Monday, July 31, 2017

31st

Today, July 31st, is the date my parents married way back in 1948. And I always think about them on this day.

I heard the story many times. They met in college and married when my dad graduated (he was a year behind Mom because of WWII and she taught school for a year while he finished up) Dad was from East Hampton but Mom was from Buffalo, so they were to be married in the big Baptist Church there where my grandmother was the organist. At this moment I am wracking my brain trying to remember the name of the church - I knew it for so many years and suddenly can't seem to come up with it. It no longer exists, but should be part of the story! Perhaps by the end of the blog it will come to me.

Anyway, my father's family made the long trek upstate, which is 1948 was not an easy one. My uncles and aunt were in the wedding, along with some of my parents' friends from college. I've seen the photos and it looked to be a lovely wedding party. The one thing that they talked about more than any other though was the heat. Apparently despite the fact that the wedding took place at 7:00 in the evening, it was brutally hot and humid, in the days long before air conditioned churches. Mom told me once that at one point the minister pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to my father because he was sweating so badly. Imagine being in a white dinner jacket with cummerbund and bow tie in that heat! Apparently they were also worried about people passing out.


Photos in the wedding album show the reception in the church hall and the happy couple leaving in their traveling clothes amid a shower of rice, her in her dark suit and huge white orchid corsage and him in his blue double-breasted number, both of them looking handsome and full of the hope and expectations of their age and the event. They had a simple honeymoon in a cabin someplace in upstate.

I remember the story and I replay it in my mind every year in honor of my parents and the optimism and love they shared at that moment, on that day, so many years ago. Life hits us all pretty hard with reality soon enough, but that was a magic day for them and so for me its a wonderful memory, even though I wasn't there.

Oh, and yes, it was the Prospect Avenue Baptist Church. If I ever get to Buffalo again I'm going to search it out and see what's there now. Because its really where my story, such as it is, began.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Window boxes

I have been struggling for years now with my window boxes. I wish I could find an answer for them.

We added window boxes to the front of our house quite a few years ago now. With white shutters and trim and a brown shingled house, window boxes seemed to be just the right touch to add a little color and interest to our otherwise neutral exterior (other than the front door, which I seem to change every few years. Its been red, yellow, blue, and now, green.) But nothing we plant in those boxes seems to be the right formula.

I think the problem is that the lower boxes get more sun and the upper boxes get more shade. One of the upstairs boxes is completely in shadow as its under a rather large Japanese maple tree. So what do you plant that tolerates both shade and full sun well? We've tried geraniums, impatiens, coleus, ivy - all sorts of different things, none of which look great in all the boxes. This year my lower boxes are thriving and full and look beautiful and lush but the ones upstairs are scraggly and limp and simply look horrible. 

Now I imagine that they all have different needs in terms of watering and assume perhaps the ones upstairs need either more or less than they are getting. But since I have to water them from the bedrooms (through the screens in the windows) I can't stick my fingers into the soil and see if its too wet or too dry. So I go with an every-other-day schedule. But it doesn't seem to be working.

I wish I were a more educated person when it comes to flowers. I long for beautiful, full, colorful window boxes to make my house look lovely all summer long. My mother had a wonderful green thumb and if she was still around I might have some help in this area. But I'm on my own. And not doing too well.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Fair

There's a saying here in East Hampton that it never rains on the LVIS Fair. I remember more than a few times that it did indeed rain, but today looks like it might be the perfect day for a record setting income. Right now its very overcast, its cool, its not a beach day, and although the rain is threatening, I don't think it will be anything other than a shower here or there. Nothing to keep people away from the fair, and in fact, enough to make attendance pretty great. After all, they aren't going to be flocking to the beach, and there isn't all that much else to do around here on a day like today.

The LVIS (Ladies Village Improvement Society) is a venerable group of women here in town who began over 100 years ago in an effort to get the dust down on the village streets. They banded together to buy a water wagon that would sprinkling the streets every day and keep them wet enough to make the usual dust storms unlikely. It was a good effort and apparently they decided there were other things they could do to improve life here in our already pretty lovely town. Today they tend to some public greens, plant and care for trees, and look after many of our beautiful spaces among other things. And every year a good deal of their support comes from the proceeds of this, their annual fair.

Since I was old enough I have worked at the fair, although I'm not a member of the LVIS. (When I finally had time in my life to devote to volunteer work I weighed several options for my energy and when it came down to the LVIS and the East Hampton Historical Society, I chose the latter simply because the former seemed to be doing just fine without me, but I knew the historical society could use my help!) As a child I worked behind the scenes at the fishing booth, attaching prizes to the fishing lines of younger children who were looking for something special to pull out of the "pond". As I got older I always donated a layer cake or pie to the baked goods booth. I've even been in charge of a booth myself. But in the past twenty years I've been stationed upstairs, our of sight for the most part, counting money and enjoying the often much appreciated air conditioning. And that's where I'm headed today.

So the bottom line is, I don't much care what the weather is outside for this event, because I'm usually not effected by it. But I do want the organization to make as much money as they can today and I'm thrilled that it looks to be an absolutely great day for the fair.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The kids

My grandchildren are one of the great joys of my life, and this summer was an especially fun one. I spent more time at the beach than in past years and enjoyed watching them play in the surf or building sand castles. There's great freedom for kids at the beach and their joy there is infectious.

The great thing about being a grandparent is that you really get to sit back and enjoy each stage of childhood. Without all the stress that goes along with child rearing, you can simply sit on the sidelines and watch. In my case I have them from the ages of 15 all the way down to age 3 so there's a great range of all things to enjoy.

I remember back to when my oldest went off the college. It was a sobering year for us, realizing we had one that was ready to leave the nest and knowing we weren't ready to let her go. Also realizing that we were getting along in years and time was passing us by too quickly.  I was happy to have an eight-year-old still at home because we could go from watching a college concert, to a high school show, to a middle school event, and finally to an elementary school activity. And getting to go back to the elementary school made me feel as though perhaps I wasn't quite done with parenthood yet, and I liked that. Because being a parent was what I enjoyed most about life.


Sadly those years are past for me now, but watching the grand kids grow beings back so many memories and and seeing their joy in the simple things helps keep me focused on the things that are important in life. I hope to be around long enough to see a great-grandchild or two, and be able to start the cycle all over again.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Down

Today is one of the saddest days of my year - my daughter's family is heading home after their nice long stay here. I'll be a bit depressed all day and working on keeping myself busy.

I trust the weather will cooperate. Yesterday was one chilly, wet day - so much like the fall that I was walking around with a zip-up fleece all day in my house. It was a very odd time for the end of July!

I must say the flowers are gorgeous right now through! We've had some rain and some sun and everything is beautifully in bloom. And for the first time in quite a few years now I've had blossoms on my yellow day lilies. I'm not suite sure what that means.


I planted these lilies about ten years ago and they were so lovely for the first four years. They border my walkway to the back door and always made me smile. But about 4 years ago the deer discovered them and ever since they've been total no-shows. For whatever reason I went out this year and, although many former buds had clearly been chewed off, there were some fresh ones that looked promising. I immediately hit them with my deer spray and lo and behold, I've had at least half a dozen bloom. I'm thrilled because I thought it was a lost cause but now have hope that perhaps I will again see those day lilies flourish. Perhaps the deer have found better feeding grounds, or maybe the herd has thinned out - I have no idea the reason. But for this year at least, I'm grateful. And optimistic even for next.

No doubt the hot and humid weather we had less than four days ago is going to return. After all, we still have all of August to get through. But we've also had a taste of autumn and in four short weeks it will be September. My how time - and life - goes by. We need to enjoy it as it passes, gathering our lilies while we may. 

I am missing my kids today. But so grateful for their visit.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Swings

Talk about swings in the weather! One day I'm dying in the heat and humidity and today I need to go find a sweater! Yikes!

The cloud cover today is making for a dismal day anyway, but this cool temperature is annoying. I don't mind comfortable numbers but this is downright chilly. I'm sitting here typing and shivering and I need to go grab a sweatshirt out of the closet before I continue....

Now that's I've made myself more comfortable I can say this reminds me of late September. And I noticed this morning that it was much darker at 5:30 than it has been, which means the days are getting noticeably shorter already.  How can it still be July?

I think this summer is flying by with the speed of my life these days - it does seem that once you get over the hill, like me, you begin to pick up speed. I have no idea how many years I have left on the earth but if this year is any indication they'll be zipping by like the scenery in a fast-moving train. There ear so many moments when I just want to freeze everything and be ale to enjoy it a little longer, but such is the nature of life. Time passes and that which is wasted is never to be reclaimed. I feel a bit as though this past year has been wasted and I resent that, I have to admit. Of course its been a learning experience, but it hasn't been fun, and I can't even remember much of it. And that makes me angry. Life is too precious to waste and throwing any of it away is not my desire. I wish I could get this year back, or return to an earlier time and do things differently leading up to it, but what's passed is passed and its gone forever now.

Rather like this weather - one moment we can be happily going along with life, enjoying our moments and treasuring them all, and the next it all disappears. I can only hope for better days ahead.

Monday, July 24, 2017

MRI


Today is "Annual MRI Day" for me. Because once you enter cancer world, you never get out.

Every year, as a cancer survivor (of course we're never really a cancer survivor until we die of something else! LOL) I have to have an MRI. I hate this test. Its long, its loud, and its uncomfortable. And worst of all, they meed to get an IV in me, which in my case can be torture before the actual test even begins.

Anyway, I need to do this every year, and this is the day.

But I think even worst than the test itself is the inevitable return to the unknown. Because we are forced to consider the "what ifs". 

After eight years I really don't think about cancer all that much. Not like the early years where it was never far from my mind. But now, its only the doctor's visits, or the annual tests, that bring it to mind. And that comes along with the fears and concerns that always accompany the thought of cancer. Its such an insidious thing. And in this case, today is one of those days. 

So I'll soon head over to the hospital where I'll undergo an hour of uncomfortable, unpleasant procedure, and then I'll relax a bit until I get the all clear signal from the doctor's office in a couple of days.  Cancer world. Many of us live there. Those who don't have no idea...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sad times

I'm already missing my oldest grandchild who left this morning to return to Pennsylvania. Her mother and siblings are still here for another day or two, but her leaving has left me with that empty feeling I get every year when they leave after their summer break here. My heart already hurts.

I sometimes wish we could return to the days when families tended to stay in the same place and you would always be surrounded by the people you loved. For so many years my ancestors were in East Hampton and it was a rare member of the family that left: My one great uncle, my aunt who went off to college and never returned. But other than those exception, my people were here. And I often wish it was still that way.

I think the world changed when we began sending our children off to college - or war - and they began to see the world as a bigger place than just their hometowns. New adventures opened up to them, and the world became a more exciting place. I get it. I just don't like it.

Of course I knew when I sent my children off the college they might now all return. And I know how lucky I am that three of them did come back to East Hampton and are raising their children here. Trust me - I know it. But that does not make me miss my daughter and her family any less. It breaks my heart every time I have to hug them goodbye and send them on their way.

So today is a sad day. But its also one of joy as this granddaughter - as are all my grandchildren - is growing into an accomplished young adult who needs to get back to her life and the wonderful things ahead of her. I'm so proud of them all. But I still want to keep them close. And that is the difficulty of life. Letting go and holding close. That's the dilemma we all face, don't we?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Hot hot hot

We've had a couple hot days here on the east end but today was a bit less humid than yesterday, and that made me happy. I don't appreciate the humidity. I may have mentioned that a time or two before.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit better yet, but as I type this blog, not moving anything other than my fingers, the sweat is dripping off my face. And its 7:00 at night. This is not fun.

I know I could get relief by going down to the beach, but I'm tired. And alone. And I don't want to go anywhere.

I know what I'll do though. Within the hour I'll head upstairs to my one room of comfort: my bedroom. Its the one place the a/c has been cranking and it will be my respite from this hot weather.

If I could have a vacation house anywhere, it would not be someplace in Florida for the winter, or even somewhere in the Carolinas. It would be a nice, cool mountain cabin on a lake someplace in Maine or Vermont, where the air is drier and the temperatures are friendlier. I'm not sure exactly where that might be - I may even need to go as far north as Nova Scotia. But I'm sure this place exists somewhere. Of course I'll never be able to afford such a vacation home - if I could I would escape the madness here every August and sit on my screened-in porch, looking over the private dock with the little boat tied up for me to take out anytime I please. But its one of those nice dreams and something I think about when I'm dripping wet in July or August.

I think it would be cheaper to install central air. Now that's something to think about.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The city

Yesterday I had an appointment in the city. It required an early morning Jitney in (7:00) and one home right afterward (1:30) and those hours in there were brutal.

Walking to the appointment from the Jitney wasn't too bad. It was only 10am so the sun was hot but not brutally so. Three blocks over and then 5 long blocks up and then, gratefully, into the air conditioning.

But coming out of that lovely building at noon the heat was pretty heavy. The decision was made to grab a cab. It was cooler, but took twice as long as walking would have. There was time for a quick lunch and then, home.

The best part of the trip was stepping off that Jitney on Main Street at 4:00. The temperature drop was significant and the breeze that meet me was delightful. It certainly made me appreciate why they all come out in droves every weekend all summer long.

And...after all...there's no place like home!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Must

Today they're promising a return of the dreaded "H"word that I dread every summer: humidity. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be oppressive but then it will lift somewhat for the weekend. Ugg!

Well my house has actually taken on its annual musty smell so the humidity is not surprising. Now that I have a wall unit air conditioner in my bedroom I have a little "comfort zone" when the humidity hits, but it also allows me to notice when that particular odor returns. I walked out of my little cocoon yesterday and as soon as I walked out of my comfy, cool bedroom, it hit me with a familiarity that comes from so many years with no a/c in the house at all. It is a distinctive, heavy smell that can also signal things like mildew and mold, and I am keenly aware of it. By the end of July my whole house carries it, from the upholstered furniture to the window treatments, and I know the air is heavy with moisture. Soon I'll be able to feel it too, on the arms of my sofa, and the seat of my favorite chair. It's a "summer by the sea" smell, where the cool ocean breezes bring in the moist, humid air and insinuates it throughout our open doors and windows.

There's something to be said for central air conditioning, no doubt about it.  But honestly, there's something very nostalgic about the musty smell of my summer house too.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Time check

My life seems to be moving along more quickly these days and I feel the pressure of trying to fit everything in to the waning years. Is this normal? I guess so. I suppose this is where mid-life crisis comes from. Of course I'm beyond mid-life - at least I don't think many people live to be 130 year-old they?

I think perhaps part of my feeling of loss is that this past year has been a waste. Many months I can barely remember and those that I can were not enjoyable. Trauma has a way of stealing time from us, time that becomes more precious as life draws to an end. I resent losing an entire year from my life because there are things I could have accomplished in that time had I been capable. I want to travel and I want to experience more of what's available, but sometimes we're just paralyzed by the events that surround us.

I'm hoping that this coming year will be better and by this time net year perhaps I'll have some good memories to cherish from the months to come. I don't want to waste the time I have left, but sometimes finances, as well as other circumstances, keep us trapped in place. I want to see my way out of that situation and be able to fully live whatever time I have left. That's my hope at least.
Life is fleeting, that's for sure. For so may years we don't give it a thought, feeling as though there's plenty of time left to do the things we want to do. To be at this point in my life with so many regrets is hard, but still...I don't want to waste any more on the wrong people or things.

Oh to be able to see the future. Sometimes that would be a very nice option....

Monday, July 17, 2017

Beachy

Yesterday was certainly what you would call a "beachy" day. It couldn't have been nicer beach weather. Sunny, with a few pretty clouds (just to make the sky more gorgeous), and still the great sand bar making Wiborg's so accessible to bathers of all ages.

Summer always goes by quickly for me, especially the month of July when my daughter and grandchildren are here from Pennsylvania. Its such a treat for me to see them as often as I do when they're here in town for this extended period, and when they leave its always heart-wrenching. I wish they lived here, but they have a wonderful life where they are and I certainly don't begrudge them that. But I miss them terribly the rest of the year. Its not an easy trip for me to visit with them and those visits are not as frequent as I'd like them to be. Such is life and I accept it as it is, but still, these long visits make the absence that much tougher when it comes.

And so, when those perfect days come, I'm learning to take full advantage of them. Time at the beach with my kids and grand kids, even if I'm more of an observer than a participant, are special. I've taken every opportunity this year to join them when they go.

July days, "beachy" and lazy, are what make life divine. And when I need to retreat from the beach, the hammock is always waiting. Its a good life. Despite all the complications and difficulties of this past year, I'm happy to be here to enjoy it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Half

July is half over this week. Half over. I'm trying to let that sink in.

This has been a challenge of a month for me. Being the one year anniversary of the time my life fell into shambles has triggered so many sad and difficult memories that I've spent a lot of time alone and melancholy. I don't like to be with others when I'm hurting because I don't want to be morose or depressed and make others feel the same. If I can't be a positive contributor to the party I don't want to be there. So I've spend lots of time alone with my thoughts.

Of course the flip side of that is that being with others can distract us from our sadness and allow us to focus on other things. So its all about balance and making a judgment call. When I feel well enough to go out and mingle its good for me. But when I don't think I can handle the crowd I stay away. I'm constantly weighing my emotional stability when making decisions about what I'm going to do. And that's burdensome in and of itself. So July has been a difficult month and I;m not sorry to see it moving along. However, I don't see that changing with a new month because, just like the death of a loved one, the kind of trauma I've been through will continue to haunt me throughout this year of "firsts", I know that. July is only the beginning.

I liken it to death because that's truly what it was and I know from past experience that its a long process to recover from. I think the problem with "anniversaries" is that just when you feel you've begun to make great progress in your recovery, those anniversaries keep coming around. Knowing they'll get better with time doesn't really help all that much when you're in the midst of the pain.

So I'm not sad to see July go by. But I'm not really relieved either, because I know its not over. Anniversaries can be joyful experiences. But they can also be painful ones.

Fortunately this is a busy time of the year, and East Hampton has never been prettier than it is right now. So while I may have my ups and downs emotionally, all I need to do is drive down to the beach and sit awhile to feel the peace wash back over me. And that is a real blessing...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wet chill

Another wet and chilly day here but after so many nice ones I suppose its to be expected. We can't have perfection all the time now can we?

Last night we had a family get-together here at my house and quite a few of the extended family were able to make it, which was really nice. We don't get to see each other often during the summer as we suspend out Sunday lunches until after Labor Day. So it was a good opportunity to catch up a little. Seeing the kids, who grow too fast, and knowing how they've changed since our last time together was sobering.  Children remind us of the passage of time. And remind us not to waste it as it's so fleeting.

It was a wet, chilly night but we were able to sit outside with the help of towels and sweatshirts, and it was good to reconnect. As I cleaned up after everyone had left I thought about how lucky I am to have so much family around. It truly is a blessing. Even making a trip to the dump this morning with three large bags of garbage from the festivities didn't effect my appreciation for the gift.

There are many things to be thankful for in life and family has got to be at the top of my list. Without my family I may not have survived this past year. They certainly make the hard times more tolerable. And the good ones more fun. And that's something to celebrate.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Absence

So its been awhile since I last blogged. That's because its been awhile since I've had my desktop computer up and running.

I can do most things on my phone these days - they are amazing, our phones, aren't they? But there are a few things I just need my desktop for. IO need it for blogging, I need it for word processing and doing any kind of serious typing work, and I need it for my banking. Oh I know I can check on my bank balance on my phone, but I find any work like that very laborious on that tiny little screen. So I don't. And thus my absence in more ways than one.

So the first thing I'm going to do is blog today and the second is pay some bills. Hopefully none are too overdue. 

I don't know how long my interent access is gong to last here because I don't know what the problem has been. I am a total technophobe and really don't understand much about the internet. So I rely on others to help in that area, and that's not easy. Thus the long absence.

Well I'll hope for the best. Because I have had a few experiences in the past couple weeks worth relaying. So maybe in the next few days I'll get the chance to do that. After all, this is July, and East Hampton is a hot bed of activity right now. Nothing like summer in a resort community for lots of good material. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

Holiday week

The holiday this year is a bit different with it falling on a Tuesday. I imagine some people took today off to make it a nice long weekend, but others are working which has cut down on the crowds a bit today. Traffic along Main Street was already heavy when we were out walking at six this morning, but I expect it won't be as heavy as it was over the weekend. We shall see!

Today looks to be a perfect beach day for anyone so inclined, and tomorrow is also going to be a nice one. I have some cooking to do in the morning but other than that, and a trip to the farm stand for corn, I expect I may be going to the beach with the family as well. We have a traditional cook-out late in the day so it will be a nice holiday all around. Good weather always helps and so far the humidity has been tolerable which makes me happy!

East Hampton always looks beautiful for this holiday and this year exceptionally so. It's been a particularly rainy few months and everything is still nice and green - my potted plants are gorgeous. By the end of August with all the heat they won't be as nice as this so I'm enjoying it all now while I can.

I do love this holiday. The non-religious ones are always especially nice because we all celebrate together and this one, despite the level of divide in this country politically, is one we as Americans can all meet with a smile. Its about who we are. And about what we want to be. And hopefully, the direction we're always headed.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 2nd

It's always hard to believe another month has slipped by and this is no exception, but it clearly is July 4th weekend here in East Hampton. There's no getting around it really. The grocery store was packed yesterday when I needed to make an emergency trip for something I forgot earlier. I thought I was so smart getting there at 7am when it was quiet, but having to return at noon was a nightmare!

The dump was not as quiet as it usually is at 7:00 and I was shocked to see so many care there when I pulled it. I can only imagine that they opened the gate early because I was there right at 7 and there were at least 10 cars already unloading.

The weather was pretty dull with overcast skies and a stiff breeze. Even though the storms didn't touch down here, you could feel them in the air and knew that Connecticut and maybe even the north shore were getting pounded. It was pleasant enough to lie in my hammock for awhile, curling up to close my eyes for an afternoon rest, but I doubt the beach had many visitors.

Our wet weather has certainly made for some stunning growth around town this year and I don't think I've ever seen the hydrangeas quite so lovely.

I think the coming week promises better days than yesterday - hopefully today will be one of them - but I honestly haven't minded the weather so far. At least the heat and humidity have not been oppressive and for that, I'm very grateful!