Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Closet space

I was re-arranging some shelves in my bedroom the other day and complaining in my head that I didn't have enough room when I realized that it was my own fault. Had I not been one of those people who had multiple sets of clothing in multiple sizes in my closets and clogging up my drawers, I'd have plenty of room for my clothes. Here's a sample of my internal dialog as I sorted and folded things:

"Well this is way too big now - I should just toss it in the clothing bin at the dump,,,but then what if I should gain a little weight and then I won't have anything that looks decent - better hang on to it.....Oh - this one is a bit tight maybe I should get rid of that because I can't wear anything this tight, it looks awful on me right now....but then again I have been eating better so maybe in a couple months it will look much better - I'll hang on to it for now....." etc, etc.

On and on I go trying to sort and toss, but I end up with just about the same amount I started with because I've been through the same exercise before.

Maybe what I really need is a new head.....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poetry

A friend recently published a lovely poem on a website and it reminded me of how much I loved writing poetry when I was young. I once thought of a career in literature of some type and had I pursued it may very well be in journalism today. But poetry held a special thrill for me, the rhythm, vocabulary, and verbal jousting so engaging and fun.

Of course when I was about 12 or 13 my poems consisted mostly of long, multi-verse creations about unrequited love and the angst of the early teen years. There was much sorrow and gnashing of teeth - I read them now and think how pitiful I sounded. (So glad I'm no longer 13!) In high school I was part of a literary club and wrote more interesting things like Haiku, and I learned to love writing poetry that didn't need rhymes to make it poetic. My tastes matured and I went from reading hippie poetry about love and loss by Rod McKuen to more sophisticated things like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whom I still enjoy.

Years ago my husband gave me one of my favorite gifts - an antique copy of the Sonnets of the Portuguese by Browning - he knew it contained some of my favorite verses ("How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...." and "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be" for instance) That little book is a treasure I still love.

Now if only I could get him to read them lovingly to me, in front of the fireplace, with wine and cheese on the coffee table......

But I think that's for a blog I did a few days ago........

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anonymous

Recently I mentioned in a blog that I had never attended college, and unfortunately because of my lack of typing skills the word "college" came out "collage", which of course spellcheck did not pick up since collage is a legitimate art form and real word. So it was printed incorrectly. I was more than a little taken aback however when someone using the name "anonymous" sent a comment on that blog to the effect that perhaps if I had actually attended college I might know how to spell it. I thought it was a nasty thing to say and was tempted to delete it but I let it stand. After all, I don't like to delete comments unless they are commercial in nature and am an advocate of free speech.

But it did remind me of a sermon I heard once where the preacher said that a person's right to swing their arms around ended where the other person's nose began. I've thought about that often and it occurs to me that what is really dangerous and uncivilized about the internet world is this opportunity for people to comment about anything they want to under the name "anonymous". Somehow I doubt people who do so would be so free with their thoughts, especially rude or unkind ones, when their names were attached to them. I think they might think twice about the things they say and the way they say them if everyone were to know who they were.

The argument can be made that people are freer to speak their minds and say what they're thinking if they can do so without the possible ramifications that go along with their identity, and I understand that notion. But I also think that part of what makes us civilized is the knowledge that someone might know what we are doing or thinking. How many people would breeze through red lights without the cameras that take their photos, or go through the EZ Pass lane if they thought they could get away without paying? Isn't it the fear of the result of misbehavior that helps keep us behaving? Some people have ethics and would never do anything unlawful. But there are others who simply tow the line out of a sense of self-preservation. Those are the ones who like to be "anonymous" I would imagine.

Well, whatever the reason, I think if there are people who think me uneducated and boring they ought not to bother reading this blog. After all, I'm sure there are plenty of more intellectual ones out there that are much better suited to their superior intelligence! LOL

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Looking back

I'd like to share a few of my thoughts now about the funeral of Whitney Houston. Enough time has passed and I've done plenty of thinking about it.

First of all, I had no intention of watching that funeral. I assumed it would be a spectacle on the scale of the Michael Jackson service, more show that anything else, and I had no interest in seeing that. It seems to me that the excess of the Hollywood lifestyle is exactly what caused both of those deaths and anything that glamorizes or celebrates it just doesn't seem appropriate to me. So, I wasn't expecting to be flipping through the channels when I sat down with my lunch that Saturday noon, and suddenly be stopped in my tracks by some pretty compelling music. It was a gospel piece - my favorite form of music - and the singer was backed up by a huge choir, singing and swaying in time to the music. Good music of any kind can make me stop dead and listen, and this was the case last week. I stopped, put the remote down, and immediately recognized that this was Whitney Houston's funeral service. I thought I would listen to the song and then find something else to watch, but that song was followed by another, and I was hooked. For the following three hours  I watched as person after person came out of the congregation to sing, or to speak, each more compelling than the other. From the simplest stories to the most elaborate musical numbers, I felt as though I were part of a family affair, the kind of celebration that every Christian funeral should be. It was all at once sad, joyful, melancholy, uplifting, tearful, smile-provoking, and totally real. The ministers hit just the right note, not denying the tragic circumstances, yet finding the balance that allowed us to see how perfect God's plan was for bringing us back to His presence when our time on earth is done.

By the time the service was over I felt emotionally exhausted and yet very, very content. I had truly been to church,  worshipped, experienced a range of emotions, and been better for the experience. Who would ever have thought that?

My compliments to her family for creating such a perfect send-off and making it truly a home going celebration worthy of any loved one. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Age

As I quickly approach a significant milestone birthday, I've been thinking a lot about age lately. I've seen friends going through physical struggles with injuries and illnesses and it's hard to escape the fact that I, along with my peers, am getting older. My mother used to say that age was a state of mind, and to some extent she was correct - we act as old as we feel sometimes. It's also tangible evidence of things we can control, like our lifestyle, and things we can't, like DNA. Good genes are a wonderful thing to have when you get older!

But our lifestyle also matters and I see that pretty often in my ambulance volunteer work. So often a patient will be about my age and its startles me to see it because at first glance I expected them to be much older. I see the results of smoking, heavy drinking, and lots of sun exposure. All those things the doctors try to tell us are true - I've seen it for myself! The skin doesn't lie!

My mother looked beautiful up until the day she died at the age of 81. I can only hope to be like that, but time will tell. I'm lucky in that I've never been a sun worshiper, and never smoked (other than those few "test" cigarettes I tried when I was about fifteen!) and don't drink enough to be significant. Mostly that's just dumb luck because I don't much care for the taste of alcohol and couldn't stand cigarettes! And genes are a total piece of dumb luck! Of course, along with those genes for aging well come the genes for cancer, and heart disease, and diabetes, etc, so I take nothing for granted! Being able to age gracefully only helps if you actually live long enough to need to! And that, time will tell....LOL!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chains

There's been an interesting debate going on through a local Facebook page about whether or not East Hampton should have chain stores or franchises. We already have many chain store, actually, and some of the same people who long for a TGIFriday's or an Olive Garden seem to resent the large corporate stores that have taken over our Main Street - shops like Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, and Elie Tahari. But they're all in the same category, really. It's an interesting debate but in many ways a waste of energy. Some things we can control and some we can't.

There are rights that landlords have which are part of who we are as a free-enterprise system. The government can't control who can open a business or how many months of the year they must be opened. There is an interesting fight going on right now in Sonoma California which I'm watching with interest. That city wants to ban any chain stores from opening there. I'll be happy to see that case go to court and then benefit from the results rather than having us be the test case here in East Hampton. It could be an expensive proposition for the city. But it could have some interesting benefits for East Hampton if it stands up in court.

But...here's the run: some of the same people who resent these large corporations from opening stores they can't afford to shop in, long for corporate stores they would like to support. It's more of a low end/high end kind of debate, not really a corporate store debate. It appears they would like to have their cake and eat it too: take the vendors they like but reject the ones they don't.

I'm of the opinion that the old mom & pop stores we grew up with in East Hampton are gone forever. They can't afford the rents and they can't compete with discount stores like TJ Maxx or the ones at Tanger Outlet. As much as locals claim to want small shops to frequent I don't think they'd be willing to pay the extra it would cost for a local merchant to do business. So I think when push came to shove most people would not put their money where their mouths were.

The bottom line is people want the charm and comfort of old East Hampton, but they don't want to actually have to support it. And it just isn't always possible to have it both ways....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thoughts

I love my life - I really do! But like everyone in the world (I think), I occasionally have thoughts that begin with "Wouldn't it be nice......." - call them dreams, fantasies, whatever. I'm human! Here are a few of the things I dream of:

Wouldn't it be nice to spend a couple extra hours in bed once in awhile, maybe reading the paper, watching the news, talking to my husband...

Wouldn't it be nice to have someone to clean my house every week...

Wouldn't it be nice to win the lottery and never have to worry about money again, ever....

Wouldn't it be nice if I had applied myself to practicing the piano and the guitar when I was young....

Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where everyone got along and we never fought over anything...

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to wear the same size clothes forever instead of moving up and down in weight and needing three sizes in my closet at all times...

Wouldn't it be nice if I loved to exercise...

Wouldn't it be nice to take a real vacation every year and see the places I've always dreamed of seeing, like the Roman Coliseum and the Eiffel Tower, or walk the white cliffs of Dover, or see the active volcano on the island of Hawaii, or visit a ghost town out west and stop in Tombstone, AZ and the Grand Canyon ...

Wouldn't it be nice to look out the window on Valentine's Day and see my husband walking to the door with an armful of long-stemmed red roses, and then greet me with the kind of kiss he did when we were twenty-five-years-old...

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to eat as much cake as I want without worrying about how quickly it was going to deposit itself directly onto my hips...

Wouldn't it be nice if my children were still all under the age of twelve...

Well...you get the idea. I'm sure everyone has their list of "what ifs" that they could add and the fact of the matter is I could do an entire blog series about the unfulfilled wishes and dreams of life - not mine, necessarily, but the ones we all have. Fortunately, like I said, I love my life the way it is. So these things, as well as others unspoken, remain up on the shelf to only be brought down for entertainment on rare occasions. Hopefully its the same way for most people...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Patch

I'm rather fascinated with the Patch websites. They are local news sites that really zero in on what's happening around your own little town, and very often I get news on Patch East Hampton before I hear it on the street. When I hear there's a fire going on in Amagansett, I pull out my laptop and see if Patch has anything about it yet, and usually there are already photos up to see. It's amazing really.

It's also fascinating how the world has changed in terms of how we get news and how quickly its delivered to us. With the internet we have almost instantaneous access to anything in the world. I'm reminded of how we stood by our television sets in the past, watching things unfold and waiting with bated breath for every snippet of information as it came to us. The Kennedy assassination; the shooting of President Reagan; the World Trade Center disaster - all things we watched on our tvs. Now, every computer in the world would be turned on to check out what the latest was and our information would be quick - the question is how would that change things? Would there be more mis-information out? Would people begin passing the wrong facts around on FB and before you knew it would there be so many false facts that the truth would be difficult to decipher? I wonder.

Soon, unfortunately, there will be some event of global proportions and we'll see what happens. But this much I know:: if it happens in East Hampton, Patch will be on it!

East Hampton Patch Link

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An East Hampton winter

I don't mind winter - never have and never will - and have no wish to spend it in warmer climates somewhere else. I don't mind a vacation and would happily spend a couple weeks in the south or Hawaii every February, but I'd never be a snow bird. BUT....I have to say....this winter has been such a treat!

I still have not had my winter snow boots on. The snow blower is still beneath a tarp. The snow shovels have not moved an inch since October. And  I can say without question I have enjoyed this winter immensely. So far we've had two days with snowfall, both on Saturdays. The first snowfall covered the ground for a couple days only; the last for a couple hours. Each time it was not terrible - driving was still possibly and no plans had to be altered because of the weather. I fear we are in for a blizzard in March! But regardless, this has been a really nice winter here in East Hampton.

Unfortunately, there is usually a cycle to our weather and I sense we may be in for a tough one next year.Then again, maybe there is something to all this "global warming" talk and we will see many mild winters to come. I'm not sure I'd want to see that because the ramifications in nature would be pretty horrid. But....for at least this year, I'll gladly take it. Anyway, the older I get the easier it is to use any excuse not to be able to do something, so as winters return at their worst I can always say "I'm just too old to shovel the walkway - I won't be there today, sorry!" Well....probably not, but it is an option anyway. I don't think I'd be that willing to acknowledge my age, ever! LOL

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dinner

Maybe its my age but I find that the simplest things in life bring me the most pleasure these days. I don't need fancy clothes or jewelry, have no use for big cars and McMansions, I just want an evening at home in front of the fire, a good book, or dinner with friends.

Last week we had dinner in Sag Harbor with friends. When I climbed into bed that night I reflected on the evening and realized that these are the things that make life rich and wonderful. Just a couple hours with people we like, a little laughter, a little arguing. a little wine, and some good food. It's as old as time itself and yet the formula still works. And its one of the simplest forms of entertainment. It doesn't need to be in a restaurant, it can as easily be around a kitchen table with a pot roast as at an elegant eatery with filet mignon. Because its not about the food, its about the conversation, the relationships that make our lives rich and interesting.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that our moments of contentment and joy come not from the things we own or the jobs we do, but by the people around us and the simplest of settings. And winter in East Hampton, when things are quiet and the pace is slow, is the best time to just savor those special times.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Time

Time, time, time. I never seem to have enough of it lately. I wonder if that has anything to do with my age - am I feeling the panic of not accomplishing the things I'd hoped to in my life or is it just that I'm too busy? I don't know the answer, but I know I feel this thing we call "time" slipping through my fingers at an alarming rate.

Maybe I'm getting lazy as I get older and can't accomplish as much as I used to in my younger days. I do know I don't have as much energy as I used to and I also wish I could squeeze more into my days. But I also feel in some ways as though I've never been as focused as I am now, ready to take on whatever challenge comes my way. Whatever the reason, I am very aware of time. And it's an enigma to me.

What is it really? It's the way we've chosen to mark out lives. It's a vague but intangible thing and yet it pretty much rules our lives. Time. I resent it, I don't understand it, and I long to have more of it....ah life!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentines

Valentine's Day just isn't what it used to be. I miss the days when home made Valentines were the norm. I have a friend that still makes beautiful ones, but for the most part that's a lost art.

I remember with fondness the day my grandmother made Valentines with me at her house. She came up with a little envelope full of hand cut red hearts in all sizes, mostly very small, that she had left over from an earlier project. Apparently she was waiting for just the right thing to do with them. (She would never have thrown perfectly good hearts out! What would have become scrap to us today was treasured bits and pieces of future projects in those days - living through the depression did that to my grandparents.) Having me there, her granddaughter that loved arts and crafts as much as she did, was the perfect time to use her treasures and out they came. She also had lots of paper doilies on hand, which was something that was used more frequently in those days than they are today. She and I cut and pasted and colored and lettered for hours that day and I still get a warm feeling thinking about it. I remember making a bigger heart out of white construction paper and glueing dozens of those little hand cut hearts all around the edges to make a really nice card. I loved my grandmother and I loved artwork so it was a really special combination. I don't remember why I was at her house alone that day - but I remember the beautiful Valentines I had for my parents that year.

I'm a real lover of Valentine's Day because I don't think you can ever find enough ways or enough times to tell the special people in your life that you love them. When my kids were young I tried to make it a daylong love fest every year, with scavenger hunts and heart shaped cookies and all kinds of special things. I still find small gifts for my kids and grand kids and of course, my husband. Evidently they don't all share my enthusiasm but that's OK. Hopefully some day one of my grandchildren will remember one of their gifts from me with the same fondness I have when I think about my grandmother and the day we made valentines together. That would make me very happy.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney

I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but I always am. It's the same old story out of Hollywood: a talented, attractive star is found dead at a young age, after a sad life of drug abuse and a self-destructive lifestyle. When will they learn?

It seems as though those of us on the outside are always wishing we were them. We long to be beautiful, or handsome, incredibly talented, and admired by the world. So why is it that those who have those things don;t seem to be happy or fulfilled by them? They waste all their bounty by using drugs or alcohol to extreme, looking for some happiness that seems to elude them. Why?

We all think if only we had money, or looks, of possessions, then we would be happy. But the truth of the matter is that happiness is available to anyone, regardless of wealth or looks or any of the other things we have no control over. Happiness is within our reach. But we need to grab it. We can't always be looking for something better, but need to find contentment with our circumstances. For some reason the rich and famous sometimes have trouble with that.

Incredibly sad. Yet another tragic loss of a talent we all appreciated.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blue skies

I can't get over how blue the sky has been this winter. I expect gray skies and lots of clouds in winter time and this year they've been barely there. What a delightful season this has been!

I love the sky when its a beautiful blue. It lifts my spirits. It feels spring-like and happy. Having such a pretty blue sky has made this winter so enjoyable. The warmer temperatures haven't hurt either, but the sky is what I notice when I'm driving in my car or looking out of my living room windows.

I have a great view from my living room. I look straight across Accabonac Road to the open green, across Methodist Lane to the cemetery and  all the way to the houses on North Main Street. When its a beautiful day I see a great expanse of sky. On a stormy day I enjoy the snow or rain through those same windows. Sometimes early evening brings incredible sunsets and early morning beautiful dawn skies. The open field gives me a great view - father than some in the village, which doesn't have as many open vistas as the town does. I'm a lucky person to be living where I am and I love this spot. I'd be happy to get rid of some of the traffic, but other than that it's a nice place to be.

Especially when the sky is a beautiful shade of blue.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Last Saturday morning I woke about 7:45 after a long night of ambulance duty and very little sleep. It had been a long week, with one friend being down and out from weeks of radiation therapy and another having major surgery, with a visit to the funeral home thrown in. There was more than the usual drama and concern added to the normal schedule and by Saturday I was really tired.

Add to that the snow that was falling in big, fluffy flakes, and I was more than happy to have nothing to do all day of importance. I got up and dressed, ate breakfast, read the paper, and then did the things that had to be done: made a huge batch of macaroni and cheese for Sunday lunch, dusted and vacuumed the downstairs, and cleaned the bathroom that everyone uses. There were more things that could've been done - there's always more work to do around the house - but I decided this day was going to be for R & R. So by noon I had put a pot roast on the stove top to simmer all afternoon and then sprawled out on the couch to write on the laptop and play with my kindle fire. By then the snow had stopped and the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

Sometimes in life we need to stop and sit. All those little catch phrases about smelling the roses, or making lemonade out of lemons, are true - we need to take time to just stop a bit and rest out bodies and refresh our souls. And take a snowy day and make it special. So I did. And it was wonderful...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blogs

A love story of sorts for Valentine's Day...

I have a new favorite blog to follow. It's called "Granny is my wingman" and can be found at grannyismywingman.com. The basic theme of this blog is a young women who is single and looking for love and her grandmother who is doing the same. They both date through online sites and the blog is a re-telling of the adventures they have. It's written with a wry sense of humor and the entire premise amuses me no end.

I hearken back to my own grandmothers. One was married and a true product of the Victorian era. She and my grandfather slept in separate bedrooms and she confided in me once that she had never dressed in front of him. The other had been divorced from my grandfather for many years by the time I came along and had absolutely no interest in being with another man, ever. So the very thought of either one of them sharing dating information with me is hysterical.

This modern day pair are so funny and interesting I find myself rooting for both of them to find love. And I envy their relationship, as modern and interesting as any could be. Makes me hope someday I share the same kind of adventures with a grown granddaughter. Not dating, but maybe similar special things. There's something about their relationship that I really love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lincoln

All day yesterday I kept thinking about Abraham Lincoln. It was his birthday of course, and for everyone as old as I that date is strongly implanted in our brains because it used to be a holiday. There was no "February break" in those days, but we had two days off: February 12th was Lincoln's birthday and February 22nd was Washington's birthday and every year we would make craft projects in our rooms at school that included their silhouettes on construction paper.

I don't know whose idea it was to combine the two dates into one "President's Day" in February but I miss having the two separate holidays. I suppose someone decided that other presidents deserved equal recognition but whatever the reason, today we have one holiday to celebrate both of them.

But I will always remember Abraham Lincoln on February 12th and George Washington on February 22nd.

The strange thing is this: My grandparents named my father James Madison after the 4th president. But he was born on February 22nd. Not that I wish he had been named George Washington, but isn't that a little odd???

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Humility

I've always been a fairly humble person. I think growing up chubby and having a father who was always quick to point out our flaws tended to make me more humble than some people, and I've always needed to find ways to boost my self-esteem lest I fall into that trap of feeling as though I couldn't do the things I wanted to. It kept me from going to collage and I realized at some point it was something I needed to really work on or I'd never accomplish anything in my life. So I think I've found a good balance. But honestly, I am pretty humble.

Which makes it very strange that I ever sought out a public office. It's the kind of thing I probably would never have done thirty years ago but when I was approached about being appointed to serve on a local municipal board some time back I saw it as more of community service than anything else and since I dearly love my community I agreed. Fast forward a few years and suddenly I'm running for an elected office and can hardly believe it myself.

I've been in office nearly twelve years now and here's what I love about it: nothing keeps you as humble as being in elected office. Because people seem to feel free to be as rude and unkind as they want to be when you are the target. People who would normally be friendly and polite seem to think that once you are in office you are fair game for their barbs and nasty comments and I sometimes wonder what happened to the days when people actually respected their public officials. That was a long time ago now, but it must have been nice!

Well I've become pretty much immune to the worst comments that come my way. I've been called everything from an animal hater to a moron and I've come to understand that the truth is usually somewhere in the middle, almost always. So I try to listen carefully to the measured and well-thought-out comments offered by most citizens and pretty much dismiss the more hateful ones, while still making the effort to absorb any truth among the vitriol. It helps t have a sense of humor and I can't imagine not being able to laugh about it.

It's truly a delicate balance. And its also very humbling!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February

This continues to be one of the most mild winters in recent history and I'm enjoying every moment of it. I bought new boots for the snow this year and have yet to put them on. The snow blower is still beneath the tarp on the deck and the snow shovels are waiting by the door.  What a wonderful thing to be able to say that in February!

I've spent more time in a wool sweater than I have my winter coat, and I think I've only worn a hat once. Some days it seems warmer outside than it does in my house as the sun warms the air and streams into the windows. There have been days that were absolutely springlike in their color and temperature and I keep expecting the bulbs to start sprouting at any time. With winter half over now I think the rest of the time will go quickly. Even a blizzard or two in March can't ruin this wonderful season and I will always remember it as one of my favorites. Not a single plan has been ruined due to weather. That's a rare thing to be able to say in a normal winter season!

Today the snow is coming down in beautiful, big fluffy flakes, but doesn't seem to be accumulating. I'll take it! It's pretty to look at and by Monday the temperature is climbing back into the 50s. What's to complain about?

In another month we'll be talking about daffodils and crocuses and our minds will begin to turn to the busy days of summer. Month follows month. year follows year, and so our lives move on. Winter is half over. And so another year of our lives continues.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reflections

So a few weeks ago I was talking about the Super Bowl and how much I dislike the halftime show. I think I mentioned that I would gladly take a good marching band any day. I love a good marching band! Lo and behold, in the midst of the Madonna madness that was the halftime show this year, there was a marching band! Glory be! For about 1 minute I actually enjoyed what should have been the entire halftime show! But it was barely a flash in the pan and they disappeared before I could really enjoy them. And then she had the nerve to substitute the marching band with a choir. Somehow the words "Madonna" and "choir" just don't seem to go together at all. So that was a total miss as far as I was concerned.

I really dislike the Super Bowl halftime shows. They are all fluff and no substance and in this case, it was like watching a "golden oldies" show with someone way past their prime. Sorry, but Madonna's rose has lost its bloom.

But I was happy to know that someone in the NFL reads my blog and got the message about having a marching band anyway....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A gift

I was given a wonderful gift last week - an entire day with three of my grandchildren, all to myself. I was in heaven.

These three live in Pennsylvania so I don't see them as often as I'd like. I rarely get to see them in school programs or church choirs, and I miss that. I know I'm fortunate to have that with my other grandchildren and perhaps, in a way, I think that makes me even more aware of what it is I'm missing.

I don't think I've ever had the three of them all to myself for an extended period. They're old enough to be pretty self-sufficient, the oldest almost ten and the youngest, five. They can get themselves into car seats and for the most part dress themselves and brush their own hair. So there's little effort involved in taking care of them - they mostly take care of themselves. There are no babies left in that family. So we were able to climb into the big minivan and take off while their parents were otherwise engaged. We drove to Sag Harbor and shopped at the 5 & 10, which is a great store for all ages, and they loved it. Each of them had some money I'd given them to spend so they perused the toy aisles and took their time deciding what to buy. From there we stopped at a couple places I needed to for my errands, and then we went to lunch in Amagansett. We had plenty of quality time to talk about things like manners ("Why am I supposed to put my napkin in my lap?") and my experiences as a child myself ("Did you know I went to camp when I was your age?"), and of course to discuss food and all their likes and dislikes. This (having lunch out) is something I would have loved to do with my own kids when they were small but our budget would never have allowed it! (This is one of the best things about being a grandparent!)

When we got home I pulled out an old classic movie and we happily watched "Meet Me in St. Louis" with Judy Garland. When my granddaughter said what a beautiful voice the girl in the movie had I was thrilled. And when I explained to them that she was the same person who played Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz", only all grown up,  their eyes glowed with the revelation.

It was a day made in heaven for a grandmother. I hope I get another one like it some day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Downton

I am enthralled with the new season of Downton Abbey and now its nearly over. Last year when the final episode aired and I knew it was over I was bereft. I am so enthralled with the lives of these people, from the scullery maid to the dowager countess, I feel as though I am in their heads, totally understanding the burdens and concerns of both the upper and lower class in Victorian England.

I think we Americans are especially fascinated with the English class system. I'm not sure whether its because for many of us our roots are there and we can only imagine what our own lives would have been or could have been had our ancestors decided to stay where they were, but chances are most of us would have been part of the "downstairs" crew, otherwise our beloved great-great-great grandparents would have been more than content to stay right where they were. Stands to reason if they were venturing this far for a better life they must have needed to move up in the world. Had they stayed where they were I would no doubt be living in some slum in Liverpool today.

Of course we fantasize about the possibility that we could have been "to the manor born" and had all that wealth and living space to ourselves. Then again, as a woman I would never have inherited any of it anyway. But perhaps I could have married well!

Ah - Downton Abbey - a wonderful, sophisticated, fantasy world for people like me to enjoy. The fine acting and spectacular scenery doesn't hurt any either. I'm already anxiously waiting for season 3.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Simple joys

Last week I got to babysit for my nearly two-year-old granddaughter one day while her parents worked. How lucky am I?

A few weeks ago I picked up a cute little metal shopping cart on sale at Pier 1. I'm always on the lookout for new toys to keep the kids entertained while they're here, and I knew Piper would love this one. So the first order of business was for her to put the sock monkey in the shoppig cart and start strolling around the house saying she was "shopping". Then I got a brilliant idea and opened the floor-to-ceiling cabinets in the kitchen for her. She was so excited to see all the canned goods and other foodstuff! I gently urged her toward the safest things and soon her cart was packed with real food. She had: red and green sprinkles, a box of jell-o, a box of rice, a bag of peanut butter chips, some Italian seasoning, and a plastic bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup. She steered the cart into the living room and soon the ottoman was serving as the check-out counter and she unpacked her groceries, commenting on each item as she set it on the "conveyor". (I have no idea what she was saying but I could usually make out the name of the item within the garbled sentences.) Then, she packed it all back into her cart and happily went off again. We must have packed and unpacked that cart about fifty times before she finally tired of the game and I knew I had a hit on my hands in this inexpensive little toy.

When she left later in the day with her mother I thought back over the morning and smiled at the memory of her little face lighting up whenever she picked up an item from her cart and placed it on the ottoman. One of the most wonderful things about children is the simple pleasure they get out of the smallest game or toy. They find something that entertains them and they milk it for all its worth. And I remembered how much fun it was to have little ones around my house all the time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weird

There seems to be a new rash of weird television shows lately. There's one called "Touch" that just debuted and another called "The River" that's coming soon and both seem pretty bizarre. I don't think I can watch "The River". It looks a little two freaky for me to watch before I go to bed at night. I've never been a big fan of horror movies, or anything connected to the spirit/paranormal world, and this show seems to fit into that category. I'm just too squeamish I guess. And the idea of having it come into my living room, well, it simply creeps me out.

So what's with this new interest in these weird shows? What happened to sit coms and fun stuff? And why has it been so many years since we've had a good variety show? Bring back the "Hollywood Palace" and I'll be very happy!  Better yet, how about "Laugh-in"? I want a few light moments before I turn in for the night - a few laughs or a comedy routine. I don't want to wake at 2 in the morning thinking about spirits and all the horrible things that can happen in the dark. I have a hard enough time walking out my back door at that hour when I get an ambulance call, the last thing I need to think about is what creepy thing might be laying in wait for me.

Where is Mary Richards when I need her???

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The keys

I've been thinking about a trip I'd like to take next winter to the Florida keys. I'm not a big Florida person - I don't sit on the beach and I don't like heat and humidity - but I like to travel and the flights are cheap so its a logical destination. And in my recent Southern Living magazine there was an article about exploring the Florida keys. I was fascinated.

I enjoy going to places that are interesting. I don't want to go someplace where there's nothing to do but read and sunbathe, I want to see historic sites and learn about the area I visit. The article in the magazine made it look like great fun to drive through the keys, exploring as you go, and eating at wonderful  restaurants and shopping at interesting places all along the way south to Key West.

It sounds like great fun to me, with lots to see and do and no way to be bored. I think if I start planning now, maybe I can save enough money and put a good itinerary together by 2013...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gray

I have decided that the great equalizer in life is gray hair. (I still don't know when "gray" is appropriate and when "grey" is right - what's the deal with that anyway?)

I went to a birthday party last weekend and saw someone I hadn't seen in many years. This man used to have the most beautiful red hair, with the coloring that only a redhead has to compliment it. When he walked into a room, you noticed. I think most redheads are that way, especially the natural ones. And its almost always easy to tell a natural redhead from one from a bottle. I think its almost impossible to create a natural looking red and only nature manages it well.

Anyway, I hardly recognized this guy because he is now completely gray. And that made me think about the fact that gray hair can be the real neutralizing factor in life because once we are all gray we become nearly indecipherable from one another. Suddenly the person that you would have described as "the redhead" has become just another gray haired older gentleman. It also made me realize that what I don't know about many of my friends, people that I didn't meet until they were older, because since I've known them they've had gray hair. Were they blondes? Redheads? Brunettes? I don't know!

I think I'm on a mission now. I think I need to find a way to see these people's wedding albums. I need to see what they looked like in their other lives - before the gray made them part of the "senior citizens" focus group and erasing their individuality in the process. It would be nice if gray hair were considered a badge of honor that was earned through a long life, but in our youth-obsessed culture it surely is not. And what I'm really thinking is, thank goodness for hair dye!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flu

My grandchildren have been going through the flu these past few weeks, passing it around amongst themselves, keeping their mothers at home and missing lots of school. I've been trying to remember the last time I had the flu and I think it was about 38 years ago now. That was the year I was pregnant with my first child and I was miserable. If I came down with the flu after that time I suppose I just went on with my life because once you have children at home you don't get to go to bed with anything. So the last one I remember was in 1975.

It's also been helpful that I've worked  on the ambulance association for over twenty years now and every year we are given flu shots. It's optional, but I always had mine because I never wanted to bring anything home to my kids back when they were still at home. I know a flu shot is only 70% effective, but they've always worked for me so I'm a believer. So I'm not worried about catching the flu from the kids, but I still keep my distance and wash my hands faithfully.

This seems to have been a tough winter for everyone in terms of viruses and bacterial infections and I wonder if the warmer weather has anything to do with it. So many have had bronchitis or pneumonia and the pharmacies must be making a lot of money. It's making me long for spring, which is not something I normally do so early in the season. Winter has hardly begun but already its getting to be a bit tiresome.

Well its February so March is right around the corner and spring is already on the horizon. Another flu season is soon to be past. Sooner than later I hope.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black

I used to make fun of people who wore the color black all the time. The people who attend the Hamptons Film Festival are famous for it and we all refer to them as "the people in black" when they are town, because they all seem to be completely outfitted in it from head to toe. Sometimes they walk in packs down Main Street and its like a black fog rolling down the sidewalk.

I remember that Johnny Cash was known as "the man in black" and always wore it onstage. I saw him in concert once and he confessed that it had more to do with his clothes always looking clean than anything else - he'd worn white once and it immediately had some black scuff mark on it and it couldn't be worn again onstage. So he went back to black.

I'm beginning to morph into a "black" person. I think I'm taking on Johnny Cash's mindset because I love the fact that black doesn't stain and the only shirts that last me year to year are the black ones. Combine that with the fact that a colorful scarf or pretty sweater over black works anywhere, so accessories become simple ways to turn black from drab to dramatic.

I think as an old lady I shall wear - not purple - but black. Black jeans, black tees, black shoes, black coats...because then I won't ever need to worry about coordinating pieces and keeping them stain free. Black is going to become my new "go-to" color. Or lack thereof. I have dozens of colorful scarves....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter break

So many people need a break in the winter. They tire of the snow and ice, want to get into the sun, and head to someplace south for a week or more. I wonder what they're doing this year? I mean, we've only had snow once and barely enough to count, and temperatures have hovered in the 50s nearly all winter. What's to get away from? I think I'm loving it right here.

I feel sorry for the people complaining about the warm weather - and there are some out there. They are the ones who sell snow shovels and plow driveways, who love to go skiing and snowboarding, but honestly I don't feel that badly for them! The rest of us are thrilled with the temperate winter we're having and think this is just fine. East Hampon looks beautiful this winter, with bluer skies than normal. There's very little gray in this winter sky - just lots of blue with pretty white clouds. Some days I could swear it was May!

Of course we still have February and March to get through, but once February is here we start feeling as though winter is coming to an end and spring is right around the corner. And it is! Before you know it we'll be talking about the bulbs pushing up through the cold dirt, and putting the snow blower away. It's been sitting idle all these months - a hulking form under a tarp on the deck, ready for the big snow that has yet to come.

This has been a nice winter break for me - a break from the heat and humidity and the air conditioning - and I'm not even slightly envious of those in Florida or the Carolinas. This weather is just fine....