Friday, August 31, 2012

Magpies -

those are the birds that are attracted to everything shiny and bright, aren't they?

That also describes GI Joe and my future DIL... that's why they love Las Vegas... and reality shows! Artificiality and glitter masquerading as real life. ("Not that there's anything wrong with that" as Jerry Seinfeld used to say!)

Seaside Heights, location of the show "Jersey Shore" is found one island North, and several realities away, from ours.

We made the pilgrimage and I'm glad we did since it instilled in them a new appreciation for all we have - and don't have - on LBI; in other words, it was true 'reality testing' that my words alone couldn't have done.

Having never watched the show myself I have no idea if these photos will mean anything to anyone else in 'my crowd' but here ya have it!. (I try to be culturally competent and I somehow can't help but know about Snooki, The Situation and J Wow - their parents must be SO proud! - so I'm guessing many of you are in the same category.)

Suffice it to say, it was a gorgeous beach day

perfect for walking on a boardwalk (if you have a self induced sunburn from lying on a beach and reading!).

There was good food (buffalo calamari),

money changed hands

and a good time was had by all!

It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Lesson learned.

Fading Summer Day

We come to the edge of the ocean;
we fall into the sea.
God will chose what we will lose,
though we may disagree.

We come here to be mended,
that we may find our way.
We pray that there's redemption
on this fading summer day.

We were once our children
too soon they will be us.
All we ask, a simple task:
"Remember how it was."

We hold them close, we let them go.
We watch them fly away; 
but we still trust they'll come to us
one fading summer day.

And one day, I'll return to Thee
and all I've known will stay
with the beauty and the certainty
of a fading summer day.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


He's been dead for 25 years. 
It's impossible to believe.
His absence from our lives has been as defining
as his presence ever would have been.

I can safely say there hasn't been a day that's passed 
in which one of us hasn't thought of him.

Two months before GI Joe turned 5, he had a bad dream.
His father went in to comfort him, 
laid down with him on his bed, 
had a heart attack and died. 
He was 39.

Art Boy, 10, was having friends
spend the night for a sleepover
 in the living room.

It was supposed to be a 'normal' weekend.

Our definition of 'normal' changed forever
the nightmare
from which none of us could awaken 
would continue for years.

There are times when I catch, 
out of the corner of my eye, 
wisps of that 'bad dream fog' still lingering.

At least now, thankfully,
its presence is momentary;
it dissipates
 as more pressing realities of our lives
demand their due.

We have lived so many lives
in this one lifetime since then.

But premature death
and the reordering of lives
 has shaped us all
in ways
 beyond our imagining.

Some things are not for everyone to know,
some lessons and gifts are only for those
who lived through it.

Suffice it to say,
it's been both a blessing
a curse.

Here's to all of us
being at peace.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm here

Don't know if it's just where we're staying - or the island in general - but internet access is iffy.
As it is, I have to sit in a very specific location in the courtyard in order to get it.

I'm here, pondering the bigger issues of life, (well, actually, where to eat next), enjoying the weather (even the rain) and time with my adult 'children' (who are great people to hang out with despite differences in temperament and tastes.)

There's been a request for a day trip off island to see the location of that hideous show "Jersey Shore" and, while I'm totally baffled why you would want to do THAT when you're at the real deal, I suspect a trip to Seaside Heights is in my future!

Taking it as it comes and just enjoying that, for the first time in a LONG time, my life really IS a day at the beach!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Almost there...

I can sense the change miles before seeing "the Causeway".
Even while still deep in the Pine Barrens, the tang in the air tells me I'm almost there.

It smells of salt, iodine, seaweed, brine and hints of bayberry.

It smells of hot tar mixed with paint thinner, cherry tobacco from Pop Pops pipe, the sweet pastry smell of 'elephant ears', the humidity of morning dew on aluminum chaise lounges on the front porch - especially the one with cracked floral cushions - freshly mixed Tang ("the juice of astronauts"), fresh bluefish with melted butter, Jersey tomatoes and sweet corn, Noxema, baby lotion and coco butter.

It smells like home.

I can remember, 'back in the day', the impatience I felt waiting in line for our turn to cross the series of rickety bridges 'puddle jumping' small islands in order to get to 'our' island.

While the 'new' causeway is a vast improvement, the impatience remains the same!

I'll be an island girl again by dinner!

Off all the bridges I've burned in my lifetime, I'm SO glad this hasn't been one of them!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Thanks to a good friend for sending along the perfect prayer for a vacation send off.

How blessed I am to have people in my life who realize the mixed feelings and weight of history I may have packed along with the beach towels and sunscreen.

May the sky of your vacation weeks be filled with reminders of your smallness.

As you wake with the first pink light, may you be open to the story of the day.

As you pack and drive and explore and settle in, 
may you remember that you are not alone.

And when the sun sinks low beneath the line of the bay, 
may you consider the day as it was 
and not as you wish it had been. 

Be honest to admit your disappointments, 
your regrets and your mistakes.

 But dare not carry those heavy burdens into your bed. 
Release them into the hands of God 
before you turn out your light.
 Believe He will weave 
redemption and healing 
into your soul even while you sleep.

Enjoy your vacation, friend.

Thanks; I know I will!
Next time I post, I'll be a Jersey Girl again!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No call list

This political season has made me face a disturbing reality...

no, not that we're one step away from returning to the poorly conceived and even more poorly executed economic and foreign policies of the Bush years that landed us at edge of the cliff - although we are.

I'm talking right now about the fact that even if you were intentional and registered to be on a "No Call List" in your state, political surveys and politicians soliciting funds are exempt from that statute; they can and, you can bet your next house payment, WILL call you during whatever is your most inconvenient time of the day!

While I can't do anything about the robo-calls except hang up, I decided to take it upon myself to educate the humans calling me for surveys on behalf of whatever party is serving the best Koolaid - and, to be honest, I've been having a GREAT time.

For every slanted, misleading, polarizing question they ask, I spend several minutes letting them know how offensive their choice of words is; I point out double negatives in the question -  which essentially invalidates the question and, therefore, the answer; I inform them how their results will be skewed by only calling people with land lines and the difficulties in obtaining a truly representative cross section of the population utilizing that method; I explain my answers in depth, throwing in all the buzz words I read that day in the Huffington Post; I ask how they got into this line of work, how they get paid (it's by the survey answered, BTW, for most of them); I solicited their opinion and ask why they couldn't find employment in a more honorable line of work; I help them see the limitations and fallacies inherent in a two party system, term limits, thinking we can be engaged in multiple wars, which serve no purpose, without ever worrying how to pay for them... well, you get my drift.

The last surveyor got caught in my web for 20 minutes..

he was practically in tears, repeatedly asking me to 'just answer the questions'.

Hey pal, YOU called ME for my opinions; I got em.
Besides, the longer I tied him up, the less money he made and the fewer of my friends he could annoy -
you're welcome.

Maybe it's my imagination, but I think I've gotten fewer calls.

Could be I'm on one of THEIR No Call lists!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In Misery, I mean, Missouri

It's not bad enough my 'adopted' state produced an idiot like Rush Limbaugh... now we have his miscreant brother, Todd Aiken.

Did you hear him say that a 'legitimate rape' rarely results in pregnancy because a woman's body has a way of shutting down and preventing it...

come again?

This statement is wrong on SO many levels., it's hard to know where to start.
So I'll spare us all the details.

Of course he walked back from it by saying he 'misspoke'.
If you've been forced to listen to as much of his drivel as those of us in MO have over the years, you'd know the only mistake he made was in saying exactly what he really believes.

Women, be afraid... be very afraid - of him and all he represents!

BTW - think you've seen the smirk before???

You have!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Personal responsibility

I know it's an old fashioned concept, but I really think its time for a comeback!

I don't want to play the game of 'blame the victim' - although that's a trend that's been around since Puritan times - even if the phrase was coined in the late 70's by William Ryan in his book of the same title. (The phrase originally summarized his theories about intergenerational poverty and the attempts, subtle and not so much, to divert responsibility away from the complex societal structural factors which promote and sustain wealth inequity to the more simple concept of behaviors and cultural patterns of the poor.)

We contemporary humans tend to be like that...we prefer our difficult issues reduced to simple ideas and ten second sound bites.

Two recent cases brought home these thoughts which, in my mind got crystallized into the simple "what the hell were you thinking?"

I'm sorry, but when you take your 13 yr old daughter to a rock concert dressed like a 'ho' in 5 inch fuck-me- now heels, a see through white mesh skirt with black bikini panties underneath, a tube top whose 'tube' is about the size of a travel tube of toothpaste and makeup applied with a trowel, don't be surprised when some guy, jacked up on concert hormones and god knows what else, takes her up on at least one of the mixed messages she's sending!

See idea expressed above about reducing complexity and, for males, ratchet it up a thousand percent - subtlety and nuance aren't exactly in their wheelhouses, ya know!

If you DO decide that's the way you, and she, want to express her individuality and your cultural identity (although I didn't realize there was a Prostitute Nation, excuse me) then the least you could do to safeguard her is to keep her on a leash!

Likewise, kiddo...if you don't want to be perceived as a thug, then I suggest you stay out of stolen cars in which large sums of cash, drugs, three other gang members and weapons, including a submachine gun, are being stored!

Your protestations about how you're a 'good kid' didn't fall on deaf ears, but IF the worst you're guilty of is having lousy taste in friends, that's still gonna buy you time in Juvenile Detention - where, no doubt, you'll meet more of the same people you don't know.

You might want to reconsider who you accept a ride from next time you're "going to buy some clothes." You might also want to rub two brain cells together and ask yourself -If your 'friend' didn't own a black Escalade this morning, how the hell do you think he ended up with one tonight?

There's another old fashioned phrase which springs to mind here...

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a's a

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


In an effort to get ready for vacation, I laid on the couch this afternoon and read a book...

oh yeah, and also took a nap...

I think I almost have my vacation groove on!

I intend to get lots of practice in and get it perfected by the time I come back.

I'm a perfectionist, ya know.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Honeymooners

Tom and I honeymooned at Beach Haven – following in the tradition of my grandparents

and my parents before us.

We were given the exclusive use of my grandparent’s house for 10 days.

At that point in their lives, they were long since retired and made the ‘snow bird circuit’ from their summer house in NJ to their winter house in FLA.

They assured us they would be using the time to explore, 'probably the Carolinas'.
They said they’d be back on the last day to see us off and wish us well as we headed back to the Midwest; returning to college and our totally non-oceanic life in Iowa.

I remember the day we were riding bikes and spotted their car at a motel about 5 miles ‘up island’ from where their house was located.

It was the 4th day of our honeymoon and it’s not that the excitement had worn off already but let’s be honest – it was the 60’s – it’s not like white at a wedding really symbolized anything anymore!

Without any hesitation, Tom turned to me and said, “We’re getting them back home” and, with that, he turned into the motel, went into the office and found out the room where they were staying.

Within hours, we were playing canasta with them on the front porch and “watching the world go by”.

It would have been sooner but we treated them to dinner first.

I loved Tom more than ever that night.

We had a terrific honeymoon!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hair - not the musical

Mine is naturally curly – a reality I have fought against nearly every waking moment since the 60’s when long, blonde straight hair was as essential to a teenager’s life as a bong.

In case you’re curious, I didn’t have that either.
I’ve always been an outlier, but you know that!

It wasn’t until last year, when I shaved my head for Pediatric cancer research, that I finally embraced the reality that I am NOT my hair!

Recently a pictorial pilgrimage into my past had me alternately cringing and wondering what the hell I was so worried about.

I can’t tell you how many HOURS of my life at the shore were wasted plotting the timing of when I could go swimming and get my hair wet  and calculating how fast I could run home to get it set on curlers as big as juice cans so it could dry ‘straight’.

(Keeping in mind that ‘straight’ was ALWAYS a relative term and impacted significantly by the islands humidity level on any given day.)

Try not to hate me because I was so beautiful! 

How wonderful to no longer give a damn not be willing to fritter away beach time consumed with such nonsense nowadays.

I only wish I’d have had the courage of my great niece; seen here in a wonderful shot at a beach in Wisconsin this summer…

don’t you love it!

Yup, that's totally the look I'm going for while on vacation!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16, 1969

Woodstock was in its 3rd day
in upstate NY; 
astronauts from Apollo 11 
were walking on the moon 
for the first time; 
Sen Ted Kennedy just pled guilty 
to leaving the scene of a fatal accident 
in Chappaquiddick (MA) 
in which a girl from my hometown 
was drowned; 
the median income per yr was $8,389; 
unemployment was at 3.6%; 
the price of a first class stamp was .06 
I still believed in love that would last 
"happily ever after".

In other words, a lifetime ago.

I have never loved or trusted anyone so easily and freely.

loss of the ability to abandon myself, 
relinquishing my customary need to control, 
analyze and assess, 
feels like a terrible price to have paid 
for life experiences and "growing up".

I miss the young man I fell so deeply in love with 
I miss the part of myself that allowed it 
to happen.

One week - but who's counting?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trust me on this one...

unless you're a character in a John Irving novel, no four year old boy should have the following sentence as the first thing his father says to describe him ... "It all started when his crackhead mother sold him to the lesbians in Georgia".

it was downhill from there;

it was a LONNGG day!

In the beginning

It started with my grandmother, Pearl – the child of a peripatetic father who dragged his family from coast to coast in search of both jobs and the next perfect location. (shown here ca 1920)
A belief in a ‘geographic cure’ apparently runs deep in our genes! 

My grandmother loved the ocean and while she professed a fondness for the Pacific and “would tolerate the Gulf, if forced”, it was the Atlantic Ocean that captured her heart.

When she and my grandfather married in 1922, they honeymooned on a small island off the coast of New Jersey and the rest, as they say, is history.

They both worked hard, lived in small rental apartments, saved every dime and, in 1924, the year before my mother (their only child) was born, they bought a house in Beach Haven, New Jersey, on Long Beach Island (LBI).

By choice, the house was 'right smack dab' in the middle of the island - two blocks from the bay and two blocks from the ocean.
My prudent grandparents weren't taking any chances with hurricanes and flooding.
I can still hear them recount times during storms when the bay and the Atlantic met right in front of the house, inflicting damage, but being spared the full brunt of the weather.

(Shown here is aftermath from 'the hurricane of '44 which destroyed the towns boardwalk)

Memories of summers in the sun, windswept dunes in fall and the moodiness of foggy spring walks at the oceans edge are encrypted in my bones – all thanks to them.

Looking at pictures spanning decades this weekend made me appreciate what a rich legacy I was given.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been without this island as backdrop.
It served as safety net, refuge, solace and the one constant in times of change and turbulence – in other words, HOME.

So much has changed – yet I know, with certainty, that the ocean will be there when I return later this month.

Tides going in and out; waves pounding the shore in a rhythm I’ve always likened to the earths heart beat.

It’s the final resting place of my great grandmother, my grandparents and my father.

It will be a final tribute to my mother to return her to our roots - back to the source – and reunite her with the people she loved the most.

Bittersweet but fitting.

It’s time.