10/31/11 5:01am
10/31/2011 5:01 AM

I had this idea: Let me get a small and mature dog, seven to 10 pounds, so I can travel in good company and not be alone in wild places like Tierra del Fuego or Paris, France. I couldn’t take my dog Nina to Paris; too big to be allowed on the plane in the cabin with me. Plus Nina hates motorcycles of any kind and size, and Paris is where you’ll find them, sputtering and coughing all day long.

I called my friend and dachshund breeder for 55 years, Robin Gianopoulos, in Stony Brook. “I’ve got the dog for you,” she said. “A show dog I’m retiring, Ida Mae.” That’s how a love affair began.

Next morning I left Orient for Stony Brook with the mixed emotions and anxiety a blind date might provoke. Will Ida Mae like me? Will I like her? Am I her kind of guy? Robin welcomed me in the midst of barks and furry tails, long-hair and smooth-hair dachshunds having free rein of the house, encircling me, friendly but cautious in our first minutes of discovery. And there she was, Ida Mae, quietly observing me from the height of the couch in the living room. Her status in life, and in this house, was well established and secure. She belonged. Yet her life was about to change. Robin took us for a walk. Then she suggested Ida Mae and I go for a walk alone, just the two of us. We walked. Ida Mae was calm and inquisitive. Back at the house I asked Robin to hold Ida Mae so I could take pictures. Ida Mae was both strong and delicate. She had a powerful chest but she was petite, with fine features and the most adorable little face you ever saw. Her eyes expressed both sadness and mischief.
“Let me think about it,” I told Robin.

As I drove back to Orient, not one thought came up. But feelings were growing fast. I entered Willow Terrace Lane and wanted to turn around and get back to Stony Brook at full speed, take Ida Mae in my arms and elope to Orient for happiness ever after.

Ida Mae was born in Sarasota, Fla., the “child” of Dr. Thomas, a pioneer vet who developed some of the best miniature dachshund bloodlines. Minis were rare 50 years ago. Ida Mae had two litters. A granddaughter, Violet, is becoming a show dog and winning blue ribbons as Ida Mae did so many times. I have felt parental pride at her achievements. I know it may seem absurd, but it’s moved me more than once. Another granddaughter of Ida Mae is alive and well in Greenport.

Robin had not planned to let go of Ida Mae. In fact, her son had been quite upset at the idea of losing her. He had always assumed that she would stay in the family. But she knew Ida Mae would be pampered in my house. She had read my columns about my dog Lady. As a breeder she keeps about 10 dogs. Ida Mae would be a gift to me.

“Nina, you are going to get a little sister.” Nina wagged her tail. I drove to Stony Brook. No blind date anxieties this time. The excitement of new love.

“If your son is too upset … ”

“It’s all right, Pierre. Ida Mae will get all your attention. I know she’ll be happy with you.”
It was night. I put her carrier in my car, took note of her diet, the hours of her meals, and Robin told me, “She probably will want to sleep in your bed.” And we took off.

Although I don’t approve of driving with a dog on my lap for safety reasons, it didn’t take very long for Ida Mae to settle there in spite of efforts to keep her in the passenger’s seat. Not that safe either. I had just welcomed into the family a very determined dachshund. I have since learned that all dachshunds are like that, determined, brave, opinionated, impossible and irresistible. Ida Mae was 5 years old and not about to transform herself for my pleasure. Nina met Ida Mae. I walked two dogs on Willow Terrace for the first time. I also slept with two dogs in my bed.

In the country, in the city, Ida Mae made friends. Mostly people. Her name was unexpected. “What’s her name?” Ida Mae. They smiled. Nina had to adapt. She was not the only princess any more. I’m sure in the early days Ida Mae missed Robin and nine or 10 other dogs in Stony Brook. But she became my dog. A beautiful dog, long, silky ears, eyes that touched you deeply, made you laugh or moved you to tears. Her short legs inspired her to reach for new heights, somehow finding extra cushions on top of the couch to sit on. She seemed so confident up there. And, can I say it, radiant.

Then I got sick in 2008. My sister Marie-Lise came to the rescue. My friend Nancy had her own dachshund. Three dogs became too much. “Until you get well,” my sister said. I got well. But Ida Mae stayed with my sister. A new love had been found. A few difficult moments between Ida Mae and Beauty Belle, my sister’s black and tan young mini dachshund.

Years went by. Ida Mae was about 7 when my sister took over. While Beauty Belle chased balls endlessly, Ida Mae had other ideas: scattering the contents of bags, uncorking bottles, rearranging the stuff in a suitcase. She was also a dreamer, ate her meals slowly, savoring the food. Beauty Belle was more voracious in her ways. Ida Mae was the most affectionate dog you could wish to have. Nothing delighted her more than being held, your arms wrapped around her compact and tender body. She’d give herself to you, become part of you. I missed this closeness, I missed her warmth when she left my house.

In 2011 my sister was planning a trip to France. I was eager to have a chance to keep Ida Mae for a couple of weeks while Beauty Belle would be paraded in Paris. My parade with Ida Mae would be in Orient. It would be a lovely time together.

My sister praised Ida Mae’s punctuality. She called her “the clock.” Without fail, a few minutes before mealtimes Ida Mae ran to her bowl and waited patiently. She showed the same precision at the “wee-wee” pad, always taking her own length into account. Dachshunds are notorious for missing the mark.

In January 2011 Ida Mae’s visit at the vet is excellent. Her blood work perfect. But in July she doesn’t rush to her bowl at mealtime. She seems less exuberant when I visit my sister’s house. She’s getting old, I think. We try baby food. Not much success. We see the best doctors. They give us hope. She was joyful in the spring. My sister asks, “What happened in July?”

Even the vets don’t have a clear explanation. We hope, we worry and Ida Mae looks at us pleading for answers. We tell her, “Ida Mae, please get well.” We carry her around like a bouquet, like a gift. More sadness, less mischief in her eyes. She doesn’t bark much now but when she does, my sister says, “Good, Ida Mae. It’s so good to hear you bark.”

How the road to loss accelerates. How did we get here? A visiting nurse for pets, Charlene, comes once a day, then twice, to help hydrate Ida Mae. Charlene is an incredibly caring human being. At her house she prepares special meals for Ida Mae. My sister needs her support. Oct. 6 is a desperate day. I drive from Orient to meet my sister at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan. I drive against the sun as fast as I can.

Ida Mae is still very pretty. But she’s giving up. I have difficulty giving up. What if we take her home? I ask. “It would be unethical,” answers the vet. “I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” he says.

Our time alone with Ida Mae. We take turns holding her, the way she likes to be held, warmly, closely, to be one with us. The vet comes back. Ida Mae raises her head and turns toward my sister as if asking for protection. My sister holds her tight, caresses her. I stroke her, too, the way I’ve done since that day I drove with her on my lap for her new life in Orient.

Ida Mae, Ida Mae, we never traveled to Paris together, but we went further, millions of miles together. I am not giving up on you, Ida Mae. Our trip will never end. Next week we’ll visit Violet, your granddaughter, at Robin’s place.

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: pgazarian@aol.com.

10/31/11 3:00am

After our Thursday study group, Mary, the editor of our church newsletter, asked for volunteers to help compile said newsletter. We formed an assembly line and began collating, addressing and folding. Then, we hit a snafu. New to us were the clear wafer tabs that are used to seal the newsletter — and anyone without nimble fingers, or over 45, would have trouble seeing, let alone peeling off, the clear discs.

After some trial and error, we got the hang of it. When the task was complete, Mary remarked, “I hope that everyone who reads this newsletter realizes how much work it takes to get it out.”

Who knows why, but Mary’s words stayed with me. Truthfully, I haven’t given very much thought to the countless folks who work tirelessly behind the scenes. These folks make things happen. Then again, maybe you have; maybe you’re one of them.

I’ve been writing this column for seven years, and still don’t know what occurs after I hit the send button. Shame on me! However, common sense dictates that a myriad of operational steps must be taken before any columns or news stories appear in print or online.

After watching a movie on TV, I never wait for the closing credits to appear before changing the channel. Recently, for the heck of it, I did. The credits rolled for five minutes — editing, original music, casting direction, set decoration, costume design, makeup, etc. These folks are literally “behind the scenes.”

Think about the unseen crews who work for the Food Network. The star has center stage as he struts into the immaculate TV kitchen where the prep work has been done and ingredients placed in little bowls. The chef, with a great deal of flourish, empties the contents of said bowls into the food that’s being prepared, adds a pinch of this, a splash of that and — bam! The meal is complete.

I’ve prepared more holiday dinners than I can remember. If you’re like me, before the guests arrive, the table is set, the wine is chilling and the turkey is in the oven. We cross our fingers and hope that our guests will mesh (some behind-the-scenes family members can make holidays a tad sticky). We probably don’t employ a sous chef, so we spent the previous day baking, chopping, grating, grinding and stuffing.

Prior to the feast, we hit the supermarkets and local farm stands to select our turkey and trimmings. But wait — do we give any thought to turkey farm workers or the drivers who deliver the turkeys? How about the farmers and field hands who do backbreaking labor to bring about an abundant harvest? And let us not forget the folks who keep supermarket shelves well stocked. These folks play supporting, but important, roles in creating our holidays.

Those of us who love classical music are familiar with the works of George Frideric Handel, who composed, along with other masterpieces, “Messiah.” But are you familiar with the name Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow? Neither was I, until recently. He was Handel’s teacher and mentor. Or does the name Henrietta Mears ring a bell? Evangelist Billy Graham wrote of Ms. Mears, a teacher and Christian educator, “I doubt if any other woman outside my wife and mother had such a marked influence on my life.” I didn’t know that!

TV personalities Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show,” and Bill O’Reilly of “The O’Reilly Factor” have opposing political views, but they have one thing in common. Behind their wit, charm and political commentary, they employ many talented writers and research assistants who have the ability to create appealing shows.

Recently, while buying my daughter-in-law a birthday card, I had a eureka moment. Suddenly I knew why Mary’s words have stayed with me. It’s time to declare a holiday honoring the unsung behind-the-scenes folks. Hallmark would simply love the idea, don’t ya think?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

10/27/11 1:00am
10/27/2011 1:00 AM

Thinking about getting married but can’t seem to find the right guy or gal? I’ve got some news. If you can wait it out for just a couple of weeks, there’s some help coming to the North Fork. That help is a good old-fashioned matchmaker, name of Dolly Levi.

Now this Dolly Levi will be available to all North Forkers Nov. 11-13 and 18-19. She’s here courtesy of Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre and will meet you at Riverhead High School. Actually, she’s appearing in “Hello, Dolly,” a musical detailing Dolly’s adventures. Dolly has such a big heart I’m sure she’ll meet with you after a show should you desire her matchmaking magic. Who knows? You might be settled into domestic bliss by Thanksgiving.

Believe it or not, there are some happily married folks on the North Fork. I’ve even met a few. They’ll be going to “Hello, Dolly” not for a consultation but just because they like musicals. Matter of fact, I’ve heard some North Forkers sing and I’ve seen some North Forkers dance. They’re pretty good. But most of us are not so talented and sing and dance only when we’re alone in our kitchen. That’s why we enjoy seeing the good stuff on stage.

For example, Denise Balzaretti has a favorite musical and can be found humming some “Bye Bye Birdie” songs in her Cutchogue home. Denise especially likes one of the Birdie songs, “What’s the Matter with Kids Today.” Remember? “You can talk and talk till your face is blue, but they still just do what they want to do. Kids.”  Now I say nothing, absolutely nothing at all, is wrong with kids today, though Denise vehemently disagrees. She says kids should work harder. You know, that may be true of all of us.

But even Denise didn’t work all the time. She told me her mother and her Aunt Margie began taking her to Broadway musicals when she was only 9 years old. That’s the kind of work I like, Denise.

There are some Birdie lyrics I like, too. “Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face.” There’s the tough-it-out musical outlook that’s seen this country through some pretty hard times.

Forget bye-bye and say hello to Bob Kuhne of New Suffolk. Get him talking about music and he’ll tell you all about that rock band he played in when he was 18 or so. He was the guitar and keyboard guy and said the band appeared in “places” in Nassau County. Of course, I asked him what places and Bob’s reply was generic: “Bars.”

Now, however, Bob and his wife seek out musicals on Broadway and in theaters on Long Island like Mattituck’s North Fork Community Theatre. Bob’s favorite is “Phantom” — not, Bob said, to be confused with “Phantom of the Opera.”

The music of “Phantom” is “much, much better than the music in ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ ” claims Bob. Well, that’s an opinion some North Forkers may disagree with. But I have to give Bob this: There are lyrics in “Phantom” that seem to sum up the very essence of music.
“You are music, beautiful music, and you are light to me.” To a lover or to life itself, music illumines.

As for me, I recall to this day the joy I felt seeing Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in “My Fair Lady.” And, of course, every high school musical my daughter appeared in quickly became very special. Especially “Fiddler on the Roof.” You look at your children and, yes, swiftly go the days.

But there is one bit of music and lyrics from the musical “Oklahoma” that has always moved me — more so as I get older: “We know we belong to the land, and the land we belong to is grand.” Whether that land is the North Fork or the whole darn USA, what could say it better?

Well, we’ve danced and sung our way to the finale. Before the parade passes by it’s time to plan for a couple of glorious hours with Ms. Dolly Levi. Then, right after the show, just walk straight up to that wonderful woman and sing out what’s in your heart. “Hello, Dolly, well hello, Dolly, it’s so nice to have you back where you belong.”

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

10/20/11 1:00am
10/20/2011 1:00 AM

Back in the day, we corresponded chiefly by postal mail; nowadays we call it snail mail — and it’s no wonder. Technology has equipped us with fast ways of communicating, what with email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. (Perhaps this is the reason the U.S. Postal Service is going broke.)

Like many folks, I’m inundated with email. I receive a good amount that pertains to my work and the rest can run the gamut, from hilarious to downright disturbing. It’s the latter I wonder about.

I suppose it’s because we’re fast approaching election year 2012 that the same hate-filled emails that circulated in 2008 are beginning to go viral and infiltrate my in-box. Surely I can understand why one may not support President Obama, but why put forth such blatant misinformation? It’s the same old unsubstantiated rhetoric that calls into question the president’s religion, patriotism or country of origin. (And let us not forget the birth certificate brouhaha.)

In August 2011, a claim circulated that President Obama wasn’t wearing his wedding ring in observance of Ramadan. (Ramadan in 2011 was from Aug. 1 to 29.) The email stated in part: “So it’s just a coincidence that Muslims are forbidden from wearing jewelry during the month of Ramadan??? (Think about that one.)” More blah, blah, blah, then, “And how convenient to be on vacation in Hawaii over Christmas so he doesn’t have to have a Christmas photograph of him and his family attending Christmas service.” I received this email at least three times, but who’s counting!

When I lived on Staten Island, I worked with a Muslim physician. We spoke recently and he informed me that Islam has no rule prohibiting the wearing of jewelry during Ramadan. Incidentally, my neighbor was killed in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, so I get it; but I also get that adrenaline-pumping emotion is a dangerous thing. We’ve got to bypass destructive emotions and think rationally: All Muslims aren’t extreme radical terrorists; likewise, all Italians aren’t cold-blooded Mafioso killers. You get my drift.

I received another gem attributed to historian and author David Kaiser. The email compares the United States to pre-Nazi Germany. It states: “The savior at the time was Adolf Hitler, who also proposed change; how coincidental that President Obama’s platform was change.” Mr. Kaiser notes in his blog, “History Unfolding,” that he didn’t pen this piece.

There’s no law saying we must like the president, so why obsess about his religion or whether he wears a flag lapel pin? Instead, we need to focus on substance and delve into the heart of the challenges facing our nation. And if you don’t agree with this administration, unlike the Hitler regime, we’re free to give our elected officials the boot. Why spend time worrying about nonsense?

Speaking of which, I received an email titled “Spend Wisely.” The message asks us to imagine that a bank would deposit $86,400 in our account daily. We are the only ones who can spend it, and what we don’t spend would be taken away from us. Each morning we would get another $86,400 to spend, but the bank can end the deposits without warning.

This magical bank is time. Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us. What we haven’t lived up to that day is gone forever. Each morning our account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve our account at any time, without warning.

The sentiments expressed in the aforementioned email are quite sobering and hit me where I live. In reality, I squander a lot of time. Not only did I forward this thought-provoking email, but I read it daily.
But, funny thing, this lovely piece, to date, hasn’t gone viral. In fact, I received it only once. Something to ponder, eh?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

10/08/11 12:43pm
10/08/2011 12:43 PM

For everything there is a season. And on the North Fork, the yard sale season is a long one. From early spring until a few weeks from now, when folks start thinking storm windows, we put our stuff out on lawns, on village greens, in driveways. Then it seems just about everyone stops by to browse, perchance to buy.

Know what caught my attention recently? A yard sale on Main Road in Cutchogue. Those who ran the sale, members of Old Town Art and Crafts Guild, gave it a name: Trash to Treasure. That sounded fine till I thought about it a bit.
I imagine there’s no trash at a yard sale. Every item is a kind of treasure — if only for its history. Who first owned it? Where was it made? How far has it traveled? What memories does it evoke? Why, the history of our lives and times might well be read in yard sale items.

So I stopped at the Trash to Treasure sale and looked around. Just as I thought. There, on the very first table, was a pre-1920 Victrola. A windup Victor Talking Machine. That’s exactly what was printed on one of the Victrola’s wood panels.

I told the Victrola’s owner, guild member Anne Engelhardt, that I recalled a Victrola just like hers. Back in the 1940s, my across-the-road friend Marilyn often asked me into her home, where we spent time listening to some old guy named Caruso. He was pretty good, according to Marilyn’s parents, but Marilyn and I were more interested in someone much younger named Sinatra.

On to the next table. Here I met Riverhead’s Gayle Wagner. Most of Gayle’s offerings were clothes and I paid special attention to a blue denim jean jacket Gayle called “vintage.” According to Gayle, it was fashionable in the 1960s. This particular jacket had the original price tag still attached. I don’t remember what that price was but I do know Gayle sold the jacket for one dollar. Some buy. I’m wondering if people can be described as “vintage.” If so, I guess I qualify.

Then to a table, actually several of them, belonging to Ginny Kuhne of New Suffolk. Ginny must have come to Trash to Treasure via truck, she had so many items displayed. For example, just in case I planned on making a crepe paper costume for Halloween, I could have purchased a 1952 book of patterns put out by Dennison’s. I remember working very close to that “party store” on Fifth Avenue in New York City back in the late ’50s. Kind of a predecessor to Michaels in Riverhead.

On another table Ginny had three black velvet skating skirts, brand-new, from Lord & Taylor. Ginny said they dated to the 1940s and I believe her. I know I really wanted one of those skirts when I ice skated on the lake in Flushing’s Kissena Park. But my mother ignored my pleas and dark brown leggings were the dowdy substitute. Oh, well.

And look over there. Ginny had full-page laminated ads for a late 1930s Borden’s product called Hemo. Back then a pound of it cost 59 cents. Add a spoonful of Hemo to a glass of milk and you could “pep up your step.” Now in the ’30s I was pretty peppy and never did taste Hemo. But I did enjoy seeing featured in Ginny’s ads several early Borden friends. Their names? Elmer the bull and Elsie the cow. Those two had several offspring: Beulah, Beauregard and the twins, Larabee and Lobelia. I have a suspicion Elmer and Elsie drank plenty of Hemo.

Just before I moved away from Ginny’s tables, I spied some large photos framed quite elegantly. Each photo showed a stylishly dressed man or woman from the 1800s. How stern and severe, how prim and proper they looked. Ginny said such photos were in demand. They are called “instant family” photos and when hung in your living room can add luster to your family tree. I’ve start searching around for a Joshua Chamberlain look-alike photo. He was a pretty cool guy and my Civil War hero, a guy I’d be proud to have in the family. No luck yet, but I think the North Fork will come through for me. Just about everything is stored in our attics.

I left Trash to Treasure with lots of memories and more than a few treats from the bake sale table. After all, 1940 or 2011 — a brownie is a brownie and an oatmeal cookie will always be meant to be dunked in a cup of cold milk.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

10/04/11 3:15pm
10/04/2011 3:15 PM

When I was a kid, returning to school in September was either welcome or fraught with a case of the jitters. There was, however, one thing I could make book on: I was invariably assigned to write an essay about what I did or learned during my summer vacation. I’m going to take a cue from the days of yore and tell you what I learned from our beautiful 14-year-old granddaughter, Ariana.

When Ariana visited us in July, she brought not only her bubbly personality, but also an array of pencils, tubs, tubes and other mysterious makeup paraphernalia. (I guess it runs in the family. I’ve been known to lug around an arsenal of anti-aging products while vacationing.)

One afternoon, I sat on the bed and watched as Ariana applied goop to her face and made up her eyes. Lord knows how, but she came off looking completely natural. When I asked Ariana how my makeup looked, she scrutinized my face (a gal of a certain age gets uncomfortable with close-up inspections) and said, “Pretty good, but …”

“But?”

Ariana picked up a brush and began dabbing here and there.

She held up a mirror and asked, “Better?”

I answered with a delighted, “Yes.”

Our trip to the nail salon enlightened me further. I selected my usual sheer pink nail polish, while Ariana was deciding between neon blue and green sparkle. When she suggested I try one of the sparkle polishes, I considered it, but only briefly. I remembered that I was the assigned chalice administrator on Sunday, and green sparkle polish might be a tad distracting to the communicants. Ariana choose the blue and I must say, it looked lovely — on her, that is.

Shopping at Tanger was a mind-boggling experience. We bypassed my favorite haunts and headed straight into the teen clothing stores. Sales associates who looked to be in their ‘tweens showed Ariana the latest fashions. Music was blaring, kids were swarming and the moms looked weary. Oy!

Ariana taught me the nuances of texting. Now I love texting almost as much as talking. But the most fascinating experience, by far, was my Facebook makeover.

I have a lukewarm relationship with Facebook. I keep an account to stay abreast of the local, national and global news, and that’s about it. I find it scary that folks can reshape themselves in the hope of being friended by other users and, similarly, with a mere click we can unfriend someone.

That being said, on the last afternoon of her stay, Ariana showed me how she could alter her Face­book profile picture using Photoshop.

Ariana asked, “Want me to airbrush your picture?”

“Sure.”

I looked over her shoulder and wow! There was a smiling me, looking five years younger. Encouraged, I said, “Ariana, do more.”

“OK, watch this.”

She set to work, and magically erased 10, then 20 years from my picture. Talk about reversing the signs of aging! Meanwhile, Frank, with keys in hand, was waiting to drive Ariana home. I forgot about the picture until …

I started receiving comments about my profile picture. I logged in to Facebook and, sure enough, there, on my profile page, was my retouched picture. One Facebook friend commented, “Ceil, Long Island agrees with you; you’re looking younger.”

I often wonder about the forever-young Hollywood crowd featured in those glossy magazines. I realize they probably look ordinary — wrinkles, bulges and all — until they are airbrushed to the max. Mystery solved.
Well, folks, I’m Facebook challenged and clueless on how to get my original picture back on my profile page. I’ll figure it out eventually, or send Ariana an SOS. For now, I’ll let my picture stand.

The fact that I’m lying to the Facebook community, and myself, is a tad disconcerting, but what the heck. If the Hollywood crowd can get away with it, why not the Riverhead crowd?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

09/21/11 1:28pm
09/21/2011 1:28 PM

It’s not a happy ending. The last page reveals Borders bookstores nationwide are closing. That, of course, includes the Riverhead store, where, over the years, thousands of North Forkers have browsed and bought.
Seems the chain failed to keep pace with electronic technology. I can relate to that. It takes me 20 minutes to set the microwave clock each and every time the power goes off.

No matter. The story here is books. I’m pleased to say most North Forkers get their very own books from many sources in addition to Borders. On our fork there are several small independent bookstores. They’ve served us well for years. Then there are the other book suppliers, some a bit unconventional, but all geared to keep us turning pages.

For example, I volunteer once a week at a Greenport thrift shop. Clothing, pots and pans, toys — all kinds of stuff, including shelves and shelves of books. Over time I’ve gotten everything from cookbooks (100 ways to prepare meatloaf and still all mine taste the same) to Margaret Truman mysteries, to Thoreau’s “The Maine Woods,” to a biography of Teddy Roosevelt I’m in the middle of right now.

My husband, on the other hand, spreads out catalogs of books on the kitchen table and orders his reading by mail. From one of his favorite catalogs we’ve dozens of books, from aviation history (I like that Glenn Curtiss guy) to steam railroads (Durango & Silverton is tops, I think). Just say that whenever a book catalog arrives in our mailbox, my husband drops from sight for hours.

Out East Marion way there’s a very fine gent, Dr. Bill Emerson, who claims he gets “95 percent of my books at yard sales.” And I’m sure Dr. Bill has a good number of books because he’s a professor at Queens College. A math professor! That’s pretty impressive. It’s possible I’ve seen Dr. Bill at yard sales. But I doubt it. Unless he’s looking for fabric, too. Does he quilt, I wonder.

Now I figure if Dr. Bill buys lots of 30-dollar books for one or two dollars each, that’s a whopping savings each year. Like maybe $28 saved on each book purchased. See how good I am at math? Perhaps Dr. Bill could find me a position in the math department at Queens College.

This next book spot might very well be reserved for readers over the age of 21. Because the “help-yourself-to-a-free-book” rack is just inside Peconic Liquors in Cutchogue. Folks drop by to donate books or select a book and the whole North Fork community benefits.

On a recent afternoon I spent a half-hour browsing through the books and saw quite a variety of titles — from “A History of Western Political Theory” to a few romantic novels by Phyllis A. Whitney to some scary stuff by Stephen King. All these are guaranteed to keep readers in good spirits.

Let’s not forget North Fork libraries. Book sales are frequent and some of our libraries even have their own “bookstore.” You can purchase books, for example, at Southold’s Book Cottage or at Riverhead’s Yellow Barn.
And listen to where Jane Minerva, retired Cutchogue librarian, gets many of her books: The reuse area at the town solid waste facility in Cutchogue. Jane’s home contains packed floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Jane claims she never gets to dust all those books. But she does read them and that’s what counts. Matter of fact, you’ll find bookcases, lamps and comfortable chairs at the reuse area. Everything needed to enjoy a book.

Well, here we are. Electronic reading devices seem to be taking over and we’re told someday a child will ask the incredible question, “Mom, what’s a book?” But for now, let’s not worry. North Forkers will continue to fill their homes with books because they know a book in hand is worth two on a screen.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

05/30/11 12:49pm
05/30/2011 12:49 PM

It’s been a year since Frank had a routine stress test that landed him in the hospital. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery (on our sixth wedding anniversary, no less) and suffered a myriad of health challenges. Nowadays, Frank is ready for an Olympic tryout, and I’ve tendered my resignation as chief of the health police. Folks, it was a stressful and exhausting job.

Once, when Frank fell asleep on the couch, I panicked, shook him awake and screeched, “Don’t you ever do that again!”

Frank groggily asked, “Sleep?”

See what I mean? Last summer was the pits. Time seemed to stand still, yet the rest of the year flew by.

Isn’t time tricky? The American author Henry Van Dyke thinks so, too. He writes, “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”

When we were kids, September marked the beginning of a long, tedious school year. Summer felt like it was eons away and, on a kid’s timetable, it was.

Gals, remember prom mania? An eternity, and then some, passed while waiting for our heartthrob to call. Unbeknownst to us, our heartthrob picked up the phone 200 times and put it down 200 times — just waiting for the right time to invite us.

During our early teens, turning 18 was light years away. That magical number held the promise of a driver’s license and freedom. Or so we thought. Then, the hard edges of reality came into play and we joined in life’s waiting game.

Generally, pregnancies last nine months; however, most gals will attest to these truths: It felt like a lifetime before Baby was born. Moreover, the ninth month felt like two lifetimes. And after Baby is born, Mommy, Daddy and Baby are awake at all hours of the night. Those baby-crying sleep-deprived times appeared to last forever.

Then there are the things that brought us to our knees: the death of a loved one, the betrayal of a friend or a divorce. The pain was incessant and we wondered if there would be an end to our suffering.

Conversely, some of us are at a stage in life when time is speeding up. A dear friend recently marked a “big” birthday. She couldn’t believe how much life she’d already lived, and I fully get it.

My kids are grown men, yet Mom-brain still conjures up two little boys. Frank and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary (thankfully, not in the hospital). How can that be?

I’ve always been the proverbial party gal. I’m surprised when the witching hour arrives and it’s time to call it a night; furthermore, I’m more surprised that I’m not tired!

The time spent with my kids, who live on the West Coast, has a dizzying effect — and it’s not just jet lag. One day I’m on a plane heading west, then in a flash, I’m on a plane heading east.

Here are some puzzling observations: When we can’t wait for something, it takes forever; and when we dread something, it knocked on our door yesterday. Doesn’t the gate in the airport seem further away when we’re running late and closer when we’re early? One summer seems to morph into another, though it takes the same 365 days.

And here’s a biggie: Bob Dylan turned 70 on May 24. Jeez! Where did the time go?

To answer my own question, the time didn’t go anywhere; nor does it pass quickly or slowly — it simply passes. I suppose we interpret time through our own lens, and still, everything that happens takes place in the eternal now. Bewildering, huh?

You’d think with all the technical advances, a savvy computer programmer like Mark Zuckerberg, who with some buddies created Facebook, hasn’t fashioned a program that could fast-forward through the hard times and pause the good times.
I’m just sayin’.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.