The Southampton Annual Tree Lighting and Parade of Lights

We made it back to the Southampton Christmas parade this year. We had gone a couple of years ago and last year it was canceled due to the pandemic. I love it for so many reasons, the parade is fun and the tree lighting at the end of the bar is even more fun, but the idea that all of the small villages at the east end of Long Island get together and celebrate with a parade is so quaint. Southampton along with East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Shelter Island and all the others taker part.

My cousins and I hang out for the day, we eat – on Saturday, before the parade, we at at the old standby – the Southampton Publick House.

I wasn’t sure if we would go this year. My cousins had planned to go to the lighthouse lighting event in Montauk, which is just as great, but so much longer to get there. But I put a little bug in one of my cousin’s ears at Thanksgiving and left it at that. By Saturday, we were on our way. Was there ever any question?

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Saved by an angel?

An angel over a car accident

I’ve been waiting to hear from my Mom, you know, some sort of signal, but nothing yet. When my brother passed we all heard from him the first week, then he disappeared. I had a friend jak, who passed away and for two years, I would feel his presence in the passenger seat of my car. Never in the house, but always in the car. His songs would play on the radio and I just had a sense that he was there next to me as I drove around.

But I think my mom saved me from a bad accident yesterday.

I had a friend visiting for a couple of weeks and yesterday he was headed home. We were out and about all morning and my car was fine, but at 1:30 pm, we jumped in the car so I could take him to the airport and it wouldn’t start. I kept trying and nothing. It wound not turn over. So he ended up taking Uber to the airport.

About an hour later, I was arranging to have the car towed to the service station in the morning and I ran out to get the license number. While I was there, I tried starting the car again and it turned over perfectly! I turned it off, turned it on again and same thing, it started perfectly. I drove it to the service station to have it looked at and Ubered home.

I thought that that was quite strange. Then I thought, what if Mom was protecting my friend and me from a bad accident as we drove to the airport? What if she made the car not work and then it started normally just a short time later?

I have been saved in traffic situations in the past by people from the other side. I just know it. I’ve almost been in accidents where I knew they were going to happen and nothing happened. Not too long after my brother passed, I was almost in an accident. The truck was coming right at me, I steeled myself for a side door impact and nothing happened. It was as if by magic, the oncoming, speeding truck missed me. It was as if it just drove through me and ended up on the other side of my car.

An angel over a truck

A few years back a friend was telling me about a dream he had where his mother, who had passed, told him she had protected me in an accident. As he described the details, I remembered the incident from about 10 years earlier. He had every single detail right – the color of the car, the type of car, the location, and even that the guy was on a cell phone, which caused him to drive through the red light. A brick phone at that!

At the time I couldn’t explain how my car squeezed into the size of an inch between two cars. Literally, the car had to squeeze that small for me to have survived that accident. I could never wrap my head around it, but I knew at the time it was some sort of divine intervention and when my friend explained it all 10 years later, regarding his late mother’s intervention, it made sense.

I’ve had quite a few incidents like that. Am I a bad driver or is it others? I believe it’s others, but either way, I was saved from terrible accidents by divine intervention and I wonder if that was the case yesterday where my car would not start when needed and then when not needed an hour later, it started without any hesitation.

UPDATE ON THE CAR: The service station called me this morning. There is not a thing wrong with the car. It starts up perfectly. It starts right up. THANKS MOM!

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Pumpkin pickin’

On Saturday, we went pumpkin pickin’ in the Hudson Valley, one of the most beautiful places in the country.

The leaves hadn’t really turned yet, but it was still fall up there.

We stopped a few farms, got pumpkins, apples, apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, you know, the works. We also got mums for the season.

Going pumpkin picking and the works is a new tradition – a great one.

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The 4th of July

I spent the 4th of July in the city, NYC, we usually spend it family-style, which we did, but we did that on July 3, which was unfortunate, because it rained all day on July 3, but the 4th was perfect. It was 75 and sunny all day.

Every year, for some reason, we do the 4th on the 3rd or 2nd or something like that. So a bunch of us drove out to my cousins’ house (n the rain) in The Hamptons on Saturday, July 3rd, but about 20 of us ended up just hanging out inside the house. I usually sleep over and spend the weekend but some of us drove back to the city that night and then enjoyed the beautiful July 4th in the city.

As is the case often, a couple of us headed to Coney Island, we were late for the Hot Dog Eating Contest, but it was still very fun and enjoyable. From there we stopped at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and then Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

Everywhere was packed, there was lots of music and lots of happy people. People have been longing to get out for so long. In New York, street musicians, or I should say park musicians are a big part of life. It was so great hearing them and then hearing loud applause, which never happens, but everyone is so happy this year.

Back home in Miami, they are facing a Tropical storm, but I think it is bypassing my area. So I’m not that concerned.

July 4th ended with a hug fireworks show in the East River and New Jersey had one in the Hudson River, so the city was surrounded with it.

One things that bugs me is that people in NY say, “Have a happy holiday!” Rather than “Happy July 4th!” Since when is the country’s birthday a politically correct thing? I gave money to a guy on the street and he said, “Thank you, happy holiday.”

Anyway, it ended up being a perfect day, after a soggy time the day before.

Now – the fireworks – the best part. Not so much the fireworks themselves, although, they are fantastic, but it’s the ritual before and after that I love.

About a half hour, maybe 45 minutes before the fireworks, people start showing up at the rivers. They walk to the east and west sides as close to the water as possible – that is where the fireworks are. Soon there are tens of thousands of people, all over the place. The streets are closed, there are cops all over and it’s a big party.

I ended up at the UN area this year. Other years I’ve been in other areas. I was right across from the big red Pepsi sign on the Manhattan side from Long Island City.

And then the fireworks start. But wait. When it’s done – all these thousands of people have to leave. And therein lies the fun. Thousands of people start walking up the streets, in an orderly fashion. Thousands of people! They are walking sort of like zombies – determined, yet slowly.

As they reach the Avenues, cars are trying to drive, but they can’t. :People just keep walking. And there are bicycles, mopeds, scooter and rickshaws in the crowd. Thousands of these people moving methodically across the city. It takes a long time, maybe an hour for this to end. And it’s something to see. It’s unreal to see. It’s so calm and methodical and everyone is in a cheerful mood., It’s a great thing to partake in, if you ever get the chance.

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New York Summer

Manhattanhenge

I’ve been in New York. Did a lot so far in a week. The worst part was the flight. From the time I left my house until I got to the door here in NY, it took 10 hours. The flight was delayed and then we didn’t have a pilot! We literally sat on the plane for an hour waiting for him to arrive!

But I’m here and all is well.

Hamptons eats


Been to The Hamptons with my family and friends, we were at an outdoor bar listening to one of my cousins perform., He’s an entertainer and he was doing his thing out at the waterfront. It was a perfect day.

Did a bunch of other things – ate at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Brooklyn. Did Hoboken and saw Manhattanhenge.

Little Island

On Wednesday, a friend and I did the Little Island. It was beautiful and a lot of fun, but the temperature was 96 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees. Oppressive! I even passed up Mr. Softee – I was too nauseous to eat.

A perfect egg cream



Thursday a friend and I did the MET Museum. It rained all day, so that was a good indoor thing to do.

Been to diners, had an egg cream. Did all my usual stuff.

The MET
Walk like an Egyptian – The MET

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Birthdays, kayaks and getting back to normal

For the past week my life has been kayaks and birthday lunches.

I’ve never been one for birthdays, I don’t see any reason to celebrate getting older, and of course my mother always cries when I say that and she thinks I wish I never was born, which of course is not the case. I just don’t like to make a fuss over it.

So usually my birthday comes and goes and my family does something, usually a cake on pizza night or something, but I guess because of the pandemic coming to an end, people want to get out, so I’ve been having lunches almost daily with different people, who are asking to take me out for my birthday, which was almost a week ago – yet the lunches keep going on and I’m loving it. I have a lot of Gemini friends, so there are lots of other birthdays during this period, so we have been celebrating those, too. So it’s been one big Gemini party lately.

For years I went out to lunch almost daily with different friends, and family, on different days and it was just the norm, but over time it seemed to stop, but it’s back and I’m loving it.

One of the local restaurant owners saw me on the street and started complaining about the fate of restaurants these days and he said I look so relaxed and happy and don’t have a wrinkle on my face, which he meant as a put down, but of course, I took it as a compliment, especially on my birthday, the day he actually said that to me. I had to remind him that the pandemic affected everyone, not just him.

As for the kayak/canoe saga, my kayak friend traded in that blow-up thing for an actual canoe. He had some guy with a trailer bring it over to my house to store here so we can easily take it out on the water, but haven’t yet. The bay has been choppy, maybe due that big beautiful full moon. Did you see it?

He came over to try it out, to see if it worked in the water without any leaks. It’s an old, ugly canoe, and therein lies the rub. One of my neighbors objected to it being on the property. “I’m trying to make the place look nice and you have that piece of crap hanging on the wall?” He offered to buy a nice new wooden one for us all to use, something he called “Hamptons-style.”

So I told him to just wait it out, my friend will get bored and get rid of the canoe, although he didn’t take it well when I told him it had to go.

I normally would fight it and say that I live here too, I have rights. But the thing is ugly, it is not going to be used, and my neighbor always does things for me – like buy me a brand new canoe, which I am going to decline. It makes no sense for him to do that.

So between that and lunches with friends (he was one of them that took me out), that’s what’s been going on around here. Business has been picking up, so that’s great and I’m getting ready for summer travel, so that is great, too. Little by little things are returning to normal, let’s hope they stay that way.

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Our kayaking misadventure

So things are slowly getting back to normal. I actually did some physical activity yesterday. It’s been so long! And the good part is that today I don’t feel achy or any pains, so my muscle memory is working.

What we did was go kayaking, but only for a short time That’s me rowing at left and that’s a blow up kayak, which looks more like a moccasin/shoe.

My friend Jorge came over with a new kayak – a blow-up kayak! I told him we had regular kayaks here at the building that we could use, but he insisted on purchasing a rubber blow-up one. So he brought it over and while I didn’t want to go out in that thing, I thought, “Let’s see what happens.”

I live on the bay so it only made sense for him to bring it over so we could launch from here and he could just leave it here for convenience if he likes.

I know Jorge almost all of my life, so it was just another day; another adventure for us to add to our hundreds, if not thousands of adventures we’ve had in our lives together.

It took awhile to blow up the thing. Maybe an hour! Eventually one of my neighbors brought down an electric pump and showed us an easy way to do it, so that made that part easy. Another neighbor brought me sunscreen and insisted I use it, so it ended up being a nice day.

We finally got the thing into the water and really didn’t get the results we had hoped for. As I suspected, it was ricikty and flimsy and unstable. He packed some sort of lunch and drinks and stuff and that thing made the kayak even heavier, plus we had all sort of supplies – life jackets, oars and other things.

We got out into the bay and paddled around a bit, but it was rocking and jiggling and wouldn’t steer right, it kept turning in circles. It was not was was expected – from him anyway. Me, I sort of predicted this.

What I didn’t predict was that I would get seasick. I’ve lived around the water my whole life and only got seasick twice – this time and once on a Key West snorkeling trip.

Anyway, after about 20 minutes of “boating” and an hour or more of setting it all up, we decided to head back and get out. And just as we got to the home docks, I got seasick and started throwing up. Not good.

I almost jumped out and swam to shore, but we made it in properly as many of my neighbors stared from out back, where some were in the pool, others sunning themselves and others getting ready to boat. For a small building, it seems like everyone was out!

I came upstairs and it seems like I fell asleep for a long time while Jorge got everything back together. When he came upstairs two hours had passed! I could have sworn it was half an hour!

We ended up going to a local place to eat lunch, but I was still feeling unwell, so I didn’t eat anything, I took it home with me. He went home from the restaurant and after another hour or sleep or so I felt much better and I texted him and told him, “I had such a great day today!”

And I did, seasickness and all.

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No more touching

The pandemic will have us doing all sorts of new things; you know, changes in our behavior and customs.

I noticed yesterday that I automatically DIDN’T shake hands. And now that I think about it, I don’t shake anyone’s hand anymore. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to think about it and then pull back, now it just comes naturally – don’t touch each other.

Yesterday, I was with a friend and he said, “Tom, this is so-and-so” and he introduced me to some new guy in town. I said, “Hi, nice to meet you,” and that was that. We were a few feet away, shaking distance, but neither of us attempted to shake hands. All three of us talked for about half an hour and then parted, but no one shook hands then either.

I think I mentioned this before – I don’t like to shake hands, although in the past I would do it, and I don’t like to hug or kiss, which in the past, I did. But I guess this is a thing of the past. No more of this touching each other when meeting and greeting.

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