Saturday, August 31, 2013

Finally

This is it! It's officially here! The final says of summer....aaaaahhhhhhhhh

It's sad that I feel that way because summer certainly has its joys, and I imagine if I lived somewhere else that wasn't a tourist attraction I would feel differently about it. But here on the East End, Labor Day weekend is a time of celebration as we say goodbye to the craziness that is our summer. This year, and although we say it every year, truly was the worst ever. Some say it was the Jersey Shore crowd who came here because Hurricane Sandy wiped out their old stomping grounds. Others say its just a shift in the natural order of things. But whatever it was we all felt it. The traffic, the atmosphere, the crowds - all of it was horrible.

Of course we coped, as we natives always have throughout out lives, and maybe I'm just getting older and grumpier and that's part of the problem. But living here where we do, on a major thoroughfare in the middle of the village, we see the differences from year to year. We see the increase in the difficulties of getting out of our driveway and turning into it later. We see how less patient people are when they need to wait for us to make that turn and how they tear up the grass on the beautiful green in their attempt to get around us rather than wait until two cars pass in the other direction. And because of my position in the village I get to see the statistics about how many parking permits are spit out of the ticket machine in the main lot, and how early the beach stickers are sold out. And without question, things are crazier here than ever.

So the big questions are this: At what point is it too much? And what can you do to stop it?  I don't have the answers to those but we talk about them all the time. One can only guess what next summer will bring.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Special days

This is the day my first child was born and it always brings me back to that magical time of life when  everything was still ahead of us. We were young - very young by today's standards - very much in love, and had no idea what lay ahead of us. We didn't care, really, as long as we were facing it together. It truly is the optimism of youth that gets us through sometimes!

We didn't expect to have this baby so quickly - after all we'd only been married a few months when we discovered she was coming. So much for the plans we'd set out for ourselves to work, and save money for a few years, and then start a family. We were lucky our plans were not met because instead we have an amazing daughter turning 38-years-old today, and I can't imagine my life without her, or her husband, or her three beautiful boys. So maybe we don't always know what's best for us, right?

Well it did make life more challenging, but those are the memories evoked on this day - memories of young love, optimism, the ability to roll with the punches, learning how to make money last and how to cope when it doesn't, and those early days of discovery when we live with someone else - and have a brand new baby in our midst. We grow up quickly when we need to, don't we? And we do learn - oh yes, we do learn.

So today is about memories. And gratitude for life's special gifts: love, family, and happiness. I've been blessed with them all and take none of them for granted. Today I am reminded of all that means.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oops!

OK so for the first time in all these years I forgot to post something this morning. I have a good excuse-I'm a bit under the weather. Not sick, really, but a bad reaction to some medication I received on Tuesday put me in bed all day yesterday and I could still barely get out of it this morning. I'm feeling old and useless right now.

I know when we hit a certain age we are expected to slow down and not be able to move as easily as we used to, but I don't feel as though I'm there quite yet, so these aches and pains caused by this side-effect are really a drag. I don't want to feel eighty, although I'll be happy to reach that milestone someday. I think.

Then again, if I'm going to feel like this maybe I'd rather check out sooner. Oh the days of our lives!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Farewells

Last Sunday we said goodbye to our minister at church, who is moving on to a church in Michigan. It's a good move for him - a step up in terms of his profession - but a sad time for us. I am one of those people who becomes very attached to others in my circle and the process of saying goodbye to any of the people I've become attached to is painful. I'm emotionally tied and I don't like to cry. When I was growing up my father and I were often at odds and I never wanted to give him the satisfaction of knowing he "got to" me so I learned how to keep my distance emotionally. Its so much easier when you don't care and putting up walls makes you far less vulnerable to those painful issues in relationships, right?

But sometimes I find myself getting attached to others anyway and I hate saying goodbyes. I liked this family very much and shall miss their ministry among us. This was a man who sat with my husband an entire day and into the night when I had my cancer surgery. How can you not get attached to someone like that?

So once again, and at my age I know I should be used to it because its happened all too often, I've shed tears over a farewell. Because I know that as much as we love someone, once they leave we rarely see them again. Sometimes we never see them again. Those who live at a distance become yearly contacts - a card and photo at Christmas. Very few ever return to spend time with us or manage to get us to visit them. Life changes. And thus the sadness of farewell descends. We know what comes next - we see the writing on the wall - and despite all good intentions, they will most likely be gone forever from our lives.

A sad thing indeed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hoarding

One of my biggest fears is that I'll become one of those people you see on TV who are called "hoarders", drowning beneath piles of clothes and boxes of "stuff". Last winter we cleaned out my aunt's house and the entire time  kept thinking "This could be me some day" - a scary thought.

It's easy for me to see how that happens with people as they get older. It already is more and more difficult to clean my house - its a physical challenge to do many of the things required and mentally its harder as well.

We tend to hang on to memories - at least I do - and the "things" in our lives are part of those memories. And of course it take a lot of work to keep closets organized and cupboards neat. I often ask myself how I can be so organized and neat at work and yet at home I have a hard time keeping track of the bills and other business things. I do think it has something to do with having a nice place to do that kind of work, and a really nice home office might make a difference. But would it? I may never know.

What I do know is that someday one of my children will probably take over that part of my life - unless of course I don't outlive my husband, in which case they may still have to step in, just not for me.

Ah well - I suppose its just the way it goes. But them again I have this good friend whose house looks like something out of a magazine all the time. And I can't imagine her having any bills lying around unpaid....

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer gone

This is the last week of August and for some that means a sad time as we say goodbye to summer. But not for me - I welcome it.

This summer has been exhilarating, exhausting, and brief. And I understand why some people are melancholy about it's passing. But for me, the best months are coming now - I love September and October and I welcome them, followed so quickly by the holidays. For me, these next four months are my favorite of the year and since its only the beginning, its a happy time.

I can't wait for the humidity and the heat to leave us in the dust and I'm ready to take out some sweaters for sitting outside at night. No more air conditioner to enable sleep and no need to keep my linen pants cleaned and ironed. Jeans here I come!

Yep - I am ready for this week to pass. And ready for Autumn to come.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Glasses

So I have my new glasses for work and trying to adjust to them has been tricky. They're "transitional trifocals" which means the bottom third is for reading, the middle is for the computer, and the top is clear because my contact lenses handle distance. It means I can leave them on all the time at work which eliminates the need to keep taking my reading glasses on and off as I move from task to task. But getting used to new glasses is not simple.

At the same time as I got these new glasses I had new lenses put into my old ones. The old ones are regular glasses for when I don't have my contact lenses on, which is rare, but I need them for ambulance calls in the middle of the night when there's no time for putting the contacts in. So because I need reading glasses now I had them put bifocal lenses in them and now I'm having trouble getting in and out of the ambulance because the bifocals are weird when I'm trying to step off the steps. What the heck?

I've been wearing glasses since I was in the fourth grade so its not a new thing for me. But this whole reading thing, and the computer issue, that's new and adjusting to it all is tiring.

At the same time I'm very grateful for glasses. I'm reminded of the episode of "The Twilight Zone" where a bookish guy with heavy glasses found himself alone after a nuclear war and came upon his dream (or heaven!) - a whole library full of books. And then he dropped his glasses that were like coke bottles and stepped on them. Suddenly he was in hell. Not being able to see is not fun. And now, trying to thread a needle, or read a paper, can be a challenge. The joys of age!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Timing

My husband and I are always early - for everything. I'm not sure why, except for the fact that we both came from families that were always one time for any event, never ran late, and would be horrified to walk into anything after the appointed hour. So I suppose its just something that is part of our upbringing and we brought it into adulthood with us.

I don't think its a bad thing - in fact I think it would be nice if everyone were more prompt in life. We tend to socialize with other people who are dependably on time and we both hate waiting for someone who's late - especially chronically so. To me its an indication that the person thinks their time is more important to you, which is a bit insulting. I get annoyed when appointments are not on time, even at doctor's offices.

But this tendency to be so time-aware has its downside. I am usually way too early for everything. I leave myself more time than necessary, taking into account possible traffic snarls or other difficulties, and I send up sitting around waiting. A lot. Sometimes I'm so early I have to wait in my car because its too embarrassing to actually go into wherever it is I'm supposed to be.

I find that timing is important in life, in many ways. So much of what happens to us is connected to being in the right place at the right time. And sometimes, its an annoyance as well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Schedules

Fitting my new part-time job into my schedule has been a bit of a challenge. One week I have meetings Wednesday and Fridays so I can only work Tuesdays and Thursdays and only up to a certain time because I have something to do in the afternoon. Other weeks I can work Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, for a few hours each morning, to fit into the schedule. Every week I have to sit and look at the calendar for the following week and figure out how to fit the hours in to get the job done.

It makes me long for the days when I worked a 9 to 5 job, five days a week, always the same. Of course, that had challenges, but at least I knew what I was dealing with. The way this is, I enjoy the variety of flitting around from one job to another, but I have trouble keeping track of where I am and where I'm going.

Perhaps my brain is too old for this kind of schedule, I don't know. I'm sure when I was younger it would have been easier to keep it straight in my mind. My brain is on overload so much of the time now that I worry about dementia. But at the same time I know its good to keep it working!

Well....at my age I suppose I should be happy that anyone wants to hire me at all....

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Running

Doing the Ellen's Run race the other day made me think about how times have changed! When I was young I don't ever remember such a thing as a race, run or walk to raise money for charity. In fact, few people did any sort of exercise like that. Now, everyone finds some way to exercise!

It may have something to do with the fact that our parent's generation was the first that had more leisurely lives. After all, our grandparents and great-grandparents worked hard all day at physical labor - in my case they were blacksmiths and lighthouse keepers. Can you imagine climbing the stairs of the lighthouse every 30 minutes to check the oil lamp? Now that's what I call exercise. For others it was a day in the fields or on the water, pulling nets or plowing the dirt. They worked hard and they didn't need to go for a run to get in their aerobic exercise.

So now we sit at desks and we work at keeping ourselves fit in our spare time. A different lifestyle for sure....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Passages

I have two sisters - both younger than I - and they both have birthdays in August, within a few days of each other. And when I think about them it makes me smile at the enigma that is family.

We talk a lot about "family ties". It's an expression that means we are related by blood. But there is so much more that's interesting about families than the blood bond. And I love all of it.

My sisters and my brother and I are as different as night and day - and yet so very much the same. We have different ways of socializing, we have different circles of friends, our lifestyles are very different. And yet...there is that connection that makes us able to sit together and laugh or cry with the ease that only happens with siblings. No matter how many years go by we can suddenly be ten-year-olds again. But at the same time, we treasure each other for the people we've become, not the ones we left behind in childhood.

I'm sorry for siblings that don't really get to know each other as adults. Once time and space take their toll they never have the opportunity to understand each other as adults and aren't able to admire each other for the way they've changed their lives, grown and matured, and become the people they are. They'll forever be children, and that's a sad thing.

I'm blessed to live in the same town as my brother and sisters, to get together with them often, and to know them for the people they are now. We may never forget the people we were, the ones that needed to grow up and learn how to live in this complicated world. But that makes knowing them now even more special - because we've watched the journey. And we've walked with them along the way.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ellen's Run

Once again we fielded a team for Ellen's Run, the annual walk/run to raise money for the local breast center,
and once again I was touched by the event. It is a really nice day.

I think the thing that most touches my heart is the number of families that walk. Most races are all about running and winning. This one is much more about making a statement, honoring a person, or supporting a cause. Families walk together, sisters are sometimes hand-in-hand walking for a mother lost, husbands walk for wives, and lots and lots of friends walk to show their love and support for both the people in their lives who have had or have breast cancer, or to support out local hospital. It warms my heart every time.

This year was no different and as the team gathered, bright red shirts announcing our presence, I smiled at the sight of them. My family, immediate and extended, lots of friends and acquaintances, and children - I especially love seeing the children!

We all finished at different times and walked at different paces. But we all walked with a purpose. And that's the best thing of all

.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bob Dylan

I've been a Bob Dylan fan since the '60s, when protest music and folk music defined a generation. We wanted our music to mean something and it was great, meaningful stuff with lyrics that always had a message. Peter, Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, and Bob Dylan were at the top of my list.

All those artists wrote amazing stuff and I still enjoy hearing their songs. From "If I Had a Hammer" to "The Times They are a Changing" it still recalls a unique time in this history of this country...and my own personal history as well. We thought we were making a difference, and we were. From Viet Nam to the right to vote at 18, we saw changes and we caused changes. It was an amazing time.

But here's the thing I love the most about Bob Dylan. He was not much of a singer - in fact trying to decipher his lyrics was often the hardest part of listening to one of his albums. But he wrote incredible lyrics. Meaningful lyrics. And he still does.

Last week I was listening to the radio and suddenly heard a fairly new version of a Bob Dylan song, "Make You Feel My Love". It was sung by Adele, who also happens to be a favorite of mine, and I was transported by her voice and the gorgeous song. And I was reminded of this truth: when an artist writes something that can be just as beautiful when performed by an orchestra as it is when performed by a rock band, they're written something extraordinary. And Bob Dylan has done that, many times.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Self-check

I was in CVS the other day and used the self-checkout option and that made me amazed to think about how things have changed! I was hesitant to use it in the beginning because I hate to cut even more connections from my life, albeit vague ones. I enjoy interacting with people and even sharing a few words with a check-out person is nice.

But the convenience has won me over. Instead of standing in line with the eighty-year-olds who refuse to learn how, I headed to the self-checkout machine and was out of the store in moments. Literally shaving 10 minutes off my time.

But - there is something to be said for the days when you spent time talking to someone in their store as they folded your clothes and carefully packed everything into a nice box or bag for you. You chatted about the weather or the traffic or you exchanged other pleasantries - a simple human connection. But then again, no one shops in leisure anymore. We are all in a hurry and rushing to get to our next stop.

Of course there are still great places to shop where the merchant folds your item and talks with you while you're waiting. And I still enjoy the time spent with someone else. But when it comes to CVS. or Walmart, or any other place where there is a long line....I'll gladly punch some buttons and hurry out the door asap...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Groceries

Then other night my husband and I went to the IGA for some groceries. Now I've been shopping in the IGA since I was very young, with my mother at first and then as a child running errands for her. When I married I continued to shop there even when I lived in Amagansett because I knew the store and it was more convenient than going to the other side of Amagansett to the one there. I was in East Hampton village working so this was an easy place to shop.
So, I've seen changes over the years there, from the days when Mrs. Haney and Mrs. Wade checked us out on old fashioned cash registers up to modern times with price scanners and moving conveyor belts. It's not as friendly as it used to be but when I go at the regular times I still know the girls who work there and we still smile and share pleasantries.

When we were shopping on this particular night we bought ice cream, which is not on our normal list, but was today in anticipation of company this weekend. So as it was going down the conveyor belt and being scanned I had a sudden memory pop into my head and smiled at the recollection. It was of my mother's gallons of ice cream being carefully placed into silver "insulated" bags (to keep it frozen) before it was placed into the brown grocery bag. Ice cream was always put into that kind of special bag and once home my mother would carefully fold that bag up and save it to be used at the beach or for some other time we wanted a sandwich or drink to stay cold longer.

I can't imagine that those thin little silver bags did much in the way of insulating the ice cream. But wasn't it a nice gesture back in the day when merchants tried to make their customers as happy and satisfied as they possibly could? Truly a time gone by!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Camp

Four of my grandchildren are at camp this week and it brings back so many horrible memories for me! Three times my parents sent me to summer camp and each one was an experience I never want to repeat.

Of course I think a large part of the problem was that my father just wanted us out of the house and we knew that. Somehow it seemed like being sent to reform school or something, so we probably were pre-disposed not to like it. And part of it was that we lived in a summer playground so who would want to leave here? But there was also this issue: I have never been an "outdoor" girl. I have always been someone who preferred sitting in the house and reading a book or watching a movie to playing outside, ever since I was very young. It annoyed my father no end that I was in the house so he would send me outside where I would find a tree to hide in and spend some time making up stories in my head or imagining myself in a fantasy place and time. I wanted to be making things, creating art, reading - anything but being outside. So the idea of camp, where most of the time was spent in the great outdoors, was not so enticing to me.

And I was right, of course. I didn't enjoy the forced baseball games, where I was not very good, or the forced hikes, or the mountain climbing. I loved the arts and crafts period but that didn't last long enough. So camp was a bit like torture to me. But from what I've heard, camp has changed. My grandchildren got to choose activities they wanted to do, like photography and art. I think I would have liked that! Of course, I wasn't a big fan of the group living arrangements either - bunk beds have never been my favorite way of sleeping. But from everything I hear my grandchildren are having a wonderful time, which makes me very happy.

Perhaps my parents never found the right camp for me. They probably should have tried one of those weight loss camps for kids. Now that might have changed my life!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Done

I am so done with the traffic this year!

A few days ago I had to be at the hospital to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new heart and stroke center there. It was to begin at 10am and it was a rainy day so I left my house at 9am for what would normally be a 30 minute trip but I knew I needed additional time on account of the summer traffic. Ha!

I headed up Route 27 and when I got to Buckley's Flower Shop I saw traffic slowing down up ahead. Assuming it was for someone making a left turn or some such thing I went on, only to discover that cars were indeed coming to a complete standstill due to the traffic light in Wainscott. Seriously???

OK - as soon as I got to Green Hollow Road I turned off and headed to Buckskill, then Stephen Hand's, and to Route 114. Once on 114 things went smoothly for awhile - until about the Ross School turnoff and suddenly everything slowed down again. From that point on I was in heavy traffic all the way until I got onto Scuttle Hole Road. Again, smooth sailing for a bit - and then slowing down as we approached the circle at Mitchell Lane. Slowly I worked my way along the back roads all the way into Southampton until I finally reached the highway again which was now County Road 39. A long wait at the traffic light and then, across the  highway on David White's Lane - I was nearly there! I hustled along until I reached the hospital where, because it was so close to 10:00 now there was a long line waiting for the valet parking, so I went around the block until I was an opening and parked myself, jumped out of the car with my umbrella, and managed to get to the ceremony in time. It was nearly a 55 minute trip. From East Hampton to Southampton. And then, I had to turn around and reverse the process an hour later.

I am so looking forward to Labor Day this year....

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Charge it?

Thinking and blogging about my early work experiences here in East Hampton have reminded me of another piece of history and a look at a time gone by: the ability to charge things to your "charge account".

Back in the late 60s when I was working summer jobs it was typical to see a sign at the check-out counter that said something like this: No refunds - Exchanges within 30 days with receipt only. There will be an additional charge for all credit card charges.

Back then credit cards were not as available as they are today. You had to jump through a lot of hoops to get one and when we were newlyweds we could never have qualified for one. You needed to prove a certain salary income, show good credit elsewhere, and prove yourself to be a good credit risk. When my eldest went to college we had to co-sign for her so she could get one to charge her books, etc on, allowing us to pay for them from home. By the time my youngest went ten years later there were credit card companies offering him cards left and right. The world changed tremendously in those years in terms of available credit!

But in the "old days" credit was not so easy to get. My parents had "house" charges at a few places in town and they only used a credit card for occasional things. Now it seems to be the norm to use credit cards for everything. In fact, when I use cash in the local CVS or grocery store, which I normally do, I feel like a bit of a dinosaur. Somehow my early training is hard to shake-I only like to spend what's in my pocket.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Forgetful

It's funny how when you get to be my age you begin to think about things you never did before. Like, for instance, when you forget something you suddenly wonder if its a sign of something more serious happening in your brain rather than simple forgetfulness.

When we're young we think nothing of misplacing an item or missing an appointment. After all, we're busy and these things happen! No big deal, right? But then you hit middle-age and suddenly every time you forget where you put something, or fail to remember a conversation, you fear the onset of Alzheimer Disease or early dementia. When you wake in the morning with a stiff knee you don't assume its from something you did the day before, you wonder if its the beginning of that long road to a  joint replacement.

There are things about aging that we can camouflage, like our graying hair or the age spots popping up on our faces. Hair color and make-up can do wonders! But there are other things that are impossible to hide and certainly our memory lapses are one of them.

So far I don't panic too much because I know that if I forget something, when I'm reminded I remember. When the day comes that I have no idea what it was I forgot in the first place, then I'm going to really be alarmed.

Leavings

The older I get the more I grow accustomed to people leaving my life. They come and they go, they move on, they move away, and sadly, they also die. I hate all kinds of goodbyes.

When I was young every goodbye that I knew was forever would bring tears. I remember saying them to friends, to neighbors, and to people who were adult mentors, like ministers and teachers. I always felt such an intense loss that I wondered why such sadness had to be. But now that I'm on the other side of my lifespan and been separated from so many people through the years, the leaving seems to get easier. I guess I've become

Monday, August 12, 2013

Donuts

A few weeks ago we were laughing when we saw that one of the hosts of Good Morning America mentioned his guilty summer pleasure was taking his daughter into East Hampton Village for Dreesen's Donuts. Did that ever touch off some memories.

I clearly remember when my father's good friend, Frank Brill, purchased a donut making machine. I was with my father when we went into the store to check it out. He owned the 5&10 on Main Street and he had the new machine right in the front window. He and my father watched it make those donuts, flipping them over and into the hot grease, browning on one side and then the other. It was quite the machine and my father, being the sugar love that he was, enjoyed a freshly sugared one as soon as it was cool enough to handle.

For some time Mr. Brill had that machine in his window, hoping no doubt to lure in customers. But it was less than  a year before he sold it to Rudy DiSanti to use in his store, Dreesen's Market, on Newtown Lane. It was a butcher shop and carried other food items so it made sense to get it out of the 5&10 and into a more appropriate place. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Mr. Brill made a deal with Mr. DiSanti for free donuts because I imagine he was motivated in no small part to bring those donuts to East Hampton for his own consumption as well as to sell in his shop. (My father did the same thing when he decided he craved soft ice cream - he built an ice cream shop).

Anyway, in the ensuing years Dreesen's has closed, (as has the 5&10), but in the same place as the store used to stand is an ice cream shop and that donut machine is still pumping out donuts. They're still called "Dreesen's Donuts" and apparently, certain famous people love them. Wouldn't Mr. Brill be pleased!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Merchants

When I think back to the East Hampton of my youth I'm curious about something. In an age when women had far less freedom and most stayed home to be with their kids, our little town had a number of female merchants. There as Mrs. Epstein, who owned a clothing store on Main Street. It was a hodge podge of stuff, jeans piled on tables and underwear in boxes stacked to the ceiling. She was ancient in my mind, old and stooped over in long dresses with heavy cotton stocking, but she would push that ladder down the row and climb up to get whatever size she determined you would need. She was a widow, I suppose, which explains why she was running her own business.

Then there was Jennie Goldstein, a women's clothing shop owner. I got my first summer job there when I was fourteen. She was a nosy, fastidious, impatient woman who was not fun to be around, but fortunately she was rarely in the store. Another widow perhaps, although I don't know for sure.

Mrs. Reagar also had a clothing store along with her husband, but she was clearly the dominant force in that relationship! And Tess who owned the Pot Pourri store, a little boutique type place with clothes and scarves and jewelry. And of course Jeanne Fanning who owned Fanning Jewelry store along with her elderly mother, this one inherited from her father.

Interestingly enough I never thought it odd that these women ran their own businesses. But in retrospect it must have been a difficult thing for them as they truly were operating in a man's world back in the 1950s. A real anomaly. And so many for a small town! Amazing really.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Jobs

Some of the most unforgettable people I've met in my life were the ones I worked with in my early jobs. I, like all kids here in East Hampton, began working in the summer as soon as I got my working papers at the age of 14. I worked in local clothing shops, which was a great education.

The retail business is a great place to learn about people and to develop a good work ethic - especially if you are trained by good people. I was very lucky in that I worked with some real pros. My first job was at a small women's shop on Main Street with an elderly woman merchant but my real training came from the woman who was also her hired help. She was a bundle of energy and personality and she's been in the retail business for many years. She had been a top salesperson at Mark, Fore & Strike, which at that time was the clothing store in East Hampton, catering to the Maisdstone set, with expensive clothing that was out of reach for most of us regular folks. Vera had worked there for many years and was very popular with the customers, but had some sort of falling out with the new manager and simply walked down the street and offered her services to Mrs. Goldstein who was happy to take her up on the offer. She taught be all the basics of working hard, always being busy and finding things to do from straightening the stock to sweeping the floor. She showed me by example how to take care of customers and make their experience a positive one. She was amazing and I still think of her when I go shopping.

After that summer I found a job in a larger shop in Southampton Village and again was able to work with two well-seasoned retailers who continued to teach me the secrets of retailing. And when I go into any store and find a teen-aged salesperson chatting on the phone with a friend, or simply sitting behind the counter reading, I think about the lessons learned back then about taking care of the customer. No one seems to be teaching that lesson anymore.

Our early experiences working are invaluable in terms of the lessons we learn. And those early mentors really have no idea how they affect us forever.

Old times

I often read a Facebook page which is populated by people who grew up in my hometown. Some still live here but many haven't in years. As in every place, life takes some far away from where they started, and they think often about their hometown. What always makes me smile is when they make comments like this one which was there recently: "So many wonderful memories of a town lost to the times".

It's true - this place is not the same way it was in the 1950s. But what place is? I truly think that every small town in America is a different place than it was years ago - because change is inevitable. No longer are there small gas stations with Coke machines that pop out green bottles you need to open with the bottle opener on the front of the machine. Progress has affected every place.

We all hold our memories close to the heart and those of our town when we were growing up are special for every person because they remind us of that magical time in life when we had no responsibilities and everything was an adventure. Not only has our hometown changed, but we have as well. Its a different world and we are different people.

For me, who has continued to live in my small town throughout my life, the memories are not only strong in my mind, I relive them daily. When I walk up the hill to the village I recall times I walked that sidewalk with a friend, like when we were about ten, going to look for a birthday present for my mother. I still remember the conversation and the gift we found. And when I drive to the beach it brings to mind the many similar drives as a teenager when driving was a new and special privilege and meeting my friends at the beach was what I did every time I got the chance.

Living here is a gift. Because I've been able to grow up with this place, appreciating the past and embracing the future. And never overly regretting what is behind because I bring that with me.

Friday, August 9, 2013

People

I like people - I really do - but sometimes they exasperate me no end! It seems as though every time there is a problem in any organization I participate in, it isn't lack of funds, or lack of participation, or really any other issue. It's always people. One or more people who, because of their own agendas, are putting stress on the organization through gossip, or lack of support, or any one of a number of ways that they can undermine the good work that goes on when things run smoothly.

What I can't figure out is the "why"? Is it an ego issue? A lack of self-esteem? A need to make themselves more important, or to make them feel as though they carry a lot of weight? I can't figure it out. It seems to me as though if we are all in things for the right reasons, the good of the many, or the good of the organization, the needs of the larger organization should always outweigh the good of the individual, right? If not, then what is the point of coming together for a common goal?

And why is it that any one person is allowed to get  away with harmful behavior when everyone knows it's such? I really am thrown by the way I see people throw wrenches into things for their own purposes. And it make me understand why some people choose to simply stay home, not get involved, and keep away from toxic people. But if we all did that, wouldn't the toxic people win in the end?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Salesmen

A friend's blog about an old East Hampton story really nudged my memory the other day. I began to think about the many things that happened when we were kids that don't happen anymore. The first one I thought about was the salesmen who used to come to our door regularly. I may have written about them before - I've been doing this blog so long I can't remember, but anyway here goes.

The one everyone had was the Fuller Brush man. He came every few months and my mother bought things like toothbrushes and hairbrushes from him. She didn't always buy - she was on a pretty tight budget - but it was exciting to us when she did! I remember him standing at the kitchen counter showing her things in the catalog as well as real samples. New things were rare in our house so it was an event!

Of course there were the regular deliveries: milk, bread and other baked goods from the Dugan Man (I loved his big tray carrier filled with bread and cupcakes), and eggs and chickens from Mr. Iaconna. In the summer Mr. Brullo would bring us corn and other veggies from his garden. I can still hear him counting the corn in twos in Italian! He was a stout, burly man and he always looked as though he had come right out of the field with his burlap bag,

My favorite was the man who brought linens. He only came once a year I think - maybe twice - in an era when traveling salesmen had their regular routes. It was a real throwback to colonial times! He was an older man - in his 50s perhaps - with gray hair and aged hands. He would come in with a couple big cardboard boxes tied with twine. Once my mother invited him in we would sit in the living room as he untied the twine, pulled it off each box, and went through his beautiful linen products by turning the corners back to reveal the item beneath: dish towels, aprons, tablecloths, napkins - even towels sometimes. They were beautiful and we would exclaim as each one was revealed. I can imagine how my mother, who loved to entertain, coveted each one, but she rarely bought. Sometimes a special occasion tablecloth, like the one I still have with big pointsettias all around the  edges.

It was fun and exciting to have people coming to the house all the time selling their wares. Certainly a part of the past that will sadly never be seen again.....and much better than shopping on the internet!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Starting

In some ways, because the family was visiting for such a nice long time this year, it seems as though the summer is just now beginning for me. I am suddenly thinking about dinner parties on the deck with friends, and wondering how to fit all the things in that we haven't done yet. What is it about life that makes it so fleeting?

It's funny how when we're young we never think about how short life it. I suppose when its all ahead of you you never give it a though, unless of course you're faced with the untimely death of an acquaintance, when everyone looks at each other and the horror of a life cut short hits everyone like a ton of bricks. Could that happen to us? No - we won't think about it. Life is all to come!

But when you get to be on my side of the age spectrum there's no more fooling around - we know life is quickly coming to a close and we want to keep experiencing all that it has to offer. We want to fit in as much as we can! For the lucky ones, that means a lot of traveling and I envy those friends who have the means to do that. When I was young I used to think about the places I would go someday - the pyramids of Egypt, the moors of England, the hills of Scotland....but now I know my life won't include those things. For people like me like me it means treasuring every moment possibly with family and friends - keeping out special relationships close to the heart. My blessings are there.

So now, with little time left in the summer, its time to start spending it with friends. I need to go look at my calendar.....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Goodbyes

Sunday we said goodbye to my daughter and grandchildren from Pennsylvania. It was the end of a nice long visit and it was hours before a wave of sadness would just wash over me and tears would come. I did my best to hide them - looking away, walking into another room, whatever it took. And I tried to keep myself busy. But I hate the goodbyes.

Interestingly enough you would think it would be easier as the years go by, but I find the opposite is true. Every year it seems to be more painful, the separation. I'm not sure if it's because the longer we have them the more precious they are, or if its simply because the older we get the more precious time is to us. We see it as more and more of a limited commodity and we know the limits are fast approaching. How many more hugs will there be? How many more memories will we make?

And of course there is the unmistakable reality that the older the kids get, the less they'll be wanting to spend six to eight weeks of their summer here in East Hampton. There'll be sports activities, jobs, boyfriends, etc to pull them in the direction of home and no doubt they'll be finding more reasons not to be in East Hampton in the summer. It's life and we know it will happen.

We also know that some day, just like us, they'll wish they could return to those days with their grandparents. They'll wish they'd asked more questions, spent more one-on-one time, and just simply been in the same room making those memories that last a lifetime. We know this because its the thing we think about in the quiet times too. I miss my grandparents.

But goodbyes are a part of life. A sadness that never quite leaves until we're together again.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Not 50

"I'm not 50 anymore"

Those were the words that came out of my husband's mouth the other day. We were attempting to carry a very large air conditioner down the stairs at our house. His knee was locking up and mine are both bad enough that I had to lean against the wall to be able to do the steps without holding on to a banister, which of course I couldn't do without letting go of the heavy object which would have flattened my husband.

And so its true. We're not 50 anymore. Or 55 for that matter. And I'm here to tell you that there is a huge difference between 50 and 60 when it comes to the things we can do physically.

Now we're not in bad shape, the two of us. We are physically active and can take long walks, we do our own household chores, and we still go up and down the stairs multiple times every day. But, like it or not, age takes a toll and as much as we hate to think about it, we can't do the things we used to do. Which is hard when you've been the kind of people who have always done repairs, painted rooms, moved furniture, and done construction work by ourselves. After a lifetime of hard work it no longer is as easy as it used to be.

I never thought about this before because my parents never looked as though they were having a hard time doing things. But then again, my parents had other people do most of their hard physical labor, like house cleaning and lawn mowing. And if there were repairs to do, there were children to do those kinds of things.

I find it hard to ask my children to help. Their lives are busy and I don't want to bother them. But somewhere along the line, we won't be able to carry air conditioners down the stairs any longer. I'm really not looking forward to that...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Retirements

A good friend retired this week and it made me think about the comings and goings of the people in our lives. I was just talking about people moving away, but there is a much bigger picture that deals with who we see regularly. Because once someone leaves a job, or the club you belong to, or the board of an organization you are on, suddenly they are absent from your life even though they may be right here in the same town as you are. And the relationship can change.

It takes hard work to keep relationships up. That's obvious from the divorce rate, right? Unless you are willing to put in the hard work and effort necessary to keep a relationship strong, it will wither on the vine. The same is true for friends.

We have to make time for the people who matter in our lives. Otherwise its just too easy to let the busy things of our lives take charge and push out the things we need to have front and center. We need to always make time for the people who are special to us.

This is the lesson I keep trying to make my children understand, but I think they're too young to really get it. It's the reason my brothers and sisters and I make the effort all winter long to get together every Sunday to share a meal. Because we know that if we didn't do that, we would lose touch with each other, not knowing the things that are happening in each of our circles. It's so easy for that to happen. It's so easy to get caught up in the minutia of life. And its so important not to allow that to happen.

My friend retired and it will not be as easy as it was to see him on a regular basis. But I'll make sure I do...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sorrows

The only thing that really makes me sad at this point in my life is relationships lost. And they are lost in a number of ways. Dear friends and family members who die are the worst, of course, as the older I get the more frequently that happens. At some point I suppose if you live long enough you adjust to losing people like that, but so far I haven't.

The other way is distance. People we love move to other places and, although we may maintain a relationship, the distance hurts. I have people who were at one time very close friends but now live hours away and I rarely see them in person. Facebook is a wonderful way of keeping up with them and I love to smile about the births and marriages they celebrate, but I long for one-on-one time spent with them over lunch, or doing a project together. Nothing compares with time spent together. Nothing.

Today I will be saying goodbye to my daughter and her children who have been visiting with us this summer. The time with them has been glorious and I treasure every moment of it. But my heart grieves whenever they leave to go home. I miss the daily contact, the hugs, the shared moments. Especially with kids, who grow and change so quickly - its time lost and I regret that. So today will be a sad day in my heart. I will smile and try to enjoy our last moments together but inside, I'll be in tears.

Such is life in this mobile world. Thankfully, at least we all have cars....

Friday, August 2, 2013

Winding down

There is something about August that always makes me feel as though the summer is over, no matter how many weeks there are left of it. It totally feels as though we're "winding down" and beginning that mental exercise of gearing up for the next season. It may go back to all those years of schooling when we dreaded August because we knew it meant school was only a month away. I'm not sure why it is, but for me, summer ends in August.

Of course around the East End these are the worst possible weeks of the season. There is that frantic effort by out visitors to get every last moment of fun squeezed out of it and you can feel the tension in the air. People are rushing to get it all done. And even in my house I realize that every Saturday night between now and Labor Day is already spoken for. Yikes.

No matter in any case - I am an autumn lover. It is by far my favorite time of the year and I love everything about it: the weather, the activities, the colors - all wonderful. But its still August now and I will embrace it until it passes, because life is too short not to savor.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Final four

No, not the basketball tournament - the end of summer. Today is the first of August and thus the final four weeks of the season. And none too soon!

I love every time of the year but
summer flies by so quickly, and none more so than this year. At the end of this week we say goodbye to our daughter and her three children who have been in East Hampton these past eight weeks now. As I told her the other day, its almost harder to say goodbye after such a long visit because I've grown so accustomed to having her here where I can see her - and the kids - so often. Once she leaves it will be a month or more between visits and those trips are always too short. And it will be another year before we get to spend this kind of time with each other again. Having a child far away is a sadness that never leaves, regardless of the fact that I am fortunate enough to live within a day's drive when others have to get onto planes to see their loved ones. We grieve for them forever. It's a parent thing. They are meant to be with us, right? And as happy as we are to see them settled into a nice family and lovely community, its not here, with us, close by.

These final weeks of summer will fly by. I am already putting things on the calendar for September, which is a sure sign of the coming time.

I will enjoy each day as it comes. and savor the time we have together, both friends and family, forever...