Thursday, December 31, 2015

Babysitting

Tonight, New Years Eve, brings up so many memories.

First it was years of babysitting. All the way into high school I spent my New Years Eve nights babysitting for other people. I always stayed awake long enough to watch the ball drop at midnight, but then, as the night wore on, I found it more and more difficult to stay awake. I have a very strong memory of sleeping in a red leather lounge chair in a living room on Meadow Way where I worked regularly. I remember them waking me up for the ride home.

I didn't have any great memories of romantic celebrations as a young woman. In fact, one year when I was about 19 I got a phone call at the last minute from someone I'd had a rush on for years, asking if I had plans for New Years. My heart soared thinking that he had finally decided it was time to connect with me. But as it turned out, he was looking for someone to go with him, his girlfriend, and her brother who did not have a date. He said this guy was a bit socially inept and he knew I would be kind to him. That about sums up my "romantic" years. They didn't really exist. In retrospect I am flattered that I got that phone call. I may not have been anyone's idea of a date for themselves, but at least they thought of me when they were looking for someone kind and sensitive. I'm OK with it now.

So, here we are at the dawn of a new year. I am more than thrilled to be around to see 2016...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The pond

There is nothing quite like coming into East Hampton and turning the corner from Woods Lane on to Main Street. Of course, arriving in East Hampton actually happens a few miles before that, but there is something about that pond that makes it home.

Perhaps it's because now you are in the center of town, where it all began over 370 years ago. The early settlers knew what they were doing. They set up shop perpendicular to the ocean, not parallel to it, where flooding and storms would take their toll. No, they were too smart for that. Which is why the Bennetts and Talmages and Hedges don't own oceanfront property. They were way to smart for that!

Yes, the pond signals that we have arrived,just as it has for many, many years. It is the scene that dreams are made of. Dreams of servicemen serving overseas, and college students far from home. And of the many native sons and daughters that have had to move to points far afield from here. There is something about the pond. And Main Street. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that very little has changed in a very long time. The homes are still pretty much the same, with Home Sweet Home and the beautiful churches standing guard. No, not much has changed here, at least not at the entrance to the village. So whether you live in the Springs, or Amagansett, or any other part of East Hampton, it's Town Pond that defines home. And it's always good to be here...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Games

One of the things I love about being at my daughter's in Pennsylvania is the games.

The kids here are pretty limited in their time on electronics. They spend a lot of time outside and they play lots of board games as a family. So when we visit I love playing games with the kids. When they were younger the variety was a bit more limited. But now that they're all over the age of ten we get to play things that are a bit more challenging. On this trip it's been rummikub, which we've played before, and a new one they got for Christmas called bananagram. It involves making words with your tiles, all connected like a crossword. It's challenging and good exercise for the brain so I enjoyed it. I have no one to play games with at home since my husband has no interest in it, so when I'm here I love getting lots of game time in. With all the potential partners it's not difficult.

My next husband will definitely be a gamer. Hopefully not a gambler, but most definitely someone who'll play a game at the kitchen table now and again....

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Away

Well, best laid plans.

Usually when I'm away from home I blog at night when I get into the so,it use of my room. Last night I got snuggled in about 9:30 and took out my iPad ready to recount the day's trip and celebration with the family "from away" only to discover I couldn't get onto my daughter's Internet. No longer dressed appropriately, and too tired anyway, I resisted the urge to traipse back downstairs to figure out what the necessary password was and read the NY Times that I'd brought along with me instead.

It was our best trip ever yesterday. We got off nice and early while most people were still sleeping off the holiday and We made record time. The roads on Long Island were fairly empty and we were on Staten Island in two hours. Traffic was heavier on the Jersey Turnpike, but we never slowed down and it seemed like no time at all before we were in Pennsylvania. We were even able to make a couple quick stops along the way to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales st Walmart, etc. more Christmas lights to bring home for next year's celebration! Yippee!

The time here always goes too quickly but we're grateful for the time we get. I may get a chance to blog again before we leave. Or not. We shall see....

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a wonderful day
with many blessings and lots of love!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Done

So...the gifts are all wrapped and tagged, the house is (fairly) clean, the errands are completed and the cooking is done....I think we're ready for Christmas.

Today is still a busy day, but it's all good. I'm babysitting this morning, going to my daughters for Christmas Eve family time 1:00, heading to church at 5, then home to make sure the stockings are filled and ready for the kids to arrive tomorrow. Phew! We are ready!

Tomorrow will be a day of celebration for the great gift of the baby Jesus, of fun with the family, of a it of melancholy  for those no longer on earth with us and those far away, but for the most part laughter and love. It truly is the best time of the year.

Now....if only we could order up a nice light snowfall.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Entertaining

My biggest frustration with the holidays is simply that they don't last long enough. I think we need to move Thanksgiving back into October so we'll have two months to celebrate.

Every year I wish I had more time for entertaining. I love having people over during the holidays, and I just don't have enough to time to do it all. I do one large dinner party for old friends and one luncheon for my colleagues at village hall. But that leaves a lot of people out! I want to have a family party that includes all my nieces and nephews, and a dinner party for newer friends, and maybe an open house for so many people whose lives touch ours all during the year. If only I had a larger house, I could have them all at the same time! But alas, it is what it is, and I simply can't manage to get it all done at once. It's one of the frustrations of the season.

Today I will be done with my entertaining, with the exception of course of Christmas Day when my nuclear family will all be here. And then, I look forward to being with friends for New Years Eve, not entertaining myself, but enjoying the hospitality of others. And that will be a treat for sure.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rain?

It would be nice
to see a light snow today instead of this rain. Call me crazy, but I love seeing a little snow on the ground!

Oh I'm not talking about a considerable accumulation or a blizzard-there is way too much to get done now, and far too many folks hitting the road this week. But a light coating, enough to cover the world in a lovely white throw, would be very welcome in my book. It is Christmas, after all!

I am feeling pretty much ready for Friday at this point, but a new cold has me feeling less than 100% and I would be happy to be able to simply veg on the couch, but that's just not possible. I'm even supposed to be singing at church on Christmas Eve, and that's in question at this point I'm not giving up yet, and I've been faithfully taking Zinc pills every three hours "as directed", but I'm not sure it will do the trick. We'll see!

Somehow the times I feel the need to lay back and not do anything never come at convenient times.

Well here we are. There are two days left to get things done. There is NO time for sitting down now!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tradition

Last night as our annual viewing of my favorite Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life". Every year we watch it and every year it puts me in the Christmas spirit totally. It's a tale of  great gift given to a very deserving man named George Bailey. At a low point in his life, when he is contemplating suicide, he is given the ability to glimpse the world as it would have been had he never been born.

This year we invited the grandchildren and their parents to join us for the screening, and I was pleased at how interested they were in it. After all, it is set in the year 1928 nod is in bulk & whit, so I wasn't sure children of the age of technology would be engaged by it. But they were. A will admit to dozing off myself for about ten minutes due to some very short nights recently, but I was full awake for the final scene, always my favorite.

Now, I'm really ready for Christmas....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Decor

I'm trying to find a label for our Christmas decor. Some people have decorations you could describe as "modern", or "Victorian", maybe "traditional" for some. But mine is more on the "eclectic" side of things.

I used to think that some day I would have the perfect, classy decor for my house. Once the children were grown I pull decide on a theme and go out and buy all new ornaments and hangings for the house, very classy and well coordinated. But that never happened. Because there were grandchildren. And there were memories. And there were artifacts. So every Christmas, we drag out the same old boxes with the unbreakable ornaments, the mementos of Christmases past, things my kids made in kindergarten, the piece we bought on our honeymoon....

I don't care so much now about having beautiful decor for the holidays. I mean, it would be nice, and it would look lovely I know. But somehow the comfort that comes with those old things, and the joy of letting the grand kids help decorate because they can't do any harm, well...at the end of the day, Christmas is all about love now, isn't it?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Around town

Last night we were driving around after dark and even in the rain the Christmas lights looked beautiful.

I love the fact that people are doing more and more with single-color light strands. There's a beautiful tree heavily covered with red lights that sits in front of the Whitmore complex on the way to Amagansett. So far this year I've seen trees decked out in lavender, blue, white, and now...red. They're all equally nice.

Driving through Southampton after dark recently I saw a really well done tree in very dark, purple lights. It was really lovely. But because we were sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic moving west, I realized that about every minute or two the entire tree slowly morphed from purple to a deep red-rust color. I don't know if it changed into any other colors because we moved out of sight too quickly, but in any case it was really pretty. Obviously it is a new type of LED light strand and it is
very effective.

It seems as though every year there are new styles and new ideas out there and every year the displays bring joy to everyone here on the east end. Especially me!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Phew!

I got a lot done yesterday. And I feel better today. Because this time of the year is full of stress and worry if you get behind at all!

I live with lists. Every day this week I have a list of places to be and things to get done. All my lists lead up to this weekend and then I can breath. Then I can skate right to Christmas Day. I can enjoy the next couple weeks with few commitments and no schedules. The hustle and bustle will be past and I can look forward to a few weeks of quiet, knitting by the fire and watching the snow fall.

Well, that's my fantasy in any case. Maybe the snow will fall, and maybe I'll be able to sit inside and watch it. If I'm not on ambulance duty....or have meetings to go to....or whatever. In any case I look forward to January. I'm ready for it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Deliveries

I love making deliveries at Christmas. I love giving gifts and visiting with people as I deliver them to various friends and family. This year the fun will be stretched out a little longer since we'll be traveling to see family the day after Christmas, which means more deliveries to enjoy.

When we were kids my aunt and uncle from upstate came to spend every Christmas with us here in East Hampton. I still remember the excitement of watching them unload their car when they arrived, carefully transporting the beautifully wrapped gifts into the house and under the tree. My aunt did beautiful ribbon treatments on her gifts, wrapping and manipulating it into wonderful bows, or even ribbon flowers. They were special gifts under the tree and we knew that whether we liked them or not, they were chosen carefully with a great deal of care.

I'm not sure my grand kids get as much of a thrill out of our gifts as volume alone makes mine much more assembly-line style than my aunt's were. But they are still chosen with care...and packaged with a great deal of love.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tick tock

Well it's already been a long week and it's barely begun...

The holidays are always busy. My days are scheduled hourly and each one is full up until Christmas Day. Then the day after we'll head to Pennsylvania for some much needed R & R.

So the days are busy. Suddenly having a sad occasion thrown into the mix has made things even more  challenging. Last night we drove into Nassau County for a wake, and then back again today for the funeral. I've been working on shaking the blues ever since getting home.

Tomorrow I'll be up early and heading to the grocery store at 7. And then the next crazy day has begun. But honestly, now that I can turn my mind once again to the glory of the season, I think I'll be more than up to the challenge. Time for celebrating and enjoying what's to come. And I'm definitely up for that!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Bells

Yesterday morning at church we heard the story behind the Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". The author of the poem that the hymn was written from was a man of faith who suffered great loss: two wife's died and then his son was badly wounded in the Civil War. He wrote the poem in a state of grief and loss. And yet he ends it with a message of hope and promise. His faith shining through the darkest times.

Then later in the afternoon we received the news that the adult daughter of friends had succumbed to the breast cancer she had been battling with for the past 6 years. What a horrible loss during the normally cheerful holidays. It was a juxtaposition that could not be ignored.

I cannot imagine the loss of a child. I have, however, experienced loss around the holidays. And just as Henry Wadsworth Longworth did back in the 1860s, I found myself buoyed by my faith and encouraged during such a time because of that faith.

It was a sobering, and yet uplifting, day.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lights

For years now we've had a pretty Japanese maple tree in the front yard and some time ago my husband covered it in white lights for Christmas, a la Tavern on the Green. When we first did it there was no other like it in town and every year we added a few more strands, to the point where it was really beautiful, and I looked forward to seeing it on every Christmas. If there was snow on the ground it was especially beautiful.

Last year, because the lights remained on for so long, the connections began to fray as the tree was growing and putting a strain on all the wires. So....no tree. I missed it so much. And this year we were faced with the issue of what to do. The problem with trying to restring the tree is that it would literally take thousands of lights. Since we added them year by year it didn't hurt so much as we went along, but the idea of buying all this lights set us back on our heels a bit.

The other issue is that there are now many trees around town that are covered in white lights, and it's no longer much of a unique display. I'd like to think they are all copies of ours, but I imagine we weren't the only ones who enjoyed Tavern on the Green when we went into NYC? Those trees were quite stunning!

So yesterday we tried something new. We (and I use the term "we" loosely here since I didn't do very much) wrapped the pillars on the front porch with greens and lights and continued them up to the peak of the small porch roof. That, along with the lighted wreath on the front door, will hopefully help to fill that empty space in my heart where our beautiful lighted maple tree was. Because I still miss it.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Touring

Last night was our final walking tour of the Main Street historic district for the year 2015. I always enjoy them.

I've been assisting with these tours for quite a few years now and, since I am a minor player in this show, I mostly get to go along and listen. Hugh King, who is the real character in this play, is such a wealth of information and I learn something new every time we do it.

My role is small. I come in costume, right out of the 1800s, and carry a flashlight to assist with every one's footing in the tricky areas. Occasionally I add a few words about one of the places we stop, leading the way on the information about the history of the Presbyterian Church, for instance. But other than that, Its all Hugh's wit and wisdom that makes the night.

Last night we were blessed with warm weather and clear skies and it was a really nice way to spend a little time, walking around beautiful East Hampton Main Street, reliving history and learning about the lives our ancestors lived. What could be better than that?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Calendar

I had to get my new calendar out this morning. I received an email notice of a meeting on January 6th. My first entry.

Now I'm committed to sitting down and going through my 2015 calendar to transfer birthdays, anniversaries, regular meetings and other scheduled things into my new one, lest I forget something important in the next year. I think that is a job for later this afternoon when I get home from my day's activities. Time to put my feet up and rest before venturing out again tonight. I enjoy going through the calendar really as I am able to relive some highlights and enjoy some of the special times we had this past year. The older I get the more I enjoy those memories. When I was young I was too fixated on the future and not enough on the present. Now the present is all important and the past a comfort. One of the interesting things about aging. Not that I don't look forward to the future, of course - otherwise I wouldn't bother with the whole calendar thing! Every birthday we celebrate is a special occasion. Its just that at my age we know our future is uncertain and we live for the moment as much as possible.

So by tonight my new calendar will be placed on the kitchen counter right underneath my present one, where I can begin writing in the things to come in such a short time. How quickly the years fly by.

New calendars mark new, empty pages, waiting to be filled with the stuff of life. I look forward to that very much.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Long days

When I talk to my tired daughters-in-law who are dealing with little ones I often repeat the wisdom of the ages that with children in the house "the days are long but the years are short". And I have come to realize that this saying really applies to all of life, not only raising children. At least at certain times in life.

And this is one of them.

My days are very busy right now and they are flying by. I know I'm going to turn round and suddenly it's going to be February.

Today I hope to finish the decorating inside the house, but I have to squeeze it in between my meetings and rehearsals, and squad duty tonight. Yikes.

Yes, the days are long, but they really do pass quickly when we're busy. Mine certainly are.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Lagging

I am definitely lagging behind in terms of the seasonal decor in my house this year. The tree is up, but that's about it, and I'm beginning to think if the rest isn't done soon I may as well forget about it. Christmas is bearing down on us now.

I am going to make a real effort to get the greens and hangings and Christmas pillows out of the attic this afternoon and bring a little more cheer inside. Somehow without these little memories and seasonal touches it's inhibiting me from truly getting into the mental aspect of the holiday. I'm just feeling it as much as usual, and I want to. Isn't it amazing what a few decorations and a little glitter can do? But it's true. The more gold, silver, red, and green the better as far as I'm concerned. Time to get things going here for sure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dot

Ive been thinking a lot about my mother-in-law lately, probably because this is the date she was born back in 1921.

I wish that I could think about her, along with my own parents, without regrets, but I never can. It seems that some of my memories of parents have to do with things I wish I hadn't done, or said to them, or with wishing I'd had more patience with them at the end of their lives, or done more for them when I was able to. Those regrets haunt me, and yet I realize I probably have fewer than some people. That fact really doesn't matter because the times I wasn't as kind, or loving, or giving as I should have been are very sharp in my mind. I remember them better than I remember the times I went out of my way for them, or did something especially nice. I'm sure those occasions happened. But the negatives certainly eclipse the positives in my own mind.

My mother-in-law was a wonderful person. I wish I had told her that ore often. I hate having regrets.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Be merry

It is sometimes difficult when listening to the news to keep the "merry" in our Christmas. What is there to be merry about anyway?

Well this is the time of year when we need to work hard to keep our priorities in order. We need to remember that even in the worst of times, and there have been plenty of those throughout history, there have been those who have been able to make us see the good in humanity, and also remind us of the fact that we are only travelers in this world, passing through to a better place.

It is interesting that in this time of fear and anxiety over the things and people of the Middle East, that we are preparing to celebrate similar refugees from long ago, looking for a safe place to shelter while they bring their son into this strife-filled world. And the world needed that baby, who would go back n the change it forever.

Interesting indeed.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advent

Growing up in a "low" church, we didn't talk much about the seasons of the church calendar. I rarely heard mention of things like lent, ordinary time, or advent. It was an education for me to join a higher church as an adult and learn about some of the "rules" that come with following a more traditional church year, and I have come to really appreciate the season of  advent.

As the advent wreath was placed in front of the sanctuary right after Thanksgiving, I immediately began to contemplate the weeks to come. As each Sunday comes along, and each new candle is lit, I think about the series of events that led to the miracle we call Christmas. It is a wonderful time of anticipation and preparation, leading to a great time of celebration. In fact, in this higher church home, Christmas carols are never sung until Christmas Eve. Throughout the month I'd December we sing the hymns of advent, the songs of watching and waiting.

I loved the church I grew up in and don't regret a minute of my time there. But I think sometimes churches have a tendency to throw the babies out with the bath water. And in an attempt to separate from an overly liturgical worship, sometimes important things are left behind. I think celebrating advent is one of them.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Santa

Today was the Santa parade in East Hampton. It's a tradition that goes back as long as I can remember.

When I was young, we attended the parade, which ended at the VFW on the corner of Main and Fithian, and then we went in to the VFW to meet Santa. He gave each child a candy cane if I remember correctly. And then, there were free cartoons offered at the Edwards Movie Theater. It was an exciting day!

Of course, East Hampton was a smaller place back then. We have a photo that dates back to about 1955 which is taken from the steps of the VFW looking out onto the crowd. Fathers and mothers holding small children, all trying to get into the building, made quite a crunch. All the children were dressed in their best clothes, with woolen coats and matching hats. Another era indeed.

By the time I was in high school the Santa greetings and the free movies were already a thing of the past. But the parade, with a new route, remained. Then my own children marched, with their cub scouts, or band. Now, once again we walk up to see the parade, this time with a gaggle of grandchildren on tow, two marching in the parade, and lots of friends to wave at. It was warm and sunny today. I remember others that weren't as enjoyable. But traditions are nice to continue.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Weekend...

Today starts the first of the crazy December weekends to come.

Tonight we head to a friends for dinner. This is one of my favorite kind of holiday events-a warm and cozy dinner around a big table with lots of friends. There is nothing better.

Tomorrow night is our ambulance dinner dance, which always kicks off the season with an opportunity to dress up in sparkly holiday clothes, give myself a manicure, and dance with my husband. I look forward to it every year.

In the morning tomorrow is the annual Santa parade here in East Hampton, a long held tradition that's always fun. I may get there. I remember marching in this parade with the high school marching band all these years ago. Time does fly.

Sunday we're going to see my grandson in a dance production of A Christmas Carol. It should be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The weekend will fly by, as they all do this time of the year.

And so it begins...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Done

I finished my Christmas gift list yesterday as I completed the sewing project I've been working on for some time now. It feels good to be done, almost all wrapped and in the attic with tags on them. Phew!

Now on to the other holiday pleasures! Today I begin the Christmas cookie baking. I make over a dozen kinds and fill the freezer every year, using them for gifts to distribute to co-workers and friends.

I am going to choir tonight to practice for our annual service of lessons & carols. Music brings me joy especially at this time of the year!

Saturday night is our annual ambulance awards dinner, always the kick off to the season of parties. I've already given myself a nice red manicure with a light brush of silver glitter on top. Only during the holidays!

Yes, this is a fun time of the year. And it's only the beginning. I am already enjoying the celebrations...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wet

It's a rainy day today, following an overcast and damp one yesterday. We're entering into the darkest days of the year right now and right now it feels like it.

I enjoy the winter more and more as I get older. I know that goes against the popular idea that the older we get the ore we want to move south, because I certainly don't. If I had to make a choice I would take winter over the heat of August, but spring and fall are my favorite seasons. I'm not a big fan of the ice that comes with really cold temperatures.

But days like today are not my favorite. I like the sun, even when it's cold out there. But there is a life lesson in the weather. Because we need rain for life to thrive. And life in general is a series of ups and downs. But those difficult days make the great ones so much sweeter. Just as the sun will be so welcome tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December

Well it's finally beginning to feel like December so I suppose it should officially be here. But it's still mild enough here to go coatless for the most part. I took a raincoat with me when I left the house this morning because the were talking about rain, but we never had more than a drizzle, so the coat never went on. I was fine in a t-shirt and light sweater.

Christmas decorations are beginning to show up around town and its feeling like the holidays. Our own tree is up, although the rest of the Christmas decor is still in the attic. Perhaps this weekend I'll have the energy to get it all done. At the very least we need stockings and greenery to set the stage.

East Hampton is always beautiful during the holidays, restrained and classy for the most part. There are a few homes that I would call "over the top", but they are few and far between. And taste is such a subjective thing. But most everyone here goes along with the "simple and elegant" theme. I love driving down Main Street on a December evening, from the mills at each end to the trees lining Main and Newtown, it's a wonderful sight. And it's only the beginning.

Monday, November 30, 2015

41

It seems amazing to me that today is the 41st anniversary of the day I got married.

I remember that time so vividly. I remember the planning, the work, the excitement-it still makes my heart flutter a little to remember how enthralled I was with this man and the idea that I would get to be with him forever. It was a good match as it turned out, and more importantly it was a willingness on both our parts to work on this relationship thing through all the ups and downs of it. It hasn't been a perfect marriage, if there even is such a thing, but they have, for the most part, been very happy years. And all the best things about my life have been a result of that union, with the exception of my original family. My children and grandchildren, and the person I am today, are a result of what happened forty-one years ago, for sure.

So it is something to celebrate. Because it is the bumpy times (and we all have them), the losses, the failures, the difficulties...balanced by the joys, the celebrations, and the easy times, that make us who we are now. We are the sum total of our life experiences and they shape us into unique beings who are often a far cry from the ones we started with. We grow and we change. And we hopefully get better. And that's because of a day forty-one years ago now that would change me forever. I really am not much like that young girl anymore. She was someone my children will never know. Yet when my husband looks at me I hope he still sees a young girl looking back at him.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Quiet

So the house is quiet today. Since Wednesday we've had no less than seven people in the house-at times as many as sixteen. Family was in and out all week-mostly in-which was hectic and crazy and really wonderful. We enjoyed every minute of it.

This morning the travelers pulled out of the driveway and we waved to them until the car was out of sight. I hated to see them go, as always. But there was work to do and we've been at it all day now. There are multiple loads of laundry and lots of vacuuming and picking up to do. I've cleaned out the fridge, tossing the leftovers that sustained us all week but will no longer be used. I need room now for other things.

I've finished up the wrapping so that's been crossed off my list. And I need to start cookie baking. Not sure that will happen today, but at the very least I shall start thinking about it.

One holidays now passed, but another is right on its heels. Time to buckle down and get things organized. Today is the beginning of Christmas for me. And am more than happy to say "Bring it on!"

Saturday, November 28, 2015

House tour

Today was the annual house tour put on by the East Hampton Historical Society. This event started over twenty years ago and for many years I worked at one of the houses as a volunteer. But since the kids went off to college I wasn't willing to give up my entire Saturday to work and instead I buy a ticket and attend it, touring the homes with a friend. In the past few years I've taken my daughters/daughters-in-laws, depending on who is here for the holiday.

Every year we are able to tour through some lovely homes in and around town. Some are tremendous, grand places that obviously are owned by very wealthy people. Others are lovely smaller homes, beautifully decorated and obviously loved. I have found that, despite the grandeur and impressively decorated mansions, it is the smaller ones that I really love. I think it's because I can identify with the people who live in these charming places. Walking around huge homes that have so many rooms it's difficulty to get oriented is fun, but so hard to imagine myself in. But the smaller ones are cozy and live able and I can totally relate. I can imagine myself in these bedrooms and these living rooms. And I can dream about having such lovely decor in my own home some day.

I find it comforting that I don't even lust after those big old rambling places. It's much better to see myself in something I fit into.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks


A few of the many, many things I am so grateful for:

1. First and foremost, family and friends. They are what makes life worth the living.
2. A community that is not only beautiful, but embracing and protective. A community that cares.
3. Health. More appreciated now than ever at this age!
4. A busy life.
5. A relationship with God that keeps me centered, gives me purpose, and helps me grow.
6. Humor and good times.
7. A country where discourse and disagreement are not only encouraged, but protected.
8. Friends who can engage in discourse without anger or bitterness.
9. The ability to learn from my mistakes.
10. Parents who taught me how to survive in the world.
11. Enough money to pay the bills and dress myself but not enough to allow me to lose sight of humility and work ethic.
12. Music, which has helped me define myself for all these years.

Well, that's only some of what I have in my heart on this Thanksgiving day. No doubt there is more! Because once we sit and think about our blessings, the negatives in our lives quickly disappear.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving eve

The holidays are upon us as of today.

The family from away arrived last night-very late. We didn't get to see them until this mornings not. But it's been a busy day and it's not over yet. There are still things to do for tomorrow before I go to bed. And so it begins.

Theses next five weeks are going to be packed full of activities of all sorts. There will be parties to attend, community activities to help with, gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, and lots of people to spend time with. It's a busy, jam-packed time of the year, and I love every minute of it.

And it all started today. Hang on, it's going to be a ride!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Colder

Today has most certainly be colder than the most recent weeks have been. Today I could feel winter coming.

It began with grabbing the gloves from the loser. I haven't yet given in to the winter coat phase as many others have, so I was happy with an nice wool sweater. But gloves were a must.

Then it continued with the ice on my windshield. I sat waiting for the de-icer to warm up because I didn't have the energy to get the scrapper out and clean off the front and back windshields. Instead I sat for a good five minutes in the driveway, waiting for the heat to come up and the windshield to clear.

It's been a beautiful sunny day today though and the sky was clear and air crisp. It was the best of what November has to offer. It certainly has been unusually mild here this fall, but after all, it is Thanksgiving, and we've had blizzards in my memory on this very week. So I'm happy with the sun and the fact that I can still get away without my coat. Today was a beauty, and I'll gladly take it!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lists

I started making lists today. A list of meals for the coming week. A grocery list. An errand list. Holidays always bring out the lists in me.

Family is arriving tomorrow night. The cupboards must be filled and menus filled out. There will be lots of people in and out of the house. It will be a wonderful holiday, filled with the presence of the people I love. These are my favorites times in life. But they do take some planning and preparation.

And so the lists are started. And tomorrow the items on the lists begin to be crossed off, one by one. Subtractions...and additions...will be made...and the holiday will be perfectly crazy, perfectly busy, perfectly tiring, and perfectly wonderful.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Seasonal

It began feeling like November this afternoon.

I have to say, this has been one of the nicest Novembers I can remember. I always like November-it's always been one of my favorite months. That's why I chose it for my wedding 41 years ago. Not too hot and rarely cold enough for snow, it's like my dream time of the year.

Anyway, today - at least this afternoon -the temperature dropped considerably. It was also a rainy, dark day, and the combination of those two things made it feel every bit like November.

I like November even when it's colder and seasonable. Because this week is Thanksgiving. And next week we'll be decorating for Christmas, and baking Christmas cookies. And I love the holidays. Tomorrow officially begins the happiest six weeks of the year, filled with family, festivities, and food. The three "f's" that add up to the fourth: fun. Let the merriment begin!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday

Today was a long day, but a fruitful one. We had lots to do.

This morning we made numerous trips to the attic. Our attic is ice and if, but not easy to access. We have a pull down staircase (c. 1920) that has seen better days so it's a bit rickety to say the least. But we don't have much storage in the first and second floor rooms so the attic is essential. We had suitcases to store, and more wrapped Christmas gifts to cart up there.

Once that was done we decided where to hang things in the newly renovated bathroom and my better half got busy with shelves and hooks and artwork. I headed downstairs for some regular cleaning jobs like vacuuming and the bathroom.

By noon it was time for some painting in the same bathroom, minor touch ups but necessary to finish it off. There were ornamental grasses to cut out in the yard, and sorting to do in the home office. In short, plenty to keep us busy on a nice Saturday in November.

Saturday's are grounding days for me. They are times to step back from a busy week, assess what has been done and what still needs to be. They're busy but not stress-filled because we get to decide what gets done and when we stop. Saturday's have been this way for many years for us. May it ever be so.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hold out

The sun is shining today and the last of my trees are in glorious, orange bloom.

We brought two tiny saplings home one day from a visit with family in the mid-island area. They had many of these green Japanese maple trees in their wooded yard and many small volunteers coming up. We pulled two from the ground and threw them in the back of the van, bare roots and all, assuming neither would take in our yard but why not try? After all, they were free, and we needed landscaping. I remember Aunt Helen's words as we tossed them in the car. She said "They're so nice-they're the last ones to lose their leaves in the fall and sometimes they're still orange at Thanksgiving!"

She was right of course. And those two saplings are now beautiful, towering trees, one by our front door and one where the driveway ends in the back. And as I look at them today, less than one week from Thanksgiving, they are surrounded by bare trees, yet they are full of bright orange foliage. Stunning, really.

Thanks Aunt Helen, for the trees....and the wonderful memories.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dark

It gets dark so early these days!

This afternoon I found myself noticing the darkness creeping in and started pushing to get home. I like being home before dark. I like settling in at home, curling up on the couch, and reading or working on a project. In the summer it's totally different. As long as it's daylight I feel as though I need to be doing something. In the dark, it's all about relaxing.

I know there are people who hate the dark days of winter as the sun sets early and I come home to veg. Like is good and we need these long nights after all those long days. It's a good plan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lessons

I learned a few lessons while at Disney World this year. Here are a few of them:

1. If you cut your jeans off and they're so short that the pockets hang down below the bottom of the shirts, perhaps you cut too much off. If you insist on having them that short, then you need to cut the pockets off.

2. People who are privileged tend to have a lot attitude. Whether they worked hard for their money or had it handed to them, they seem to exude a "better than everyone else" attitude. (There are exceptions to this of course. But it does seem terribly easy to pick them out of the crowd)

3. If you make it very easy for people to spend money, they will. And Disney does.

4. We definitely have a problem with obesity in this country.

5. I have to lose weight.

6. Genetics is a fascinating thing.

Traveling is always educational. Being in a place where you literally pass by thousands of different people every hour is totally fascinating. Can't wait to come back!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dual day

Today is a day of duel thoughts. First, we are traveling home from our weeklong vacation and I hate flying so I'm not looking forward to it. Second, this would have been my mother's 90th birthday, so it's a bittersweet day.

In regards to the former issue, I can't wait to get off that plane in Islip at noon. There is nothing quite like that feeling of touching down and coming to a nice slow pace to approach the terminal. Now if I could jump right there and avoid all the stress that precedes it, I'd be fine. But between the security and the actually flying, I will be a nervous wreck all day. Not looking forward to that.

And as far as the latter goes, I find myself constantly looking at posts on Facebook of people with their parents on their 90th birthdays and I always wonder why. Why couldn't my mother have lived to be ninety? I would have loved to have her around for another nine years! Life is so unfair sometimes.

But the reality is, if I'd only had her for half of the time I did, I would still be a very lucky girl. So I have to keep things in perspective. But honestly Mom - there's so much we've missed sharing these past nine years! I wish you could have met the rest of my grandchildren, for instance. Hopefully you're up there watching, pulling for them. I know you'd love them all. And the feeling would be so mutual.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Final day

Today is our final day at Disney World. We are heading back to Epcot.

Last week when we were at Epcot we didn't have time to do any of the countries. We focused our energy on the future world area with its rides. Today we'll explore some of the various country exhibits around the world showcase and put a few more miles on our feet. We figure we've walked about ten miles since we got here, and today will add a few miles to the total. This trip has been a good jump start for my much-needed diet as I have gotten in shape for plenty of exercise to come. I've worked my way through the pain of the early days of an exercise program, so I may as well take advantage of it and keep it going. It will help get me in shape if I can keep up the effort. Of course, I can't spend my entire day walking at home, but I can certainly get in some walking if I try!

So-back to Epcot we go. Hopefully "The Voices of Liberty" will be in tip top form because I'll be there to listen one more time.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Relax

Today is our first real vacation day-for real.

We truthfully aren't very good at "vacationing". We haven't had the privilege of doing it too often in our years together. The best vacations we ever had were the cruises that my father treated us to earlier in our marriage...those were wonderfully relaxing times together and I cherished every one of them.

But it's been many years since we went on one of those carefree trips, and most of our time off involves visiting our daughter's family in Pennsylvania, because for us it's all about family right now.

But we are going to try to change this pattern we've been in and this is the second year in a row we've come to Disney for a week. But even this is a mixed bag. From the minute we arrived on Tuesday we've been going like crazy. We spent Wednesday and Thursday with old friends exploring museums and visiting the Kennedy Space Center. Then our daughter and granddaughter arrived Thursday night so we've been exploring the theme parks with them. All of which has meant many hours on our feet and busy going from place to place. All fun-wouldn't have missed any of it. But in terms of relaxation and rest, not really.

Today is the day. We got up early to say goodbye to our girls, went and had breakfast, and have been sitting on our lanai ever since, just catching up on the Internet and doing....nothing. We may venture out to find a ice lunch somewhere. Or not. We have no plans to speak of. And that's just fine. After all, we need to prepare gradually for our old age and a ire sedentary lifestyle, right?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Filled

Today was another full day that has left me physically exhausted and aching, but filled with the contentment of a blessed life. I know how lucky I am to be here.

We walked all day today. There were rare moments of rest, but we walked for miles, I'm sure. But we were with people we love and as I sit here in bed writing, although I'm tired and hurting, I am also content and happy.

We have only a few days left of this vacation. But it is enough. When your heart is full, it's always enough of everything....

Friday, November 13, 2015

Epcot

So today was Epcot day, which brings me to me favorite part of the Disney experience. Every time I one I must make a trip to the American Experience Pavilion at Epcot to hear the wonderful "Voices of Liberty". And today was the day.

Sadly, they only sing for about 15 minutes and on,y once an hour-they entertain the folks waiting for the theater presentation. In my mind, they should be their own show. I could listen to them for an hour, easily. They are a small group of very talented people, with beautiful voices, singing exquisite arrangements of some wonderful American folk songs. This is like the perfect storm of all the things I love: great talent, beautiful harmony, and our folk music, which is in danger of becoming extinct here in America if we don't make an effort to educate our children with their value and importance.

I love hearing this great music, done so well, in such a beautiful setting. It really was the highlight of my day, week, trip.....


Thursday, November 12, 2015

NASA

Today we visited the Kennedy Space Center and it prompted so many memories for me! After all, I am of the generation that grew up watching the space race so it's totally ingrained in our minds.

I was young when Sputnik appeared on the cover of Time magazine, but I still remember it very well, probably because of all the conversation about it around the dinner table. But what I remember in vivid detail is the times the portable, black and white television was wheeled into our classroom to watch a rocket blasting into space for the first time in history with a man on board.

It was a big square television, with a red metal casing, and it sat on a rolling cart with the plug hanging off the back. The principal wheeled it in with the help of the janitor, plugged it in, and set the channel. The other fifth grade class had brought their chairs in to join us so we were crowded in the classroom, and both teachers oohed and ahhhed as the rocket took off.

The next year we watched as John Glenn orbited the moon. And by the time I was a junior in high school, the entire family sat up until well after midnight to watch as the first man stepped foot on the moon. It was still a black and white TV set, but it was my parents doing the oohing and ahhing.

So seeing the IMAX movie in vivid color, watching as men (and women-so we have made progress!) not only traveled into space but exited their ships to do repairs on telescopes and join colleagues on the international space station, was pretty impressive. The 10-year-old me kept replaying those early images and the grown up me was very impressed.

What a world of geniuses. I am beyond impressed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tiffany

Today we visited the Morse Museum in Winter Park, which I think may still be part of Orlando but I haven't quite figured out the system here yet. Is it a city with hamlets like East Hampton/ Amagansett? I don't know. When I asked I was told we were still in Orlando. But the address is Winter Park.

No matter though, it was a great visit. The Morse Museum was created by the daughter of Mr. Morse, who was a collector and preserver of all things Tiffany. The largest part of the collection is made up of objects designed and created by Louis Comfort Tiffany. There are galleries filled with stained glass windows, lamps, decorative arts like pottery, and artwork that had belonged to the Tiffany family. There was even a small chapel that had been created as an exhibit for the Chicago World's Fair in the 19th century, with elaborate mosaic columns and the most incredible cross chandelier. It was totally a spiritual experience to sit in that small space, surrounded by the most exquisite creations made for the purpose of glorifying God (or making a name for oneself, I'm not sure which. But I prefer to think the former because it makes it more stunning to me)

It was a few hours of taking in the most beautiful handiwork of very talented people. It was a day well spent.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Luxury

As I sit here writing this blog we are relaxing in our room at the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World. And I'm feeling especially blessed.

We visited Disney World three times with our kids years ago. Each time was a huge stretch for us financially and I not only saved for years before each trip but payed for years after each one. Staying in this resort was a dream I never would have thought possible.

So sitting here, looking across the water at the beautifully illuminated castle across the lagoon, I can't help but think about how lucky I am to be here to see this day. Not on,y because I never thought it would be possible, but because as a cancer survivor I know all too well what could have been.

Once again I am reminded that every day is a gift. And I treasure each and every one of them.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Vacation

Tomorrow we're heading south for a few days to enjoy a little vacation. I use that term loosely because our true vacations have been few and far between.

When we were young my father took us on some wonderful cruises, and we were able to get the much needed time away from our young children every few years. It was a great gift because without it we would not have had the ability to go away at all.

But in the past twenty years or so, since the children are grown, we've had very little opportunity to travel and we rarely leave town other than to visit family. So a real vacation is a bit elusive for us.

Even this trip will be far from a relaxing and free from stress. Partly that's my own fault as I'm not the "sit on the beach and read" type of person. It's not easy for me to kick back and do nothing.

If I were to plan the perfect, relaxing vacation for myself, it would involve two things: first I would not have to make any of the arrangements. This trip, with all the phone calls, Internet work, and scheduling involved has made me more exhausted than I would be had I stayed at home. The best gift would be for someone else to take the reigns for awhile.

Second, it would be in a cool climate where I could curl up on a couch in front of a roaring fire, reading a really good book, with someone to bring me an occasional cocktail and yummy snack, like a cheese platter with fruit, and some chocolates.

I can envision it all, at a place like the Public House in Sturbridge Village. Preferably in one of the small cottages, private and secluded. The opportunity to visit the restoration area would be there in case I got bored, but if I decided to stay right where I was, that wouldn't be so bad at all....

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Time

Yesterday was one of those crazy days that happen every once in awhile. I left my house at 7:25am and didn't get home until nearly 10pm, aside from a ten minute stop mid-afternoon. Obviously there was no time for blogging, and when I was finally in for the night I went right to the stairs where I slowly climbed up to my room, hanging on to the rail as I went, which is my new normal. No more taking the stairs two at a time for this old girl.

Long days are harder as I creep into old age now. In medical terms I'm considered "elderly", although I certainly don't feel that way yet. But I do feel more "mature" these days, with aches in my knees and  difficulty standing when I've been sitting too long.

Time goes too quickly when you reach my age. I remember so many times in my life when I wished it would go more quickly. Like in my eighth month of pregnancy, or while waiting for my wedding to arrive. But now days I don't wish time away any longer. In fact, I often wish it would slow down. Because while being busy and having a full life is a blessing, the days can be so short. Sometimes I just wish we could spread them out a little longer and give ourselves a chance to savor them a little more.