do so I can drive down to the shore and watch the surf pound away at this island we call home. It's mesmerizing, calming, thought provoking and thrilling from one day to the next. I love it when it's calm and it hypnotizes me with its soft lapping along the shore and I love it when it's so churned up that its beige from the sand that's being carried along with it, inspiring me with its power and danger. I find that if I spend too much time inland I start to feel a little landlocked. But here by the sea I can let me soul soar.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Southampton Hospital

I was asked recently why I was such a "cheerleader" for the Southampton Hospital and the question made me really think. How could I not be? As a native of East Hampton, that hospital has been as much a part of my life as the school I attended or the church I belong to. I was born at Southampton Hospital, I gave birth there, and now I'm visiting my children who have given birth there. In between I've had grandparents die there, visited parents there, and had my own life saved there. How can I not want our community hospital to be the best possible place it can be, knowing that we need it to be there for us as it has been for the past 100+ years?

Which is basically what I told the person who posed the question in the first place. And they smiled and said "Well, I've never thought about it like that". I assured them that while I wished them a long and healthy life, the chances were pretty good that some day they will be taken to the hospital by ambulance, or check themselves in for surgery, or visit their own grandchild there. And when that happens they may just find themselves in the position of "cheerleader" too. Because the hospital is like your family dentist: you hope you never have to see him or her but when you need them, you're mighty glad they're there!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Colors

I'm so thrilled with the colors of the world this summer. I guess its the usual July, but for some reason this year I'm especially impressed by the range and variation of what's around me. The grasses are  gorgeous shades of green, healthy and growing like mad. By August the heat will begin to fade the lush lawns and there will be more brown here and there, but for now at least, green is everywhere.

Then there are the flowers that are blooming in every yard and all the public spaces. The hydrangeas are out - my favorite - and they are gorgeous. Over the years I've planted many of them in my yard, even the hot house versions that are in abundance around Easter, always wondering if they would survive, and many of them have. This year I have various shades of lavendar, blue, and purple and one that looks so pale that its nearly white. I'm looking forward to decorating with them in the next few weeks. I also love annual and perennials of every sort. I'm partial to the pinks, blues, and purples - but the yellow sunflowers and orange marigolds are lovely too. I dont plant annuals myself, except for some potted ones - too much work putting them in every year. But I love to see them!

This year I planted my outdoor deck pots with light and hot pink geraniums, pretty cascading ivy, some tall blue things which boarder on a lavender color, and some tiny white daisies. It's a nice combination. There isn't much thought that goes into my pots every year - as you can see I don't even know the species of most things, but I walk through the nursery in June and choose plants that please my eye as well as those that will provide height, color and variation. This year its all good and I'm pleased with the results.

Driving into my driveway is a treat as I'm greeted by the deck pots, hanging planters, and the garden alongside the house. It's one of the real pleasures of summer. With no irrigation system it takes work by my husband who waters every day, but it's worth it.  For the cost of some plants and the effort to get them in, we have months of beauty all around us.

It's a wonderful time of the year,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Created family

I've been very blessed in my life to be surrounded by family. I grew up with three siblings and lots of cousins and I lived in a complex of family homes inhabited by great aunts and uncles and cousins. With my sisters and brother still in East Hampton and three of my own children still here, I don't lack for familial contact. But sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I married someone from away and lived elsewhere.

I wonder about holidays and special occasions. Would I enjoy the solitude of a life without family or would I create a family wherever I lived? If I didn't know the joys of extended family, perhaps I wouldn't know the difference and would contentedly sit and read a book instead of preparing food for a bar-b-que? Would I attend every holiday concert and special event instead of sitting around a table laughing and enjoying the company of people I loved?

Of course I have no way of knowing the answers to those questions, but I love to ponder them. I like the game of "What might have been?". I rather think I'd create a family wherever I was, with substitute grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings. I have a close friend who I love like a sister but we never see each other on holidays because we have our own families to be with. But if things were different, I can imagine her helping me grill chicken and  making potato salad....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crossings

Since we've been traveling this weekend and needed to take the Cross Sound Ferry back and forth to Connecticut, I've been remembering some prior crossings years ago when the boats were not quite as spacious. There was one I remember quite well - must have been about the late 1970s - and we were on the very small "Caribbean" ferry. The wind was whipped up a bit and once we got out of the river and into the sound that little ferry started bouncing around like a cork in a bathtub. There was only one cabin on that little ferry, in the bow, and since the weather wasn't good every passenger was crammed in there. It was hot and people were getting sea sick all over the place so the bathroom smelled like vomit and getting up to visit it might mean losing your seat. It was one miserable trip, made tolerable by the antics of our daughter who was as cute as possible, just a toddler and too busy to sit down but trying hard to keep her footing in the rolling seas. She kept us laughing and distracted and we managed to make the crossing without too much discomfort, but I was not anxious to do it again anytime soon.

There was another crossing where we had been visiting relatives when we discovered our baby - I think she was about 10 months at the time - came down with the chicken pox. I knew what it was immediately because her sister had also had it two weeks earlier, the exact incubation time of the disease. We headed for home right away but had to make the crossing on the ferry, which fortunately was the larger one. It was a day with heavy fog but warm enough and with calm seas so I spent the entire trip on a bench outside in the fog, not wanting to expose anyone to the highly contagious disease the baby had. It was the longest trip I'd every made across the sound, with the boat's fog horn sounding regularly. The baby slept through it all, which was amazing, but I had to endure it.

On a beautiful calm day the trip is great fun. It allows us to avoid the busy roads around NYC and walk around the boat rather than sit in a car for hours. But on a bad day it can be a nightmare.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weddings

Today we're heading north to Massachusetts to attend a family wedding. I love the trip across the sound by ferry - one of the delights of heading in that direction.

Years ago I remember the small ferries we took when we wanted to avoid the drive around and through Westchester to get to New England. One we had to back the car off of and all of them were small enough to make a rough crossing really difficult, with waves crashing over the bow of the boat. Now the boats are quite luxurious, with game rooms and snack bars and comfortable seating. It's a long way from where it began and we surely appreciate the difference! But even in the old days it was preferable to the long drive around. I love the sights and sounds on the water and going up the CT River to New London is a treat.

Family weddings are always fun and my one regret is the entire family can't be there. Unlike my immediate family, which mostly doesn't do anything without the younger ones, some people aren't as much "in" to family as we are so the children aren't invited, which means some of the adults have to stay home to take care of kids. It's totally understandable and everyone has to do things the way they want to, but it does change things when you have a family. So half the family heads north and the other half are staying home. (Personally, I prefer a wedding where kids are involved, but that's because I happen to think the little ones are what make any celebration. Seeing a little girl dance with her uncle, or a little boy with his mother, is one of the great pleasures of life for me - I love it.) No matter though, we'll still have a great time and sometimes getting away without the little ones is nice for the parents. Those of us who are there will have a great time and we're looking forward to seeing relatives not seen in awhile now.

So off we go, driving north, looking forward to a great weekend.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beauty all around

This past weekend was gorgeous. The weather was so perfect and everywhere I looked I saw the things I love about East Hampton. The sky was the most beautiful shade of blue, the ocean was calm, and each wave completely translucent as it crested over the top of the swell and began to crash on the shore. At Main Beach early on Saturday morning there were people walking, jogging, and sitting to read their newspapers in the peace of the early morning hours.

A friend recently posted a photo on Facebook of a sunset over Maidstone Park. Someone commented that we tend to take for granted the beauty around us. I don't think I do. I see these spectacular scenes and make myself a mental note: remember this one! And I do. I call those moments back when I need them - when life is discouraging or I'm enduring some kind of discomfort. It's like LaMaze training: if you're busy thinking about something you can't concentrate on anything else. It's so true. I fill my mind with good thoughts and wonderful memories. The other things are pushed to the side.

There is beauty all around us here on the East End. We need to be careful not to miss it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Screen doors

I have screen doors on the back of my house. There are two sets of french doors and each set has screens, which are great when the temperature climbs and we can open them up for the breeze. But there's something I really miss with my screen doors. There's no spring on any of them.

To me, one of the most iconic sounds of the summertime is the sound of a screen door slamming shut as a child runs out to play. It's a very distinctive "bang" and every house had one back in the 1950s. But I hesitate to put a spring on my main door simply because I worry about the kids getting fingers slammed in it if they're not careful. So there is no spring and therefore, no slam. Often its left open, which is the other side of what happens when there's no automatic closing mechanism involved. I prefer not worrying about harmed fingers - easier to use a fly swatter when necessary after the doors left ajar.

But I do miss the sound of that door slamming shut every time someone walks out of it...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hazy crazy lazy

Every summer I remember a song from the late 1950s or early 1960s that started "Roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer..." (the rhymes could have been in a different order, but basically that was it!) and it makes me laugh out loud. I haven't had a "lazy" day in the summertime since before I was 14 years-old. That's when I got my working papers. I started working summers as soon as I was old enough and I can't think of a single summer since then when I can say I've had any "lazy" days. Crazy, maybe! Lazy? No. July is already shaping up to be the busiest month of the year so far. Only December rivals it for the crazy, busy schedule that usually shapes up.

Every weekend this month is taken up with some big event or another. Week days will be equally busy as I pack, or cook, or otherwise prepare for the weekend to come.  I already find myself longing for the autumn when things will calm down a bit and I can concentrate on having some lazy days. Maybe the song should have been written differently. I'm thinking it would make more sense if it was about the "lazy, crazy, hazy days of winter" - although haze isn't too common during the cold months. Let's see....is there a winter word that rhymes with "lazy"?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday USA and may the red, white and blue continue to stand for freedom and grit and compassion and soul. For a long, long time.

I am always humbled when I think about the people who founded this nation. This was not a matter of people being born here and living here their entire lives, just following in the footsteps of generations before them! These people were hardy, tough, determined souls who were willing to put their lives on the line - literally - to do what was best for them. Whether for religious freedom, the ability to buy land, or simply a better life for their children, the people who forged their way across the ocean - and then a continent - some 300 years ago were better people than I ever will be. I would not have had the fortitude nor the character to do the things they did, from crossing the Atlantic in tiny ships to crossing the wilderness in covered wagons.

And I am forever in their debt.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

1776

One of my favorite musicals is the period piece "1776", which was written to celebrate the bicentennial back in 1976 and ran on Broadway during that time. I was able to catch a road production of it that year right here in East Hampton, and it was subsequently made into a movie which I always watch when I can catch it on TV, usually this very weekend every year.

There are some things I wish were different about the show - the fact that there is only one female cast member, for instance, but overall I love the way it brings an amazing period of time in our nation's history to life, imbuing each character with personality and interest and making the whole continental congress more than just words on the page of a history book. It's "living history" at its best, in the tradition of Colonial Williamsburg. real people, real problems, real conflicts.

The other thing I appreciate about the show is the fact that on this weekend, when we celebrate our independence and this life we are privileged to have in the United States of America, it focuses my thoughts on those amazing people who fought and won it all for us at the very beginning. And it makes me appreciate those that continue to do so.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

BJs

Earlier this week we made a trip to Riverhead to shop at BJs. I always find a visit to that place fascinating.

I'm not sure what it is exactly, but there's something about huge packages of anything that intrigues me. I see huge batches of paper towels and toilet paper and I want them. Perhaps it goes back to the earliest days of our marriage when money was so tight we once ran out of toilet paper and my husband had to bring a roll from work so we could get through to the next pay period. I'm not sure, but I know I'm compelled to buy. And the big packages of food and hygiene items are also a big draw, from bags of flour I can hardly lift to giant bottles of detergent I can't tip to pour into my washing machine when I get them home. I think there's something comforting about knowing I can do laundry for the next 6 months and bake to my hearts content without needing to run to the store for supplies.

Then of course there are the items in the middle of the store, the books, toys, furniture and miscellaneous things for the home that I never knew I needed until I spotted them at BJs. I've bought chairs for the deck and Christmas tree ornaments I had no idea I'd be shopping for when I entered the store.

I even like standing in line, checking out the things piled in other people's carts. Why, I wonder, would that woman need so many 5lb packages of bacon? And what could that gentleman over there possibly want with 20 cases of bottled water? It's like sitting on a park bench checking out the passing throngs and wondering what their lives are like.

I always spend more than I should but I always justify it all by thinking "I won't have to buy any of this stuff for a long, long time so I'm saving money. Of course I seem to spend my weekly food budget anyway...

Friday, July 1, 2011

July

I love the fact that right off the bat in July we have a holiday. It makes for a nice entree into the month when you know you'll be celebrating and partying and having a jolly old time during the first few days, often with a long weekend as part of the deal. It's a great way to enjoy a few nice summer days.

When we were kids we always had a July 4th cook-out with other families - always the same group every year. It involved a parade, then food, games, and fireworks, and it was always fun. For most of my life I've attended the parade in Southampton the morning of the fourth, but I admit I've missed the last few. I think this year I'd like to go again, but we'll see what the day brings. I tend to bend to the wishes of the family and don't really want to make the trip alone. Since my father was not a beach person that was never an issue, but I'm the only non-beach person on the group now so I could easily be odd man out of the day is right for some sand and surf. I love the parade - the music is great and the floats fun. We often didn't stay for the entire time but were there at least an hour, which was plenty.

I'm thinking we may have a family cook-out at night this year. I can stay home and make food while the rest of the crew head to the beach. I'd rather be in the kitchen as long as its not hot and humid. And if I'm moved to join the rest of the gang I can always run down to the shore at some point to watch the kids play in the water. I'm glad they love it, just the way I did when I was their age.

Regardless of what the weekend brings it will be fun. With all the tourists out here it will be nice to spend some time at home as well. I'm pretty open to anything as long as it involved being with people I love.