Category: Long Island

It’s been way too long and I’m sure there are those who think I’ve left this blog for “dead”!  Not  so. But – the author of said blog is … overwhelmed.

So much has happened, where do I start? So – instead of “just starting where I am” – – I run telling myself I’ll post … “later”. However, here we go, and I am starting “where I am”:  the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Ironically it wasn’t really a hurricane when it hit land. As it went by south of us on eastern Long Island, and took aim for the New Jersey coast, we ended up on the “dry” side of the hurricane. Points west of us on Long Island, as well as New York City and New Jersey got a lot more rain than we did. However, this “little storm” was unusual in that it was huge in size because it had combined with a nor’easter. So – in essence – it was a nor’easter with a hurricane in the center. It was also moving horribly slowly, which spread the damage further, and allowed it to last longer, increasing the damage. As we sat in the house during the storm, it clearly *was* windy, but I have been through worse in other storms. But – it still wreaked havoc – much more than Irene, which was last summer’s storm. We were without power for 4 days (much less than many), and had some yard damage.

Due to the full moon and high tide happening at the height of the storm, there was flooding like none that my husband had ever seen in this area. He’s lived here for his entire 66 years, and he was amazed. Had this been a huge rain event, it would have been worse. Burnett Creek – an off shoot of Mecox Bay – over flowed it’s banks and went down our road, drowning a Verizon panel, and making our road impassable to all traffic. We live high off the road, so we were not in any danger of having our basement flood, but I suspect there were those who did have some.

Mecox Bay / Burnett Creek Tidal Flooding
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1. Flooding on Flying Point Road in front of our house — taken at high tide in the middle of the storm at about 11 p.m. I took the photo into a car’s headlights who ultimately turned around once he realized the water he’d come upon.
2. The next day I had hoped to take a photo of that flooding on the road at the next high tide, but it didn’t happen, and all the water which had flowed on the road receded. This is residual water that pooled in our neighbors yard across the street from us. They are much lower than us, and wonder if they had basement water. This photo shows our neighbor’s house reflected in the water.
3. This is the Verizon panel that was blown over and then drowned during the high tide flooding. Shows neighbor’s house in the background and the receding waters in their front yard.

We also had some tree damage in our yard – something else which has not happened to us personally in any recent storm:

Cedar Tree down
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We planted this tree as a bush back in about 1983, and then had it pruned so that it would grow as a tree. It sort of was “ugly” as it was a little “gangley” – but I was attached to it.IMG_4413 IMG_4409 IMG_4412

A part of a tree broke off (not from the root, but from the bottom of the tree) and landed in the utility wires above – from our front yard. These utility wires do not service us, and I don’t think they actually messed up power to those who they do service, but I’m not sure.

Some very hard working tree workers from Illinois, who were assisting LIPA (our power company), came to remove the tree on day #4 after the storm. At the time we were working was when our power returned, but these lines do not service us – the lines on the other road do (we’re a corner lot). It was interesting to watch them work, as they assume all wires are “hot”, and work with such care, but quickly and efficiently. They laid the tree on the side of the road, and the firewood part of the tree was quickly taken by – someone – leaving the top part to be picked up by the town

Water Mill Beach Club – right on the ocean had a dune breach which pretty much destroyed the club. When Ray was a child his family belonged to the beach club. It was a club mainly for local people – not expensive, rather spartan, with only parking across the street, lockers for each member to leave beach chairs and umbrellas, and an outdoor shower. Since then, it began catering to the summer crowd and built a tennis court, which you can see is destroyed. Flying Point Road was covered in sand and was impassable at the time I took this picture, so I had to turn around there.

I’m so grateful this is over for us, as this could have been very different. There are so many others — mostly in NYC, western Long Island, and NJ who continue to struggle.  My husband and I personally know several who have basically lost everything, or are in the process of evaluating if their homes are a “total loss”.  Some folks had water in their basements – destroying boilers and electric panels.  Unlike these people, we are grateful that we have the opportunity to move forward.


Once home from Maine we’ve had an extended period with no travel and more mundane life. It was a relief to enjoy the comfort of our home, do a few projects, and have the suitcases in storage for a bit! However, before I get to that, let me show a few photos from our ferry ride home from Maine on the New London to Orient Point ferry. It was pouring rain for the entire ride – not conducive to much photography. But, sometimes the fog and gray conditions create their own beauty:

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1. Another ferry in the distance
2. Orient Point Lighthouse

So – this entry will be devoted to a few photos from our daily life here over the last month or so. I’ve given up on the 365 project, so the photos haven’t been taken daily, but it is a snapshot of August and September…

Thistle is a weed. It’s invasive, grows very quickly, and has the potential to choke other plants which are growing around it. Prior to our trip to Maine, I noticed some thistle growing right in the middle of our front yard hedge. The flowers had not yet bloomed, so I asked Ray to allow it to stay there – just until the flowers bloomed so I could get photos. Days after we returned from Maine – the pink flowers appeared…. It’s such and interesting plant in that the leaves are so full of prickers and sharp as a tack, as you can see in the second photo below! But – the softness of the pink bloom is like a kitten’s fur! What a dichotomy! It is a wonderful place for bees, butterflies, and the goldfinch!

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Only hours after these were taken, Ray chopped down the thistle. It was kind of weird looking growing high above the hedge! It was sad to see it go, knowing that wildlife thrives on it.

The next grouping of photos is from an unusually stunning sunset. Ray and I were on our way home from having dinner out, and the entire earth was engulfed in these pink and orange tones. I didn’t have my camera with me – so I begged Ray to “drive fast” to get me home so I could grab my camera – hopefully in time. These kinds of sunsets don’t usually last all that long. He did – and I ran back to a place up the street where the vision is the best for viewing the sunset. I made it in time, and got the tail end of it:

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In photo #2, you can see the small crescent moon off to the left side…

The sunset light reflects on my car

Ray and I took a ride in his ’57 t-bird on Dune Road, which is a road that abuts the ocean. There are lots of summer “cottages” (uh – more like mansions!) along the way. Normally I don’t bother with my camera, as Ray is never able to stop for me to get a photo or two. But – this time I did, and took a few from the car as we were riding. Often these don’t turn out very well due to blur, but here are a few from that ride:

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1. The Dunes Church. This building was painted this year, and it’s so bright. At first I didn’t like it, but each time I pass by, the color is growing on me
2. One of those “summer cottages” ~

We’re renovating our computer room in our house — removing the 35 year old lime green shag rug, and replacing computer furniture, removing an old single bed, and replacing that with a futon, and we will be redoing the hardwood floor and repainting this winter (when we’re gone). It will be so good to get rid of that terribly bright yellow paint….! Here’s the room in the midst of the chaos of the task!

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Photo #2 is the new computer nook set up…

Blue Moon – August 31, 2012!

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…with a little help from photoshop…! 🙂

And, last but not least, I never tire of taking photos of the kitties! 🙂

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Felix – silly kitty loves to lie on his back!

Mundane life is about to end, however. In 2 days I’ll be headed to Claire’s – and then she, her husband and I will be driving to “Crane Fest” in Wisconsin. This is Operation Migration’s annual gathering where events are scheduled like a dinner, wildlife refuge tour, auction, and annual meeting for Operation Migration, and I don’t know what all else.  I’ve never been before, so I’ll find out!  I have decided to go – but didn’t want to go alone, so am tagging along with my good friend Claire, and her husband. I have spoken about this organization here in previous entries (here and here) during their crisis with the FAA and flying the ultralights.

So – – stay tuned for an entirely different set of photos from my next adventure. If I can post while gone, I will, but otherwise, I’ll be back in early October to update!


I know I’m late in posting this, but one of the highlights of summer for me is the 4th of July Parade in our town. It’s a good parade, and very traditional with lots of floats, bands, community organizations, fire departments, military groups, veterans, and, of course, local politicians who want to be “seen”. My husband is on the “CVO” (Combined Veterans Organization) parade committee, and is involved in putting the parade together. This means I go alone, and am free to travel up and down the streets with my camera looking for good photos ops.

One group I always love is the Revolutionary War re-enactment militia. And — of course they shoot the cannon – while all the little children hold their ears, and bury their heads in their mother’s arms: (click any photo to see it larger in Flickr)

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Other military groups:

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1. World War II Vets – ride in various cars and floats
2. Korean War Vets
3. Vietnam Vets

A few bands:

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A few of the community floats and parade entries. There were many more, but this is just a sampling:

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1. Little League
2. Mason’s
3. Long Island East Ski Club. My husband and I were members of this group for a long time when we were younger (and our knees were better…) and took a few wonderful skiing trips out west…
4. Human Resources of the Hamptons
5. Lions Club
6. Kiwanis Club

And – then there are the fire departments….!

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Southampton Fire Department’s antique fire trucks

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1. Long line of fire trucks from North Sea Fire Department
2. The junior fire fighters

In my opinion (and only my opinion) the only negative of this parade – – and many parades, for that matter – – are the more politically motivated parade entries. Each year there are one or two, and I see them – at least in this atmosphere – as unnecessarily divisive. Parades are there to bring people together. Political statements divide. Or – at least that is the way things are in the present climate. Such was the affect of this year’s main political entry – the Suffolk County 9-12 Project – The Tea Party. It was one of the largest entries – many banners, marchers, a few decorated cars… I could not deny that it was impressive!

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In previous years there were entries from the “other side of the aisle” – which I didn’t like either, so it’s not about the Tea Party group, per se. Can we not put aside political divisiveness for one day and join together in what we DO share — the celebration of our nation’s birth. Since the parade there has been some contentious discourse in the “letters to the editor” of our local paper about an alleged ugly, unkind bumper sticker on the side of one of the cars. I didn’t see it, but I cannot deny that it could have been there – like on the other side of the car from where I could see. But – whatever the case, the ultimate result is divisiveness among us.

After the parade is over, I head for the Veteran’s Memorial Hall to meet up with my husband who is there after his work is done with the parade. we have some refreshments – usually hot dogs, chips and cake – before we go on home.

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1. The judges stand at the end of the parade
2. Sag Harbor Community Band plays a few patriotic selections after the parade is over
3. Veterans Memorial Hall
4. Across the street from Vets Hall is the World War I Memorial Park where both the Memorial Day and Veterans Day services are held.

When my hubby first began working on this parade, I didn’t like being left alone to watch it. In the early years, I didn’t always attend, as I’d always thought a parade is a social event, enjoyed by families and friends together. But – it didn’t take long for me to pick myself up and just … go. Once the photography bug hit me, it gave me another focus while I watched the festivities. I also found it was fun to be a free spirit at a parade. As I walk up and down the streets looking for photos, I always stop to chat with people I know along the way.

I think this is what I like about parades – – the joining of together of a community to commemorate a particular holiday or event. And, in the process the community (and friends and family) bond(s), as it also celebrates itself.

Let’s see if I can catch up … only to get behind again!

Tomorrow I’m leaving on yet another trip. Due to needing to go to PA because of my mom’s illness in March, I was unable to visit my good friend, Claire in North Georgia. At that time we were planning to do a spring piano / flute concert in her church. She ended up doing the concert alone, and I can’t redo that experience. However, I can finally do a visit, and I am leaving for her house tomorrow. Among other interests we share, we both are photography enthusiasts, so I will have lots of different photos to share for my daily 365 photo during my visit. I”m looking forward to the change of scenery and some different kinds of photos from a different area. Claire lives in a beautiful area, so who knows what my subjects will be for my photos!!

But – before I do – I am going to finally catch up on the photos that are not yet posted…

365 photo #150 – (May 29) – House Finch in the black pine staging area for the feeders.

Bonus photos:

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1. Grackle – kind of a bully bird. I feed the birds only safflower seeds mainly because the grackles don’t much like it so they are less likely to be around to bully the smaller birds. However, they try…!
2. Male Cardinal in the black pine “staging area” of the bird feeders.

365 photo # 151 (May 30) – a gorgeous sunset which gave the world an orange glow for a bit!

365 photo #152 (May 31) – I believe these are crabapple blossoms which grow wild around our yard and neighborhood.

365 photo #153 – (June 1) Misty lying on her fleece mat which we have placed on the couch above our head as we’re sitting. I will miss my kitties when I’m gone…

Bonus photo:

I must include Felix if I’ve shown Misty! 🙂

365 photo #154 (June 2) – Female cardinal hanging out on an old wrought iron railing that was placed there after being removed a very long time ago. I had forgotten it was there until I saw Mrs. Cardinal there that day. I can’t believe it hasn’t been pitched, as it was from a patio that has long since been transformed.

Bonus photos:

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1. Red winged blackbird — Sometimes they are “bully birds” to the smaller birds, but they are so pretty, I think.
2. Dove

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1. White Rhododendron. The white ones are the last to bloom, so these flowers are almost done for the season. They are so pretty and am always sad when they’re done blooming.
2. The white rhododendron bush

Yesterday I made a point of going down the street to where I’ve noticed a vacant field that’s had numerous wildflowers planted. I don’t know who owns the field and why they are planting these flowers. I think it’s a future development – but it is really pretty. I stopped by to take some close up and landscape photos of the field while it’s so pretty. I don’t know what many of the flowers are…

365 photo #155 (June 3) I don’t know what this purple flower is, but blurred in the background is a large area of wild daisies.

Bonus photos:

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365 photo #156 (June 4) – suitcase packed — ready to go tomorrow morning – pronto! It was not much of a photo day today…

And — that brings me up to date. I don’t know how well I can keep this up while I’m gone, but there will be photos for those days to post later….


We have returned to Long Island from our wintering in Hilton Head a few weeks ago, and life sure hasn’t stopped so that we could relax.

First of all – our trip home was nerve wracking as we had our new kitties with us who were untested for long travel. I worried for weeks prior to leaving about all the things that could go wrong. Traveling with Phantom and Shadow was not easy, but they were more calm and quiet in their older age. Since we did not know how this would play out, we purchased little harnesses for the kitties so that if we had to have them out of the carriers (like for a cat box break), we could control them easier with leashes. One can’t do that with a collar, as it’s not good to pull against a small kitty’s neck, besides the fact that most collars are “break-away” in style, and would easily pull apart if pulled.

We test drove the new harnesses a week prior to leaving. They were not amused and spent countless hours trying to get out of them, by backing up (thinking they could back out of them), rubbing up against a wall (thinking they could “rub” them off), and hopping around (thinking they could shake them off!). Finally they settled in, thinking they if they went to sleep, they’d wake up and the harnesses would miraculously have disappeared. Ultimately they did get used to them … sort of!

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1. Felix – check out those sad eyes…!
2. Misty – sleeping the harnesses off
3. Felix and Misty – sleeping

The trip itself was a lot less traumatic than I’d imagined, and we made it back in one piece, though all of us – including kitties – were exhausted. Felix had one huge kitty tantrum at the Maryland House, when he went on a meowing jag, and flung water and his carrier “mat” all over the inside of the carrier. We gave him a “cat box” break, but that was not the problem. In fact – once out of the carrier, he begged to return there to his “safe haven”. Once we got back on the highway, he settled in again, probably exhausted from said tantrum! Misty also scared us once, thinking she was actually dead! She had pulled her carrier mat up over top of her, so she could not be seen, and was so sound asleep that she didn’t rouse when we stopped the car. We shook the carrier and she finally opened her eyes with that “wtf” look on her face – no worse for wear.

However, there was no rest for the weary once arriving home. In short: the house was not as we had left it. In all fairness, the hassles were nothing we couldn’t handle. Many who have withstood tornadoes would trade their tragedies with the small inconveniences we endured. But – we were tired from our travels, and it seemed worse than it was.

1. First of all — we had our upstairs painted while we were gone. The furniture and other possessions had been moved around so they could do the work. We had an idea this had happened, and our cleaning person not only cleaned the dust from those rooms, but got the furniture back in the correct spots in both rooms. However, there was more when we arrived. Nothing was plugged in. Phone cords had been disconnected – then stepped on – so that they could not be reconnected easily. Possessions were not in their correct rooms – or missing. Some things are STILL missing! Pictures had been removed and scattered about the house and had to be rehung, including installing new hooks. I’m not sure we’ll have a job like that done while we’re gone, or we need to be more accepting of how we’d find the house…

2. Our house was burglarized in early January, and the perpetrator came in via our computer room window. Our security system paid for itself, as the alarm went off after only a minute of him being in the house, and after taking almost nothing, he left via the window where he entered. Again, the person who cleans our house returned the room to “order” and worked to clean all that black finger print dust off objects (or threw out the things that could not be cleaned). But – again – stuff is not where I’d left it, and things are still missing, even a few weeks later. Despite the confusion, I am eternally grateful to my cleaning gal for all that she did.

3. Our swimming pool’s liner was leaking when we closed up for the winter, but it was worse when we realized that it also included the pool steps, which also needed replacing. That job could not be done until the weather got warmer, so it was barely started when we arrived home.

As the weeks have gone by, we now feel more at home in our house — including the cats. The pool is nearly done and our two upstairs rooms now feel like home. It was also fun watching them claim their new habitat, so that now they have new favorite places to sleep and play.

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1. Misty
2. Felix
3. The two cats together on the back of the couch in the living room

It was clear that Felix and Misty had never encountered stairs before in their short little lives, and Felix didn’t quite “get” what gravity would do to his method of going down and he literally fell down the stairs. The “what the hell just happened” look on his face after that happened was priceless. They both learned quickly, and I can’t believe how fast they maneuver the stairs now.

They love our pantry – looking for good things to eat!

“Felix, The Pantry Pest”

Just as we thought it was safe to come up for air – “life” had to interject yet another wrinkle. My mom – at age 89 – fell and broke her hip. She made it through the surgery with flying colors to get a steel rod inserted. She did not need an entire hip replacement, as it was not a complete break – just a fracture. She is now in a rehab facility, and hope and pray that she does well there. She will need motivation, however, as it’s a lot of work to come back from one of these breaks. But I think Mom is strong and has the ability to do this, but there still is concern. Another wrinkle is that their house is not well suited to someone who is disabled, as they do not have a bathroom or bedroom on the first floor, so time will tell how this will play out, and how – and if – our plans for this summer will be impacted. Mom — and her husband will need support — how much support and what kind will depend on how well the rehab goes. I feel for my mom – and her husband as they go through this. It’s said, “getting old is not for sissies”. So true…

The title for this blog entry is most appropriate as the ending sentence: Life Happens When You’re Making Other Plans. Life sometimes unfolds as it will, without any concern for your desires or previous plans. In these situations, the best you can do is roll with it and respond in the best way you know how. However, I keep wanting to say, “Stop the world, I want to get off!”

As is so often the case with hurricanes, the authorities prepare for the worst, but, in the end, the storm’s bark is worse than it’s bite. Each time this situation is repeated, it makes people less likely to follow the advice of the authorities to do the preparedness. I noticed this in the days prior to Earl’s arrival yesterday, and worried if we really got creamed by the storm. Ray, as a volunteer for the Red Cross, would not allow us to slip into apathy, and we prepared as best we could — or to the extent that the authorities suggest. And — in all honesty — one of these times it WILL be the "real thing" – – as it was with Hurricane Gloria (1985), or Bob (1991)- and even Belle back in 1976, though I’m not sure that ever reached hurricane strength. All three of those were either Cat 1 or 2 hurricanes, and they do damage. Trees and branches come down, houses are damaged, there’s ocean flooding, and lengthy power outages. I remember the aftermath of them…  Of course it was nothing like Katrina – but there was clean up and it took days – and in some cases weeks to get power back.  I cannot imagine a cat 3, and that’s what the Legendary Hurricane of 1938 was, which was back before they named these storms.

The storm was lame. It rained off and on from about 10 a.m. on, as the outer bands of the storm marched north toward us. The storm, however, HAD moved east as we hoped it would, so we only got the outer bands. Plus – it lost some of it’s punch and was downgraded to a Cat 1. The wind was minimal here — less than a garden variety nor’easter – and I think only Montauk (35 miles east of us) got anything significant in that department. Before we were sure how the storm would go, Ray and I decided to go out for lunch in town so that we had a nice meal in our belly before we might have to eat the simple things I’d purchased to be cooked if we had a power failure. I think everyone else had the same idea, and the restaurants were jammed.

Since Katrina, and the year that so many storms hit Florida, I think many communities which are in line for these storms are revamping their hurricane preparedness, and Suffolk County is no exception.  The county, along with the various organizations which supply help to storm victims now work together toward a common end, and the EOC was created. 

This storm HAD the potential to hit us head on, and as it made it’s way up the coast, it was a Cat 3 storm, and was worrisome.  The EOC planned for this, and went through all the steps to protect citizens, which in retrospect seemed like overkill.  To some people, all that was done is now seen as a joke and a waste of precious tax payer’s money.  Even before Earl came through I noted many residents (and tourists) not bothering to heed the warnings to take the precautions suggested.  Why bother because it “never materializes anyway”.  In this instance, they were not wrong.  It’s like the little story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” – and at some point after repeated false alarms, one doesn’t believe the cries. 

However, one of these days some hurricane WILL hit.  Even in this case, a few degrees “wobble” on the part of Hurricane Earl, and it would have been a “slam dunk” – and we would have been hit head on.  Conditions could have been such that the hurricane would have retained it’s strength, as it is true, they often lose strength as they hit the cooler waters off the northeast coast.  Forecasting has come a long way from when residents were clueless that a hurricane was even out there – like before the 1938 Hurricane.  We can – to a certain extent – predict these wobbles in hurricanes – and know when they will lose strength.  But – – not totally.  It is better to err on the side of caution and do those preparations rather than cavalierly ignore them and take the risk of not being prepared if it ends up being aimed right at you at the last minute.   

By the afternoon I was pretty confident that it wasn’t going to veer toward us, and we were going to dodge this hurricane bullet.  As a closet “storm chaser” (no – I’m sure I’d never do this in real life, but, I admit, storms do excite me when I know I’m in no danger), I decided to drive up to the ocean beach to see the waves.  There was rain, but little wind, but hoped I would have some time to go out and photograph the waves influenced by Earl which was out at sea….

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I was lucky as the rain slowed down and then stopped as we were probably between rain bands at the time which allowed me to use my camera more freely.  When not using my camera I protected it under my raincoat from any droplets or spray.  Thank God for the zoom feature, which allowed me to appear to be up close to some of those waves. I loved the spray on some of them. And – in the 4th shot – it shows the stupidity of some of the people there — as they played in the surf, maybe not realizing it’s true intensity.  Even I felt this, as occasionally when I was standing on the sand behind the surf line, one of the waves would be extra strong and come up right to the dunes – and beyond.  I was then caught in ankle high water as it rushed in.  The strength of this small amount of water reminded me that if it was too much deeper, it could knock me down WITH my camera in hand.  I realized the respect we need for a hurricane ocean. 

The last photo is of New York WABC News Channel 7 reporting on the little hurricane that “wasn’t”, though the ocean did have a dramatic look to it.  I saw the report on the 5 p.m. news.

Today is a marvelous day as they often are once a hurricane or tropical storm has passed.  Our windows are open and a gentle, refreshing breeze is feels good – so unlike the muggy, stifling weather of yesterday.  It’s a gift that the hurricane gives you after it’s destruction, though in our case we were blessed to have avoided that.

First – – let me define “Snowbird”:

snow·bird (snobûrd)


1. Any of several birds, such as the junco and the snow bunting, common in snowy regions.

2. Slang One who moves from a cold to a warm place in the winter.

Clearly I am not a junco or snow bunting, so – it’s got to be the second, “slang” definition of which I speak now.  And – yes – this is exactly what my husband and I do each and every winter – move from a colder to warmer climate.

It’s probably time that I write in the “about” section of this blog to give readers a bit more basic details about who I am.  That is – if I have any random readers…  But – one thing which is very integral to my life is this “snowbird lifestyle” which my husband and I began once he retired in October of 2001  His parents also did this, so we have come by this way of life quite honestly.

My husband and I have lived on eastern Long Island from the time we were married in 1971 – and raised our son there since his birth in 1979.  During that time, his parents were “backing and forthing” to and from Hilton Head Island and Long Island.  In 1996 Ray’s parents gave us their house on Hilton Head when it was time for them to move into an assisted living situation.  We used the house for a short time each winter when Ray had vacation – mostly during the Christmas season so we could be with his parents during the holidays.  But – for the most part, we just kept the place up until it was our turn to be able to use it in earnest once Ray retired.

I remember our first trip south in December of 2001 about 2 months after Ray’s official retirement.  It was almost surreal packing up the car with everything we’d need for 6 months and driving down to Hilton Head – caravan style.  We both drove our own cars – each of us loaded down with luggage almost as high as it would go.  At that time, we had two black cats, Phantom and Shadow (Shadow is still with us today), and we each had a cat (tucked safely in a pet carrier) in our cars.  Ray and I kept in touch with each other via walkie-talkies (or cell phones if we got out of range) so that we would know when to stop for meals, gas, or for the night.  Still do!

Since then, I’ve become more accustomed to the trip, and the packing process for each way.  Yet – it has not gotten any less stressful.  Most of our nervousness now has to do with Shadow – our remaining cat – who is getting older, has failing kidney issues, pees more often, and the trip IS difficult on her.  I don’t also think there has been ONE trip south – or north – where I have not forgotten something vital, which either forced my son to mail the item(s), or I had to purchase a replacement quickly.

However, this is only about the logistics of the trip.  Most of the adjustment has more to do with getting acclimated to both areas after being gone from them for an extended period of time.

Each house is different.  I am in love with the Hilton Head house, and marvel for the entire time I’m there how wonderful it is to live in that environment.  I’ve learned how much I love tiled floors, particularly the Mexican Tile that my in-laws put in the house when they built it in 1986.  I love the spaciousness and open concept of the living / dining / kitchen, too – with the 5 sliding glass doors which face outward to the lagoon from different rooms.  When in the kitchen I can easily have conversational contact with those in the other living spaces, so I am not cut off from others.  I can see birds, alligators, flowers and other aquatic wildlife without ever having to leave the kitchen sink – or easy chair!  Maybe it’s too easy, I suppose….  The 1980’s built kitchen (seen probably as antiquated in comparison to a house built in 2010) is much more modern than my 1950’s kitchen in my Long Island house, too.  We built onto that house in 2006 – and that has only enhanced my love for the living space.  And – slowly over the years this house, which had been Ray’s parent’s, is now considered “home”.

However, my house on Long Island is the one that houses the “memories” of our early marriage and raising our son.  It’s “old” and in desperate need of updating, though, for a variety of reasons we probably won’t do too much of it.   The earlier house is 1950’s vintage, and the “newer” is from the 1976 addition.  Yet – I’d rather live through a hurricane in our north house, as it’s built much more soundly.

In each house, I have my favorite aspects.  When moving from one to the other, it requires some emotional adjustment.  For a few weeks, I always miss the home I just left, and spend that time reacquainting myself to the advantages of the one I am in.  Faster internet up north.  Better sound system down south.  Better cell reception up north.  Better mattress down south.  Cozier bedroom (with the sound of rain on the roof) up north.  Central a/c down south.  More spacious desk up north.  You get the idea….

Weather is another issue probably unique to me.  I admit – I miss snow, and worry sometimes that I’ll never see another snowflake ever.  Hilton Head sees basically none of the white stuff, and it is difficult to know that there is a good chance that if we continue this lifestyle I may not ever see a good old fashioned snowstorm.  Ray and I are not in agreement on this.  He could care less if he ever does.  It’s one compromise I’ve made for him.

But – the most challenging aspect of “Snowbirding” is the living of one’s life.  When you leave, you also leave the activities you’re doing in each place.  I have to say goodbye to each church choir when I leave, and then re-acclimate myself to the other choir upon arrival.  There is no Camera Club up north.  Photography is totally different in each place.

In short, it can sometimes be hard to sink my teeth into anything because it’s never long until I have to up and leave for another 6 months!  People can’t depend on me for the long term because I’m “always leaving”.  Yet – in some ways that also can be helpful if things are becoming stressful in whatever it is I’m doing.  It’s a great “escape” clause!  Plus – I have the opportunity to live two lives, so to speak.  I have variety – and that is the spice in my life!

It’s also difficult to say goodbye to friends, knowing I won’t see them for 6 months.  Then, upon arrival, I have to reconnect with my friends there.  It’s not always easy, as they continued with their lives when I wasn’t there.  It’s harder to remain close to friends – and harder to make new friends in such an environment.  And – I miss them terribly when I’m not there.  The push and pull of “hello” then “goodbye” can put a strain on things emotionally.  Yet – I have double the friends – and my life is enhanced by each of them.

I’ve learned to love each place for the different opportunities that are there for me.  Despite some of these “transitional” difficulties as I move from one place to the other, I cannot imagine any other lifestyle for me now.

However, I suspect that this Snowbird lifestyle is one reason why I have become even more attached to the internet and the social networking sites like Facebook, Live Journal, and now this journal.  It is the one constant that is in my life no matter where I am.  Life inside my computer travels with me no matter where I am, and I appreciate that.

I sit here in the "balmy south" region of Hilton Head Island watching the Weather Channel forecast SNOW for this area. Now – "Snow" and "Hilton Head" in the same sentence is an oxymoron. They do not belong together! I also know that most likely this forecast will not pan out and all precipitation will fall as rain. Being a coastal community, there are usually sea breezes which temper winter weather to make it warmer than even a few miles inland. However – just the thought is exciting.

I grew up in the northeast — southeastern PA, to be more specific — and remember many winter snow storms. For this child, snow was The Best. It translated into a day off (or more) from school, and lots of fun with friends building snowmen, snow forts, sledding, making snow angels, and simply enjoying the joy of walking in it. I loved the "hush" that came over all the world when it was falling. Snow changes "sound" giving the environment a peaceful atmosphere. I didn’t see the "inconvenience" of the weather, as it was my parents who had to dig out their cars, and I didn’t have pressure to get to work or shop to make sure we had enough food in the house. Yet — I did my share of shoveling – and it was made to be fun. As children, we were always sent up to my grandfather’s house to shovel him out, as he was too old to safely do those tasks. We did it as a group — had hot chocolate after it was completed making it a fun, bonding experience.

As an adult, hubby and I lived on Long Island (and we still do in the summer months), so snow was still somewhat commonplace, although less so than in PA. Again, living in a coastal area tempers cold weather in the winter (as well as tempering the heat in the summer!), so often snow would fall in New York City only to be a cold icy rain on eastern Long Island. Yet — we did have our share of blizzards, and remember playing in the snow with our son. I remember him in this blue snowsuit with happy red cheeks after coming in from playing.

Generally we had our driveway plowed out by Ray’s business, so that didn’t have to be done, but I kind of enjoyed shoveling the deck and deck stairs to get us plowed out. I would also dig my car out – – but wasn’t pressed to do it as I didn’t have to get to any job. The exercise of shoveling was invigorating, and I basically enjoyed it. Generally we didn’t get snowstorm after snowstorm and there was usually time to regroup between them, though I do remember a few winters of that.

Hubby, on the other hand was traumatized by the white stuff. His business required him to make sure he got to work – and to get the trucks rolling to deliver the propane and to take care of customer’s heating emergencies. In a snow storm, this was an especially vital job, and one couldn’t just call a "snow day" for oneself. He was so upset by it that I had to keep my happiness at seeing it to myself. At night I would turn on the outside light and quietly sit on the window seats and just watch it fall. During the day, if I wasn’t shoveling or outside enjoying it – I was watching out a window. I still have a memory of eating Christmas breakfast watching the snow fall. that was probably the only white Christmas we ever had – and I don’t think more than an inch fell… And, I will admit that Ray and I learned to ski when we were in our 20’s, then had many "school vacation" ski vacations as Scott grew up. Those skiing days are sadly over for me now that I have a "crap knee".

Fast forward to today. Hubby is retired now, and we are "snowbirds" – living on Long Island in the summer – Hilton Head Island in the winter. I haven’t even SEEN a flake of snow since February of 2005 when Hubby and I had to travel north for a month and a half for medical reasons. During that time I relished two snowstorms during the time we were there. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever see a flake of snow again and feel sad. Oh — there was about 20 minute "snow squall" back in 2001 when we were here — but it didn’t stick (although the freaked out natives let school out early!)

I feel quite alone – and very odd – loving the white stuff as I do. It’s my "inner child" which kicks in and who can’t quite understand the adult hassles. I do understand that this winter has been brutal to many parts of this country — the northeast, mid-Atlantic states, and now many southern states who are not used to it are getting some. In some instances, blizzards have come on the heels a previous blizzard. One Barely has time to clean up after one, before another comes, making clean up doubly difficult. Where does one pile the snow when it gets so high and there are no more places to put it? Besides that – when snow compacts, it’s a sheet of ice. When it melts, then refreezes, it’s even more slippery and difficult to get rid of, making driveways and walks even more treacherous. It’s February — people are getting sick of this and dreaming of spring, and I understand this – at least the adult in me does. But — here I am — feeling deprived of snow and wanting to experience it. I know – – be careful for what you ask for – – you might get it.

Being denied something makes appreciation of it more acute. When one has an over abundance of something – like snow – the beauty of it is less likely to be appreciated. One sees only the inconvenience. (And — I don’t deny that!) Conversely, in my case, I admit I take mild temperatures and flowers in winter for granted, where these things are coveted in the north. I don’t appreciate the beauty of that – at least not like someone who has been inundated with blizzards would.

However – – there is an outside possibility I’ll get to see just a tiny bit of the white stuff — even as far south as "here". I don’t want to pin my hopes on this – but it’s fun to be excited about it no matter what happens.

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