Friday, September 22, 2017

Yesterday

Yesterday was my brother's birthday, which got me to thinking about life with siblings.

Since my brother is the eldest in the family he's the only one I never knew life without. My sister was born when I was less than two-years-old so I don't have much memory without her, but in my early years she was an infant so I do remember a time without her in mind. And since my brother and I share many memories that she doesn't, I know it was significant even though the time seems short.

My brother was an influencing factor in my childhood, for better or for worse. He wasn't the protective type of older brother than many people talk about - in fact he wasn't a fan of mine truthfully and my memories of him making fun of me with his friends are painful ones. But I also remember being proud of him as I grew up, liking the fact that he was handsome as a teenager and my friends all commenting on how cute he was. He was also smart and I admired that. Mostly I was fascinated with the way my father loved him. 

My own relationship with my father was complicated and I honestly don't think he liked me very much, but he also wasn't a great father-type when we were children. He didn't have much of a family life himself growing up and I don't think he really knew how to be a proper father. So while I could see his love for my brother, I'm not sure my brother saw it. I just don't think Dad knew how to really connect with kids too well.

But I knew my father loved his son. I was sorry that I wasn't also a boy because I thought he'd like me better if I were. But in the end, neither of us was convinced our father was all that happy with us so I shouldn't have cared.

My brother is very much his own man in so many respects and I admire that in him. He early on decided he didn't care what anyone else thought about him - he was who he was. And he seems OK with who he is. I on the other hand always strived to be what everyone else wanted me to be. Two different reactions to the same parent, and study in psychology for sure.

Yesterday my brother turned 68 years old. He'll always be my older brother, but now I think we're pretty much on even ground in most ways and hopefully he's learned a few things from me along the way. I know I've certainly learned plenty from him.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Storms

Yesterday and today we are being brushed by former Hurricane Jose and we're watching Maria very carefully as it churns around in the Caribbean right now. I believe we are approaching the anniversary of the famous "Long Island Express" as the Hurricane of '38 was called, and that always makes me think about what could happen here with a similar storm. So many things have changed since 1938, most specifically the number of homes in harm's way, and the number of people who would be affected by something so disastrous.


Of course spending my life in a family attached to the insurance business makes me especially sensitive to things like storms, but also the stories I grew up hearing about that particular one never leave me. I hope never to experience one firsthand of that magnitude.

The next few days will show where Maria is headed, and then we still need to get through September before we can relax a little. Cooler ocean temperatures will lessen the threat soon and only the occasional n'or easter will be a worry after that.

Storms are part of life, but being in public office, and the insurance business, make them a nuisance as well. Let's hope they stay away for yet another year...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nostalgia

Last night I had my three youngest grandchildren overnight. Their parents went into the city for a concert and stayed overnight and I'm the lucky one to have these little darlings from the time they got home from school until they get picked up tonight. It's been fun!

Last night I had more than one flashback to the years my children were little. I think that's one of the greatest things about living in this house for so many years-the memories that are associated with every nook and cranny of it.  I put the kids into bed in the same rooms my own children occupied so many years ago, and the memories were with me throughout the process. When I herd the tell tale thump of s child jumping out of bed and into mischief, I was transported to the many nights we sat downstairs listening to that sound. We had no monitors or electronic assistance then but we could tell what was going on. More than once we had to head back up those stairs to chastise an errant child, as I did last night, putting them back into their beds and tucking the covers in again...and again...


Those are happy memories for me - of my favorite time in life, when my children were small and my life was full of love and happiness. I miss those years, but I'm grateful to be able to relive them even for short periods of time with all the amazing grandchildren I've been blessed with. And when I have each of them a hug and kiss when I said goodnight to them I remembered the precious little faces I did that with once upon a time.

Those rooms upstairs are neater and cleaner than they used to be back in the day, but they're emptier too. I'd trade the cleanliness for the full house in a minute, but I might not survive it for long. Today, I'm tired...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Allergies

I've never had a hard time with allergies, but as I've gotten older I do notice more sensitivity to thing in the air. Right now something is causing me to be so stuffed up as to make it hard to breathe.

I noticed it first in bed the other night while I was trying to sleep. I had to turn over on my back to let things grain so I could sleep. I'm not a back sleeper so it wasn't my preferred position, bit sometimes its inevitable. I found myself blowing my nose CVS for some benedryl sometime during this day. Perhaps that will provide me wit some relief. I hate to use it because it makes me tired, but I can do it right before bed anyway.
all day yesterday just to breathe, but the relief was short-lived. I'm thinking I should stop at

I pity those who suffer greatly with allergies because this little attack is laying me low. I know some people who have issues much of the spring, summer and fall. I'm lucky - and hopefully it will all pass soon.

And in any case, its not the kind of thing that keeps you from doing any of the things on your list. Life goes on, ragweed or tree pollen aside. So lets get on with the day and try to forget about it because its not going away. At least not today...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Daylight

I'm late today in getting to my computer to write.  I don't know why really, although the ambulance calls that kept me up all night could be a factor. Somehow without sleep I'm never quite on my game ad every hurdle seems higher - every task a bit more bothersome. Sleep is miraculous. And I need some of it.

Tonight I'll get in bed early and hopefully get a good eight hours because tomorrow the grandchildren arrive for an overnight. Just in time for a tropical storm to arrive. This could be an interesting week.

It's only 6:30 as I write this and already its pretty dark outside. Clearly the days are diminishing and the nights increasing. In another month we'll turn back the clocks and then it will be time to start getting out the winter throws and heavy comforters. I'm not sorry about the change of season, only the passing of time. It just goes too quickly these days.

I think the hardest thing about time slipping through my fingers is the feeling that I'm not making the most of whatever I have left. There are so many places I wanted to see and so many things I wanted to do. My bucket list will stay just that - a wish list unfulfilled. Time is running out.

I hope my children have more of the things I long for. And that's the way it supposed to be, right? We work hard and struggle through life so our children will do it less and enjoy it more. So if that's the end result I'm OK with that.

Its almost completely dark now. Daylight won't come for another twelve hours and my Tuesday mornings traveling to Southampton will soon be in the dark again. And so it goes....winter following autumn, autumn following summer, and another year gone. If only we could just slow it all down a little bit...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Checks

I was trying to pay some bills yesterday and I had a thought: do people still use checks anymore? 

I had been doing most all of my bill paying online when I was married. So I was used to not writing checks very often. But then last year I had to open new accounts at the bank and I bought checks and never bothered to sign up for online bill-paying so I've been writing checks to pay my bills throughout this last year. But I suspect I may be one of a dying breed. How many people out there are actually still doing that? I suspect only those over a certain age and that puts me clearly in a category I prefer not to enter, but here I am nevertheless.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that I did pay all my bills online up until recently, so I'm not hopelessly out of date. But now, I guess I've taken a step backward, haven't I? I try to be current and not become one of those old people who just can't seem to keep up with the times, but I find myself slipping into that territory more often than not. 

I may have to set up online bill paying again just to make myself feel better. But I must admit there is much more satisfaction in putting a check in an envelope and dropping a pile of bills in the mail than there is in pressing a button on the computer to do the same thing. I may very well be old fashioned, but I also know enough to take my small pleasures where I can get them these days. They're few enough so I need to enjoy them!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturdays again

I really don't like Saturdays anymore.

I went to the dump early this morning - 7am as the gate opened. I had lots of recycled things to donate, like newspapers, glass bottles, plastic containers, etc so I quickly delivered all those things and was home by 7:15. And then I read the newspaper. And then I ate some breakfast. And then I wondered what to do with myself the rest of the day.

I know there are lots of things to do out there. And I know there are lots of people who have no idea why I would hesitate to do any of them. But I'm just not comfortable doing things alone and I feel as though, if I'm not used to it by now after almost 15 months, I may never adjust to life alone.

There's a music festival in Montauk. Bluegrass music. I happen to like bluegrass music. I'd go, but.....

There's an artist studio tour today. I think I'd enjoy seeing the various studios and speaking with the artists, but....

There are always yard sales. I love yard sales. I could head out to look around at some yard sales, but...

There's am exhibit opening down at the Marine Museum - one of my favorite places - but...

The funny thing is I used to do some thing alone, like going to yard sales, or exhibits, but the fun is gone from those things now. I've considered the fact that I could be clinically depressed, but I'm really not. I have no problem getting out of bed in the morning and doing the things that need to be done. But there just doesn't seem to be a lot of joy in the things that are for fun.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I don't like Saturdays anymore. I think I should start staying up late Friday nights and sleeping through Saturdays. Now that's a solution! Hmmmm. I wonder how late I could stay up tonight and sleep through tomorrow....

Friday, September 15, 2017

Remembering

For some reason when I sat at the computer today I fixated on an old photo I have hanging off my wall calendar. I found it recently and was intrigued by it so I stuck it there. This morning its caught my attention.

The photo shows my late aunt with my second child sitting on her lap. Aunt Elaine has her knees bent - I think perhaps she's sitting on the floor leaning against the couch at my mother's house - and Elizabeth, who looks to be about 18-months or 2-years-old. is lying against her knees facing her. Her little hands are in Elaine's and they must have been having a chat about something. The thing that grabs me is the delight on both of their faces.

My aunt was never able to have children of her own, and therefore we were her chosen children. She and my uncle spoiled us rotten, with carefully chosen Christmas gifts every year and in so many other ways.  She spent untold hours knitting or crocheting outfits for our Barbie dolls when we were young, and I have two hand-knitted shawls in my closet that she made for me. If I never wear either one of them, they'll always have a place in that closet because they represent love to me.  

They both showered my children with that same love and when I see that photo it always makes me smile. Because it reminds me of many wonderful truths. It reminds me that the people that love and value us are not always the ones that are the closest in relationship or place. And it reminds me that if we love and value children it changes them. The sense of self-worth that those two people gave to me has carried me through some pretty tough times lately. And for that I'm forever grateful.

My uncle left this earth quite a long time ago now, and my aunt a few years ago. But the legacy they left remains in my heart.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Twins

I have ten grandchildren and they are all precious to me. Each one unique and special, and each one with a place in my heart that could never be filled by another.

Today is the fifth birthday of the only set of twins in that group. And that makes me think about what a special experience its been to watch twins growing up.

These girls are as different as day is from night - both in appearance and personality. They're fraternal. so that's to be expected, but being able to observe two children, born the exact same time and raised in the exact same environment is nevertheless a special treat. Its  like a front row seat to see how each one of us is so special and unique and each a special, loving creation by God.  They are so different, and yet I adore each one the same way. 

It says something as well about our capacity as humans to love. It seems that no matter how many children, or grandchildren, we have, our hearts can accommodate enough love to surround them and to fill us. Its a wonderful thing.

The twins are only five this year, so I hope I'll have many more years to watch them grow and change and become the adults they're destined to be. It will be a thrill to be able to watch them up close and personal. I hope its a privilege I enjoy. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Shared grief

Seeing the images from Houston and Florida truly hits one in the heart and I think its more here than some places. I know that because I haven't experienced earthquakes, as sad as the damage is and as much as we decry the loss of innocent lives when they happen, they don't ring the same bell that hurricanes do simply because we can relate to them so personally.

Those of us who've grown up here have many memories of hurricanes, some pretty devastating. We know that the clean-up is like, with debris of all sorts littering every place you look from the yards to the beaches to the rooftops. We understand storm surge and we know about downed trees and we appreciate life without electricity. We've been there and our hearts go out to those who are suffering the results now of the two killer storms that have marched up into our land in the last couple of weeks. We also understand boats being washed up on shore, and buildings hanging over the edges of dunes. 

As I sat at the waters edge yesterday enjoying a beautiful September morning, I couldn't help but think about that ocean that connects us with so much of the world, and how deadly it can be. One day it can charm you like crazy, the next pull you under and hold you down. It's a sociopathic phenomenon. And as much as I love it, I'll never be unafraid of it.

'Tis the season of hurricanes. And we wait it out cautiously, hoping they don't find their way this far north this year....

Monday, September 11, 2017

9/11

This is always a sad day for those of us who remember it so well. Just like December 7th and November 22nd, the date will forever be connected with something traumatic and sad and a national day of grief.

Today is similar to that day in that it was sunny and beautiful this morning. Just like the best of September days, it was a stunner. The skies were clear and bright blue and life was good.

And then the first tower was hit. And the second. And then the Pentagon, etc and life as we knew it would change forever as we become more and more aware of the dangers around us, or terrorism and they way it was changing everything, and we took our new awareness and tried to do things better with it. 

But the world is still a scary place and terrifying in its ability to shake us to the core. I had my own 9/11 in 2016 and it has had, and will continue to have, huge and lasting effects on me. Gone is my sense of security and joy and I most likely will never know either of those things again. Just as we as a country have changed, so have I. And I think its a sad day when the rose-colored glasses come off and the worst part of life hits you square in the face. Sad, and terrible.

Some anniversaries are meant to live on forever in our hearts, be they national, or universal or very personal. But they all bring the same sense of unsettled grief and pain. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dinners

One of my favorite things to do is entertain on my back deck in the summer, and often take the opportunity to stretch those evenings in autumn when I can. This past summer I haven't had company as often as I would have liked to for various reasons, so I'm hoping the weather holds long enough to allow me to do it a few more weeks in September. 

The Friday night I had folks in for dinner and we were able to sit outside enjoying the crisp September evening. It was definitely sweater weather and I wore socks with my shoes - no more sandals in the evening I think - but the night was still and lovely and the company warm and convivial so it was a great time. I guess I'm a social animal because I do like entertaining more than being alone. Not everybody does I know.


One of the things I haven't done much this summer is grill, simply because I've never been the grill person and its new territory for me. I'm learning, but not feeling completely confident yet at it so I usually defer to items I can cook ahead. Friday might that meant chicken salad as a main dish, which allowed me to spend time with my guests as much as possible. I have a low-stress approach to entertaining, learned over many years. I like to enjoy myself as much as possible, although eschewing alcohol is a necessary part of the equation. I like the relaxation of a drink but it tends to make me less attentive and tired, which isn't the best state to be in when you're in charge of other people's meal! I don't mind though - conversation and laughter is worth that small sacrifice.

I guess my opportunities for entertaining on the back deck are coming to an end quickly but this weekend at least, I made good use of the weather. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

September....ahhhh

The morning has broken on an absolutely gorgeous day here on the East End and these are the times I live for. I sat at the ocean for an hour earlier, I have painting to do outside on the deck, and it just feels like a great day for mental and physical rehabilitation. And I can use both.

The light is never prettier than it is in September. The shadows are coming earlier in the day, but the morning surf and the evening sunsets are a gift from above. Today my heart is going out to the residents of Florida as Irma bears down on them, and looking out over the Atlantic today, with perfectly formed, beautiful waves coming ashore made me think about how that amazing ocean can turn so deadly in such a short time. Storm surf is incredible and mesmerizing, but so dangerous and so frightening all at the same time.  We are enjoying the same ocean here that is terrorizing so many people in the south right now. Sometimes the world is not such a big place at all.

Well I don't know if we have any hurricanes in our future here on the East End this autumn, but at the moment the weather is perfect and I'm going to try to spend as much of the day outside as I can because I don't want to waste a moment if it. Gifts like this are to be treasured, and I think I shall do just that.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricanes

There's been a lot of focus on hurricanes this year already and I've been reliving some of the most memorable in my mind all week. Of course the recent ones are easy to think about, but I like going back to the late 1950s and early 1960s when it seemed they were plentiful and there are many interesting memories to pull from.

I remember two that come in the same week. I think I was in the second grade so it would have been right around the time of the new decade. I think one was named Donna because I remember all the teasing my friend Donna received at the time. We had two days off of school and I remember doing homework to the light of a hurricane lantern.

We always had the hurricane lanterns ready at our house. They sat in the basement full of oil for use on a moment's notice. Three of them did the job for our family and one was all I needed to do homework by. They were very old - had probably come with the house, passed down through the family, much as the ones I have in this house were. I have two of them also ready for action if need be, although I also have flashlights and candles to assist when needed.


If we get a direct hit this year it will mean a lot of damage this early, with the trees still heavy with leaves. Later in October they stand a better chance. But in either case I'm prepared. As much as I can be.

I've never had to wait out a storm alone in this house and I think I just might be tempted to go to the firehouse to sit it out should it happen. Somehow being alone is not something to look forward to when there's no electricity, no TV, no internet, etc. But let's just hope I never have to face all that - at least this year!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Time

Time seems to be slipping away from me these past few days - between having company at my house, the holiday, and trying to adjust some of my mental issues, I'm worn out and not doing a very good job on my blogging! Perhaps we can blame it all on the full moon...

Last night I had dinner with good friends and we talked a lot about life and things I'm dealing with. When I left them I noticed how beautiful the moon was and decided to go down to the beach and sit a spell, just taking it all in. It was well worth the twenty minutes of my time. It was dark there and I felt a bit vulnerable all alone on the beach, but I tucked myself up into the dunes and just got lost in my thoughts as I surveyed the beauty around me. The full moon was reflected on the water, highlighting each wave that came ashore in the most spectacular way.

I loved being there but after some time I began to feel lonely, enjoying all that beauty by myself with no one to share it with, and I knew I needed to leave before I slipped into that morose and sad place that so easily comes to someone like me. I wanted to leave still smiling about the gifts of this place we live, which are so plentiful and easily attained by anyone, no matter how much wealth we have. It doesn't take a house on the ocean to sit and enjoy its magic spell. At least not here in this little piece of heaven. Its easy to take things like a full moon for granted. Last night I made sure I didn't.

Time is slipping away quickly and I feel its passage more acutely now that I'm at the age I am. I've known too many people who never attained this age and even fewer that reached those beyond it. So I'm trying to make the most of what I have and not take anything lightly. I have this time to live. And I intend to do just that.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Chilled

I happen to love this kind of weather - but I'll admit to being a little ill prepared for it so early on. I've been scrambling to gt out sweaters and light jackets, long-sleeved shirts and jeans, and as sure as I'm shivering in the morning I know the heat is returning because there's no way these cooler temperatures are here to stay!

I expect I'll be looking for the short-sleeves soon enough and I love a nice Indian Summer. So the tricky thing about this time of the year is the need to keep so many things close at hand in the closet and drawers. Layering is key and I have plenty of pieces to layer with, but its also nice when you know you've made the transition to wool or cotton and can leave the wardrobe static for at least a couple months.

But this is transition time and until November things will be questionable every day. One day warm and shirt-sleeves, the next cold and sweaters. Its autumn at its best.

Today isn't terribly promising so far but they are telling us it will get better and tonight may be a stellar one. But I do think I'm going to need a sweater...

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Classic

Two things have coincided to make me think a lot about lost dreams of my youth! First is the  photo exhibit at Clinton Academy produced by the East Hampton Historical Society of young Jackie Bouvier (Kennedy) in her days growing up here during the summer months when she was active in horse shows and riding. She was a gorgeous child and in every photo of her those famous eyes are on full display, along with her obvious love of all things equine.

The second in the Hampton Classic Horse Show arriving once again. Today I'm attending a noon event there with family members, taking the opportunity to introduce grandchildren to the beauty of these animals.

My lost dream is the one where I used to want to learn to ride and have a horse of my own. I remember my grandfather, who was always the most attuned to my thoughts when I was young, entering a contest on the back of a cereal box where the first prize was a pony. He proudly showed me the form he had filled out to mail in and informed me that if he won the pony was mine. Of course knowing my father I never would have been allowed to keep it anyway so its best he and I didn't win that pony, but it was a dream of mine that was never fulfilled.

In fact, I don't think I've ever been on a horse. Ever.

So - looking over Jackie's photos and attending the classic today will both go a long way toward reminding me of those early dreams that are never realized. One of many, of course, but they do die hard and somehow I still think anything is possible....

Friday, September 1, 2017

September...again

I find myself in a place of confusion today. I love the fall and I have never minded the winter so I'm exited about the coming weather, the holidays, and the return to life as we like it here on the East End.

On the other hand, last fall and winter was the worst of my life and I'm dreading the long, dark, lonely nights to come.

There's something wonderful about the way summer makes us feel in terms of all the light and the long days where we can sit outside until time to turn in. Reading a book in the hammock, entertaining on the back deck, attending any of the many outdoor events offered - those things all add up to a quick few months of a very busy life, which helps distract from any sadness or loneliness that creeps in. The time has gone quickly. But this time is about to end. And now I'm apprehensive about what the next six months will hold.

I don't enjoy being alone. I'd only lived alone for about three months of my life up until July of 2016, so being by myself has been a huge adjustment. Of course there are things I like about it - but having the remote to myself gets old! In a hurry! I miss having someone to talk about the days events with and I miss having someone to take walks with and share dinner with. So looking ahead to the long, isolating winter ahead is not exciting to me at all. 

Well - before the darkest days come the autumnal ones - and there may be apple picking and a visit to Pennsylvania and lots of other things along the way before the holidays keep me busy and focused. Rather than dread the days ahead I need to plan carefully for them and ward off the negative stuff. Its a new year and those are becoming more precious to me now that I'm getting closer to the end of it all. And I don't want to waste any of them feeling sorry for myself. So I won'
t!