Archives for category: summer

20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

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The newspaper I work for is putting out a Summer Camp Guide for local parents, and it made me think of how badly I wanted to go to camp as a child.

From grades 5-7, I was really good friends with a girl named Leslie.  Her parents were divorced, and her mom lived in this beautiful old house in the heart of town. It was fun to hang out with her because the park and the candy store were all within a stone’s throw to her house, whereas I lived at the far end of town close to nothing fun at all.

You could say she was privileged, even though it must have sucked to have parents that were divorced. Her mom was out a lot and they had a live-in nanny, who never seemed to be around any time I slept over. She would be “in the house” but usually was up in her room on the top floor, which was creepy to me.

Her dad lived in New York City, and every now and then we’d have a sleepover at his apartment, which was both a thrill and completely uncomfortable. I didn’t know the father all too well, hence my discomfort.

But every summer, for at least 3 weeks, Leslie would be shipped off to summer camp. I saw it as this magical place where nobody knew you, and any stigmas that might plague you in your hometown, simply vanished. You could be anyone. You were brand new.

She would come home with tales of juicy social interactions, clandestine meetings with crushes, and long nights gossiping with girlfriends. And I was pea green with envy. All I had done was hang out at the Leonia pool, trying to dodge insults while using the diving board…from my future husband.

The following year I begged my father to let me go with Leslie, even if it was for just a week. But there was no way…her camp was just too expensive. I understood, but it was still disappointing.

I especially get it now that I have kids. I would have loved to be able to send either of my girls to summer camp, even a day camp, to give them a fun summer experience while mom and dad were working. I looked into it a few years ago, but just about every camp was way out of our price range.

And it is glaringly evident if you attend one of the summer camp expos in the area. Impeccably dressed Moms and Dads usher their children with straight, white teeth from table to table and try to decide which soul-enriching camp their lucky little offspring will spend their summer at. Because money is no object.

But it’s okay. My kids have great memories of summers hiking up to Blue Hole to swim in a mountain pond, and jumping off the dock at Lake Monticello. Trips to King’s Dominion, Disney on Ice, and weeks spend in Florida visiting my dad.

Yeah, camp would’ve been great for them, and maybe even for me. But I don’t think any of us suffered greatly in the long run.

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Today my 13 year old started high school. Sorta.

She’s actually in the 8th grade, but they attend our county’s high school. This is a good thing for many reasons.

  1. The high school is TONS closer to our house than the middle school – the drive took just about 10 minutes this morning.
  2. The 8th graders have their own wing, so they don’t interact all that much with the upperclassmen. Except for at lunch. I wonder how that will work out…
  3. They start an hour later than the middle school. This means that not only does my daughter get to sleep later, but I still get to take my morning walks. If I’m out the door by 6 in the morning, I am back in time to wake her up at 7.

Having experienced my first day with this new schedule, I was amazed at how wonderful my morning was despite the fact that I was up at 4 a.m. with killer cramps that 6 Advil and 1 Meloxicam could not conquer. I just felt like I had so much time!

The one thing that wasn’t different? My daughter’s crappy attitude. On the ride to school she was sullen, with her head against the window, not talking. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she didn’t feel well. This is the same commute I made a hundred times during the 7th grade.

My girl does not like school.

I try to tell her it’s her job…school is her 9-5 until she graduates and gets to join the real world…which isn’t nearly as fun as she thinks it is. I would kill to be done by 3:45 with nothing more to do than some homework. Try working a full day and then having to cook and do dishes. School looks like a pretty sweet deal.

But even if she’s miserable, I’m not. I LOVE this new schedule! I love High School!

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Old House

My daughter has a summer job that requires a lot of my time – she works with my husband at the outdoor event arena that he works at as well. Problem is their shifts don’t mesh, and I am stuck driving her home from most of the events she works. Like at 9:45 pm. I’m not a late night person…yes, 9:45 is late night for me.

Don’t judge – I get up at 5:00 am. Plus the venue is a 25-30 drive from my house. The other night between the travel and getting her food, it was a 90 minute excursion.

I had jobs as a kid – but I lived in a town where you could walk to everything. My first job was working as a cashier in our local supermarket. But the manager was a sour-pussed old man who glared at you from his little office perch and yelled at you each chance he got.

So I quit that job and began working as a cleaning gal in one of our town’s 200+ year old homes. One of the main reasons I took the job was for the pay…$5 an hour. Back in 1981 that was, to quote Jeff Spicoli, “righteous bucks.”

The couple who lived in the home were a nice elderly man and wife. However, they turned out to be a tad, well…eccentric. But I liked that, especially after supermarket sour puss. But it didn’t take long for me to realize these two were not your average couple.

My first day on the job they broke me in by having me clean the kitchen. This would usually mean doing some dishes, cleaning the counters, maybe sweeping the floor, right?

I walked in to see fish heads boiling on the stove. There was a thick, grey foam gathering around the sides of the pot as one fish eye stared at the beamed ceiling. They used the meat that fell off the heads to feed their cats. I really did not relish the idea of cleaning that pot.

But that was not the first of many odd jobs I would be given at that house. I would spend an entire Saturday morning oiling the old wood floors. Funny thing is, I used vegetable oil that came out of a big yellow jug – or maybe it was corn oil. I’d pour about a cup’s worth out, and spread it over the floor with a sponge mop. You know those floors would suck that stuff up almost instantaneously?

There was a small wing of the house that was the original 200 year old portion – a very small cottage that had been subsequently added on to. It was the most charming part of the home; you could imagine some little colonial family living there, and cooking over the fireplace. Yet his pleasant, historic little room was used by the cats as their litter box. It was my job twice a week to find and dispose of all their little turds. Whee!

Did I mention these two were a bit slovenly or are you starting to figure that out for yourself…

I remember one time I had to clean their bathroom & bedroom. The bath had a bidet – I remember thinking, “who the hell needs a bidet in New Jersey?” But the worst was what I found under their bed while picking up their dirty laundry. I found a stack of very old porn magazines. I’m not talking Hustler or Playboy. I’m talking about some shit from the 50s or 60s.

I was horrified. You have to remember, I was only 16 or 17 at the time, and these folks were old enough to be my grandparents. Finding this porn bummed me out – it was like walking in on your parents havng sex…I had a hard time looking either of them in the face for at least a month.

I remember another instance where I was sitting with the wife at her dining room table. I was telling her how a girlfriend of mine at school had died of Hodgkin’s Disease, and how upsetting it was to me. It was at this point that she opened her mouth and let out a very loud, very wet burp. She didn’t cover her mouth, she didn’t embarrassedly pardon herself afterwards, she just kept looking at me and listening.

It was so odd.

All these things aside, they were still a cool old couple. They helped sponsor me when I was in the New Jersey Miss National Teen Age Pageant (now there’s a blog post), and the wife actually helped me write my essay on who I admire the most. She suggested I choose Alan Alda, who I did not admire in the least, but he was from our home town and was big on feminist issues…it was a good hook.

And it was a good job – the work could be hard sometimes – washing the multitude of 12 paned windows with 100+ year old glass in them was no picnic, but you could daydream while you did it. I worked there until I graduated high school and had earned quite a tidy little sum of cash.

I think back on that job, and that kooky little couple from time to time…especially when I see a bidet, boiling fish….

or vintage porn.