Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nantucket Life cont....

Nantucket life continued....
One thing I was a little worried about before coming to the island was church. I value, and gain personal benefit, from going to my church each week and participating in the three hour meeting. It
rejuvenates me and is spiritually uplifting. It gets me ready for the week. I knew there wasn't a branch or ward on the island, but a small gathering of members in some one's home. It was an abbreviated meeting schedule and I was just worried about not attending my ward for three months! I knew there were "congregations" like this around the world, but never did I understand what it really was like until I actually was a part of one!

I've come to realize after attending here for a few weeks that a church service or meeting, is not so much what is taught or presented, but what you make of it. If I go, listen, and think to myself that this isn't worth my time because it's not like what I'm used to... or maybe the speaker isn't very eloquent... I'll walk away having wasted my time, gained nothing, and be frustrated blaming THEM for not providing me a spiritual Sunday experience.

When, in reality, it's completely the opposite.

It's up to me.

If I come prepared to learn, having read the lesson, my scriptures in hand, and a positive attitude ready to be an active participant/listener, I'll feel the Spirit and take away more than I could ever imagine!

One great thing for me is that it's about a minute drive from the house!
Well, here it is! Yep, we meet in the upstairs of a dentist's office! The dentist who owns the practice lives above his office (convenient, eh?). We meet in his living room because he has a piano. Were lucky to have the piano. The singing... well, let's just say it is not the Mormon Tab Choir!

We're part of the
Barnstable branch, but to get to church, you'd have to catch the 6 AM ferry, cost around $100, and you'd get home around 5 or 6 PM. So, the branch president has given his OK for us to meet here. The weeklies consist of the dentist, another husband, wife and their 16 year old son, and another lady probably about my age who lives with her husband and son but they're not members. The husband of the 16 year old kind of leads our weekly meetings.

A few other people come and go. This summer, there is an older lady who comes every now and then because she's on the island for the summer. Her husband isn't a member though. Then, there's another girl my age who is here for a few months. She works for the Fish and Wildlife service and I don't know exactly what she does, but she's teased by others that she's here saving the birds. She works with the seals as well. I know she works out on the tip of the eastern part of the island because I ran in to her on one of my adventures a few Sundays ago! She's from Idaho though and it's been fun to get to know her (see later posts).

Then, to cap off this lovely, very random group of people -there's me!

So, here's how our services go. We gather and wait for anyone else to show up, so we usually start 10 min late. We have an opening song and prayer and since there is no
announcements or business, we jump right into the sacrament hymn. The passing of the sacrament takes all of two minutes. I'm used to having a much longer sacrament time in which to gather my thoughts and pray, etc., but this speeds by too quickly!

After the sacrament, we have one person give a "talk'. Right now we're studying the presidents of the church and this week was David O McKay. It turns out to be more of a lesson, and since we're getting into more recent prophets now, some of the older adults share memories from their childhood. For instance, I learned a cute story about David O
Mckay today. He must have been a jokester because two men got up to help him down some stairs in his later years (he lived to be 96). Well, with each on one of his sides he turned to them and said "Gentleman. I can help one of you down these stairs, but I certainly can't help BOTH of you!" :)

We sometimes get a little off track, but after we finish, we have a closing song and prayer. Then, we have Sunday School/RS/Priesthood. This is usually taught by the husband who "presides" at the meetings. Again, it's more like a discussion as he leads it. It's interesting and refreshing to hear so many different thoughts and views. All of us are
SOO different, but we're alike in that we share the same faith and are here on this tiny island worshiping together.

The House

As explained in another post, the house we live in is considered to be "mid-island"... meaning it's not associated with one of the many beaches. It's a cute little community called "Naushop" and it's literally a ten minute WALK - yes walk - from the airport. It's very conveniently located to all the basic needs you would have on the island and there's a beach in any direction you drive!

The community is one huge semi-circle, with a couple of streets branching out in the middle. There's speed bumps every couple of houses, which is nice for kids to be allowed out riding their bikes and parents not worrying that someone is going to speed through the neighborhood.

Most of the houses look the same, and many have cute names above their front door that the owners have chosen. About 30% of the families live here year round, another 30% own the house and occupy it for the summer, and the other 40% or so rent it out.

I can only imagine what it's like living here from September-June!

It's a very cute house. Room to play in front and back for the kids and we are in the middle of the semi-circle, so we're not near the main road at all. There's also a tiny
cul-de-sac right next to us, so it's an ideal place for the kids to skateboard and ride bikes. There's also a pool and tennis courts, but we never use those because they belong to a club that has all this and food you can order as well!

I really like most of their neighbors. Everyone is outside at some pt in the day... the kids play together and the parents chat. I feel safe letting the kids outside and not feeling like I have to watch their every move.

A funny, very unexpected thing happened a few weeks ago. The kids were just coming home from their half-day camp and a neighbor told them that three cows had just been walking in his driveway. He had been sitting outside reading, and looked up, and asked himself "What is wrong with this picture?"! Ha! I can only imagine. You're on a beautiful island filled with many luxuries... and you don't think that there are farms or animals nearby! But, as I found out, there is a farm just behind our neighborhood and the cows got loose! The police got on it and were captured :) All was safe once again.

The Cobblestones:
Yes, there are quite a few cobblestone streets on Main street (as you will see in another post) but I also fell in love with a free a
capella performance on one of these streets at night on the weekend as well! They're called "The Cobblestones" and they're mostly locals who have day jobs and perform at night on the side! They're good and I enjoy listening to them. A small crowd will gather and others will walk and pass on by. On a nice night, it's a great way to spend an hour.

Here they are!

One excursion off the "main drag"...

My excursion last Sunday:
I decided last Sunday that my life on this island consists of a very small, confined area. Basically, everything I need and all I have done is between the airport and town.... which is about 1.5 miles on one road! But, seriously, the house, the grocery store/pharmacy, the gym, the tennis/pool club, etc., are all right along this road!

So, I took off in the mini towards Siasconset. It's about 6 miles from us mid-islanders (which is the area where the house is located). And, it's beautiful. It's on the eastern shore and many famous or well-known people have their homes there. I would hate being so far from town (See? That's what comes from being on a small island and living so close to town. I forget what it's like to have to drive more than 2 or 3 minutes to go shopping or get to the airport.) The people out in Siasconset have to drive 10-15 minutes. That's crazy!

So, I drove out there and did the typical tourist thing... didn't drive over 5-10 miles per hour as I wanted to see all the homes and places. It was a beautiful afternoon and the views of the water and lands were incredible.

I drove north and stopped at the Sankaty lighthouse. It's high on a cliff that was obviously blocked off because it was eroding. They actually moved the lighthouse 405 feet a few years ago so it didn't drop off!
The ocean is to the right in the picture

A view from the lighthouse
Most of Nantucket homes are that greyish wood color.
Another view. Nantucket is mostly really flat.
I think I was at one of the "high points" taking this picture.

From there I drove northwest to Quidnet and Wauwinet. Along the way I saw these houses just set back from the road a bit, all by themselves. And, they were HUGE! But, I don't think I would like not being close to ANYTHING but a beach!

However, I continued on my pretty drive and stopped at a National Park "hut". It was clear that the mini would not go any further, because at this spot you had to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and deflate your tires in order to continue on the sand road! They didn't have any parking (that I saw) there as well, so I couldn't get out and walk to the ocean. But, it was just my lucky day because all of a sudden I hear "Cara?" from behind me. I didn't think this person could possibly be calling my name because I didn't know anyone! So, I didn't turn around. She called "Cara?" again, and I turned and saw one of the girls I had met in church earlier that day! She is here on an assignment for a few months to protect and save the birds on this part of the island. How random that I ran in to her, but she had stopped to deflate her tires before driving out on the sand!

We chatted for a few minutes, then she told me that I could park there in a special spot and walk around. Cool! So, she took off for the outer edge of the island and I strolled past some additional homes (that could only be reached by 4 wheel drive and deflated tires) and even a hotel! I was shocked there was a hotel all the way out here. It was an elegant one, and obviously, well-off people come to escape the everyday life by staying here.

I took it upon myself to walk in it, look around, and then continue on to their "private" grass area and beach :) It was pretty, but no where I would be interested in staying. All there was to do was walk around and chat while sipping cocktails with other people or sit and read. I need some action!

But, they did have PLENTY of my favorite flowers on this island. They are everywhere! We have some in our yard... almost everyone does. Who knows what they are, but aren't they beautiful! There's purplish ones and pinkish ones as well!
I love these flowers!!

I left and continued down the sand road until it became quite clear that it would take me an hour or more to reach the end of the island and then I didn't want to have to walk that whole way back. So, I returned to my car and set off back towards town.

I was proud of my little excursion and even prouder I didn't get lost!... but then again, there are only so many ways or places to get lost! (and that did happen this past week when I took another excursion to Bartlett Farms!... story to come later)...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My new life... well, at least for a while

A little bit about where I've been since the middle of June.

If you're in to trivia (and haven't read this bog in a while)... here are some trivia facts to see if you can guess it.

First reported sighting by Norsemen in the 11th century.
The Wampanoag Indians were the original inhabitants and named it "..." which means "faraway land" in their language.
3. The year-round population is 10,000, but in the summer it reaches close to 56,000... and I am one of them!
It has the largest concentration of Native American place names in the country.
5. In 1977 it wanted to secede from the state it belongs to... but the attempt was unsuccessful!
6. It was the last community in its state to lift a ban on automobiles (1918)... and shockingly enough, I found a Ford Car Dealership on the island!
7. Benjamin Franklin's mum was born here. Cool!
8. It has 82 miles of beaches. And, sadly enough, I really don't like the beach! Not a fan of sand and salt water swimming :( Give me the chlorine any day.
9. It is a town, county and an island! It's 14 miles long and 3-5 miles wide depending on where you're at.
10. I am healthier living here. Why? Because not only do I swim, bike, run, etc., but "..." has its own source of fresh drinking water created by the glacier 12,000-10,000 years ago. Water is drawn from an aquifer that sits below the island. Ground water filters down through sand and clay. The clay prevents sea water from invading the “lens.” But most importantly, Nantucket does not add chlorine or any other additives to the water supply. So, since my basic sources of fluid are milk, diet coke (yes, just one a day), and water (but mostly water) ... I think the water is much better here!

So, there you have it. Guessed yet?

Well I am terrible at trivia and will forget all those facts an hour from now, so here's the answer:
We are located around "mid-island", but as noted above... really, anywhere you are on the island isn't very far from somewhere else.

To be honest, I have felt a little claustrophobic at times. The only way off the island is to fly, or take a ferry. So, if there is ever a disaster, can you imagine 56,000 people trying to get off this island? And, I've so wanted at times to just hop in the car and drive to Boston... but that's not possible. I'd first have had to reserve a spot for my car months in advance on the ferry... and then wait for the ferry and go over.
Inconvenient - YES!

There are many things I like about this island. First of all - it's beautiful. The flowers are in bloom, grounds are well-kept and litter-free, and there's a certain "beach" charm to the architecture and style of homes. There's also ample running and biking trails, outdoor activities, and a cute town to walk around in. I also love their airport! It's my absolute favorite out of all airports I've been in.

1. Check-in takes all of 2 minutes
TSA security takes about 5 minutes and there's never a long line. And, these TSA agents are actually nice and friendly. Imagine that!
3. The airport has consistent and good FREE
4. The bathrooms are always clean!
5. It's not hard to find your gate since there are only 3 :)
The lovely ACK (Nantucket airport)

And, there goes my only other
transportation off this island!

So, what do I do with all my time?

That is a good question. A bunch of it is spent taking care of the kids. But when they're in camp, I do the usual laundry, grocery shopping, general household tasks, organization, etc. I've also cooked more in my life here than ever before! I've made my first "whole chicken" in the oven, as well as explored using the oven to cook and not nuking everything like I usually do. I've had general success so far! The chicken, however, was my absolute pride and joy! I wish I had taken a picture!

Oh - but I still find plenty of time to walk the cobblestone streets downtown.
A view from the main road at night.
There are a TON of fancy shops, restaurants, etc.

I also find plenty of time to keep up on my exercise (including my new goal of learning how to swim freestyle and not feel like I am going to die after 50 m)
Here's the pool at the club that I use. I'm up to swimming 650 m... of course taking a few seconds to breathe after each 25 m... but progress has been noted! Can you see the lifeguard on the right side? These guys work 8 hours or so a day. I often wonder if they get hecka bored just sitting there... and how many books they get to go through in a week! There is another family pool right up a couple of stairs by this one, so they switch around a bit and the family one is always busy... but still! I would go out of my mind in boredom!

The kids (and therefore I) also spend a great deal of time in these two stores. The one on the right is called "The Sunken Ship". It's filled with toys, random clothing and gift items and anything water related. Kids LOVE it! Then, behind it is a place called "The Juice Bar." Don't let the name fool you. This place is anything BUT healthy! Shakes, floats, ice cream galore... all can be found at "The Juice Bar"... but not any juice! It's in a great location because it's on the same road that the ferry lets people off at as they disembark for the island! It's ALWAYS crowded! Notice the line by the door... :)
A lot of people bike everywhere on the island... but biking is NOT for me. I have a bike with a cute little basket in front of it, but UGH... not a fan of biking. Fortunately, I usually have access to a car. There is a Jeep, but the car I usually drive when not hauling kids is this cute little thing!
As some of you know, I am in the market for a new car. And, for a while after arriving here, I was thinking that I should get a mini. It's ideal for parking in small spots, it totally impressed me by the amount of "things" I can fit in it, and it's a cute car! But, after driving it for a while now, I realized, a mini is not for me.

1. I find it a pain to not have a backdoor to load groceries in and out of
2. It doesn't seem like it would do well in ice and snow
3. It doesn't have the powerful, safe feeling of being in a big car, raised above the ground.

But, it does a good job of "zipping" here and there and on the island, it gets the job done and I am so grateful for it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Family Time is the BEST time! And, CONGRATS Evan!

I had a special treat last weekend to be able to go to my dad's and have a little family reunion with my brothers and their families. It's very, very rare that we are all in the same general area at the same time!

I arrived on Saturday from Nantucket. Fortunately the weather cleared so flights were taking off again. I traveled on THE TINIEST airplane I have ever been on for the 40 minute ride to Providence! My knees were in the back of the pilot's seat and there were only three other passengers. I was nervous the entire time because I could see everything the pilot was doing and ever time there was a ding or a new light on the control board, I would look to see the pilot's reaction with initial panic thinking we were going down!

It was neat to fly so close to the ground that I could see things as we flew over it... like Martha's Vineyard and part of RI. It was also the loudest flight I had been on and others could tell I was not a seasoned traveler on these planes because the other passengers all had ear plugs!

Lesson learned for the return flight... but also, needless to say I was very, very relieved when my feet touched ground again!

Evan and Madison picked me up and off we set for good
ol' Westerly RI. We weren't home for long before everyone set off for dinner and the North Stonington Fair. It's been around for years, but I have never been!

We ate dinner at the famous Mystic Pizza and I ate more grease that evening than I have eaten in a year! Oh - but it was yum :) I sat next to my 5 year old nephew and devoured his chicken fingers and french fries... on top of the mozzarella sticks and fried foods my dad had ordered for everyone as appetizers! I didn't have room left for my own dinner!

On to the fair. It was so much fun! They had everything a typical fair has... lots of food stands, rides, games to win prizes, etc. But, the first thing we ran in to caught my attention because I had never seen it before.

A truck pull!
We sat in the bleachers and watched as my sister in law and I tried to figure out the rules. We ended up having to ask the guy behind us. But, it comes down to an individual with a truck is given three opportunities to pull a heavy amount of bricks and they see who gets the farthest.

We also learned that those who deflated their front tires did much better than those who didn't. You can see that in the picture above. And, look at their extra exhaust pipe in the bed of the truck!

So, next we moved on to the cow pull. I think I've seen one of these before but I would never want to get in the way of these animals!
That's a ton of bricks!
Well, there is no such thing as a fair without games and rides, so we made out way over in that direction... with one brief stop to get a family picture.
Riley and Jace had just gotten prizes ... and that's what they're holding in their hands.
Riley going down this slide on a potato sack!
And, then on a dragon roller coaster
Jace got on his own tilt-a-whirl ride and loved it!
Evan throwing darts at a balloon to win a prize for Jace
Riley did a great job doing the same thing and won his own prize!
The boys really wanted to see the animals they had in cages. We saw sheep, hens, chickens, birds, bunnies, and other lovely farm creatures.
I thought this sheep was cute!

So, the reason Justin & Becca brought the boys to RI was for a vacation. But, Evan and Madison were there for a different reason!
Can you see him in the white shirt?
How about in this picture?
Can't miss the Half-Ironman Triathlete in this picture!!!!

I am so proud of Evan. I can't believe what he did to be able to finish this race and not keel over! 56 miles of biking, one mile swim and a half marathon - UGH. Just thinking about it makes me want to fall over! I was so glad we were all able to be there and see him finish though!
Madison took this picture right after the race... Evan's still standing. I wouldn't be!
Then, we got someone to take our picture so Madison could be in it! She had been up with Evan since 4:30 AM and there at every transition to help him... and she's 7 months pregnant!
Evan and Madison!
Evan with his rental bike!

So, another great thing was being able to celebrate my nephew's fifth birthday! Here's Jace blowing out his candles!
Make a wish!
Jace, Riley and Mom!

The next day was also beautiful. Actually, the whole weekend was beautiful, but we were able to go to the beach on my last day there. My dad only lives five minutes from it and we had special parking so we don't need to either wait in traffic or have to pay an arm and a leg for parking like other do!

My nephew's are FISH! They love the water! I loved being able to watch them and talk to my sister in law at the same time!

Such cute, adorable, well-behaved boys. I truly admire the job my sister in law and brother are doing in raising Riley and Jace. I just wished they lived closer! But, I am also excited for my new niece to arrive in September and she'll only be a mile from me in Arlington!

It was such a wonderful weekend. Playing tennis with my dad, going for a long run along the beach, eating yummy food, sleeping in my old room, and spending time with my brothers and their families, as well as my dad and his wife. I'd do it all over again every weekend!

And, Evan's inspired me to also take up swimming again. It's easy to do in Nantucket when I have access to two pools. So far, so good. Slow progress, but getting better with my freestyle each time I get in the water to swim laps. I can't wait to see what I am able to do by the end of the summer!

And, I LOVE my family!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Three simple letters, one simple word... undefineable meaning


Simple words to write, but defining it would take a novel.

I have thought a lot about what I would want to write in this post,
but figured I didn't have the eloquence in writing to do it justice.

SO, I thought I would write a summary of what
I have learned from her over the years:
Disclaimer: This is what I have learned...
not saying that I always do it!

What's right is what's right...
no matter what others are doing

Eating dinner as a family is important. It doesn't matter
what's served as long as you sit down and eat together.

It's OK to re-wrap a gift you already received
and have someone think it's new and
a surprise for you when you open it:)

It never hurts to check, re-check, triple check,
and then check again once more.

You can "talk the talk,"
but can you "walk the walk?"
a.k.a "Actions speak louder than words"

Taking "mental health days" from school and work
and really making the most of it
is TOTALLY acceptable!!
Lunch and a movie, anyone?!

Service might not always be easy or convenient,
but you'll be much better off after having done it
and so will the person you served.

A commitment is a commitment.
Enough said.

If your cell phone drops a call. Always call them right back.
If not, they might think you died instead.

While waiting, it's important to keep your shirt on
and to hold your horses :)

Cursing in German is OK.
Cursing in English is not.

Save all your receipts, emails, paperwork,
and basically anything that won't rot over time.
You never know when you're going to need it again.
You just never know.
And, even though you can't remember
where you put it when you do need it,
you'll have comfort in knowing that it
really is somewhere and you'll find it eventually!

Lima Beans are bad.
Chocolate is always OK. Always.

Be industrious.
Learn how to do/fix things on your own.
Then, teach your children.

Decide which battles are worth fighting
and which battles to let go of.

British murder mysteries and
listening to newscasters argue on just about anything
is the next best thing to chocolate and heaven.

She has one "duck" and he will always
be her "duck" no matter how old he gets. :)

If the only thing you get done during the day
is getting the newspaper read,
you can call it a successful day!

This list could go on and on... but one of the most important things I have learned from my mother is to be kind to others, especially those who are different from you or those who are not kind in return. Patience and understanding are virtues that are irreplaceable.

There are very few things in this life
I have NEVER ever doubted.
One of those is my mother's
unconditional love for me!

Happy Birthday MOM!!

This is a picture taken
at her birthday dinner celebration!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life sure is interesting... definitely never dull

Life sure does throw some curve balls when you're least expecting it.

An update: For my job, I am living on Nantucket island this summer. It's a beautiful place, but it makes coordinating my own life a little difficult.

Most of June was very busy getting ready to make the move for everyone up to the island. I kind of put my personal life on hold because I knew I'd have the last week in June off. I was looking forward to doing some day trips, relaxing by the pool, and having fun!

Well, life had other plans. A summary of "vacation" included:
1. A very, very, VERY unplanned and unexpected MOVE! Yes. That's right. For reasons I will leave off this blog, I ended up having to pack up my apartment, as well as find a new apartment, and deal with some extra drama related to that in a matter of about 6 days.

The ACTUAL move won't happen till the last weekend in July, but since I'll be traveling for work I won't be back till the day I have to move! And, yes, the blessing is that it's only a block away and so I don't have to rent a UHaul... just a couple of dolly's. So, if you have to move, I guess this is the best possible scenario.

It was actually another blessing that I found the apartment that I did. It had been taken off the market, but I questioned it, and after some checking they notified me that it was a mistake and was actually on the market! Sweet! I got it, and I got it at the reduced price!

2. July 4th was a day to celebrate our Nation's birthday, which is a wonderful event. But, it was also the day for a funeral for my trusted, mostly reliable, and ever-faithful companion...

Yes, the Saab's days were limited, but this event sealed the deal even moreso. I am just grateful my mom hadn't started to get out of the car before we were hit. I had pulled over to the side to let her out of the car and a guy who was coming from a cross street pulled out and didn't look (or stop) before he hit us. I had a sweet headache from the impact for a while yesterday, but I don't even want to think what would have happened if my mom had actually started to get out of the car.

The Saab served me well for the past 6 years or so. It's only caused me drama a few times... like when it literally BLEW UP (the engine, that is) while I was driving on the NJ turnpike.

But, you know what - I just realized that in both instances, my fabulous, patient, amazing angel of a mother was with me for that drama as well as for yesterday's drama. And, she got to experience the joy of helping me locate an apartment this week and pack up... when she thought she was coming down for a relaxed, fun visit!
I wonder if she's ready to throw in the towel and ask for another daughter... one that doesn't cause her so much worry and drama in her life?!

In any case, I never thought I would say it, but I was actually relieved to come back to this (despite its own challenges)

For the rest of the summer!