Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cleanliness

Another thing that was amazing to me when I was traveling was how clean everything was. We spent 8 hours on the road one day, which means about 4 stops at gas stations or cafes and every single one had wonderful, clean bathrooms. Clean bathrooms at a gas station? Can you imagine that?

I don't understand why we can't offer decent rest rooms in this country. Is it that difficult? I can't remember a time when we stopped to use public facilities anywhere and found clean ones. In fact, I remember most of them made me want to wash up when I LEFT!

We ran into so many problems trying to find decent facilities on the road when our kids were small that we vowed to stick to the toll roads just so we could depend on finding a place we could take our children in to use bathrooms without feeling like neglectful parents. And we've been doing that ever since.

So why is it that in this, the most advanced country in the world, we can't manage to figure out how to provide clean rest rooms for travelers? Crazy, right?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Looking back


This week we attended our grandson's spring concert at the Middle School on Newtown Lane. And just as it did back when we used to attend our children's concerts  there, I spent a bit of the time glancing around and remembering .....so many things.

I spent six years in that building, from 7th through 12th grade, back in the late 1960s. That means 188 days time 6, or over 1000 days there. They were days of fun, stress, angst, depression, euphoria - days when I grew from a gawky 12-year-old to a tentative 18-year-old, and received my push out into the wider world of adulthood. There are many memories there. The sounds in that auditorium ring in my head - the voices of band and chorus teachers, and laughter in the early moments before classes started and my friends met in there to sit together and start our days. I remember where the marching band uniforms were stored over there off stage, and my time on stage in our senior musical. 

Memories are funny things. They comfort us and they nag us, and sometimes they make us smile, or feel old. Or even allow us to mark the passage of time when a grandson stands in the same place where I once did to sing with his classmates or play his instrument with his friends.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Beauty

Norway is a country blessed with incredible natural beauty. When the glacier receded so many years ago, it left behind the most incredible mountains and fjords, all creating a landscape of breathtaking beauty. The northern lights, the snow capped mountains, and the cliffs along the shore combine with the milder temperatures created by the Gulf Stream, and although the winters are long and dark, the shorter and warmer seasons are full of sunshine and warmth, accented by green grass and multi-hued gardens everywhere.

One of the most interesting things about the scenery there is the contrast with ours here. Seeing mountains and ridges in every direction is quite different from the flat landscapes on Long Island, and the long daylight hours make for the tendency to stay up until late hours, forgetting the time completely. Here I am reminded of the night even during our longest days. Once it's dark in summer I know it's time to head home.

I think it is the differences in people that draw us to each other, and the differences in other things seems to do the same.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Consumers

Being in Norway made me realize what horrific consumers Americans are.


In Norway, the people have one of the highest standards of living in the world. The are generous, warm, kind people. They are also frugal, environmentally aware, and grateful for the wonderful benefits they receive from their country, which come as a result of the taxes they pay. There is tax of 25percent on all goods except food, which they pay 15percent on. They don't mind because in return they get health care, college educations, maternal and paternal paid leaves, and free dental care for children up to age 21.

Their homes are modest and filled IKEA furniture. Their lives revolve around physical health (lots of walking and running) and family. There is no sense that they need to have "the best" of everything. Their hand-me-down furniture is just fine, thank you, and no one is trying to outdo their neighbors.

Public transportation is excellent. No one has to have a car and many don't. Fuel is very expensive. But they don't mind walking or jumping on a bus to get where they want to go.

And they are so hungry for the sun that they will sit outside at cafes in full winter wear, grabbing a wool blanket off the pile by the door to wrap up in. Reindeer pelts line the chairs to assure warmth from both sides!

We could learn a whole lot in this country from these sturdy descendants of the conquering Vikings.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The plane

First I have to say the plane I flew to Norway on was incredible. It was the new 787, called "The Dreamliner", and it was a dream of a plane All the things I hate about flying (well, almost all of them!) were addressed in this newest of the jumbo jets. The lighting was perfect, there were charging stations between every seat for your phone or computer, there were individual screens that popped out of the armrests between seats where you could watch movies, television shows, or watch the view of the world from the cockpit. It also was used to control your personal light because there is more headroom in the cabin so it would be unreachable from your seat otherwise. Even the bathrooms were bigger and better.

It was a great plane. My only complaint is that it's so big it takes forever to load and unload it and although people were patent, that was tiresome. But if that's the only thing I can pick on, why bother?

I don't enjoy flying. It seems so unnatural to me and I just have a hard time relaxing. But if I have to do it, this is a plane I am happy to do it on.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I am home at last from my foray into the wider world, which was wonderful. I will most likely be taking a few blogs to talk about my impressions and feelings about the trip, but for today at least I want to focus on what it means to be home.

Home means many things, from the building we live in to a state of mind, and all those things came into play Sunday when I arrived at Kennedy Airport after my ten day trip. I had been away from my house, my husband, my familiar surroundings, and the comfortable place where I normally have my head. All my senses were challenged and I was stretched physically and emotionally, which I loved.

When I got off the plane and walked to the counter to present my passport to the official at the desk, I was proud and relieved to feel the comfort and honor of being here, on the soil where immigrants like my ancestors have been coming for hundreds of years now. Knowing I was back was confirmed in the most basic of ways when the customs agent looked sternly from my passport photo to me, questioned me about where I had been, and then looked up and smiled when he said, simply, "Welcome Home".

It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Break

After 2544 daily posts here I am taking a short break! I'm leaving husband and home for a trip to visit my friend who lived with my family for one year when I was in high school as a foreign exchange student. We have visited back and forth a number of times over the years-this will be my third trip to visit her in Norway and she has been here three or four times over these past 40+ years. But I have not been there in over thirty years, so this will be an exciting trip for me.


I wanted to write and schedule enough posts to carry my blog through this time but just haven't been able to manage it in my busy life. This is the first break of any length I've taken and if I could I would bring my computer along so I could blog about my adventures every day. But between the need to travel light and the complication s of international electrical systems and Internet, I've decided to unplug for ten days and hold my thoughts for when I get home. Besides, who wants to hear about my packing, the beautiful fjords and long days, and the frustrations of traveling anyway! There will be plenty of reminiscences to share later. My past trips to Norway have been times of real spiritual growth and introspection. I expect this one will be as well.

Talk to you all around the 25th!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mad Men

We've been watching Mad Men since the second season. It had received so much good press the first year that I caught up with reruns and then jumped in to the second season as soon as we were up to date. Watching the final is odes is sad and I will miss it for sure.


I'm not sure which I like best, the great writing, the cast, or the nostalgia factor. I feel as though I've been reliving my childhood as the 1960s have passed by so realistically through these episodes. From the clothes to the props, it's the most authentic depiction of those years I've ever seen. Every episode makes me smile at least once when some familiar thing passes by on the screen: a macrame wall hanging, a mini-dress just like one I wore, a hair style, a familiar television show plaint on the little TV in the background. No detail goes unnoticed.

This week I actually found myself with knots in my stomach as Betty heard her cancer diagnosis. I think the show is so realistic to me I found myself sitting in that doctor's office hearing the words he said to her. It was too close for comfort for me.

I'll miss it. Great TV comes along far too infrequently.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Preparations

As I prepare for my trip this week I realize that I will be offline for the duration of my trip. I'll be leaving my computer at home and taking a step back in time. I'll have my cell for emergencies, but I don't anticipate using it otherwise. Just like the "old days", I will be truly "away"!

It will be interesting to be away for ten days and not really communicate with anyone. In this day of instant contact whenever and wherever, it's a real throwback to be cut off completely. But I'm old enough to remember the days when long distance phone calls were saved for Sunday nights when rates were cheaper, and our exchange student, who lived with us when I was in high school and is the person I'm going to visit now, did not speak to her family by phone but on Christmas Day, arranged by my father as a special surprise. The only real form of long distance communication then was air mail letters. We all wrote letters.

I miss getting letters. But hearing a loved ones' voice is far ore satisfying, for sure.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mom

It's been a busy day, but I can't let Mother's Day pass without at least acknowledging it. Because being a mother is truly the most profound thing about me life.

I had a truly amazing mother. She was kind and generous, loving and selfless, a woman of great faith and great integrity. I was very lucky. So Mother's Day is always a day for me to think about her and reflect on my great fortune.

But now that I am the "matriarch" I also look forward to the descendants I have in my life: my children and grandchildren. I wonder if I am the example to them that she was to me. I pray to model for my granddaughters what a strong woman should be, soft with love and kindness yet tough when necessary, as my mother did for hers. I want to help my grandsons learn how a good partnership works in marriage and what commitment is all about. And I long to impart to my children the hard lessons learned over a lifetime they cannot yet imagine, all of which lies ahead of them.

Being a mother is a lifelong job. We never retire from it and the responsibilities can be heavy on one's heart. But it is without a doubt the most important work we'll ever do.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fog alert

The television is full of "fog alert" notices these mornings. It seems to be the typical thing this time of the year.

I don't mind fog as long as it's not so think the road is barely visible. I've been in fog like that, something out of a Steven King novel, and it's frightening to say the least.

But usually it's not quite that heavy and as long as the driving is safe, I find the fog amazing. It has the same effect that a bridal veil does, cloaking everything in a sort of secrecy that makes the world fascinating. Strange shapes and eerie forms appear everywhere and things take on a new look in every direction. It can be beautiful. Watching the fog literally roll in holds its own fascination and living here with large open fields makes it a real sight to see.

Fog season is upon us. I'm just going to enjoy it.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Construction

While driving home from Southampton the traffic revealed the season and I made the decision to jump off in Bridgehampton and head onto the southern back roads. It's one of my favorite drives anyway, I just don't think to do it often enough when traffic is moving well.

The first Spring day that I take the back roads are always eye-opening, revealing new construction and re-development. This day I was shocked at the number of homes with real estate signs out front. Not all mansions, but many small homes had signs, and I wondered why.

When I got to the roads that were lined with fields and old farm houses I was reminded once again of one of my favorite homes. It began as a farm house at least 100 years ago. It's still surrounded by fields and sits very close to the road. But a few years ago it became clear that someone had bought this lovely old home as construction began to take place. I was alarmed, thinking the lovely place would soon be unrecognizable, but I was wrong. In a rare case of good taste, and appreciation for history, the new owners did something remarkable to this property. Rather than tear down, or renovate to the point of it being unrecognizable, they built a barn-like structure behind it and connected the two distinct buildings with a simple bridge of a building. And so now there is one large home now-a beautifully restored old farmhouse, connected by what is probably a mud room and hallway to a clearly modern take on a barn. It's a perfect blending of the old and the new.

Sometimes, things just make you smile.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Catching up

Last night when we got home we worked on catching up on some of our television watching. We've been out so much these past evenings that we've managed to accumulate a long list of shows recorded that we need to get through. Fortunately tonight is a whole night at home so we'll be able to do some marathon watching to get through it.

We record almost everything we watch these days. We can zip through the ads and see an hour show in about 40 minutes. It's great.

If we don't finish them all tonight, there's always Friday...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Crazy

Today was one of those crazy days that occur every once in awhile.

It started with exercise at 6:15 when my friend met me for our morning walk. They were working on paving Main Street overnight and weren't quite done yet so the noise was defining and every time a vehicle went by it kicked up an incredible dust storm. We were choking on the stuff. So once we got far enough we turned onto Pondview and suddenly the noise of the street faded away and we were in a blessedly quiet world of early morning light and peace. It was lovely.

Down Pondview, crossing over Hook with the reeds lining the roadway, and then left onto Egypt for our last leg. A great way to start the day.

From there on it was non-stop as I got showered and dressed and started checking off my list: grocery store, unload, village hall meeting, Southampton luncheon, back to attend grandson's author's tea, then home to finish putting the groceries away, sort the mail, and head out the another grandson's Little League game. It was 7:39 before I was home and able to help with laundry, take a load off, and blog.

Sleep will come easily tonight.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Merry

It's clear to me why they refer to this as "the merry month of May" because everyone seems happy. I notice more smiles, more laughs, and more friendliness lately when I venture into the world. There is something energizing about spring. Nature feels it, both flora and fauna, and it' a palpable to one and all.

The problem is, when you live on the East End, it's a short lived joy. Because we have three weeks in May to enjoy it before the crowds and traffic become so stifling we barely enjoy the beauty around us. July and August are so busy we barely notice they're here, and then, thankfully, we have September. The season moves quickly and life is fleeting. So let's take the time to relax and enjoy this, the merry month of May. It doesn't get much better.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Appearances

Well, the flowers are popping up everywhere now. There are pansies on many doorsteps and daffodils of every type covering lawns and brightening corners all over town. My irises are popping through and should be flowering in another few weeks, from what I can see.the leaves are up but the stalks have a way to go.

The grass is nicely green and even my hedges are finally budding. The early species of cherry trees are beautifully blooming and the forsythias are out. The colors of Spring have arrived in force and they are welcome after the long, gray winter.

Every day there are new things to see as the world awakens from its long, quiet slumber. It wakes us as well as we sense the excitement of re-birth and renewal. It's a cycle as old as time and eternal as creation. God's hand at work.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Goodbyes

This morning we said goodbye....again....to the family from away. It never gets any easier.

I know how fortunate I am to have three of my four children living here in East Hampton. Beyond lucky-totally blessed. I get to see my grandchildren on a weekly basis, and watch them in their musicals at school and on the Little League field and stage. So I am not taking any of that for granted, I'm really not.

But funny thing is, no matter how many you have with you, it doesn't make you miss the one who's away any less. Like with the prodigal son, a homecoming is worthy of celebration. Because the times together take on new importance, each moment being sacred and special. And best of all, when they are home, the entire family gathers around to be with them, meaning we get to enjoy all the people we love in the same place for a short time. Much like a family wedding, it becomes a time for celebrating life and the ties that bind us together. I can sit back and notice the physical similarities in the next generation of children, and enjoy the banter of their parents who fall into their "sibling roles" so easily. Sometimes I wish I could live forever, watching them as they age and grow.

Yes, goodbyes are very hard. But hellos are the absolute best. Here's to the next hello....

Saturday, May 2, 2015

CVS

Yesterday I was having what is a regular frustrating experience in the local CVS. I was looking for Tylenol PM. As I approached the aisle where the pain killers were, I was dismayed (but not to surprised) to find see it clogged with boxes of product waiting to be unpacked. Why are they always taking deliveries on the days I go in there? Of course it was nearly impossible to find what I was looking for because the piles were too high and too heavy for me to move and there was no way to find what I was looking for on the shelves. And I wonder, what ever happened to the old way of loading the shelves on an overnight shift?

The same thing happens at my IGA all the time too! I try to shop while dodging men in every aisle as they lean over, bend down, move around and try to load items onto the shelves. It's not their fault - they're trying to do their job. But I know in past years there was a crew that came in overnight to unload boxes and get things onto the shelves. What gives??? Is it a money issue? Do they have to pay more to workers on a night shift so they're trying to save on the bottom line? Honestly, it hurting them I think. Because rather than perusing those stocked shelves and impulse buying, or even buying things on my list that I can't access, I am leaving the store spending less than I might have. Who makes these decisions anyway?

The upside of my trip to CVS was that a fellow shopper asked me about my upcoming trip. Which at first I thought was a question aimed at the other person in the aisle with us, because how could she know I was going to be traveling? And then she said she read my blog! I was so surprised to hear that. Honestly, I write my blog for myself because its therapeutic. But hearing that someone else reads and enjoys it is a bonus. I'm glad anyone else enjoys my thoughts and meandering writings. So thank you!

Now...what CAN we do about those crowded aisles at CVS and IGA???

Friday, May 1, 2015

May day

May used to be celebrated all over the world in various countries as the harbinger of Spring. Maypole dances and gifts of May baskets are some of the things people have done to celebrate the warm weather and the coming summer.

I understand the celebrations! We may not go all out to celebrate anymore, but we do smile to ourselves when May arrives. Because we know that May means more times outside in the warmth, no need yet for air conditioning, no longer a need for heat! It means flowers and greenery, beautiful landscapes and bluer skies. It also means a renewed love of nature as we see it at its best and know the promise that it holds.

So here we are on the threshold of the magic month of May. It's been written about in song and in prose, and in our hearts we are happy.