Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Smell.  Different than the septic that I've been writing about.......it's and amazing thing...these noses we wear!  The sense of smell is one of the greatest triggers of  memory.  Don't worry...I'm not going THERE!

Last night, a text arrived in my "in box" on my cell phone. It read,"So random, but I was doing laundry and when I took out my sheets/towels out of the dryer the smell reminded me of when you lived in Massachusetts. Weird, right?" Wow!  That was 10-14 years ago...she was just a little girl visiting us.  It's the little things. We never know what we give to someone!

One of the things that is indescribable....how can we know what memories we're "giving"??  Sometimes, with our children, I feel that's all we can give them.  All of these days and months and years....in a minute, they're just a memory!  We can only hope we're "giving" special memories.  Sweet memories.

Moments.  That's what we get!  It is the moments that count. Everyday, I try to make my best....my day and how I handle my day affects all of us.  Some days are more reactive than I'd like. Some days, I have to demand more of others in our home than I'd like.  Some days are Kodak moments! Some days are less than lovely.  All I can do is be accountable for my own behavior.....and give the best that I have to give.  That's that.  Some days are better than others.  Gratefully, Biff and I are pretty steady.....in our style.  Pretty steady in our day....ups, downs and in betweens....we do our best to keep even keel....

That's just one of those things.  It happens.  Every once in awhile....it's so real.  Out of the blue. *Poof*...we're in another time and space. Instant memory!

Text from the same niece while she was in college,"Christopher Morley Sky". At Christopher Morley Park, ice skating at the end of the season, I would always point out the colors in the sky....that came to be known by biff, Claire and I as the "Christopher Morley Sky."

I received the text on a Sunday night...on the way home from the grocery store.  I read the text and looked up at the sky.It was breathtaking!  Claire, in college at the time, was sitting at her desk studying.....she looked up and that's the memory. It's the little things.  It always is.

One of the most special moments I had with Grace recently.....
I was cleaning Grace and T.J's birthday one afternoon and as I scrubbed and scoured, I thought of my mom's pretty bathrooms.  No matter where she lived, no matter the size or shape of the bathroom, my mom had little pretty soaps, matching hand towels, hand creams and glamorous body powders.  She enjoyed the lovely bits of life.  A fluffy soft towel.  A beautiful bath mat. A voluptuous and soft bathroom rug. A mirror, Clinique make up, Revlon lipstick called, "Love That Pink", Noxema, Jergens Lotion, Chloe' body Powder, Chanel No. 5, little leather case filled with nail scissors and nail file, a Kleenex box that coordinated nicely.....and a plant or two.  The little things!  Tucked away or on display. The little things.

I called out while I scrubbed, "Grace....remember Gramma's pretty bathrooms??" with a sweet question mark in my voice?  While I had been cleaning, remembering the pleasure she took in the little things....and Grace called back, "YES! I LOVED GRAMMA"S TOILET PAPER!"  I laughed until I cried...those sweet tears while remembering my mom.

I laughed and called to Grace, "Gramma would be so happy to know that you loved her toilet paper!"  It was true. Pleasure in the little things.  My mom listened to her dad.  Always the best. Life had it's ups and downs, but  Gramma always had the nicest toilet paper!  It's the little things!

We never know the memories we're making.  It's the little things!  Even though our kids are young teens now, I still buy bubbles and chalk in the spring time.   After picking the kids up with a friend the other day, Grace and her friend opened the jar of bubbles and began blowing through the bubble wand."You always have the fun toys and stuff!"...and the bubbles blew out the car window as we drove home.  It's the little things.  It's all  memory.

The little things.The moments.That's what I remember.
"Pay It Forward" sounds good to me.  Not doing good deeds and passing it on....paying it forward.....like the movie.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwHcS-XoYbc  Getting all caught up and head of myself....then giving up....just for a day!  That would allow one day to take a moment...the next day, i wouldn't have to fall behind and catch up!

Did anyone understand that?  Patti, a friend since college, had an expression, "I'm so far behind, I think I'm first!" It's a great line for me because I'm so visual.
When Patti was studying for finals and writing a paper, we found her tucked away in her room, behind closed doors....very quiet.  When we entered the sanctuary, where usually we found magazines and Mary Tyler Moore on T.V....
.....we found Patti....ever diligent....working at her desk that was usually strewn with monogrammed sweaters co-mingled with fair isle sweaters and Irish cables!

We, her loving and loyal friends, burst out laughing!  Bent over and howling like hyenas, we distracted her from her work and she seemed preoccupied while holding her.......crayon! A crayon!  Not our Patti?
What on earth could that have to do with her intense psychology paper?  That's when we realized that our frenzied friend had been writing her giant loopy letters on construction paper with crayons.  Crayons and construction paper?  Patti was no Education major.  Patti was no art major.  We were puzzled....

That's when she told us to look up above.  Not to heaven but to the wall above her desk!  We all stood in a row.  We were still recovering from seeing her so involved in her own world.....we looked up and saw...she certainly was motivated!

Her note to self, "You jerk! Get working!".....and that's about where I am this week.  It was one week ago Monday night that our septic issue began....one week ago today that our septic combined with flooding became our problem....in our basement.
Unpleasant as it has been, I'm still grateful.  At worst, it's been unpleasant...very unpleasant....maybe inconvenient...a bit.

Lots of work for all of us.  Lots of disruption. Lots of loss.  Lots of stress. No hot water. No showers unless we enjoyed the generous offer by our neighbors.
That's that.  I'd love to quit.  I can't.  I live here.  Our house is upside down.  Our lives are upside down.  The clean up crew had us on the calendar for Monday.....not!  Then, today....not!  Tomorrow, we expect them to arrive for real.  They have delivered a dumpster....that's a start!  Now we are the proud, but temporary caretakers of 2 dumpsters!

A dumpster in the driveway is the greatest and most coveted addition to any driveway.  Some may be  awestruck by a new B.M.W., a great vintage car or  fine sports car, but here in our Connecticut world, it's the great American dumpster. "A chicken in the pot and a car in every garage"

Winston Churchill once said, "Never, never, never give up!"
I guess.

This is a link to the review of the new Preppy Handbook that is coming out very soon.  It all began with Lisa Birnbach.  What great fun she had writing that book and what a hoot is was for all for us when we saw ourselves in there!

We live in Connecticut, so I see it and live it everyday.  As I see it, there are many varieties of the prep life!  Many.  The prep life seems to play out in many worlds, in many styles in all of the places where I have lived....and growing up, I may have had the greatest of all!  Same for Biff.

As I see it, we lived it.  We lived it everyday and we didn't even know it.  Our parents didn't have to work at it.  They didn't have to try to achieve it by looking it up in the preppy handbook or climbing the ladder to reach someone's perception of what the life was.  They just were and that was that.

Our parents didn't select our lifestyle...they just moved along to the right place for them...where they knew to be.  To convert an overused expression, "it was what it was"...and that's that.  They may have gone to boarding schools or had the opportunity to go to boarding schools but that's not what made them who they were.  They knew what they new.

I suppose in life, there will always be "posers", a term I've just learned in the last few months.  There will always be people "who are striving", as my mom used to say.  It seems the folks who live a certain lifestyle are always clear on the "posers" and those who "are striving" or my words, they're simply trying too hard!

They're easy to spot...like members of a club know their own, the ones who work at it stick out like a sore thumb....or they're screaming to be noticed as the ultimate whatever. Prep, Old Money, even Goth, as the kids tell us.  We have them of colors, creed in every size shape and neighborhood.  Everywhere.  Usually, not blog related, they're followers. Even in the "hood" as we used to say.  Our kids laugh, they say "gangsta".  Whatever...whoever...they're all out there!

We see some who can only wear designer labels....as my mom used to say,"they're throwing up labels...." even if it was Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Calvin Klein!  How right that woman was....the old school New England Yankee that she was!

Why?  Everybody wants to belong.  Especially when they have no clear cut answer to belonging.  Hence, working at it...there were probably cavemen who worked at having the ultimate deerskin........whatever...maybe the cave location was their thing.  "It is was it is and it was what it was!"

So, here we are in Connecticut....surrounded by preps who just are.... don't even know it....don't work at it...don't even wear
Lilly Pulitzer.
We have the old school professorial types who have been educated in the best schools and follow on to teach at the best schools....of course the best schools are prep.  They have lived and educated life. Education began with those who had...those who could afford the best and to those who desired the education to better themselves and their children.

It's not always about the money. Many have had and lost, recovered or not....it's simply what they know.  It doesn't matter to them...for climbing or social status....it's all they know even if in degrees.  It's real not found.

We just spent the weekend with family. We were down visiting and thought it would be fun to show the kids where we used to live and all of the people who they've heard me talk about...or at least where they lived....if they haven't moved.  It was a  charmed life in many ways.  That's another story.

We lived on the North Shore of Long Island, The Gold Coast.  We were blessed to live a very nice life.  We were surrounded by other families  of similar "worlds" with similar values.  It's no wonder.

Family was a priority.  Schools were a priority.  Church was a priority.  Beach was a priority. The Preppy Handbook was not a priority but we lived it....from the station wagon

to the country club to the beach house and the beach club

....the traditional clothing of quality and all natural fibers....the cocktail parties hosted by friends of the family...the train station...the colleges our brothers and sisters attended....our homes well decorated and barbeques....penny loafers, docksiders

and madras...sand in our shoes....chesterfield coats and so much more.

My dapper dad wore a handsome Derby and a straw Boater from Memorial Day to Labor Day with a replacement in the middle of summer due to newspaper print along the way. It's just the way it was.  Life was good despite the lack of books and blogs to call the shots.

Biff had much of the same. As noted yesterday, as we watched the Easter Old Fashioned Car Parade, we even had the same station wagon.  Biff lived further up in the country...with a family who lived a parallel life of goodness with trips to the Adirondacks and Historical Landmarks.....lots of family gatherings and fun. He was at boarding school while I was in private local schools.

Old School families with plain old fashioned values.  Biff's family greeted the Mayflower while mine arrived at Ellis Island or popped in  by way of Boston rather than Plymouth Rock. I guess if my family came from Ireland and chose to be "posers" or worked too hard at being dressed like the pilgrims, it might have been the same as a phony baloney prep!

We both grew up living lives of simplicity yet abundance and no one to guide us or comment in a handbook.  It was unspoken.  To speak of it would be "rude, crude and socially unacceptable", as some I know would say.

Over the weekend, the "prep" clothing was everywhere and certainly much of the same, but the people were new.  The people were not the same homogeneous ones we knew once upon a time.  New people have replaced the Old Guard just as many condos have replaced old estates....of
the Whitney's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhasset,_New_York,
the Grace's  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhasset,_New_York,
 or the Payne's.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Whitney_Payson
Much of the old has been replaced with the new and more of it.  Conspicuous consumption is what seems to be prevalent these days.....and then some of the classics remain.  They were evident by there demeanor.  There may be still be wealth and their may still be prep but much of it has been acquired only in presentation....thanks to Ralph Lipshitz (Ralph Lauren)
http://www.ralphlauren.com/frontdoor/index.jsp and Martha Kostyra (Martha Stewart)
and Brooks Brothers expansion across America
and Tiffany and Company's accessibility in Malls throughout the world
or J.Crewhttp://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/WomenBrowse/Women_Feature_Assortment/jcrewcollection.js
What happened to
Best and Company Children's Clothing?
...really what happened to the way children used to dress?  that's another topic.....life goes on...change is good for us all.....
 What happened to BonwitTeller?

Much of the "preppy lifestyle" has been created....we see the look....we know the look... which is just fine. It's not the right dog or the right car or the right vacation spot. It can't be defined so clearly. To a discerning eye, it is very clear who are the old school "preppies." That word tickles Biff and I...we laugh when we see stores or hair salons named," A Touch of Class because they always seem to state the obvious....they have none.

Visiting "home", it still is a wonderful place....to educate...to live....to beach...to sail and more.  Most people are still very nice.  They don't know.  It's like our little secret.  It's the secret of the old school...the way life was...the families....the life...the connection of the good life as it used to be...before the Preppy Handbook.

The families who have lived to see the next generation and the next generation live in the place that had an understated life of abundance...sensible with Puritan beliefs for some....quiet money was key...still is....sshhhhhhh. 

It's not about the haves and the have nots....it's not about what one wears to validate their "preppiness"...it can't be acquired. It is or it isn't. It's there or it's not.  Quiet. Shhhhhhhh. It's not what you have....it's not necessarily where you have it.  It just is.

So, there we stood, in a wonderful place to have a childhood, a family, a community, a place of many friends....our kids said it was like a Disney movie town.  It was better. It was. And I saw the old faces...and I visited the old friends who we knew all of our lives.....they welcomed us "home"....and into their "preppy" houses, with "preppy" drapes and shoes and cars and kitchens and photos and families...and we didn't care what polo player or Golden Fleece adorned their polo shirt,
button down or sweater.  We were just delighted to be welcomed by someone who knew....someone who knew us....and our families...and our lives....they have always loved us...then and now. It was nice to be welcomed and not judged....and the cashmere hug was wonderful and familiar.