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08/24/17 3:27pm
08/24/2017 3:27 PM

Most of us are familiar with this popular lyric from the hit musical “Mary Poppins”: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Mary Poppins and Mom had a couple of things in common: Mom had a lovely soprano voice and supported the notion that nasty-tasting medicine could be mitigated with sugar. I didn’t agree — but, then again, Mom thought me rebellious.


09/27/14 6:00am
09/27/2014 6:00 AM

The weeks after Labor Day heralded the blues; my “beach bum” days were coming to an end. Although I walk the beach daily in all seasons, this summer I took advantage of “paradise found” and spent almost every weekend at the beach. It was truly a memorable summer. Spending quality time with old friends and meeting new friends was just the boost my spirits had needed.   (more…)

05/25/14 6:00am
05/25/2014 6:00 AM
San Simeon by the Sound Adult Day Care recreation supervisor Renee Genova assists residents during a game of badminton in 2011. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

San Simeon by the Sound Adult Day Care recreation supervisor Renee Genova assists residents during a game of badminton in 2011. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Even though she was calling from overseas, I could hear the incredulous tone of her voice. She was a gal pal from back then and we’d recently reconnected through Facebook.

Catching up with our lives, I told her that I’d left my job as a medical practice administrator when I moved to Jamesport. However, I continued to write and started a medical billing and consulting service.  (more…)

03/29/14 1:00pm
03/29/2014 1:00 PM

Driving to work, I heard a song recorded by the American rock band Imagine Dragons titled “Radioactive.” The refrain “I’m radioactive, I’m radioactive” struck a chord with me (no pun intended). Arriving at work, I felt a plethora of emotions: sadness, anger and the realization that, now that I’m widowed again, I indeed felt radioactive.  (more…)

01/09/12 4:08pm
01/09/2012 4:08 PM

Right now it’s quiet time all over the North Fork. Windows are tightly closed, locked. Some folks even put up storm windows. No question about it. Chill times are here. Quiet times, too, since those closed windows shut out sounds as well as shivers. Funny, isn’t it? A few months back we read of noise problems on the North Fork. Music that’s loud, truck and boat motors running all night, helicopters intruding on peaceful skies. Finally last summer, a noise ordinance in Southold.

But with our windows closed we come to realize that some North Fork noise is not noise at all. Rather it is sound, sound we take pleasure in, sound we miss during the “closed up” months.

For example, there’s a Greenport guy, name of David Pultz. He’s married to Gillian Pultz of the North Fork Animal Welfare League. So you’d imagine Dave’s special sounds would be a woof, a meow, a tweet. Not so. Dave thinks back a few years and recalls two treasures of North Fork sounds.

One is the Greenport foghorn from early misty mornings past. How comforting it was. How secure. Dave said the foghorn sounded from a Greenport shipyard and evokes emotion still.

The other North Fork sound Dave enjoys is the 6 p.m. siren from the Greenport firehouse. Years ago Ed Pultz, Dave’s father, told Dave over and over again, “When you hear that whistle get home for dinner.” That 6 p.m. sound is familiar to so many North Forkers. Tradition ties it to dinner time in homes from Riverhead to Orient. May it always be.

I’ve a North Fork sound bringing me not memories, but anticipation. Early in the morning, certainly well before 6, I hear the Long Island Rail Road whistle as a train rumbles by about a mile away from my Cut­ch­ogue home.
I wonder, as I listen in bed or in the kitchen eating Special K and blueberries, who the engineer is, who the passengers are. Where are they going? I bid them a safe journey each open-window day. In some odd way they have become my friends and I wish I were traveling with them. Not necessarily to Greenport or New York City but to those faraway places with strange-sounding names.

With windows closed, my friends and fantasies fade.

Now hear this. It certainly appears to prove one woman’s meat is another’s poison. There are, on this North Fork, at least two ears that enjoy hearing a tractor at work. Those ears belong to Southold’s Sue Purcell.

Sue recalls “staying over” at her grandma’s home on Ackerly Pond Lane. That road, by the way, was formerly Bowery Lane. The name change must be a story in itself.

Anyway, Grandma Marta Dramm lived next to Diller’s farm and when Sue had a stay-over at Grandma’s the Diller tractors awakened her each morning. Those machines were “big and exciting” to young Sue.

Fully awake, Sue would rush downstairs to breakfast made by her grandma. A breakfast served with lots of milk and lots of love. And outside a tractor welcomed a child to a new North Fork summer’s day.

In Southold still, stop by for a visit with Judy Clark. Perhaps walk in her backyard for a bit. If you’re lucky you’ll hear Judy’s favorite North Fork sounds — sounds unheard through winter-closed windows.

First, the winter leaves, the ones left clinging to branches. Brittle and brown, dried and desolate, they rustle in winter wind. Judy thinks of that rustle as a feeble protest. Leaves refusing to go gently into that good earth. Come spring, those leaves will be gone, their protests giving way to new life.

And then there are the crows. They settle in the woods behind Judy’s home. Noisy, almost arrogant, unlike their shy, smaller bird friends. Crows are smart, too. Judy recalls seeing a TV show explaining how crows use twigs as tools. Watching the crows through snug-closed windows, Judy can’t hear their calls. But her heart responds to remembered sound.

Perhaps that’s what beloved, familiar sounds do best. Even if just in memory, they bring a sense of well-being to January’s pale days and long dark nights. Someday soon we’ll open all the windows.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

01/02/12 10:18am
01/02/2012 10:18 AM

J.P. Morgan, Frick and me. We belong. If they’d lived in my time we’d be friends. The three of us, we collect. We like things, and things we like, we buy. They bought at auctions, world-famous art galleries, museums. I buy my things at thrift shops and yard sales. What’s the difference?

Twice in my life I ventured into the high-pressure business of auctions. No, not Christie’s, not Sotheby’s. Too difficult to park around those places. It was at Markel’s, once, in their old barn in Southold. Without my permission my right arm raised itself and attracted the attention of the eager auctioneer, Dave Markel, I think. I left that night with an old cast-iron park bench — like they don’t make them anymore, I was told. I can see why. That bench is so heavy that even a ferocious wind in Orient will not budge it an inch. I still have the bench in the same spot where I dropped it 20 years ago.

My other win at Markel’s was a primitive or naïf oil painting of children and cows with a menacing cloud that looks like the profile of an angry mother. It’s on a pale green wall in my study, the room where not much is done but where things collect; yes, those things that make me a spiritual brother of J.P. and Frick. There’s a word in French slang that sounds like Frick but is spelled “fric.” It means money. Too bad Henry Clay Frick didn’t live in France. The 99 percent  would have loved it.

My other auction action was at B. Altman and Company on Fifth Avenue. They were closing down the store. Everything was to go. I wanted a piece of it, a part of New York’s history. I walked up and down the store. There was a down sofa and a set of bistro tables and chairs that came from their tea room. Must have it, I thought, perfect for my restoration of the Bay House facing Orient harbor. This time my arm didn’t move quickly enough and when it finally made a waving motion in the air a stranger had gotten the whole bistro set and the sofa with a ridiculous low bid. I instantly hated that guy and felt he had somehow unfairly won the stuff. The bistro set haunted me for weeks. I never went to another auction except a silent one at Poquatuck Hall in Orient.

Let me not feel sorry for myself. I actually have a museum of my own. Strictly for friends and the plumber once in a while. My house in Orient. A museum of books, dust, toys and stuffed animals. A few cups and saucers and, for someone who drinks little and rarely has guests, a surprising number of glasses. Why so many? I have no explanation. I forgot to mention: on the walls, paintings by our late friend Rodman Pell. He painted where he used to run his fresh fish market in Greenport. He knew well how to charm the ladies. My sister was a fan and introduced him to UNICEF, where she helped him become one of their Christmas card artists.

In New York I keep a collection of paperweights. A lot of papers here. A good match. Stuffed animals take over couches and chairs. Certain days there are fewer of them than the day before. It seems they move on their own. My sister reminds me they are not alive. I tend to forget. We put a few in a comfortable closet like children in a crib. Of course I’ll take them out of the closet on happy days. They need to breathe, I say. Some, the lucky ones, have migrated to Orient, where they spend their retirement on couches, where else?

Books, like stuffed animals, have a life of their own. You can’t throw books away. Although I have seen plenty left at the dump with the recyclables. I have brought a few back home. Some were from people I knew. They had died. That’s what happens when you die. A six-volume history of the Presbyterian church was there. I rescued it and donated it to the Southold library book sale. Then I took it back. It had belonged to a friend. The collector collects other people’s stuff. It becomes our stuff. We get attached. Once an object enters our home, it stays. We’re caught.

There are two rows of books on each shelf. First row you can see. Second row you don’t even know is there until you pull out a book from first row. Don’t think second row is second rank. Here’s T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” retrieved from second row with a couple of years of dust. Let’s get the Swiffer dusters out of the box. Whoever invented this deserves an honorary library card. Try them if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Don’t ask me about New Year’s resolutions. Don’t yell at me on the street, “Hey, hoarder, how’s it going?” I am a collector. But I have changed my mind. J.P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick, we wouldn’t be friends at all. They are not in my league. They don’t belong. I never saw them at the Opportunity Shop in Greenport. They lived in palaces in Manhattan that became their museums. That’s easy. My house is already too small for my books and stuffed animals. That’s tough. They would never have been able to deal with my space problem. I don’t have butlers like they did. I’m the butler to my dog, I am a poet, a monthly columnist, and I have written short plays, especially for the singer and actress Yvonne Constant, who played on Broadway in “La Plume de ma Tante” and was a frequent guest on the Johnny Carson show.

Another hundred years: I’ll still be checking what’s in the second row. The Frick and the Morgan, they’ll be around forever. My museum, that’s another story. It will go when I go. That’s the pity of it. Unless there is a wife to keep the house open and the fire going. I’m working on that. I’ll let the wife move in and let go of a few Teddy Bears. Hear that, Nancy? Why not dream?

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays.