I had planned to post about my Argentina trip, but had something unexpected come up.
Yesterday morning, my daughter didn't feel well and I decided to keep her home from school. She wore her gown and cuddled under a blanket as we drove to drop L off at middle school.
Since I had just returned from out of town, we were out of coffee (horrors!) and milk. In the car, we heard on the radio that severe storms were expected in the afternoon and evening, so I decided to swing into the Food Lion on the way home and grab those necessities. That way we wouldn't have to go out later in the rain.
It was the perfect situation because there were no cars at the grocery store and I could park directly in front, leave C in the car, (she'll be in middle school next year, so I wasn't leaving a small child) run in, grab milk, and run out. Everything worked as planned, except when I strolled up to the checkout, I saw it had started to rain outside. The rain was coming down in sheets.
I was worried about C and decided to leave my things and go out and get her. I found her completely unfazed by the rain. As we hurried back into the store, (she in her gown and Uggs) the power went out.
Everyone stood at the giant plate glass windows watching the storm. There were just 2-3 customers and maybe 8-10 workers. It was obvious that this was not just your average storm, so I asked several cashiers if they had seen the Lowe's in North Carolina that had been decimated by a tornado several weeks ago. I told them how the manager was considered a hero because he herded everyone in the back into a safe, windowless room. Then, I asked if they had somewhere safe for us to go. One lady replied, "If a tornado comes, you just follow me." Hmmm...really? We'll just wait and then run? Half the staff was outside under the awning watching trees snapping and grocery carts flying. The other half of the staff was yelling at them to get inside. C and I were sharing treats from our grocery cart with a frightened 3 year old boy.
Finally, the storm passed. I loaded up my groceries, drove around a fallen tree, and went home. I had no idea of the destruction surrounding us.
I absolutely adore Hampton dinner parties. There is something to be said for an intimate dinner party in a home. I love dressing up, going to someone's home, and enjoying great wine, hors d'oeuvres, cozy ambiance, lively conversation, and a seated dinner. And no one does it better than a Hamptons host.
One such dinner party we attended was most interesting. We were invited to dinner by one of my favorite people. She, an heiress from Europe, is quite literally the most elegant woman I've ever met. She's lived and traveled all over the world. Her husband has been described as "American royalty." Occasionally, he'll share great stories about dinner parties from his childhood, recalling interesting conversations with Truman Capote - among other elites. I'm always amazed and honored to receive an invitation from these two because I feel as if I "bring nothing to the table." In comparison, my life has been sheltered and narrow, while their contemporaries are artists and intellectuals.
On that particular evening, as we chatted over dinner, this gentleman told me about a dinner party they had attended earlier that week in the city. He said that everyone at the table was asked, "What work of art has moved you in the past 30 days?" He said that there was even someone taking notes on the answers given.
As we discussed the responses, he directed the question to me. "What work of art has moved You in the past 30 days?" At the time, I was teaching first grade and constantly ferrying my two children around Long Island to various activities, so I wasn't exactly spending my days perusing art galleries. However, I am an avid reader and therefore, consider books works of art. (If you ever borrow a book from me, you will find multiple marked pages where I have been moved by insightful comments, beautiful prose, or prolific statements on the human condition.) I consider myself decently educated and somewhat articulate. I should...have...had...an...answer. However, my brain was fuzzy from wine served with dinner... and I had nothing. No answer at all. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Nothin'. I coudn't even remember the title of the book I was reading - just in case it had moved me. I could not recall one thing that moved me in the preceding 30 days.
Since that occasion (where I came across as a complete moron), I've often questioned, 'What moves me?'
In addition to the obvious - my family, suffering in the world, and God's infinite grace, here are some things that have moved my soul:
The Red Rocks of Sedona
The Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Grand Canyon
The City of Florence
The chains that held St. Peter
Notre Dame on a Snowy Evening
Venus de Milo
Van Gogh's Shoes
Surprisingly, I have searched and searched and the work of art that moved me most, I never photographed. It was the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. The feeling I had upon seeing it is indescribable.
Little did I know it would become my favorite shirt. So recently, as the hem started unravel from being loved to death, and being 1,000 miles away from Bridgehampton, I examined the tag and googled the brand. I ended up coming across the website and blog for this company. It's called Rikshaw Design. It's the perfect shirt for "Hamptons casual." Check it out if you need some casual, summer tunics. Oh! And if I had a little one, she would be decked out in this:
Looking back... Here's an old e-mail I sent regarding one of my favorite summer events:
John and I had the privilege of attending ECOFABULOUS on Saturday night. It was a fund-raising event to benefit the Group for the East End. This group protects and restores the environment of the Eastern End of Long Island through "education, citizen action, and professional advocacy." Farming has been vital to this area for hundreds of years and is still essential to the community. (I bet you never think about that when you think of the Hamptons!)
Most Hamptons parties are outside and this one was no exception. It was in a huge tent on the Wolffer Estate. The only problem was that it had rained all week and torrential downpours occurred all evening on Saturday. Actually, one of my favorite parts of this night was seeing the sophisticated ladies in cocktail dresses and wellies! I wore a little black Calypso dress and black patent wedges that I knew I could wipe off.
The event began with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a silent auction at 6:30 p.m., followed by an 8 o'clock seated dinner. The food came from local farms and was prepared by celebrity chefs. We were treated to organically grown greens with feta cheese and dressing. The entree was roasted duck with couscous, and dessert was a berry cobbler. Everything prepared was regional - even the Wolffer wine that was served with each course. Alec Baldwin hosted a live auction during the dinner. He did an outstanding job and you could clearly see the energy and charisma that has made him famous.
A special tribute to the life of Christian Wolffer was planned, and John was told that he would receive the award on behalf of the vineyard and Christian's family. He would also have to make a speech. John was mortified to be speaking in front of 450 people, having never before spoken to a group that large. He wanted to do an excellent job, not only for himself, but to honor Christian.
We were seated at Table One, right next to the stage and dance floor. We shared the table with two of Christian's daughters, some of their interesting young friends, an important client from the stables, and an Olympic rider.
It's interesting to note, in the days of celebutante's and excessively trashy, wealthy children, these girls are the complete opposite. They are educated, successful, and articulate. They are also natural beauties. G is tall and athletic. She radiates youth and exuberance - making me think of a fresh faced cover-girl. When I think of J, coltish comes to mind. She's tall, svelte, all arms and legs, with flowing long, chestnut hair. They both dress somewhat bohemian - always fabulous, never trendy. Early in the evening, a photographer pulled them aside and took their picture. As he was writing their names down, the youngest daughter said, "Wait! Don't print that! My mom will kill me if my picture is in the paper!" I have always heard the rules for a lady - your name should only be in the paper 3 times: when you are born, when you marry, and when you die. No Paris Hilton's here.
During John's speech, the tent was silent. You could hear a pin drop as he spoke eloquently about Christian. One quote he used was from Christian himself. It said, "I think nothing in life has only to do with luck. I think luck is just one of many words. You have to have motivation. You have to have drive. You have to really pursue the dream and not give up." Where others saw a 14 acre potato farm, he saw a 170 acre estate with vineyards and a world class equestrian center. John was so fortunate to have his Christian as a mentor.
After dinner, we danced to a fantastic band called Henry Haid and the Only. The girls have a Joie de vivre that is contagious - which made our group the most lively in attendance. We ended up dancing our hearts out and being the last to leave. We closed the place down and headed home.
One of the best things to do in the Hamptons is to go to Sunset Beach. It's owned by famous hotelier Andre Balaz.
John and I had been told over and over again that we Must go to Sunset Beach. So one fine day, we took the ferry over to Shelter Island and saw this and thought, 'What's the big deal all about?' And then we left.
It wasn't until a couple of years later that we finally discovered why Sunset Beach is so great and how to enjoy it.
First, you need a boat.
Orrr....like me, have a friend with a boat...
Enjoy a leisurely boat ride around Shelter Island over to Sunset Beach. Drop anchor...
And SWIM to the beach! (Obviously, no pictures of that happening on here!)
After landing safely on the beach, hide your rafts for your return trip.
Hang out and people watch as you wait for your table.
Pass the afternoon enjoying Andre's amazing rose' or bloody mary's, eating fantastic food, and having scintillating conversation on the rooftop for lunch.
As the sun begins to set, trek across the beach back towards the boat.
Sadly, recall how faaaar out the boat is and how coooold the water is...
And then, say a little prayer that you'll return one day.
I have always loved handbags. I love them the way some people love shoes. They can make a statement, put a finishing touch on an outfit, and they store all that stuff that I just can't be without!
When I moved to the Hamptons several years ago, I was familiar with the major bag designers - Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, etc. I had learned that some people buy bags every season and some buy them as an investment. My favorite story was of a friend inheriting a Chanel bag from an aunt and having it refurbished. I guess when the bag is passed down generations, it can help justify the mortage payment price.
Anyhoo, after living in the Hamptons several years, I kept noticing the most elegant women were carrying a somewhat nondescript bag. To be honest, the bag didn't look like much, but I could tell by the caliber of women carrying them that they must be something special.
Finally, I asked my uber stylish friend what they were. She informed me that they are Goyard bags from Paris. Evidently, if you purchase one you Must have it monogrammed. Have you seen the new LV bags with custom monogramming? Goyard was first.
John suggested I post an old story from when I first moved to the Hamptons. Here's an e-mail I sent 'back in the day':
This weekend I had dinner with a billionaire's daughter, (B-b-billionaire -1.7 according to Forbes), a hedge fund guy, an artist, a coffee importer, a high powered Manhattan attorney, an entrepreneur, John Nida, and some lovely significant others. We were invited to a dinner at the home of CW. (Christian was the most charismatic man I've ever met and although I was completely intimidated by him, I was thrilled to be invited to dinner, to be in his presence, and to meet his friends.) I reeeally wanted to go and was estatic when I found a sitter. Then I panicked! What would I wear? Who else would be there? What would we talk about? Would I be able to communicate effectively? It was a perfect example of being careful what you wish for! I eventually settled on wearing aCalypsocashmere cable-knit dress with black boots. I thought if it was dressy, I'd be o.k. because I had on a dress and if the other diners were casual, I'd be o.k. due to the cable pattern. I think it turned out fine..because no one cared about what I was wearing except me! Here is a sample of a conversation from that night: "Oh, Olaff! I see you are wearing your Tyrolean jacket! Love it. Every year I buy several when we are there on vacation, but I never seem to end up wearing them!" (Where?) "Christian, what a fabulous jacket. Shanghai?" They spoke about vacationing in St. Barth's and spending the month of August inAustriaevery year because their children "speak the language" and are so comfortable there. I considered regaling them with tales of vacationing inGulf Shores, Alabamabut I didn't want them to feel inferior. Can you just hear me? "It's called Flora - Bama. Yes, that's right. You see HALF of it is in Florida and the OTHER HALF is in Alabama!" My favorite moment may have been when CW pulled out an old tattered notebook in which he had assigned the seating. The thought and planning that went in to who sat with whom was essential to the success of the night and it was obvious that it was protocol for any dinner given at his home.
As we were seated for dinner, we discovered a gorgeous artichoke on each plate exquisitely prepared by the chef. A Whole Artichoke...and I realize it might just be me, but I had never been served a whole artichoke before. All I could think was - 'How in the world do I EAT that?' I watched as people began picking off one leaf (do you call it a leaf?) at a time, biting it, and placing it back on the plate. I determined that I could handle that, so I picked up the first one and took a bite. It was like rubber!!! Hmmmmm... no chewing those things. Eventually, I discovered that you gently bite toward the base and pull out the "heart" of the artichoke. Next, we were served a pureed spinach dish (I was afraid to smile after that - pretty little spinach in my teeth) and the most scrumptious sea bass. That was followed by the European tradition of salad coming after the meal. Last, we had a custard for dessert. The meal was delectable. The wine flowed, the conversation hummed, the hours passed. I was having the time of my life and would have stayed into the wee hours. However, as the night wore on, John became concerned about the babysitter and immediately after I had (discretely?) applied some lipstick, he decided it was time to go. Everyone gave us the European double kiss goodbye. The only problem was...as the b.d. walked off...it appeared that she had a jagged, red, bloodied wound across her right cheek. Damn. I meant to air kiss her! Well, I guess you can take the girl out of Georgia, but you can't take Georgia out of the girl!
One of my favorite things to do in the Hamptons is to view international films. I loooove foreign films. Before moving to New York, I thought people who watched them were pretentious (yep - that was me - narrow-minded, judgmental). However, I discovered that I Really Like them. They're so different than the typical American Blockbuster and I like that quirky uniqueness. Foreign films have a different purview. Even the camera angles seem to view the world differently. I also like the fact that the actors and actresses look like real people. Did you see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Swedish? I liked the cast of characters. They were exactly as I imagined them in the book. Gritty. Real. If the characters had been portrayed by Brad and Angelina, the story wouldn't have been nearly as compelling. I can't wait to get back to the Sag Harbor Cinema and watch some films.
My favorite thing to do in the Hamptons on a Friday night is to go to the Wolffer Wine Stand for Sunset Fridays. It's a family friendly atmosphere, where we bring a picnic blanket (or borrow one from the wine stand), sit, relax, listen to great live music, drink fabulous wine, and hang out with friends. It's the perfect place for pre-dinner drinks and soaking up those amazing Sagaponack sunsets overlooking the vineyard. I can't wait!
I have always loved accessories and have enjoyed seeing the differences between the way Hamptons women and southern women accessorize. I think southern women tend to be more formal with their accessories (can't get enough David Yurman) and Hamptons women tend to be more eclectic. I've noticed they often wear a mixture of layers, statement pieces, and travel pieces that they've picked up from all over the world.
Last summer, I was a guest at the Bridgehampton Beach Club, when an elegant lady came over to speak to me. As she kneeled down by my chair, she asked if my bracelets were Chan Luu. Of course, being the hip, stylish, southern woman that I am...I Had No Idea. Upon examing the clasp, we discovered that it was, indeed, Chan Luu. After identifying the brand, I saw these Chan Luu bracelets everywhere. There are so many different stones and designs to choose from and I love them all.
One evening last summer, I was invited over to a friend's house in the Hamptons. It was just going to be she and I for cocktails and cheeses by the pool. It was a perfect summer evening as I rode the ferry over to Shelter Island to her home. The sun was setting over the water and the air held a light breeze with the hint of an oncoming storm that arrived later that evening.
When I arrived, my friend looked Amazing! I clumsily apologized for my casual sundress and flip-flops. I explained that I didn't realize she would be dressed up since it was just the two of us. She looked at me and replied, "Of course I would dress for you...Erin."
I don't know about you, but I don't "dress" often enough. I'm always looking for a reason to dress up, but don't really put much effort into what I'm wearing unless I'm going to an event. This same friend had lived in Paris for years and once remarked, "I don't understand American women. I don't know why they wear work out clothes when they are not exercising." She looked at me and declared, "It has the aesthetic of a fart."
(On second thought, maybe I'll change out of these yoga pants...)