Saturday, March 31, 2012

A lamb or a lion?

It seemed as though March came in like a lamb this year and will be going out like one as well. And I'm not complaining.

Of course we did dip down into the thirties again overnight this past week, and leaving for a walk in the morning meant getting the heavy work-out clothes on again, but we knew it was temporary and somehow that made it just fine.

Spring is surely here for good now. The trees are all in bud, the bulbs have come and are mostly gone, the ticks are already crawling all over the place (I pulled one off my grandson last week) and everything is starting to feel new again. I love it when Easter comes in April because it just seems right - new life everywhere. So this Easter is going to be glorious. I imagine an afternoon after Easter church, outside with the kids, playing kickball or something.

If only I had a nice new spring coat to wear like in the old days....pink, I think! I do miss those spring coats...

Friday, March 30, 2012

New sneakers

I've talked about my foot problems before and no one wants to hear about them I'm sure, but I recently got a new pair of sneakers and breaking them in is no fun. The podiatrist wants me to wear New Balance shoes and replace them every six months. So I buy a white pair for the summer and a black pair for the winter and I wear them 98% of the time.

Well the new pair is giving me a bit of a run for my money. I try wearing them for only a few hours a day until they're worn in a bit, but I made the mistake of wearing these on one of my morning exercise walks after having them for only a few days. The result was a spot on top of my bunioned left foot where the skin was worn off and I've been wearing a band aid on it ever since, trying to get it to heal up, I can't wear these new shoes full time until it heals and that doesn't seem to be happening. So I'm alternating my white and black ones all day long.

And I wonder if this is common or if its just me and my feet that have these problems? I've always had trouble wearing in new shoes and blisters have always been a factor. I assumed that was normal but now that I'm aware of my problem foot structure I'm thinking maybe not. Maybe this is something only I deal with.

Well, I baby my feet as much as possible, putting them up regularly throughout the day and never going barefoot. (My doctor said walking in bare feet is highly overrated!) At the end of my day I take them off and recline on the couch to rest them. And I wear these sneakers like some women wear heels - constantly. They're not too fashionable but they do the trick and so far I can still walk! And that's nothing to take lightly.

Now if I can just get these worn in....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bi-polar

Yes, it's officially that time of the year again. It happens every spring and every fall and it lasts for weeks. It's the time when you wear short-sleeves one day and a winter coat the next. Or you put the screens on your windows only to be freezing a few nights later when you can feel the cold air sucking the temperature right out of your body as you sit watching television. One day we're up, one day we're down, and schizophrenia begins to set in.

I actually love this time of the year because most of the time its lightweight sweater weather. I love throwing a sweater on at night and enjoying the days without excessive heat and humidity. I don't like the weather in July and August so much - I think I'd prefer to live in a constant state of pre or post winter.

But it is difficult to know how to dress and I find myself even more connected to the weather channel than usual. I check it at night when I get into bed and I check it again first thing in the morning, hoping to get a clue about how to dress for the day. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Because as we all know, the weather out here on the east end is different than it is anywhere else, and even when the weatherman says it will be 75 degrees it will barely reach 70 here and I'll be needing that long-sleeved shirt. So every report I watch has to be filtered through that knowledge.

So the weather is in its bi-polar phase and we live day to day, never sure what we'll get from one to the next. But, change is good and I enjoy the diversity. I just keep the sweater handy and layer, layer, layer....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cars

My car is nearly ten years old now and beginning to cost us money, despite the relatively low mileage. I love my car - its the first one I ever bought just for me, brand new and my own choice, based on taste, not on need. In the years before that our cars were always about the kids.

In our first years of marriage we went through a parade of old cars. One we paid $200 for, one $400 - we bought what we could find for a cheap price and they would last us a couple years and then die a natural death. It was a huge deal when, after over ten years of marriage and four kids, we were able to buy our first brand new car, which was a stripped-down Chevy Astro van. There were no electric windows or seats and I think air conditioning was about the only luxury. That van owed us nothing when we were done with it - in fact, we drove it for ten years and then gave it to our daughter who drove it back and forth to college for a couple years.

After that we bought a Ford mini-van, which we had for another ten years. By that time the youngest was in college and when it came time for a new car I was thrilled to order a PT Cruiser, which I have loved all these years.

But its time for another car now and we're looking, not at new ones, but once again we're buying a used car - this time from a dealership. And I have to say we've kept our cars for so long that I am a bit behind the times and find the numbers shocking. I know we have to have a dependable car and I know we must buy one soon before this one begins to break down, but spending half as much on a used car as we did on our house boggles my mind.

That new bike I got for my birthday is looking better and better to me...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Foggy drive

Last week when I drove to the hospital for my volunteer time I left the house at 7am and the fog was as thick as cotton batting. I couldn't see anything much other than the lights of the cars in both directions. Traffic was light and it was not a difficult drive, but it was interesting to see everything with a shroud of mist. I could make out the familiar buildings and landmarks, but anything further than the sides of the highway was indecipherable. It was sort of like driving in a tunnel.

After a few hours at the hospital I thought it would be clear flying on the way hone but the fog was still hovering and traffic was heavier so it was slower going. I don't think the skies cleared until nearly noon that day and it reminded me of the earlier days here when I was growing up and the fog seemed to be a more constant companion. All the open farm fields in the '50s and '60s made for the perfect conditions for that fog to crawl in off of the ocean in the early morning.

I think it was Ogden Nash that wrote about fog coming in "on little cat's feet" and sometimes that's just how it is, crawling across the field across from my house in the morning. But last week, it was more like a blanket over the entire east end. It happened to be the first day of spring and somehow it seemed appropriately seasonal.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Candles

My grandchildren left the house one morning and I started thinking about how much I love them and that set off a long train of thought about love and the amazing capacity we humans have for that emotion.

I remember when I was pregnant with my second baby I worried about how I would feel about it when it was born. My love for my first child was so intense and so strong I couldn't imagine that I could ever feel the same way about another living thing. I was totally wrong of course, and as any parent knows we love each of our children more than we can believe, despite the fact that they always claim one of the others is a "favorite". We know better.

And the same thing has happened with grandchildren, As each one has come along (seven now) I've wondered if I would feel the same love for them as I had for the others, and of course I do. Each one is unique and amazing and I adore them all. Each has a special place in my heart. And I can't imagine my life without them.

So I've come to the conclusion that love is very much like the light of a candle. Although we can't imagine the capacity we have for it, it's there. And just like a candle on a birthday cake, as one lights the other the flame is not diminished, but each one shines as brightly as the one next to it. I think love is like that. No matter how much we already have, we can light the next candle with it and the flames will be exactly alike, neither diminished by the sharing. What an amazing thing the human heart is.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cherry trees

A couple weeks ago my daughter in Pennsylvania posted a photo of her cherry rees on Facebook. Last year they lined their driveway with about 4 of them - maybe 5, I don't remember now - and they just blossomed. They're small ones and when I looked at the photo I thought how beautiful they'll be in about ten years. I dare say people all over the neighborhood will make a trip to look at them, just the way I make sure to drive down Montauk Highway past Hren's Nursery to see those beautiful trees as soon as the cherry blossoms bloom. It's one of my favorite trees and I only wish the blossoms lasted a little longer

Anyway, when I saw the photo I thought how nice it was that they had their spring so much earlier there than we do here. Sometimes when I go visit I get to enjoy two springs, one in Pennsylvania and then another one when I get home. They're about a month ahead of us I think. So I was more than a little surprised when I left my driveway this week and happened to glance across the village green and see a tree beginning to blossom on Methodist Lane. I'm not sure what kind it is, but it has big white blossoms coming out -  a Mimosa I think. It's beautiful! It stands out at the moment because there's nothing else blossoming yet, but buds are appearing all over the place now.  And there's a bush in my neighbor's yard that has small green leaves beginning to pop already. What an amazing year this is! I can't remember ever seeing trees turning green in March before, even the earliest bloomers! It makes me think we are having more of a southern spring this year. I remember a friend who hailed from the south saying that East Hampton had NO spring because it started so late and quickly became summer. Now I understand what he was talking about!

Clearly we're experiencing an early spring this year and if the weather holds it will be gorgeous in April. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hometown

We made a last minute decision to run to a local spot for dinner recently. We went down to Amagansett to a place that's open year 'round and is a good spot to get a simple burger. So we sat in a booth and there were few other people there at 5:30. But by 6:00 another couple came in and sat across from us. I knew the wife and nodded hello. By 6:30 the place had filled up nicely and I think we knew almost everyone who had come in. Behind us was a retired local cop whose son was in the same class as ours. On the other side was a town trustee who've we've known for many years. At a table in the front window was a family like ours, with three generations eating together, the oldest of which I recognized from a local store where they worked.

I was struck by the fact that we could identify almost everyone there and was also reminded that spring is here and in another few months we'll be hard-pressed to go into any restaurant and recognize another soul in the place. What a different community this is in season!

I think its safe to say that those of us who live and work here love it for the place it is for nine months out of the year. From September through May we can go out for a drink or a bite to eat and say hello to half a dozen people we run into doing the same thing. The other three months we tolerate, for the beauty of the surroundings and the fact that the feeling of being "faceless" in the crowd of summer visitors is a small price to pay for the privilege of being here.

I live for those feelings of being part of a close community. I loved going out for a burger in March and being reminded of that.

Friday, March 23, 2012

East end spring

Now that it is officially spring here on the East End, it seems nearly anti-climatic. It's been weeks now that we've seen daffodils blooming and felt those warm afternoon rays from the sun. Following the "winter that wasn't" makes spring merely an afterthought, really. We're not longing for it quite the way we normally do in March and it seems unlikely that any serious snow is in our future.

But the town is showing signs of waking up now, even if it's more a matter of mental adjustment than anything else. We're beginning to look toward summer with the accompanying busy lives that come with it, and one can feel the anticipation in the air. Landscapers are already busy prepping lawns and hedges, people can be seen in their yards on the weekends, cleaning out the flower beds and painting the window trim. There's noise everywhere! Machines and vehicles working around ever corner. At our house we're working on a bathroom "refreshing" - not a complete reno but replacing a shower and tiling a floor, which of course leads to painting so the whole thing looks newer. There's something about spring that makes us ready to jump into projects and get things done.

I'm also getting the "yard-sale bug" and faithfully going through the listings every week in the paper. Surely there will be treasures to find as people go through their spring-cleaning frenzies

I welcome spring this year, not for the weather, which is already wonderful, but for the pleasure of it all that comes along with the calendar dates.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Missed

Last week my daughter posted photos from the show her music students did at the school where she teaches in Pennsylvania. I was so proud of her for her accomplishments and because I know she is a phenomenal teacher. And that made me think about all my children and the pride I feel for each of them. I'm proud of their accomplishments, but also for the people they've become. They're all moral, kind, and thoughtful adults - as different from each other as night is from day - yet very much people I'm happy to claim as my own.

As I thought about this - this parental pride thing - it made me grieve for my parents. Because I had the realization that no one will ever be "proud" of me in that way again.

Oh. I know other people will feel pride if I do something wonderful because I feel that was when a sibling shines, or my husband shows some special kindness to someone else. I'm proud of my nieces and nephews for their own accomplishments. So I know we always feel pride for the people we love. And I do remember feeling proud of my own parents, when my father performed or my mother looked especially beautiful for instance. But its not the same level of pride that I feel for my children. Somehow, when it's the beings that grew within us, that were created by our love, that we agonized over through the homework years and the early romances, and worried about when they went off on their own, well it's just a whole higher level of pride. And that's something that I miss now that both my parents are gone. Because at the end of the day we all long for our parents' love and pride, don't we?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The city

The difficult thing about living on the East End is that New York City is tantalizingly close...and yet so far away!

Oh, I know there are lots of people who go and come from the city all the time. (And there is only one city when you live near NYC!) I have friends that commute to work there, and others who go in and out on the Jitney regularly. But for me, its a big deal. It's a very long day, because its too expensive to stay overnight - who can afford those hotels? So in order to really enjoy a day in there it means getting on an early Jitney and then getting home about 11pm. A very long day.

Every Sunday I look through the New York Times Arts & Entertainment section, searching for the things I want to attend. Barbara Cook is at Michael's Pub next weekend, and Paulo Szot is at Feinstein's at the Regency. What I wouldn't give to hear him again in person! When he opened his mouth at the production of  "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center and "This Nearly Was Mine" filled the auditorium, I cried. I'd love to see him in a club!

Then there are the shows on Broadway: "Memphis", "Jersey Boys", and others I've thought would be fun to see. We used to get in about once a year but not as often anymore, although we did go in last summer to see "Phantom of the Opera" - what a treat that was!

When you're this close it's almost like torture, knowing all the things that are there for the  enjoying. All I really need is a little apartment to crash in for an occasional weekend, or a winning lottery ticket so I can stay uptown in a nice hotel. I suppose it'd be easier to stop reading the New York Times...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Daffodils

No doubt this is going to be an interested spring here on the East End. The weather has been so warm my mini-daffodils are already blooming and the crocuses have come and gone - both weeks earlier than normal.

Most of the bulbs I've planted in my yard were gifts - baskets of potted spring flowers from my mother for Easter - over many years. Sometimes she gave us a hydrangea, and those are growing in my garden as well. There were other bulbs too, but the mini-daffodils have survived and they come up nice and early - I wish I'd spent more time figuring out the best spot to plant them back when I got them. As was the usual, I'd have the basket of plants on my table for a few weeks, until all the blossoms were gone and the leaves were limp and brown, and then I'd put them outside the back door intending to throw them out. After all, I'm bad with plants and never thought they'd do anything so I wasn't going to plant them. But then the guilt would set in, thinking about the money my mother has spent on them, and I'd go outside, dig up a small spot somewhere around the back door, and plop whatever had been in the basket into the holes. Imagine my surprise when most everything would come up the next year!

None of the pretty tulips would last - the deer saw to that - but all the daffodils, both full-sized and mini, along with crocuses and bluebells, come up faithfully every year. I still consider it a miracle.

And I think that's the whole point of spring, isn't it? A new miracle every year...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stories

When you get to be my age you spend a lot of time looking back and thinking about life. A few days ago I had a long telephone conversation with someone who's been part of my life for over forty year now. When I got off the phone I was struck by how much this person has changed - how different they are now from the person they were when they were young - and I continued to think about it all day long and into the night. I reflected on the many friends and family members who have been in my life all these years, and how each of us had been changed by life and our experiences. Each has a story to tell.

I thought about one person who was a shy and tentative twenty-year-old but is now a confident, accomplished person, full of talent and leadership ability. I also thought about the ones whose lives have made them sadder and less adventurous than they were when we were all at the beginning of adulthood all those years ago. Life, with all its hardships, can beat a person down. Divorce, problems with children, financial problems - and even the person we choose to spend our lives with - all contribute to the people we are today as opposed to the ones we were way back when.

I think the thing that made me saddest on the phone that day was that my children will never know this person I learned to love many years ago. She was quick to laugh, eager to be a good parent, ambitious, and so pretty. Now that nice smile is slower to show itself and the laugh rarely escapes a more subdued personality. I learned to love them for the person they were, and continue to see that person inside whenever I'm with them. But no one who knows them now would see it. And that makes me sad.

It also makes me realize that life changes all of us, for better of worse, and there's not much we can do about it. It reminds me of the time a couple years ago when one of my adult children made some off handed comment about how we were such "fuddy-duddies". My quick retort was something to the effect that "Believe it or not we used to be considered fun people - until we became parents and had to be responsible and make mortgage payments and pay for piano lessons and put shoes on all those feet..." Of course they knew I was kidding, and that I wouldn't trade my children for all the stress-free days in the world, but those things do change us. It's inevitable. And sometimes, in some cases, also very sad. I miss the carefree youthful days and the friends I had then. I know they're still around, if only I could find them....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ancestry

Thinking about my lack of Irish ancestry as we approach St. Patrick's Day reminds me how much I love the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" It follows famous people as they use the ancestry.com website to find their lineage and explore their heritage. It's made me very hungry to learn more about my own ancestry, because the fact of the matter if I may very well have some Irish in my bloodlines - I really have no idea.

I know so much about my father's family because they settled in East Hampton in the 1700s so much of their history has been passed down through the generations right here. I know the first of his line came from England. But I know little about my mother's ancestry and would love to know more. Did I have a great, great, great grandmother who was an immigrant from Ireland? Or was there family that came from some other part of Europe? Might I find someone coming from Wales? Or Scandinavia? Who knows? I'd like to!

Some day, when I have the time, I'm going to get into ancestry.com and see what I can find out about my ancestors on the Warren side of the family. Maybe I'll find out that St. Patrick's Day should mean more to me than it has so far! After all, my grandfather was a redhead! And then maybe I'll go out and buy something green to wear...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Green

When I was in high school I loved the color green. In the late 1960s "spring" green was very popular. I had a green wool skirt, a green print blouse, a green dress - and I chose bright, spring green carpeting for my bedroom when it was renovated. I even had green contact lenses that gave me bright green eyes.

Its interesting how our tastes change as we get older. I still like green for certain things, but I'm more into sage green type colors. Of course fashions change and sage is a much more fashionable color now than it was in the 1960s so that makes sense. Avacado was popular back in the late '70s and most of the '80s, as is eveident in the avacado green appliances. It was part of the "earth" color palette. I wasn't crazy about it personally though.

As St. Patrick's Day approached this year, someone talked about the green outfit they were going to wear for a dinner that night. I started thinking about what I could wear and honestly, I could not think of a single article of clothing in my wardrobe that was green. There is not spring green, no sage green, no avacado green, no forest green, no kelly green, no green period. I'm not sure why, but apparently green is not my color! I am heavily into reds and pinks and black and grays. Perhaps that's a reflection of the fact that I don't (as far as I know) hvae a single drop of Irish blood in my ancestry.

Well, St. Patrick's Day will come and go without my color input. I suppose there will be enough green without my help!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Darkness

I was really enjoying the early morning light up until this past weekend. I finally found someone to walk with and we leave the house at 6:30, fully in daylight up until this week. It was great. Now its pitch black at 6:30. Sigh....

I do enjoy the light later in the day, but its not really warm enough yet to take advantage of. Soon we'll be able to get out and ride out new bikes in the early evening and and that will be nice, but the wind can still be sharp and the temperatures aren't quite springlike yet at 7pm. Well...its coming, right?

Life is so much about the joy of anticipation. The things ahead are what we love - to get older when we're young, to get married or have children, to watch our kids head off on their own, to see grandchildren, to retire, to travel - so many things we look forward to. Its a human thing. But I work hard at not leaving my joy for future times. I want to savor life as it comes, not waiting to enjoy things "some day". So I think the walk needs to stay where it is, and enjoyment will come from seeing the sun coming up earlier and earlier, illuminating the spring flowers and green grass as it comes. No need to wait for anything.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Age

I've been thinking alot lately about how we joke that people begin and end as infants, the very elderly often in nursing homes and being totally cared for like newborns. It's not the ending any of us would like for ourselves, but I have seen another piece of that truth.

I watch as my two-year-old granddaughter changes by the week. Monthly we see her face change and her vocabulary grow. From the time they are born, children change so quickly it's easy to see when we go for weeks at a time between visits. This is especially evident to us with our grandchildren in Pennsylvania because we typically go about 6 weeks from one visit to the next and changes are so obvious. We always remark about how much they've grown or matured.

Well now I'm seeing the other end of that "circle of life" as I see changes on my own face almost daily. It's amazing to me how quickly we age after a certain point. For so many years of our lives, from about fifteen to about fifty-five I would way for women - perhaps a bit different for men - we stay pretty much the same. We change our hairstyles or lose and gain weight, but overall we don't change all that much. But now, as I enter into the lasts part of my life, I can once again see dramatic change occurring. My face is aging with breathtaking speed. I notice new wrinkles, and sagging places, all the time when I put my make-up on in the morning. Of course the aches and pains are also a constant reminder of age, but nothing is quite as startling than seeing a strange face in the mirror! Sometimes I am so startled by what I see it makes me stop what I'm doing and look more closely. One would think we would adjust to the changes, but so far I haven't and it surprises me.

I don't mind getting older - in fact, I welcome it. As my father always said, its better than the alternative! As long as I can enjoy my life, be active and feel as though I'm contributing to society in some way, I am fine with getting older. But I am coming to understand the attraction of plastic surgery for those who can afford it. Somehow slowing the process down a little might be less unsettling!

And I can only imagine my daughter and son-in-law looking at each other when we drive out of the driveway in Pennsylvania and remarking about how much we've aged.....LOL!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Generations

My son, quite unexpectedly, recently started working with my husband at our business. It has significance far beyond that of a father and son working together, which is always a nice thing. In this case it continues a tradition begun back in the mid-1800s when my great, great, great grandfather worked on the same spot in East Hampton as a blacksmith. When his daughter married my great, great grandfather, he welcomed him into the business and from there it passed to my great-grandfather.

The blacksmith shop eventually became a Buick dealership, and was then sold out of the family, but my grandfather had already built a Real Estate business on the same property and that remains in the family today. My father sold insurance from that building and now my husband and I own the insurance business. We'd thought that we would be the end of the line in terms of family doing business on this piece of land, but now it looks as though a seventh generation is poised to keep the family property busy with the ancestors of those early blacksmiths, working as those before them had. I think this is why East Hampton provides me with such a strong sense of place. Because we still live and work on the same land lived and worked by all those generations before us, making their hard work seem somehow even more significant. I think that's very cool...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pies

My mother was a great pie maker. She made every kind imaginable from apple to blueberry to chocolate cream. Her crusts were flaky and tender and I used to love watching her roll out the dough on her kitchen counter. When I was young she didn't have much counter space so she used her kitchen table but later, after renovations to the old Victorian, she had a nice butcher block counter she put to good use when she made pies.

I don't ever remember her making only a pie. There were always at least two. Or, if she only needed one, she would use the leftover dough to make a cinnamon and sugar roll, which was divine. The smell of that baking in the oven was heavenly and coming in from school to that aroma is one of my favorite memories. It was a rare occasion, since she usually used all that dough for pies, so when it did happen we were very excited and that cinnamon roll didn't last more than a few minutes once we got to it. It was a great after-school snack.

Last week I was making a lemon meringue pie to take to a friends house. As I rolled out the dough for the crust, I smiled at the memories. I was using a pastry cloth, just the way Mom had always done, and a big wooden rolling pin like hers. I rolled from left to right, right to left, up, down, in every direction, in exactly the same way I had watched her do it thousands of times. My own children seem to prefer using store-bought crusts so I supposed this is one of those traditions that will disappear soon enough. I'm hoping one of my grandkids will want to learn how to make pie crust the old-fashioned way. And if that happens, they'll be given the handmade rolling pin that hangs by my backdoor. It was made by my great-great grandfather for my great-great grandmother on my father's side. Apparently pie-making was a family tradition on both sides, and anyone that wants to continue it will inherit that heirloom. I'm hoping someone will come through for me. And for Mom.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kimberly

Last week was my daughter-in-law Kim's birthday and I was thinking about how beautifully she's fit into our family. And also thinking about how wonderful it is the way our families expand as the years go by and wonderful new people are brought into our lives.

Kim is one of those people who just light up a room when they enter. She's a bundle of energy, always smiling and always upbeat. She loves life and the people in it. She's been a real blessing to my son and to all of us and I truly to think of her as a daughter now.

I have to say its such a blessing when our children marry and bring new people to us. I have four children - all married now - and I love all their spouses. Each one is special and each one has found a very special place in our family and in our hearts and I can't imagine life without them. I love them all.

I used to think having four children was a lot (and people never had a problem letting us know that when they were younger, either! I'll never forget the woman who saw us in a store once and said to me "How many children do you have?" and when I answered "Four" she sniffed "I didn't think anyone did that anymore!") But now I consider myself to have eight because my sons-in-law and daughters-in-law have become as special to me as the ones I bore. What a wonderful thing that is!

Life has been very good to me. I may not have much money but I am rich beyond compare.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cooking days

Some days you just have to give over to cooking. I know it sounds like something from another era, but the fact is cooking and cleaning are still largely women's domain and this past week I had one of those days.

Last night we celebrated family birthdays, and that meant dinner here. But I was busy all day so there was no time for cooking. Added to that is Sunday lunch at my house today and that meant I needed a day to prepare. So Wednesday I went to the grocery store and got supplies, and got busy in the kitchen. I made a huge pan of ziti for Sunday lunch. I made macaroni and cheese from scratch for Saturday night. I prepared the hamburger patties for the meal my son had requested. And I made a pie crust for the dinner party Friday night that we were going to. I would have time Friday afternoon to make the lemon meringue filling, but not the pie shell. I got it rolled out and in the dish, ready to throw in the oven Friday morning.

By the time I was done with all that the day was nearly over. Now if only I could work my way through the house cleaning like that. Somehow the cooking is so much more fulfilling.....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Josh

I can hardly believe that my son Joshua is thirty-years-old today. Where did that time go?

I remember the morning he was born. It was a cold March night with a full moon (naturally!). He was actually due March 10th so I wasn't surprised when I woke up at 2am having contractions. Since we had a long drive to the hospital (I delivered him at Central General Hospital in Plainview) I got up and started getting ready without waking my husband. I showered and brushed my teeth and packed a bag, then woke him and changed the sheets on the bed because I would need to call my mother (who lived next door) and wanted her to get a few hours of sleep once she came over. Once Mom arrived we jumped in the car and left the driveway. The only problem was it was so cold out the door mechanism was frozen and I had to hold it closed until we got to Town Pond when the car warmed up enough to thaw it out. I'll never forget the drive up the Long Island Expressway with that beautiful moon right in front of us. We arrived at the hospital with a few hours to spare and he was born just after 7am.

Josh has always marched to his own drummer and that's what's made him so unique. Each of my children are special to me for different reasons - with Josh its always been the unexpected. I never knew quite what he'd do and still don't for that matter. But this past year we saw him marry the love of his life and settle in to married life, content and happy. He's talented, funny, and very much his own man. And nothing makes a parent more pleased than that.

So today Josh is thirty. I can remember that day in stark relief, every detail embedded in my brain as I went through the process of welcoming yet another amazing life into the world. Happy birthday Josh! I'm so glad you joined the family...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Marching along

It's hard to believe that Spring is only a couple weeks away because I don't feel as though we've been through winter yet. This year we've been blessed with amazingly mild weather, and with no snow or cold in the future I wonder if we'll see a storm before we're done. Perhaps a Spring storm in late March or early April? I don't know. But this winter flew by without being snowed in at all.

There are already crocuses coming up in the back yard and the daffodils are poking through the ground. Spring will be no surprise this year - it will seem like an extension of what we're already having, whatever that is.

I'm not complaining. I have loved this winter. But I don't find myself dreaming of Spring either.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The drive

I drive to Southampton at least once a week and sometimes many more times. If I count the times I drive the ambulance I would probably average at least three trips a week now, with all the meetings I'm attending. Of course I know there are people who commute every day but its not something I'm used to and I'm still adjusting. Not the best time for gas prices to go through the roof!

I'm learning to try to combine things so I can make as few trips as possible. On Tuesdays I volunteer at the hospital, so if I need anything in the village, like yarn at Hildreth's or candles at Pier 1, I make sure to do everything at once. But often I can't avoid additional trips, with committee meetings and doctor's appointments often unavoidably at other times.

I think five years ago I would never have taken on some of the responsibilities I have now that require frequent trips west, but after 2009, which required so many trips back and forth it was actually advantageous to keep track for tax purposes (tests, doctor's appointments, chemo treatments....) I've made peace with the drive. I use my time in the car to learn music, or pray, or catch up on the international news. I only listen to the local PBS station in my car (WPPB) unless I'm listening to a CD. I like to hear the BBC news because it gives me a better idea of the world's view of events, rather than the one our US stations decide to feed us. And there is a difference.

So I like to think all this road time I put in now is not in vain, but rather an opportunity to do something worthwhile. I'm glad I don't need to make the trip every day. But a few times a week has turned out to be OK.

That said, I'm dreading the summer traffic, which is right around the corner now. Every trip will need to be planned accordingly. This time of year I need to allow extra time for the afternoon commuters from 2:00 on, but in the summer I'll need to allow extra time all day. The nice twenty minute drive now will become a 40 minute one. And perhaps by then I'll start re-thinking all these meetings.

Well, life on the East End has always been defined by out ability to get on and off the island. It seems to be more and more about the ability to get anywhere on Route 27. But, we seem to adjust to the changes. I guess that's why they say you "can't go home again". I think its because everyplace changes and when you leave and come back, things are never the same. Being here for the change helps us deal with it. Even when it comes to traffic.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Oscar

Every year I watch the Academy Awards show - I love the theater and movies and everything connected with them. ( I also watch the Emmys and Tonys). It's great to have the ability to record things now because I don't actually need to stay up to see the end (but inevitably some is lost because the show goes over). Regardless, I get most of it to watch the next day and get a good night's sleep in the process so it works. If anything extremely dramatic happens after my recording stops it will be all over the news anyway, so I never miss anything important.

I love the whole thing - from the clothes to the movie clips, the presenters, the whole deal. I eat it up. This year there was no music and I missed that. I always enjoy hearing the nominated songs because I never get to see every movie and some of them I hear for the first time.  I'm not sure why that change was made and hopefully it will be part of the show next year.

The host is always of interest and I've seen plenty of hits and misses over the years. Billy Chrystal is a pro and never disappoints. I used to love Johnny Carson too. Some of the others I could live without, but part of the fun is seeing how the host handles the high pressure of the whole event. I can't imagine standing on a stage and looking out at that front row. Talk about stress! Yikes~

Well its an adventure every year - some more than others - because the unexpected does happen. This year there were no surprises but I still loved it. Beautiful people in gorgeous clothes, what's not to like? Colin Firth in a tuxedo is enough for me....and on Oscar night George Clooney is thrown in too! It's a wonderful night.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Relationships

Recently I had a dear old friend end our relationship and I was surprised at how it affected me. I guess I'd thought our relationship was forever, and even though we had grown into two very different people and lived two very different lifestyles, when we had this recent disagreement and she completely cut me off I felt rejected in a way that was hard to take. Especially because she would not allow me to contact her and even talk things out as we always had in the past. It was like being given the finger and basically told I wasn't worthy of her time and effort anymore. That's a tough message to hear. And not one you expect from a long-time friend. I'm not sure if it said more about me or about her, but either way it wasn't easy to take!

So I've been doing a lot of introspection over this and thinking about the fragility of human relationships. I've never been divorced but I can imagine some of the same betrayal I felt over this long-term relationship would be part of that process. When you invest in someone's life in an intimate way, as good friends and spouses do, you become vulnerable to them and their whims. So it does feel like a betrayal - and a rejection - when they suddenly decide they don't like you anymore.

I also felt the sting of a sixth grader when her friends suddenly decide she's done something unforgivable and there is no way to ever go back. The ideas of forgiveness and restoration seem to be non-existent in a twelve-year-old's mind. At the end of the day I don't think I want to be friends with anyone who feels comfortable cutting off a relationship of that duration without so much as a conversation, or at the very least a cooling off period, but still, the hurt remains. Isn't it sad that we humans can be so unkind to each other? Sometimes it boggles my mind.

I'll get over it - I know that. But there will always be a hole in my heart where that person was for such a long time.  I'm not the kind of person who can walk away quite so easily. I'm sorry that she is. And also rather sad! But...her choice, not mine. Time to move on...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Drops

Last week we had a light rain. It wasn't a pounding rain, or even a pouring rain, just a light misty rain that made it necessary to wear a raincoat but not enough to make it hard to drive the car, for instance. And at one point I looked out the front window of my house and saw the Japanese maple tree, which absolutely glimmered in the light. I walked closer to the window to try and get a better look. There were big drops of water all over the tree, on each tiny branch end, a bubble of liquid reflecting the light of the morning, causing it to shimmer in the midst of a dreary day. What a gift!

Sometimes its the smallest things that I find joy in. A sparkling tree on a rainy day, a layer of fog on the green, or a crocus pushing up through the dirt. These are the little gifts of everyday life that make it fun to get up and out of bed because they're too special to miss. And I wonder how many people go about their days without ever taking the time to notice. There's a saying about God not always shouting at us but sometimes whispering in our ears. If we're too busy we may not even hear those whispers, and what a tragedy that is.

I can still see that tree in my mind's eye. Had it been raining harder it would never have looked like it did. It was a tiny moment in time, only there for the shortest of periods, and I like to think it was there just for me. Because someone up there knew how much I would appreciate it and everyone likes their handiwork to be appreciated.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Milestones

Today is milestone of sorts for me. It's my 60th birthday. And its not significant for the usual reason, because its a big number or whatever. It's important to me because three years ago I wondered if I would ever see this day.

A diagnosis of cancer is devastating because of the unknowns. It takes weeks of tests and months, maybe years, of treatment, and life is forever changed. It becomes one long list of doctor's appointments and tests that will follow us the rest of our lives. Things are never the same, ever. Our normal becomes something different than it was before.

But the biggest thing that throws every new cancer patient is the unknown. Because there is no cure, regardless of what kind you have. Everybody knows that even the most curable types can re-cur in the future, and there are some that cannot even be slowed down. So when you are diagnosed you really have no idea what your prognosis will be - the fact of the matter is no one does. Oh the doctors play their numbers games and you'll be given the statistics, but its all guesswork. And we all know it.

So, among the other things that I thought about when I was on that path three years ago was this: "I wonder if I will ever see my 60th birthday?"

And now, here it is. I wonder if anyone has ever welcomed a birthday the way I am today. I'm thrilled beyond belief that I was given another three years of life, to watch my grandchildren grow, to see a son married, to accomplish more in my life, to spend more time with friends, to make more memories for those that will someday stay behind.....all good things. And I will be grateful for every birthday from here on out, however many there may be. I take none of them for granted. Happy Birthday to me! Take that cancer!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wisdom

Every morning my mother would come downstairs, dressed for the day, early in the morning,  make herself a cup of tea and piece of toast, and sit at the kitchen table with her Bible. She'd spend the next thirty minute or so reading and praying and preparing for her day. She had a long prayer list, names and events she wanted to pray for, and was constantly adding things to that, which was already a few pages long. I think it was one of the wisest things she did, and she did many!

I've tried over the years to emulate her habit with limited success. When the kids were small I tried getting up really early to beat them all downstairs and have my "quiet time" with God. But no matter how early I got up, it seemed as though one of the kids would end up standing next to me within moments. For most of those years I did most of my meditating and praying in the car, driving. And Bible study was pretty much limited to church, reading my assignment for whatever I was doing there in stolen moments during the week. It was speed-reading at its best!

Recently I picked up a book my mother had in her bookshelf next door and started working at creating the morning routine she had. When I can, I spend about thirty minutes reading a chapter of the book (which is about what "the church" is supposed to be as opposed to what humans have made it into), reading a chapter of the Bible, and then praying. Like Mom, for my family, friends, self, etc - its a long list! Some mornings I do well and manage to get it all done and others not so much.

But here's what I learned from Mom's wisdom and good example. When I take the time to start my day with God, the entire day unfolds more beautifully. Not that things go more smoothly, but because of my own centered beginning, I'm better able to take what comes and deal with it graciously.  Somehow traffic isn't as annoying, people are more loving, and life looks more lovely.

Mom - you were one very smart lady....

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sunshine

The sun is coming earlier and earlier these days and its glorious. I love to see the sunrise in the morning and its so much easier to get myself moving when its daylight! By 6:45 it's light enough to see pretty well and I'm already getting excited about daylight savings time when we'll be seeing light later into the evening.

There's something empowering about the sunlight. It wakes us up, literally. I read an article once about how even a little bit of light starts your system into waking mode. That's why I try not to turn on any lights when I get up at 3am for a bathroom run - I want to move quickly and climb right back into that warm hole in my bed, my brain still happily in sleep mode. And I find that once the sun lightens the morning I'm up - there's no staying in bed much at that point. But winter is hard! When I need to be up and around and the skies are dark its so much harder to get myself motivated.

Well those dark days of winter are nearly over. The world is waking up earlier now and I'm quite pleased about it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Whitecaps

Last week early one morning I was driving down Bluff Road to pick up a friend. There was no traffic at all and the landscape looked pretty deserted at that hour - neither man nor beast was moving! So as I approached the intersection with Atlantic Avenue I slowed down nearly to a stop and looked south to the sea. From that vantage point the road dips way down and the ocean is clearly visible from the top of the hill. What I saw was the deep blue of the winter ocean, dotted and undulating with whitecaps. It was windy on the water, apparently, and it made the surf beautiful. The white water danced and bounced with the wind and the surface of the sea was a cauldron of activity. So pretty.

Where else but here can you see the winter water like that, all churned up and beautiful, white water popping and jogging as the wind whips it into a frenzy? Oh I suppose there are other places, but how lucky am I to be in one of them? Where I can be driving along a road and look over and see the ocean like that. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the beauty of this place and similarly taken by my good fortune to have been born here, because had I not I would never have been able to find my way to it.

I hope others had a chance to view the shore that day because it was spectacular. Thankfully I took the time to slow down and look or I would have missed it myself.