Showing posts with label Munyon Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Munyon Island. Show all posts

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tabula Rasa

Time to veg out, wipe my mind clean of Donald and Hillary, Brexit, the mere existence of the gun lobby, personal finances, medical issues and appointments, logistics of packing for the summer and caring for the house, all that “stuff” that clatters in my brain.  Turn off the computer and CNN, MSNBC and Bloomberg, don’t look at email, run from the phone, and flee the endless advertisements and robo calls. Take the boat and go off to Munyon Island and be alone with a pelican.  Swim in the 80 plus degree water of the Intracoastal.  Watch some fish swim by.  Don’t move at times, sitting on the sandy bottom.  Let the water lap up to ears and nose. Shut off the mind and let quiet envelop.

Then in the evening: baseball.  See a relatively small (5’11”) lefty on the mound for the Palm Beach Cardinals, Ian McKinney, take on the St. Lucie Mets.  Over nearly seven innings he struck out five and walked one, giving up just an unearned run.  Not overpowering, he relied on his curve and change up, setting up his fast ball, in the high 80s, maybe 90. 

Watching a crafty lefty work is mesmerizing, a ballet in my mind, and a perfect end to a day without the disquiet of modern life.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Plaintive Melodies Redux

One year ago today I wrote about how it feels to be leaving for the summer, something we've done now for fourteen years.  As much as we look forward to returning to Connecticut for a stay on our boat, our summer home, it seems to become more challenging with each passing year -- just the logistics of packing, preparing the house for the kind of summer weather for which Florida is notorious, and, then, a 1,250 mile drive up infamous I95.  And each year we do this, we are another year older, with the strength of youth receding.

Dozens of windows and sliding glass doors have to covered. This year we installed roll down shutters on our porch, neatly tying in our flat roof to the rest of the structure and eliminating the need to cover the three large sliding doors from the porch to the house.  Nonetheless, there are still 359 bolts and 319 wing nuts that have to be installed (and disassembled) each year for these coverings (I know, I counted them!).  I put up a few each day until they are done. When everything is in place, the house is like a fortress but hurricanes such as Andrew had its way with some of the best structures.

Then, our boat, the 'Reprise', has to be prepared for the summer and for storage.  The weekend before, we attended a Grady rendezvous at Munyon Island, one of our favorite nearby places.  Some forty people were there on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for traditional hamburgers and hot dogs, provided by the Grady Club, and everyone brought a side to share.  Makes one wonder why we are leaving at all.   Two days later, I ran the boat south on Lake Worth to a ramp where I was met by the dealer in Riviera Beach, and we hauled the boat onto their trailer, for storage on the dealer's lot for the summer. 

Going north means leaving my piano behind.  I gave a number of performances at retirement homes again this year, first at the Waterford, and then a regular monthly concert at La Posada.  As our departure date nears, I found myself playing some of the more plaintive pieces, one in particular, the not very well known, but the metaphorically meaningful (to me as time marches on), (Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair.  This was written by a composer who died less than a year ago, Billy Barnes.  He had a long career, mostly production numbers for well-known TV shows of the 60s and 70s, but as some people write but one great novel, (Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair is his masterpiece.  It was written to be sung by a woman and two wonderful, very different interpretations can be heard here, a 1963 recording by Barbara Streisand and another by Rosemary Clooney towards the end of her career. 

My homage to Billy Barnes follows.  In a sense his piece encapsulates my feelings as we leave for the summer

I wanted the music to play on forever
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
I wanted the clown to be constantly clever
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
I bought me blue ribbons to tie up my hair
But I couldn't find anybody to care;
The merry-go-round is beginning to taunt now
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
The music has stop and the children must go now
Have I stayed too long at the fair?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Day

It was brilliant and warm here on Jan. 1, 2012, a perfect day for venturing to our new go-to destination of Munyon Island on our boat where Ann, Jon and I had the beach pretty much to ourselves. Not much to do there but as it was a Sunday, we had the New York Times to keep us company, relax, and watch the yachts go by on Lake Worth. We decided to return home via the Earman River.

As our home is actually on an island, we have two ways of reaching Munyon, the northern route via the Intracoastal or the southern route via the Earman River. This screen shot from Google, showing our home (circled at the west portion of the shot) on the North Palm Beach Waterway and the Munyon docks (circled on the east), speaks for itself. Further east beyond Munyon is MacArthur Beach State Park on Singer Island and then the Atlantic.

Returning via the Earman we went past a man jet skiing with his dog. It was an absolutely perfect ending to our New Year's Day of boating, a Florida moment, bringing a smile to everyone's face.

But what would New Year's Day be without friends, other than man's best friend? Years ago half the day would be spent on the phone with friends but now there is email so I caught up with many via that route. Still, I have had a long standing agreement with my old friend and colleague Ron to avoid email on that special day so we had a marathon talk when I returned from Munyon. Naturally our conversation moved from remembering other colleagues in publishing, to the state of the industry (particularly the impact of eBooks), to politics, and finally to our families. His "kids" are doing well as are mine and we both recognize the truth of "you're only as happy as your unhappiest adult child." In Ron's case there are also grandchildren -- in Washington DC --and he is lucky enough to live fairly nearby in North Carolina.

I also "spoke" to my old friend Ray through his wife, Susan, as Ray was in the bilge of his boat all day repairing a generator. He and Sue spend the winter in Boat Harbour, Bahamas on their boat (which is their year-round home). We see them when they briefly visit on their way to or from the Bahamas and in Norwalk, Connecticut where we both live on boats during the summer.

On New Year's Day I also think about my dear friend and colleague Howard who died at such an early age more than three years ago. I used to speak to him on New Year's Day so that is such a void. He was a brilliant, talented person (click onto this link to see his superb carvings of a Manatee and Koala Bear), gone but always remembered by me. I also keep in mind, with great respect, another friend and colleague, Peter, who has now been out of my life, but not memory, for nearly twenty years now.

Finally there was some surprising news that arrived by email on New Year's Day. But first brief background information. My first job out of college in 1964 was at a division of Academic Press, Johnson Reprint Corporation. I was hired by the Vice President at the time, Fred, who was living with his partner, Michael. I remember when he hired me, thinking he's so old, 35. Ha. About six months later he also hired a "sassy dame," and she showed up at a New Year's Day party that Fred and Michael threw, I think it was Jan. 1966. She was wearing a backless dress right down to the tip of her derrière and believe me, even though I was there with my 1st wife, I took note as she moved to the music. Later she became wife #2 (Ann). So that little intersection of time and space changed my life and hers, thanks to Fred's astute hiring practices.

Here are Michael, Fred and me sometime after I had turned 35.

Well, Fred and Michael have stayed together all that time and, as Fred put it, they "finally tied the knot after 54 years," a civil union performed at New York City hall at the close of 2011! What better way to start the New Year?

Life is Company.....

Phone rings, / Door chimes, / In comes / Company!
No strings, /Good times, / Just chums, / Company!
All those / Photos / Up on the walls--
"With love." / "With love" filling the days,
"With love" seventy ways, / "To Bobby with love"
From all those good and crazy people, your friends!
Those good and crazy people, your married friends!
And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
That's what it's really about, isn't it?
That's what it's really about,
Really about!

From Company, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


This is a sort of maintenance, catch-up entry; odds and ends that need to be tied up.

First a follow up about the replacement of our home's roof. After a couple of weeks of delay, partially related to weather, the ordeal is finally over, somewhat anticlimactic as now when I look at the house, it seems like the new roof has always been there. But its guts are very different, with the underlayment and the Polyset roofing system designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. The house might be gone but the roof will be levitating!

Now the rest of the house speaks to me for repair and upgrading, particularly exterior painting. The eves are a high priority as wood rot was replaced while roofing, and bare wood needs to be primed and painted. As some of the eaves are at a second story level, that will have to be done by a professional, but the rest of the house, in particular the courtyard and the courtyard walls, call out to me so I've slowly started to prep and paint. Elastomeric paint is very forgiving, allowing coverage of narrow stress cracks that would have to be filled otherwise. I thought I would despise painting and repairing, something I haven't done in some time, but I find it somewhat satisfying, and doable if I take it in small doses each day. Not the same feeling as when I was younger and routinely did repairs and even undertook larger scale projects on our homes, but fulfilling nonetheless. Maybe it's just being relieved that my life is back to normal after a year of health issues.

Next, I wanted to experiment with posting videos directly to this blog. Although I've posted to YouTube, this is new to me so I just filmed a couple this past week or so. These are not very remarkable, but they are mercifully brief.

The first was taken when Ann's friend, Arlene, was visiting from Tampa, and we went on our boat and up the Intracoastal to look at the Christmas lights. The Palm Beach boat parade was only a few nights before that so I thought most homes would be finished with their decorations, but that was not the case. Nonetheless, one of the homes in Palm Beach Gardens that has a fairly spectacular display, perhaps about a half mile north of the PGA bridge, had their decorations finished. The video is a little muddled as I was trying to steer our boat while filming with the other hand.

[Well, this first experiment failed. The video will not upload. Will keep trying but as the narrative is still valid, I am posting without the first video.]

Christmas in Florida reminds me of the Diane Arbus photograph "Xmas tree in a living room in Levittown, LI." -- the sterile living room consisting of a couch with fringe hanging from the upholstery, a lamp, a clock that looks like a star on the wall, a TV set and an end table, with a heavily decorated, but unlighted, Christmas tree shoved in the corner with wrapped gifts under it. There is a certain sadness that Arbus captured and she would have had a field day in Florida during this time of year where the juxtaposition of Christmas decorations and tropical weather seems to have the same effect as her photographs of the bizarre. To the right is a typical December Florida scene, a Great Blue Heron sunning himself on our sea wall. It just does not say "Christmas!"

The next video might interest local boaters as the Munyon Island docks were just completed and it is a pleasant destination for smaller boats in the Palm Beach area, with floating docks, and an effective breakwater to protect boats from the wakes churned up by the larger vessels traversing Lake Worth north and south. Munyon Island itself was slightly developed to accommodate visitors to the docks with a few small pavilions and grilling facilities, as well as a slightly elevated walkway through the native growth of Munyon where it dead ends into a pathway which I followed only to be greeted by a spider the size of a B-29, so that is where my reconnoitering ended. But the tropical environment is lush on the island and well worth visiting. Here is a history of Munyon and of the restoration project.

We're fortunate to have such a facility so near us (ten minutes by boat) as well as the more elaborate ones of Peanut Island but Peanut can be crowded, particularly on holidays and weekends.

Besides occasionally adding videos to the blog, I want to begin to label the blog entries as I've written more than 250 entries in the four years I've been doing this and while there is search capability (upper left corner) and of course contents and images are searchable via Google et. al. as well, there is no structured index, something that bothers me as an ex-publisher. That is going to be an ongoing job and I'm not sure about the approach at this point but there might be some strange entries in the future to test the labeling capabilities.

Moving on to some family stuff, earlier in the year our son's friend, Jeff, was married and the wedding was sort of a reunion, five friends, boys we've seen grow up from the innocence of childhood, through the terrible teens, and now into manhood, each going their own way in life, but coming together as if no time had passed at all. Uniting them is the love of boating, water skiing and swimming as each grew up on the water, spent summer weekends out at "our" Crow Island and a part of their summers together on Block Island.

So today, this is the motley crew (picture courtesy of Jeff's Mom, Cathy)

and here they are in photographs from years ago:

Finally, one of my fellow bloggers, is "graduating," having used his blog to pursue a dream (starting his own mutual fund) and after several years writing about the market (and maintaining a "virtual" portfolio, providing complete transparency), his blog will be moving to a web site as his "Paladin Long Short Fund" has been approved by SEC (the proposed symbol, not yet approved, is PALFX) I predict Mark will be a very successful trader and offer him my congratulations, bringing his dream to reality -- yet another instance of how technology has been used as a fulcrum for entrepreneurship.