Like a Hurricane

Our newly re-acronymed child, SOS (source of sanity) needs to go back to TLP (the little prince), at least for a little while.

On Saturday night, we hunkered down after checking in on all local relatives who might need help.  TLP wondered why we couldn’t camp out at the beach like his cousin, his aunt and his other grandfather (not my dad).  (In fact, to add insult to injury, we made him come home from visiting them at the beach in anticipation of the hurricane.)

They aren’t camping actually.

In fact, they didn’t intend to “camp”, since they live in a perfectly lovely house in East Hampton.  We tried to explain that Hurricane Irene could cause downed power lines and flooding, which would then lead to “indoor camping” by necessity and not by choice.

TLP thought it would an important manly experience, except he forgot that he is a (little) man who likes his amenities, let alone “essentials” like TV, computer access, running water, flushing toilets, etc.

You get the picture. He knows what he wants until he realizes that it is not at all what he wants.  Until that eureka moment, he has the determination of . . . of . . . well, POB (partner of blogger).  Genes are a boomerang.

It is ok that he is not so self-aware of his lack of earthiness.  He is only 9 years old.

Sunday dragged on and on.  TLP couldn’t really focus on the usual mind-numbing TV because he wanted to go back out to the beach.   The hurricane washed out our week at the beach, at least initially.  When the owners of our rental called to say that the power was out and there was flooding on the property, TLP became inconsolable.  Ok, ok, ok, ok, his entire life up to this point has been a vacation.  It is I, I, I, I, I, I, who needs a vacation. Me, me, me, me, me. (It may be important to note that I am ranting here and not TLP.  I can see how you might be confused.)

POB needs some time away, too, but she has had the summer off so, this year at least, a week at the beach is more tradition and less a sanity-saving device.

I had already started looking at other options.  Of course, anything west required a plane and airports were backlogged.  Going south was clearly a non-starter since that was the trajectory of the storm.

Northwest, maybe. Lake George.  Aaah, the Sagamore.  I loved the Sagamore years ago, even though tennis whites were required on the courts and I had to buy clothes in the gift shop.  What does a New York Jew know about tennis whites?  Oh, yeah, Wimbledon.  But that is in England.  Oh, wait!  These people descend from those who came from England.  Ahhhh.

I called the hotel and they had available condos, etc.  So, maybe they allow lavender on the tennis courts?  After all, these are trying economic times.

I took down the information and said I would call back, because I needed to confirm with POB that she was ok with all goyim all the time at a WASPy retreat. POB has some of that blood line in her so I figured her first question would be ask what would there be for us to eat, because clearly she understands the differences in the traditions.  We don’t drink martinis and we don’t eat honey-roasted bar nuts (we eat healthy, raw nuts).  Clearly, we would starve.  In fact, she did ask, and I looked at her with the “after all these years, you think I can’t read your mind” look.  In a calm, but slightly hurt voice (intending to get some martyr points), I told her about the condos with full kitchens that we could stock up in case we couldn’t recognize any of the food.

I guarantee you the first thing anyone at the Sagamore would think upon seeing our family is not, “oh, Jews”.  Especially when they see my accidentally too-severe Janet Napolitano (US secretary of something) style of haircut (thank you, IFOB (Italian friend of blogger) for drawing that parallel).  In fact, I was betting on an upgrade to the furthest and possibly nicest available condo on the property.  We would get the privacy we want and, if they were particularly freaked out, I planned to ask about Shabbat services.  Hell, they would offer in-condo dining, absolutely free.  Grand slam homer for a patched-together vacation, if you ask me.

My delusions of vacation were interrupted when I called back to book the reservation.  In the 6 hours between my calls, Hurricane Irene had hit them hard.  That area was not supposed to be really affected.  I felt bad for my gloating over the dyke-Jew plague I was going to bring on them.  So, we’ll go there sometime soon, when my hair grows out and we will pay full price.  It is the least we can do.

Ok, no vacation plans.  And the boy who earns the acronym TLP is inconsolable.  So, today, Day 3 of When Havoc Struck The Blogger Family, we set out to the train museum in Danbury, Connecticut.  POB and I decided we needed a road trip and we needed to ease TLP into the staycation reality.  He was happy and POB and I were relieved to have him immersed in something.  And the trains were pretty cool, I have to say.

Tonight, we got word that our rented house will be in reasonable shape on Wednesday.  TLP is over the moon.  We are all relieved as well because it is good to get away.  Still, we have tomorrow.

Using some of my martyr points, I have cleared a Blogger mental health and physical wellness morning tomorrow, which means I get to run and look at the river for a while before we all have lunch.  Then, on to preparations for the delayed vacation.

I am thinking of showing TLP pictures of the damage caused by the hurricane and some pictures from Tripoli so he understands that life is not always a vacation.  I just don’t know when is the right time to introduce reality into a happy (and privileged) childhood.  I don’t want to scar him, but I want him to be grateful that we and none of our family was irreparably harmed in a natural disaster that claimed lives and livelihoods of so many.  I want him to have empathy, but I don’t want him to be afraid of what life throws in our path.  I want him to learn to “roll with it”.  I want him to understand his good fortune.  Maybe these are not 9 year-old thoughts and ideas.  Maybe that is too much to put on someone so young.

Parents out there:  HELP!!!



Vacation Day 1

Actually, vacation started last night (we like to keep to a Hebrew calendar and start holidays at sundown).

POB (partner of blogger) and our son (now known as our collective Source of Sanity, SOS) are already out of town on our family vacation (too long of a back story).

I was really, really tired.  I wanted to disconnect and decompress, so I watched a Phineas and Ferb marathon (courtesy of our DVR).  The riff the writers did on the Mexican-Jewish Festival at the local Jewish Center was hysterical.  Also as funny was the skit about Phineas and Ferb as detectives out of the Maltese Falcon, Dragnet and then CSI:Miami.  I know, I know, it is a cartoon for kids, but it is far superior to most things on TV.  Still, it would be hard to watch it if you didn’t have a kid.  And you need to watch a few to get into the groove.  But I digress.

I spoke with POB and SOS and then got into my jammies.  It was 9pm.

I slept until 10am this morning.  I was tooo lazy to make fresh coffee, so I drank cold coffee from the fridge.  I waited until 10:30 to look at my blackberry. I thought that was pretty damn healthy for someone with my level of neurosis.

I alternated between Phineas and Ferb and Bloomberg on the Markets, as I read the paper.  The paper and the markets were depressing and P&F was over.  I dragged myself to the gym.  It was about 11:15am.  It was already raining but I went on a short run just to get my adrenaline going.

First words of the day, spoken to the barista at Le Pain Quotidien on Broadway: “Iced double espresso, please.” Aaaah, VACATION.

I don’t use an iPod anymore at the gym.  I feel a little to isolated when I do that.  Unfortunately, today, the shows on the TV monitors featured the hunt for Qaddafi, Hurricane Irene and Warren Buffett.  Ok, not relaxing.  So, I try to focus on other things.  Not so much going on at the gym on a random Thursday morning, so my attention drifts back to the TVs.  Somehow I think this relaxation thing should be easier.

I leave for a nap.  This vacation thing is starting to work.

I have stress dreams about forgetting to go to classes and having to read everything on the syllabus in one night.  Ok, so I checked my blackberry and sent some emails.  Ok, my love-hate with vacation is more volatile than the stock markets.

So, vacation is not a cold turkey kind of experience.  I need to eeeeeeeeeaaase into it.

I go back to the gym (I was raised to be an over-achiever) and lift weights and, in my best yoga position, breathe in good oxygen and expel bad humors.

All this does is make me hyperventilate. “Why,” you ask?  HOW CAN YOU ASK WHY? Don’t you read the paper, watch the markets and look at the Hurricane warnings?

Of course, I can’t really relax.  POB and SOS are staying at her father’s beach house with her sister and our nephew.  Right in the path of Hurricane Irene.  As is the house we are renting next week.

POB and I have a wedding to go to on Saturday evening in Westchester.  The original plan was for POB to leave SOS with my sister-in-law and nephew on Friday and we would pick him up once we settled into our beach house rental on Sunday.

I am ready to call it Hurricane Irene a disaster that requires us to change our plans.  I want my family, and my sister-in-law and nephew to come back to NYC and stay until the storm passes.

The problem of course is that people don’t believe the media anymore because media hypes everything for ratings.  Like the boy who cried wolf.  But, I don’t care.  I am willing to be wrong on this because there is no victory in being right.  And I will just rant against corporate-controlled media in a blog entry.  Win-win situation.

Of course, when I went shopping, I didn’t really stock up on much, except some expensive tap water labeled as natural spring water and lychee fruit, which are refreshing and a pain to eat.  I guess I am not a good natural disaster shopper. That’s why POB needs to come back.  She knows what to do.

Ok, maybe this vacation thing gets more relaxing once you get into a groove and natural disasters are out of the way.  So far, I think it would be more relaxing to be at work . . . .


Our Trip to Philly

The six of us set out yesterday morning for the City of Brotherly Love:  POB (partner of blogger), TLP (our son, the little prince), SOB (sister of blogger), HOSOB (husband of SOB), DOB (Dad of Blogger and SOB) and me. Three generations. One car.  Four sets of directions.

DOB sat up front will me.  HOSOB and SOB took row two.  POB and TLP were in the third row, practically a full block away from me in the driver’s seat.  In fact, the car was so huge, that I entered New Jersey and Pennsylvania a solid two seconds before they did.  I was surprised the car didn’t take diesel and we didn’t have to park with the trucks at rest stops.

As soon as DOB got settled, he offered me some hard candy.  You know, the kind that old Jewish ladies carry in their pocketbooks for decades and old Jewish men have in every pocket of every jacket they own.  Those candies.  I make it a point not to eat anything that I think may be older than 9 year-old TLP.  I declined.  SOB, ever the intrepid one, said yes.  She took one for the rest of us, because she knew DOB wouldn’t stop offering until someone said yes.

DOB read every sign out loud from the Lincoln Tunnel to Elizabeth, New Jersey.  But he didn’t sing.  And SOB was counting on having him sing to see just how crazy I would get.  SOB finally asked DOB, “Dad, doesn’t that sign remind you of a song?  Like, ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again?'”  SOB was soooooooo trying to win our bet about how quickly, how much and what DOB would sing.  Of course, that kind of cheating is only allowed when I do it.

Soon after Elizabeth, New Jersey, there was a multi-generational bathroom emergency.  So we stopped at a rest stop that was named for someone whom I am sure would be horrified if he/she were still alive.  As SOB and I walked into the women’s room, our faces already had the scared-and-disgusted-look in anticipation of what we might see in the stalls. We caught sight of each other and laughed but we didn’t have the camera to record.  Our looks were not in vain.  Nasty.  Nasty.  Nasty.  POB yelled out a helpful, “Use your hamstring muscles, girls!!!”

As I left the bathroom, I noticed the medical waste dispenser with a sign that said, “For your sharps”.  I made SOB go back in with a camera and take a picture.  When she sends it to me, I will post it.  SOB is a doctor and always optimistic: “it must be for insulin”.  Really, SOB?  You run an ICU in an urban hospital.  Are you kidding me?  If only the needles were for insulin . . . . We beat it out of there.

We were soon back on the road with traffic, narrow lanes and fellow travelers seeking to go 70 mph in work zones.  Of our four sets of directions, two were written, and two were saved on handheld electronic devices.  No GPS with the automated voice.  No map.  Still we had six or seven different opinions on the way forward.  TLP (the only child) offered constructive critical questions, like: “Emom, are both hands on the wheel?”  “Did you signal long enough to practice safe driving?”  “Are we there yet?”

Rules:  Always have a diversion for your child.  Always have a bona fide map.  iPhones and blackberry screens are tooooo small and, with two sets of directions, there is no agreement on the correct exit until after we have passed it.  In fact, even when we were within one block of the hotel, no one could make out the directions, and ended up back on the highway and in a traffic jam. One hour later, we got to the hotel.  And all the time TLP is asking, “did we get lost?”  AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaargh.

When we arrived, I had to go to the gym, sit outside for a bit and then nap.  No sightseeing.  I knew I couldn’t sit outside the old Custom House anymore when men dressed in Revolutionary Era clothes tried to show kids how to hold fake bayonets and march like militiamen.  I met SOB and DOB as we were all on our way back to the hotel.  DOB couldn’t really handle that much sightseeing. His stamina and physical stature have declined markedly this last year.  Still, I think he enjoyed the trip.

DOB doesn’t hear very well and therefore can’t follow conversations so closely anymore.  And over dinner, the restaurant music included “The Girl from Ipanema”, and HOSOB and I were trying to remember the woman who sang the original with Jobim.  DOB didn’t remember the song, so he just started singing something else that he knew, “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.  But The Girl from Ipanema was still playing overhead.  HOSOB started singing a combo of “When Johnny Comes Marching With the Girl From Ipanema . . .” .  Then TLP abandoned singing  the Louie Armstrong part of the duet with DOB, and chimed in with “La Cucharacha”.  (Not sure why.)

The rest of us started to lose our minds a little.  SOB and I took pictures of each other’s exasperated, disbelieving looks.  POB retreated to a happy place in her head where her family was not re-enacting a scene from a psychiatric ward.

As we were walking back to the hotel, everyone was amiable and quiet.  TLP was holding DOB’s handing, HOSOB was holding SOB’s hand and I was holding POB’s hand. Unwilling to let a wound heal, I started to sing the “Ants Go Marching Two by Two, Hurrah, Hurrah,” to see if I could get a rise out of SOB.  She was engaging in willful deafness.

This morning we went to the Franklin Institute, which is worth a return visit.  It took us a few tries to leave Philadelphia and at least one electronic device conked out after the second escape attempt.  We went a little too far on 295 North (or East, whatever), and had to stop for food and directions at the Frying Skillet, a real trucker stop in Bordentown, New Jersey.  Everyone looked at our posse of three women, a child, middle-aged guy and nonagenarian, who were tattoo-less and looked every bit like effete New York liberals that we are.  (What kind of lettuce is in your house salad?  Just what’s been out on the salad bar that looks like wilted spinach?  Hmmmm.  Pork, bacon and burgers are the house specialties? I guess I’ll have a grilled burger.  Oh, ok, pan-fried in a skillet is fine.)

On the way back, TLP and DOB had quite a sing-along.  I wanted to press an eject button but I was the driver.

We powered through and all were safely deposited at their doors, happy to have had an adventure and even happier to be home. Safe and sound and exhausted.

A Day at the Refuge

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a world away from New York City. Imagine a place so quiet that you can hear the bird calls and Canada geese walk right past you as calmly as if you belonged.


Except the refuge is actually IN New York City (see faint red arrow pointing to Empire State Building).

Seemed like another world, except for this sign:


But, then again, in this country, that sign could be anywhere.  But in a wildlife refuge?  Really?

Yesterday, POB (partner of blogger), TLP (our son, the little prince), SOB (sister of blogger), HOSOB (husband of SOB), DOB (Dad of blogger) and CB (newly rediscovered cousin who is a birder) had an outing there.  TLP had binoculars, HOSOB and CB had those AND these crazy telescopes on tripods.

I thought we would be stared at for all the bird nerd equipment. I was soooo wrong. People there had all manner of paraphernalia to observe birds. And these people are serious. No jocularity allowed. Apparently, lawyers who are new to bird-nerding are the most opinionated (and most often wrong). In fact, we came upon a heated discussion among the nerdiest of the nerds about the kind of tern that was on the beach ahead.  CB being a low-key but über-knowledgeable nerd tried to help and consulted the various field guides handed to him. It was getting so heated that we had to leave as did the neophyte lawyer nerder who had made a “wrong tern” identification (as it were). He stomped off, taking a “left tern” and we opted to take a “right tern”.  Okayyyyy, no more tern jokes.

Actually, we did see some extraordinary things through the nerd scopes.

But then when the boys — HOSOB, CB and TLP — started debating whether a bird was a mature, immature or juvenile sub-species of something (I know two birds; pigeon and yellow belly sap sucker, the latter may be a made-up cartoon bird), the rest of us needed to rest.

Needless to say, the mature females — SOB, POB and me — along with the eldest male — DOB — enjoyed a lovely walk around the quiet, calm sanctuary. (Ok, except for the near altercation I mentioned.)

A terrific day for nerd and non-nerd alike.

These Arrrrrrrrre the “Good Ol’ Days”

Forgive me, Carly Simon, for the lack of harmony in the title.  I tried.

A camp friend tagged in an old photo on our camp’s website.  I was 8 years old.  About my son’s age.  It sent me time-traveling through memories.

I was a camper for 10 of the 11 summers, from 1971 to 1981.  Some of my earliest camp memories are Saturday night campfires where we sang and listened to stories under the night sky.  Only as I am older do I understand the importance of those campfires.  In my mind’s eye, we were sitting in the majesty of nature and day turned to night, singing together about friendship and emotions we were too young to understand (like those in Carly Simon’s Anticipation), and being part of a group as we each let our minds wander — sometimes to homesickness, sometimes just in the music, sometimes to how much we loved our friends sitting next to us.   Sugar-coating in part, but only in small part.

So, this morning I had to follow the link to see other pictures.  I found some crazy old pictures of people I hadn’t recalled in years.  And I got so excited that I shared the pictures with camp friends on FaceBook whom I thought could remember their names.  I wasn’t sure that my best friend for many of those years would remember so I didn’t send to her.  Now I think I will, it is less important that she remember the names, but it will evoke for her a (I hope, happy) time — in all its wonderment and angst — that we, those campers of the 1970s, think of as the “Good Ol’ Days”.  When we sang, “these arrrrrrree the good ol’ days”, we may not have known then what we know now:  they were indeed so.

Just a little aside about FaceBook:  Too many levels of contradictions and irony, among them, that it connects people who were friends in a time before fax machines and copiers (rexograph machines were it).  Another blog entry, perhaps.

I was looking at these photos and smiling.  Then my son switched off the cartoons and wanted to cuddle.  I paused my trip to the OLD good ol’ days to enjoy the here and now.   And I think, I am old enough to know — in real time, as this time with my son unfolds — that these moments, too, will be the Good Ol’ Days in short order.

I guess good ol’ days happen all the time.  We just have to remember to enjoy the moment and then, years later, relive the memory.

And stay right here
‘Cause these are the good old days

Everyone, click YouTube of Carly Simon from 1972 and sing along.

Back to School — FINALLY

So we have been torturing our son with our rendition of the parents’ back-to-school jig made famous on last year’s Staples commercials.  Our son is alternatively amused, and a bit peeved, at his parents’ dancing around like we’ve won the lottery.

After much lobbying, we agreed reluctantly to buy our son Lunchables for the first day of school only.  Lunchables is some chemical and saline combo-fest that passes as food per the FDA.  There is a special place in hell for parents who feed Lunchables to their kids.  Of course, the mushballs that we are, we also ate dinner out and let our son have french fries since it was — after all — the night before school FINALLY starts.  He did have a grass-fed beef burger at least.  POB (partner of blogger) swears we are just going to put a salt lick in our son’s room to satisfy his salt lust; we are not sure how to deal with the grease lust.  Seriously, he would give us up in a New York minute if someone guaranteed him french fries every day for life.  No contest.

It is the middle of September and he is just now going back to school.  Now I understand it when my parents used to say — sarcastically, I assure you — that they paid private school tuition so we could have more vacation than at public school.  In 1971, when SOB (sister of blogger) started at a private school in Manhattan (where nearly all the students were Jewish), my dad had to go to school and speak to the headmaster to make sure that a teacher had to postpone a test scheduled for Yom Kippur.  Even in 1981 at our little private school, Jewish students were excused from class on the High Holy Days but school was open.  Now, schools in Manhattan give off the major Jewish holidays, as a matter of course.  A lot has happened in 30 years.  Maybe next year, the kids will have off for the festival end of Ramadan.  It is only fair.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Long time passing.  Long time ago.

On our way to the beach last week, we listened to 70s music on Sirius radio.  “Afternoon Delight”, “Handy Man”, “Monster Mash”, “Young Hearts, Run Free” and all those other long ago summer time songs had POB (partner of blogger) and me screaming the words as our son looked on in horror and embarrassment.  (He also said, “E-mom, you should blog about this.”  I love my son.)

At camp, we used to sing “Anticipation”, “Circle Game” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Cruel War” at Saturday night campfires.  These and other songs made us both melancholy and grateful for each other in ways I didn’t understand then.

Since those days, we have all lived with not knowing about the days to come, the (stupid, stinking) painted ponies going ’round and ’round the carousel of time, and war and its cruel endings.  Life has, as it inevitably does, lifted us up, let us down and gave us a few battle scars along the way.  And, sometimes, songs sung when I was so young resonate with me now as, with each passing year, I spend more and more on an ounce of (alleged) skin rejuvenation cream.

I firmly believe that, if I slathered olive oil all over my body (instead of throwing gobs of money away on creams and potions), it would give me a more youthful (and, ok, smarmy) glow.  People might also like to brush up against me with chunks of bread.  Maybe if I used extra, extra, virgin (as in the driven snow) olive oil, I would look even younger.  I would do it, but for fear of the inevitable question from a colleague, “did you have salad for breakfast?” or, after a meeting, someone sitting next to me saying, “you know, I have a strange hankering for Greek food.”

Oops, there I go digressing again.  About camp.  Sometimes those memories make me laugh out loud or just give me a wonderful feeling and a lift to my step.  And it has been a gift to reconnect with old friends on Facebook about batik, peach pit rings, the Leoj, Plaque Night, etc.

Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other’s gold.  Ok, campers, repeat in rounds (with Lodges 1 and 2 starting, followed by Lodges 4 and 5) and Lodge 3 please add the harmony.

Better than gold.  Really.

Summer is for kids

Memorial Day Weekend makes me giddy with expectation of a long summer of fun.  Labor Day Weekend fills me with a mournfulness about the summer-that-wasn’t, the kind of mournfulness that is rightly reserved for more weighty matters.

So this past week I was an interloper in my son’s summer.  We spent days in the pool or at the beach or on play dates.  Except he was the one who wanted to stay in the pool, dive into the waves, and had friends out at the beach.  I wanted to nap.  POB (partner of blogger) and I were relegated to the roles of adults and rule-enforcers.

We did have fun as a family and we giggled a lot.  And POB sent me off to the gym and for runs so that she didn’t have TWO kids to keep in line.  But those are not summer activities, as I remember summer.  We didn’t hop on anyone’s bike and ride on untrafficked roads to an old musty bookstore and then eat ice cream on the lawn of the town church or library.  We didn’t play tennis and then go to the lake for an instructional swim or make peach-pit rings in the art studio.  Those were the days of my childhood summers.

Even if my son were amenable to recreating those days, I can’t quite imagine how one navigates the busy roads and fast cars that are everywhere in sea-side communities.  Maybe I am looking for a time that is just lost.  And maybe, like some things, those memories are sweeter in the rear view mirror.

My son had his own magical summer doing his activities.  I am grateful and happy that he did.  He looks and acts older.  He is tanned (even though he was slathered in sun block many times a day) and looks rested and ready for school.

Me, I have a sunburn.

Blogcation Year 2 Epilogue

We spent the morning by the pool and planned to have a leisurely lunch and be on our way home via East Hampton to visit the family of POB (partner of blogger).  So around noon, a van with bicycles on top drives up into the driveway.  Oh, I guess, the next renters are here.  (They are supposed to come after 4pm.)  Anyway, tall, gangly man, who looks like Steve Buscemi in the movie, “Fargo” (see, got out of the car and introduced himself in the deep voice, capable of cackles of ghoulish laughter, “My name is Mr. [Scary Guy from Hell]” and this is “Gizmo” (pointing to a little dog).  I am afraid she is high-strung and a little scary.”

Ok, a man who reminds me of a murderous movie character and Lurch (from the Addams Family) all in the same horrifying moment expects me to respond in a similarly mannered way.  I can only muster, “Hi!  We’ll be out of here shortly.”  Two women are with him, one looks like Uncle Fester and the other is hefty version of Morticia. I am freaked out about these people and ask POB whether she hid the knives.

It was hot and the women dark, long sleeves clothes.  Mr. Scary Guy from Hell was wearing tennis shoes, calf-high socks, a random long-sleeved shirt, with a bloody axe hanging from his neck (just teasing about the axe).

POB was upset that they came early.  I was upset not to have left sooner.  Perspective is everything.

Blogcation Year 2, Day 3 (or 4?) — The rain has gone

The sun came out today — first as a faint orb in the gray sky and then in all its sunburning glory.  Now, all of us summer people can go back to our pools and the beach and not swarm the already overwhelmed (and wildly expensive) sea-side towns.

One thing I did learn was that when booking a house, one has to parse every single word of the ad.  For example if it says, “ocean view”, that could mean that one bathroom in the house has a slight view of the water.  In our case, there is some water on the horizon out of our second floor bedroom.  If the add says, “water view”, it could mean the pool or your neighbor’s pool.  Or for those really wanting to stretch (and break) the bounds of truth in advertising, water view can mean this:

A view of the Montauk water tower.  Yes, we have a lovely view of the water tower from almost every window.  But no matter.  We are close enough to the beach and we have a pool and the sun — hooray, the sun — is out today.  But really, the water tower?

The other excitement of the day concerned our rental car.  I got this huge, gas guzzling Mercedes.  Why?  The rental place had no Volvos (the safest family car) and no Mercedes had ever been recalled (and the rental place didn’t have just a family sedan) but it had more Toyotas than you might think possible in such a small rental place in a small (geographically speaking) city like Manhattan.  Toyotas — cars with brakes that don’t work; accelerators that have minds of their own?  Are you kidding me?  Nope. nope, nope.  No hybrids available either.  The place did have Chryslers and GMs but until ones come are assembled by non-disgruntled workers, I will take the car with the track record and pay through the nose for it.

The problem with the mammoth Mercedes is that I can’t tell my car from the other mammoth Mercedes (plural) in any parking lot out here.  Also, the air in tires needed rebalancing and the low beam light was weak, so I had to get it fixed.  As I rolled into the mechanic’s place with my mammoth car and asked about a light change and a rebalance of the air of my tires, there were enough smirks to go around that I figured, “this is going to be expensive.”  I know, I know.  It’s a rental car.  But having a blown left low beam can be dangerous as can unbalanced air pressure in the tires (I read that this “safe” care has a roll-over risk — awesome).

I hang out and talk to the guys while they are fixing it.  It takes a lot of unscrewing parts to get to the headlights.  Maybe easier in the assembly line, but not so much when trying to change a light bulb in the left low beam.  They keep teasing me about the cost.  And I tell them it is a rental car, to boot.  They look at me as if I am on drugs. I say, “I am not asking you to fix my cruise control or stereo system!  These are matters of safety for my family and others!”  One guy says he is impressed that I am not freaking out and calling my boyfriend.  If he only knew. We continue talking about life, what matters, and what Montauk is like when the summer people aren’t here, etc.  He is married (I tell him I am, too, which I am in spirit if not in paper) and I could tell he is flirting with me.  But it was a sweet flirting, in the way that someone appreciates that you are passing the time while he is at work and not talking on the phone while you wait for a “service person” to handle your problem.  He shows me pictures of old Montauk and it was a perfectly lovely way to pass an hour (plus he only charged me for 30 minutes).  And he did a great job and now I know that I have taken all precautions to be a safe driver and that lets me sleep at night.  (And, I am going to present the receipt to the car rental place.)

Anyway, all is good and I am slowing disengaging from my Blackberry.