Sunday, March 20, 2011

Side-Road Living

It's exactly 5.6 miles from our drive to the Stop & Shop.

To get there you have to drive past an alpaca farm, stop at the only blinker light on the island, pass a rural funeral home and the small regional high school.
The only thing you miss on this simulated life path is the hospital.
On the 5.6-mile run, you get it all - birth, road stops, school, life, and the hereafter.

Not that that's important. What's important is that you get to "see" so much life along the roads in-between.

On this particular road, I can see on winter days, the Lagoon just barely peeking through the woods, sparkling water, deep, deep blue. And I can see the alpacas grazing in the meadow on sunny afternoons.

At the crossroads blinker, I can hear, in the close distance, whether my husband's plane is making final approach, and how much time I have till he hits the front sidewalk of the tiny airport entrance.

And, when I pass the local garden center, I breathe in the heady, earthy smells of spring and mulch and the hint of hope bursting forth.

alpaca farm

Past the funeral home is a long stand of pine and shrub oak that line the way of the Wildlife Preserve. If I have an extra 5, which I usually do, I can turn down any side road on the left after that, and make my way to Sengekontacket Pond and the Boulevard that runs along the inlet's edge.

Bumping my way past the Rod & Gun Club, past the marshes teaming with unseen life, I end up at the public landing - a small sandy parking lot dedicated to those out for an afternoon on the water.

Turning off and parking as close to the lapping waves as I can, I shut down the motor to sit for a moment. I listen to the gulls, and I remember my late brother, whose favorite spot this was to kayak.

Then back to the main road and on with my errand of the day.

What I've found is, here on the island no matter where you go or what you are doing, it's about connection. Living here allows you to stop the rush a little, pay attention to the side roads and attractions life offers up.

I think that you can have this living on the Mainland, but it's much harder - the temptations, the in-your-face, over-the-top distraction, the lure to do just one more thing.

As a slogan on a greeting card I saw recently proclaims, "Some of the best living, the most valuable living, is done on the side roads."

Here's to side-road living. :)

Second Bridge Diving*

Have a good one.

(This is for my friend Sue, who is, about now, really missing the Vineyard. See you soon!)

* from Life magazine

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Attach Seat(36) to Seat Frame(6) with Hex Bolts(97)...

Oh Boy.
Exhibit A - Krankcycle
I'm in for it.
I now have doc's ok to begin exercise after the pelvic fracture.
And, I found the only way to get back in shape is to use what I used when I went to Nutrition and Fitness School at Duke University - an arm Krankcycle.

I know. It does sounds like a machine you hook your in-laws up to lol, but no. It's a bonifide exercise machine that works the upper body muscles instead of the lower body muscles for a complete workout (see exhibit A). I was all hot to trot to buy one since no physical therapy or gym location on the island owns one. Till I saw the Internet price tag - yowzah.

Exhibit B - Stamina Elite
So, being the resourceful person that I am, and since this is an island with no fitness store, I found a home alternative on Amazon: the Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike (Exhibit B). Not only does it work the upper body, but also the lower body without stressing my newly mending bone structure! Impressive, right? And,  since I have Amazon Prime,  free shipping!

So, I ordered it.
And it arrived.

But wait. (With me, there's always a but wait.)
I failed to mention to hubby that I saved a hundred bucks by having it shipped unassembled.
(insert sheepish grin here)

Ok. So he gets home from a grueling red-eye from the Pacific Rim, and lo and behold, Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike Unassembled, arrives early.

And, it arrived, drop-shipped. Now, anywhere else in America that would mean at your door.
Here, on the island, it means shipped via UPS, back truck door opened, said shipment shoved off the end of the truck and dropped several feet to the gravel drive below, and roughly 2 floors, or 29 steps under final resting place.

Oh Jeeze.
Hubby was not amused.

But he was game. So up the 29 steps or 2 floors he carried various parts. On he toiled through the haze of one too many time zones missed. Et voila! 45 minutes to an hour later, Seat(36) is in fact attached to Seat Frame(6) with Hex Bolts(97).  Not only that, but the bungee/phone cord thingy hanging down the back of the machine that looks like I could take calls from the factory in China where this thing was partially assembled, is electronic component (137) plugged into column(46)... and it allows me to tell how fast I'm peddling so I can ride like the wind and sing at the top of my lungs unencumbered by mathematical formulas.

The only thing hampering the operation was rescue dog(1) licking the heck out of hubby's face(2), instead of handing over socket wrenches and such like a good little helper.

All in all, the Stamina Elite Total Body Recumbent Bike works fabulously. So what if island living entails more internet shopping, a little more hard work and sacrifice than living on the Mainland? That's all part of the charm of This Island Life.

Uh-oh. We have an extra bolt. :)
Have a good one.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dance of the Tuna Casserole, Oo Oo-Oo, Oo Oo-Oo (Recipe Included!)

If you know my mom, don't tell her this.
Don't tell her that I have been trying for days to deliver a piece of my made-by-scratch, old-fashioned tuna noodle casserole.
It has become quite a joke.
Well I made it on a Monday.
And I tried to deliver it on Tuesday.
But the heat went out, and the van line called with damage claims on the move, and it rained hard all day. And Mom went to the PA Club Lenten Fish dinner. So back it went into the frig.
Well I had it on the counter Wednesday.
Then hubby called; flight delays, bad weather, air traffic stops. To and fro to the airport. Weekly family dinner at 5:30. Back into the frig.
In the bag with Hawaii booty for Mom Thursday morning.
The heating guy came and went. Came and went again. The basement needed moving into the pod.
Back it went into the frig.
When it finally made it to Mom's Thursday night just in expiration date time.
I said Bye, Bye, Baby.
And ate the last piece at home for myself.

photo by Sarah

Have a good one. :)

My Very Old-fashioned Tuna Casserole Recipe
1. 4 Cups pasta - 8 oz. dry cooked - I use corkscrew type
2. 2 Cups sauce

- you need 4 to 8 oz. grated cheese - I use combo of sharp/med cheddar
-melt around 4 tablespoons butter in saucepan.
- add flour, 1/4 cup into saucepan and stir.
-add a little salt, around 1 tsp. or less, a little cayenne to taste.
- stir constantly over medium high heat till it begins to darken a little, a couple of minutes.
-add in 2 cups of milk and stir like the wind over medium heat til thick and bubbly, 5 minutes or a little less.
-turn off heat, add cheese and stir in to melt.
-taste and adjust seasonings.

3. 2 cups tuna - 2 cans are plenty, I think. On another day I might try 1-2 cups of cubed chicken.
4. 2 cups of vegetables - I use frozen peas, or peas and carrots. Might interesting to try some other veggie like asparagus or something.
5.Mix everything together. Turn into a 3-4 qt. buttered casserole dish.
6.Top with crunchy, buttery topping. I crushed potato chips over the top, and drizzled a little butter over that. Hey, this isn't a low-cal dish! This is Midwest Comfort Food, for gosh sake.
7.Bake 400 degree oven, until top is browned, about 30 minutes.
8.Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It Has Come to This: The POD Man Cometh

We all knew it was too good. 
Despite heroic efforts of epic proportions to stem the tide of - let's face it - Stuff.
I tried my best, I really did. But what I didn't know then, while packing, was that of course, living here in Paradise aka the Island does not include stuff.
Not old stuff.
Not almost new stuff.
Not expensive stuff.
Or cheap stuff.
Nope. None of the above.
Not any of your stuff from your former life at all, really.
Heady stuff, that.

I feel like I am in the witness protection program.
"No m'am, you can't take it with you. It won't do you any good there."
What we need, I discovered was new stuff, for a different life.
An island life.
What kind of stuff would that be, you ask?
 Well, let's see.

Industrial size flashlights to see where we are going at night on paths to and from the car, to and from the woods for dog constitutionals, to and from the bars - parking near the bars in winter is difficult. Lots of escapism here lol. And there are Environmental Lighting Rules.

Quest Box Great Rock Bight (photo by Stacy)
A good pair of boots for really anywhere, but especially for nature walks and quests. My nieces and cousin like to do quests - geo-caching ( We are partial to Muck Boots brand. There's also Bogs boots. Either are good. Seriously, folks, if you have to walk the dog in all kinds of weather, the clog or short bootie style is for you.

In winter, it's layer, layer, layer, so: Carhartt, carhartt, carhartt.
Best damn pants for work and dump runs. Yes, if you need to get rid of anything larger than Bruno's Garbage is willing to take on their weekly pick-up, it goes the town dump. In our village, there's also town pick-up, where you need stickers for the garbage bags - but that's one more thing I don't want on my to-do list. I have heard tell that occasionally, a 5 dollar bill has been taped to the bag when the household ran out of stickers late at night and the garbage HAD to go out. But, I think that it wouldn't fly for me to be doing that every other week, since I am prone to not remembering to get stickers. We are Team Bruno's here.
In summertime, you don't need much except a good pair of sandals and a fishing rod. (We will save the Islander Dress Code for another post.)

4-wheel drive for the beach and the snow. Not too many people can drive on the beach, and the best on-shore fishing is where cars can't go. Oversand driving permit needed. Rust optional.

 No room for extra Christmas decorations. No room for fancy glassware, or serving dishes, or the mounds of momentos of former lives, handed down and kept out of family angst.

No extra linens, just the flannels M'am. Cotton jersey in the summer. Like sleeping in your t-shirts.
No extra blankets, all-season down comforters work winter and summer.

Not that I jettisoned everything from the mainland life. No, far from it. But we have gotten down to brass tacks. And that brings me to the present dilemma. Where to put stuff while we go through stuff to keep stuff we actually can use here on the Island.
It has come to this: the POD Man Cometh.
Yes, we now have on loan, a POD storage container, from which to stage the bricks and bracks of the former life. To deal with what Goes and what Stays.
Thanks, Mr. POD man. I have exactly 12 weeks, or 84 days, or 2,016 hours to get a Life. :)

Have a good one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oh My GAWD where is the END?

Did you know that yesterday on the island we had snow? Yes, that's what I said. Snow.
What a hell of a note.
You drag yourself through the first throes of winter in December.
You slog through January.
By February you are singing the blues to beat the band in 18-degree weather.
Then God gives you a reprieve in March.
The sun breaks out.
The temperature turns northward,  puddles melt.
Could this be it? Signs of spring?
But no. Not enough gray and brown for you?
Wait two days and you get snow.
Black ice on the deck. Whoops go the feet out from under you in a late evening run down the deck to the trash. Really? Seriously? Down goes the bag, bouncing along the 17 steps of terror.
I left it there. All night. At the bottom.
And in the morning, the UPS guy, who is, by now, used to me looking like I have a sideswiped mohawk and no other clothes other than my shorty pjs and thermal undershirt to my name, merely sidestepped it and delivered my package. With a straight face. He knew. He knew what chaos resides only inches away. Yes, he knew. He, who regularly hightails it out of here to the bay of our rescue dog at the door.
Oh, how some days I wish I could follow. Oh, how easy would it be to dress in brown, deliver boxes, and run obstacle courses past dogs, cats, kids, cars. Far easier than to wait for spring in New England, I think.

Have a good one.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

16 Essentials for Winter Island Living

1.Two words - muck boots.
2.Two more words - down vest for the shoulder seasons.
3.A good wool hat - repeat, a good wool hat. Turns out your mother was right.
4.Scarf around the neck at all times - cold+high dew point = bone-chilling misery sliding right down the front of your coat if you even let in one centimeter of air space.
5.Outdoor clothing is your fashion statement. No one gets to see your street clothes in the winter.
6.Know the weekly specials at the restaurants. You can conceivably eat two-for-ones and low price specials almost every night of the week.
7.Know when said restaurants go on winter hiatus - there's a period in March where almost EVERYONE is closed - memorize and prepare!
8.Taste the clam/seafood chowder everywhere. Memorize restaurant recipe peculiarities. Guests want to know where the best chowder is; you have to be ready for thick/thin/potatoes or no/bacon or fatback controversies.
9.The Newes has good hard cider and a warm fire going all winter.
10.Pick up your mail. When you are used to having mail delivery, a post box or a lockbox can really screw you up.
11.Keep A ferry schedule handy at all phones, in all cars, in all purses/wallets. You never know who you have to pick up and when. 
12.Be sure to get off-island at least once - if just for practice driving the speed limit. Sucks if you don't. It's like trying to play the kids' damn car video games, only for real. Be sure to do all you can to get preferred listing at boat reservation office - this is essentially a gold ticket for anyone else who doesn't live here. Non-transferable; guard number with your life.
13.Know the intricacies of home heating system before that one cold day when it decides to do something novel like quit. And it will. 60 degree bedrooms can be remedied by flannel sheets and converting to a family bed with the pets. Don't under any circumstances let the rescue dog hog the middle. She will be hard to live with after.
14.Memorize donut list at Humphrey's and Dippin' Donuts. Get there before 7.
 15.Coffee consumption goes up as the temperatures go down. Invest in a Keurig. Everybody gets their own brand, no arguing over flavor merits versus ability to melt a hole in the cup.
 16.Ice melt is your friend.

Have a good one.