Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014

So far 2014 has not been a great year. I mean the winter was a mean one, but that really didn't bother me so much. But it has been a year of loss and grief and this week yet another blow was struck.

I spent some time at the funeral home in March when my dear friend died and at some point an older woman came to me when she saw my distress and she said "Once you hit your 60s it gets very hard - you keep losing friends and family". I fear those were pretty true words as it seems that this is an age when cancer and cardiac disease begin to take their toll.

Oh I know that the life expectancy these days is somewhere in the 80s. But unfortunately it doesn't happen for everyone. And it seems as though at the moment it is a pipe dream. If these past few months are any indication, few of us will get there. Now I understand my grandmother when she said she was tired of being the last one standing. It gets lonely, she told me. I don't doubt it at all.

No, this has not started out to be a great year, despite the fact that I celebrate a special "heath" anniversary. I think I'm experiencing a bit survivor's guilt. Why me?

There are so many things I want to talk to God about some day....

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Damp

The only problem I have with rain at this time of the year is the dampness in the air. In the winter, with our heating systems running around the lock, we don't notice that damp air so much, and in the summer when its hot it doesn't bother us. But now, with the air temperature hovering around the "just comfortable" spot on the dial, that moisture really  makes us feel it. I find myself turning the gas fireplace on just to take the chill out of the house.

Dampness has always been an annoyance to me. I never liked being in a damp bathing suit as a kid and that was probably a glimpse of things to come. I hate mildew, I hate humidity, and I still don't like being in wet clothes. I'm also not crazy about perspiration but that's another issue I guess.

I'm looking forward to this week being over because the skies are supposed to clear up by the weekend and the sun will come out. And the sun is the antidote to so many things. Especially dampness.

Monday, April 28, 2014

April showers

This week we are anticipating lots of rain and it seems that we will be leaving April under the umbrella, so appropriate for the month. Hopefully May will bring the flowers promised by April.

Both my sons-in-law were born on May 1st and my son on the 13th so May is a good month in our family. What would my life be without any of those men in it? I can't even imagine it. My son has been a special gift since the very beginning, and I will be forever grateful to both my daughters for bringing their wonderful husbands into our family. They are both amazing fathers and husbands and I love them very much.

So-as we say goodbye to April in a couple days I'll be welcoming May with open arms.It's a month of my favorite weather, and its brought great thing into my life. What's not to love about May?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Clean outs

Yesterday my husband and sons spent a good part of the day ripping out sheet rock and carpeting in my son's basement. They bought a house with a finished basement but the work had not been done correctly and there was a leak which led to a mold problem. So they took down the walls and cut up the carpeting and now its back to "basement" status.

Driving up and seeing the dumpster in their driveway immediately brought back all kinds of memory flashbacks. We have rented dumpsters many times in our marriage and most certainly done our share on the "clean up" department. Last year alone we cleaned out my aunt's house in Buffalo when she needed to sell it, and then three months later had a dumpster in our own driveway to accommodate all the "stuff" that became garbage when we cleaned out our attic after over 30 years in this house. So we know more about dumpsters than we care to at this point. I'm especially fond of the one that have doors to open at the end so you can walk right into them with heavy stuff. It's much kinder to the shoulders and arms and made a hug difference to my husband and brother when we were getting rid of furniture and other large things at my aunt's house. At our age any little help is welcome!

There is something very satisfying about cleaning out spaces, wherever they are, whatever the size, from small closets or dresser drawers to basements and attics. It always feels really good.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wind

We've had a lot of wind on the east end this week and it certainly changes everything! A beautiful sunny day can become chilly with a stiff wind, and enjoying the outdoors is difficult if accompanied by the movement of the air.

When I was young my mother used to explain God by comparing him to the wind. We cannot see the wind, she would say, but we see what it does and we know it's there. In the same way, we don't see God, but are aware of his presence by experiencing his actions and seeing what happens all around us with his presence. I think of that analogy every time I see the wind blowing outside my window, or hear the wailing of it outside at night. God is moving like the wind too! It reminds me if his presence. And it am comforted by it.


Like the wind - always moving among us and making everyone take notice.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wednesdays

I'm really enjoying my Wednesdays this year. With the part-time job I took on last summer, Wednesdays is the one day I know I will always have free and they are my life lines.


So Wednesday is the one morning I may stay in bed until 7 - gasp! And then I get to do the grocery shopping, run lots of errands, catch up on my various volunteer jobs and positions. It's my chance to breathe because I decide what I'm going to do and when I'm going to do it.

The down side to Wednesdays at the moment is that those were the days I was meeting my good friend for shopping or lunch or whatever we decided to do. She would come to my house about 11:30 and we would join forces for the day, having time to catch up and solve each others problems. With here sudden death in March that leaves a rather large hole in my Wednesdays and I've been trying hard to fill that hole with other things so I don't dwell on her absence. It is still raw and hard and I miss her terribly. Especially on Wednesdays.

Wednesdays are my days. I love them.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Swans

The swans have been a source of conversation around town this year as one of the pair was hit by a car and had to be euthanized a couple months ago.Suddenly though, a new mate has appeared and we seem to have a pair once again. And I wonder how that happened so fast!?

I am going to go out on a limb here and take a wild guess that the one that was killed was the female. In my experience, only males of the species seem to find replacement mates that quickly. I wonder how I can find out if my hypothesis is correct...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Frost

We have had some heavy frost in the last week and my poor daffodils are still standing. What a strange and unpleasant weather year 2014 has been so far! They are talking about an unusually hot summer and that will be the icing on the cake for me! I'll take snow over heat and humidity any day - although I fully realize I'm the exception on that front.

Ah well, as they say we have no control over the weather and its a good thing we don't. No doubt if we did we would screw that up like we do everything else we take charge of, right?

Well I happen to enjoy this weather right now, with its cold nights ad warm days. I like wearing sweaters and light jackets and I like to be chilly at night when I'm snuggled under my warm blankets. I don't need the heat on in the house and I sleep like a dream. Perfection!

So, for the moment, I'm just going to enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Springing"

We are surely springing forward right now. The skies are sunnier and bluer than they were. The roads are busier. And the landscapers are out in force, making lawns green and neat and pretty for the season to come.

I love the beginning of the seasons. I love the promise they hold and the "newness" of it all. By the end of each one, I'm ready for the next. I think summer is my least favorite of the seasons. First would be fall, then spring, then winter, and then summer. Not the choices everybody would make. But nevertheless, that's me.

So spring is here both on the calendar and in the temperatures now and I'm enjoying it. First the time change, then the sun, then the warm air.....love it! Now I'm looking forward to seeing the azaleas popping all over town...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nice

Last week I was so overwhelmed with "life" and also so busy getting ready for Easter, I forgot to post a blog entry early in the day. I received the nicest note on Facebook from a friend who wanted me to know how much she missed my blog and hoped I was doing OK. It totally made my day.

Sometimes life throws you amazingly difficult curve balls. It knocks us down with the force of it and we struggle to get back on our feet, slowly getting to our knees, then one leg up, then the other, and finally, hopefully, standing erect once again in triumph.

I'm not there yet. But I can honestly say that its the little kindnesses of others, like taking the time to write me a note and encourage me, that enable us to do that standing again. Because we realize that no matter how difficult tings may be, there are wonderful, kind people in our lives and, if we are very lucky, there are enough of them to make us smile again.

And smiling is so sweet when it finally happens.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!




HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Beauty

There are few things that provide us with more beauty around here than a sunny spring day!

Last week I walked our small property to just enjoy the little things: the mini daffodils, the boxwoods beginning to green up nicely, and the grass soon to be needing a mow. I love the new life that we see everywhere in the spring.

Unfortunately I also saw all the damage the deer have been doing to my yard. Our row of yews, which worked well for years to shield the deck from the cars parked so close to it, have been decimated and are going to have to come out this year. There is no point in trying to keep them going - they are just too far gone now. And I grieved a little over the hyacinths that had barely gotten above ground before they were hewed right to the dirt again.

Well - hopefully the deer will soon have more to eat around the neighborhood and will leave some of my things alone. If not the spring is just not going to be a pretty as it used to be anymore...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hurry!

Sometimes my life seems to be all about hurrying. I hurry from one place to another, because my work does not involve one place where I go every day and spend the next 8 hours Instead I go from one job to another, from meeting to meeting, from Southampton to Sag Harbor, to East Hampton - all in the same day very often. It tends to make one feel a bit scattered  and I long for a job where I go to an office and stay there for the day.

Life in general seems to be about rushing around now days anyway. We go from one thing to anther, fitting in our errands between our job and our family responsibilities. I often long or the day when we were home with kids every night, rarely going out But then I catch myself and remember how I longed to go out at night and not have to find babysitters! I suppose we humans are just always looking for the greener grass across the fence and that's art of the problem. It's just in our nature.

Well, fortunately I am healthy and still able to go from place to place, which fits my personality. I suppose I would be bored should i not be able to.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Loss

I'm feeling pretty off balance these days. I recently lost my oldest and dearest friend and I'm not sure I'm dealing with it well.

Grief is such a funny thing. Not "ha ha" funny but weird funny. It seems different for every loss and this one is really hitting me like a ton of bricks. This was the one person in my life who understood me completely, knew me intimately, and yet accepted me just as I am  without wanting to change me. I was the same for her so it was a mutual thing but I'm angry that she left me. Who will be there for me now?

We first met when we were in the first week of our junior year in high school. She had just transferred from another school and we found ourselves sitting next to each other in homeroom the very first day. I immediately liked her and over the following months we discovered that we were alike in so many ways and our lives became intertwined forever. During the college years when we were apart we wrote almost every day. We talked about the guys in our lives, our hopes and our dreams, and we encouraged each other to be the best we could be. We both settled right here in East Hampton where we helped each other plan our weddings, gave each other baby showers, and held each other up through the tragedies of life. She has been my rock for nearly fifty years. And now that rock is gone and I feel as though my anchor has broken free and I'm simply drifting with the tide.

My life will never be the same, but I doubt many people can even understand the loss. It was the kind of friendship few people are ever blessed with. I am grateful for the gift but somehow resentful for it too because it hurts so much right no. Yes, grief is a funny thing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taxes

Now that tax day is over we can breathe a sigh of relief for another year. It seems like one of the most stressful times of the year and I'm always happy to see it over.

I remember when I was first working and had to file my first tax returns. I went with a friend to H & R Block and paid $2.50 to have some guy fill out thee form for me. It seemed like money well spent. How easy was life back then?

Now I stress over making sure I remember everything. I am terrified off an audit. I worry about keeping records carefully. And I hate paying money if needed at the end of the process!

Taxes are the price we pay for living in this country. I don't resent them - I accept them. We may argue about the necessity for some of our taxes. We can talk about governmental waste. We can certainly agree that none of us like taxes. But as was said before, they are as inevitable as death. Now that's a happy thought!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Painting

My husband is painting again. This time its the new office that we are creating out on our sun porch. So far I haven't picked up a brush and it is one of my least favorite jobs. Our styles are quite different so its not a job that lends itself to our doing together.

We've done lots and lots of painting in our 40 years together. Whenever we moved we painted every room in the "new" place. Since we've been in this house long enough to pay off the mortgage I think is safe to say we've painted every room at least 3 times, some as many as 5 or 6.

This sun porch was a rather unattractive (but typical 1950s) green when we moved in. The first time we painted it we used a bold floral wallpaper on one wall and painted the rest the dark blue of the background color. Then when the wallpaper came down we painted it white. Now, although much of the room is white because there are 6 windows and a doorway so lots of trim, the wall area is becoming a color called "bamboo". That sounds like a light brown but I would call it more of a mocha color - not dark brown but not light brown either. Its a nice color and although its not done yet, I already know I'm going to like it. This choice came after I considered nearly every other color no the chart from yellow to raspberry. But in the end the neutral won out. And I like it.

I would love to be able to pick out colors and have someone come in and paint whatever room needs it. It would be done quickly and professionally and that would be exciting. Maybe in my next life

Monday, April 14, 2014

Prep

I've been busy doing preparations for Easter this past weekend. I bought bags of plastic eggs that I had to fill, making sure that each grandchild had his or her own color and appropriate prizes inside. I also stopped at Pier 1 (my favorite go-to place for decor) and grabbed something cute for the table. pastel gingham napkins and a raffia bunny will make the table festive and pretty.

I also planned the menu for Easter Sunday dinner. This is a challenge since we are tied up at church from early choir rehearsal at 9:15 to about 11:30 when we get home. I scoured the internet and found a recipe for pork roast that is slow cooked over a few hours - perfect! I can prep it before church, put it in the oven, and complete it when we get home.  I did a little more research and found side dishes which could be made the day before and heated through on Sunday. I had m menu and made a complete shopping list.

I'm hoping for an Easter Sunday just like this past weekend was - sunny and warm. Somehow Easter seems right when the weather cooperates. If people dream of snow at Christmas, they also expect sun on Easter Sunday.

So the prep as begun the week will be busy. My favorite kind of busy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palms

I always loved Palm Sunday as a kid. Easter week becomes so somber and dark as we walk with Christ through that final week leading up to the celebration of Easter, but Palm Sunday was like Mardi Gras - one last celebration before our time of sadness. So my memories are good of Palm Sundays.

And of course there was the excitement of getting ready for Easter. We shopped for new outfits, including hats, gloves, and shoes. We anticipated the arrival of the Easter baskets that were such a treat in a family where candy was not a normal part of our diet.

So today, Palm Sunday, was always and still is a fun day for me. I like the celebration and I enjoy the idea of the people laying palms in front of the donkey that carried Christ into the city. It's a day for music and cheering. And the beginning of a long week in the Christian calendar.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Turn

Watching the new television show on AMC last weekend called "Turn" was really fun. It's not often we get to watch history that was made in our own back yards.

I always was fascinated with the Culper spy ring story that took place right here on Long Island. Not only did it involve a distant relative by the name of Anna Strong, but this was a woman who was involved in dangerous espionage during thee Revolutionary War! Wow!

I have no doubt that women have been involved in many important ways in every part of history. But it is a rare thing to hear about it. Other than the negatives (i.e. Marie Antoinette and Lizzie Borden) we usually think of women as being home keeping the children and taking care of the homestead while the men did all the  "smart" work. Other than Molly Pitcher, Madame Curie and Clara Barton, how many women can you name who made important contributions to history? Not many I imagine. So Anna Strong was a stand out for me growing up.

Now I get to see her every Sunday night being smart, brave, and devious right there in the small screen, proving to me what I've always known: the women were there - they just didn't get recognized too often in "his"tory....

Friday, April 11, 2014

More

Speaking of our deer problem - I have to find a way to deal with our decimated yews this year.

We have a driveway that comes right up to our outdoor deck so years ago we planted a row of yews along the deck side where the cars are parked. It made a really hedge to soften the effect of the cars being right there, but the deer have totally destroyed it. I don't think there is anything we can plant there now that these voracious creatures won't destroy so I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this spot in our yard now.

I think perhaps using some lattice, which we have on our overhang, might be a good option. My husband thinks it would look better to shingle a simple short wall there. I'm not sure but I think the simpler the project the more likely it is it get done. We are still working on the home office renovation, weeks later now, and I know from experience these things take forever when you do the work yourselves.

Another example of the way the deer are costing us big time. They've destroyed all kinds of landscaping e sent good money o and now we're going to have to build something to replace this hedge. I am really so tired of these creatures. I know they're cute but there are clearly too many of them when they are eating things they never used to eat. When their food source is scarce they are desperate.

And now so am I.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pests

I've really had it with the deer.

I know there are deer lovers out there and I hate to offend any of them, but I have come to detest the creatures. I am at the point where I feel the same way about them that I do about the mice that get into my house and the occasionally rat (shudder) that I see in the wild. I even would compare them to ants. They are annoying and need to be controlled.

When we moved into this house I began planting things. I planted hydrangea bushes and irises. I planted azaleas, hostas, and yews. It took me many years to create gardens around my house because money was always tight and I would add a little each year.

About 6 years ago the deer began eating the things in my yard. First they decimated the day lilies. Then the yews were hit. Eventually as the years have passed and the deer population has exploded, they have eaten everything I have in my yard, even the things they had never touched before, with the exception of my daffodils.

This year they are hitting the daffodils. My first sign of spring. The thing that makes me smile when I walk out of my back door.

I hate the deer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wind

I think wind is the most fascinating of all weather issues. You can't see it - you can only see the results of it. You know its there but its difficult to predict or guard against. There is no umbrella for wind and eve the best clothing can't really protect you from it.

Last weekend we had a spectacular day on Saturday. The sun was shining, the sky was clear and blue, the temperature was perfect, and yet it was cold and uncomfortable outside thanks to - you've got it - the wind. Looking outside from the house it seemed a gorgeous spring day. Walking into the wind was miserable. When the wind calmed, I enjoyed being outside but as soon as it whipped up again, I couldn't wait to get back indoors.

It was a great tease for the summer to come and made me think about all the fun outdoor things to come. But also reminded me that looks can be deceiving and the wind can change everything...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Something borrowed

There's a television show on TV right now that touches on something I love. It's called "Something Borrowed or Something New" and it involves taking a mother's bridal gown and making it into a  new style for her daughter, and then her having to choose between the re-made dress and a beautiful new dress that she chooses from the racks.

I like this show because to me, nothing would be more perfect than wearing a gown that was worn by your mother or grandmother on their wedding days. And having someone who could re-design it to fit your own pesonality or newer styles is a dream.

When I got married I would have worn my mother's gown in an instant but it was not an option. Most importantly it had not been stored carefully and was in shreds and very yellowed. But it also would have needed serious re-styling because I wore a larger size than she did. It seemed impossible. But perhaps if we had a designer on hand some magic may have occurred.

I carefully stored my gown but neither of my daughters seemed the least bit interested in using it. Perhaps a re-styling would have made a difference. But in any case I am holding out hope that one of my five grandchildren will like the idea of using grandma's antique wedding dress someday...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Coincidince?

I'm fascinated at how often it happens that another blog I read happens to hit on a very similar topic as mine despite the fact that they both are published early in the morning and neither could know about the other. I wonder if there isn't some subliminal thing going on.

I mean, perhaps the news from the day includes a story that rolls around in our brains and despite the fact that we don't consciously think about it, there was something that we both heard than made similar thoughts fill our brains.

I don't think there are a lot of coincidences in life. I think things happen for reasons. Somewhere there is some metaphysical link that makes us think alike. And I love that!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Public life

One of the most frustrating things about being in public life as an elected official is the assumption some people seem to have that we are clueless. I sometimes wonder why they put us in office in the first place. Is it simply because they don't want to do the job themselves and will put anyone in office who is willing? I mean if I was a dumb as some people seem to think I am not very much would ever get done in our little village.

Interestingly enough they often think we never leave our homes. They feel the need to point out everything they see that they think we don't. I mean, we live here too, right? We drive the same roads, hit the same potholes, experience the same frustrations, and  see the same needs that they do. Of course I don't mind anyone approaching me to see if I've seen something or am aware of something, but once I assure them I have and that I am equally concerned and they still feel the need to take me by the hand or insist I meet them someplace to see what I've already seen, I begin to think they either assume we all lie or never travel their neighborhoods.

The fact of the matter is I constantly drive through every neighborhood in this little place, checking on things and looking for anything untoward. In fact, I sometime notice things before they do. But good luck trying to convince them. I guess I just have to accept the fact that my intelligence and commitment to my job is just not universally acknowledged. What an odd job it is.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Times

When thinking about door-to-door salesmen yesterday I continued to think about how different life is today and I realized that this is one of the things that make our siblings so special to us - that shared experience. Only they remember what our house was like growing up and how much fun it was to explore the neighborhood in the days before traffic was so dangerous and life so complicated. And only they remember what our life was like in that house and what our parents were like. And most importantly, what our "times" were like.

I'm sure it was a similar feeling for my parents when they thought back to their childhoods. They had no TV, no telephones, lived through the depression, didn't always have cars - things that were certainly not our experiences.

And already my kids are talking about their lives before cell phones and iPads..... 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fuller Brushes

I was thinking the other day how I miss the Fuller Brush man! And then I was surprised to find that Fuller still exists and still sells brushes online!

So many thing were delivered to our houses when we were kids. We had our milk delivered by the local dairy, our fresh eggs by Mr. Iacono, fresh vegetables in the summer by Mr. Brullo, bread and cakes by the Dugan man, and at least once a year, the Fuller Brush man appeared at our door to sell all kinds of wonderful things! My mother bought toothbrushes, hair brushes, shoe polishing equipment, and even clothes brushes. He had wonderful things and there was nothing like getting a brand new hairbrush with a beautiful wooden handle!

I can still see those wares spread out on the kitchen counter for Mom to examine. She was frugal, my mother, and had a limited budget, but clearly she was prepared for his visit because we always bought some things.

Life was so much simpler when salesmen came to our houses to sell things. And so much more enjoyable too. I would so much rather see things laid out on my kitchen counter where I can hear about their various attributes and compare them easily, as opposed to standing in CVS trying to figure out which hair brush will fit my hand the best.

If only there was still a Fuller Brush man around! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Normal

The best thing about shows like "Dr. Phil" is it gives me a peek into the lives of other people and makes me so grateful for my "normal" life.

Sometimes I wonder what exactly "normal" is though. I mean, are the people who appear on these shows normal or am I? I watch "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" (or any of the other "housewife" series - just fill in the blanks!) and I think I am looking at aliens. I have nothing in common with these people! I don't "get" their lifestyles, their morals, their values - completely from another world. And yet, who defines "normal"?

I know what my normal is. And I like it a lot more than some of what other people's "normal" apparently is. It may be a subjective thing but it is still is good with me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Habits

When I was young I had very few habits but I find as I get older my habits are more and more abundant and certainly more difficult to break. Not that they are are necessarily bad habits, but still I enjoy the routines in my life and miss them if they are broken.

I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning. On a rare occasion I am running late and might grab a bagel at the local shop instead of taking the time to sit and read the paper with my morning bowl of cereal. I like to sit in the same place on the couch every night and play with my iPad. I enjoy being able to climb into my bath every night before bed and spend some time relaxing. These are the kind of things that are habits - not bad ones of course - but habits nonetheless. Gone are the days when I could grab a few things and head off for a weekend with little thought to where I was going to sleep or what I was going to eat. I enjoy my creature comforts - my simple habits - and I see more and more of my mother and father in myself as I age, which I suppose is inevitable.

Some of my habits are good ones - like making the bed every morning or putting things away when I'm done with them. Some are annoying, and some are simply neutral.  But habits they are nonetheless.. And we are, as someone once said, surely creatures of them!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool

No April Fool jokes for me today - just not yet in a jocular mood since burying my dear friend last week. I find that when one is deeply in grief it takes some time to climb out of the black hole that we find ourselves in at such times in life.

But I love the idea of April Fool's Day and have had my fun in years past pulling all manner of jokes on people, so I certainly don't get annoyed at anyone else who does as long as they are fun and not dangerous or mean-spirited things. I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person. But this day poses its own challenges because its not about "jokes" necessarily - its about fooling someone else is a funny way. Someone with a bit of a twisted mind could do terrible things but if everything is in fun and lightly delivered, I see no harm. When the kids were small we always ad some trick to play on their father wen he came home from work and he always fell for it, giving the kids great enjoyment and causing a lot of glee and giggles.

These days the ante is upped a bit because I need to work hard to do something that my husband will buy into. This year it won't happen but maybe the next. I have a whole year to think about it so maybe something elaborate will be worked out. And if not perhaps thinking about the possibilities will be entertaining enough for me.