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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time Travel -- Part One

First off, a question:
Am I the only grownup who believes -- in her secret heart-of-hearts --
that battery powered toothbrushes are dangerous? 
  I just can't believe that water and electricity belong in your mouth.  At the same time!
A recipe for disaster.  I am convinced I'll be electrocuted one of these days.

Howard says he knows the answer to the question I posed.
Yes, I am. 


Today I am time traveling.

Now, we go back exactly one year:  Howard had recently lost his job and was busy taking pictures of anything that stood still long enough to get its picture taken, including these lovely signs of spring in That Old House's garden:
Hydrangea leaf buds, on 3/30/2010.  There are none yet this year!

Our small daffodils, with buds, on 3/30/10.  This year, only small leaf shoots.
Poppy leaves '10, well on their way to adulthood.  Barely above ground in '11.
And That Old House in March 2010, on a damp day, with brilliant green grass . . . and a missing shutter on the 2nd floor.
 Now, back to the present, and ch-ch-ch-changes.

Howard is working and that is A Good Thing, but the shoots and sprouts of spring are not nearly
as well advanced this year as last.  The grass is still a washed out pale brownish-green.
The rough winter has clearly had an impact on our re-emerging little green things.
About the only thing still the same ... the missing shutter.
And that's because after Howard reattached it, and it withstood months of bad weather,
it blew off again last week!

Sometimes time travel whirls you back to a time
you don't even remember forgetting.

That happened to me a few weeks ago, when we had a party here to celebrate our daughter's engagement.
Me on the left, with my daughter and her fiance.
  On the day of the party, my cousin Judy brought me a package;
I thought it was a hostess gift, but it turned out to be something much more.
Something that whisked me back, and took my breath away.

But now I must fly; errands to run, and another daughter to visit for dinner and shopping.
I'll share the story of Judy's gift on another day.  Soon.
Enjoy Wednesday! -- Cass

And visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.  Click here!

I hope everyone else's plants are not being held back by the terrible winters we've had.  I want to see blooms!
But ... ssshhh ... don't spread it around -- we're supposed to get, yes, more snow in northern New Jersey on Friday!

Mr. Dion is not pleased about that!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday, Again

Is it just my imagination, or does Monday come around pretty frequently
these days?  I'm thinking about once a week. . . .

Howard and Dion and I had a busy four-day weekend.
On Thursday, we braved snowy New Jersey roads and headed for New York's eastern Long Island.
We were heading for our family beach house, meeting up with my sister Peg and her husband Bill.
Before we knew it -- if by "before we knew it" we mean "after 2 toll bridges,
The Bronx, and 2-1/2 hours" -- we were on eastern Long Island.
It's way flatter than New Jersey, but we don't hold that against it.
 Plus its trees are shorter.  New Jersey's trees could totally beat up Long Island's trees.
This is why we keep them on opposite sides of the Hudson River.
There wasn't much snow at the beach house, and it melted quickly.  That was A Good Thing.
Our welcoming committee, below, didn't stay long, but did leave calling cards; that was not A Good Thing.
We had all the needed equipment for a successful work weekend:
cleaning supplies, coffee maker, case of wine, and -- in the white box -- a dark chocolate and cheese coffee cake
from Junda Bakery on the main road in Jamesport.  If you have never been, go.  That is an order.
It's in an old house, looks a little spooky, but seriously . . . go.
My sister made us go, and we will be forever grateful.  And fatter.
 Breakfast -- freshly made black coffee and a sliver (OK, maybe a slab) of flaky
cheese filled coffee cake, thickly drizzled with dark chocolate, at the table in the dining nook.
 The sun rises across the inlet, pretty much every day.  The morning sparkle can be blinding.

In warmer weather, afternoon means a glass of wine on the deck, and our
traditional beach house Happy Hour snack: Cheez-Its.
Yeah, we are classy.  Sometimes we even get White Cheddar Cheez-Its.
Crazy, I know.   We are outta control.

 This weekend, we spent hours contemplating wall colors.  There are swatches taped all over the place.

Sea and sand -- that's the palette.
Nothing seemed perfect.

Too yellow.
  Too green.
 Too gray.
 Too blue!
 Too dark.

But we did agree on new kitchen flooring,
which I don't have a picture of,
and also on carpet for the living & dining area:
In person it looks very much like sisal.
 The hunt for the perfect wall color continues.  We want something that 
will reflect the beautiful light from the water, but not glow too much.

We had a good 4 days, with a crazy swing of emotions, lots of laughs and memories, but also a bit of
panic at the thought of the four "kids" being the responsible parties for this big house on the water.
And knowing we can't pick up the phone and call our Pop to ask, "What does this switch do?"
or a thousand other questions.

I think that everyone, no matter how "grown up" he or she is, must get that feeling
when both parents are gone; you are really on your own. 

When we got home late Sunday afternoon . . . our Wednesday snow was still with us!

till tomorrow . . . Cass

Cielo at The House In The Roses hosts
Show Off Your Cottage Monday.

And Mary (my fellow New Jersey girl) hosts
Mosaic Monday at her beautiful
Little Red House blog.

 Visit Mary here!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Old Feelings, New Memories

When the ownership of a beloved house passes from
one generation to the next, it is not an easy transition.
Our family's beach house on Long Island's North Fork
 There are so many emotions, so many memories, so many mixed feelings.
Above all, there is a natural reluctance to make any changes.  It is still "their" house.

Only, it's not.
And now it's up to us to care for it.

You look around, and you see the nearly 20-year old paint on the walls, the worn out areas on the carpet, the cotton curtains that are actually falling apart, destroyed by intense waterfront sunshine . . . and then you know.  The house, well loved and cared for, and happily lived in until it could not be lived in any longer, needs help.
 Second floor family room
 That's what we're doing for the next few days, my sister Peggy and her husband Bill, Howard and I -- beginning to spruce up our family's beach house on eastern Long Island.  We had planned to begin this two years ago, but chickened out.  We did take things out of it, to have in our own homes, but we didn't make any real changes.  Pop was still with us, and when he was able to visit his house we didn't want it to look too different.
View from second floor deck
This is hard.

We are beginning modestly, with some new flooring on the first floor.  Fresh paint on the ceilings and walls.  Some needed plumbing repairs.  Slipcovers on the sofas and chairs.  New curtains.  And a down-to-the-tiniest-corner professional cleaning that will banish the very last of any lurking dust bunnies.

Decking.  Time to restore it, too.
The Sunday before last, we gathered out there with my brother Lindy and his wife Carol.  We did what we hadn't had the courage or the heart to do before then . . . we actually disposed of some of my Mom's kitchen kitsch.  The local thrift shop will benefit.
Looking into the kitchen from back entry
I can't tell you how hard that was, and how many times Peggy and I had to reassure
one another that we didn't need to keep everything just because it had belonged to Mom.
Some things we suspect she kept only because they'd been gifts.
Dion asleep in his spot in the kitchen
I told my daughters, who were with us that Sunday, that when I am gone they must not
feel guilty disposing of something that I loved (as long as it's not their father!). 

We know that our Dad, who passed away on February 2nd, would want to see the house
he designed, that he thought a paradise on earth, used again.  
First floor living room

We can do this now.  For us, and for them.
I know we'll have tears, but we'll have laughs, too.
 Our mother was a strong believer in life being for the living;
I know she would want us to put on our big girl pants,
and fix up the home that gave her so many happy years with the man she adored.
So I'll be away from blogging for a few days.  No computer access out there.  No TV.
But we've got some good wine, a corkscrew, some books, a board game or two,
and an endless supply of memories to smile over, and plans to make.

We wish our brothers and their wives could be with us too, but they have become
Southerners.  Imagine that.  And if they were at the beach house
with us, we wouldn't have enough beds for everyone!  Not yet, anyway.
The lawn and dock in winter

Deep breath.
Southold, here we come.
Play nice while I'm gone.  :-)   Cass

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


No, not Dumpling -- because those are delicious.
Instead . . . Dumping.
As in . . . Mother Nature, stop dumping snow on us!

As I sit at the computer, I look out the window on my left and see this:
This lilac has leaf buds.  Under the snow.
 Even our big flower pots are unhappy with this:

 And I'd love to have you come for a dinner al fresco:

But the gas grill says, "No way!"
 Yes, the snow is beautiful.
Beneath these blobbies lies our grape vine -- which also has leaf buds.
I noticed them just yesterday.
Pretty sloppy and cold, too.
 The other lilac.  Also smothered in snow.  Buds in hiding.

 And in the dining room, looking out at the side yard through the old windows, more snow.

 And that's my Outdoor Wednesday, friends!

Honestly, having unexpected Spring Snow is a minor inconvenience;
our dog Dion is enjoying it, and I've decided to adopt his attitude,
stop bellyaching, and look on the bright (white) side.

Just think how much more we will appreciate the Spring glories to come after this snowy winter!

Go visit A Southern Daydreamer and say Hello to Susan,
who hosts this popular link party.  Click here!
I'm pretty sure I am not the only Snow Baby today,
but I'm hoping for pictures of Spring springing elsewhere!

 Susan herself has wonderful shots of spectacularly brilliant hot air balloons.  Marvelous!  -- Cass

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dion Turns Twelve

Yes, he did.
Notice?  I trimmed the "slippers" on only 3 of his 4 feet.  Dion, Mama is a dunce.

Our goofy Cavalier spaniel Dion DiPoochy has reached the ripe old age -- in dog terms -- of twelve, and still doesn't
know that it's not polite to drag the toilet paper off the roll from the powder room all the way to the sunroom.

Or stare at guests till they accidentally drop food.
Or bark at pedestrians on the street below That Old House.
Or try and romance visiting lady dogs.

Our little guy, who was born right before my very eyes in March 1999, has been with us
since our girls were in middle school, and they are now graduate students.  
Dearest Dion . . . stay well.  For me.

And one more thing.
On your next birthday, don't let Mother Nature do this:
 It's Spring, for goodness' sake!   No more snow, or I shall have to report it to the authorities.
It took me 2-1/2 hours to do a normal 50-minute drive on Monday.
Did everyone in north Jersey forget how to drive in the snow?  Overnight?  Remember January?
Oh, Dion DiPoochy -- my little dog -- a heartbeat at my feet, as Edith Wharton wrote --
don't get mad when I take you to the vet on Tuesday for that little thing near your eye.
I do it out of love.  Keep repeating that . . . .
Love . . . Mom