Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Easter has always been my second favorite holiday. That would be right after Christmas, of course!
I'm not sure why as a child I loved it so much because there were no presents involved, but I'm sure candy had something to do with it. And of course it was important to the people around me - my mother especially. She took us shopping for new Easter clothes for church, which usually meant a colorful suit complete with gloves and hat as was the custom in the 1950s and early 60s. We dressed for church! We weren't wealthy people so that new suit was usually my one new outfit for the spring and summer and I always loved it. I can remember each one when I look at old photos and I remember the way I felt wearing them! There was the yellow made of slubbed cotton, the blue mohair, the pink knit...lots of memories!
And no doubt my love of Easter had to revolve around another staple of the season: candy. Always one of my great weaknesses, candy was a huge draw on Easter Sunday morning. It still is for that matter and it's no fun not having children in the house to have to shop for in that area!
Of course now I love Easter because of the reason we celebrate..Just as Christmas went from being all about the gifts to a celebration of God's love for us, Easter has gone from being about candy and clothes to a time of gratitude and thanksgiving for the reason we mark this day. Because God's love is the most important thing in our lives and when I wake up every Easter morning that's what I'm joyful about. The rest is all window dressing...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Question

At a dinner party recently someone asked the question "What one thing would you like to be remembered for after you die?" And in turn each of the quests pondered it and offered an answer.

Most answers fell along the lines of "I'd like to be remembered as a good person" or something similar to that. I think that is certainly the most common response. Who wouldn't like to be remembered that way

One person gave an answer I really loved though. She wanted to be remembered as a philanthropist. We all agreed that would be a great legacy to leave behind, but it was only later that I appreciated the real perfection in that wish. First of all, it would encompass the wish most people have because for the most part philanthropists are thought to be good people. After all, they had the option of leaving their money to family members but chose to give it away in worthy ways instead - a good thing!

But the real brilliance of that wish came to me later on as I came to the realization that if one would be remembered as a great philanthropist it would stand to reason that said person was extremely wealthy in their lifetime.

Now that's a wish I could get behind!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Perspective

I heard a choir director once complain about how busy the Easter season was for him and how difficult it was to prepare for and then perform at every service offered in the church. It made me smile with the irony because I had been thinking the same thing myself, only there was one big difference: it was his job and he was getting paid to do it. I, on the other hand, as a member of the choir was a volunteer.

Sometimes I think we forget how many people give of their time to help in so many ways in our communities. There are the people who drive for Meals on Wheels and the ones who work at the Food Pantry. There are Rotary members and Lion Club members, church lay readers and choir members, library volunteers, LVIS volunteers, and PTA volunteers. And of course there are fire fighters and EMTs as well. There are literally thousands of people in a community like East Hampton who take time out of their lives to improve the place that we live or assist those less fortunate than they. These are the people who make a community a place with a heart where others like to live. Imagine if we took all those vounteers out of the picture how sad it would be.

Let's see: people would go hungry, trees would die and not be replaced, chidren wouldn't have warmm coats to wear in the winter, flowers wouldn't grow around town in pubic places, homes would burn down, and last but not least, there wouldn't be much music in churches. What a sad place that would be!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sunshine

They're promising sun and warmth for this weekend and I'm looking forward to it. On Monday we woke up to snow in Pennsylvania and droove home is snow and slush all the way to Long Island. Sun sounds good to me today.

I actually enjoy the sun at any temperature. I know most people love the warm weather but I do not. I like a temperate climate, one that never sends the thermometer over 75 degrees and one where the humidity never arrives. I like to grab a sweater in the evening and be chilly enough at night to need a blanket. So hot weather is not my thing.

But - I do love a warm day with sunshine, one where I can wear comfortable clothes without worrying about being too hot or too cold. They generally arrive in East Hampton about the end of April and last until the himidity arrives at the end of June. They they return in September and last another month or so. Those are my favorite tiimes and I look forward to them coming soon!

Perhaps this weekend will really begin to feel like Spring. We'll see...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chill

Well you'd never know it was Spring by the weather so far and March is surely going out like a lion this year. The winter coats are still at the ready and my gloves are always on the counter where I can grab them on my way out the door. I know we've had snow in April before but we never want to think that's going to happen, do we?

We have had some nice weather in March and its been a tease of a month with some mild days followed by the deep freeze. Such is the month of March - but now its time to think "Spring" and once this week is over we'll be in April so I'm hoping for the best.

Already the landscapers are out working on clean-up all over the village and April will see that happening more and more. My own yard is in need of some attention but I can't see jumping on it too early - after all, its a long summer. As soon as the weeding is done and flowers are potted, we have to tend to the regular maintenance that comes with it all. Soon enough we'll be mowing and trimming - for now I'm going to enjoy the final weeks of this "shoulder" season and not get too worked up over the weather that's coming. It's not here yet and I can wait!

March may be nearly over but April isn't yet poised to be the harbinger of things to come. Soon though....soon!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lunch

One of the real pleasures of being older and having my children all grown and out of the house is that I have a great deal more free time than I used to. And one of the things I most enjoy doing is having a luncheon date with a friend.

Lunch is often a rushed affair while running between appointments or trying to get things done around the house. When I make a date with a friend it's a moment to take a break, sit and relax, and reconnect with someone important to me. It's breathing time. It's a stress free zone. And it helps me remember what life is about - our relationships.

Too often in life we rush around, being busy and trying to keep all our balls in the air at the same time, terrified that if we miss one the world will come to an end. I've learned that now in my old age I need to stop worrying about all those things I'm juggling and just relax a little more. We need to talk more, share more, support more, smile more, cry more, and celebrate more with the people we have in our lives because at the end of the day, when we disappear from this earth, no one will remember which of those balls we or were not were able to keep in the air. But they will remember the person who was there for them when they needed a friend.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Daylight

The days are so much longer now that it's causing me some stress. I love having daylight when I leave at 7pm for meetings, but here's the problem: As long as there's daylight I feel as though I need to be busy doing something....

My favorite part of winter is that once 5:00 comes around I feel perfectly content to climb under a blanket on the couch and do nothing more strenuous than make myself a nice of hot chocolate. But that daylight, well, it makes me feel guilty for not attacking a closet that needs to be cleaned out or a cabinet that needs re-arranging. It's a guilt producing phenomenon and I don't like it. There's enough guilt in motherhood to last a lifetime - who needs more?

Well - it's only going to get worse. Warmer days are coming, and people will be out in their yards until really late working on their landscaping and painting their windows...and I'll be feeling even more guilty for being inside taking it easy.....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

With Easter coming in March this year it seems to be rushing the season a bit. Somehow Easter seems more appropriate in April, when the bulbs are all out and the world looks new and fresh. Having it come in March is always a tricky thing - sometimes its nice weather but sometimes not. We can only hope or a nice day next week.

My favorite Easter memories are all centered around beautiful weather. The most recent was about ten or twelve years ago now. My mother was still alive and we were having Easter dinner at her home following morning church. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and the younger generation gravitated to the outdoors as soon as the meal was done. Across the street they went to the open field where they tossed a ball around, or a frisbie,  can't remember now which it was. Eventually they decided to make a "cousin pyramid", and someone snatched a photo. It's one of my favorite pictures of them.

I hope that this year brings nice weather for Easter Sunday so we can again celebrate Spring outside after we eat together. Unfortunately there are too many of us to all be together anymore, but my immediate family in East Hampton will gather here at our house to share a meal. The next generation will maybe want to go out to toss a ball with their parents. They're not quite old enough to make a pyramid yet, but some day, maybe......

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Intentions

Well I came home from Buffalo (after cleaning out my aunt's house) determined to set about the business of cleaning out my closets and drawers and getting rid of the things no longer needed around my house. I had the very best of intentions, I really did.

And then life got in the way. Instead of a nice full Saturday for cleaning I found myself attending board meetings and doing basic cleaning jobs. When I tried to portion off a weekday to tackle the closets, instead of had to run to Southampton for  someting, or got called to a meeting someplace. It was just the busy things that keep life interesting that got in the way and I have yet to get that job done.

One of my children made note of the fact that I was "too busy" once and I reminded her that she really would not like it the other way around. I don't look forward to a time when I am too old to be busy and spend my days looking for things to do. Especially because when that time comes I'll be too old to do things like clean out my closets.

But I do need to get to work on my closets soon....

Friday, March 22, 2013

March

I can't tell you have many times I've heard people say in the past few weeks "March is my least favorite month!" I guess I really don't have a "least favorite" because there is always something about each one that I look forward to.

March is admittedly a challenging month because by March we're tired of the snow and cold that we welcomed when we were approaching Christmas three short months ago.  Just as we are excited about the warmth of summer, we are tired of the heat and humidity by September - what fickle creatures we are!

OK so we're tired of the snow. And maybe we are anxious for warmer days. But March is still a month full of pleasures! It's similar to November in that we never know quite what the weather will be - one day it could be 50 degrees and the next barely 30. We know April will bring warm rain and the daffodils, so to me, March is about promise. It's a time to look forward to planting, to the greening of the grass, to flowers, and the warm weather and sunny days. The sky will be bluer and the days longer and March is the bridge to all that. I like March. I make plans in March. And I use March as a buffer to the new season. What's not to like about March?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Godspell

One of the first shows I saw on Broadway - actually I think it was off-Broadway - was Godspell. It had to have been 1971 or '72 I think and it was amazing. It was a small theater with a small combo of musicians that were off to the side on the stage, behind a black fence if I remember. It was intimate and I almost felt as though I were part of the cast as they danced in the aisles and sang their hearts out on those classic songs of the era like "Day By Day" and "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord". I'll never forget it and the details are still very sharp in my mind.

Years later my eldest daughter was in a production in high school and I relived that early experience with pleasure, enjoying it with her all over again. It's a show I always wanted to be in myself, having done high school and community theater through the years, but never had the opportunity to.

Now, my ten-year-old granddaughter is in a production near her her home in Pennsylvania. And again I'm enjoying it vicariously through her, the songs running through my head on a daily basis and the dialog coming to me at odd times. We're trying to get down to PA this weekend to see the final show and if I do I know I'll be singing those songs for weeks to come.

I think that one of the gifts of a long life is being able to re-live the times of our youth and then see them through the eyes of your children and grandchildren.  Whether its playing on a sports team and winning a championship game, or hearing the overture from backstage on opening night of a show, or choosing a wedding gown - these are the things that are made sweeter as the years pass. I'll never be in a production of Godspell but I can enjoy it all with  my children and grandchildren and that's a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Second guessing

I've talked in the past about anonymous posting that is prevalent now on various internet sites, and one that is local is Patch. It's a great place to get up-to-date news items and its the first place I go when I want to know where a fire is or why the traffic is stopped on Montauk Highway, for instance.

But here's the problem that frustrates me: people make comments all the time about things they really know nothing about. I mean, you would think that folks would understand that a quick news article cannot possibly include all the details on anything, and that there is often more to know if you really want to understand some things. When I read something I don't think seems quite right, I go into research mode - I start trying to figure out what the whole story is, looking in other places for more detail or even calling someone who I think might know. I would never make a comment on something publicly without having all the facts. And yet, people seem very free to do so. What's that about?

I am often tempted, and sometimes I do try to correct things for the record, but very often I just let them go, assuming that some people are simply happier when they have something to be upset about, whether true or not. So who am I to take away their pleasure?

Well, as a lover of the truth I really do have a hard time with it. I fight it all the time....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Morning walk

Our early morning walk has changed again. A few short weeks ago the air was feeling warmer and the sun was out earlier and when we left my house at 6:30 it was nice and bright. Now, thanks to a change in the weather and the inevitable daylight savings time, it's pitch black when we leave and lately, its been really cold!

It's only a matter of weeks now when we'll be able to count on the warm morning air and the early sun to make our walks more interesting and pleasant. time does pass quickly and although sometimes we think it's not, it is marching along at a pretty good clip. Suddenly it will be April, and then May, and then we'll need to get out early or it will be too hot to walk at all! It's hard to imagine that right now when our cheeks are burning and ears are red from the cold breeze.

There's something really wonderful about taking a long walk around the village in the morning, when the streets are still ours and we we can trace the seasons week by week and month by month. There's nothing like starting the day with fresh air and exercise.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Childhood

Recently we found a stash of old photos and slides that had been stored by my parents and other relatives. Going through them was like time traveling in my mind and some of the memories stirred up have been staying with me closely these past few weeks.

The most intense memories came from the slide show we put together. Seeing the large pictures projected on a screen is much more intense that looking at the small black & white photos that came from those days. The color is beautiful and intense and on a large screen the images are nearly lifelike, with great detail easy to decipher. For instance, in the background could be seen clotheslines full of clothing flapping in the breeze, fences long ago removed, swing sets with the grass worn down the way I remember it, and the family cars from my childhood. Since the family homes that surrounded us are all still in the family, we're very aware of the changes to driveways, to lawns, to landscaping, porches, and doorways. Each picture elicited immediate recognition and comments about the things we saw besides the main subjects - like the barn that was taken down in the 1960s and then commercial building now gone across the street.

It must be difficult for people who move away from their childhood hometowns and don't return for many years because the changes are shocking. For us, who have all lived here and been part of the changes that occurred slowly over the years, it's not disheartening to see the changes. It's more of a warm, fuzzy feeling, like looking at photos of your grown children when they were young. We miss those little ones like crazy but we also love the adults they've become. It's the same concept.

Walking down Memory Lane is always thought-provoking. And emotional too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick

I'm not Irish and I'm not sure why so many people claim to be on March 17th, but they do. According to those claims about half the population of the country is Irish, I think. And I also think the whole St. Patrick's Day thing is way overblown these days. From what I understand it's hardly noticed in Ireland, but here it's celebrated like the 4th of July.

Well here's the thing I always smile about when St. Patrick's Day comes around. I have a friend who was born in England and moved here when she got married, so although she's never become a citizen, she's about as American as any of us. And she hates St. Patrick's Day. I remember her husband telling me that when their children were young and going to school March 17th became a huge issue in their house. She never allowed the children to wear green on St. Patrick's Day, for instance. And one year when their son announced that the teacher told them that "Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day" her immediate response was "Not in THIS house they're not!". Personally, I feel the same way. I have no issue with the Irish like my friend has, but I'm not one of them myself so St. Patrick's Day doesn't mean much to me at all.

So, on this St. Patrick's Day, when people all over the East End are gathering in Montauk to watch the parade, I'll be happily sitting at home ignoring the whole thing.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Angels unaware

Speaking of the Bible, one of my favorite passages tells us that we are sometimes "entertaining angels unaware". My mother explained to me many years ago that what it meant was that the person checking us out at the grocery store, of the beggar by the side of the street, could be angels and this is why we should be treating everyone as though they are God's special creatures, because God loves us all equally and that's what his message is.

Sometimes, when I deal with an especially difficult person, or am asked for help by someone, or have to wait in line behind a loud customer taking up too much of the merchant's time, I think about this passage and it tempers my reaction. And I think that's exactly what God intended for it to do...

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Bible

I've been watching the series on the History Channel called "The Bible" and enjoying it very much. I'm a great lover of period dramas of all types, and since I know the Bible stories so well, this is especially inspiring to watch. I find the stories so powerful that they need little in the way of special effects to make them amazing and just seeing them played out with the great scenery and authentic costumes really brings them to life.

I always attended Sunday School as a child growing up - there were no options in my household because Sundays were for Sunday School and church - so I know most of the old testament stories like the back of my hand. Among my favorites: Joseph being sold by his brothers; Daniel being thrown into the lion's den, and of course Noah and the flood. But all of them are wonderful, from David and Goliath to Samson and Delilah, and I find new messages in them each time I read them. Now, seeing them played out on television is a special treat.

It's difficult to imagine the nomadic life of the dessert dwellers who populated the Old Testament, but their faith I understand. It's the same faith that carried me through the difficult times of life and its a faith learned from following their lead. It's an example of standing on the shoulders of giants  so we can see where we are going.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hanging

I am so intrigued with the younger generations obsession with pants that don't cover their rear ends. What's that about anyway?

No I fully realize that every generation has to do something to horrify their parents' generation - in my day it was wearing jeans...everywhere. No one wore jeans unless you were going to work in the barn, right? But we claimed them as our own and now they are acceptable everywhere.

But last week there was a photo of Justin Beiber circulating around the internet and his jeans were hanging so low I seriously wondered a. How did they stay up? and b. Why bother? I mean, if you're going to display your underwear for the world to see just skip the jeans altogether, right? And of course, its not only him. I've seen many kids on the street displaying their underwear and I curiously look to see how they can keep them from falling to the ground. Does that ever happen? I haven't seen it but I can't imagine how it doesn't.

Remember the days when it was a horrible trick to play on some unsuspecting kid when you grabbed his pants and yanked them down? Now they do it themselves. Perhaps it's a pre-emptive strike against such tomfoolery. But honestly, how much lower can they go???

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Delayed opening


One of the things that was never done when we were kids was the "delayed opening" at schools. This happens when the schools determine that if they just delay the opening for two hours they can get credit for the school day but it will be safer and the roads cleared for the students arrival. When did this begin and who's brilliant idea was it?

I remember this happening when my kids were young and it was usually more annoying than anything else. Naturally the kids would still be up at the crack of dawn and no one got to sleep in, so there was really no benefit. In fact it made things more complicated as we had to scramble to find alternate transportation for our gang because our system was completely thrown off with the time difference.

Everything does look better in daylight though. And the plows go through and everyone feels safer when its daylight. So I think its a great idea. It makes the difference between having to make up a snow day later or not. And no one likes it when days are taken away from the spring holidays!

Now that its March I doubt we'll have any more delayed openings. But there's always next year!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just start!

Now that I've determined that I need to clean out my house, and organize my things, I'm stuck on where to start. I'm thinking my own clothes closets are the place to begin but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of it and that's keeping me a bay. How to get myself motivated?

I know I need to throw things out. I know I need to sort and I know I need to completely empty drawers and closets and start from scratch in terms of what should go where and how I need to keep things in place. However, knowing the how and why of it all doesn't get me started - in fact, it only serves to discourage me because I know how much work lies ahead. And there I sit - with a good plan but no action.

I've always been a bit of a procrastinator. I freely admit it! Some things are just easier to put aside for later than to tackle today, right? I know I'm not alone in this and I know there are hoarders everywhere who totally sympathize! And that's my fear - becoming one of them!

So I know the only way to start it to start. Small steps. One drawer at a time. Time to get it done!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Reconnecting

Recently I was able to reconnect with a member of my extended family - he would be my mother's cousin but is a contemporary of mine since there was a twenty year difference in age between my grandmother and her sister, his mother. Making the connection has been a real pleasure as we've been emailing back and forth with information and stories about our family connections.

Because of the fact that his mother and my grandmother, although sisters, were really of different generations, this cousin has more information about the ancestors than I do. After all, my great-grandparents were his grandparents, who died before any of us knew them, but he was able to hear first-hand stories and see more photos than I so his memories are much clearer and stronger than mine. I'm gleaning lots of great ancestral information and trying to start the process of getting it on paper. Some day, if I ever get the office I want to work in here at home, I'm going to spend time on Ancestry.com to leave lots of information behind for my children to have. I find learning about my ancestors eye-opening and sometimes humbling. For instance, this connection involves a great, great grandmother and great, great, great grandmother who died in the Johnstown flood, while the children all survived with their father and the youngest would become my great-grandmother. Now I want to travel to Johnstown to explore the museum there and connect with those ancestors, imagining the hardships they endured and the paths they followed to get to upstate New York  where one day they would start a family that would end up on the eastern end of Long Island. I find it all fascinating.

The best thing about our modern technology is the ability to reconnect with people who we've lost track of over the years. What a great tool!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sons

Today is one of my sons birthdays and that has me thinking about being the mother of sons. Since I have two daughters and two sons I have a pretty good idea of the differences between raising girls and boys, and I also am fascinated with the differences between them as adults.

It seems as though it took much longer for the boys to grow up, although one was surely worse than the other. The girls seemed more focused and ready to be adults than the boys did. It could be a natural order of things, with the women needing to follow their biological urges to have children and be settled into life sooner. I think an anthropologist could shine some light on this aspect of the sexes, but I have my suspicions in any case.

The biggest changes I've seen in my boys hasn't come from marriage, but from having children. Suddenly they become adults when they have these little lives to take care of, and its refreshing to know that eventually, they are as grown up as their female counterparts.

Looking back I can see the difference between me and my husband way back when we were newly married and now I see it in my children so I think its safe to say, although stereotypes are always dangerous, there are some typical things we can point to that are natural differences. As someone once said however, viva la difference!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Time change

I can hardly believe we change our clocks this weekend. It seems as though every few years we move the dates up - when we were kids it was in April. Then it moved a few weeks earlier in April. Then it went back to March. At some point I wonder what the point is?

Well regardless of why the powers-that-be decide to do I'm dreading this move a little. I love having more light in the evening, but I miss it in the morning. Especially since I walk at 6:30am which means we've been enjoying the light this past month when we leave the house, but now we'll be plunged back into the darkness again. It means we need to stick to the commercial area to walk where there are streetlights and sidewalks and we won't need to worry about being run over by some tradesman heading to work.

Well, it will only be a matter of weeks until it will be light again in the morning so I suspect we'll survive it! And those nice late days are going to be fun. Nothing like being able to drive to a meeting at night in the light. I can look forward to that.

Friday, March 8, 2013

DVR

OK so I know I'm not the most technologically gifted person in the world and I find a challenge with each of the crazy new things that have come into our lives over the past thirty years since the computer chip was born. And right now the DVR that comes with our cable service is making me insane.

I just get myself adjusted to using the system when they change it and then I need to re-learn it all over again. And the most recent changes are impossible! I don't seem to be able to figure out how to set up recordings in the various ways that have always been available and easy to do in the past. I push buttons and move through menus and search in vain for the thing I want to do but never seem to be able to accomplish it. Recently a show which I have recorded every day so I don't miss it, failed to record and I missed something I really wanted to see. No rhyme or reason for it - it just didn't do what it had been doing every morning for years now. I admit that I felt completely defeated.

I'm not sure whether its all me or if perhaps there is some small grain of truth to the idea I have, which is that there is some great technological demigod somewhere pulling the strings and every time I get the idea that I have it all figured out, he or she tweaks things just enough to throw me once again into the morass of self-doubt. I feel dumb and incapable and I hate that.

Well-here I am again, not quite knowing how to deal with these technological "advances" and feeling like a Luddite  in a world full of Steve Jobs.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My daughter-in-law

 Today is my daughter-in-law's birthday. She came into our lives when my son was a freshman in college, which is when they began dating. When they married four years later it was a gift to all of us because she is a lively, loving presence in our lives and we love her dearly.

So March has become a major birthday month in my family. My granddaughter, myself, my daughter-in-law, and my son all celebrate birthdays with a week of each other. And the 7th falls in the middle of the celebrations so today my daughter-in-law is the honored family member.

I know that I have thought many times over the years how much my life would lack had any of my four children not been part of it. They are each unique and special and add so much richness to the fabric of our lives - it's impossible to imagine life without any one of them. And now I can say the same for the amazing people my children have married. They bring wonderful things to our lives and I love each of them very much.

So today I'm thanking God for this special person who is now part of our family and whom we celebrate on the day she was born. What a lucky family we are!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The south

Every day I hear of another acquaintance who's heading south for a few weeks. Most go to Florida for some time during the cold months and others go somewhere in the Carolina's, but it seems as though half of East Hampton heads to a southern state for a winter vacation. I can honestly say it doesn't interest me in the least.

Of course, that's not to say I wouldn't love a yearly vacation because I would! We've never been able to do that and I envy those who do, but I wouldn't be going to Florida if I could travel. First of all I'm not a warm-weather person. I don't sit in the sun here in August so why would I want to do that someplace else in February? I don't like being too hot and although I enjoy the outdoors I don't like air conditioning so unless I was heading for a perfect climate, like Hawaii with its trade winds, I wouldn't be interested.

But there are places I'd love to go and if I could, I'd spend two or three weeks exploring some of the ones I've always wanted to see. Here's a list of a few of my dream trips: I want to drive through Ireland and stay in castles along the way. I want to do a pub crawl in England, finding them along the small roadways of small towns all throughout the countryside and getting to know the locals who spend time in them. I want to see the museums in Florence and ride a gondola in Venice. I want to walk through the catacombs of the Coliseum in Rome and motorbike through Tuscany. Then, I want to see the Alps in Switzerland and the marketplace in Turkey. I'd love to ride a camel out to see the pyramids of Egypt and also walk a portion of the Great Wall of China.

I'd like to explore Easter Island and climb the ruins of Machu Pichu. I think I'd even like to do an African Safari, but only if the accommodations were comfortable. I don't think I want to sleep in a sleeping bag anymore at my age.

And let's not forget the things I want to see right here at home: I dream of waking up in the morning and going out to my balcony to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon. I've always wanted to take a leisurely drive up the coastal highway in California, ending where the giant sequoias loom. I want to drive across the good old US of A with time to stop where the spirit leads, perhaps staying in the Tee Pee Motel on Route 66. And just north of here I'd love to take a train through the Canadian Rockies and maybe do a cruise up the coast of Alaska.

So you see, it's not that I'd rather stay home than travel - far from it! I've always dreamed of traveling to some of the wonderful places on earth. I just don't have Florida on my list....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Decades

Now that I'm officially in my sixth decade I feel liberated in a way. I think for years we dread middle age and then when we're in it we deny it. Now that I am officially considered "elderly: according to medical and EMS standards I guess I can stop dreading the "middle-age" label. It's gone forever.

I went to a class for my EMT certification a few years ago that was about geriatrics. In that class I learned that there are three classifications of elderly: young elderly, elderly, and old elderly. So now I guess I can rejoice in the fact that I am a "young elderly" and try to focus on the "young" part. After all, as I mentioned in my blog yesterday, each birthday from now on is a victory for me so I can't regret them, can I?

Well, age is only a number and as long as you feel good, other than the aching joints and the fact that I can no longer jump up and down from the floor the way I used to, its not so bad to be old. I have so much wisdom acrued along the way, I just wish I had some way of sharing it! Somehow, in the normal tradition, my children seem to need to learn it all themselves...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Another milestone

Well I've made it to another year.

In January of 2009 I was told I had breast cancer and I immediately thought about my birthday in March. I was 56 at the time and I clearly remember thinking "I wonder if I'll ever see 60". So this is my 5th birthday since that diagnosis and I'm feeling as though I've been given a great gift - all those birthdays.

There's an advertisement for the American Cancer Society with a tag line that says "The sponsor of birthdays" and I always smile when I hear that because I know its true. Fortunately for me, those birthdays have been good ones and I feel healthy and normal. I know that's not true for everyone facing cancer, and for that I'm very grateful.

I have no idea how many birthdays I have yet to come, but then none of us do. Every day in the paper there are articles about traffic accidents and other catastrophes that resulted in the deaths of people who were surely not expecting it to happen. And we all know folks who walk out of their door in the morning expecting a normal day only to never return due to an completely unexpected death. So in that respect we're all in the same same boat. Personally I think I've been given a great gift - the gift of the realization that life is short and can be taken from us at a moment's notice. Because of that I savor every moment of it, and not everyone has been given that gift. When I drive down the road I notice everything - the sunset, the trees in bloom, the children on the playground - and I take none of it for granted. I relish time spent with my family and friends. And I never for a second expect that I can "take care of that later" because I know later may never come.

I haven't been able to do everything I wanted to in this life - who has? But I have been blessed with a good life full of wonderful things. And I cherish every birthday now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Jam and toast

I'm fascinated with the idea of how things came to be. For instance, I've heard the way ice cream cones were invented, and I know about things like electricity, but I wonder about more simple things. Like for instance, who was the first person to decide that they should take milk and let it age forever until it formed cheese? Who would ever look at a bee hive and think "Hmmm - I wonder if there's anything edible there?"

Among the things I want to know about are peanut butter, olive oil, and rice. And who dug up plants like carrots and thought they would be good to eat?

Among my favorite things is a nice light brown piece of toast. It's great with jam and butter, or for holding a sandwich together, and of course bread is a wonderful thing. But who ever thought to put it over the fire and cook it until it got nice and firm, a perfect background for peanut butter or sugar and cinnamon.

I keep thinking there must be new things left to discover and I wish I could do it. But y mind just doesn't work that way. In fact, when my babies were tiny and I was carting them around in the newly designed car seats back in the 1970s and '80s, I would stuff the sides around their little heads with rolled up receiving blankets to keep them secure in the big seats. A few years  later someone came up with a padding system to fit car seats which accomplished the exact same thing. If only I could have figured that out I would be a millionaire by now....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Names and faces

I've never been good a names and my age is working against me now. It's not a good thing for someone in the political arena and I am constantly looking for ways to compensate, but its not good!

Faces I do remember. But here's the thing: its only more troubling when you see someone you know you know, but you cannot put a name to the face. It happens to me all the time.

And here's the other thing: it's not always simple acquaintances - sometimes I go to introduce a good friend and I cannot pull the name out of my memory bank! How embarrassing is that?

I see bad things in my future. I see an old woman who smiles at everyone she sees but has no idea what any of their names are. And not because of Alzheimer's - that would make sense! But simply because I've never been very good at remembering names.

Friday, March 1, 2013

March

Seriously? March already? Wow.

I haven't quite figured out whether it's a normal age thing or if I am more aware of time passing than others because I feel as though I'm on borrowed time. Every time I hear about another cancer patient who's relapsed I'm reminded that these past four years have been a gift and I truly have savored them all - but they have gone quickly. (At least the last three have-year one dragged a bit while I was in treatment!)

I know everyone says that time seems to pick up speed as we age and I think that's probably true. When we're young we're too busy to think about how quickly the years are going but now we have time to ponder the mysteries of life and its fleeting days. It was only a week ago when we were getting ready for Christmas, wasn't it? And now the choir is practicing Easter music - really?

Well, here we are looking at Spring again and knowing soon enough the threat of snow will be over for months again. Weeks pass, time moves, life marches along. We can sit on the sidelines and watch of jump into the middle and experience it all. I for one don't want to miss any of it.