Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thank you Soldiers, Sailors, Pilots, Thank you all

This amazing video was shared on Hiccups in Time today http://hiccup-in-time.blogspot.com/

It is too moving to not continue to share with others.

The message accompanying the video was:
3,000 vets on motorcycles from across the nation paraded in D.C. the Sunday before Memorial Day, while a solitary, saluting Marine greeted them out on Constitution Avenue. The Marine stood at salute for three straight hours while the parade of roaring bikes kept on coming. The parade is held in remembrance of those who have fallen in the military. The event is called Rolling Thunder. President George W. Bush used to greet the bikers before they paraded. No such courtesy or respect is shown now.

The camera is on the Marine a lot. Watch as he struggles with his emotions and struggles with holding his salute. The way he salutes is very touching; head lowered and eyes down in reverence for the fallen. I am an ex-Army Master Sergeant and I know what he was feeling. As I watched him, I could feel it too. It got to be overwhelming for him and the tears started flowing. Watch what he says when he finally breaks, but keeps right on holding that salute.
We are indebted to so many for so much. Appreciating our freedom and embracing our lives and each other is the best repayment I can think of ...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Firehouse

Today was the firehouse hoagie sale. One Saturday every June our firemen drive up and down the streets of Stone Harbor in their engines shouting "Hoagies! Hoagies!" to the myriad vacationers running, walking, jogging, blading, or biking (like me) up Second Avenue.

By the time I got back from my ride, showered, and headed over to the firehouse, the hoagies were all gone. 2000 hoagies sold in two hours. Pretty good little fundraiser. Stone Harbor's firehouse is impressive for a town that's only 3 square miles. I remember when they built it; the year after the big fire at Hoy's 5 & 10.

It must have been the summer of 1968 or '69...and we were all fast asleep in my parents' yellow house on 100th Street. Because my aunt, uncle and cousins were visiting, along with the requisite babysitter, my cousin Laura and I were sleeping on cots in the upstairs living area, with a funny folding divider propped at the foot of the beds to give us "privacy". The windows were all open looking for relief from a heat wave, that had suddenly whipped itself into the wild wind that accompanies extreme weather changes.

The fire siren of our little one truck station began to wail. The only other time we ever heard the siren was when the daily noon "whistle" blew. The town is so small, the siren's sound can be heard from one end to the other. That night it was relentless. Can you picture five sleepy children rubbing their eyes and crying, a teenaged babysitter mortified to be seen in her pjs, three bewildered parents trying to wake the fourth...as police cars with loudspeakers crawled down each of the three avenues alerting homeowners to hose down their roofs. It was quite a sight. Our beloved 5 & 10 was burning, along with several other shops on 96th Street, generally referred to just as "downtown". While Hoy's was only four blocks north and one block west of the house, the wind was carrying huge embers to our roof and beyond.

My dad, always a deep sleeper was the last one to rouse. He and Uncle Curt took turns trying to reach the roof with the spray of our garden hose. It was a long, loud, sleepless night.

The next day, I remember us walking into town to see the devastation. The paperback book rack stood inside the glassless front window of Hoys. It was hard to tell what had caused the most damage, the fire or the water. But, one thing was for sure, it was the worst thing that had ever happened in this family resort town.

When we arrived the following summer to find a 6-bay firehouse, it was the first of many times I've seen tragedy lead to overkill. Hoy's was rebuilt as well, along with a whole string of shops, some old, some new, and they all still stand today. I have to admit, I was glad. Knowing that this town still looks much the way it did when my mom was my age, and that it has a good chance of looking the same when my daughter is too, has a certain comfort. So maybe it's not the worst thing that the town has a bigger firehouse than most towns ten times it's size.

Last January the volunteer department fought a huge fire on 94th Street , and a few weeks later, after two vicious storms hit the East Coast back-to-back knocking out power for several days, the guys evacuated many of the seniors that live here year-round. They also showed up the summer we opened our front door to the smell of gas. Every Monday evening the town hosts Family Night at the firehouse, and for years they have shared their space with our local kids' theatre group, Seven Mile Island Stars.

It's hard to be anything but thankful for our men in uniform; I just wish I hadn't missed the hoagies...

Friday, June 25, 2010

God Bless WaWa!

Driving three (eventually four and a half) hours home from Baltimore on Wednesday, I faced a universal problem which is much tougher to solve on the East Coast than it is in Colorado. One of the first things I had noticed (when you're potty-training a toddler this is one of the first things you'd notice too!) when we moved to Denver, is how ubiquitous public restrooms are. Not just available, but usually well-maintained. (For some more detailed reading on this check out http://www.midchix.com/pg/pages/view/6007/). Better yet, the stores, restaurants, gas stations etc. that freely offered up the use of their facilities were frequently staffed by nice folks! And, to put the icing on the cake, the sinks have warm water!

As a poor, young, career gal living in NYC, knowing where to find public restrooms you could use without buying something was a skill I had to develop pretty darn quickly...along with a bladder that could battle with the best. Then, as a young mother with double stroller and baby in a backpack, I developed PTSD after being refused a bathroom at the Tarrytown Baskin-Robbins when the runs hit during a mid-morning walk.

Crouching over a public john to either avoid those germs that mom put the fear of god into me about or, while holding a toddler, is responsible for my unusually strong thighs (and probably my chronic back pain). So I have truly come to appreciate the public service provided when potties are free, clean, and equipped.

Back to Wednesday. It was 95 degrees, and so after my requisite 5 cups of morning coffee, I had downed 4 bottles of water on the drive to and from the WBENC http://www.wbenc.org/ conference and now, I was not only up the proverbial creek...I was close to creating my own right there in the car. Still forty minutes from home, I spotted a gas station and quickmart and screeched in only to find a sign saying "restrooms by the filling tanks"- so back in the car...quick over to the little building by the filling tanks where the door proclaimed:"no public restrooms". Really??? You realize all of that maneuvering in and out of the car was only making things worse. So it was with tears of relief, or perhaps things had backed up all the way to my eyeballs, when I spotted a WaWa http://www.wawa.com/WawaWeb/

For you non-Mid-Atlantic staters, WaWa is like a 7-Eleven...only better! Imagine this: Their Core Purpose (as stated on their website) is "To Simplify Our Customers Daily Lives" -
You really can't beat that. I love it so much I have to share the core values as well: "Value People, Delight Customers, Embrace Change, Do the Right Thing, Do Things Right, Passion for Winning." And to top it off - "WaWa" is a Native American word for the Canada Goose that was found in Delaware Valley, and that's why they use a goose on WaWa's corporate logo! How's that for Chick-friendly!

So very long story short, I dashed into WaWa, did my business, and headed home. But I swore I'd say thank you so -Thanks WaWa!
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Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer-Good time for Life Instructions!

Not sure who was the original source of these, though many of them have been attributed to the Dalai Lama. Regardless, I have had them printed out in color on my fridge ever since a friend forwarded them to me last summer. The first day of summer seems like the perfect time to share them. Like a mid-year musing on New Year's resolutions past and future...

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
2. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
3. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, “I love you”, mean it.
5. When you say, “I’m sorry”, look the person in the eye.
6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
7. Believe in love at first sight.
8. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.
9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.
10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
11. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
12. Talk slowly, but think quickly.
13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, “Why do you want to know?”
14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
15. Say “bless you” when you hear someone sneeze.
16. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
17. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
18. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
19. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
21. Spend some time alone.
22. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
23. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
24. Read more books and watch less TV.
25. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll get to enjoy it a second time.
26. Trust in God, but lock your car.
27. Create a loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to create a tranquil harmonious home.
28. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
29. Read between the lines.
30. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
31. Be gentle with the earth.
32. Pray. There’s immeasurable power in it.
33. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
34. Mind your own business.
35. Don’t trust a man/woman who doesn’t close his/her eyes when you kiss.
36. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
37. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you are living. That is wealth’s greatest satisfaction.
38. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
39. Learn the rules then break some.
40. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.
41. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
42. Remember that your character is your destiny.

Please go visit my new website for women!

Linking up to:

Marketing Monday

Tuesday Tagalong

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Spotlight Yourself

Getting to Know You Monday!

Yikes hope I'm doing this right!

1. How many brother and sisters do you have?
I have one brother, 16 months older than me- and he still likes to make sure I remember that he knows more than I do!

2. What is your favorite thing to do?
Read & Write!

3. What countries have you visited?
Japan, Italy, France, England, Mexico

4. Are you a morning or a night person?
Night Owl... though used to be more of a Morning chick. Hard to sleep when there's so much to do, say, read, learn, think about, share!

5. What's your favorite cereal?
Oatmeal-steel cut with agave and sliced almonds! yum!
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Not a Phone Person

Why, oh why, do I dread the ring of the phone? Or, maybe the better question is, why do people keep calling me? I, now understand my parents' ire when my brother and I were teens and the phone would ring incessantly. It was such an intrusion to them, such a possibility for us.
I guess I should be thankful that the era of cell phones, and texting mean that my irritation over a ringing phone is primarily directed at my own.

If only I could emulate my friend, Laura, whose phone manner I greatly envy. Every time she answers, there is that thrill and trill in her "Hello?" that makes the caller feel like the most important person in the world. What a gift. My pal Sarah has the right idea, she just doesn't answer. She calls when it works for her.

I do remember earlier years when I would rely heavily, way too heavily, on the phone to connect me with someone, anyone, who would empathize with me about whatever situation had triggered my self-pity. It took a long while for me to realize that if you're having a bad day, calling someone for empathy could seriously backfire-making your bad day even worse. I guess this was when I began discovering that sometimes solitude tops empathy.

I love my family all the way down to my toes and back again; and my friends as well...but I have discovered in this magical middle age, that really, at the end of the day, all you have is yourself. Nobody else is going to make you feel better. Sure the warmth of love and friendship help buoy us all...and relationships ARE the icing in life-but we, as individuals, are still the cake and if we always rely on someone else to cheer, distract, entertain, validate, and fill the empty airwaves for us...then we are in for disappointment.

Enough philosophy. Chances are my dread of the phone is leftover from when the kids were small and a phone conversation was an exercise in futility and frustration. Or maybe it's because I stumble over words unless I'm writing them. What if we could edit our phone conversations before they actually aired? Or perhaps it's PTSD from being forced as a boy-crazy teenager to have every phone conversation in front of anyone and everyone in our little shore house when cordless phones, much less cells, weren't even a glimmer in some geek's eye.

With that said, I hope to make amends for barking at both my husband and daughter this evening, when they were thoughtful enough to give me a call. Kris suggested (strongly) that I go take that little white pill which I had toyed with giving up after a brief externally-imposed hiatus waiting for the doctor and pharmacy to make nice. I decided to take her suggestion.

Who knows, maybe if you call me in a day or so, I'll sound like an eager potential lottery winner when I say "hello?"...or maybe I just won't answer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Something In the Water

I crossed the bridge into Stone Harbor and it happened just like it has every time since I first started coming here at the age of one or two. My heart soared but my heart rate slowed. My body relaxed as if it recognized home. When I'm here, my brain teems with ideas, but rejects tension. It's magical.

My husband started commenting on my yearly transformation after his first few summers here with me. In the beginning he had compared this quaint town to the upscale Hamptons where he'd worked as a teen. (Frankly, he was rather elitist-sounding, given that his time in the Hamptons had been spent cooking hotdogs and sleeping at the golf club's halfway house)!

Our beaches aren't long, private affairs. They come and go depending on the years' storms. But they are inviting and they are where I've walked with my folks, my friends, my loves, my children, as well as my many selves for close to 50 years.

When I was little, we rented a house on 104th St. It was just one house from the beach. I remember its garage had been converted into a small guest suite connected to the house by a breezeway. That's where my great-grandmother, Nana, stayed. I was sitting there with her the time my brother somehow "cracked his head open" at the miniature golf course.

When I was six, we went down one January weekend to find a rental for the coming summer. It was freezing in the house, and mom must have taken us back to sit in the car to stay warm. My father came back outside with the realtor to ask if she liked that house. When she confirmed, he replied " I just bought it". Good thing she said yes.

There were only a few times in his life that my dad made big spontaneous decisions. He was a careful, methodical, practical man who prided himself on both his Scottish heritage and approach to spending. Yet, once in a while he would do something bold that seemed out of character and I think that half the motivation must have been the sheer glee he took in surprising us. Funny, as I look back, even those seemingly impulsive investments ended up paying off big time.

I have this sneaking suspicion that despite his deliberateness, my Dad had a bit of intuition. Maybe that's where I get mine. He must have known that his $30,000 investment in 1967 would pay dividends far beyond just financial gains. My happiest memories are from the shore. From doing handstands on the beach, playing Harriet the Spy in town, earning my Copper Kettle Fudge money via a carefully mapped public pay phone change-receptacle route, landing my first job at 14 at The Black-Eyed Susan Shop where I learned the hard lessons of paycheck versus pay for layaway. Stone Harbor was also the site of my first dance, first date, first boyfriend, first hangover, first apartment, first roommate, first broken heart.

As I walked the beach today, and thought about it all, I realized how many stories I have from this one seven mile island. This looks to be the first of many. Hope you'll bear with me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Road Trip

Lessons Learned on a 4-day, 3-night, 8-state Extravaganza:

When making hotel reservations for the inaugural night, be sure the clerk who you will need to call after taking a wrong turn, doesn’t claim Tongues as his primary language.

Marriott VS. Hilton? Marriott- half the price/ queen beds instead of double/ free wi-fi/ free breakfast/ unlocked room fridge. The Hilton failed to mention that although they are pet-friendly, if you have a pet, you have to ride in the service elevator. But yes, the help was friendly to our dog.

Days Inn is called that because you should only stay there in the daytime.

It is always raining on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. (Mind you, I grew up there).
Weather really does affect your mood. Ask my children. (And maybe my mother).

Don’t plan a cross-country trip during a year when the Federal Government has ordered construction on every interstate road as part of a massive training program teaching men wearing orange how to hold SLOW signs.
Chevy Chevettes are not extinct.

There should be a Taser junior available over-the-counter to use on leering men in tattoos and wife-beaters that frequent the aforementioned Days Inns.

Triple AAA TRIP- TIK is great except that the implied “this won’t take long” drive times are comparable to the labor nurse’s “this won’t hurt” as she shoves the epidural needle in between your vertebrae.

Contents of our imaginary suitcase packed for our imaginary trip to Japan, as we imagined that we were passing the time in Iowa: apples, baloney, curlers, dead stuff, egg rolls, Francine from Arthur, guts, handy-dandy notebook, illegal drugs, Jewish rye, Kevin, lame mutt, mahogany buttocks statues, nutella, Orion, poop in a pot, questionable cheese, relish, seashells, tranquilizers, underwear, vodka, wet ones... Just before Y is when I began shrieking at the man from the Comfort Inn who kept insisting on giving directions in Tongues.

Apparently there are franchise opportunities available in Lion’s Den Adult Stores.

The cheapest motels sport bathroom fans strong enough to clean the attached room with a simple flick of the light switch, but blow dryers so weak, you have to stay an extra day if you want dry hair when you leave.
Fancy hotels don’t bother with a bathroom fan. Obviously the wealthy don’t need background noise to do their business; stage fright is not a problem when you have enough jack to go 5 -Star.

The moderate hotel is the best of both worlds… not only a light switch and separate fan switch (so you don’t HAVE to listen to the fan unless you are experiencing stage fright). And a much-appreciated curved shower curtain rod ensuring that washing away the day’s grime does not also include wearing the previous guests’ grime.

We believe that children (and dogs) should learn swear words in their own home. They are much less likely to be traumatized when hearing mom use the F-word while behind the wheel.

I take pride in the fact that my 10-year announced (while eating yet another burger at another rest stop) that there’s only ONE swear word that he doesn’t know the meaning to. I cringe when recalling that I then actually asked him what it was. “Ho” he says. Well, last year he had come home from school and told his dad he’d learned a new bad word but didn’t know what it meant and didn’t want to say it. After my hubby suggested he spell it… it was tough to keep a straight face when he whispered H-O-R.

I guess his Dad must have explained it in a "fatherly" kind of way, because when I told Cam that Ho was slang for “H-O-R”, and asked if he understood what that meant now…he winked and replied “oh yeah, when someone is havin’ a “little too much fun” for pay !