Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Things...they are a changin'!

We have lived in this house since May.  It is the house with the numbered trees.  Other than that, it has been a pretty forgettable structure.  Well...I suppose the blue door gave it a certain character.  But things, well, they are changing starting today. 
We have never experienced exterior renovation on a house.  Tom is quite talented when it comes to interior renovation.  In fact, he undertakes such projects about as often as I rearrange furniture which is pretty darn often.  We have been laying low on both fronts since moving into this house.  Perhaps we were stock piling patience in preparation for this fall 2012 project.

So today as I enjoy a rare day off, I have a shopping list that includes extra vacuum bags, tarps to cover furniture and some something to calm Chase the dog's nerves. 

Any advice from those who have experienced such a project?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bellport Flash/Cash Mob...

Pinned Image

My first dance lesson was when I was 18 years old and I signed myself up for Ballet as a freshman in college.  Following that I took tap lessons and then, as a junior at UCLA I started Square Dancing with the Bachelors and Bachelorettes in Santa Monica, CA.  That experience (I graduated from the 9 month course of study) led to Clog Dancing every Monday night and many weekends with various groups around Southern California.  I loved learning Ballet and Tap.  I had a great time and met great people square dancing.  But, it was the clog dancing experience that made my heart smile. 
Believe it or not, clog dancing was HUGE in the early 1980’s in Southern California.  There were weekly gatherings of cloggers, weekend clog dancing workshops everywhere, all the time.  There is just something amazingly inspirational when you are part of a huge room full of people dancing in unison.  Being a small part of the greater whole was empowering as well as humbling. 

On Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 7 pm, for me that feeling returned.  I once again had the opportunity to dance and be a part of something much greater than me, alone.

The Bellport Cash Mob has accomplished some pretty amazing things in the 7 months we have been in existence.  The Cash Mob concept was perfect for Bellport’s Main Street.  As we Cash Mobbed local business, we provided an infusion of HOPE for business owners.  We each have done a little and together have accomplished a lot.  We have given nice cash infusions to local businesses at times when income was lagging.  We brought awareness to local businesses and reminded people the importance of shopping local. 

However, one of the most incredible results was only realized following the first Cash Mob experience.  The experience of coming together, combining our efforts and making a difference…community building occurred.  The Bellport Cash Mob reminded us of the power of individual citizens coming together for one common purpose; without agenda, personal belief or opinion, the citizens of our little community could unite for the common good and truly make a difference.  That, as they say, is priceless.
Last Friday’s Bellport Flash/Cash Mob took this concept to a different level.  It was clear from the beginning of this venture that we would be appealing to a smaller group of citizens.  It took dedication to the greater cause to motivate some to participate in this event.  It took some of us out of our comfort zones, pushing us to break the barriers of conventionality.  For others, it gave us an opportunity to truly show who we were and what we were capable of doing.  We have extraordinary people in our community. 

Equally impressive was the support we received when we performed our Flash Mob.  Our numbers were tripled as many people came to watch and support the Flash Mobbers.  It was a sight to behold…and you can!  On YouTube!  We have the official Bellport Cash Mob video posted in the near future. 

The purpose of this Cash Mob was to support a business that has been instrumental in creating memories for the members of this community for many, many years.  The Brookhaven School of Dance and Barbara Mordente have played major roles in our lives.  Perhaps your children learned the basics of Ballet, Tap or Jazz at 10 Bell Street, Studio B.  If your child participated in the theatrical events at Bellport Middle School or Bellport High School, they were most likely guided by the very capable and brilliant hands of Barbara Mordente, her staff or experienced students.  She has caused many of our youngsters to realize their lifelong ambition.  She has provided us, the families with many lasting experiences. 

Personally, there has not been one event in which the Brookhaven School of Dance has played a role that I have not been moved.  Friday’s Flash/Cash Mob was no exception.  As I participated in the workshops and the performance at the Marina, I was moved by the excitement, dedication and accomplishment of each dancer/cash mobber.  We all bought in to the idea of supporting this Bellport institution and we were given so much more in return. 

50 years from now, when most of the Flash/Cash mobbers have passed, I hope the Long Island Advance will feature us in an August, 2062 issue:  “50 years ago today Barbara Mordente, the Brookhaven School of Dance and her Flash Mob surprised the Bellport Village Marina…”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crabbing for the fun of it...

This is a sight most Bellportians are excited to see;
a stretch of open area at the dock offering one a choice of crabbing spots

After a great start last night (2 keepers in the first 5 minutes,) enthusiasm waned as the "too small" crabs began showing up, 2 at a time on each line, stealing chicken legs and leading to our disappointment.  No wonder there was space at the dock.

Then we met 2 great kids, Emilio and Antonio, summer visitors, crabbing with their family for the first time and anxious to master the skill. For me, this is the best part of crabbing. They were so excited to learn something new. They watched, listened and learned from the experienced old crabbers (not me...I am still learning;) politely asked questions and enthusiastically participated. Emilio worked on mastering the string, Antonio the net. The best part? They were never discouraged when the only thing emerging from the murky water was a partially consumed chicken leg. They joyously celebrated every success, even if the catch had to be tossed back. They truly just enjoyed the journey, not really motivated by a goal. They were living for the moment. Another life reminder from the younger ones among us.

We left our lines in their now rather capable hands, donated our meager catch to their bucket and went home quite satisfied.

This is the first of the two feisty guys lured by our fresh chicken legs.
Read the anger in his really can...those are eyes, right

Sure, we lost our initial investment, but we, along with Emilio and Antonio, decided we were feeding the babies so they would be ready for future crabbers to snare and enjoy.  From my perspective, my kitchen was spared the odoriferous creatures and I was reminded why I enjoy crabbing...just for the fun of it.   

Friday, July 27, 2012

Spending time in 11968…

My jobs require me to spend a good amount of time in the 11968 zip code (Southampton Village) each week.  Each Thursday I spend about 12 hours away from 11713 and in this famous South Fork Village. 

(Note:  there is a claim that Southampton was the first English settlement on Long Island.  However, I have it on good authority that Southampton is actually the SECOND oldest English settlement…after Southold founded in 1639 (in part) by my ancestors, the Horton and Budd families.  But that is another story.)
There are a few hours of free time between my Thursday jobs.  Since summer traffic in Southampton is laborious, I usually head for a local spot where I can park and enjoy the summer weather; such as the park at the head of Lake Agawam.  I may walk about or sit and read or just ponder.  Yesterday I sat and pondered. 

(Henry's Bench)

This day I chose to sit on the Henry Barclay bench; it was shaded and offered a nice view of Lake Agawam.  The small plaque affixed to the bench gave me pause.  You see, it tells me that in 1906 Henry was born on Lake Agawam.  Interesting choice of words.  Was Mrs. Barclay on the lake, unable to make it to shore when she gave birth to babe Henry?  Was she on a boat?  Was this an early 20th century "waterbirth"?    My mind easily wanders when given such fodder. 

Henry Barclay’s name appeared many times as a result of a Google search.  However, there was no reference to a Henry born in 1906 on the lake or any other such dramatic entrance into this world by any of the many Henry Barclay’s I found. 
Perhaps a Google search of Lake Agawam would offer some information.  The search resulted in many entries including a link to Southampton Patch where there appeared a short video tour of the lake from a helicopter by Jeff Cully of Cully/EEFAS: 
You can see that there are many amazing homes on the lake; I wonder if Henry was born in one of these homes.  Note:  I was sitting at the end of the lake looking south towards the beach and great Atlantic ocean.

(Lake Agawam from Henry's bench.)

Still, nothing was revealed about this man born on this lake.  Filling in the blanks was left to my imagination. 

As I sat considering Henry, his birth and his bench, eventually a group of fowl gathered near by.  No doubt they assumed I had food; I did not.  If I had had food, unlike the folks sitting on the other benches in this park, as a Weight Watchers Leader/Member I adhere to that unwritten rule:  when counting PointsPlus Values of all foods consumed, there will be no sharing.  I wonder...were the ancestors of these birds on Lake Agawam when Henry was born? 

(Fowl of Lake Agawam)

So I think about Henry's circumstance and enjoy the bucolic setting of Lake Agawam.  I will continue my search for more clues on this bench worthy citizen of yesteryear…and continue to spend free Thursdays at this great little park.

Monday, July 16, 2012

42:45 - The Official Time!

It is done.

I have completed a 5K race within the time parameters, did not finish last and I lived to tell about it.

There are some things that remain a mystery to me. Like how people can take pleasure in doing this? How some of these women look as great -- or even better -- after the race as they did standing at the starting line? What compels one to attempt this more than once? Why someone decided to hold a 5K on a July evening on Long Island?

Truly I understand the satisfaction of athletic accomplishment. My muscles have great memories of such. They (and my lungs) remember the 100 laps we always had to swim before sailing class at University High School. They remember bicycling up hills in Santa Barbara with my friend Carrol as we rode from LA to SB one year. They remember clog dancing for hours on end with my friends in LA and Las Vegas. They even recall the 10 miles I once ran on the paths of Laguna Hills, California. There is great satisfaction in completing something of great athletic magnitude.

But I am embarrassed to say that that was all before life in New York. Since moving to Long Island, my activity has been limited. I have lived here nearly 18 years; those muscle memories are fading. It took this 5K to cause a call to reactivate activity and create new memories for my slightly older (ahem) muscles.

There is much that I have learned in the past 3 weeks of training and then competing.

·         I can improve on my athleticism.  Three weeks ago it took me 63 minutes to complete 5K; I cut nearly 11 minutes off that time yesterday. 

·         It is humbling to “run” a 5K in front of neighbors, family and friends.  (I love the applause and cheers!)

·         Training without music is great free thinking time; watch out Bellport!

                  ·         I love to walk; loathe jogging.

·         I SO appreciate Dr. Joe, the Chiropractor. 

·         I am ready to reactivate my activity.

A big thank you to my WW compadres for the encouragement and the inspiration to even try this 5K.  I will be waiting for you at the finish line every chance I get!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A butterfly and the Bellport Clipper Classic…

For 3 weeks now I have been “training” to participate in the Bellport Clipper Classic.  I love exercise.  I love being active.  I love a physical challenge.  I love what exercise does for my body, mind and spirit.  This, however, has been an interesting adventure. 

Good:  I am revisiting Dr. Merckling, the Bellport Village chiropractor, for that competitive edge. 
Not so good:  the pain in my neck and shoulders is the real reason I returned, though the treatments surely improve my overall state of being. 

Good:  my Nikes are getting used as they should be.
Not so good:  I change band-aids more often than I change my underwear.  

Good:  I feel great after completing a 3.29 mile trek.
Not so good:  I have gained 5 pounds during this training process. 

Good:  I have encouraged others to participate as well.                                                                         
Not so good:  I cannot back out of the event. 
During this same period of time, I have kept a rather hectic schedule.  However, it is summer on Long Island and no matter how busy, one must make time to enjoy the weather and the late setting of the sun.  (Perhaps you do not realize this, but in the southwest, the sun does not stay up this long…ever.)  Our patio is lovely, the backyard is lovely and we have even been able to enjoy the chiminea.  (You have a chiminea, don’t you?)

About 3 weeks ago after my first week of training, I was sitting in the new Adirondack chairs by the chiminea one evening and something kept buzzing my head.  I could not imagine what this creature was until he lighted on my arm.  Shocked, I realized it was a butterfly.  He flashed the most vivid orange colors at me as I asked him who he was.  His response was to fly away.  However, he soon came again and rested on my shoulder.  I tried to get a photo of him with my cell phone, but he flew away just as I pressed to “take” the photo. 

There are many myths and legends about butterflies.  We know their transformation is rather miraculous.  Their beauty is other-worldly.  Admittedly, I spent a lot of time pondering the visit and its meaning. 

He has been back 2 other times.  Saturday he buzzed the jamming circle during my daughter’s graduation party.  Yesterday I caught his visit with my phone.  I tried very hard to get a shot with his wings open, vivid colors displayed.  That just did not happen.  He landed on the wood pile and cleverly blended in, refusing to open his wings until he was ready to fly away. 

According to legend and myth, I could choose to believe that he is someone I know who has passed, coming to bring me a message like, “Do NOT run the Bellport Clipper Classic!” Or “run and not be weary, but you are going to have to fly with wings like butterflies...the eagles have gone to cooler climes.”  Or he is hanging around waiting to take my wish to the Great Spirit.  In the event this is the case, I have been frantically trying to narrow down the one wish I want him to take.

So today is T minus 6 days until the Bellport Clipper Classic.  This morning I walked a steady but slower pace (swollen/painful feet, ankles and legs) and completed 3.29 miles in 50 minutes without stopping and talking to one single person.  I am ready for the challenge; I want to check this off my own bucket list and move on.  I am pretty sure the butterfly could be there to warn me to take it easy and move on to the next challenge.  But I also think he is hanging around to carry my wish.  I just hope he hangs around long enough for me to make a decision on the one best wish I could make.  (Note:  it will have NOTHING to do with the Bellport Clipper Classic!) 

Friday, July 6, 2012

14.41 minute mile...

This is the start and end point of my course.  It was a shortened course today due to, well, life.  Still, I stayed under the 15 minute mile and felt good. to address the issues of life after workout.  It is all fun...why am I so stressed? 


Note to self and anyone else who may be wondering:

Migrating...that is what I am doing at this 4 am hour...migrating posts to this site. 

Embarrassing to admit, but I forgot that this was the site from which I wanted to post.  There are so many blog sites and I am looking for the most versatile and user friendly. 

I will continue with for all things Weight Watchers.  This, however, will be my preferred 11713 site. 

Me and the United States Postal Workers...

Neither rain nor...

Weather will not hinder my quest to train. After yesterday, however, I have decided to dump the Galloway method and just See, I really hate the jogging. What I hate most about the activity is that I cannot think about anything other than how many steps before I can stop jogging or how many steps until I have to jog again. This is boring stuff and I do not do boring so well. So I returned to solo a piedi and made the 3.29 miles in 45 minutes. Still more work to do, but I am thinking Dr. Joe's Chiropractic treatments (Merkling Chiropractic) are making a difference.

So today we celebrate independence day in Bellport. It is a good day to be in Bellport, even when we have inclement weather. See, our flags still fly that the rain has subsided.

Artists on the Lane happens in Bellport today. They were beginning to set up as I headed south on Bellport Lane. Local artists share space with those traveling some distance. They gather, we buy and everyone leaves quite satisfied.

This year we have the added attraction of "Just Around The Corner" ( which will feature specials in the Main Street businesses and truly world class music in the alley between Cafe Castello and Pamela Lerner.

Just Good Friends will be performing with a special SECRET guest. Now, in my opinion, Just Good Friends is world class music, but the secret guest seals the deal. Stop by to find out who it is! Rumor has it, they may even let me sing a tune or so....taking it down a notch from "world class" perhaps.

Now I am off to do what I always do on holidays and weekends...clean bathrooms, do laundry, dust, vacuum... woo hoo! At least Tom will be helping so we can get to the Village events. Hope to see you there.

By the way, I would like to note that even the postal workers were not out on the streets today. Just me and my Nikes.Me and the United States Postal Workers...

43 minutes...and I do NOT like the jogging-like activity...

This is a late report of my "success." Yes, I shaved 1 minute off my time, but really, the jogging-like movement is not pleasant. I do not pick jogging as my sport.
Today I truly reconsidered my personal challenge to join this event. Can anyone tell me why I need to register for and complete a 5K? My legs were sore, my gluts were sore, my feet were sweaty and I gained 1 pound after completing 3.29 miles in 43 minutes. Where is the glory? Where is the success?
Yes...I will get up and do it again tomorrow. I cannot back down from a challenge...even one I wagered myself. Sure...I can do 3.29 miles, which means I can do 3.2 miles on Sunday, July 15th at 5:15 pm.
What I can tell you is my 4+ mile bike ride (on a beach "gear") was a lot more fun that 3.29 miles in 43 minutes.
This I will say...after July will not see me "jogging" on the 3.29 mile course, but you WILL see me on the bay in our kayak and on the streets of Bellport and beyond on my pink cruiser. But I can tell you now...I have not found that "runner's high" that everyone talks about. But...I am not giving up. This is a promise.
BTW...if you are not running/jogging/jogging-like activity the Bellport Clipper Classic, you might consider donating to the cause!

43 minutes...and I do NOT like the jogging-like activity...

This is a late report of my "success." Yes, I shaved 1 minute off my time, but really, the jogging-like movement is not pleasant. I do not pick jogging as my sport.
Today I truly reconsidered my personal challenge to join this event. Can anyone tell me why I need to register for and complete a 5K? My legs were sore, my gluts were sore, my feet were sweaty and I gained 1 pound after completing 3.29 miles in 43 minutes. Where is the glory? Where is the success?
Yes...I will get up and do it again tomorrow. I cannot back down from a challenge...even one I wagered myself. Sure...I can do 3.29 miles, which means I can do 3.2 miles on Sunday, July 15th at 5:15 pm.
What I can tell you is my 4+ mile bike ride (on a beach "gear") was a lot more fun that 3.29 miles in 43 minutes.
This I will say...after July will not see me "jogging" on the 3.29 mile course, but you WILL see me on the bay in our kayak and on the streets of Bellport and beyond on my pink cruiser. But I can tell you now...I have not found that "runner's high" that everyone talks about. But...I am not giving up. This is a promise.
BTW...if you are not running/jogging/jogging-like activity the Bellport Clipper Classic, you might consider donating to the cause!

44 minutes...a new world record! (for me)

So the training goes...
Yep, I have now lowered my time to qualify for a "legal" finish of the Bellport Clipper Classic. Today I began incorporating jogging-like movement into my 3.29 miles today. For those of you who may have seen me on the streets of the Village this morning, thank you for not honking as you drove by chuckling.
Note: I trained with a deficit today…my old iPod bit the dust.
My training for this week will be better than usual with the extra days off due to the holiday. (Is it just me or do you also find it nice to celebrate a holiday on the actual holiday?) Based on my current training success (ahem) I have set a goal to shave 6 minutes off my time by Sunday, July 15…race day. I will follow the Galloway method of training for a marathon because, well, other than showing you there is a method to my madness, training for this 5K feels like training for a marathon. I am glad I made a chiropractic appointment with Dr. Joe for this morning!
Let us see what happens tomorrow.

No excuses!

I suppose that runners at least take note of weather predictions to plan their next days' run. Since I am only a walker, I suppose I get a break for not knowing that thunder storms and heavy rain were predicted for today.
So in keeping with my "no excuses" mindset, I walked the 3.29 mile course today almost between down pours in 48 minutes; a slight improvement over yesterday. Perhaps it was the huge whack of thunder while on New Jersey Avenue that propelled me down the road a bit quicker than usual. My pardon to the neighbors…my voice has a way of projecting and surely the shriek I belted out was heard a few blocks away.
My change-up for today…it has been said that when you use your arms while walking, you are working 20% harder. So today I carried the new WW 3 lb. weights around town. They are now drying out with my LiveLifeActive cap.
It was a very loud workout today. The rain, the wind, the thunder, and then…a lovely chorus as I reached the dock. The lines of the sailboats were singing as the wind blew in from the west. It was noisy but what wonderful cacophony.
Tomorrow is an evening walk-about. My warning to all pedestrians: avoid Head of the Neck Road.

The Orange and Black Swoosh Takes the Lead...

51 minutes including a 4 minute hoop o' the dock. Conditions were warm; medium traffic and I set out later than I originally planned. However, as of today, the orange and black swoosh is definitely a favorite to beat the 45 minute time limit.

Note to self: 8 puffs on an empty inhaler serves no purpose; refill prescription today.

BCC Challenge Day 2...64 minutes?

Day 2 - 3.29 miles in 64 minutes? You might think my training is headed in the wrong direction. Let me explain.

Still pedometer-less I set about on my day 2 walk (note: matching Nikes and bandaid...check) anticipating an increased time because it was election day in Bellport. I know, this and the price of tea in China...

Tuesday through Saturday always prove to be jam packed, tight schedule days for me. Between regular work, 1 1/2 hour round trip commute and Weight Watchers meetings, it is always a challege to get in everything I need/want to do. So, following my Tuesday Weight Watchers meeting (5:30 pm @ the Patchogue store, near Bob's and Home Goods, join us, won't you?...shameless self-promotion) I came home, found matching Nikes, donned my green bag and headed out to walk/vote.

Good pace tonight.

Arriving at the Polling Place, I forgot to check my watch. But, after voting and chatting with friends I have not seen in a long time. (By the is it possible to live in a Village of only 2,500 residents and go years without seeing friends who live only one street away...shameful. Note to self: arrange a coffee talk with friends...soon!) Watch check following the vote/chat showed 30 minutes had passed. Continuing on, with only one brief chat on my way to the dock, I returned to home base 43 minutes later. A 19.5 minute pace is not impressive, unless you consider that I also performed my civic duty and reconnected with friends along the way.

I will take the 4 activity points I earned and consider it a good day.

The Bellport Clipper Classic Challenge

Accepting a challenge is a great way for me to achieve a goal. When first challenged to participate in the Bellport Clipper Classic 5K race, I considered but wanted to watch it first to see what I would be getting myself into. 16 years ago I watched as friends and neighbors in really good shape sprinted and ran past my house. I also watched as friends and neighbors in better shape than me struggled and dragged themselves to the finish line. I have continued to consider that challenge for the past 16 years and never moved forward…until now.

This year I have again been challenged. I have agreed to truly consider participation. Today I took action on the consideration part.

First, I learned (and verified at the website: that walkers are not allowed on the course and the course must be completed in 45 minutes. Exactly what that means is unclear to me, but I have decided to move forward anyway. My doctor advised me to not run and I have embraced that limitation. I do walk, bike, kayak and try other, less jarring activities. However, it is more of a lifestyle recommendation than a medical command so I am considering my options. Today I decided to see if I could walk 5K in 45 minutes. I set a course from my house, around the Village using The easy part.

Next, I pulled out my 2 pedometers to find that neither one works. (Note to Weight Watchers: where is my ActivLink?) I decided to time myself with a less efficient, but reliable watch…thank goodness for old technology.

I discovered that I left my regular walking shoes with the orthotic inserts at work. (Sadly, old feet need better support.) Never fear, thanks to my Nike connection, I have 2 other pairs of newish walking/running shoes and pulled those out to break them in.

Armed with my cell phone, tissues, inhaler and water bottle in my little green bag, I headed out for a 3.29 miles walk-about. The first leg of my course passes the 2 mile marker for the Clipper Classic. I was only starting out and feeling pretty strong, but I could not help but find the irony in the fact that the point marking the 2/3rd point of the race was located at the cemetery.

Crossing Station Road and heading to New Jersey Avenue I realized I was developing a blister on my left heel. It seemed I had a defective sock on my left foot that kept slipping down. Wasting valuable time I stopped to fix it…the first of several fixes…but only the left foot. Hmmm… Pace increase to make up for lost time.

Down across South Country Road I crossed paths with Bobby (…as Bobby, not the Easter Bunny or Uncle Sam today.) No time to talk, I am focused. Stop to fix sock. (Note to self: try out other socks before race day.)

The Village was quietly humming as I rounded the Old Purchase corner and headed to the dock. Blister is growing but I am not ready to waste more time with the stupid sock so I push through the pain and hoop the dock, dodging the vehicles also hooping as their drivers sip their morning coffee, paying no particular attention to pedestrians or seagulls.

Taking a left on to Rogers I again stopped to adjust my left sock when I realized I was wearing 2 different shoes. I thought this was something only old people did. Now I am motivated to quickly complete the course, avoid anyone I might know and check my time.

53 minutes…sock issues and an extra hoop around the Bellport Yacht Club included. 3.29 miles. That is a little more than a 16 minute mile. Not good enough for the Clipper Classic. But, I have 26 days to train, get my time down and work on a good jog/runner’s look to get past the officials. But not until I retrieve my other shoes and some better socks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chase, the dog...

We have not exactly settled into our new house, but we seem to be easing into the routine of the new digs.  Our dog, Chase, on the other hand, is right at home.  After nearly 10 years of a rather boring routine (twice daily walk-abouts and napping most of each day) Chase now has a fenced-in back yard, a doggie door and a new world to explore on his own. 
Chase is a young 10 year-old golden retriever mix we adopted from the Brookhaven Animal Shelter.  He and his litter mates had been rescued from the parking lot at Lowes in Medford.  He still jumps on people, cannot walk on a leash, relentlessly begs to play catch and continues to be mocked by the squirrels he futilely chases up trees. 

This old dog has developed a new, more independent character.  He spends hours in the backyard watching and listening.  When we were living on a main road in Bellport Village, the sounds of nature (and neighbors) was often obscured by the traffic (such as it is in Bellport) noise.  Chase, like the rest of us, is discovering just how distracting and intriguing those birds (and neighbors) can be. 
Chase is the one member of the family who is home all of the time.  He has learned the weekly routine of the new neighborhood; when the postman, UPS truck (his mortal enemy,) and the garbage collectors make their rounds.  He is learning the voices of neighboring mutts and seems to be relieved that there are no stray cats in the area.  He is afraid of cats.
It will take us humans in the house a bit longer to find our stride.  It will help when we actually find all of the things we packed.  My work space needs organization; the kitchen is not quite functional; the instruments have not been removed from their cases; where will I be storing all the linens?  Perhaps I will just follow Chase’s lead; sit in the backyard to watch and listen.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The key to something great...

Until now, I never really considered taking time to select a special key to my house, or the key to anything for that matter. On Tuesday, as I waited at the Home Depot key kiosk to order additional keys for our new house, I noticed the collection of novelty keys on display.  Though I have been a Home Depot key customer since the local paint store closed, I had never really considered that these keys were options for me. 

In the middle of the display hung a key – my key – in the shape of an acoustic guitar.  As I was reaching for the guitar, the young key smith approached and said, "Ah, do you just like the guitar or – ha, ha – do you play?" I paused, remembering my April declaration…I am a musician, “Oh no…I play," I responded, "Do you?" He did.  We actually had a brief conversation about guitars and bluegrass; I shared information about local jams and then happily strolled out of the store, guitar key in hand.

Holding new keys to a new house is rather empowering.  It is a new start.  Usually, and for most people, that is enough.  However, I had already decided that 2012 would be a new start for me.  On January 1st, I cannot say that I exactly knew what that meant, but as the year has been progressing, these new starts are being revealed. 

It began with the Cash Mob movement that spread through the country and right into the heart of Bellport.  This represented a new start or re-start into community activity for me.  Since Erin’s graduation from high school, I have been on the down-low.  It has been great to reconnect and to make new connections with my community. 

Then came the self-declaration…I am a musician.  Though music has always been a part of my life, it now has a new look for me as I play my guitar and sing in public.  Deciding to call myself a “musician,” now that is a new start.  And, because I just could not stop, along comes self-declaration #2 (thanks to the My Name Is Not Bob April Challenge and encouragement from my friend Terrell)…I am a writer.

Sometimes new starts are intentional, some just happen.  They are all meant to be.  The new house was a “just happen” new start.  It resulted in a lot of emotion, took agonizing work, but with the trust and help of a very dear friend (thank you Garry!) it happened.  The guitar key is, as my friend Sue declared, a positive omen.

The journey through 2012 has been and promises to continue to be dynamic.  Our family is seeing many other new starts.  Next week Erin will have completed her undergraduate degree in spite of her recent diagnosis of mononucleosis.  (The Hall family GPS has the added, and most used, feature:  the most difficult route possible option.)  Recovery and a new start are imminent.  We are also learning a new normal as the family navigates a life altering diagnosis for my sister-in-law.  Health issues prompt a reconsideration of life’s purpose and direction for an individual and the family.  We are in this together and I am confident the purpose and direction will be revealed.  It is yet another new start. 

Life is dynamic, new starts will continue.  Some we will select and some will be imposed.  Some will make us happy and some will wrench our hearts.  I can only trust that these new starts will cause a positive and purposeful journey.  We start now by choosing the right key to help us unlock the door.  I believe I will be making another trip to the key smith; new keys for everyone!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The World of Great Ideas...

Tomorrow, Sunday, April 22nd at 7:30 am, MSNBC’s show, Your Business, will air a segment on Cash Mobs. Included in this segment should be shots from the filming of the last Bellport Cash Mob that was held on International Cash Mob Day, March 24, 2012.

New and interesting ideas always catch my attention. Many times I learn of great ideas, share them with others who are not quite as moved by them and I do not take action.  Or well-meaning friends talk me down and away from following ideas they perceive as potentially hazardous.  Of course, there are the perpetual nay-sayers who, never willing to take a chance, hastily shoot down every idea. Once identified as such, I tend to avoid those people. But once I learn of a powerful idea, I can never really let it go.

The My Name Is Not Bob April challenge…

In the case of the MNINB ( April Challenge idea, (interjection:  I have not learned how to link to another site without entering the whole website address; I want to learn that) I consulted no one.  Jumping on board, I found a community of writers, most of whom are more advanced in their craft than I am, but supportive and affirming all the same.  Affirmed, I continued to follow this great idea and am very glad I did.

This challenge has taught me so much about writing.  Not things such as grammar, punctuation, form and style, but platform building.  Who knew I needed to know this?  I admit to experiencing feelings of unworthiness and states of “HUH?!?”  But each time I feel lost, I step back, breathe and realize the opportunities this new information affords.  As Not Bob advises, “…change your focus from what you don’t know and what you haven’t done to building upon what you do know and what you have done.”  Even as I learn these new things, I realize that I can do that.

Cash Mobs…

Prior to the Not Bob challenge, the “Cash Mob” ( idea landed in my lap.  There are just some ideas from which no one can talk you down.  I learned of cash mobs last December when my sister-in-law’s store, The Make Good, in San Diego, CA ( was cash mobbed.  The cash mob idea seemed tailor made for our little Village of Bellport.  You see, our Village has a very small Main Street which tends to struggle a bit during the off-season months of winter.  This particular winter, Main Street was losing a landmark, family owned business as Wallen’s grocery store decided to close its doors after 50+ years.  Spirits were waning; we needed an infusion of hope.

After a few emails, a little social networking, word of mouth and a big boost from, our “Hometown Website,”  we were off and running.  Our inaugural January cash mob was attended by about 100 cash mobbers – representing 5% of the population of Bellport – and the cash mob originator, Andrew Samtoy of Cleveland, OH.  Prior to this cash mob, we were contacted by several news agencies, including Inside Edition who sent a film crew to record our event.  That show aired in early February. 

Acting on a great idea as we did with the cash mob can result in great rewards.  It afforded financial rewards to the businesses that were cash mobbed, often resulting in the best sales day ever.  It was a great marketing opportunity for those businesses as well.  It brought new customers in and reminded old customers to come back.  Beyond that, it empowered our community, reminding us of the ability of the individual to make a difference.  Taking action brought awareness, hope and a whole lot of fun.   

Additional cash mobs were spawned from our introduction of the idea to Long Island.  Riverhead and Babylon Village have held cash mobs.  East Quogue has a cash mob scheduled for this afternoon.  East End Cash Mob will host its first cash mob on May 6th.  It is an idea worth sharing; an idea that makes a difference.  I must also admit, this affirms that I did, in fact, hit on a good idea…my personal gain.

In larger communities, monthly Cash Mobs can continue to flourish.  We see this in San Diego, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Sherwood, OR and beyond.  However, in our small community, we will be modifying the idea, to maintain the momentum and allow our community to continue to make a difference, right here on Main Street.   

Since our first cash mob in Bellport, we have held 2 others; the last one being covered by MSNBC, scheduled to air tomorrow on Your Business.  Our next Cash Mob will be held on May 5th.   It will be a celebration.  While we will be cash mobbing a local business, it is more about celebrating the great cash mob idea and the great community of people who embraced it.  Perhaps you would like to attend.