Friday, July 24, 2015

Up and Down, Down and Up and Back Again: Summer with the Family

Frank and I take our annual trip to Montauk in late May, where Frank can indulge in his favorite activity.

We leave the gray city. I see an attractively understated logo on a van - turns out to be
a pool company in the Hamptons.

A heron lives in the Hamptons in her own pool.

Finally in Montauk, I forge ahead sans shoes.

A gray day in the East End is actually full of color.

More color on our second night.

Same scene, different days.

Another of Frank's favorite Montauk activities above,
mine below.

And here's something we both enjoy.

The view from our deck, above and below.

It's Memorial Day weekend and the town is filled with scads of annoying people who aren't us,
who leave trash and beer cans everywhere.

The sweatshirt weather keeps the beaches fairly empty, though.

We visit the Point, where a dire warning sign is roundly ignored by all.

Uh, oh! See what can happen
when you don't follow instructions?

Later in the day, Frank and I decide to give a name to our vacation, which
is becoming a family tradition after Sherry and Shannon
lyrically called a Lake Superior trip "Crystal Blue Persuasion."

Frank and I land on "The Bright Elusive Butterfly of Love" for our 2015 Montauk Va-ca Name,
and I take photos of him so I can later clone in a butterfly via Photoshop.

But wait! No Photoshop needed, because the real thing just 
happens to fly over to Frank at that exact moment and flits madly around him
while I frantically try to get some pictures of this amazing event!

Apparently Frank is a butterfly whisperer.

For my part, back in 2013, I saw a baby seal on the beach.
(I was respectfully very far away, btw - this is zoomed-in big-time.)

So this year I thought, maybe I'll have another seal sighting, 
and sure enough, the very next day while I'm on my daily ocean walk,
 a seal appears on the beach in the exact same spot!
Wow, am I a seal whisperer?

On our way back to NYC, we stop at the Parrish Art Museum's
dramatic new building.

I love the clean lines of the bathroom, the acres of grape vines and the meadows outside.

Art-wise, Chuck Close stares eerily out at us.

There is a show of "Horizons" that shows us Long Island's East End from various artists' perspectives. 

Personally, I would like to see Frank Lind's "Oyster Pond" depiction of Montauk
on the very tip of the east end of the East End
 between the Nicolai Cikovsky and the Fairfield Porter.
No offense to April Gornik, whose work is in that spot in reality.

Back in NYC - Billboard love!
East side, above, west side, below.

After Montauk, we travel to Madison
where more amazing water activities are in progress.

Elliott is learning how things work.

He's a quick study.

At home he models his new hat...

…and helps with the folding.

Here he's the man of the house on Andrew and Jennifer's great big deck.

Inside, Willow pushes him around.

Grandpa Frank (aka Bop Bop) and I (aka Bop Bop) babysit Elliott for a day while
A&J shoot a wedding. Here he's pushing his pink doll highchair around like a truck.

We've rented an Airbnb place with a vast open room.
Apparently it used to be a dance studio, so Elliott moves and grooves.

He's lovin' it!

A little clean-up is called for after a day of wild and crazy Elliott-activities.

We also partake in some outdoor activities with the little man...

… who looks like he's in the middle of a Rat Pack croon.
Dooby dooby doo, da da da doo dah..

Then we take off from Madison for some more family fun.

Along the way, Jennifer sees a cool photo op that Andrew and I take advantage of.

We stop in Menomonie for a visit with Grandpa Rick.

Jennifer shows him pictures of a potential rental place near Madison
where he could live.

Not that he needs to move.

His recent kitchen fire has rendered his house merely more artistic.
Indeed, some wonderful still lifes have been created.

If anyone wants a cool house cheap, have we got a deal for you!

We leave as the sun sets over beautiful Lake Menomin,
which, under different lighting conditions, is pea green from all the farm runoff.

Next we visit Dan and Angie, where Angie and I spend quite a while
photographing a cool frog hanging out on their deck door.

He's on the outside looking in.

From frogs to fairytales,
we next attend the fabulous summer celebration of the marriage of Michael and Shannon!

(Photo by someone other than myself)

Above is a picture from their Las Vegas wedding in January;
below we gather to celebrate in their Bloomington, MN backyard in June!

(Photo by Andrew Keeley Yonda)

Michael's awesome brother Kurt, above center, takes our group photos!

It takes a while to get ready, some of us have to be bossy for a while, apparently,
but eventually we all settle down and smile nice for the camera.

Above, three generations of S's - Sherry, Shirley and Shannon.
Below, Ali, Jennifer, me, Shannon and Sherry smile in front of the porto-potty.

(Photo by Andrew Keeley Yonda)

Below, Alicia and Derek welcome Shannon into the world of wedded bliss...

(Photo by Andrew Keeley Yonda)

…and Andrew and a friend welcome her into the world of funny faces.

(Photo by Andrew Keeley Yonda)

Arya turns out to be a master of this backyard "board" game called Jenga,
beating all who dare to challenge  her!

She is amazed that all these big people fall like dominos to her superior
six-year-old skills.

Above, the body language of a seasoned winner.
Below, a beginner wields the hammer.

Jennifer must explain to Elliott why he can't finish off the dregs in all the stray bottles and cups.
And here he thought he was being so helpful.

He leads Grandma on a merry chase after messing with the ladder golf game,
before getting a big lipstick-smack from the bride!

Arya gets in the picture with her cool shades.

Her brother Kellen manages to evade the eager paparazzi all afternoon,
so we are forced to take other measures to get him in the picture.
Not to be put off by limitations of time and place, we do a photoshop end run
around the elusive boy-star.

Speaking of elusive, the mysterious "Eye-Guy" is left for Shannon and Michael to discover 
after hanging out in Andrew and Jennifer's basement for several exciting months.

It's been a big day and some of us are tired and ready to get on the road…
...if only daddy/grandson Derek would stop yakking and get himself into the driver's seat!

Others are fresh as a daisy and looking fabulous into the wee hours!

The next day I fly back to the big city...

…and it seems barely hours before I'm flying out again!

On my way to LaGuardia, I see some cool dudes in smooth moods in Downtown Brooklyn.

…then upon my arrival in Minneapolis, the first thing I see is a Donald Trump decal
on a van that blocks the pickup lane for a half hour or so...

...while the American-flag-t-shirted driver cools his heels, apparently waiting for someone to land.

I am back in the Midwest area to visit my mom, Shirley,
who is leaving her two bedroom apartment for a one-room
abode in the Care Center section of her Wisconsin senior complex.

Here we peruse come old picture albums, her mother Lillian, above,
and her first son Mark, my older brother, below.
Both have gone before her, Lillian dying at the age of 96, and Mark at five of a brain tumor.

Shirley needs more attention from caregivers, so we are here to clean out the apartment
and disperse her years of furniture, pictures, family heirlooms…all that stuff
that a life is full of...

…now to be boxed up and sent somewhere else.

Shannon, Sherry and I try to keep our spirits up...

We have a Shirley fashion show...

 (photo by Sherry Cook)

 (photo by Sherry Cook)

…and try not to get too squirrely.

I made this fabulous squirrel sculpture made back in high school - who wouldn't want it now?

However, it turns out that Hal Thompson is the only taker…

…but he'll put it to good use. Or maybe give it to a goat.

Above is one of my fabulous first paintings, rescued from the Goodwill box by Angie.

Shirley's hutch has a hard time making it out the door...

…but at last, there it goes, down the hallway.
Shirley sits in the middle of the activity, resigned to the 
fact that this is really happening.
It's a sad day for all of us, but especially for her.

Most of her puffy hangers no longer fit in her new closet.

She's no longer playing games.

Shirley no longer has the VCR that Dan wrote these instructions for.

This 1940's hat box is going to Jennifer.
Shirley has hats galore.

(Photo by Shannon Robinson)

Here we are, the be-hatted movers and shakers: Shirley, Brett, Sherry, Dan, me, Gail
and Shannon's hat in the front of her group selfie. Apparently Angie has temporarily taken off somewhere, perhaps to take CoCo for a walk. Or perhaps to take a sanity break. And Ali
also isn't shown - she's probably dragging some large piece of furniture down the hallway
while we all take a break.

In spite of our smiles, it's a mournful time.

Later that night a huge storm rolls through, blasting the area with wind and rain.
Sherry and I watch through the window while the sirens roar.

The next day we leave the apartment for the last time - the rest of the stuff will be picked up
by Dan and Angie.

On the brighter side, her new room is looking more like home.

We've put up her artwork, like the two paintings on the right, above...

…and Dan's two sculptures of Lake Superior driftwood along with
 Angie's awesome note about taking over laundry duties.

More Shirley art and the family bulletin board, above.

It's time to say so long again, for a while anyway.

We leave Shirley sitting under two of my paintings and photos of my brother Mark.

So off I go, into the wild blue yonder…

…and come down again in the big concrete palace of NYC. 

Until next time.


  1. Ah, once again, I'm in your pocket as you travel through the M's. Montauk is getting too popular and what was a place of peace and serenity when I frequented it in the 70's. Something like they paint paradise and put up a parking lot. ( apologies to Joni). Back in those days, even the Hamptons were serene, the North Shore had no vineyards and I swear the LIE was actually a great road. East Hampton, where my great aunt Bella had a bar/restaurant, Papa Joe's was frequented by mostly locals. For 11 years, I had the pleasure of weekending in the North Fork, in Mattituck. Wineries were just starting and their bubbly offerings tasted like grass. We golfed at Land's End, a perfectly lovely public course and made early morning runs to Briermere's for their amazing fruit pies and blueberry and corn muffins to die for. Your travels to see Elliott were so worthwhile. That face, those eyes, there's trouble and intelligence brewing. Sad for Shirley to make such a big move. Surely, a lot of memories came up for her. I so applaud the way you decorated her new space. By the time you finished, it looked so comfortable and homey. Well done! Wish I had my mother as long as you've had Shirley. As much of a pain in the ass she could be, I do miss sparring with her and Sunday pasta dinner.

    Another enjoyable blog my dear, love the visits to galleries and seeing Frank's art. Still as inscrutable as ever he is. You're lucky to have each other! Cheers doll. I have to send you a link to my nephew's blog. He's in Japan this summer and such a good writer. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading the blog. Happy Friday! X Nina

  2. Hi Jeanne, I can sympathize with your journey with Shirley. My mother is 87 this September and I take care of her. So far, I have managed to keep her home with all her things. The clothes she loved so much (and will never wear again, but we don't talk of that), the photos of people she doesn't even remember now (ditto to prior comment), etc. It is hard and mournful, but there really is less and less choice. I love your blogs. Thanks for keeping me on the list. [I had to choose anonymous below because i have no idea what my url is]. Jacqui Beagan (former KBCC student).

    1. Thanks for the comments, Nina and Jacqui! I sorted them out from the bizarre spam that I get when I allow comments to be posted. A treat to get a real live comment every so often, like little pearls