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.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Surprises

Sometimes nature greets us with little surprises that are always delightful.

Today has been a foggy, misty, overcast day here in East Hampton. We are heading into a rainy night which is clearly going to be windy and wet. All day the atmosphere has been dreary. But driving around the village doing errands I was greeted more than nice with a beautiful pop of color that just brightened my mood and brought a smile.

The first was as I was coming up Newtown Lane and suddenly a bright orange tree  set perfectly against the whilst shingles of the bank caught me eye. It was so striking I had to pull over, park my car, and jump out to take a photo.

The second was a riot of yellow as I drove down Montauk Highway, turned into the bagel store for lunch, came upon some small trees in a grouping, full of color and breathtaking in their autumn garb.

It seems as though beauty surrounds us in every direction, even on the drabbest of days, but we need to open our eyes to see it. How easy is it to simply go about the day bemoaning the lack of sun and impending rain. When we look for it, it's always there.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Yellow

Much of the foliage is dropping now but the yellows are still outstanding. There's something really awesome about a bright yellow tree.

The oranges and the reds are beautiful, and everything looks so amazing when it goes from cool greens to this amazing array of warm tones. It's like a world transformed and every year it stops me in my tracks once again. It's nature at its best, science and art combining to make us smile.

But the yellows seem to last the longest and shine the brightest, and right now they are really something to see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Planning

We're going away for a week next Tuesday, and that takes a lot of planning.

For months I've been making arrangements-reservations at the resort and plane reservations, for instance. But now the real details begin to emerge. Today I made arrangements to stop delivery of the mail and the newspapers. I made phone calls to notify people we would be away. I arranged to do pre-check in and get luggage tags. I ordered prescription refills to get through until we get home.

By the weekend I will have my wardrobe planned and prepared and pulled the suitcase from the attic.

Sometimes it seems as though the planning process is more exhausting than staying at home. I think that's probably the allure of the phenomenon called the "stay cation" where you simply turn off the phone and stay home, reading, sleeping, and just relaxing.

I'm a detail person and that probably works against me. I get very caught up in the minutiae of things because I need to.

I need a vacation from myself.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Voting

OK just a little RANT here. I got up earlier than usual this morning to get to the polls early because I had a really busy day and wanted to get it done. I haven't missed an election since I turned eighteen years old, so it's always been a priority for me. So here are a couple observations:

First of all, how frustrating is this new method of voting? I cannot understand how we can waste precious taxpayer money to do a study and then completely overhaul the system, only to take something that was very simple and easy to do and make it more complicated and difficult. What in the world? This new method is less private, more confusing, less user friendly, and less accessible than the one we had. What in the world?

Second, what's up with the apathy of so many people? When we were in school they actually got voting machines into the schools and we had straw polls, using those machines. We learned to be comfortable with the process, and to understand the importance of the privilege. Do they still do that? Something needs to be done to make voting the important thing that it is.

There you have it. My rant for the day. And I feel better now getting it out there. Phew!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Petunia

We're into November now now and the temperatures have taken a swing south, but I'm mused to see some
purple petunias still holding their own in my mostly-dead window boxes. Ea h box has a few blossoms still hanging on and giving me a smile whenever I manage to glance out the window in their direction.

It may be November but there is still plenty of green around, and it doesn't feel like winter yet. I don't see flurries in our future-the forecast is for mild days ahead-and it would be unusual for snow to arrive before Thanksgiving. It happens, but it's rare.

No matter anyway-I'm ready for the seasonal changes. I see the holidays in my future and that always makes me smile.