My date with Monsieur Henri

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‘Heading home to a hurricane’

Well. At least I wasn’t the only one traveling toward Hurricane Henri.

East-End friends and relations had shared stories of long gas lines and even-longer traffic lines as Henri-spooked Hamptonites fled West.

Hamptonite Traffic. And this is when there isn’t a hurricane bearing down on us

But, judging by the crowd waiting to board the next bus (er, excuse me, “Jitney”) at the Long Island Airport Connection — a hot, dusty patch of concrete smack-dab next to the roaring traffic on the LIE — there were plenty of other fools heading East. (For those of you who are not familiar with Long Island Geography, “east” is the direction you go to get to The Hamptons; “west” is the way out. The LIE is the Long Island Expressway; trust me, there is nothing “express” about it.)

Also, I must interject a teensy qualification here, mainly because “The Hamptons” sounds so all-fired snooty and all. For most of us East-Enders, The Hamptons just happens to be where we live — and shop for groceries and vote and go to the dump and fold laundry. Oh, I have spotted Sir Paul, but he was standing in line at the farmer’s market just like everyone else.

Traffic at the Farm Stand. (Sir Paul could very well be in one of those cars)

Pro Tip: you can spot a “local” out here because we always say “hello” and smile, even when met with stony stares aimed at us over a cellphone screen.

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Beware the Rage Rover

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‘The pitfalls and perils of traffic in The Hamptons’

I’m a little late today. I had to (gasp) leave The Compound by car. Which is something I rarely do out here in The Hamptons.

Why don’t I like to drive out here? Take a guess

Did I dash out to Citarella for a twelve-dollar loaf of bread? Or to Lunch for a forty-dollar lobster roll? Nah. I loaded up the Toyota for a trip to the dump. Er, “recycling center.”

I usually put off my Dump Run until Thursday, when I can combine it with my Groceries/Mail/Liquor Run for a trip I call my “Vector.” But I made grilled chicken involving a garlic-loaded marinade the other night, and the garbage bag which I hung on a hook in the basement (to discourage mice) was starting to, well, infuse the entire house with a not-very-enticing aroma.

There’s even traffic at the Forty-Dollar Farm Stand. But there’s a nice aroma of roasting corn. So there’s that

So I screwed my courage to the sticking place and nosed my way out of our driveway and into — Hamptons Traffic.

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Things that go shriek in the night

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‘This never happens when The Dude is here’

Everything was going so well.

Feast your eyes: Even the Taco Tuesday table setting was delicious

I was happily full of beans (both literally and figuratively) from a delightful Taco Tuesday. I’d watched my fill of fabulous first-round Wimbledon tennis, and had just tucked myself into bed with a copy of Fatal Vision. (The book about the Jeffrey MacDonald murder trial that I was re-reading after reading Janet Malcolm’s New Yorker essay The Journalist and The Murderer.’)

Some light summer reading about murders, trials and journalistic ethics

Anyway. It had been a marvelous day — and I was looking forward to an equally marvelous (and restful) night. As far as I could tell, there were no partying neighbors present, and even the helicopter and jet traffic had settled down.

I’d just plopped down my book and popped in my mouthguard (which I call my “biter,” much to my dentist’s chagrin), when I hear this terrible shrieking sound.

Was it coming from the neighbors? Fourth of July Weekend was coming up; maybe what I was hearing was a new form of pyrotechnical display.

I closed the bedroom slider. But that only made the noise louder — and, if possible — even more ear-piercingly shrill.

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The time crickets ate The Dude’s shoes

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‘”Eat or be eaten,” or so they say.’

So last time I told you about how We Whitmores were recruited to help save some purple martins from starvation. The martins were huddled in their gourd condos out at SoFo (the South Fork Natural History Museum, founded by Idiosyncratic Family Friend Andy), having been caught in an unseasonable cold snap during which their regular flying-insect food supply was grounded.

We rescued them by tossing crickets into the air — crickets which had been bought in bulk from a pet supply place. Overheard: “Do we have more crickets coming in?” “Yes, 1500 are due tomorrow.”

 

(At which point I’m picturing chirping boxes being unloaded by a quizzical UPS guy — or maybe just crickets, 1500 strong, marching en masse up to SoFo’s front door and volunteering for duty.)

Anyway. Martin Man, who directed our feeding efforts, would put a big ole Teddy Grahams container full of crickets into a freezer for seven minutes to stun them, after which we would throw them into the air (Martin Man used a slingshot) where the hungry martins would chomp them (you could actually hear their birdie jaws snapping) mid-swoop.

One weakened female got her crickets via cute kid and tweezers

Now, in case you’re feeling sorry for those crickets being eaten, let me share a story about how they’re not all that, well, innocent.

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Jeans are no longer tops

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‘Thoughts on my pandemic “Quardrobe”‘

The absolutely most glamorous person I have ever clapped eyes on is a fabulous FOC (Friend of Child) I will call Glam Girl.

Yes, Glam Girl is a young person — younger than thirty, even — but with a sense of style in all things — food, friends, and yes, of course, fashion — that ordinarily would take decades of sophisticated living to acquire. (See reference to peacock-blue-lizard-Maud-Frizon-wearing boss in “Take a Letter, Miss Henry.”

Why, even when GG was in high school, which is where I first got to know her — I drove her and The Child to Stuyvesant every day during a transit strike — she had a certain je ne sais quois.

Not sure if GG (right) and Child (left) were in high school, but they sure were looking glammer than their years

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Masked and Anonymous

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‘First class service. With a really big smile’

Like most couples in these pandemic times, The Dude and I are spending a lot of time together. Way more time than we used to. Mostly, this is pretty swell.

One of the swellest: going on long hikes together

But (not much, but some) friction arises when we get to talking. I make my living (or used to) with words. So I know a thing or two about their use. Dude Man, while extremely well-educated, has a propensity for the odd word misuse. He’ll use “faux pas,” say, in a sentence like, “I made a real faux pas in my backgammon match.” And then I can’t help myself. I’ll say, “What did you do, burp really loud?”

Then I have to explain that “faux pas” means a social mistake, not a mistake mistake. And he gets all indignant. “That’s the way I’ve always used it!”

Sometimes we bike together too. (Needed something to break up the bickering)

The other day he used “euphemism” wrong. I can’t remember his exact mangled phrase, but our subsequent lively discussion required me to resort to Wikipedia for backup. If you have the time, it’s worth a click to see all the different kinds of “innocuous words or expressions used in place of those that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant” there are.

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“Straight up from the warthog”

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‘Oh, how I miss those wacky birding trips.’

I know I’m really late with this week’s post. But just today New York lowered the age requirement for getting the Covid-19 vaccine, and I wanted to make sure I got a shot¬†(haha, very funny) at it.

Among other reasons to get poked, like not getting sick or dying and being able to see my friends and family in 3D, we have a birding trip coming up.

Our last birding trip–last weekend, at Sagg Main Beach–was a wild goose chase. Literally. We went looking for the White-Fronted Goose and didn’t find it

See, last year’s all-bought-and-paid-for exotic birding adventure (to the Galapagos) was, of course–like everything else fun in 2020–cancelled. But the good news is it’s rescheduled for this summer. Except you can’t go if you’re not vaccinated. Being a physician, Dr. Dude got his shot a couple of weeks ago so he’s all set. But, unless I wanted him gallivanting off without me, I had to score mine too.

I was on that website for about an hour and a half. The slots kept disappearing while I was applying for them; I guess I wasn’t the only newly-qualified 65-and-up banging away on her computer.

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It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas

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‘I Holiday Cheer myself up with a (very) little decorating’

I flunked Plank.

“No no no! my indefatigable PT instructor Jennifer cried, while Zoom-watching me flounder on the floor demonstrating my form, such as it was. “The Plank is not for everyone,” she added, hoping to soothe my fragile ego as she deleted it from my program.

Toned-by-Jennifer Me, decked out in Tracksmith duds

I may have flunked Plank, but still I’m set to graduate from PT at the end of the month. I should be thrilled that I have made such fantastic progress. I can now rock a pair of Tracksmith tights like nobody’s business. (And my back? Oh, it’s better.) But I have bonded with Jennifer the PT Girl; she’s seen me sweat and “squeeze my bootie.”

The Dude shows off his Holiday Bootie

“I already miss you!” I cried at the end of our session last week.

There’s was only one thing to do: decorate.

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Lockdown with a capital “L”

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‘When my Mom did some prison time’

My Mom was a nurse when she married my Dad, and she worked for a few years at Regular Nurse Jobs.

My Mom when she got “capped,” which is like graduation for nurses

I remember when I was in kindergarten and we lived in Memphis, she worked at Methodist Hospital, which my three-year-old brother Scott mispronounced as “Memphodist.” Mom didn’t correct him; she thought it was cute. (She also didn’t correct us when we referred to the “Entire State Building.”)

Mom, with one and a half kids

Well, after a while, nursing while “momming” got to be a bit too much, so she hung up her white cap and devoted herself to bringing up us kids.¬†

Mom had plenty on her plate, with kids ranging from Big (me) to Little (Toddler Doug) and three more in between. That’s Middle Bro Roger sporting a muscle tee on the left

But then, after years of carpooling and band recitals and PTA, the big kids flew the coop and the little kids turned into high schoolers. And Mom found she wanted to exercise her nursing muscle once again. And earn a little coin besides.

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“Lean to the left, lean to the right. Stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!”

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‘Feeling the pain; paying the price’

I’m a day late with this post — and, it would seem, way more than a dollar short. I was in the City yesterday seeing a Pain Guy about my herniated disc. Turns out I need to have a rather pricey procedure involving an injection in my spine.

(Of course it’s not just the $$$ that was distracting me from coming up with a Fun Tuesday Topic; I am beyond nervous about getting a shot in my back — I’m sweating so much my fingers are sticking to the keys on my poor ole Mac.)

In the midst of my last marathon. I’m enjoying myself immensely, believe it or not

My more than twenty years of running around sixty miles a week is probably the culprit — though the packing, lifting, shifting and so forth that goes into moving apartments certainly hasn’t helped matters much.

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