As the warm water fell upon my head, I can say that it felt like the most blissful moment of my life. After my home, like most on Long Island, lost power on Monday, I was left without heat or electricity, and most importantly the ability to wash my hair. Without electricity, my hair dryer would not operate, and I did not want to have a damp head in a house in which the temperature was getting close to dipping below forty degrees.
Fortunately, after two days of living like Daniel Boone, my aunt and uncle were gracious enough to invite both my parents and me to stay with them in the Bronx. They had heard of the devastation in Massapequa and were frantically trying to get in touch with us. However, not only did the landline phones go down, we were having difficulty getting a cell phone signal. So my uncle’s phone calls went unanswered for several days, until a signal became available and we were able to get the many voicemail messages that had been left.
I went to the supermarket the day before the storm and stocked up on peanut butter, chocolate-hazelnut spread, fruit cups, and a few other non-perishable foods. For reasons that I now fail to understand, but must have made sense at the time, I also bought hummus, milk and yogurt. Maybe I was convinced we weren’t going to lose power for very long, or maybe I was just in denial, but needless to say, I did not get to eat many of my beloved dairy products.
I didn’t think to go to the gas station beforehand and fill up the tank, which was foolish. However, in my defense I’m normally too lazy to go to the gas station and put it off in the hopes my husband will give in and do it first, so that’s par for the course.
Going on a cruise with 2,300 Englishmen (and half of them women) and only 150 Americans. Blimey!
The Englishmen seemed to all come out of Central Casting in Hollywood. It was a boat full of David Nivens: well-mannered, gray around the temples and not too sure about their thoughts of Yanks. Their English was impeccable, and it was as if Lorraine and I had walked into the screening of an English movie. We met six lovely ladies from North Devon; they were utterly charming.
Maintaining a framework for good health and wellbeing is one of the most precious things that individuals have, yet our health care system can be what put us at great risk. Collectively, we recognize that there are problems with our health care system and we want to see them solved. Many Americans even realize that our health system costs twice as much as most other health systems, yet there are still high rates of mediocre results. One major problem I have personally seen in my profession and even personal life is the issue of nutritional status of patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Despite federal and state regulations, many studies have reported that there are as many as 40 percent of all patients admitted to the hospital are undernourished and this percentage increases once patients have been in the hospital for one week. Malnutrition often goes unrecognized and untreated, which leads to prolonged hospital stays, negative outcomes and increased health care costs.
For those of you who believe the doomsday predictions based on the Mayan calendar, I apologize, but I simply do not believe that the world will end in December because of a calendar that was created more than 5,000 years ago. There is no science to back up any claims about doomsday occurring on Dec. 21, 2012, and no theology to back it up either. Jesus is quoted in the Bible as saying about the end of the world, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Scientists and clergy are not always in agreement, but it definitely seems that both sides concur that the sun will rise on Dec. 22. So I will plan on celebrating Christmas, New Year’s and hopefully a return trip for the Patriots to the Super Bowl with a better result this time. (Note: I know most of you are not rooting for this, but I have had to endure two Super Bowls in which it seemed that every Giants fan in the New York area who was looking to gloat turned to the only Patriot fan in the area they could find, yours truly, so please cut me a little slack.)
At times, my intuition is way ahead of my brain. I’d like to think that I arrive at a lot of my opinions through logical reasoning, but often, I feel like something is wrong long before I can articulate why it’s wrong. This was the case with the word “privilege” as used in the phrases “white privilege,” “male privilege,” and the especially reviled “white male privilege.” Something about the way these terms are bandied about bothered me, but I couldn’t explain why until recently.
It’s not that I have any doubt that privilege exists; I’ve certainly seen it in action. Even if you’re not particularly devoted to the cause of achieving greater social justice, it’s not difficult to see that being white and male confer some advantages in our culture. So if I admit privilege exists, why does the term make me wince in annoyance?
In the last two months I have become involved with the great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen. In my class at SUNY Old Westbury, I have had the pleasure of studying A Doll’s House with Professor Narayan Hedge of the English Department. Dr. Hedge is very meticulous and he studies the text line by line. Many subtleties of the text are brought forth and the ideas open up to the average reader.
In addition to A Doll’s House, Lorraine and I purchased tickets to the Manhattan Theater Club’s version of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater.
Nassau County was shocked last week with the sad news of Peter Schmitt’s untimely death. As the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, Schmitt was a prominent political figure and often the voice of Nassau County Republicans. He was opinionated and often quite blunt about defending his stance on county issues and he frequently sparred with the leaders of Nassau County Democrats. If you are a Republican, you often chuckled at his comments, and if you are a Democrat, you probably have clenched your teeth in anger at something he said. Much like his favorite baseball team, the Yankees, you were either strongly with him or strongly against him, but there was often no room for being in-between.
However, there was a side to Peter Schmitt that most of Nassau County didn’t know, which is how I will remember him. Despite the hard image, which he sometimes portrayed, Schmitt, or simply “Peter”, as he was known around Massapequa, was tremendously approachable and friendly. I often bumped into him in the local stores in and around Massapequa, and he would be quick to strike up a conversation. Recently, the conversation would always turn to his grandchild, who he had recently welcomed into the world. He was a devoted family man who adored his wife Lois, and he was so proud of their daughter, Samantha.
Lorraine and I are planning to go on a 17-day cruise to Europe. All you geography fans can trace our ship entering and leaving the various ports. Our stay at these ports is not very long; we usually arrive early in the morning and leave in the late afternoon or early evening.
We meet the ship in Southampton, England and we are off. Two days later, we arrive in Seville (Cadiz) Spain. Seville is the home of Flamenco dancing, which Lorraine and I both love.
One morning last October I’m driving to the hawk watch at Fire Island, where migrating raptors are counted and recorded during the fall migration season. Just before starting over a bridge leading to Fire Island, two great egrets, which are large white birds, are rising into the air. Driving over a second bridge, a vast clouded sky hangs on the horizon like a curtain on a theatrical stage. What will be revealed when the clouds part? On Fire Island, going around the traffic circle, there are four deer feeding on the grass. The scene is bucolic.
At the two-tiered hawk watch platform, the sky is overcast with a pale salmon color. With a west wind at 5-7 mph, today promises to be slow. Someone calls out that there’s a “sharpie” or sharp-shinned hawk coming through. I get my binoculars on a fast flying bird that flaps, flaps, flaps, then glides and repeats this movement. It’s no sharpie. The bird shows yellow on its underwings. However it isn’t a hawk but rather a flicker, a woodpecker that migrating raptors sometimes take as prey. A lone, lazy flapping dark osprey flies over the bay, scanning the still-as-glass, dark blue water below for a fish. Hooked talons, large toes and rough areas on its feet allow the “fish-hawk” to firmly grip a fish after diving into the water. However, this one sees nothing and flies on.
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