Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Witches of Quogue - Part Three - The Final Frontier

We continue in Quogue on Day 3. My niece had the entire weekend planned for us and today we were "doing lunch" at a beautiful restaurant called Dockers. It was situated on the water overlooking a bay and the menu featured none other than seafood delicacies. We packed up Mr. G., my sister, the Manny (AKA Steve the nanny) and made our way over. In keeping with the theme of the day it was my suggestion to bring along fish shaped snacks (otherwise known as GOLDFISH crackers) for Mr. G's enjoyment. The kid is an expert Cherrio's eater so it was time to expand his horizons. Target had whole grain, cheese flavored GOLDFISH so it was an acceptable food item on my niece's list. We secured a lovely table overlooking the water and plunked the child into his highchair. Naturally the moment his butt hits the seat it's time to eat ( I feel exactly the same way). My niece took out the GOLDFISH and he began shovelling. As we have lived and learned - these treats are a bit too large for a 9 month old. The only way to avoid a Heimlich Maneuvre while consuming these stupid little orange fish is to chop them up in small pieces. In other words......we created Gefilte Goldfish before medical intervention became necessary to go fishing for the fish. For those of you who don't know what the Jewish delicacy "Gefilte Fish" is here is a brief description: chopped fish mixed with eggs, breadcrumbs and seasonings formed into small balls or patties slowly simmered in a fish or vegetable stock. Depending on which side of Poland you grew up on.....there are two flavours......sweet or salt and pepper. Sound good to you? It's an acquired taste.

We enjoyed a fabulous array of seafood for lunch including fish tacos, fried calamari, fresh fried fish sandwich and my favorite - a lobster roll ( small tender pieces of lobster in a creamy dressing stuffed in none other then a plain ol' hot dog bun).

We discovered that what we did best on this mini vacation/visit to the Hamptons was EAT. The next meal was planned before the previous meal was even prepared and consumed.

Each meal was also a team effort. By the time we arrived at our last day we were piecing together odds and ends in the kitchen to create a scrapbook meal. Highlights from the weekend were:

Day one

Dinner - Blackened back ribs ( say that out loud repeatedly for a tongue twister)

Day two

Breakfast- my nephew's famous Adam Mcmuffins

Lunch - Turkey Sammies

Dinner - Mussels in a white wine sauce with garlic toast

Day Three

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, crescents and fresh fruit

Lunch - Dockers Seafood

Dinner - V 's famous SHTIRFRY

Day Four

Breakfast - Fried Eggs and undercooked Tater Tots

Lunch - best before it hits the garbage leftovers ( delish )

Dinner - Tony's Asian Fusion Cuisine
(Mr. G. mastered eating from Chopsticks)

Day five * not much left in the house so..........
at Breakfast......
we stole some Cherrios from Mr. G.

We all agreed that aside from being an amazing hostess my niece is running a Bed and Breakfast at her home. In our case it was a Bed & Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. To thank her for all her hard work we treated her to lunch at Dockers and dinner at Tony's Asian Fusion.

On day four we had to pack my sister up and send her back to the airport in NYC.You are probably wondering why she was leaving a day earlier than we did? Well even if you weren't I'm going to explain this to you. My sister lives alone. She has a cat. Her name is Lulu. That's exactly what she is ...a real Lulu of a cat. This feline looks like a cross between Oz's Cowardly Lion and a large piece of dryer lint.

We love her dearly but she's about as charming as Betty Davis was to her child. Trust me I know what its like to have an ornery cat - I have one who thinks that the world is her toilet.

So my sister was actually worried about leaving her even though my other niece was perfectly capable of dropping in to feed her. I keep reminding my sister that she is too devoted to an animal who will only one day turn around and consume her master if she ever falls in the apartment and can't get up.

After we said our tearful goodbyes I waited exactly 3 1/2 seconds to move all my belongings into her main floor Master Suite bedroom with the Jacuzzi tub. Basically the bed wasn't even cold after the body was removed and I was jumping on it like a trampoline. Weeeeeeeee!

This is what I had to look forward to that night. Sleeping on a king sized pillow-top while Steve remained stationed in the purple room on his firmer mattress.

I prepared myself for bed, washed, brushed and was psyched to have a restful night. I jumped into the "cloud" bed and discovered that I couldn't sleep. Why? Because it was a "new" bed in a "new" surrounding.

So I did my usual toss,turn,toss,turn toss,turn and finally fell asleep only to be awakened by bright sunshine streaming through light airy curtains in the beautiful Master Suite.

There are three pieces of criteria I need for sleeping.

1. My own bed

2. Quiet

3. Darkness.

I would do well in a coffin.

Let's talk about item 2.


My doctor once told me that my hearing is not the greatest. Which brings me to ask. Why is it that I have trouble hearing but I can hear everything?
Over 22 years ago *Harriet and Donald (names have been changed to protect me from hearing from them) bought a dog. Who the F are Harriet and Donald? They live behind our bedroom window. Now I know that they haven't had the same dog for 22 years but the original one was a yapper and the replacement one which looks exactly the same is a yapper. Every morning the Yapper would yap and every morning the whole house could hear the yapper do his yapping. This is when I started wearing those little earplugs that the air traffic controllers wear to block out noise. The issue with me is ...they don't block out any noise. To this day I wear these things and I can still hear Steve snoring, cats yelling and the furnace going on and off. My husband is convinced that I have malformed ear canals. When he puts a pair in his ears he can't even hear me speak (or maybe he can and is just saying he can't?) Hmmm.

Before I left for the Hamptons I Googled "Worlds Finest Ear Plugs". There was an interesting video on YouTube that demonstrated the proper insertion of these earplugs. Once I watched it I came to the realization that I have NEVER been inserting them accurately. You see...its all in how you roll and place.

I then fell upon a particular site that guaranteed their product was the top noise reduction earplugs on Earth.

The testimonials were awesome. Here are some samples:

"I am a newlywed, and my husband snores horribly. I've tried everything to block out his snoring so I could sleep in the same room. I've tried a noise machine, nose strips for him, sleeping medication for me and an endless variety of over-the counter earplugs that never fit, never block out sound and are terribly irritating to wear. Nothing worked and every morning I would wake up in the spare bedroom. I can't tell you enough how happy I am with your Beneficial World's Finest Ear Plugs. I am pleased to say that I no longer hear him snoring. You truly have saved my marriage. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you !!!"

T. Adams, USA

"Dear good people at BPI, I now fall asleep in 1 minute instead of listening to his snoring for an hour. I'm so grateful that I discovered you and your wonderful ear plugs. You changed my life and saved my marriage and brought a happiness to my life that was missing for too many years. With much love and appreciation."

R. DeLuca, USA

"I agree with all the others who say that these earplugs have made such a difference in their lives. My husband's snoring has literally had us in separate bedrooms for the past 4 years. I had tried everything and I even dreaded vacations where we would have to sleep in the same room with nowhere for me to escape. I ordered your ear plugs as a last resort. I can't believe it! I really cannot believe what a difference they have made. I can sleep with both my husband and my pug (who snores almost as much as my husband) and I don't hear them. We just came back from a vacation in a small hotel room for 3 nights and I GOT GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP EVERY NIGHT!!! Wow. I am so grateful...truly. Thanks so much."

A. DiMaggio, USA

Based on these "true" stories would you not try these? Of course you would.

So when we returned home from our trip there was a brown shipping envelope wading amongst my unopened mail. My earplugs!!!! I tore open the package and pulled out the small case which housed 6 pairs of small blue round pucks that looked and smelled like playdoh. Inside the case there was also a piece of paper with instructions on how to place and remove your new earplugs.

Roll puck in between fingers for 10 seconds to soften. Place in ear canal and gently push until you hear it seal. Repeat with remaining puck. Have a good sleep.

Okay listen. Did that sound easy? Yes. Was it? No. Did I have a good night sleep? Yes. Why? Because I used my old earplugs and threw the new ones on the floor.

I didn't want to give up. I emailed the "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back" company and asked them some questions. Perhaps I wasn't inserting the puck properly in my earhole?

They emailed me back promptly. This is what I received.

Hello Debi,

We are sorry to hear that you are having problems with our product.
Try rolling the puck between your fingers for 10 seconds and then insert them in you ear canal.



I didn't reply to her email but wanted to say:

Gee thanks Tricia. Were those not the same instructions that came inside your stupid box of playdoh pucks?

I tried them again the following night. I rolled each one slowly between my fingers. Placed them against my ear. Pushed gently and tried to sleep.

Here's how I woke up in the morning. There were remnants of two large blue globs of earplug playdoh stuck in my hair and I could not remove it without sliding it through strand by strand. That's right.....stuck....stuck in my hair!

Dear Tricia,

I tried your earplugs again last night as directed. When I woke up this morning I was wearing them on the outside of my head. Please advise.

Hello Debi,

Oh dear! That's not good. We will have one of our sales representatives contact you by phone to give you step by step instructions.



Agnes? What happened to Tricia? Was she fired for telling someone the earplugs they sell suck?

So I waited. Sure enough no call. When I arrived home from work there was a Voicemail on my phone.

Hello Ms. Traub,

This is Roger from Worlds Finest Earplugs. We were notified by customer service that you were experiencing problems inserting our product. Could you kindly call our toll free number and we will be happy to assist you. Just dial 1-888-worldsgoodforshitearplugs.

So I dialed and it rang and rang and rang until finally someone answered.

"Worlds Finest Earplugs" it's Tricia can I help you?

Now it clicked. Tricia and Agnes must take turns on the switchboard.

"Hi Tricia. Its Debi. I believe we have been in contact by email"? I said.

"Oh yes Debi. What seems to be the problem" Tricia replied.

"Well's the issue. I was looking forward to using your earplugs as a sound barrier but instead they seemed to be getting stuck in my fresh blonde highlites". I explained

Tricia then went on to give me some tips. She repeated the same instructions that were inside the box and stated that those earplugs work like a charm. They actually saved her marriage. Uh. Where did I hear that line before? IN THE TESTIMONIALS!

I get it now. Tricia is married to Roger. Roger owns the company. Agnes is Tricia's sister. The three of them are from Arkansas and they are selling the worlds best playdoh for your ears out of their trailer and they are the writers of the testimonials.


When I went to bed that night after speaking to my friend Tricia I tried something new. I split one earplug into two halves. They slipped in nicely and where not too big for me small delicate holes. Believe it or not they work...until you roll over and they come unglued from your ear and end up on the cat's paw.

Have they saved my marriage? didn't need saving in the first place. Do marriages actually end on grounds of irreconcilable snoring? I can understand murder but snoring?

So where was I? Oh yes back to the Hamptons. We were finally on Departure Day - Number Five. While I was packing and getting ready to head back my niece spotted a turtle on the driveway. All you need to say "reptile" and Steve comes running to touch it. I don't love touching things. Especially creatures. Steve does.

He insisted that I touch it. I refused. He insisted again. I refused again. The only thing I wanted to do with that turtle is take my picture NEAR it....truly enough close contact for me.

Before we knew it the turtle aptly named Myrtle was hoisted up in the air and quickly became my husband's  NBF (new best friend). He took Myrtle places she had never seen. The front porch. The back porch. The stairs where she proceeded to tumble down shaking her gorgeous shell. Before she could escape to the tranquility of the forest she emerged from Steve gave her one more treat. He ran inside to make her lunch. As she dined al fresco on small strips of fresh smoked turkey, Mr. G. watched intently as this new friend sucked up her lunch while bobbing her head in and out of her shell. I reminded Steve that we had a plane to catch and he would have to say goodbye to his new reptile love. He carried her gingerly back to the front of the house and placed her on the ground near the sweep of trees she calls home. It was a bittersweet moment.

Weeks later my niece informed me that Myrtle disappeared and was reported on the M.T.L. (missing turtles list). Most likely because Turtles are other words....vegetarian. Is there anything vegetarian about smoked turkey? Last time I looked no.....Steve may have sent his hard shelled friend back to the forest to live but I'm thinking Myrtle needed acute medical attention and suffered from "shell" shock or a severe case of turtle-rhea.

We had a great time visiting the Hamptons and now it was time to go. I held on tight to Mr. G. for my final hug while Steve performed a tribute to the late Michael Jackson for his last moments with our great-nephew. My niece was close to tears when she saw our car pull away from the driveway and couldn't bare to let us leave.

We were not sure if this picture depicts the way she felt about us leaving or the way she felt after hosting us for 5 days. You decide.

Once we reached the same forks in the road to return to the freeway that would lead us back to La Guardia airport we got lost again.

We asked for directions and made it on time to catch our flight only to find out that our flight was DELAYED. When we sat down in the lounge area I looked up at the TV prompter that lists all the departures and arrivals. AIR CANADA FLIGHT 731 departing at 2:30 p.m. had a large red line across it. No sooner did I notice that did the grounds representative come on the loud speaker to let us know that the plane was delayed due to "mechanical" issues. What exactly are "mechanical" issues? For a jittery flyer such as I am it means that the plane is broken in a million pieces and they are just spending some time glueing it back together and we are all going to die if we fly in it.

Ninety minutes after our departure time our glued together airplane landed and released it's passengers. I did my airport analysis and noticed that everyone looked quite pale walking out of the gate. Please note - (we were traveling in the Summer so there was no reason for chalky looking people to disembark).

They did the usual boarding call. I was in line first......Steve followed later......and we were on the plane. As we taxied out onto the runway the Captain greeted us by saying the following:

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentleman,
This is your Captain speaking. We apologise for the delay. We should be off the ground shortly. The previous crew informed us that their ride into NYC this afternoon was quite rough and bumpy. We are expecting the same kind of "wild" weather on our journey back to Toronto. Sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

(this explained the chalky looking passengers)

Now let me ask you. I know you have travelled before. Is this the type of speech you want to hear before you fly on a patched together piece of metal with wings?

What kind of Captain was this?

As it turned out the Captain was a big fat lier. The flight was as smooth as silk with ZERO turbulence. I calmly filled out my custom declarations card without my hand shaking.

1 Fruit Loops T-Shirt
2 Non-stick frying pans

Total - $40

A wonderful trip with tons of fond memories. Next visit to the Hamptons? The American Thanksgiving in November. My niece wants us to taste her turkey. I wonder if Myrtle will show up?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Witches of Quogue - Part Two

Are you still with me here?....okay so we are still trying to reach our destination.......

When Steve finally opened both his eyes we survived the Interstates by counting the exits until we reached (69 - Quogue). Even with a GPS and a hard copy map we still managed to get LOST. There were more forks in the road than I have in my cutlery drawer.

I made a quick S.O.S. call to my niece who was attempting to smoke spareribs on this contraption called the Big Green Egg. It's a hybrid slow cooker/bbq/smoker that she bought for her husband for Father's Day. Now this toy does not replace a real bbq but you can smoke just about anything on it...even eggs. She had never used this giant green smoker (her husband is the BGE expert) before but had no choice as he was due in on the 5:30 p.m. train from Manhattan and this THING required you to slow cook for hours on end.

We arrived at the house at 3 p.m. and were greeted by Mr. G. and my niece. First things first. A tour of the house. Mr. G. was so enthusiastic to take us around.

First he used me as a wall and then showed me his umbrella stand which doubles as a place to knock out a number two in his pants.

We unpacked and it was time to start preparing for our first meal in Quogue. My niece was concerned about the ribs....they were looking shall we say....a little well done. She went to pick up her husband at the train station and informed him that the ribs MAY be just a little overcooked.

When he arrived home, he did the hundred yard dash to his green egg and opened the lid. Although they looked like they were cremated....they tasted pretty good....the end of that story was my niece is a fabulous cook....she just can't be left alone with that green monster again.

By the time we finished dinner and cleaned up it's almost time for bed. This is when Steve plays the part of the baby in the Nursery Story The Three Little Bears. He makes his way from room to room to find a bed that is.......JUST RIGHT.  Baby Bear Steve then settles on a bed that won't bother his back because every mattress in the house is a pillowtop. We then determine that he is going to be bunking in a different room than mine. Remember in one of my first blogs I told you about Steve's Jumping Bean Pseudo Epileptic Syndrome? I need to sleep in two beds pushed together in order not to be woken about by the jerking that goes on all night beside me.  So Steve gets the purple queen bed room and I am right next door in the twin bed room. Whatever works right? At bedtime he did a morse code on the wall....which from what I could decipher meant ...GOODNIGHT...

The question it ever a "good" night for me? Especially on the first night in strange surroundings? I have my doubts. My fears were not unfounded. I tossed and turned and turned and tossed. When I finally fell asleep I thought I had been out all night but in reality I think I slept just a few hours. I could see the crack of dawn through my window, looked at my watch and saw that it was 5:29 a.m. Great. Now what?

Day 2 - It's time for Kertner's List. My niece had a few things that she needed done by Steve the Handyman in her new home.

The list was as follows:
  • put up Plastic bag holder in the kitchen cupboard
  • Fix Large planter in the front of the house
  • Plant her tomatoes way too late in the season
  • Hook up a new hose outside
  • Oxy clean the outdoor furniture
  • Put up a new fixture in the purple bedroom (this was one of the highlights of the list)
  • buy a hammock and hook it up
  • fix the broken lounge chair
  • balance the antique table in the living area
  • blow up a rubber duck for Mr. G's bath
  • construct a Family Tree for an upcoming event

The tasks were pretty simple until it came to the light fixture. If a the fixture came in a box and was ready to hang that would have been one thing. Once the item comes from IKEA you know you are in for a "PROJECT". The concept behind IKEA is this.....their prices are reasonable, their products are good BUT there is a BUT......once you open the box it usually means there are 1000 pieces to put together with a small sheet of paper instructions in every language in the Universe. IKEA instructions and STEVE do not mix well. Here's how my husband puts together something from that store.

1. Open the box
2. Dump out box contents on the floor
3. Ignore instruction sheet because it looks simple enough and Steve has common sense.
4. Start placing together pieces that LOOK like they match
5. Empty all the nuts, bolts and screws on the floor and mix them around like scrabble pieces
6. Begin screwing
7.  Undo screws
8. Look for screws that Steve thinks should be in the box
9. Look at instructions for a split second and then throw them on the floor with the screws.
10. Begin screwing again
11. Stop screwing
12. Throw a piece of the project that you were screwing
13. Look for a screw that has rolled under the couch
14. Continue screwing
15. Stand back to see if the project looks right
16. Turn it upside down
17. Check the box again for pieces that Steve "thinks" are missing
18. Look for the receipt
19. Call IKEA to let them know that something is missing
20. IKEA confirms that you are not missing anything
21. IKEA also suggests that you read the instructions
22. READ instructions and discover that nothing is missing but your ability to follow instructions.
23. Take apart project and start again
24. Follow step by step instructions until complete
25. Stand back in pride and marvel at your accomplishment
26. Wonder why there is still a single screw on the floor that you didn't use
27. Throw the single screw out because you think it's an "EXTRA"

My method is simpler:

Take out instructions. Read them. Screw it. Done.

My niece really had her heart set on hanging that fixture up in the Purple Bedroom. It came with what looked like 60 plastic arches and about 200 paper flowers. We had to secure each arch with about 8 flowers. We were now enrolled at CAMP KERTZNER doing an arts and crafts project.

Once all the arches were complete with flowers we moved the pieces into the "purple" room. Steve retrieved the tall ladder and I used the flower arches to perform a Las Vegas showgirl finale. He placed the ladder in the room and I was hired as his assistant. My role was to ensure that he didn't fall and break his neck. I was also expected to retrieve any old fixture parts that were falling from the ceiling. Naturally when Steve climbed the ladder he was about 5 inches from his comfort zone. As he teetered on the ladder I began putting together the WHAT IF ? list.

Here's the sequence of my thoughts:

Question -What if Steve loses his balance?
Answer - I will try to catch him?

Question - What if Steve loses his balance and falls backwards and I can't catch him?
Answer - I will need to administer FIRST AID for which I am highly trained

Question - What if Steve breaks a piece of his body?
Answer - I will call 911

Question - What if Steve falls, breaks his body and I am still in my bathing suit when EMS arrives?
Answer - I will ask EMS to just hang on a second while I shower

Question - What if Steve is unconcious and I have to give him CPR which I am also highly trained in?
Answer -  I will administer CPR for 30 seconds and see if he starts breathing again and then take a shower.

Question: What if EMS arrives and I don't have time to shower and change? Do I accompany Steve in the ambulance in my new green bikini?

Answer: I will throw on my matching coverup to avoid being cold in the hospital.
Right in the middle of my day dreams Steve dropped a lightbulb from the ceiling sending it crashing into a million tiny little shards all over the floor. Once we cleaned it up and got back to business it didn't take more than a few more minutes to complete our two hour project. The results were truly spectacular. The light was magnificent.

My niece was overjoyed and we were relieved that the only casualty in the room was the broken light bulb.

I was also hired to assist Steve in putting up the new hammock. This was an easier project as no ladder was required. Only two screws and it was ready to use for swinging. My niece starred in the lead role in the " really off Broadway" musical Jesus Christ I live in the Hamptons. While my sister and I were almost nominated as best actresses in a supporting cast. (it's a miracle all three of us were not "sporting casts" after maneouvering in and out of this thing.

For the next 3 days all we did was eat, play and loved being in the Hamptons.  Target and K-Mart were the main choices for shopping excursions. I spotted a Walmart but my niece was in the store once and had to leave because she was seriously frightened by what she saw - apparantly The People Of Walmart really do exist.

We took Mr. G. to Target and he loved racing up and down the aisles with his Uncle Steve in the shopping cart. Our stop at K-Mart was memorable as well with the exception of Steve scaring the living daylights out of Mr. G. when he decided it would be fun to grab a hat off the shelf and mimic John Belushi in the Blues Brothers.

Our days were spent soaking up the sun in the backyard. The weather was perfect. The temperature was ideal. Steve read his book poolside while we frolicked in the water. What I can't figure out is this.....Steve will go scuba diving, snorkling, skydiving, pilot a plane and was a full flegded certified LIFE GUARD BUT has a fear.......of the water. No not just any water....just COLD water. Everytime I would get into the pool to cool off I would motion for him to join me. He would rise out of his chair.......dip his left toe in and say Eeeeeeee!...too cold for me!".

After a couple of days it was time to get him on a floatie. He devised a way of not getting too much of his body wet. Stack two floaties on top of each other and slither on backwards without letting too much water touch him.....

Can anyone explain this ? I can't.

So I bet you're there a PART 3 of the Witches of Quogue? What do you think? Of course there is....we have to get home don't we?