Riley’s Beach

July 29, 2009

Photographer Unknown

If there was one piece of geography that I have to say has influenced my life more than any other, it’s the cut between Riley’s beach and the tip of Sampson’s Island only a few dozen yards away.

I had been there in diapers as a child when visiting my great grandmother who lived on Shell Lane only a short walk away.

Our 1971 Sunfish spent summer after summer there flipped over on the sand with a big red “SKI” painted on it’s bow with some nail polish that my mother agreed to sacrifice for the occasion.

It was where my father would stand fishing for hours and hours at dusk with no-see-ums biting at those of us with him on the beach; my father immune due to the plume of pipe smoke surrounding him as he stood in silhouette out on the rocks catching mainly sea robins and sand sharks, but loving every minute.

It was where I found countless pieces of sea glass that I would bring home to New Jersey and admire for hours wundering where it had journeyed and where it began but loving that I found it in Cotuit.

It was where I exploded an aresenal of fireworks knowing that the police were nowhere to be found and could care less what I was doing unless someone from Ocean View Ave called in a complaint which would take an hour to respond to.

It was where I walked at least a thousand times from Riley’s around Bluff Point to Hayden’s at low tide collecting snails, crabs and every other form of sea life that would fit into a plastic bucket.

It was where my grandfather would drive each morning at 5AM to drink his coffee and assess the weather. It was where he would also go at 5PM to end his day and assess the weather once more. Sitting with him looking out over the Sound he would tell me about a particular local tale entitled “The Cut of Her Jib” where a woman rowed from Loop Beach to Nantucket.  In classic Grandpa style he probably embelished the story with a few comical elements just to see me laugh. One of these days I will read it.

Riley’s was where I would land my Optimist Pram on the next beach over just to say hello to my mother who was sure to have a thermos full of Zarex and a cheese sandwich to fill up on. The thought of Zarex is repulsive at this point, as it was like drinking candy which I would probably be eating along with my Zarex back then.

Standing on Riley’s I would strain my neck to see Submarine Rock, the lights of the Sound, my best friend Christian coming in from Popponesset Bay and fighter jets as they screamed out to defend the free world.

It was where I watched a young Chris Berry get pulled from the water lifeless and bloated while his mother screamed his name asking why, why. why?

It was where I watched Jim Mayne (Freeheart) spend an entire day painting the scene from the jetty with a long cloud in the sky that looked like a lobster tail.  After my standing there and being fixated on it for hours, my mother came over and bought the painting and to this day I can remember each step of its creation from a sketchy outline to when Jim signed his name and handed it to us.

Just off the beach was where my Laser would conveniently tip over with my girlfriend on board forcing us to struggle together to right the craft by slithering around on the dagger board in my attempts at masculine feats of strength and bravado and her not so feminine attempts at assistance.

It was where moonlight races would come to an end with mothers and fathers shining flashlights at their children as they were dropped off by some makeshift water taxi more intoxicated than their parents would ever admit. It was where bonfires would burn into the night for those that were lucky enough to stay.

It was where I would sleep, or not, for many many nights with tales upon tales of the best times of life.

Cupid has his own cove over there!

And lately, it has been where my son had his best fishing experience ever, pulling in snapper blue after snapper blue from the boiling August waters. Many of the fish were caught in places other than their mouth as the hook would catch them before they even had a chance to bite.

He has gotten to go there a number of times over the years even though he’ll never spend as much time there as I did.

I hope that it never changes, but it already has and will continue I’m sure.

Yet I hope that my son and I keep going back and that we might get to experience some of the same.

And, I hope that if I’m lucky, I’ll get to visit it forever.

It will always be hallowed ground to me.

The Princess is here…

May 28, 2009
Her First Day Home

Her First Day Home

In case you were wondering why I have not posted in a while, I have been super busy with our new dog Princess Meadow. She has her own blog and needs all of the help that I can give her. You can read her blog here.

She is a rescue dog that we got from Shake-A-Paw on Route 22 in Union NJ. They were so nice to her and to us and we want to thank them for everything!

Her name is Princess Meadow. Her name was Princess but we changed it to Princess Meadow since she is the first official rescue dog of Brendan’s Meadows.

March Update

March 31, 2009

The hectic pace of each day is leaving me very little room to write. With what little time I have each week I’m trying to spend as much time as I can with Alex and Kerry and on the house.

Alex is doing well in school but seems to be constantly fighting a cold which is driving his mother insane! I can’t blame her, but obsessing over every sniffle is sure to drive you mad and my concern is that they’ll run out of different antibiotics to give him by the time he’s a teenager. I give her a hard time about always running him to a doctor but as she likes to remind me, I could have a far-worse ex-wife than she, who lets their kids go relatively ignored.

I can’t argue that point.

Kerry and I have some grand plans to work on the back yard this spring including leveling out the area behind the deck to accommodate a patio and a tent for this year’s family barbeque. It would be nice to have something spectacular to focus on this summer during the barbeque in hopes of not focusing on the absence of Kerry’s father who was always the epicenter of each year’s event.

It is not going to be fun.

We are also hoping to build a screened in porch on half of the deck but that may be a year down the line.

Kerry and I did manage a long weekend at Disney a few weeks back which seemed to cheer her up a bit but Disney was crazy and anything but a bargain. In the end, she was somewhat under-whelmed.

It was nice to have some warm temperatures to make us feel human again and at least she and I got to spend 72 hours together.

The next big event is going to be Germany where my life long friend Christian will be tying the knot. I had breakfast with him this morning down in Washington DC and he seems rather calm given his pending nuptials and the impending deadline of his PhD Thesis.

I’ve been focusing on Brendan’s Meadows with Kerry and she has begun her Business Plan. We are trying to start off on the right foot with the Meadows and walk before we run. As it turns out we may have our first rescue dog come stay with us when a terminally ill friend leaves us her out-of-control herding-dog mix. I guess it’s better than a really sick dog, which is going to be harder for me than aggressive dogs or crazy dogs.

Freedom Hall is still on hold as my thoughts of Cotuit grow less and less nostalgic with time slowly healing the wound of my parents selling their house.

As I sit on the Amtrak heading back home, my mind is flooding with things that I would like to write about.

However, the cell phone is vibrating and its time to get back to work.

Brendan’s Meadows

February 9, 2009

Kerry and I have decided that we are going to try and create a 501(c)3 organization to rescue dogs.

We are going to name the organization Brendan’s Meadows in honor of Kerry’s father who loved dogs and who had adopted many a rescue dog.

The stray and her buddy

The stray and her buddy

We are asking those who want to become a founding member to pledge $1 to the fund. Once the organization is up and running, and we can take eligible charitable contributions, we will ask for more support.

The long-term goal of Brendan’s Meadows is to create a farm for dogs to live on while they await adoption or live out their years. We’ll do our best to never destroy any dog. It will also be a place where people who may not want to adopt a dog, can come to and still spend time with dogs in a fun and interactive environment.

It may be a few years before we can create our dream but in the meantime the fund will support local animal rescues and other good causes.

Opera? Surely you jest!

January 28, 2009
I saw my first opera last night and as it sinks in I think that it was a great experience.

I had told my parents a long time ago that I would love to go see Rigoletto.

My parents, being avid Operagoers, offered us tickets from their series and I quickly jumped at the chance.

Since every woman loves the movie Pretty Woman, including Kerry, she wanted to go too.

Rigoletto is the one opera that I had familiarized myself with years ago, in hopes of getting to see one.  I don’t quite recall why I became interested in the Opera but I think it has something to do with my Edith Wharton / Henry James phase and all of the opera scenes and references that were made throughout their writings.

However, even I liked the scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian experience Verdi’s La Traviata.

I now understand the inference of that play in that movie since “La Traviata” literally translates into “The Woman Who Strayed” which seems appropriate given Vivian’s career choice.

Apparently, Operas often deal with issues of lustful behavior and its consequences all of the time. I am only just learning this and perhaps I’ll find out that this is an untold secret about Opera patrons that I never knew.

But I now realize that when the courtiers abducted Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda, they didn’t exactly take her to their castle to play checkers…

No wonder Rigoletto was so pissed.

Mom and Dad left that one out.

If given the chance to go, Kerry and I would definitely do it again but I don’t think we’ll be asking each other for series tickets next Christmas.

Next we’re going to hit Broadway.

Bandwidth crisis!?!

January 19, 2009

According to CNN, there is a high liklihood of a major bandwidth logjam during the inauguration…maybe the bandwidth companies will finally get noticed!

The cellular phone systems around the National Mall will be overloaded if the expected record crowds show up, according to a spokesman for CTIA — The Wireless Association, a nonprofit organization that represents wireless carriers.

Since Barack’s own website calls for getting Broadband to every community in America, when those communities can’t witness the inauguration this week because of the logjam, perhaps it will help the cause.

All I Want

January 18, 2009

While listening to Joni Mitchell on Rhapsody and packing for the next trip, I was listening to her “All I Want” and heard a line that caught my attention…

The line was about how she wanted to “knit you a sweater” and I immediately thought about an old friend who once knit her boyfriend a sweater and then how she did it while she was away on a family vacation only to come home and have him dump her before she ever even gave it to him.

She told me that she never told him about the sweater until much later in life when they met each other over coffee.

Then I thought shame on the man that did that to her. Apparently women knit sweaters when they are in love and for him to do that, after that much work, was horrible.

Then I thought about another friend who just sewed her husband a Carhartt-like jacket from scratch and it looked even cooler than a real Carhartt. She said she could make one in about 30 minutes and since she’s a bit of a hippie chick that makes most of her own clothes, I tend to believe her.

I could tell that he really appreciates it because he seemed very proud when I complemented him on it!

Making another person’s clothes seems like a very nice gesture; one that is filled with love, care and uderstanding of what the other person truly wants.


Dog Therapy

January 15, 2009

For anyone out there that has a dog…and is in need of therapy.

Thanks to Suzanne Shaps for commenting on this picture on Facebook

Dog Therapy
Dog Therapy

Hands off!

January 9, 2009

I’m not speculating that the United States’ and the world’s economic crises aren’t going to get noticeably worse.

However, I do think that the last skeleton has come out of the closet and that our economic tide is turning.

When the adult entertainment industry calls for a Federal Bailout, we now know that the weakest dogs are trying to feed.

First the real estate market then the banks, then the car companies and so on down the line. More and more industries are sticking their hands out.

Now the adult entertainment industry is asking?

I would think that this particular industry would be recession proof. Unemployed people have a lot more time on their hands.

It’s really rather ridiculous, which is why I am starting to feel as though the worst is behind us.

What could possibly be next?

Bail out the cigarette and liquor companies?

Westfield Sinks While We All Get Fat

January 8, 2009

Having breakfast this morning at my all-time favorite diner, Vicki’s, I heard news that the pendulum is once again swinging on downtown Westfield.

Apparently big companies are moving out in droves as are a few of the smaller retail establishments.

Not that many years ago, many of the old mom and pop stores closed up shop and sat vacant; not because they didn’t want to stay in business but because a select few landlords kept raising rents and forced them out of business.

Apparently, the landlords preferred to sit on vacant retail space in hopes of luring some big fish into town and to get higher rents.

Well, it worked and I’m sure that many of them have made tons of dough.

However, now that the economy has softened dramatically, it appears as though those big fish are retrenching and are now pulling up stakes and leaving.

It seems to me that Westfield is not going to be a retail destination any longer but will continue to evolve itself into a dining mecca.

After all, I’m sure that all of the rich people who live only a few blocks away from town appreciate being able to eat and drink at a myriad of epicurean destinations having only a short drive or walk back to their mcmansions after the possibility of having copious libations.

Can you blame them?

However, when it comes to retail, besides the fact that Westfield has miserably failed to address its parking problem, people would much rather go to a mall such as Short Hills where they can get covered or valet parking and a five dollar latte all in a 72 degree climate controlled environment.

So, unless they put a roof over Westfield and build a megalithic parking deck, Westfield doesn’t stand a chance to attract any more upscale retailers. Not unless those retailers have been ignoring what’s been going on.

Since the demographics are right, a few more flies might fall for the bait.

The difference between the mall and downtown Westfield is that the retailers at a mall are all dealing with one landlord who is very conscious about vacancy rates and willing to negotiate to keep tenants happy. In some cases they even offer free rent just to keep the traffic coming.

So, as Westfield continues to evolve itself into a dining destination, as well as a place to see others and to be seen by others, I just hope that nobody needs to buy a wrench or a pair of levi’s right away, because you’ll never find them in town.

For the sake of the landlords, I sure hope that this recession doesn’t curtail all of the dining patrons’ gluttonous ways or its curtains for everyone.