Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pier 1

Is it just me of is Pier 1 everybody's favorite store?

I love Pier 1. I love the prices and I love the products. I love to be able to stop there and come out with some treasure without breaking the bank. There's decor to brighten up the house, some pillows for the bedroom or a new chair for the living room, and beautiful things to enliven my next dinner party.

A few weeks ago I bought a nice arm chair for my bedroom at a yard sale. It was the perfect size and a nice neutral color and I'd been looking for one for quite some time. I wanted a corner spot to be able to curl up and watch television when my beloved was watching something downstairs that I'm not interested in. I also bought a nice floor lamp for a song at IKEA, an adjustable spotlight type thing which can be easily adjusted to use for reading. I had everything in place except a nice ottoman.

I have looked everywhere for an ottoman. I shopped at all the local furniture shops, all of whom are having winter sales. No where could I find a nice upholstered ottoman for less money than I'd paid for the chair and somehow I just couldn't bring myself to do that, even if they were half-price.

Then I thought of Pier 1. The next time I was in Southampton with time to spare I stopped in and lo and behold, just inside the door there it was! A beautiful, leather-look upholstered ottoman in three colors. None of which I wanted, but the price was right! So I went to the desk. Was there any chance this particular piece came in ivory? A quick look in the computer confirmed my hope: it did come in ivory and it could be delivered to Southampton within a week. I bought it on the spot. And now I love Pier 1 even more than I did before.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chocolate chips

I think I've mentioned before that I have such an addiction to m&ms that I avoid buying them altogether. I know my addictions and I try to deal with them on my own, with limited success. But now I'm seeing that my addiction is really more about chocolate than m&ms because I'm equally struggling with chocolate chips. You know the ones I'm talking about - not the cookies - but the actual Toll House semi-sweet chocolate bits that we buy in bags to make the cookies with. I love them.

I think, like m&ms, the appeal of the chocolate chips is the small size and the fact that I can get a quick chocolate fix with just a few in my hand, slowly melted in my mouth and savored for their flavor and texture. The chips are nice and smooth whereas the m&ms are a wonderful combination of melted chocolate with that nice crunchy shell. Yum.

The bottom line is that chocolate brings about endorphins and endorphins bring about a wonderful feeling of contentment and having a handful of chocolate, whether chips or m&ms, provides a nice little lift in the middle of the day. Or at the end. Or the beginning. And so presents the problem. I can't keep my hands out of the cupboard.

Ah, chocolate. Soothes the savage beast. Or is that music?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ICU

I've spent my share of time at the ICU unit of Southampton Hospital: my grandmother, my father, my father-in-law, my husband, my dear friend's father - I sat for many hours in the waiting area and in the patient rooms for each of those people. So I know a bit about the stress and exhaustion that go with someone you love being in the Intensive Care Unit.

This week Southampton Hospital opened their newly refurbished ICU and it is a beautiful thing. New lighting, the newest equipment, including beds that do everything from weight the patient to lifting them out to a standing position, a new call system, beautiful new decor, and the best of everything for the care of critical patients. I was so impressed with the vision and care of the staff and their excitement and enthusiasm about the new space. And I was happy to know that not only was this space going to enable the staff to take the best possible care of their patients, but they would also be able to do so in pleasant, efficient surroundings.

It made me think about how grateful I am for the generous people who donate to the hospital every year because all of us benefit from their gifts. And it reminded me how lucky we are that we have this community hospital here on the East End to take care of us when we need it. There are people in other areas of this country who have to drive hours to get to the closest hospital. I'm so glad that's not the case here. So I tip my hat to the staff and administration of Southampton Hospital, and it's generous donors, for making a difference for all of us.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

National anthem

Stephen Tyler's rendition of the National Anthem at the championship football game last week got plenty of press. It mostly amused me, because I've had a problem with the issue of who sings "The Star Spangled Banner" for years now. I don't understand it all.

If you ask a rock singer - or a comedian - to sing the National Anthem, you get what you ask for. You get a silly or sad form of a song that is sacred to the American people. And then - shockingly - people are stunned when it isn't done well. Why are you surprised when you put a chicken in the oven and it doesn't come out like a filet mignon? It's the same concept! If you are more interested in getting a "name" to sing a song that important than you are with having it done well, shame on you! There are thousands of talented singers in this country who are professional and talented and could nail that song with no problem. Or it could be done by a military band, or a chorus, or some other wonderful group.  So why are we asking people who specialize in screaming, rocking music to sing what is a difficult piece of music to conquer?  I want to hear him sing rock! Is there any logic here at all? Should the presentation of our National Anthem really be about ratings and do we really need some superstar to do it? I happen to like Stephen Tyler, but I like him as the front man for Aerosmith, I would never choose him to be the singer of that song for a major event (or even a minor one for that matter).

I don't think Stephen Tyler is to blame, unless its as someone who should have known when to say "no". I think it says more about television executives than anything else. That's my two cents about it anyway!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Roadside assistance

I've been spending many hours on the road recently, helping with a friend who needs transportation to Stony Brook Hospital for radiation treatments. The route is easy, but I don't like spending so much time on major highways. I hate multiple lanes and high-speed travel. And it was inevitable that at some point there would be some sort of incident. Enter Triple A!

We've been members of AAA since about 1993 when we started regular road trips to take our eldest to college. I felt more comfortable with the little bit of insurance that the organization offered in terms of their roadside assistance program. It has come in handy a few times, once for a son who had an accident on his way back to college, and a couple times for keys locked in the car. On nearly twenty years of membership we've used the services less than half-dozen times. So I would say that so far they've made plenty of money on us.

When my car broke down on Sunrise Highway recently I called AAA. I was not pleased with the service person on the other end of the phone. In the first place I expected him to inquire right off the bat whether or not we were in a safe place. He never asked that question and never offered to call the police to assure we were OK. When I asked for assistance he gave me the third degree, and not in a terribly friendly manner.  He wanted to know what town I was in ("I'm not sure but we just passed the Westhampton exit") and what the nearest cross street was ("There are no cross streets - its a highway") and what was the exit number ("I don't know - it was Westhampton - do you want me to walk back 1.8th of a mile to look at the sign?") and so it went. I became more and more frustrated as I sat shaking by the side of the road, feeling the pull of heavy trucks and fast-moving vehicles flying by us within a few feet. We were going to be late for her treatment. I didn't know what was wrong with the car. I didn't know what the answers to his questions were. The final straw was when he asked where I wanted the car to be towed to. I told him the name of the service station in East Hampton. He wanted an address. I didn't have an address but I had a phone number. He insisted he needed an address. I was nearly in tears.

But here's the kicker. He got my mechanic on the phone and made the mistake of having me on a three-way conversation. I could hear the difference in the tone of his voice when he spoke to the mechanic. There was no condescension, no annoyance, and no insistence that he needed more information, even when the mechanic said he needed to have the tow truck operator call when he reached EH because he would not find his shop by the address. Somehow whatever he said was acceptable, but nothing I said was.

And there you have it. Anyone who doesn't believe that men are treated differently than women don't have any idea what they're talking about. And I'm glad I had my Triple A membership, but I hope I never have to deal with that operator again...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Super Bowl

OK so now we are heading for the Super Bowl. Most years its not big deal because they aren't local teams playing and we rarely do anything special for the event. But this year the Giants are playing so I know the game will be on.

I'm already planning my evening. I will get a knitting project going, number one. As long as I have something to keep my mind occupied, meaning a complicated pattern of some sort, I will be able to stay content while the overly-hyped nonsense ensues. I hate all the hoopla that goes with the Super Bowl, especially the long drawn-out halftime show that is more Hollywood than anything else. Nonsense to me! (I'd much rather watch the Grambling marching band any day!)

Then I think I'll do some sort of baking project, which will make my husband happy and entertain me at the same time. Maybe one of our kids will want to come watch with us, which would be nice, but its doubtful.They don't seem to gravitate here the way we all did at my parent's house years ago. Still trying to figure that out, but I think there are a number of reasons for it, including a smaller house!

So, Super Bowl Sunday will be OK. But I need to go find another knitting project soon.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Light

The light is arriving noticeably earlier these days. I greet it with mixed feelings.

Most mornings I'm out of bed by 6-6:30. On those rare days when I have no pressing schedule, I love to stay under the covers until 7, especially in these dark winter months when the air outside the comfort of my down comforter is so cold and the sun is still making its way into our hemisphere. But once the light begins to dawn, the pull to climb out from that cozy cocoon is way too strong. This week I noticed that the sun is up, or at least peeking over the horizon, between 6:30 and 7 and I'm more than ready to climb out of bed.  So summer is coming - if only in the light of morning!

Saturday mornings will soon be lighter and sleeping in late will rarely occur. Of course, to some people the idea of sleeping until 7 being "late" is laughable, and when I was younger I would have agreed. But between rising early to get four kids off to school all those years and being married to an early riser, I can't imagine staying in bed much longer. Unless, of course, someone wanted to bring me breakfast in bed - or just cuddle for awhile....

Now if only we could do something about that cold!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Laundry

Laundry is one of those things that unifies us in our similarities-we all have to do it, unless we're wealthy enough to have someone else do it for us. I don't personally know anyone in that category (that I know of) but I'm sure there are plenty of them. For me and the people I know, laundry is something we all deal with.

When we were first married we had no washer and dryer and we went to my parents every week and did laundry. With a small baby it was a lot of wash and we spend every Wednesday evening watching TV with my parents, the baby asleep on a blanket on the floor. Looking back on those days with the perspective of age is interesting because at the time I resented not having my own appliances to use but now I treasure those nights with my folks. Since they're both gone now I pull memories back often and think about how much I miss those days when we were young and life was all ahead of us.

Once baby number two came along we managed to get a house of our own and it included an old washer and dryer so I started doing laundry at home. By the time we had four kids the washer was running about every day, eventually each of them doing their own but still keeping the laundry area busy. Then, one at a time they began to leave home and the frequency of running the appliances slowed down...a lot! Now we're back to doing one load a week for the most part, whichever one of us starts running out of clothes first bringing the pile downstairs. We've long ago overcome our differences in how to pair up socks and fold pants, but we don't agree on everything so sometimes re-folding is in order. But all in all, like everyone else in the world, we wash our clothes, fold them and put them away on a regular basis. At least in our case we don't have to do it on rocks in the river. Now that's something to be thankful for!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lazy days

I find winter to have a lot of lazy days. I think its the cold weather which restricts our outdoor time, that makes us less ambitious because in the summer, when the sun is shining and we have all those extra hours of daylight, I find myself feeling guilty if I'm not outside doing something productive. There are always weeds to be pulled and flowers to be deadheaded, or the yard to be picked up. It seems as though every hour of daylight has to be filled - we need to justify our existence. But in the winter, there are no such pressures on us. It's too dark, and too cold, and too difficult to spend much time outside and its so easy to make excuses for time spent relaxing. 

Its winter now and there's no guilt in the winter. We can spend our days in front of the fireplace and simply enjoy the things we don't have time for all summer long. A good book, a long movie, a quiet conversation. These are the gifts of winter. And when I'm busy in the summer, I dream of these quiet days.

Someone on Facebook this past weekend was laughing about our snow here and saying how he'd just mown his lawn out in California. It made me smile actually because his post made me realize how much I loved being right here, in January in East Hampton, enjoying a nice snow day with no guilt at all about a lawn that needed mowing. There was an action adventure movie to watch and it was cold outside! I wasn't going anywhere.

Ah, winter!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hands

The problem I have with the cold weather is my hands. They never seem to be warm.

We keep out temperature pretty low in the winter and I deal with that by wearing heavy wool sweaters around the house. I can be perfectly comfortable with the exception of my hands, which, when its really cold outside, just never seem to warm up. Most of this winter we've been able to turn on the gas fireplace which sends a nice steady stream of hot air into the living room and my hands are toasty warm in no time at all. But when the temperature dropped last week into the below-freezing category, that gas fireplace cranked away for hours and my hands never made it past the "just defrosted" stage. It wasn't warm enough to knit, which really annoyed me, and the only thing I could do was keep them between my legs to keep them warm enough.

Thankfully, most of our winter doesn't stay in those temperature ranges and I am hard at work on some knitting projects. But it makes me worry about the future. I remember my grandparents house always being so over-heated to me when I was young, and my medical training has taught me that this is typical for older folks whose internal thermostats don't work quite as well as they used to. And I'm wondering what I'll ever do in another ten years when the rest of my body has the same problem as my hands do now.

I suppose that's why so many of my contemporaries are moving south....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Football

Last week the Giants were playing football in what I guess was an important game, so it was on the TV at our house. I endured the entire game and I have to say, I just don't get it.

Now I'm not an anti-sports person. I love the Olympics and watch all the different sports at the games. I enjoy high school sports and kids sports, but professional sports just leaves me a little cold. Especially football. I've tried to figure out what it is I don't like about it, but the only thins I can come up with is the personality types that seem to dominate the game. I find them to be overly obnoxious with egos the size of Montana. They gloat over their victories and sulk over their losses. I'm sure there are some nice guys in the sport, but for the most part when I watch them play I see overly large toddlers, stamping their feet when they don't get their own way and jumping up and down like silly kids when they do something right, which is I assume what they get paid so much money to do in the first place.

It's been a long time since I've been really interested in any pro football competition - I think it was the Jets in Super Bowl III? After all, Joe Namath was cute and I was young, so it was to be expected. But lately there just hasn't been anything that really caught my attention. With the Giants being in the post-season it makes me feel a bit out-of-the-loop. I'm ready for spring training to begin...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flannel

We finally broke down and got the flannel sheets out this past week. With temperatures dropping into the twenties it had to happen, and now the bed is cozy and warm when I climb in at night.

Years ago I remember when they first came out with pajamas and nightgowns with the new fabric they called "cuddleskin" - it was satin on the outside but flannel on the inside. So they looked pretty and silky but had the warmth and comfort of the flannel on the inside, making whatever you were wearing to bed really perfect. I was hooked and I still have some nice pjs that are silky blue satin outside and cozy warm flannel inside. The best of both worlds.

Plus, if you want to use flannel sheets you need silky nightwear, or else nothing at all, because an old fashioned flannel nightgown will end up around you neck otherwise. Flannel against flannel is not the best idea, at least not for someone like me who twists and turns all night long, flipping around into various positions.

These months of low temperatures are surely flannel sheet nights and its a pleasure to sink into them after a nice hot bath right before bed. Ahhh....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The bridge

We live a few dozen feet from a railroad underpass. Two of them actually, but one is on our street and one a street over, but still visible from my house and within earshot. Both of them get hit regularly by trucks that are too high to get underneath them.

Recently the one closest to us was hit, again, which is less common in the winter than it is in the summer for some reason. Simply the difference in traffic volume I suppose. But it made us wonder how many times a year the bridge is actually hit. I would guess its more than a dozen if you include both bridges because sometimes in the warmer months it seems to happen about once a week. I'm sure its at least a dozen and possibly even more. Now these bridges are clearly marked with warning signs which state the clearance, but for various reasons they aren't heeded. Whenever it happens we know it instantly because the sound is unmistakable. Sometimes the truck actually gets to the other side, peeling back the top of the truck like a sardine can. But if they're too tall they can't do that and although I've seen entire sides bent back and the contents exposed, quite often only the front is badly damaged. Occasionally one becomes wedged beneath the span and it takes hours to get it out.

One might think stupidity has something to do with these accidents but that's not my impression. I think its usually distraction or ignorance. Many times the vehicles involved are rental trucks and the drivers simply inexperienced in driving something so large. Sometimes a different route was taken than normal and therefore confusion contributed to the disaster. And I've also seen instances where substitute drivers were behind the wheel or new vehicles were being driven. I always find myself sympathizing with the poor victims, who are usually in a state of shock.

Imagine what a jolt it would be to come to a sudden stop when driving 30 miles an hour down the road minding your own business!

The real answer to the problem is to raise the bridges of course. But it certainly would cut down on our entertainment around here...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sweaters

I wonder what I would do without sweaters in the winter. I love them.

Sometimes I'm embarrassed to realize I've worn the same old favorite sweater multiple days in the same week. They're comfortable, warm, and very forgiving in terms of my weight variations. It's rather like living in sweat pants, never worrying about a pound here or there, and snuggling on the couch without fear of wrinkles. What's not to love about a big comfy sweater?

Well, for one the cost of cleaning. I can't bear to take things to the dry cleaners because its so costly and hand washing is such a labor-intensive and long process. Especially if we're talking wool!

Never mind though. I love my sweaters and, even with moth holes, I wear them constantly. I try to save the better looking ones for use outside the house. But inside, all bets are off.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

People

If I learned one thing with my health issues it's that the most important thing in your life is the people.

I've always loved people and I've always put a high value on the people who touch my life, but now I see everyone through different eyes. I greet complete strangers differently. I smile more at the people I pass on the street. I am more apt to talk to someone I don't know. And I long to touch every life I can while I am here.

I find myself longing for human contact. I can only go so long in an isolated state. Sometimes I love being alone, but those times don't last long and they aren't common! Mostly, I want to laugh with friends, eat with family, and see people I rarely get to. I look for opportunities to meet old friends for lunch and have dinner with new ones. And I look for ways to make acquaintances, even though its not easy for someone who's naturally shy like I am.

As much as I dislike doctor's appointments, I enjoy knowing my doctors. And I love any opportunity out there to get to know someone.

So - here's one of the grains of wisdom I've gleaned from my most recent introduction to my mortality: when all is said and done, when we are at the end of our days, it's the relationships we have and the people in our lives who will be our comfort and joy. That, and my relationship wit God, are the things that I'll spend the rest of my days nurturing. The rest...well....it's just stuff. And who needs stuff?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Breathing room

January has been everything I'd hoped it would be. The weather has been mild, and I've had some nice open days to catch up on all my "stuff". I needed some time to just get things done and so far, January is delivering.

I am a project person. I've already received the materials for next summer's Vacation Bible School at church, which I've been running the past couple years. I count on January and February for planning. Because one the spring arrives I'm too busy to do much of anything! So I've had my books and catalog out, working on lists and organizing the program.

I spent two days last week taking Christmas down and putting things away from the holidays. I also cleaned out the freezer and did some other housework. I also started two knitting projects. I never knit between June and September, so now is the time to get knitting projects done.

I need to clean out some spaces and hope to get that done in the next few weeks.

This is my breathing room. January is giving me space to get things done and feel in control again, and providing me the time I need to get myself organized. I find the winter is the time for planning and keeping things in order because the rest of the year flies by so fast I can barely hang on.

I so needed this breathing room. And it feels so good.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter thoughts

It's the dead of winter in East Hampton and the cold has settled in for the next weeks ahead. There are many who can't wait to get out of the north for the cold months and Florida beckons to many from here. But I'm not among them. I welcome a short visit to warmer climates, but there are wonders here during the winter months that I love as well. (To me the need to scrape the ice off my car is no worse than waiting for the a/c to make the leather seats tolerable in the heat of August! And there are only so many clothes you can take off when its humid, but layers work great in the coldest months.)

One of the best things about this time of year is the winter landscape, which is beautiful in its simplicity and form. Bare trees are stunningly architectural and against the winter sky especially lovely. The late afternoon sunsets are the perfect backdrop for a horizon lined with the black silhouettes of elms and oaks reaching skyward in the frigid air. Driving down Further Lane recently I saw trees with spiraled branches and they were gorgeous. I would never have seen that with the leaves in full bloom. The birches have peeling bark that's so pretty too. No snow yet, but when that happens it adds another dimension to the landscape.

I also love the bushes that are bare in winter. On Egypt Lane I notice the thick undergrowth, much of it invisible in season as the foliage hides the deeper reaches, but now the thickets are visible and the animals that inhabit them cannot easily find cover. I can see the deer deep inside the woods, calmly wandering about.

The best thing about an overnight snowfall is the absolute quiet that we wake to. No cars, no trucks, only the scraping of an occasional plow slowly rumbling down the street. We can hear the surf from our house when it snows all night. It's a welcome sound.

Winter is stark, but unique and special in its bare and exposed yards. I could use a trip to the Florida Keys for a week or two, more to clear my head than escape the weather, but I wouldn't want to miss all of winter in East Hampton so I'm more than happy to stay right here. It's all about stopping to notice what's around us in order to fully appreciate our surroundings.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kelly

I love Kelly Ripa - I really do. But I'm afraid without Regis my favorite morning show is just not the same.

From the very beginning I've watched Regis as he came to feel like a favorite uncle to me. I followed his various adventures and misadventures and laughed at his human foibles and self-deprecating sense of humor. I found him to be the kind of person I would love to hang out with, to be a member of my family, and to be able to go to when I needed help. I adored him.

Throughout the years I saw him go through many co-hosts and Kelly is one of the best he's had. She's cute and funny and witty and kind and again, someone I'd be happy to share a girls-night-out with anytime. But without Regis, somehow she's just not the same. Actually, she is the same - its just that something's missing on the show and I'm not sure they'll be able to find it again.

Because the truth is there probably isn't another Regis out there. Because if they were easy to find they would already be busy. He is a rare one and I miss him. I may stop recording the show altogether soon....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Digital

I have a digital camera and I've never been a particularly good photographer, but the digital age makes things really challenging.

The good thing is I can take lots of photos and check them all out before wasting money on printing them. I can easily delete anything not worth saving and take many without worrying about the cost. That's a huge change in the photography world!

The bad thing is it takes so long between the time I push the button and the picture actually is taken. Now I've been trying to get photos of kids for a long time and and its never easy to get the right shot. But now its impossible. You snap it, and they move before the camera actually takes the picture. It's one of the most frustrating things in the world. I can't tell you how many photos I've taken of the back of one of the grandkids heads! They just don't stand still long enough!

My daughter got a fancy new digital camera for Christmas. It actually senses when the subject smiles and takes the photo instantaneously. Amazing. We tested it out and it works. It even has a setting you can adjust for a small smile, a regular smile, or a big smile. What in the world!?

I can't imagine how expensive that camera was because its a far cry from my little pocket camera that never seems to catch a smile. I think I may give up on the whole photography thing altogether...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Moonshine

Tuesday morning was my day to volunteer at the hospital and I left, as always, at 7am to get there for my 7:30 shift. It's still dark at that hour and I scraped the window first as the temperature had dropped just enough overnight to leave a thin film of white, easy enough to get rid of, but a sign that colder days are coming.

Anyway, I left my driveway and drove to the traffic light, turned onto Montauk Highway, and as I rounded the curve by Hook Mill I literally gasped at the sight of the moon hanging just over the houses along North Main Street. It was huge, and bright and one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. I felt as though I could nearly reach out through my windshield and touch it.

I didn't stop, but when I turned the corner onto Woods Lane there it was again, right in front of me, like something out of a movie. It was one of those rare and exceptional things that nature gift us with evbery once in awhile, just to remind us that there is a bigger world out there and we're a mere speck in the universe. Wow - I was mesmerised.

I called my husband on my cell (I know, I know - and I really never drive and talk on the phone, but this was nearly an emergency!) and told him to please run out of his office and snap a photo. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And he did. The results are attached for all to appreciate and enjoy.

Sometimes a simple thing like a beautiful moon can wake us up to the beauty of the world and remind us we're simply not alone here on earth but there is something bigger than us at work. I welcome those reminders.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Loss

Last week we lost another member of the community in a terrible accident. He was way too young (60) and had so much good left to do in his life. Going to the funeral home made me realize that his life touched so many people through his job and his family - the lines were out the door. It was incredibly sad.

I'm always moved by the way a single death can be so devastating in a small community. Although not everyone in town knew him, of course, many did. His life touched others through his job and they were there in abundance. He had once helped them through a difficult time and they remembered. He also had a wonderful wife and three great kids and others were touched by those lives, and they came to pay their respects.

I love East Hampton during times of loss. We pull together and hold each other up. We support the people who need it and we step up as necessary. Each of us feels the emptiness that's left behind when one of our own is taken from us too soon. When an elder dies, we share our sadness over someone special lost to us, but we also rejoice in the life well lived among us, enriching us all. But when one is taken too soon, its a sadness that's deeper and more profound. We are touched by the loss in a different way, making us appreciate each other all the more and peaking our awareness of the fragility of life. We need to value the people in our lives and not take them for granted. And we need to hold close to the things that make us who we are as a community. It's something that we should never forget.

East Hampton is a special place, made more special by the people who inhabit it. I'm so glad to be among them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vacation

I really need a vacation. And someone to plan it for me.

We haven't been on a real vacation in awhile. (Now I'm not looking for a week on the Riviera or a cruise, necessarily (I'm not high maintenance, really!), just a few days away from home, with someone to make my bed and cook my food and nothing at all to think about other than...nothing. I would be thrilled to get away from the television set (which my husband is attached to), and away from all the scheduled meetings and events that clog up my calendar. It could be a B&B in Connecticut, or a long weekend at the Public House in Sturbridge Village. I'm really not fussy.  And I know if I suggested it my husband would probably say "Sure - let's do it!".

But then the rest would be up to me. All the planning, the organizing, the research, the phone calls - and by the time I got it all done I'd want to stay home to recuperate.

I envy people who have assistants, whether they be secretaries or personal assistant-types. My father's secretary did all those things for him, planning his trips and making his arrangements. I need someone like that. Because I'm tired of being the planner. And I want someone to take me away! I want a Knight on a white horse to swoop in and pull me up on the back of the saddle and wisk me off to some romantic place where we can rekindle the romance that seems rather vague these days. Of course, its not his style and I know that. But a girl can dream, can 't she? And lacking that, a persona secretary would do nicely thank you!

I think I've been watching too much "Once Upon a Time" on Sunday nights. Reality bites sometimes! LOL

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday morning

Mondays have become "treatment" days. Not for me, thankfully, but for a dear friend.

In November a very special friend was diagnosed with cancer. It's a tricky kind to treat and there was much doctor visiting and hospital hopping trying to figure out how they would proceed. As its worked out, she's going to Stony Brook every day for radiation treatments and I take her Mondays. So Monday morning we leave my house at 7:30, drive for an hour-and-a-half, spend about 45 minutes at the hospital, then head back to East Hampton about 10-10:30. If she's feeling up to it we may stop for lunch when we get to Southampton or East Hampton, but if not I take her right back to her house so she can recuperate. It's a heavy treatment and it takes a toll on her physically and mentally.

I've had three years now to ponder cancer and the effect it has on our lives. I've seen so much in my own experience and heard so much of others. Once you're a member of "the club" you hear stories. Lots of stories. And there are many of them out there. I'm pretty consumed by my friend's cancer right now. I can't stop thinking about her and what she means to me. One is lucky in life to have a good friend like she is and I can't imagine my life without her. But I'm optimistic that the treatments will be successful and she and I will celebrate many more birthdays together. But until then, Mondays belong to her. And to the fight.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Master suite

I love watching the HGTV show "House Hunters". I enjoy seeing homes in various parts of the country and comparing prices to what we have here in East Hampton. The thing that always amazes me is how big most people's master suites are. At least compared to mine!

Some homes have huge masters, with bathrooms almost as large as my bedroom. When we put a small addition on our home twenty years ago I thought I was really living the high life! My very own bathroom! My parents never had their own bathroom - we all shared the same one in that old Victorian. So having my own, as small as it is, was definitly an upgrade! And I do love it. But honestly its very modest compared to what I see on TV. Apparently in other parts of the country I could buy a home with a master suite as large as my whole upstairs is here in East Hampton.

Funny, but humanly speaking we really don't ever know what we don't have unless someone else points it out to us (or we see it on TV!) My grandparents would think I was living in a mansion. 

And actually, I do too.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Southern style

I hear all the time about people who are moving south. I guess its a reflection of my age, because as people retire they tend to go to warmer climates where they won't need to worry about shoveling snow or hiring someone to plow their driveway. I know people who've moved to Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and California. I'm sure others from here have discovered Georgia and Virginia, although I'm not sure Virginia is far enough south to be that much different in temperature. I know they get snow there!

I love southern style everything and in fact I get Southern Living magazine, thanks to a relative who sent it to me years ago and got me hooked on the recipes and the southern style of living. I could easily move to Charleston, for instance, where there is history and the sea, similar to East Hampton, with elegant Victorian homes and beautiful historic sites everywhere. But I can't ever imagine really leaving East Hampton.

I would need a community with a nice village center, a downtown area with shops and museums, a wonderful sense of history, and beautiful old churches. I'd look for a place with a sense of community, not strip malls and outlet centers. And I'd have to find a place not too far from the sea, with pretty homes and lovingly tended gardens.

And I'd need central air since I wouldn't venture outside between May and October when its hot and humid in the south.

Somehow I can't imagine finding all that anyplace else so I'm pretty sure I'll just stay right here in East Hampton and deal with the snow....

Friday, January 6, 2012

January freeze

We've had a gorgeous weather year so far since October and I am NOT complaining, that's for sure! We haven't had any snow yet and the temperatures have been downright springlike many days. My husband played golf Christmas week - I don't think that's ever happened before.

But this week the chill finally settled in and now it feels like winter. Leaving my house Tuesday morning for the hospital was downright inhuman, with wind chills dipping into the low 30s. I really hate the wind in the winter! The same wonderful breeze we love in the summer becomes the enemy in the winter. I can deal with the cold, but the wind does me in.

So for a couple days we had cold. But they are predicting by the weekend it will warm up again. I like the sound of that.

I actually look forward to the first snowfall every year. But I like it when its convenient. I prefer it on a weekend when there are no big plans afoot, allowing me to sit at home and watch it from  the comfort of my living room, cozy and warm in front of my fireplace. It's kitting and reading weather and the perfect excuse to stay at home and do nothing but bake and watch TV,

But....I'm not sure I'm ready yet. We just haven't had enough of a shoulder season, you know? A few weeks in the 40s, then down to the 30s, and we can slowly adjust to it all.

Well - too late now. Winter is here. Only three months until spring so bring it on!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More gifts

This year I received many wonderful things for Christmas, but one I'm still not sure of. My husband gave me a kindle fire, which to tell you the truth I was clueless about when I opened it. I had no idea what it was. I've never been real interested in the readers because I love books, but then again rarely have the time to read them. But I can see the value of them in terms of being easy to carry and simple to use. So I'm going to work on seeing how this works and if its something I'll get lots of use out of or not. So far, not sure.

Mostly because all I've done on it so far is play Angry Birds. Now I was aware of the game because everyone talks about it, but had never really played it before other than a try on my son-in-law's iPad one day. But the kindle fire had one already loaded on, thanks to my husband, and so far that's all I've used it for. I've become a bit addicted to it already and am determined to lick every level I can as quickly as possible. I'm not sure that was a great gift, since this is the very reason I've never allowed myself to get into video gaming. I know my weaknesses.

One of my frustrations with it is that just as I'm into a really tough level, the battery starts to give out and I have to lose my momentum and re-charge it. But this issue really brings up another drawback in my mind: just suppose I'm deeply into a thriller of a book - something by Ken Follett say, or another writer like him. I've read his books late into the night, unable to put them down at certain points. Just suppose I'm in bed reading one of his latest books on my kindle fire, racing through the pages as things come to a heart-pounding conclusion. Suddenly, as I run my finger across the page to get to the last one, the battery sign comes on and "poof" - no more reading for the night! I think I might throw it across the room at that point.

I'm going to give it a game try. But I'll let you know how it all works out...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gifts

I love giving gifts. I get a great deal of pleasure out of finding something a person is really going to like, and watching the look on their face when they see what's hiding under the wrapping paper. It's one of the best things in the world, I think.

I imagine it all goes back to the joy we felt as kids on Christmas morning when we came down stairs to see what was under the tree. I can still remember the absolutely unbridled ecstasy of seeing the one thing you truly coveted sitting under the tree with your name on it. I remember certain dolls that just made me overjoyed with the ownership of them! Anyway, I think the memories of that joy are what compel us to try to find that perfect gift - the thing that will bring that feeling to someone we love.

We often saw it when our children were young. We knew what they wanted and it was easy to buy them the things that would please them the most. But now that they're older its not as easy. I try hard to find things that are different, and special, and will make each person know how much I love them. At the same time I have to keep fairness in mind, never showing any favoritism among my family. So what I've done these past few years, now that my family had grown so large, is try to find things that will please all the girls, for instance, and get one for each of them. This year it was Vera Bradley for the girls and Orvis for the boys. With four of each I can usually find at least that many colors so each is a little personalized, and I do spend time thinking about each one and which color or pattern best fits their personality. Equal, but different, as the saying goes!

The grandchildren are, of course, as easy to shop for as my own children were years ago. Children wear their hearts on their sleeves and we can enjoy the pleasure they get from each gift in turn.

Of course, I love receiving gifts as well as giving them, and that perfect gift, the one that conveys love and affection as much as obligation, is always a joy. But the real pleasure of the season is in the giving. And this year was a good one. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January

I love January. I know some people hate it because the holidays are over and the weather is cold and it has no breaks in the middle to give us a chance to have fun. (Actually that's not true anymore because of Martin Luther King Day, but since that's a fairly new holiday people hold their anti-January views without thinking about it.) But I don't hold that feeling of dread and distaste as we head into the darkest part of the winter. I welcome it.

I find that January is the perfect time to reflect on our lives and evaluate where we are and where we're going. We have time to sit and read. We can curl up in a chair and play Angry Birds if we're so inclined, and no one is going to fault us for being lazy or wasting time. It's January, after all, and let the snow fly! Nothing is as good as a good snow storm in January - the kind that closes schools and keeps businesses closed for the day. And nothing's better than the sound of kids buildings  snow man or forming teams for a snowball fight. Winter is a time of magic all it's own.

I love January. I'm going to organize my closet, and plan out my office renovation, and clean out my china cupboard. Or maybe not. We'll see...

Monday, January 2, 2012

HOME

Last week, right after Christmas, we drove to my daughter's home in Pennsylvania for a holiday visit. We exchanged gifts and enjoyed some meals with other family, spent some time enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, and just enjoyed being with people we love.

I think that age gives us an interesting perspective on life in general, and family ties in particular. When we're younger we don't think a lot about how important family is to us because we are so tied up in our nuclear family we have a hard time even imagining a time when the extended members of our genealogical ties will be the most important people to us. But as we get older and our children grow up and leave us we have lots of time to think about what's really important in life. And we recognize that the family we have is the family we'll always have. Friends may come and go and our other ties also ebb and flow. Jobs change and the people we saw every day and who were so much part of our lives are suddenly no longer there. Good friends move and leave us and then they are merely names on Christmas cards. But family is forever and we never have anyone more important in our lives. Those of us who are lucky enough to have siblings and nieces and nephews and children and grandchildren  know the truth of this. And we learn to hold tight to those people who are so important to us.

Every visit to Pennsylvania reminds me of how important our family is to us. It's our anchor, our security. Our friends are icing on the cake. If we have good friends and family both we are especially blessed.

Coming home on Saturday was sad and yet I was happy to be arriving back in East Hampton. It was still beautifully dressed for the holidays and welcomed us when we turned the corner at the pond.. As much as I loved seeing my family in Pennsylvania, there's no joy like that of arriving back home afterward. My own bed, my own couch, my own kitchen - the place I'm comfortable. I imagine I could probably make my home anywhere, especially with the people I love. But right now, that place is in East Hampton, in the house I've lived in for 34 years, on the street I've lived on for nearly 60 years, in the town that's part of who I am. It's good to be home.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New pages

Today is the beginning of a brand new year. It's no different than yesterday was, and the only reason we even mark the years is our need to recognize time in our lives, and so we do it this way. We number days, weeks, months, years. And we talk about dates. So today, we throw away the calendar and start a brand new one.

There's something very liberating and wonderful about a brand new, clean calendar. Even though we already know there are days that are spoken for, it looks like a totally clean slate - a brand new life to write on. It makes us feel new again, like we can start over, make changes, renew resolutions. It helps us to re-focus and set priorities, which we need to do on a regular basis, and once a year seems just about perfect.

So from me to you on this first day of the brand new year, I wish you a wonderful, fulfilling, healthy year in 2012 and all the energy in the world to fill all those blank pages with things that make us happy. Here's to a really great year.