Friday, February 28, 2014

Bye bye

This year it seems easy to say good bye to February. It's been a long hard winter, worse for others than for us on the East End, and most of the country will be happy to see it go.

But there are things I will miss about February. I loved the landscapes this month. They were stark and beautiful and  I loved them. I also loved the cozy nights in front of the fireplace, feeling not the least bit sad that my meeting or rehearsal had been cancelled because of the snow and enjoying some easy, no stress evening hours. I will certainly miss the contemplative times and I find those most common in February every year. I had time to work on projects, knitting blankets and hats and writing at my computer, and I did more cooking than normal, enjoying the crock pot and baking when the spirit moved me.

There are wonderful things to celebrate in every month of the year and February is no exception. I know many people are thrilled that its over, but as much as I'm looking forward to spring, I'll be missing February too.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Salesmanship

Just when I begin to think that salesmanship is a dead art form, someone takes me by surprise. Lately I see so little of it when I shop and that makes me sad. But it does still exist!

I occasionally go into a large store like Macy's and sometimes, if I'm lucky, someone may ask me if they can help me. If I ask for something in particular, they'll point in the general direction and that's about it.

In local stores its even worse. I rarely am even looked at when I walk into a store in town, with a few notable exeptions. And I wonder why?

When I was 14 and obtained my working papers I got my first summer job at a small ladies wear shop on Main Street, I was lucky enough to work with a woman who had spent her entire adult life doing that job and she taught me well. She taught me about taking care of the stock when things were quiet. She taught me how to go through boxes and racks when I had time, to remind myself what was there. And most importantly she taught me how t greet customers - how to take care of them, assisting with their needs, and how to make them comfortable. She was a natural - I was not. But I learned. I don't think there is much of that teaching going on anymore.

But then a couple weeks ago I walked into one of the high end stores in town that sells children's clothing. It was the end of their sale time and I know from prior experience when they get to clearance prices there are bargains to be had. A salesgirl asked me as soon as I walked in if she could help me and boy did she ever! She spent about 20 minutes with me, grabbing sizes, running up and down the stairs to see what was already put away. And I bought lots of Christmas and birthday gifts for my grandchildren. I payed by credit card and was pleasantly surprised to received a nice note in the mail from her a week later, thanking me for my business and telling me what a pleasure it was to work with me.

It's nice to know that someone is still teaching the skill of salesmanship. I for one noticed!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Keys

I find myself buried under keys lately. I have so many keys that I've had to split them into two groups, making decisions about which I need to have with me at any given time. One group stays in the car for when I need it, the other includes the car keys and goes with me when I come and go.

Here's my problem. I have more than a few keys that I can't figure out. I'm not sure if I still need them but I'm afraid to throw them out. I can't remember what they were for, and have no idea if they even open any doors anymore. It's a dilemma because I can't quite bring myself to get rid of the, and yet they're taking up space and causing weight wherever I take them. So they are on the group that stays in the car.

In addition to those, I have keys on that chain that I use less frequently than others. I try to keep only a few in the one group - my car key, my house key, and my fob to get into the ambulance barn, for example, along with the signature fob I need to keep with me all the time. It's much lighter and less awkward to carry when need be. The other is just so heavy I hate having to grab it, but it has keys to the office where I work part-time and lots of those "unknown" keys too.

I love my fob for the EMS building. It can be programmed to open whatever doors in that building that I'm entitled to enter. Wouldn't it be great if we could all carry one fob which we could program to open any door we need access to? One thing to carry. One little fob. I love that idea....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hockey

I found myself watching a hockey game last week - very uncharacteristic of me - because it was the second week of the Olympic games and I do love everything Olympic. And I remember so well the way we were glued to our television sets during the famous "miracle on ice" back in the 1980s. In fact, that may be the last time I watched a hockey game.

I tend to not enjoy the frantic, noisy sports as much as the calmer ones. I like baseball, where there are no time clocks and every pitcher can take his sweet time preparing himself for every throw. It's a nice slow game punctuated with moments of excitement and craziness. Somehow that fits me better than basketball, football, or hockey. Maybe its a testosterone things, I don't know. In any case, its not my first choice of sporting events. Even the sportscasters are different. In baseball they calmly talk about players and their different idiosyncrasies In hockey they are screaming all the time just trying to explain the action.

Well whatever, I was watching the hockey game between the US and Canada. I guess it was a patriotic thing. I found myself really rooting for a goal, and wondering why there is so much switching around with players, o and off the ice constantly. Crazy, I thought.

I think the Olympics bring out the sports fan in all of us, because the combination of unusual events (like curling) and national fever are an undeniably great one. I find myself trying to figure out what the rules are, why the athletes do things the way they do, and how a winner is determined. Sometimes, with things like figure skating, it seems to me more subjective than not And somehow that's not as satisfying as knowing a tenth of a second made the difference between a gold and silver medal. But the thing is the Olympics provide something for everyone, from the loud, frantic hockey games to the beautiful figure skating programs. And I seem to enjoy the all. At least once every few years.....

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring

In another week we'll be seriously talking about spring. Some thought we'd never get there but as always, time moves on whether we want it to or not.

I look forward to every season. I love the changes and I enjoy seeing the world transform around me, whether under a coat of snow or greening and waiting to a new spring. There is something amazing about seeing the first crocus poke its shots up through the seemingly dead ground, and something profound about watching the leaves fall and the world close up again. It reminds me of the amazing world around me, how things continue to follow the pattern, year after year, season after season, winter to spring to summer to fall - it is the thing of life. And it gives us some comfort to know that we follow as the seasons do - our youth moved into our adulthood and then into our old age, and that's OK. Every season has its blessings and every season has its special gifts. We just need to appreciate them for what they are.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Snowing

I sat watching the snow fall yet again one day last week and thought what an odd winter this has been. Indeed - it will no doubt be one for the books. The last one I remember with this much snow was about 1995 - it seemed to snow every week and there was snow on thee ground constantly. The following winter was mild and delightful. We can hope for that!

I love watching the snow fall. There is something so peaceful and beautiful about it. I'm not talking about blizzards here, but rather the lazy snow that comes most often, dropping an inch or two on the ground and making everything look fresh and clean. Few things are as nice as a pretty snowfall when you have something wonderful cooking, like soup or stew, and the house smells like every good memory from childhood. Those are magical moments.

I'm no Pollyanna and I know the difficulties snow can cause. In fact I was on an ambulance call a short time ago where the house was way up in Northwest Woods, the roads were a sheet of ice up a steep hill, and the homeowner had not cleared the steps or driveway. It was not fun! But there are silver linings to every cloud and on that day I came home to the smell of the stew I had put in the crockpot and suddenly I was warm and toasty in body and soul.

Winter i passing quickly. It's nearly March!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Responsibilities

Another thing that makes traveling difficult at our age is the responsibilities we leave behind. It seems that the longer we live the more things we have hanging on us. This week I went online (so much easier than it used to be, I'll give you that!) to put a hold on two different newspapers and the mail. Then I had to pick up prescriptions to get me through until we come back, which is no simple task either in this day and age where insurance companies won't let you renew too soon and yet if you're gone for a week you may run out during that time.

Then of course there are the duties to get covered, like babysitting and work issues, making sure things are pre-done or someone else is going to do them while you're gone.

Of course, we're never really "away" anymore are we? No matter where I go I'm in contact with home and work, getting emails regularly and keeping track of family and friends. Gone are the days when we could actually take a vacation and be away both physically and mentally. And that's a sad thing.

Now, to decide what I'm going to wear while I'm there.....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Packing

I'm packing now for a trip to visit the grand kids and since we'll be gone for over a week I'm stressing about what to bring. Normally we're only there for a weekend so if I forget something its no big deal, right? But when its a week, I need to make sure I don't leave important things at home. So I stand in front of my medicine cabinet: Will I need Tums? Or aspirin? Should I take this prescription cream just in case I get an outbreak of that rash I had three years ago? I wonder if I might need some of that medication I had for an eye infection last year - or those painkillers.

And then of course there are the clothing decisions: Do I need my raincoat? How many sweaters should I pack? I know I could use the same one every day if need be, and they do take up a lot of space in a suitcase, but I hate to live a week without any variety......etc, etc. Decisions, decisions!

I find that the older I get the harder it is to leave home easily. In my youth I could throw a couple pair of underwear in a tote bag along with a change of clothes and my contact lens holder and I'd be good for a weekend anywhere. Not anymore! How age changes us!

I remember my mother in her late seventies wanting to take a trip but saying "I'll really miss my bath tub though". At the time I thought she was silly. Now however, I'm thinking about my own tub and wishing I could take that with me.....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winter tales

Last Friday we had yet another "snow event" and woke up to the need to clean off the car to go to work. I left my house at 7 so I could stop for a muffin on my way out of town and as I drove to the store I admired God's handiwork all around the village. It was a beautiful sight to see and I soaked it all in.

When I got to the store there was a nice gentleman standing outside the front door who opened it for me as I approached. He said something like "Good morning! Hope you enjoy this - I nearly cried when I woke up!" I was so struck by that and although he was smiling I knew he was serous. I so wanted to stand there and tell him what I really wanted to say. But I didn't. Instead I smiled back and said "Aw - hope your day gets better!" Because I knew he was a nice man and I didn't want to be sanctimonious or preachy. But here's what I wanted t say to him:

I don't cry when I get up in the morning regardless of what the weather is. In fact, no weather bothers me anymore. Because I remember all too well how I felt five years ago this month when I had no idea whether I would see another birthday, another Christmas, another winter. I know how that feels and believe me, nothing could make me sad about getting up in the morning and realizing I had yet another day to live my life. Another day to feel good and be productive. Another day to smile. Because since those days five years ago I have: held four brand new grand babies in my arms; watching six other grandchildren grow and become wonderful people in front of my eyes; accepted lots of hugs and love from the people I love; sat with friends hundreds of times over dinner, laughing and enjoying each others' company; taken on some new challenges; conquered some fears; learned perspective. So this snow? This snow is a reminder that I'm alive and that the world is a beautiful place and that I like being here. I save my tears for the things that really deserve them."

No - I don't think he wanted that message. But I wish I could have passed it along because he seemed like such a nice guy....

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beaus

I've been working on a lecture for the Historical Society's Winter Lecture Series and it has been an experience. I've been reading through years worth of diaries written by a woman who lived on Main Street in East Hampton for over sixty years from the early to late 1800s. What a learning experience its been.

Cornelia Huntington was a very intelligent, very talented woman who wrote about her life and the life of others in East Hampton in the nineteenth century. Reading her diaries is like reading a Jane Austin novel. The language and the thoughts could be right out of Jane Eyre. She is concerned about being an old maid at the age of seventeen and at the age of twenty talks of her life being half over.

She speaks of her many beaus and the things they did - parties attended and walks along the beach, for instance - and of her search for theological truth. Apparently the main focus of life for women in the 1800s was marrying and taking care of a home. How sad for someone as talented as she was that she couldn't think about writing for the local newspaper! She would have been a wonderful reporter.

I think often about the history of East Hampton and of course my thoughts are based on the romantic ideals of a perfect life in this place. Somehow if I'd had to make that life completely centered on taking care of a house and the needs of a husband, I'm not sure I'd be happy back then. Of course we're all victims of our times. Cornelia Huntington certainly was!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Grandfathers

My grandfathers were as different as my grandmothers were. One was the absolute epitome of what a grandfather should be. He thought everything we did was cute or funny, he laughed a lot, he had the patience of a saint and he adored us. I remember walking through his yard with him as he pointed out every type of flower in his beautiful garden, telling me its name and what type sun and soil it liked. He loved telling me stories about his life and about my mother when she was little. He wasn't physically strong and I don't ever remember being piked up by him, even though he was younger than my husband is now - he always seemed elderly to me. But he was a sweet, gentle man that I loved very much. Unfortunately he was taken from us when I was in high school, a victim of a cancer that today is quite curable.

My other grandfather was the polar opposite. He and my grandmother were divorced and he remarried. I assume there were not good feelings about all that because I never met his wife. He shared an office building with my father so that's where I saw him. He was never part of our holiday or birthday celebrations. But he was a larger-than-life character with a big personality and lots of friends. Everybody in town knew him.

I'm not sure one was more of an influence than the other in my life - I think they both molded who I am today. If I wanted two of either of them it would be the former But the latter made me aware of where I lived and how important "community" is. And that was not small lesson.

Grandparents can certainly have a profound effect on our live.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Grandmothers

Writing yesterday about hand work and how it used to be passed down through the generations brought back some very clear memories for me. I had two very different grandmothers. One was nurturing and home-based, and taught me to knit and crochet and passed along some of her skills with a sewing machine. She did seamstress work professionally from here home and I remember women often being there when I was visiting, having pants measured for hems and dresses taken in to fit. Her front bedroom had been turned into a sewing room because the light was great there and it had nice windows to look out while she was working. I remember her showing me how to sew a neat seam and she was often sitting in a chair doing handwork when I would come in. Sometimes she'd be in front of the television as she crocheted beautiful tablecloths and bedspreads.

My other grandmother was a working woman, divorced before I came along and needing to support herself. But she always had time for me and I loved watching her bake bread from scratch. She was also a talented seamstress but didn't have as much time for working at her sewing machine as she would have liked But in her later years she took up painting. She turned one of her bedrooms into a studio of sorts, with an easel and lots of canvases. Her house smelled like oil paints and I often found her at here easel, painting some sort of animal which were her favorite subjects

Both my grandmothers were talented women and probably unfulfilled, as so many women were in that era. I wish they had both been able to fully explore their talents. But they both gave me gifts I treasure.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Handiwork

Do people do handwork anymore? Do men have woodworking shops in the basements? Do young women learn to do needlework and use the sewing machine? Because it seems as though these things are a bit of a lost art these days. And I can't quite figure out why.

When I was young many of our friends had wonderful shops in their basements. The fathers made furniture and toys and spent their free time in their basements or garages, perfecting this hobby. On the other side most women were knitters, making sweaters for their families, or doing needlepoint pillows or embroidering sheets to decorate their homes with. So what I wonder is this: is the change a reflection of the fact that today couples have more income and don't need to make things themselves or is it that there is less time in every day schedules to work on hobbies? I don't think its the latter. We were busy when we were young too. I think its the former. Because I spent much of my time sewing and knitting because I couldn't afford to buy cute clothes for my kid, but I could make them! I couldn't afford to buy fancy things for my home to decorate it and make it pretty, but I could make curtains and pillows and Christmas decorations to create the kind of home I wanted for my kids.

I think its too bad though. I think we are losing the joy of creating things for our homes and families and then seeing the things we made used and loved and appreciated. And there are some wonderful skills that are no longer being passed down from one generation to another.And that's very sad.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Misconceptions

I've found that there are many misconceptions  about this place that we live here on the East End of Long Island. Some people think only the wealthy can live here, for instance, and others think we spend all day long at the beach in the summer. There are actually people who are shocked to hear that some of us actually grew up here - they think everyone, like them, arrived a few years ago when they retired or decided to make a move from the city.

But the one thing that really gets to me is when someone says "What do you DO here in the winter?"

Well, let's see. This winter we've  argued over the deer population, been shocked over a scandal involving the police department, fought the utilities over new power lines, dealt with more snow than we like, and at my house, started a renovation project. We are busy here in the winter and I can never figure out what our part timers are talking about when they act as though we roll up the sidewalks the minute they leave after Labor Day.

It's an amusing misconception. But totally off the mark. Because its the winter when we get down to brass tacks and actually live around here. Summer is fantasy land. Winter is real life.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hearts

I have always loved hearts. When I was a kid I was so excited when I went to elementary school and learned how to make perfect hearts out of a piece of paper by folding it in half and cutting an ice cream cone shape out along the fold, which then opens to a beautiful heart-shape. (Thank you Mrs. Clark!)

Valentines have also always been a special joy of mine. I suppose it says something about me that I seem to need constant affirmation and be reminded that I am loved. But its true! I can't apologize for my weaknesses anymore - I'm too old. It is what it is.

I also love hearts at times other than Valentine's Day. I often draw them on cards that I give to my husband, or add them to texts that I send to my granddaughter - to me they are a quick and easy way to say "I love you" or "You have my heart" and I use them sparingly for special people. They may not realize how special it is but I do.

Well today there will be more hearts around than any other time of the year - heart shaped cards, heart shaped candy boxes, and heart shaped drawings everywhere. Most every household in the country will have a heart or two in sight today. And that's as it should be. Because there can never be too much love in the world.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Siblings

The best thing about siblings is they have known you forever and you have a shared history you don't share with anyone else.They understand who you are and where you've come from. They know your weaknesses and they know your strengths.

The worst thing about siblings is they've known you forever and they have very long and accurate memories. They don't let you forget your mistakes and they make sure you remember them too. There's no getting away from your roots with them and you can't fool them at all.

But since the same thing is both the best and the worst of life with siblings I've come to appreciate the second as much as the first. Because they remind us of how far we've come. And they may not acknowledge or appreciate that, but we do. And being reminded of our past indiscretions and worst moments is a good thing. It keeps us humble, makes us want to continue to improve ourselves, and it keeps everything in perspective.

I'm glad I have siblings.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Again

They're talking again about snow tonight and into tomorrow. Many people are complaining about the winter we're having and can't wait until Spring. Sigh....

We live in the north. It gets cold here in the winter. Normally our winters on the East End are pretty mild and if we get snow three or four times and if it lasts more than a couple days, that's unusual. As it is this winter. Every so many years we get a harsh winter, and this is one of them. But we're not alone! It seems as though the entire country is dealing with more snow and colder temperatures than they're used to. So we're in very good company!

I remember a year some time ago when I was working for someone who lived in Michigan. He was surprised at how much snow we had when he had been assured that our winters here were much milder than what he was used to. Not that year! We seemed to have snow on the ground more than not and it was a real Michigan winter on the East End.

I'd rather have snow in the winter that humidity in the summer. That's the thing that gets to me, and its the one thing that I could leave here to escape. But snow? Not a big deal. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to drive in it and I wish it wasn't so slippery when we go through the melting and re-freezing cycle. But otherwise I don't care whether I need to get a coat on or not. So if it snows tonight I'll be annoyed because it mean I may not get my hair cut (my hairdresser tends not to come out in the bad weather). But other than that - its OK with me! Because summer is coming and along with it - humidity. Yuck!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Peace

Lately I've been thinking about the art of meditation. You know - the kind you see Yoga practitioners do - with their legs crossed and hands resting on their knees. They always look so peaceful.

My meditation takes the form of prayer and its not always peaceful. Sometimes its agonizing as I pour my heart out to God, asking questions, looking for wisdom, needing help. It's not the peaceful kind of meditation I think about when I hear the word.

So how do I obtain peace - that illusive thing we all so desperately need in our lives. Well, believe it or not, laying all my fears and concerns at God's feet does bring me peace - it just doesn't happen when I'm in the process. It comes later.

But there is something attractive about the idea of being able to sit calmly and let my mind rest, replacing the cares of life with calm and serenity. I just haven't quite figured out how to do it. It's especially problematic for me when I lay in bed at night and the day's events all crow my mind. I try many things to replace the chaos in my head with calm, but I don't think its in my DNA.

Well - peace may come in different forms for different people. But at least it does come. And if I spend a few hours with my grandchildren I find it much easier to obtain.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lifting veil

So my sad weekend is over and the veil of depression is lifting. Well - let's not be quite so dramatic! LOL I was sad all weekend and missing the family that was supposed to be here - we even had a birthday party planned with the rest of the family was going to come so it would have been a lively, family-filled weekend and instead was a quiet, subdued one. The makings of a sad time! There are times we look forward to those quiet times, but when we're planing for special things, its disheartening to be disappointed. Not the end of the world, but I do treasure my family times.

I think since going through cancer and chemotherapy and having those exhausted, horrible days still so fresh in my mind, I am more aware and especially fond of the special times. I know they are fleeting and anything can happen at any time to change our lives, making us unable to enjoy things in the same way again. I so value my health and the blessing of feeling good. How we take that for granted! But not anymore. I gladly welcome family time and anticipate it with great joy.

But life does get in the way sometimes and nothing can be done about the challenges we all face. I know I need to be flexible as well! But how I understand now the disappointment my grandmother used to express if we were late for a visit, or didn't get there at all. Surely at her age she had the same feelings!

It's a new week. And there are good things in store. Time to move ahead and enjoy them all!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Main Street - February

I spent a day this week walking around Main Street. It was a slushy, icy week in terms of walking around but the sun was out and it was not terribly cold so it was perfect for wandering. I loved it.

The streets were still slushy and icy but the sky was a beautiful blue and the sun was out so I loved walking around the deserted streets.here is something special about Main Street in February. It's quiet and peaceful, there is no one else to vie for thee salespeople's attention, and I can shop at my leisure.

I spent a good deal of money at Ralph Lauren Kids. I don't normally shop there, but when they have a sale, watch out! Beautiful, heavy sweaters that were originally $100 (who spends $100 on a child's sweater?) I bought for $30. I was in heaven!

I've got a good deal of my Christmas shopping done for December 2014 already and I'm happy about that. I'm even happier that I could walk around East Hampton Main Street on a beautiful winter day and enjoy the stores there. It reminded me of shopping along that street with my mother and it made me smile.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Melancholy

I've been fighting a bit of melancholy this weekend. We were expecting my daughter's family to come from Pennsylvania on Thursday morning but an ice storm that put power out all over their area kept them at home. After weeks off anticipating their visit, shopping for groceries, prepping the rooms, and thinking about being with the for three whole days made the disappointment more profound. Of course in the grand scheme of things I wouldn't have it any other way - I want them safe and not driving in bad weather and I know they need to be there while things are in a state of upset. They are where they need to be - where they lives are. I like to think their lives are here of course, but reality doesn't match my wishes. Parents never want to think their children are far from them either physically or emotionally.

So - melancholy sets in. I've been keeping myself busy and trying to do things to keep my mind occupied. Because if I think too much about it I will easily dip into the sadness.

Being a parent is never easy and those who think they can't wait until their children grow up and move out of the house because it will be easier then are mistaken. It only becomes more routine.

Parenting is still the hardest job in the world but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Friday, February 7, 2014

We go on

Schools have been off most of this week and its sad now that they'll have so much time to make up later on when the kids should have been off. That's always a bummer!

The weather has been severe this winter and I've been grateful to live so close to the main highway. We were never really snowed in and went about our days in a normal manner for the most part. I spent Wednesday on the road between East Hampton and Southampton, keeping my appointments as scheduled, while others were stuck at home with unplowed roads. I would not like that at all.

Many are looking forward to spring, although I never want to wish time away. I love the weather of spring, but I don't hate winter. At this point in my life, after learning how precious and fleeting it is, I prefer to stay in the moment and make the best of whatever the circumstances. There are joys in every season and special moments in every day. And I am determined not to miss any of them....

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Siberia

We had the most incredible snowfall Monday night. It was a wet, heavy snow - so wet it packed down to ice with ever step.

Tuesday morning I got up to drive to Southampton very early. It was annoying to try to get out of the driveway because the windshield wipers were dozen in place = the joys of not having a garage. It took some time to break it up so the wipers would work, and then I headed out. And what a spectacle I was treated to. Because the snow was so heavy. and had a coating of ice coating it all, it was covering everything, everywhere. The branches were heavy with the weight of it all and some were bending toward the earth as though in a position of worship. As I drove down Montauk Highway I felt as though I was in a movie set - it was like something out of Dr. Zhivago - at least when I remember of that movie which came out so many years ago! I was so distracted by the surroundings I had a hard time staying safely on the road. I floated into work I was so touched by the beauty of everything around me.

All day we could hear and see the icy snow hitting the ground from those heavy branches.

By the time I drove home later that afternoon I noticed that coming down Route 114 everything on the left side, where the sun had done its job, was devoid of the snow and only the ground showed  evidence of the night's weather event. But on my right, where the shadows had protected the trees from the heat, the trees were still gorgeous.

It was one of the moments you just know would be hard to describe. But in my mind it will lie forever.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Silas

My grandson Silas turns 9 today. His cousin Tucker turned 9 two weeks ago. They are fast friends despite the fact that they live in different states.

I remember being 9 and in the same elementary school that Silas is. Going to see programs there is so nostalgic. Despite the changes to the building it still feels the same - same smell, same walls, same colors - it is the same place I went and when I walk through it the memories come flooding back.

I think nine is a magical age too. They're old enough to be great company, young enough not to have the self-esteem issues that will come very soon, and just the right age to thing everything is funny. They're like sponges and they take everything in, but are also happy to be off on their own ignoring everything the adults are doing.

I love it when the boys get together. They are always so excited to see each other and immediately pair off to do their own thing. They are very different in personality and temperament and yet, just like siblings share a bond that will most likely last a lifetime. I hope so anyway. Cousins are a very special part of family and watching them together warms my heart.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tunnel vision

One of the most frustrating things about being in public office is this: we as elected officials are supposed to be able to stand outside of our own interests and act in the best interest of the community as a whole. And yet, few of our constituents seem to be able to do that. And I wonder - do they really want us to or do they secretly want us only to act in their best interest?

I assume I am elected to make decisions based on the best for the community. Often I have to go against what would be best for me personally in order to do that, but I think that's my job. But then over and over again I am approached by constituents (sometimes badgered would be a better word) who are only interested in what is best for them personally. They don't want to know about the overall benefit and they certainly don't want to know about anyone else and what works for them. It's all about their own best interests. And that's frustrating because there's no way to make everybody happy. It just can't happen. What's a person to do.

Sometimes its discouraging enough to make me want to get out of public life altogether. But then it seems as though I'd rather have myself in that position than those who are only interested in what works for them. Because that's not beneficial to me either! It's a conundrum for sure....

Monday, February 3, 2014

Visitors

The Pennsylvania family is coming or a visit this weekend and I'm looking forward to it, as always. And it's interesting how different our visits are in the winter than they are at other times of the year.

Most visits involved a lot of outside time. The kids love to play in the yard or walk on the beach - they are an outdoor family for sure. But in the old months of winter we are mostly stuck indoors, (although a beach walk isn't out of the question since the dog loves the beach in all seasons) and I enjoy that. Our time together is more intense, more intimate, as we play board games, watch television, do crafts, bake cookies-whatever. We're closer together and interacting more. We talk more.

Kids are so scattered and its not easy to get them to spend any quality time with you one-on-one. They are easily distracted and not particularly interested in talking about life. I find the older I get the more I want to talk about what they're doing in school or in sports, what they think about the things that are happening around them. I think I'm more into what makes them tick and less into what makes them react. It's hard to explain the difference, but there is one. It reminds me of my grandmother asking me about what kind of person I wanted to marry some day. I was only about twelve at the time and my thought was "What in the world is she asking me that for?" Now I understand it. Perhaps its the fact that we see the ending of our lives approaching and we want to imagine the future that will unfold without us. We want to know where the people we love will go in their lives and find pleasure in the idea that they'll be happy, healthy adults some day.

Visitors are coming for the weekend. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Reading glasses

I've finally adjusted to wearing reading glasses. I think I have about 8 pair of them, all over my house and hopefully within reach when I need them. There is little more annoying than not being able to read something! Eye sight is something we take for granted, even those of us who have worn glasses forever.

I got my first pair of glasses when I was in the fourth grade. I never liked wearing them and as soon as I saved enough money I bought contact lenses. My father refused to pay for them - as far as he was concerned it was a frivolous luxury, although I think he did but them for my two sisters when they asked a few years later. (But I'm not bitter! LOL). Anyway - I've been wearing glasses for a very long time now. But adjusting to reading glasses has really been a challenge.

I guess the bi change is having to keep them with me all the time, but not wearing them. I don't want them hanging around my neck like some people do - just a personal thing. So I need them close at hand. I have a pair in my pocketbook, a pair in my car, a pair by my bed, a pair in the TV room, a pair in the kitchen...and extras to pull out in case any of those are missing. I've needed them for a couple years now - at least for reading.  It's pretty typical of my age. My age. Every time I say that it makes me smile.

The fact that I've made it to this age is not lost on me. I'm lucky to need reading glasses.....

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Frost

The best thing about being my age in the winter is that I don't have little children who want to go out and play in the snow. I can go out if I want to. Or I can stay inside in the warmth of my home, enjoying the fire and knitting. It wasn't always like that.


One of the sad things about parenthood is that our children forget most of what we do for them. Of course they remember special times and they remember feelings and emotions, but actual every day things, not so much. Which means much of our efforts go unrecognized, although we can rejoice in the final product and know they were worthwhile because of the results. Still though - its not like getting an award for service rendered or acknowledgement for years worked. Our rewards come in the intangibles - like love.

I think about these things in the winter because I don't particularly enjoy playing in the snow. And yet for many years that's exactly what I did whenever it snowed. I helped make snowmen, I helped make snowballs, and I bundled them up so they could have fun in the snow. When my eldest was small I pulled her around on a sled and piked her up out of the snow when she fell. Once he was old enough, probably at 8 or 10, I sent her outside with the younger ones to do the overseeing. I could watch from inside the house to make sure they came in when their faces got so red I could tell that frostbite was approaching.

When I put in ten years go service on the ambulance squad I get a nice gift certificate to a local restaurant and pin or plaque to prove my time. When it comes to motherhood the rewards come in the form of cards made on construction paper and necklaces made out of macaroni. Somehow they are equally special. They may not remember those years but I do. And the memories are all mine.