Saturday, November 30, 2013

Today

This is the first time in many years that my wedding anniversary has fallen on the same day as it did when we married thirty-nine years ago. It was a Thanksgiving week and it was the Saturday of that week. Normally, Thanksgiving falls on the 22nd or 23rd - an entire week earlier than it did this year. So today really feels like the anniversary of the day we were married.

It was a mild November that year and although my mother had made me a white (fake) fur cape to wear outside, I didn't need it and it wasn't used. I wish I knew what happened to that cape - I never saw it again. It would be nice to have.

We were married at 7:00 at night and it was by candlelight. I loved that part of my wedding. The colors were very trendy at the time - everything was "earth tones" like "harvest gold" appliances and bright orange straw flowers. It was a "back to nature" time, following the hippie years of the late 1960s. Those who lived through it will remember it! My attendants wore velvet gowns of orange and brown and I would never use those colors now, but at the time they seemed right. Funny how our tastes change over the years and also how trends come and go!

All gowns, both bridal and attendants, were long with empire waists. Today bridesmaids wear short, strapless gowns but in earlier days strapless wasn't even allowed in most churches.

I would love to go back and do it all again. Almost everything would be different. Except probably the groom.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Work clothes

How times have changed when it comes to wardrobe.

As someone who was never allowed to wear pants to school - it was against the rules at school as well as at home - it is still shocking to see how people dress for all occasions these days. For instance, I see denim - jeans - at the fanciest places! It seems that man can wear them with jackets and ties and women with just about anything and suddenly they are dress clothes! Who knew?

My husband and I talk a lot about what to wear to events. One or the other of us will often say "What do you think the mode of dress will be?" But what I've learned is that just about anything goes anymore so it really doesn't matter what we wear. At church we see everything from ripped jeans and tee shirts to suits and ties. At cocktail parties we see everything from flip flops to high heels. At weddings I've even seen flip flops - really?

Which all brings me to the issue of work clothes. When I worked in the past in office jobs I always wore dress shoes and nice clothes. However, my foot problems have lowered my standards in terms of shoes and due to doctor's orders I now have to wear sneakers 90% of the time. For work, in fact for most daytime wear, I use black ones in the winter, which hopefully are not as eye-catching as white ones and in my mind at least, most people don't notice what I have on my extremities. I wear them with nice clothes and I wear them to work. I hope its not offensive to anyone.

Then again, I don't wear jeans. Perhaps denims is not considered casual anymore but to me, its not for the office.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgving!

I have so much to be thankful for I am embarrassed. I have a wonderful family, a house I'm grateful for, I live in a wonderful place, my husband survived yet another heart attack recently, and I'm a cancer survivor. Is my life perfect? Of course not. There are the worries about money, the desires for things not within the realm of possibility, the regrets over things done or not done, etc - everybody has them! But they are so far outweighed by all the wonderful things in my life and I would be embarrassed to talk about them. Because life is a series of ups and downs, negatives and positives, good and bad. For me, the good far outweighs the bad, and I wouldn't want things to be any different than they are. And that is what Thanksgiving is all about.

Wishing you and yours the same sense of gratitude for all that you have - may we always focus on that.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sarcasm

I grew up listening to sarcasm. My father was a master at it. Unfortunately children don't always understand it and its not the most healthy way to raise children. So it was a bit of a struggle when I was raising my own to move away from that type of humor. Sometimes I was able to rise above but others I failed. It's difficult to overcome years of indoctrination!

Anyway, I mention this because  was watching a game show on TV the other night and the host made a very sarcastic remark to one of the players of the game. It was cute, but I wasn't sure it was the right place for it.

I've also noticed a real danger on the Internet with sarcasm. It definitely does not translate to emails or other printed matter and can be downright dangerous in terms of interpersonal relationships. I try very hard not to let myself fall into that trap. And its so hard!

I often think about that wall hanging that hangs in my doctor's office - you know the one. It starts "Children learn what they live! If they live with love they learn to love" etc etc. And how true it is. If a child grows up with sarcasm they learn to be sarcastic.

As much as I tried to not make sarcasm part of my children's lives, every once in awhile I hear a remark come from one of them that makes me realize I didn't completely achieve my goals. Well, none of us are the parents we want to be. None of us are the people we want to be. But we try. Sometimes it's a lifelong effort.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cookies

My Christmas cookie baking has begun and its a new challenge this year. Because I have a new oven. Well two actually - its a double even.

Why, you may ask, would a brand new oven be a challenge? Simply because I've been dealing with a flawed one for so long I need to sharpen my skills on this new one. I no longer need to adjust baking times and rack positions to account for the issues of my old oven, like uneven temperatures. And suddenly my cookies are not looking the same.

I lost two complete cookie sheets over the weekend to being under baked. I totally misjudged the timing. I will be paying more attention now because I can't afford to lose more to my inattention! Time is of the essence and with a dozen types to get into my freezer I need to be well organized.

This year is a challenge in so many ways. Cookies may seem like a minor part of it, but here at my house, where I distribute about 25 tins of them to co-workers, friends, and family members, its not minor at all. My cookies are an integral part of Christmas.

I do love my new oven. But I also need to learn how to use it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Late!

I'm late with my blog today! It's been one of those weekends!

I got so much done this past week. It's been busy and I've been running around a lot, but so go the holidays, right? Everyone is in the same boat. I shopped, I wrapped gifts, I baked Christmas cookies, I planned my menu for Thursday and made lists - it's so typically the holidays and this year is especially challenging because of the say the dates have fallen. We'll get there with good planning and organization!

For me its all about lists. Lists for each day, for each week, for each month - I live with lists! They are life savers really. Sometimes they're a pain in my neck because they rule the day, but they also get me through some crazy times. So it will be over the next few weeks. Within that time I have volunteer jobs to do, two regular jobs to tend to, chopping to complete, wrapping to finish, and more of the baking to do. These are the busy days, but they are also the ones I love. Because they make me know I'm alive and I appreciate every crazy moment of each and every one of them.

For me, there's nothing better than going to bed exhausted every night and sleeping hard throughout. I look forward to that.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gifts

I love shopping for Christmas gifts, I really do. And its a good thing because I sat down and figured out the other day that I buys between fifty and seventy gifts every year. It has to do with a large family and liking to have many things to open on Christmas morning. After all, how much fun would it be for the little ones if there was only one gift under the tree for them here?

I still have the excitement of Christmas day in my heart. I go to bed Christmas Eve with such anticipation and I wake up Christmas morning so looking forward to the day that I can barely stand it. Christmas has always been one of my favorite days of the year because I enjoy giving gifts as much as I do getting them. And I do love getting them! Nothing much has changed in the years since I was little and I can't wait to see people open the gifts I've picked out. When I know I've found something they'll be excited about I am beside myself. When its a year that I feel disappointed in my inability to find something special I am sad. So its a big deal to me to shop carefully.

But gifts can be difficult. I want to get something unique to each person, but when you shop for as many as I do now that's nearly impossible. I see something good and I get one for each of the men, or each of the women. I try hard to find things they'll like, but its not as much fun as shopping for each one individually. I just can't do that anymore.

Well most of the gifts are bought but I do have a few more to get. I have some wrapped but not all. I have more work to do before I can sit back and relax and just enjoy the holiday.

Gifts. One of the great things in life.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

And more

And today is yet another anniversary for me. Because forty years ago my husband and I became engaged.

I remember that day as well as I remember yesterday's anniversary. It was Thanksgiving Day and he came to my house first, as we had planned, with the ring. I placed it on mu finger and waited for someone to notice. It was a long wait.

So we learned that lesson and when we went to his parent's home in the afternoon we didn't wait. We walked in and his mother was in the kitchen busy with the dinner preparations and I stuck my hand in front of her face. She was - or at least she seemed to be - very excited. So Thanksgiving that year became a real celebration for us. And every Thanksgiving since then I remember that day and the people who were part of it. My grandmothers were both still alive in 1973.

Now, all these years later, many of the players on the stage that day are gone. All our parents have died of course, and his family no longer gets together for holidays. My family is spread thin this year and although usually at least one of my siblings shares a meal with us, this year none will. So it will be only the two of us who will have any memories of that Thanksgiving forty years ago.

And so it goes....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kennedy

So much has been written this week about the fact that its the 50th anniversary of the day that JFK was assassinated.  Of course, it was a moment no one my age or older will ever forget. I'm not sure anyone too much younger than I will remember much. But I do.

I was eleven and in the 6th grade. I was in the music room with 6 or 7 others from the 5th and 6th grades - all kids that I would spend my entire school career with more than I could have imagined back then, because we were the "musical" kids. We had been chosen to form a special small group of singers - I remember Dicki, Lulu, Phil...fellow singers I would sing many times with in the next six years. I don't remember all of them - but some are as clear as day to me.

Anyway, we were meeting with our music teacher, Mrs. Havens to talk about rehearsal times so it was a small group gathered around her desk that day. Suddenly the door opened and we all turned to see our principal, John Marshall, in the doorway with a somber look on his face. He said that the president had been shot. Just as quickly he disappeared and we turned our attention back to Mrs. Havens, who took off her ever-present silver glasses, put her face in her hands, and wept. It was not normal to see adults cry. To see a teacher openly weeping was traumatic to say the least.

Once she composed herself she sent us back to our classes where things were similarly somber. Mrs. Webb was composed but quiet and distracted, going through the rest of her day with dignity but not much enthusiasm. The rest of our week was well documented and when I see the films I remember it all - the funeral procession, the cemetery, the children. They were images that are burned into my mind as well as into film.

It's hard to imagine that it was so long ago now. In so many ways it seems like only yesterday.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thoughts

I've been very nostalgic this week, which I supposed has something to do with my mother's birthday last Sunday, but whatever the reason its been a week of memories. In fact last Saturday we went to a wedding and I found myself thinking about my own wedding. Not only of that day, but of the feelings of excitement, the anticipation of a life ahead of us, being surrounded buy family and friends, and yet also thinking about the things I would have or should have done differently. Should I do it again, I think it would all be completely different. Because life has a way of making us see that things are not as simple as we thought they would be when we were young and foolish!

Anyway, all this week I find myself drifting off into thoughts of past days in my life. I've been thinking about holidays past and years when I was young as well as those when my children were. I've been thinking about the people who have come through my life, both family and friends, and the impact they've had on me. 

I find that its a bit melancholy to think too much about the past, Because as much as we enjoyed parts of it, there are other places we wish we could do over. So feelings are mixed and I find a combination of disappointment and elation follow my forays into the past. It's an interesting thing to revisit our past, But its also dangerous. Because we are meant to live in the present and not dwell on things that used to be. And the future is all bright and promising. It's hard to think that one's past is done when you realize your life is nearing its end. Because there isn't anything we can do about that now. But the future, however much of it we have, is still an open book. Hopefully.

I need to get out of the past. Clearly its not a good place to dwell!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Vapors

A couple things recently have reminded me of the frailty and uncertainty of life. Not that I need much reminding since I'm still reeling from my own cancer diagnosis and treatment and constant visits to the doctor keep me pretty well reminded all the time. But here's my most recent reminders:

My daughter's father-in-law had a melanoma taken off a year ago. They thought they had gotten all of it. This summer they discovered it had metastasized. He turned seventy in August. He was still working full time in his dental office in September. Now, with tumors growing so quickly in his spine they are causing fractures, he is under the care of hospice and will probably not make it to Thanksgiving. A true tragedy.

Last weekend my sister left her house at noon and was still gone at 7pm when her daughter came in to tell her the house was on fire. Apparently the fire they had in their fireplace the night before had reignited. Thanks for their neighbors who saw it and not only called it in but began to hose the side of the house down with their garden hose, the house was saved. Which begs the question: What if it had re-ignited in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep and no one saw it? The outcome could have been quite different.

Sometimes we just shake our heads at how fragile life is and how quickly it can be gone. And yet the Bible tells us we are like a "vapor", here today and gone tomorrow. We need to be reminded more often to treasure every moment of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gloves

I've been wearing gloves to drive lately. As soon as the temperature drops to a certain point I need to cover my hands to hold the steering wheel, even when I don't need a heavy winter coat on. Which brings me to my collection of gloves.

I like gloves and I use different weights because of the varying degrees of cold here from fall into winter and then the reverse. I have unlined leather gloves for driving now, and lined ones for when it gets a little colder out. Which brings me to the subject of today's blog. My mother's gloves.

When my mother died I remember seeing her gloves on the counter where she kept her purse and crying over the memory of seeing her pick those gloves up time after time, putting them on, grabbing her purse and heading out the door. Since I lived right next door I often walked in to say hello just before she was leaving for whatever reason (she was a busy lady!) and so often I watched her put those gloves on. They are short, black leather with a knit lining - very warm and perfect for driving. Anyway, those gloves struck such a nerve with me and so brought her memory to mind, that, after checking with my siblings to make sure no one else wanted them, I took them home. And I've been wearing them every winter since. That was in 2007. I've mended the tips of one finger on one glove a few times now - it seems to open up with regularity and is hard to repair since its leather and in such an awkward spot. So now I rotate their use with another pair I bought for myself because I don't want them to be unusable anymore. I treasure those gloves!

So the other day when it was cold, I grabbed the pair at the top of the pile, put them on for my drive to work, and thought about Mom all the way there. I was looking at her gloves on my steering wheel and wondering what her advice would be on all the things that were clogging my brain with worry. It was a good trip.

Monday, November 18, 2013

EMS

I think it was in 1975 that the East Hampton Village Ambulance was established. Before that there was a group of men who drove an old cadillac ambulance to the hospital, a "load and go" opersation, and they were paid $5 for each trip they made.

From what I've been told, a group was formed independent of the fire department because that well established organization did not want to admit women, and without the women there wouldn't be enough volunteers to handle the daylight hours. So with the backing of the incorporated village they became their own group of volunteers.

About the same time, Emergency Medical Technicians were being trained to take care of emergency calls and that was the beginning of the system that we've had in place since that time. I joined in 1990, taking an EMT class, and answering over 3000 calls over the next twenty plus years. But things are changing in EMS and as with all change, it's hard to swallow. Necessary, and important, but still not easy.

In 1990 when I joined we answered about 600 calls a year with the 30-something volunteers we had. Now, all these years later, we are answering more than twice as many calls with basically the same number of volunteers. A combination of the modern sense if entitlement that everyone seems to have today, and the burgeoning population out here in the summer has made it impossible to operate with only volunteers anymore. For the first time in our history, we are going to be hiring people to answer ambulance calls. And it makes me sad.

Oh the volunteers will still be needed - only one paid person will be on duty at a time and we still need EMTs and drivers to get ambulances from here to Southampton Hospital. But we all know that this signals a real change in the culture that will never be the same. And that is always hard to take. Because change is never easy.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Legacy

I am amazed that my mother, who was born this date in 1925, continues to influence me every day of my life. And I wonder if this is the influence of a mother's love, or more a result of an amazing woman's life.

Mom died almost seven years ago now and I still miss her every day. And yet I also feel her influence in every area of my life. I hear her voice when I'm shopping ("Do you really need that blouse?") and I see her look of contentment when I do something I know would please her ("Your song was beautiful this morning!") I imagine her looking over my shoulder when I talk to my grandchildren and I experience her presence when I sit in church and sing the old familiar hymns. She has never left me.

Would it be the same if I hadn't lived next door to her for most of my adult life, or if she hadn't lived until I was well into my 50s? Maybe not. But then again, I'll never know for sure. And I wonder if everyone feels the same way about their own mothers, whatever the circumstances. Are they just meant to be our lifelong teachers - the very first influences on us and probably the very last as well?

I'll never know the answer, of course. But today, on what would have been her 88th birthday, I think about these things.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Standing down

We are standing down now. The summer furniture has been put away, covered with tarps, tied down and readied for the snow. The summer ornamental grasses have been cut down and the storms put back on the french doors. We are settling in for the winter.

There are still a few things to accomplish around the house but for the most part the season has changed and it will be some time before we think "summer" again. I'm ready. I'm finishing up my Christmas shopping, I've been wrapping gifts, and will begin the cookie baking within the next week. I love the holidays and I'm ready for their arrival. It's coming quickly now.

Soon the lights will adorn everything from houses to trees to fences and lightpoles, and winter will be brightened by the glow. It's a little bit of magic to bless the darkest days of the year. And they help us get through those long December nights.

My house is warm and welcoming and I'm happy to be inside enjoying it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Brrr

I like the cold air. No surprise there! But this week caught me a little by surprise. I think here in the East End the weather changes rather abruptly from season to season and it always shocks me a little. I'm not upset by it, but I am taken aback by it!

Last June we had days in the 90s after a nice string of lovely, temperate days in the low 70s. Now we have the opposite as we head toward winter - we've been enjoying some really beautiful, warm days this season and suddenly overnight on Monday the temperature dropped like crazy and I got up to find my car icy and I had to dig out the nice warm lined gloves to drive with. Brrr!

I think we're not quite into the lower digits for keeps yet and imagine we'll be up to the 50s in a few days. but for these couple days its certainly been a shock to the system. Time to get out the hot chocolate mix.....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tweets

I have never really understood or gotten into the whole "twitter" thing. As far as I'm concerned, "tweets" are what birds do and not humans. And I find it fascinating that so many people want to know what other people are doing at any moment in time.

To me, we were much better off not knowing what celebrities were doing when they weren't in front of the camera. I really don't care what Justin Beiber does when he's not on stage or what Brad Pit does when he's with his family. I appreciate them for their talent but their private lives hold no interest for me.

And certainly no one would ever want to know what I am doing at any moment, other than someone in my family who might be looking for a babysitter or need me to stop at the grocery store on my way home. And I have no desire to put my agenda out there for the world to see anyway. So really the idea of Twitter escapes me completely. Who cares?

I also think it gives people one more reason to hold their cell phones in front of their faces and not interact with one another. Personally, I'd much rather pass the time of day with the clerk in the deli than be checking my phone to see what announcement just came from Oprah Winfrey. I guess I'll just never get the whole thing. Must be an age thing. And at this point in my life I accept that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Veterans

Facebook can be great fun when it comes to things like Veteran's Day. Seeing people post photos of the veterans in their lives, their fathers or mothers or grandfathers or even themselves - well its interesting and I love seeing it. So many are of (mostly) men in the prime of their lives, never more handsome or fit than at that time, and full of promise. I know when I look at photos of my father in his army uniform during WWII my mind often wanders to the "what-ifs". You know, like "what if he had never been in the service and seen the horrors that he saw - how would that have changed the person he was?" There are so many things to think about when looking back at photos of people at such a vulnerable, young age, being exposed to the kinds of things we wish our children would never have to see or do.

War is such a horrible part of humanity. It seems so senseless that we cannot find ways to live in harmony with each other. Of course I know, having studied Christianity my entire life, the whys of it all, but still - it seems crazy. Why do we have to send our youngest, brightest, and best men and women off to war, to death really, rather than find ways to live together peacefully. Its a pipe dream and I know that because humans are flawed and this is the result. But still, those faces in those photos...

Every year on Veteran's Day I think about my father and the things he saw at the tender age of 18 and think "no wonder he was who he was" and I forgive him all over again for his shortcomings as a dad. Another one of those young innocent photos now. Looking out at a world of woe.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holidays

Having a holiday on Monday makes the week seem odd. I"m always "off" the rest of the week-thinking its the wrong day and never quite being sure where I am in the week.

Holidays like Veteran's Day are not really holidays for me. They always seem to be days when we do chores around the house, or major projects needing to be done. This past weekend we started sorting and cleaning in or bedroom - throwing out come things and taking bags of clothes to the recycling bin. I repacked drawers and rehung slacks, making the closet neater and the cabinets leaner. We began on Saturday and Monday was the day we finished the job. It feels good to have it done.'

We have one more major project to do at our house. We need to strip out our home office and renovate it. It was a sun porch when we bought the house and spent many years as a toy room, and when the kids were older we threw some cheap Sears cabinets in there and made it an office. But its never been really done well and tends to be a bit of a dumping ground. So the time has come to do it the right way, providing enough file cabinets and storage cupboards to make for a neat space that we can actually leave the door open into without fear of embarrassment.

We need to box everything up, strip the room, and then put it together. What a big project. We need another holiday.....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans

I'm grateful that our veterans are revered now as they should be. Growing up in the age of the Viet Nam war I well remember how veterans returning from their service were looked down upon, called names in airports and even spit upon in the streets if they were in uniform. Most who came home from their tours of duty kept that information to themselves and rarely made a big deal about where they had been. It was a sad time in our history and I'm ashamed to have been part of a generation that did such a poor job of recognizing the sacrifices others made on our behalf.

Now, our children hold special programs in schools to honor the veterans in their communities. Signs are posted on roadways welcoming them back. And all of them are given the thanks they are due. It's a very good thing.

I had veterans in my family history - from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI and WWII that I know of - there were probably more going back further in my ancestry - maybe some day I'll know who they were. And I'm grateful for each of them. My Grandfather's nephew was a pilot shot down in the 1940s. My mother never forgot her cousin and I remember his sacrifice too.

We can never thank them enough - any of them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Short season

This holiday season is going to seem especially short this year because Thanksgiving is as late as it ever will be, and there are only three weekends in December before Christmas. So - here it comes - with a vengeance.

For the first time in ten years I'm working in a church office again and I know what that means. No time of the year is as busy as the one coming up. Adding that stress to the normal holiday stress has me a bit anxious right now. I need to get myself mentally prepared as well as start the lists: cookie baking, gift buying and wrapping, party planning - all things I need to be ready for. With Thanksgiving in there too I think I may be biting off more than the usual.

Well it may be a short season but its always a wonderful one and I'm going to try my best to savor every bit of it. It's too easy to let stress get in the way of our joy in this, the season of joy. I can't let that happen.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mild

It's continued to be a nice mild weather week here on the East End and I must say I enjoy grabbing a sweater in the morning and then being able to take it off later in the day. Perfection - that's what I call it. I even liked the morning when I needed to wear unlined leather gloves to drive because it was so chilly. It invigorates me! I'll take it over the dog days of summer anytime.

Well - the long dark days of winter are fast approaching and we'll be here before you know it. But they usher in the glorious spring days so as each season follows the other I'm happy to go along for the ride.

There are still leaves on most of the trees although some are bare now and clearly a good strong wind will strip what's left so I'm crossing my fingers we get a few more days.

There are spiritual lessons to be learned in the autumn. How beautiful are the trees in this period of death! And how nice to know that this death is for a season only and new life is right around the corner. Surely we can find something to lift our spirits in that lesson.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Voting

So I've probably already blogged about this but honestly, after voting the other day I feel as though our government is made up of morons.

We used to have easy voting booths, with privacy curtains and simple levers to pull. The lighting was good and the ballot was easy to read. Now - its a disaster.

First I am handed a ballot and told to go to a "booth". When I begin to go to the one closest to me, which happens to be empty, I am stopped. "You can't go that way, you must go to the center and enter there". It was right next to me, but I had to walk across the front of six machines, enter the open space before the next six machines, and then walk behind the five people who are standing in their booths, clearly able to see (if I should so desire) whomever it is they are voting for. I do as I am instructed. There in my booth is a marking pen on a short chain. So short it will not reach the far side of the huge ballot so I have to slide the ballot over and tilt it toward the pen, hanging off the edge of the writing area. Then I have to fill in the bubbles just like an old SAT test and under threat of my ballot not being counted if I don't fill them in properly. So much pressure!

I walk back to the computer to feed my ballot into the machine and think about how easily all things are hacked these days... and I wonder how long it will be before an election will be hijacked by someone somewhere.

Are we really paying our representatives to come up with this nonsense?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cleanliness

I wonder what exactly constitutes cleanliness. I mean how clean does my house have to be to fit the description of "clean"? Does it need to be spotless? Or does it simply need to be healthy?

I used to stress a lot more about how clean my house was. I thought it needed to always be spotless to be considered "clean" and it never was, so I always felt it didn't measure up and I was a failure as a wife and mother. Not that I think, in this age of equality, it should all be on me, but the fact of the matter is society still judges women by the condition of their house. So I always felt somehow lacking.

However, when I joined the ambulance association and started getting into other people's homes on a regular basis, I began to adjust my thinking. I saw houses that were filthy and I saw houses that were barely habitable. I saw houses that were so full of "stuff" that they couldn't possibly be healthy because there were surfaces that could not have been reached in years. So - it dawned on me that it really wasn't necessary to have a spotlessly clean house in order to have a healthy one. Mine is rarely spotless. I do what needs to be done to keep it neat and clean. There are places in my house that could be classified as pretty messy. But all in all, cleanliness is no longer my goal. Comfort is. And my house is comfortable.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dylan

I can't quite figure out whether I like the show "Parenthood" because of the show itself or because of the theme music. Because every time I hear Bob Dylan break into "Forever Young" at the top of the show it makes me smile. I miss Dylan.

Music in the 1960s was so important. I mean, it had purpose and it was full of blatant as well as hidden messages. It was about the war and it was about the changes in our society. It was about all the crazy things that were going on at that time in our history. And Dylan was in the forefront of it all.

So when I hear Dylan's voice it all comes back to me - the folk music and the protest music, the new sounds of the British invasion. All the excitement of the music scene in the late 1960s fills my head and I realize i miss that sense of purpose and importance.

So I like the television show "Parenthood". And I love the theme music.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sag Harbor

I've really enjoyed this job in Sag Harbor if for no other reason than I'm spending more time on the little back roads and enjoying the community's quaintness and charm almost like a visitor, even after all these years.

I think when we live somewhere we tend to drive through neighborhoods without looking around too much. In the case of Sag Harbor its usually a pass-through on my way to Southampton, unless I'm shopping along Main Street or going to a relative's house. So now I'm spending more time winding along back streets and taking the time to check out the little houses and peek around the fences at the back yards. The streets there are so narrow that its easy not to pay attention to the scenery - there's plenty to keep us busy just maneuvering around the parked cars and avoiding oncoming traffic. But being here early in the morning allows me the freedom to look more closely and appreciate the treasures between the hedges.

It's easy to imagine this place as a bustling waterfront community, with lots of foot traffic and hundreds of masts in the harbor. Without cars - especially huge SUVs and trucks - these back roads would be a delight to traverse. On foot they'd be even better. At my age I appreciate the small yards and simpler maintenance!

I could easily live in Sag Harbor. It's character is changing a bit, along with all the communities out here on the East End, as big-name businesses compete for space among the local merchants. But they'll never be able to change these little winding streets and neighborhoods. At least I hope they won't.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wind

I come to work very early in the morning - often by 7 - 7:30, when it's still dark. A few days ago it was also windy and had the distinct feel of a storm, despite the fact that the rain had not yet started.

As I sat in my office with nothing but darkness outside the windows facing me, and I listened to the wind begin its cycle of winding up to a good "whoosh"ing sound and then dying away just as quickly, I thought about how creepy it is. I remember as a child being told that God is like the wind - we can't see him but we see the results of His presence and his work in progress. I suppose that should have been comforting, but to me the wind is anything but. It comes and grabs you with ferocity and then leaves behind a mess in its wake.

I'm glad the mornings are a bit brighter now that we've made the adjustment to the clocks. At the very least the wind will seem a little less like an ambush when I can see it coming and going in the daylight.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ovens

I have a brand new double wall oven and it amuses me how such simple things can bring us such pleasure. Notice I didn't say "inexpensive" things, because I am shocked at how much one must pay for an oven these days. But it is a simple thing, and something we all take for granted in our homes. After all, it wasn't that long ago that people were cooking over open fires. But we pretty much all have ovens in our homes today, at least in this country.

So, the reason I'm so in love with this new oven is that I really did with a pretty sub-par unit for years. Although I had a nice double wall oven in the kitchen for a long time when my kids were young, in recent years I only had one that worked at all, and that one was less than efficient. So now, I find myself with two ovens that I can play with and I want to bake all the time. Because the cookies are coming out all the same color! Not some dark and some light - the heat is even and wonderful! And a tray of ziti likewise is nice and hot all the way through! Wow - how exciting! I guess now I'm getting a good idea of how badly the old one was working.

Sometimes it really is the little things that give us the greatest pleasures. There is nothing like a nice, new, clean, efficient oven. How lucky am I?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Signs

One of our recent controversies in the village is some signs that the Long Island Railroad erected this week. One is only a few dozen feet from my house. They are large yellow warning signs advising drivers of the low bridge they are approaching.

Now the signs themselves are ugly, but the real problem is that they are solar powered and outlined with white LED lights that flash all night long. They looks like something you'd find in downtown Brooklyn. Some of the words that came to my mind when I saw them were ugly, horrendous, hideous, and horrible. And those are the printable ones.

Not only are they not in keeping with our village, they are in the middle of the Hook Historic District.

So here's the thing: the LIRR erected these signs without any notice - they suddenly appeared. And ironically, in all the years I've lived here I can only remember one incident when the bridge was hit after dark and that was by a drunk in a car, not a truck too high for the overpass. Every single time its struck, it's during the daylight hours. So where exactly is the logic in this visual blight?

It leaves me to wonder if this is an example of people making jobs for themselves, or needing to spend down their budgets, or simply an entity with too much power and not enough common sense. Perhaps its all of the above. But I can safely say I'm not sure the Long Island Railroad is going to know what hit it once the wrath of East Hampton Village is aroused.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Topaz

November always makes me think of topaz. That's a precious gem that used to be the birth stone for November but because its so expensive they actually use something else now. But to me it will always be topaz. Because it was my mother's birth stone and I thought it was so exotic and wanted it for my own.

After all, my birthstone was aquamarine, which is a pale blue. Now I like it, but when I was younger it was far too tame for me. And topaz, which is a bright, brilliant yellow/gold, was the thing of queens and princesses in my mind. Why could I not have been born in November?

Of course as a young person I didn't like anything that was mine. I didn't like my name, or my body, or my face, or my birthstone. Surely I could have done better in all areas of my life had only I been born somewhere else, to somebody else. I think I've come to terms with all those things, and I suppose most teens feel the same way.

But in November - I still think about topaz.