Friday, January 31, 2014

Moving on

January is over now and February is here tomorrow. How quickly we move along from Christmas through the winter! In no time at all it will be Easter and we'll be smiling at the crocuses and daffodils poking their heads up through the cold ground.

Life is so fragile and aren't the most precious things that way? We love our crystal and glass, ornaments on the tree or vessels for our flowers. We handle them with care and we pack them carefully away for safekeeping. Because precious things need to be loved and cared for.

Sometimes we take the most precious of all things for granted though - life itself. It needs to be handled with the same care we give to our favorite piece of furniture or the Christmas star that belonged to our grandmother. It needs to be given the value it deserves and we need to take proper care of it. This is a lesson I've learned well. And now, as winter begins to fade and it looks like spring is only a few weeks away, I am making sure I enjoy every day of it. Its a lesson I learned too late in life, but one I won't ever forget.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow day

Yesterday we had a few inches of snow on the ground when we got up. It looked beautiful outside and I took my time getting ready to head outside to clean off the car. Too long I guess.

As an ambulance volunteer I used to get right out and make sure I was ready to answer a call. Since I live fairly close to the firehouse its much easier for me to get there than others when the snow is an issue. But I was lazy yesterday and was going to get some breakfast before I headed out in the weather to uncover the car. Suddenly there it was - an ambulance call.

I knew by the time I cleaned off my car it would be too long but I heard another volunteer call in and say he was responding and I knew he would be driving right by my house. So I used my radio to see if he had passed yet and when he hadn't I had him pick me up. I was so happy I did.

Driving home from the hospital after dropping off our patient we got to enjoy the beauty of the early morning snowfall. Every branch and twig was standing out in relief, outlined by a layer of white. As we drove through Bridgehampton I glanced across an open field and on the other side was a long line of evergreens that were stunning in their winter cover-ups. It was not to last long and when I went out later in the day, most of the trees had lost that white blanket. It's something that only lasts a few hours once the snow stops. And its incredibly beautiful.

Sometimes gong out in bad weather is so worth the trip. But only if we take the time to make it so.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Life

Holding a newborn baby in your arms is a life-affirming moment. Last week our tenth grandchild was born and within an hour of his birth we saw him. Within a few hours we were able to hold him. After all these years, having four babies of my own and now ten grand babies, I would think the miracle of it all would be old hat, but it isn't. I am just as in awe of it all now as I was when I had my very first baby nearly forty years ago now.

Life is such an amazing thing. I don't use works like "awe" very often, but in this case it fits perfectly. A brand new life, full of promise, of mystery, of all the things that lay ahead, right there in front of me. One minute this life was not here, the next it was. Amazing! And what does lie ahead for this child of promise? Will he be funny? Will he be handsome? What does his future hold? Here's what I wish for him:

1. A good heart that is tender and warm
2. A life that honors God
3. A appreciation for the world and its gifts
4. Love that surrounds him
5. A sense of place
6. The knowledge that he is special - a good sense of self

It's easy to be come distracted by the other things we want for our children - like financial success and stature, but really those are not the most important things in life. At my age I know better. And I pray for him and all my grandchildren that they will be happy and content. Because that's all that really matters.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Town Pond

We've had plenty of sub-freezing temperatures in the past couple weeks but I have yet to see anyone skating on Town Pond. I haven't quite been able to figure out why that is, but I suspect it has to do either with the fact that we have an indoor skating rink in town now, or perhaps the ice just wasn't smooth enough with the few snow showers we've also had. I don't know why it is but its sad. I always love seeing kids skating on the pond. Not being much of a skater myself its not something I want to do, but its so fun to watch on a cold winter day.

I realize as well that no one ever plays ball on the field across from my house anymore. When I was growing up there were often baseball or football games going on there, just neighborhood pick-up games - nothing organized or fancy because its not really a sports field. We used to make one tree first base, throw a jacket down for second, etc. There were vague foul lines and for football you had to imagine what might be "out of bounds". But I haven't seen anyone play anything over there for many years, with the exception of my husband and I taking our own kids over there to hit baseballs or golf balls on a nice spring day.

Perhaps it has more to do with so many organized things for kids to do now - they don't just take off for the day and find their own fun the way we used to. Skating on the pond or touch football on an open field seem to be vestiges of a bygone era. And I think we're all sadder for it.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Friends

What would life be like without friends?

So many times in my life I've seen the power of the helping hand reached out by a friend. It seems that in our darkest moments, its the friends who make things tolerable. It's the knowledge that someone cares, that someone wants to help, that someone will go out of their way for you - that's what keeps us going when times are tough.

My life is good. I don't have many difficult times. I have my perspective in order and I know better than to complain about insignificant things, like money and looks. But even the most blessed life has moments of pain and difficulty. And whenever those come, when the skies look dark and the world menacing, I am always, always amazed at the kindnesses of others. And very, very blessed to have amazing friends.

What a wonderful world.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Deep freeze

We have certainly been in the deep freeze lately around here - brrrr!

I watch the news every morning to see how cold it is before I decide how to dress for the day. I'm not a fan of heavy coats and don't wear them if I can avoid it. I prefer wool sweaters when the temperatures hover in the 40s and 50s. But once it drops below freezing, I need a coat and scarf, and maybe a hat. I've been wearing my hat all week which is pretty unusual for me. But with the temperatures in the single digits, and even worse, the wind, I've kept pretty well covered up.

I like to sleep with my window opened all winter. This week the window has been cracked but not open wide. I love the fresh air and my heavy down comforter keeps me toasty enough, with the exception of my nose sometimes. But its those necessary trips to the bathroom that are a typical part of the night for people my age that are most difficult. I rush as quickly as I can, gladly slipping back into the warmth of that comforter as soon as I can. This week I've really been rushing.

Well hopefully this cold snap will not last too much longer. I'm counting on that.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Snowy days

The snow this week was so pretty. Light and fluffy, easily brushed off cars and walkways, it was the best possible kind for cleaning up.

When the kids were younger - and I was too - we wished for heavy wet snow so we could go outside and make snow creatures. The snow has to be of a certain consistency for that job, and the kind we got this week would not do it. This snow is the kind that blows around at the slightest breeze and doesn't stick to anything, especially itself. So making snowballs and rolling them into boulder sized shapes for snowmen and women just won't happen. And now that I don't have little ones at home I'm happy to have this kind of precipitation which is easy to get out of the way.

I have another problem with snow and that is that I can't find boots to fit me. My feet are very wide and its hard to find regular shoes that fit, no less nice warm boots. I've spent way too much money over the years trying to get boots that I can wear out in the snow, and so far have come up short. So I have to wear a pair of water-proof short boots which are not comfortable after awhile but at least they work for the first day of any storm when I have to wade through the snow to get to my car. I envy people when I see them climbing through drifts with high, warm boots lined with fur. What a luxury!

The snow is beautiful and I love to see it falling. I also love to see it disappearing in a couple of days....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Perspective

It's amazing how life turns on a dime. I've see it so often in my work with the ambulance over the years, and of course in my own life: one day a mammogram, the next day cancer! We just don't know from one day to the next what surprises await us.

This week I was able to see the best and worst of life. I found myself attacked on the internet by someone who had misinformation and had no problem passing it along to the world as truth - about me. For someone like me who works hard to live a life of integrity, that bites hard.

But then, in the midst of the storm, my son and his wife gave birth to a baby boy. Suddenly all perspective was restored. Suddenly nothing else mattered. Suddenly no one could hurt me. Because a new life had come into the world and my baby had just had his own baby. Wow - life is amazing!

Thankfully our blessings come around at just the right moments. A least this one did.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

People

People are funny beings, aren't they?

I've recently been reminded yet again why nobody wants to run for public office, whether a humble local one like mine or a high profile important one. Because as soon as they do get into office they become the object of character assassination and who needs that?

Interestingly enough its probably the same people who complain that no one decent wants to run for office who are the first in line to toss around accusations and innuendo. 

I remember years ago when I ran for chief of our local ambulance association, a former chief from another department issued me this warning: "They all love you until you're in office - as soon as you have to make a decision they may not agree with they hate you". He was right.  People seem to love to cut each other down. It's not the way I was raised and I don't understand it. But it has taught me this much: I have no desire to ever run for higher office, like on the town level. Our little village is stressful enough! LOL And I think any abuse is more than enough. Because in public office you can't win - you can never make everybody happy. Even when you try. And I simply don't have the stomach for it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Doldrums

I heard someone recently say that we were in the "doldrums" of winter. Really? I think of the doldrums of a sad, depressing time. And I don't think this is it!

I enjoy January. I enjoy having the time to entertain, during the long cold nights when being with friends is warm and inviting. I enjoy having some time to myself, when there is less rush and more down time. I like being able to knit and read and write on my computer without feeling guilty about it.

So what's bad or depressing about January? Perhaps this person just doesn't have enough of what I call the "joy of life" - the excitement that getting up in the morning and feeling good brings to me. And perhaps that only comes with the type of experience I had, where life and death hang in the balance and every day becomes a blessing - a wonderful gift. I have no time for the doldrums. I'm too busy enjoying my life.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Proofing

I need to do more proofreading of my blogs. Every few days I go and and read previous ones and I've been finding so many typing errors I'm embarrassed.

I'd like to blame it completely on my new laptop, and that is part of the problem. But that's not the only issue. The keys on this laptop are very sensitive and I find when I write emails I'm constantly making mistakes. I type too fast, the keys don't respond well, and I need to spend more time proofing everything I write, which is another of my problems. I'm always in a hurry.

Well - if I were a professional I'd have a proofreader. Maybe that's what I need - someone who will go through my writing and make corrections. Since my husband posts the photos that go with my blogs I assume he does that - after all if I saw a typo I would correct it for him! LOL But no, he either doesn't bother or doesn't notice. I can't imagine the latter but the former makes sense to me. Well - its not his issue anyway so its not fair of me to put that on him.

I promise to try harder from now on. And I do apologize for all the mistakes!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Holidays

I used to live for these holidays. Back in the early days it meant a day off of school (although this particular holiday didn't exist then!) and there were always things to do when there was no school! When I was raising my own children it meant we could do something fun together and I liked having them at home. No schedule, just fun. But now - holidays like any other day. I miss having real holidays!

Back when my husband worked in retail we enjoyed those long weekends. Now, however, he works for himself, and he usually goes into work on his Mondays off. He claims to get lots of things done when he's in his office alone. I haven't quite figured out whether that's true or whether he's just trying to get away from me and the many projects that need doing around our house. Regardless, he's not around. So unless we plan a weekend away to visit the grand kids, Monday holidays are just like any other day to me. And I miss my old holidays.

I want doing something fun, something out of the ordinary, whether its going out to eat or exploring a little village on the north fork - anything that's out of the not the norm. And of course, there's the whole project thing. There are always projects to work on. Right now its the sun porch/office that we're packing up to paint, patch, and renovate. I'm anxious to get it done.

Well - hopefully everyone else is enjoying their holiday. This one does promise to be special because our grandson is supposed to be born today. And I'll forever connect his birth to Martin Luther King Day, just as my daughter will always be connected to Columbus Day for me because that's when she was born. The exact dates may change, as Monday holidays do now, but the connection in my head will remain. So this particular one will be very special from this day forward. Welcome to the world little one!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Anticipation

Tomorrow morning we'll be welcoming a new grandchild into the family. My son's wife is scheduled for a cesarean section to deliver my grandson into the world. Imagine knowing, not only when he'll be born, but the fact that he's a boy! What a different world this is!

Back in 1975 when I suspected I might be pregnant, I called the doctor's office and was told to bring in a urine sample to the office. I did that, and then waited for days to be given the news that yes, I was indeed going to have a baby. For the next 8 1/2 months it was all a mystery until the moment she came into the world and we knew we had a daughter. Even ten years later, when they were beginning to do new things like testing for birth defects, we still didn't know what the sex of our forth child was until he came into the world.

I'm not sure how I would react to knowing what I was having. Somehow I can't ever imagine being disappointed when presented with a healthy baby. After all that work of labor and delivery I think I'd be thrilled with either a boy or a girl. But how would I feel if I knew months before? Would it be a disappointment? And then there is the issue of pregnancy tests. It seems as though you can practically roll out of bed and find out whether or not your recent encounter was successful. There simply isn't much left to the imagination anymore - and very little reason to learn patience, ever. Without the anticipation of finding out what your baby is going to be I would personally be more annoyed at the whole labor process. We already know its a boy - so give it to me already! Perhaps that's the next step...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Entertaining

I get the feeling that entertaining in your home is becoming a lost art.

When my parents were young they went out nearly every Saturday night. They didn't go to the movies or the theater, they went to friends' houses for "dinner parties". Now I realize that we're talking about a different era, when women stayed at home and men went to work. But I find it odd that today people don't entertain as often in their homes as they used to.

I still enjoy having people in my home. I like inviting new friends over to get to know them better and I love having old friends over because we are all so busy its nice to sit and catch up with each other occasionally. I love making dinner and sharing it with friends and acquaintances. I find that the same people are the ones who will reciprocate whereas others never do. Some people just don't enjoy entertaining, I suppose. And some just don't have the skills for it. But more and more people simply don't have the energy or time. And that's a sad thing.

I had a good teacher, but I'm much different than my mother was. When she had company the best china came out, the crystal goblets were used, and she cooked all day, taking time later on for a bath and to change into a dress and put on some makeup. I on the other hand do mostly make-ahead meals, often being busy on Saturdays with board meetings or other things. I do some last minute cleaning, but other than that I don't toil or sweat too much over the meal. And we are much ore apt to entertain in jeans or khakis than a dress and suit. Times do change. But the fact that few people entertain anymore is, I think, a shame. There's nothing like sharing a meal and a few laughs with friends.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Puddles

We've had quite a bit of rain in the past week. Not that I'm complaining - I prefer rain to snow especially when we're talking about large amounts of it. But it has been a wet week for sure. And with rain comes puddles.

Now I don't mind small puddles. They remind me of my childhood and I'm still tempted to stomp in them when I see them. How much fun was it to jump from puddle to puddle, splashing everything within reach, and getting my pants and shoes soaking wet? One of the best things about childhood for sure, is the freedom o do things like that. Were I to walk through a parking lot today jumping into all the puddles I'd probably be picked up for mental evaluation. But it is still tempting. There's a freedom in that kind of joy - love of life freely exhibited.

But the huge puddles that cause cars to hydroplane and make it difficult to get around are another matter. In fact, the first time I encountered this at my present job was quite an experience. I had arrive before the rain started and chose the last parking space left in the lot, noticing there was a deep dip in the pavement right where my door was, but not thinking it would be a problem.WRONG! By the time I left work hours later, and after some heavy downpours, there was no way I could get into my car without stepping into a puddle that was about 6 inches deep. It would have been up over my shoes. I stood looking for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. With very little choice I climbed into my passenger side door and attempted to climb across. This is not an easy task in today's cars! I immediately felt nostalgic for the old bench seats of the cars of my youth! In order to get across the center divide, where the gear shift and storage areas sat between the bucket seats, I had to practically fold my body in half, my legs up around my head, an almost impossible task at my age. At one point  feared I would be stuck in such awkward position as to cause restricted breathing and ultimate death - or simply the embarrassment of being found that way, needing to be rescued by some passer-by. I was ultimately able to get into position and drive away but in the future if rain is threatening, that parking space shall remain empty.

Puddles can be a mixed blessing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Winter

I really love East Hampton in the winter. I love it every time of the year really, but summer would be my least favorite, spring and fall my most favorites, and winter in the middle. I know some people would find that surprising. But here are the things I love about the winter:


I love the winter landscapes. I love the way the trees stand out against the sky, their beautiful forms so clear and each with its own personality. Even the bushes have a winter look that is special.

I love the nights in front of a roaring fire, snuggled in to watch television or a nice movie with not the least bit of guilt over wasting daylight.

I love the way people spend time socializing in their homes.

I love the way a blast of cold air when you walk out of your house makes you feel alive and the crispness of that air makes a clear day as beautiful as any in the middle of the summer.

I love the fact that people take time to read books and catch up o friendships.

I love the way we bring out the pillows and throws and make our homes cozy and warm.

I love the way we get projects done. I love picking out paint colors and bringing life to spaces.

I love the sunsets and the sunrises to enjoy as I drive to work or prepare a meal.

I love snow days when I can knit or sit at the sewing machine and just create.

I love the way kids are constantly learning new things at school and enthusiastically share them with anyone who'll listen.

Well I guess I could come up with more. But for now you get the idea. Winter has special joys and I'm loving each of them right now.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Roller coaster

So far winter has been a roller coaster in terms of temperatures are concerned. One week its below freezing and feels as though a few minutes outside may freeze your eyes open, the next its downright balmy and I'm leaving my heavy coat in the closet. I have to watch the weather report every morning to know how to dress when I leave the house. Considering the fact that we're halfway through January I think that's not a bad thing, since we haven't been in a prolonged deep freeze anyway.

By February I feel as though the winter is half over. I already begin to think about Spring and Easter and sunnier, warmer days ahead. For me at least, the seasons fly by and I barely get to the point where I'm tired of one when I can see the other on the pages of the calendar just ahead. I think it has as much to do with the way life is barreling past me than anything else, and at my age I realize it truly is a fleeting thing. One minute we're rocking our own infants to sleep in the rocking chair, the next we're holding a newborn grandchild, wondering where the time has gone. I guess that's why I believe in a higher purpose to life and a higher power in charge because without that, what would it all mean? We're here and the we're gone, like an instant? No - I think there's more to it all.

In to short weeks it will be February and that's a month that always goes quickly. From Christmas to Easter is like a blink. And thus it goes, year after year, in the grand circle of life. One of the reasons I don't mind the cold weather is that there's something about walking into the freezing air that reminds me I'm alive. And five years ago, in the dead of winter, it was questionable whether or not I would be at this time down the road. So I'm grateful for the reminders. Hopefully well have a little more cold weather to come. I won't be upset if we do.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rainy days

Last weekend was a rainy one. Saturday started out to be just wet- sort of misty and sprinkly, but by lunch time it was pouring. And throughout the afternoon and evening it poured throughout - sometimes heavy and noisy and others just a constant downpour.

Whenever it rains in the winter I'm grateful that its not snow because I know snow would mean a messy few days. At least with rain its over and done and we don't have to deal with the aftermath - there won't be any shoveling to do to get out of the door in the morning.

As I sat on my couch Saturday evening I'd closed all the window shades and turned on the fireplace so it was cozy and warm, but the rain gave a steady soundtrack to the evening. I was happy not to be out in the weather.  Sometimes being home with nothing to do is a wonderful thing. And especially on rainy days.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Toys

Having grandchildren over reminds me of how interesting toys are. We spend so much money buying toys for our children when all they really need is something to spark their imaginations.

My twin granddaughters are about 15-months-old now and when they arrive on Monday mornings they head right for the only cabinet that is open for them to play in - the one where the pots and pans are. I toss a few wooden spoons onto the floor for them, they lay out the pieces they find in the cupboard, and before no time there is a racket going on while they raise the roof with banging and drumming.

When my kids were young my husband worked at a furniture store. The absolutely best thing that would happen around our house every so often was that he would come home with a big box. Either a furniture box or a mattress box - it didn't matter what shape it was, as long as it was big enough for the kids to climb in and out of. They played with them for days. When they were toddlers they would simply climb in and out of them, knock them over, hide in them - the simplest of pleasures! When they got older they would turn them into little forts or houses, decorating them, creating windows and doors - making them into something special. Every time, whatever their ages, they would play with them nearly nonstop until they literally fell apart.

And they cost us nothing. And it still works. The best toys are the ones that they come up with themselves....

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Red

For about 8 months now I've had red hair. It started a very dark auburn but has lightened up some now and it more red than before. I can't decide whether or not I like it,but it is fun t do something different with my hair.

Sitting at the hairdresser's today I had a vibrant memory. The women in the next chair was having a permanent done and the smell was overwhelming and extremely reminiscent of my childhood. When I was probably eleven or so they came out with "tonettes" which was a lighter version of the first home permanent to come on the market, which was called a "toni". Women in the 1950s were suddenly doing perms at home and tonis were advertised on television so we all know what they were. And the tonette was a version put out for children - Mom's could give them to their poor little girls with straight hair. Yikes! Sounds dreadful now, doesn't it? But regardless, that was the way it was. And my mother gave both my younger sisters tonettes. I was jealous because I wanted one too and she would not give e one, telling me my hair was already curly and I didn't need one - it would "ruin" my hair. (Could it have been tat good for my sisters? The smell alone was enough to make you pass out!)

Well anyway, sitting in that chair today I was suddenly transported to our kitchen with my mother applying that stinking stuff to my sisters hair, all up in curlers. When it was done it was plenty curly.

Perhaps that's why I love doing weird things to my hair now. I look at Kelly Osborne with her lavender hair and think "I would love that!" I love doing different things to my hair. I guess its just because can.... 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Birthdays

I once had a very good friend whose birthday was in the middle of January. We'd been friends since we were about 11-years-old and up until a few years ago (when she decided she no longer valued the friendship. But that's a story for another time.) What I'm thinking about today is the fact that her birthday will forever be part of me.

Birthdays become so much a part of our lives when they belong to people we care about. Our parents birthdays will never be forgotten. The days that our other loved ones were born are forever carved into our hearts. And even dear friends, whom we celebrate birthdays with in a personal and special way, leave their dates on minds.

February will always belong to my father. November will forever be my mother's month. And January, although I will soon have three dear family members with birthdays this month who share this privilege, will always make me think about my old friend.

So here's to you friend, wherever you are. May your birthday this coming week be a special day and may you know love and contentment in your life.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cold

I was surprisingly not bothered by the extreme cold this past week. Of course it helped that I hardly left the house during the worst of it, but honestly, as long as I didn't have to stand outside in the weather for any length of time I don't mind cold.

What I don't like is ice. I don't even ind snow too much. But I hate ice. I don't like walking on it, or driving on it, or scraping it off my car windows. I don't like ice. It scares me. A lot.

I don't think I would be good living in a much colder climate that ours here on the East End. I don't mind our occasional snow and our moderate cold, but I wouldn't like extreme temperatures for any length of time.

It's only January. But the winter is short and I'm enjoying the fireplace and our cozy living room. I love being in the house in the winter. And I love being outside in thee summer. And I love the change of seasons. Winter is just fine for me right now.
I

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Front doors

My friend's blog made me think about another interesting thing that has changed in my lifetime - front doors.

At my house, as well as at every house built before the 1960s, there is (or was) a front walk that leads from the public sidewalk to the front door. We bought this house in 1979 and it didn't take much time to realize that no one used the front door. Years before every person owned at least one car, people walked more often. Not only that, they actually visited each other at their homes pretty regularly. It wasn't unusual for my mother to walk next door to visit any at one of the number of homes around ours. Depending on how close she was to the person she was visiting, she would go to the front or the back door. Back doors were for family and friends. Front doors were for strangers like traveling salesmen and delivery people. Or folks that weren't so familiar with you.

Our house had a nice slate walkway up to the front door. We were in the house about ten years when we decided to take the slate up and plant grass in its place. No one walked to our house via the public sidewalk - they all drove into the driveway which brought them to the back door. Our front door still exists but I don't think anyone has used it in years.

It was a kinder, gentler place when we used to have front door company. I miss using the front door to collect the mail and greet strangers. Sometimes I wish we could go back to the way things were in the 1950s. But I would miss my computer.....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Grandma

Reading a blog posted by a friend last week where he talked about his Grandmother's kitchen made me think about my own grandmothers and their very different homes. And isn't it interesting how we think about our grandmothers in their kitchens more than any other place? I'm not sure what that means, but its interesting. My grandchildren will probably remember me sitting on the couch with the laptop. Not sure that's better...

Anyway, my grandmothers were very different people with very different backgrounds. And my memories of them are very different of course. My mother's mother was more the homey, motherly type of person and, although she was a talented musician (who in another era could have had a career in music), she was a product of her times and a stay-at-home mother who spent a great deal of time cooking. She was a better baker than a cook - here roasts were so well done you could use them as hockey pucks - but her cakes and cookies were wonderful.

Best of the best was her molasses cookies. I've never found any like them in recipe books and her own hand-written recipe was vague enough that I've never been able to replicate them. They were big, cake-like creations and when you walked into her back door and smelled them in the oven you knew you were in for a treat. Those cookies, warm from the oven with a glass of cold milk, were like a little bit of heaven. I can smell them now if I think about it. I'd give almost anything to return to her kitchen table and sit with her over a few of those cookies.

My other grandmother was not such a domestic lady. She was divorced and had to work so she didn't spend much of her time cooking, although she did bake bread occasionally. And when she did, that was a treat. To this day when I smell yeast, or a fresh loaf of bread, I think about that grandmother.

When I was born my mother's parents lived in Buffalo but when I was about five my grandfather retired and they moved to East Hampton where they rented an apartment in a two-family house My other grandmother owned the house and lived in the other apartment. So in that one house I had three grandparents. Entering  each apartment was like discovering a different world, each unique in smell, decor, and feel. Each reflected the person who lived there. They were identical apartments in layout and size, one on the ground floor and one above. But they were worlds apart inside. Having them all right, within walking distance of my own house, was so special. But only as an adult could I fully appreciate what a gift that was.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Storms

Snow storms always make me think about my mother. As I've mentioned before, she grew up in the Buffalo area and snow didn't phase her in the least. There were times we'd arrive at the door of the elementary school to find them locked for a snow day. Those were the days before the Internet but even so I don't think it would have even occurred to her to check because why would they close school for a little snow, right?

There were other times we drove to Southampton in what I would call a blizzard. She drove us to church every week in Southampton, by herself, a station wagon full of kids plowing through drifts across the roads as we made our way to the little church where we were among only a handful of people who ventured into the storm. Most parishioners, all of whom lived in Southampton, stayed at home. Mom couldn't understand that at all.

The winter that Mom died (she was in her eighties) and we would find her shoveling her walkways and cleaning off the car - before my husband could make his way over to her house to do it for her. After all, it was only a little snow! She was a hearty soul my mother. She was the type who should have lived well into her 90s as hale as she was. Unfortunately cancer doesn't are about how much exercise you get or how tough you are - it takes no prisoners, and she succumbed in her 82nd year.

But snow will always remind me of Mom.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow behavior

There is this odd thing I call "snow behavior" or "snow hysteria" that happens around here. Perhaps it happens everywhere, but I doubt it. I'm sure people who live in places where snow is a more common occurrence do not get hysterical every time it happens. Here they do.

The strangest example of this behavior is the way folks rush to the grocery store and strip the shelves of milk and bread. Is this some sort of emergency planning or do they just crave french toast when the snow falls? It's a real puzzle to me. I mean, there is probably enough canned and boxed food in my cabinets to last us for weeks at my house, and I don't think we've ever been stuck inside more than a day as we waited out a blizzard. What exactly happens to these people when it snows? Do they suddenly decide to lock themselves in their houses for weeks?

Another weird thing is the way they rush to the hardware store for batteries. I always have extra batteries at my house - what is it about the snow that makes us suddenly need things that we should have in supply already? I mean, if all my batteries were dead and I didn't have a flashlight, there would still be plenty of candles to light my house for an evening. The last place I want to run to is the hardware store.

So what am I doing to get ready for snow when it threatens? I lay out the extra large mat by the back door, I bring down my slippers to change into when I come in with wet feet, and I make sure I have the laundry done so if the power does go out, I'll have clothes to wear. And that's about it.

My snow behavior has more to do with using the time to read a book or knit a sweater than it does about buying anything.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Melancholy

How can I feel so melancholy only five days into this new year? Is it that the holidays are over? Or the snow that's made everything more complicated? Or is it because the anniversary of my mother's death is here? Perhaps its all three of those things, I don't really know, but I do know I miss my mother every day of my life now that she's gone. Is there anything that matches it? If so I haven't found it.

It seems that one of the great sadnesses in life is saying goodbye to people we love. I think there is a spiritual lesson here, and I do know that death is not a natural part of life - at least not the life God intended for us - but we should be used to it by the time we get to be my age, shouldn't we? Or is it something we just ever get used to?

I don't know, but I've been contemplating things like that this week. Perhaps its Mom, still teaching me lessons even after she's gone. What I wouldn't do to have just one more shopping trip with her. Or even a chat on her couch. Even at 81 years her life seemed way too short.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cake

On New Year's Day I baked a cake. I also made a pot of soup. And my house smelled like something we dream about when we're away from home.

There is nothing quite life the smell of soup on the stove or something yummy in the oven. The combination of the two was more than I could handle.

Whenever I make this particular cake the smell takes me back to my childhood. It's the same recipe my mother used to make - we call it "Aunt Joan's Chocolate Cake" because, obviously, the recipe came from my aunt originally. It brings back memores of walking into my house after school and smelling it in the oven, my mother having made it for dinner. It makes me feel nostalgic for her, and for my wonderful, old, rambling house, and for my early years, when she made me feel more loved than I ever have. And I miss her and that love very much.

But I can bake that cake and bring back all those wonderful memories again anytime I want to.  No one else know what it really means when I start throwing that thing together, but I do. A totally emotional eating experience.

Now if only I could find a recipe for soft, cake-like molasses cookies like my grandmother used to make....

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snowstorm

The snow has been falling all night long now and the world is a wonderland outside my windows. It's beautiful to see, clean, white, and fresh - a world covered in beauty. Every dirty toy left in the yard and every garbage can outside the back door looks beautiful, the dirt and ugliness camouflaged by nature's gift.

I was able to clear my calendar today. I have nothing pressing to do, although I will probably clean my bathroom, which badly needs it. Other than that I'm thinking I'll knit and watch some mindless television. With no little ones in my house any longer there's no need to think about going outside to make snow people or pull sleds. Snow was more of an adventure back in those early days but it was also more of a mess. Now I can sit inside and wait for the walkways to clear and the roads to be plowed. An advantage of my age.

Well....its going to be a lovely day.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Settling in

So we're in 2014 now and ready to settle in to a new year. I remember when I was growing up and we read the book "1984" in school - sometime in the 1960s - it seemed like so far away. And the year 2000? Well, that was "Jetsons" territory! It seemed hard to imagine ever getting there!

And yet, here we are, in the year 2014. Every year now is a banner year for me. I remember that day so well in January of 2009 when I was told I had cancer and how I wondered how many years I would have left in the world. This will me the fifth new year I've ushered in since then, and the blessing is lost on me. I savor every day.

So here we are with a new calendar - a book full of blank pages to fill and a year for memories to create. I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New page

I love New Year's Day. And its odd because really it's only a day, like every other, and yet certain days have significance that goes beyond all the rest.
For me New Year's Day is a new beginning. It's a new calendar, a clean book, a fresh start. It's a time for reflection and yet for looking ahead. And its a time for introspection and planning. We need these special days in our lives to make us take a break, think about where we are, and make sure we're headed in the right direction.

I hope each of you experiences new and exciting things in the year 2014. And I hope each of you fully appreciate the life you have. It's such a gift.