Monday, February 29, 2016

29

This whole leap year thing is a real puzzle to me. All over Facebook people are talking about why they're going to do with their "extra day" today. Seriously?

The date today is nothing more than a number. We don't have an "extra" day or a "free" day-our lives are not enriched by the date of February 29th one iota.

I think that February 29th should always be a holiday. After all, it only happens once every four years, so why not? Employers will still get the same number of days labor out of all their employees, and no one will suffer for it. So why not make it a true "free day" for everyone? And that means ALL businesses closed, including retail stores. No "Leap Day Sales" or other excuses to make money, and it would become more of a true holiday, the way that Labor Day was. It would be a family day for hiking or driving. It could be a day for reading a book, or creating art. Even grocery stores and movie theaters would be closed. We would actually have to spend the day enjoying each other's company...or enjoying the peace and quiet of an empty house.

Now, I think it's such a good idea that I wonder....how do we achieve this before the next leap year in 2020?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday School

Ive been teaching Sunday School this winter. It's the first time in many years - and it has triggered so many memories.

Sunday School has most certainly changed since I was a child. These days I use DVDs to help with the singing and videos on DVRs to teach the Bible story. I remember my teachers using flannel graphs. Remember flannel graphs? There were solid sheets of various colored flannel used for backgrounds. I remember my grandmother using colored chalk to create dessert backgrounds and houses and mountains. Then there were the figures cut out of heavy paper with some kind of fabric on the back that would stick to the flannel. These were the days before velcro! Anyway, there was always an easel with a board that the background would be draped over and the story would unfold as the teacher moved figures, changed backgrounds, and tried to be as animated as possible to keep our attention.

It's actually not as much fun now. I feel less like a teacher than a technician. But the kids are fun!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bye!

Time to say goodbye to February, and I'm a little sad to see it go. We had some lovely weather in February-beautiful snow as well as wonderful warm days. And most importantly, I caught up on lots of "stuff" in this, the deep dark days on winter.

I've been knitting and sewing. I've cleaned out files. I've entertained. I've enjoyed simple pleasures, like lunches watching the surf at Main Beach and shoveling newly fallen snow in the quiet of the morning. I love it when life slows down in the winter, after the holidays are done, before we need to start thinking about raking, painting, and other clean-up chores. These have been days of leisure but they haven't been quiet or slow. Winter-busy and summer-busy are two very different things. And viva la difference!

Our winter days are drawing short and the sun stays longer and longer. I don't have much time left now to do those winter things. But there are a few more weeks before the daffodils pop, and there is still much to be done....

Friday, February 26, 2016

Optimism

Someone told me recently I was an eternal optimist. I'm not sure that's true, but I am a pretty "look on the bright side" kind of person.

This has nothing to do with any kind of Pollyanna syndrome. I don't think everything is always perfect and I'm not always on top of the world. However I do think that keeping a positive outlook and seeing the bright side of every situation makes us happier. And I also think that it's mostly a choice we make, this idea of happiness. Because there is always a dark side. Life is full of challenges, disappointments, hardships, and all things terrible. We lose people we love, we struggle to make ends meet, we suffer all sorts of losses, and yet, if we focus on the good things, we can usually overcome the blues.

I always remember what I read many years ago: we can't question why bad things happen to us unless we also question all the good things. We are blessed in so many ways and I think in this time in history we expect only good things. If we look back 150 years we see the hardships suffered by people all the time. Children died of things like scarlet fever because there were no antibiotics. Folks of all ages died of things like the measles because we had no vaccines. Women worked hard and often died in childbirth. Men worked hard and spent years away from home on whaling ships or looking for gold. It was. Time before life-expectancy was 80, that's for sure.

Today we have so many options, so much opportunity, and so much wealth that we're spoiled. And far less grateful for our blessings than our ancestors were.

So, my be I am a bit of a Pollyanna, I don't know. But I find that being grateful for the things I have, and centering the positive,makes me much more content at night, and better able to sleep well. So maybe optimum isn't such and thing.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bay

I've written before about the wonderful view of the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays. When you come from Southampton and round the bend where the vista across the bay opens up, it's quite beautiful.

Today the wind was still whipping things up following a pretty wild night of thunderstorms. When I got to Hampton Bays today and came around that corner I was struck once again by the beauty of that water which stretches all the way to the Ponquoque Bridge. There were white caps across the entire bay and the water was a brown-blue, clearly showing how the bottom had been churned up overnight.  The colors, though not the usual blue, were stunning, he the white caps topping each little wave displayed the wind that was still so strong.

By the time I drive home a few hours later the water was calmer, although high wind is still supposed to be a factor tonight. The temperature may be mild, but nature continues to remind us that she's a powerful presence here on this island sticking out into the ocean. We're always vulnerable to the effects of the water, and sometimes we're enchanted by it. Today I was enchanted. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dark

Today is overcast and damp, with heavy rain predicted for this afternoon and high winds for tonight. I'm amazed at how different thus winter has been from the last.

If I remember correctly, we were rarely without ice last winter. It didn't snow until January but once it did, the temperatures stayed low and we had icy, snowy sidewalks to maneuver for the rest of the season. 

This year we've returned to a more normal winter temperature cycle of snow, than warmer days which melt it within days. What snow we've had hasn't been around for long. We're this last year, today would be a snowy day and by tomorrow we'd be buried in it again. Thankfully that's not the case. So rain is a wonderful alternative.

We won't see the sun today, but it will return to warm us up tomorrow. There's a sunny weekend ahead and that's something to look forward to. In the meantime, we'll just need to look for the pleasures of winter. They're not too difficult to find!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Daylight

This morning was the first time in months that I left the house at 7am and my headlights didn't automatically come on. I noticed it right away.

The newer cars with the automatic headlights are a wonderful thing. I never have to think about turning headlights on anymore and in fact they are probably on earlier in the evening than I would have were I doing it manually. They sense the level of light and go on when needed. More and more are on all the time now, day and night. Also a good thing.

But this morning when I realized they weren't on at all I had a simultaneous realization and that was how light it was outside. Starting in November I normally travel to the hospital on Tuesday morning in the dark. It has been gradually getting lighter out there but now - completely daylight. We're moving quickly toward Spring.

Of course, once daylight savings hits in a few weeks it will be darker, but no matter - the days are lengthening and it will be short lived. No more pitch black at 7am in any case.

The signs are all around now. Seasonal changes are afoot. I love that.

Monday, February 22, 2016

My father

My father and I had a complicated relationship. I truly don't think he liked me very much, and that made it hard to deal with as I was growing up. I also think he did his best, so I've come to accept him with his faults and frailties, something I wish he had been able to do with me all those years ago. But regardless, he was my father and although it was a difficult thing, I still loved him in a way different from the love I have for the other special people in my life, but born of gratitude and appreciation for my life as well as his.

He was a man of contradictions: very smart, but not always wise; generous, but also selfish; visionary but also short-sighted...you get the idea. He was in my ways an enigma, the result of a complicated childhood, diverse genetic make-up, and the desires of self-preservation. He caused me a great deal of pain growing up and I never knew the unconditional love of a father, but still, he was mine. And I am, in many ways, him.

Today would have been his 91st birthday had he lived long enough. When I look in the mirror I often see him staring back at me, and when I look at my children I recognize some of his attributes and mannerisms. So he's never far from my thoughts. I wish he had lived longer if only so I could have continued to work on this complicated relationship. But from my side, I still do.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Family

I love my family Sunday's.

We still do Sunday lunch about every other week all winter long. It's great to catch up with family members I otherwise wouldn't see very often. It's amazing how you can live in the same town as someone and never cross paths, but it's true. So making dates to get together is a good thing.

My regret is that few in the generation following mine take advantage of these family times. One family may come one week and a different one the next, but they are rarely all there together, and I think they are the losers for it. Their children are not growing up with the same sense of Extended family as mine did. And we're quickly losing touch it's them. But it is what it is and attendance isn't mandatory, so there's nothing to be done. As a parent there are times when we look at our children and just know they'll regret something someday, whether it's a lack of discipline, a missed opportunity,or a lack of connection, but nothing I say will get that message across, so like parents everywhere I keep my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself. And I wonder how many times my own mother did the same.

Well regardless of all that, I love every minute of our family time on Sunday's because I know that life is short, and some day, suddenly and possibly without warning, someone will be missing from the circle. And I don't want to look back then and regret not taking advantage of the opportunities when they were given.

With age, wisdom....

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kite surfing

We happened onto a real treat today by simple dumb luck.

We went to a local shop and grabbed some sandwiches, then drove to the beach to eat and watch the surf roll in. It was windy so and surf was really whipped up, with lots of white water and choppy waves coming in a great pattern of disarray. I immediately noticed a pile of some kind of equipment piled on the sand, looking like a bunch of duffel bags and tools. Wondering who it belonged too I was looking around to see if someone was in reach, when I saw a young man in a full wetsuit appear. He went right to the pile and began working. He unpacked bags, layer out rope, and started pumping something with a hand pump. It quickly became apparent that he was pumping up some type of sail.

It didn't take long for us to see that this kid was preparing equipment for three people to go kite sailing. Sure enough, by the time he had the third sail almost completely up and anchored on the sand, an SUV drove up and two other guys jumped out in wetsuits. His buddies had arrived.

By this time we were fascinated with the process and had to stay to see how they managed to maneuver these huge kites and their boards from the sand to the water and then take off for a ride. They clearly were of different skill levels as one took off fairly quickly, one followed right behind, but the third struggled a bit to keep upright and make sure the kits stayed in the air. Watching the most skilled go flying across the surface of the water was exhilarating. What a fun way to spend a windy Saturday in February.

It made me want to be young again for the first time in a very long time.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday

I do love Fridays. Even when I have a busy weekend ahead, there's a special freedom in Fridays that comes with not being part of the normal working week.

When we were in our early years of marriage my husband worked Saturdays. He was part of a retail establishment and although I worked Monday through Friday, he worked Tuesday through Saturday. It made for lonely weekends and Sunday was our only day together.

When I started having children and no longer worked a regular scheduled job, I missed having him home on Saturdays because the kids were off from school and home on Saturday. I had chores for them to do and I usually did most of mine as well, but it would have been fun to have him here to do more "family" type things with.

When my oldest was ten, he changed careers and suddenly he worked at an office and had Saturdays and Sundays off. Since then I've learned to love my weekends as we putter around the house doing various things on Saturday mornings, and settling into the couch by early afternoon to watch TV or hit the road to do some other errand together. Its much more fun to have someone to share days off with.

Tomorrow I have a board meeting in the morning but we have no plans for any night this weekend so it will be a nice time of sitting back after the chores are done and spending some time together. I wish he were more of a "games" kind of person as sometimes the televisions gets boring for me, but at least he's here and not off at work. If I get tired of the golf he's watching I can always hop in the car and go off to do my own thing. But at least now I have options. I do miss having the kids around though.....

Thursday, February 18, 2016

School vacation

This week's school vacation has been a special treat for me because I've been able to spend a good portion of it with my five-year-old granddaughter. I'm not sure how working parents manage these days, because school vacations don't always match up with time-off allowed by most work places, and I'm glad to be able to help out in this way when I can. But the real winner at these times is undoubtedly me.

Yesterday she did a lot of errands with me, happily jumping in and out of the car as we stopped at various places to get my morning's list checked off. She never complained-not once-and gladly held my hand as we maneuvered parking lots and streets all around town. She is so full of energy she can wear me out, but it's a happy exhaustion because her zest for life is contagious. She sees the happy side of everything.

There's a saying that's popular with people my age about how grandchildren are the reward of old age. There's another one about them being our reward for not killing our children. And there are probably more with similar sentiments if I took the time to think about it. It all comes down to the same thing and that is that grandchildren are an amazing blessing to those of us who live long enough to know them. My heart aches a little for this grandchild's other grandparents, one of whom died before she was born and the other when she was quite young. I can only hope to live long enough to know all my wonderful grandkids as grown people, but at the very least I've been able to meet each of them and for that I'm incredibly grateful. As I am for this week's one-on-one time with this special little person.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Swings

The weekends cold was something to see. A trip to the ocean produced an amazing sight at steamy mist rose off the warmer water into the frigid air. There was frost on the windows, and icicles everywhere, and a step outside was bracing for sure.

Today my car thermometer read 42 degrees at 7 am and it continued to climb throughout the day. It's been a lobbing while since we've had a fifty degree swing in one day, so this may be one for the books. It certainly was strange to go to church dressed in a long, wool coat with woolen scarf around my head and face, to a sweater this morning as my only guard against a chill. This is a confusing week for us-I've no doubt the bulbs and bushes are equally off their game.

We're officially half way through February though so the winter is closing fast. Within a month snow will become less of a threat and the magic period of "waking up" will be upon us. There is always joy in the promise of spring and the starkly beautiful gray landscapes will be bursting will color in no time at all.

Time moves too quickly at my age and I am reminded so often of my grandmother warning me it to "wish away time" because once it's gone it never comes back. It's true, of course. Each day behind us means fewer in front of us, and so it goes.

And so it goes.....

Monday, February 15, 2016

Presidents Day

This seems an odd holiday to me. I actually preferred the way it was years ago.

When I was in school we celebrated two presidents birthdays in February. We had holidays on February 12th (Lincoln's birthday) and February 22nd (Washington's birthday). I always envied my father because his birthday was always a holiday! It was nice because those days fell on random days of the week so we would have two odd days off during the month.

Sometime in the 1960s congress decided to make all federal holidays Mondays. Columbus Day, which used to be held on October 12th, was now the second Monday of October every year. And the combined the two birthdays into one federal holiday and called it Presidents Day. In some ways it may be more convenient to always have a three day weekend, but we actually lost a day off at the end of the day.

Every year when February 12th rolls around I still feel a little cheated.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cold

It is freezing cold out there today, but the sun is shining and the roads are clear and as long as there are warm coats in our closets we are good. Which brings me to my story for today.

Last night I was on ambulance duty. That means that between eight at night and six in the morning, if someone needs an ambulance, I go. I have a squad of other volunteers that I'm part of and at least three of the five members of the squad have been working together as a team for over ten years. So wee been through a lot together. And the same three of us have been in EMS for over twenty-five years, so there is plenty of experience on this squad.

I have loved being part of the emergency services program all these years and it's my favorite kind of community service. But I will make this confession: I no longer enjoy being on duty during the dead of winter. I used to take some pleasure in plowing through the snow drifts to get to the ambulance back when I was younger, but no longer really. I come in chilled to the bone and unable to sleep and, well, it's just not as much fun as it used to be.

But then, last night happened. We were called out about ten o'clock. The temperature was hovering in the teens. I went grudgingly. But then things turned around. We were called to a local church, which seemed odd, until we went in and I realized this was where the Maureen's Haven program was being held that night. Maureen's Haven is the program to provide warm housing for the homeless people in our town who have no shelter from the cold. It's a great program, we'll run by volunteers and made possible by the members of our local churches who open their doors on different nights for these folks.

Our patient was a soft-spoken, sweet person who had taken a fall. He was well-dressed and neat-not what you might expect of a homeless person. The homeless here in East Hampton are largely working poor-holding down jobs so they can feed themselves, but not able to afford the crazy rents around this town. There but by the grace of God.....

I came home feeling very fortunate to have a warm house, to be able-bodied, and to work for my community in such a fulfilling way. On a cold, winter night, it was nice to be reminded of all those things.

Maureen's Haven

Friday, February 12, 2016

Restless

I sense a feeling of restlessness among my fellow East Enders these days. It's easy to see that some folks don't embrace the winter the way I do. I'm not sure why I don't mind it when everywhere I go people are complaining about the cold, but I really don't. Perhaps it's inborn-my parents were not warm weather people-or maybe it comes from the knowledge that we would never be in a position to spend our winters in warmer climates anyway so why even think about it? I don't know, but I'm glad I feel the way I do. I'm enjoying this season very much.

This weekend they're predicting record cold temperatures. Tonight it will drop to the single digits and stay there through Sunday. I'm hoping there are no ambulance calls tonight since I'm on duty and I know if I go out I may as well stay because I'll never be able to warm up again once I get inside.

Tomorrow night we have friends coming for dinner and that's the perfect way to spend a cold Saturday night, with food and conversation.

Sunday well head for church and then we're entertaining four of the grandchildren for a Valentine luncheon, to give their parents a chance to have some alone time. All good things and the makings of a perfect winter weekend.

The temperatures outside might be low but my spirits are high. After all, no amount of cold air can touch the warmth in your heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nice

I
t was nice to see the blue sky appear today after so many days of dull, gray overhead. The bright blue is back and the sun is doing its best to dry up the wet areas, which should help over the next few days when we're heading into the deep freeze.

The snow has been falling on and off all week it seems-nothing to write home about, but the walkways were coated this morning. With the sun bouncing off the frozen white covering the ground it's bright and beautiful, but it is certainly cold.

East Hampton is always beautiful in the snow. The usual brown grass and dirt of the season looks so much prettier when it's white, and even the brown hedges look nicer. With their clean, white tops. The wind seems to redistribute it all every once in awhile, but all in all its nice to look out at from the warmth of my home. I'm glad not to have an outdoor job in the coldest part of winter. Snow is much more appealing from the inside looking out.

Well there isn't all that much left of the winter now and in a matter of weeks we'll be talking about spring planting. Just over a month now and Easter will be upon us. The days, weeks, months and years all pass too quickly when you're this side of middle-age. No complaints here about the long nights of winter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gray skies

 The sky was gray all day today with snow showers most of the time. It was pretty with the light snow falling steadily and I have to say, I love seeing people come in from the outside with a smattering of snowflake on their head and shoulders. It's cold today but I didn't need a warm hat, so my guess would be that it was in the 30s. Colder temperatures are coming though.

They're talking about double-digit below freezing numbers for the weekend coming up so I'm thinking we won't be spending much time outdoors. I've already made plans to have some friends for dinner Saturday and the grandchildren for a Valentine "party" on Sunday. I suspect I'll be inside most of the time, cozy in the house with friends and family. It's the best thing about winter for sure.

I'm hopeful that the roads and walkways will be free of ice when the temperatures drop. Snow I like-ice not so much. The older I get the more I worry about falls. But a good pair of boots and extreme caution are my bywords so I think I'll be fine.

We all need to be careful out there. Broken bones are no fun for anyone. But food and conversation can warm the coldest night. I'm looking forward to the weekend already.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Awesome

The word "awesome" is so overused these days, but sometimes it's exactly what's called for. My drive to Southampton at 7am was exactly that.

Yesterday's snow stopped falling about 2:00 in the afternoon, but the sun never came out and clouds covered the sky. Because of that, along with the cold temperature, the trees, signs, bushed, buildings-everything in sight remained coated in white.  Normally the snow begins to melt and fall off in clumps right away once the storm is passed, but not this time.

It felt like I was in a movie set, bringing to mind the scenes from "Dr. Zhivago" all those years ago, or more recently the land of Narnia is "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe". Everything in site was encased in white. The sky was still gray and again the sun wasn't hitting the ground, so all that heavy snow continued to burden the huge pine trees, bending branched toward the ground, and making every little bush stand out in stark relief. It really was stunning.

It's afternoon now and some of the snow is beginning to disappear. Roads are clear and sidewalks are passable. Some of the landscape is still encased in white, but slowly it's changing. I wonder if, like in Dr. Zhivago, Siberia is always in a state of frozen glory. We know that Narnia is fictional, but in my mind, it will always look just like eastern Long Island did right after the snow of February 2016. Which was awesome.

Monday, February 8, 2016

More...

The snow is falling again this morning and again, I don't have to go anywhere. I like that. Today is babysitting day and it's early enough that I'm not sure yet whether the kids will be coming or not. Schools are closed, but if their parents are heading to work then the kids be arriving here shortly. If by chance they don't come, I have projects to do, knitting and sewing right here at home.

They are saying the snow will come and go for two days, so tomorrow is another story. Tuesday is my volunteer day, but not worth the trip to Southampton if the roads are bad. I don't think I'm quite considered "essential personnel"! They won't miss me much if I'm not there.

Well we shall see how the roads are as the time goes by here. It could be a very productive day if I'm alone and can get things done. Or, it will be a day of reading books to my grandchildren. Either way it will be a very good day...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bright

The sun is shining brightly this morning and the light is bouncing off the snow like crazy. It's still beautiful out there, with big chunks of that heavy snow still clinging to branches everywhere, but with the temperature rising into the 40s I imagine we'll see lots of melting today. It's a beautiful winter day.

Saturday's are busy days here, but always enjoyable. We are productive and active and grateful that we can be. With this beautiful sun streaming through the windows it's difficult not to want to get things done. We have a long list. That's as it should be. Who needs leisure time now? Those days are ahead. Today we are making hay while the sun shines, as they say. I hope everyone is as energized as I am. And I hope for many more beautiful days like this ahead.

Friday, February 5, 2016

White

It was raining when I got up this morning, but it's pretty white out there now. The snow is falling in bug chunky flakes, heavy and wet as it drops from the sky. I'm going to try to go out once an hour and scrape it off the walkways because it's going to be hard to shovel later on. They call this "heart attack snow" so the less of it shoveled at my age the better.

Fortunately I have no need to leave the house this morning. I have a birthday cake to decorate and tonight we'll be going out to celebrate with my grandson on his 11th, but hopefully by then the roads will be clear and we'll be able to get around with no problem. Schools are closed, but according to the weather experts it should all be over by mid-afternoon.

We can only hope that it all disappears as quickly this time as it did last. Snow is best when it acts like house quests-never overstaying it's welcome!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tonight

They say there's snow coming tonight. I'm a little worried, only because I'm on ambulance duty.

The most challenging months for me in terms of being an ambulance volunteer are December through March. And January and February are by far the worst. The snow can really be a challenge in answering calls, especially when there's a lot of it. First there is the cleaning off of the car for me, since we don't have the luxury of a garage. I have a windshield cover that helps, but I still need to make sure I can see out the back and side windows to safely negotiate the roads.

Then there is the issue of the driveway. If there's a lot of snow and the plows are out working, my biggest challenge can be getting through the pile at the end of my driveway. As long as I can get a good running start I can usually do it.

Which brings me to the third challenge: traffic. If there is no other traffic on the road, I'm usually good. It's those other cars that provide the danger. If my car slides a little (especially when coming out of the previously mentioned driveway) it's no big deal. Unless there is a car on the road to slide into.

Of course there is the challenge of walking and maneuvering stretchers and patients around as well. But once I actually get to the ambulance from my house I feel as though I've already won the battle.

In twenty-five years I've never missed a call at night regardless of the weather. And tonight is not supposed to amount to much. I think all will be well. And hopefully I'll get through yet another winter without missing a call...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Coming storm

Today started out sunny and warm, but the clouds moved in mid-afternoon and the rain has finally arrived. It's going to be a windy, rainy night.

The temperature is still moderate and we can't complain about that. After all, it's rain we're talking about, not snow! So the rain will come and hopefully tomorrow the sun will return. They're talking about snow for next week, maybe. But for now, we're fine as it is.

I put the gas fireplace on this afternoon once I got into the house for good. I'd been out running errands and meeting with people all morning, so I was ready to get back in for some work at home. I had computer work to do, and a cake to bake, and with the skies threatening it was nice to come home. Tonight will be a quiet night here as my husband has a meeting to attend and I'll be alone. Just the rain, and a little wind. And my knitting to tend to. Sounds like a nice way to spend an evening in February to me...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Phil

So, according to Puxatawnee Phil, we are due for an early Spring this year. It's a nice idea!

I already feel Spring coming - especially on Tuesday mornings. Driving to Southampton early in the morning I can see the sun coming up earlier. This morning there were wonderful shafts of lights streaking across the open farm fields, announcing a new day sooner than it would have a month ago. And happily, we still have some daylight at 5:00 in the afternoon, inching slowly toward those longer days to come.

Today was warm enough to feel like early Spring, but there are still cold days to come. We may still have snow and we may still be in winter, but we sense that a new season is slowly coming our way. Day by day, week by week, time goes by too quickly to wish for the future today. We need to treasure every moment and love where we are. Spring is delightful, but Winter is too. Because life is good and meant to be savored. And so we shall.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Community

Sunday morning we had breakfast at the Springs Firehouse. They have breakfast there every Sunday as a fundraiser. Then we went to church. In the afternoon we went to the Rotary Club's annual spaghetti dinner, another fundraising event we like to attend.

For me, winter is when we really feel the community out here. Without the distractions of summer, the crowds and the outdoor activities, winter is full of community activities: concerts, lectures, and lots of great fundraisers. Nothing is better in my book than attending a meal prepared and served by local volunteers to raise money for the good works done here all year long by our service organizations. Nearly every face is a familiar one, and there are many people to exchange greetings with, either a wave across the room or a short conversation as we pass either going or coming. We feel at once as though we belong and are welcome. Which is a great feeling.

During the summer months I often feel a bit out of sorts in terms of being part of the fabric of the community. There are many people we rub elbows with who we have little in common with and who aren't much interested in how we take care of each other in times of need. But in the winter its a different story. We're all here together, working as a team, helping each other out when needed and sharing each others joys and sorrows. This is still a small town for 9 months out the the year, and I enjoy that distinction.

Sunday was a very good day.