a hazy summer

BestoftheVineyard
via L.A. Brown Photography/Martha’s Vineyard Magazine

How precious of me.

I thought I’d just spend my summer writing, while mulling over my journal at the beach, painting outdoors and hiking every trail with meditation walks on this lovely little island.  Sure, I’d fit in my social media duties and work, as well. It was going to be summer on the island, just like it used to be.

I knew it would get busy. I knew our little bar would get busy. I knew that the population of this island was going to grow by 100,000 tourists. I knew all of this.

But, wow.

At night, I take off my eye make-up with a slather of coconut oil and there is a moment of hazy blindness before I rinse if all off. (LivingLola beauty tip: Coconut Oil is like magic. You’re welcome.) This summer is that hazy blindness, except there is no rinsing off the cloudiness of the past eight weeks of crazy busy. It is all a blur.

I never expected to work this hard for a bar, of all things. But, I have to say, I have enjoyed the challenge.  It has been a good kind of getting-to-test-yourself kind of crazy. I think I may have even found my limit. So, I’ve got that now.

I look at what Larkin and I have built; the friendships that we are establishing, the life we are creating, the strides we are making.  Turning this little iconic 70-year-old bar into what we have coined, “the best little live dive on the rock”. LivingLolaFunFact: Many islanders refer to Martha’s Vineyard as “the rock”.

We are honored and humbled. Blessed with accolades, news articles, interviews and we even made the New York Times. Not bad for our first year. Larkin and I have a knack, a way of making things happen when we are both on the same page, in the zone. Our flow is amazing, almost a yellow brick road to success, as long as we are both headed in the same direction.

If either of us gets distracted or are not fully on board for a project, that is when we wobble, or worse, fall. I don’t mind falling. We are one bad ass team when it comes to getting back up. We’ve had our share of practice time in our 28 years together.

Now, we are in the home stretch of tourist season. Labor Day is a week away and I can even feel a cool, pumpkin spiced breeze outside this morning, as I write. Before you know it, Summer 2015 will be in the books as our first full summer in business.

Remarkably, after all this time, we continue to learn more about each other. New strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Talents that we had never expressed and abilities that we learned together and tested our character and values along the way. Hey, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

 When the going felt wobbly, we wobbled right over to the beach; even just to watch a sunset. Above all, we learned how to stop and look around. We get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is why we live here. There is so much to take in and we want to make sure we remind each other to do just that.

We work from home. Together. Every day.

It’s good for us to get out of the cottage/office and go somewhere else to unwind and reconnect.

At the beach, we’ve discovered that everything immediately seems positive, feels less overwhelming and is calming and rejuvenating, at the same time. We are able to check ourselves that indeed, we are still in the zone, together. I believe that this is key to a happy marriage. (Ahem, are my two brides-to-be reading this?)

I have been coming to MV since the 90’s, and this Gulf Coast girl had NEVER been in the Atlantic until this summer. I’ve discovered I love swimming in the ocean. Yes, I know that this is where “Jaws” was filmed. Floating, looking up at the vast blue sky puts all the stress and hard work into perspective.

Just another item in the something new and different column that I have learned about myself. It has made me think, what else am I going to learn to love? Learn to do? I am 9 months away from turning 50. It’s invigorating to think that there is still so much to learn, more to do, more to BE.

A Whole New Me to Be!  Kind of sounds like an undiscovered Dr. Seuss book.

So, what did you learn over your summer vacation?

Isaktashmooquote

Oh, and I learned to do graphic art, too.

dwell in this

i_dwell_in_possibility-1220978

Nothing brings Larkin and I closer, than working on accounting together. And, by closer, I mean closer to the “His and Hers” matching urns of our ashes, that may or may not be scattered in the same general vicinity, someday.

Working together, running a new business these past several months has been a dream come true except for the monthly dose of Quick Books nightmares. Nothing brings on a hot flash faster for me than an Excel Spreadsheet.

Him: How did you code that check? Me: Miscellaneous. (my favorite)  Him: You have to code it a specific expense.  Me: If I had wanted to be an accountant then, I would BE an accountant!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Yep. We are on our own now. No office support staff for L. No full-time housekeeper, helping me to make it all look effortless. It is just him and me, a mom and pop operation, sifting through bank statements, bills and receipts. Sitting at our computers and recounting the week’s sales and expenditures turns me into a 9 year old, trying to sit still in class.  

Me: Hey, look at this pic. Does this dress look blue or gold, to you?  Him: Get off Twitter! It’s blue. Focus!                                                                       

I want to write, paint, build, design, create, dance, sing, watch TCM or have a root canal and a mammogram at the same time. I do not want to work with numbers with my business partner in his work voice. There is a tone in his work voice that I do not care for. I prefer, husband voice.

It is hard to believe that we were once that suburban couple, raising kids in an affluent neighborhood. Our defined roles, so fortunately traditional. I was lucky to be a stay-at-home mom, carpooling to their private schools and volunteering on every committee to make sure that their childhoods were everything that a Disney Channel show promised. I cooked, baked and nurtured those little chickadees until they flew east for college, then migrated to the west for the beginning of the rest of their lives.

He ran the businesses, I ran the house. Our “work” paths never crossed.

The structure of our lives was so scheduled, planned and executed it almost seems impossible to me that we actually adhered to such a manicured time frame. I never overslept once. We lived well. We were happy. We acknowledged our success and fortuitous luck. We were grateful. We enjoyed and savored the moments. Because we knew.

We knew we wanted more. We wanted different.

To think outside the box, you have to know where the lines of the box actually fall. We knew we wanted out of the box, but just how far and what direction?

With all the kids gone, living their own lives, we came to the conclusion that our home away from home, our cottage of 10 years on Martha’s Vineyard, would become just home. My husband’s business partner of 20 years was making big changes in his life that were wreaking havoc on our life. Oh, and that business partner was also our brother-in-law; married to my husband’s sister. Dread, divorce, and dissolution ensued. Yet, a door creaked open. This was our chance for a big change.

(Enter Life) 

We had just moved into the big, beautiful old/new house in the hip-historic-up-and-coming-but-still-sketchy-chic part of Houston, that I had totally renovated. I love houses. Looking at real estate and interior design websites can be a cardio workout for me. We have been blessed with living in some beautiful and unique homes.

But, for the first time in our lives, we were living in my “Lola Dream House”; the house that Jacq built. I poured my heart and soul into that house. I had designed the perfect kitchen, the perfect master closet, the perfect house for entertaining. It was the house you can only build after you have raised kids, thrown over the top birthday parties and hosted Christmases for 20 plus guests. The design functionality resume that comes from surviving apple juice stains, teen spirit and experiences that leave a mark.

I would love to tell you that I responded with the joy and support of a loving wife, when L suggested that we sell the big house and move to the island. Nope. But, after two very large Manhattans and one very good ugly cry, I was on board. “I dwell in possibility…”, I would channel Emily Dickinson:

“I dwell in Possibility
A fairer House than Prose–
More numerous of Windows–
Superior–for Doors—”

So, when L pitched his next business proposition to me, I was ready for the possibility:
“How fun would it be to buy a bar on Martha’s Vineyard?”

Are you there, Emily? It’s me, Jackie.

“I taste a liquor never brewed –
From Tankards scooped in Pearl –
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!”

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration of my enthusiasm. But, honestly, I did like the idea. It had possibilities.

A business that is open 7 days a week, 13 hours a day is quite a challenge. Now add alcohol. A bar that serves the fine folks of a small island, 7 days a week, 13 hours a day is a Coen brother screenplay waiting for the green light.

So, yes, we bought the “The Ritz”, a bar that has been in business since 1944 and is not even ironically “ritzy”. It is the bar the locals call “their” bar. The bar where, truly, everybody knows your name. We are upholding the tradition of providing live music, year round. We have a small kitchen with great bar food and we are incorporating community theme parties and events to provide entertainment for a small population over a long winter. Come this summer, over 100,000 tourists will take over and we will be ready.

How’s that for going outside the comfort box? Nailed it!

The island that was always our getaway, our place to regroup and relax has become our business, our livelihood, our work. A full partnership, L and I put in the crazy hours it takes to keep our employees organized and happy, our customers happy and satisfied, and our marriage satisfied and sane.

IMG_9886
The Ritz after Blizzard #1, January 2015- photo: Erik Albert, Oak Bluffs Inn 

We recently celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. The last year, hands down, was our most challenging, yet most exhilarating year ever.

Our days of a structured life are over. We run a bar. We stay out late, we hang out with amazing musicians and throw crazy parties. We’ve survived two blizzards, a winter for the record books and even got to celebrate the home team, my Pats, winning the Super Bowl.

We did it. We took a chance. We sold our house, we left our family, our friends and the remaining businesses in very capable hands. We set out to find the possibilities in us.

Just us, again. Like in the beginning. A couple.

A couple, falling in love all over again in the next chapter of our lives.

A couple that dwells in possibility.

A couple that really hates doing accounting together.

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New Year’s “Odd Ball” 2015 – photo: Tom Stevens Creative

 

busy living

Busy just doesn’t cover it.

I am not complaining. I am more than lucky. I know that. I live a big, full life; trying to practice what I preach.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in NYC with my girlfriends. We did a little shopping, caught the musical “Once”, which I highly recommend. We stayed up late drinking champagne, played Scrabble in our pajamas and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was just one of those ‘good for your soul’ trips. Not hectic or over-planned. Just fun.

One of the best parts of the trip was taking a total tourist turn and hopping on a “Movie/TV” tour of the city. My  partner-in-crime, JWH, couldn’t contain the antics as I shot my hand up at every trivia question. I may have even sang a Seinfeld bit for the whole entire bus. But, I had to stop before I became the “obnoxious know-it-all from Texas.”

 We were more than fortunate to catch the last plane back to Texas before Hurricane Sandy hit. Since we are all seasoned Gulf Coast hurricane warriors, we would have found a way to “survive” at our swanky hotel. Larkin and my contractor were ready for me to get back home…and get back to work on our “little” project.

Project Restoration is steam rolling ahead. I have never worked with a more positive, dedicated group of people. I love our contractor, the crew, the plumbers, the electricians. They all greet me each day with smiles and “Miss Jackie” this and “Miss Jackie” that. What’s not to love?!

They sing along with the classic rock booming through the rooms. There hasn’t been a structural or design problem that we haven’t been able to solve creatively, not to mention easily. It just feels like we are a team, all working to bring this old house back to her old glory.

Bags unpacked from NYC and the contractor’s “to do” list all caught up, it was time for one of my favorite nights of the year. Halloween. I love, love Halloween. Dressing up, scaring young children, kid candy in “fun sizes”: I love it all.

Larkin and I, along with Jen and Tim (my sis and bro-in-law) dressed up as KISS.  As you can see, we are not camera-shy nor do we have a fear of jack-assery.

And, then, just like that, it became November.

Our President was re-elected.  Now, suddenly, it’s almost Thanksgiving.

This week, I am holed up on Martha’s Vineyard at the cozy Red Door Cottage, far far away from the restoration and remodeling that is going on, back in Houston. The fire is going and holiday music is quietly filling the air.

So, in the spirit of the week:

I am thankful for this cozy vacation home. I am thankful for the soon to be completed home waiting for us, back in Texas. I am thankful for my husband that has worked hard to purchase said homes. I am thankful that he is getting a much-needed break.

I am thankful to have 3 out of 4 kids here this week. I am thankful that the “missing” daughter is realizing her dream and working in Austin. I am thankful for the family and friends that make my life full. (Full of what, exactly, depends on the day.)

I am thankful for my health, good food, Manhattans, TCM, the Pats, Scrabble gals, Twitter pals, laughter and my pup, Juliet.

 But, mostly, I am thankful that I have been busy living.

Free Hot Yoga at Home

I’m back in Texas.

Hot Home, Sweet, Hot Home.

It’s odd to be “on vacation” back in Texas. It is great to be with hubby, full-time again. We really don’t do well apart. After 24 years, we still act like teenagers talking on the phone at night for hours, when we are living bi-coastal. Go ahead. Roll your eyes.

This week is filled with “re-entry” (as a friend says), i.e. mail, restocking the fridge, remembering what is where. Also, catching up and visiting with family and friends. Two months away is a long time.

The funny thing is that here, in The Heights house, there aren’t any hungry kids popping in and out, arriving with friends or staying out late. There aren’t big meals to plan or loads of laundry (oh my God, the towels!) to stay on top of.  Here, I have my devoted Lorena, helping me to make sure our home continues to look like, well, a hotel. An empty nest perk, just you wait!

Every night, it’s a romantic dinner for two and since we live in The Heights, the restaurant mecca of Houston, it is almost criminal to NOT go out.

Who’d have thought that The Heights would become our vacation home?!

It’s pretty freaking wonderful.

Except for the stifling humidity, heat, crazy flash floods and mosquitos, that are big enough to carry Juliet away. It is almost paradise.

Almost.

Juliet on the Vineyard.  No Hot “Doga” for her. She refuses to go outside in Texas unless she is dragged out, on a leash. 

So, let’s make the most of it, shall we?

FREE HOT YOGA FOR EVERYONE!

The benefits of a Hot Yoga class in a yoga studio are immense. I have practiced Bikram Yoga for 11 years and maintain that it is one of the best workouts to kickstart a healthy lifestyle. It will truly change the way you look at the dreaded diet and exercise routine, forever.

In the meantime, why not give it a go by simply grabbing your mat and heading outdoors? You can take advantage of this lovely, natural God-forsaken heat.

I am currently nursing “impingement syndrome” (it’s a thing!), which is the new bursitis. Bursitis! How old am I?!  Hot Yoga on my balcony has done wonders for stretching and healing my sad shoulder. I set my mat out, 15 minutes before I want to work out and voila! A giant heating pad for my whole body.

Here is an easy sequence from my personal guru, Tara Stiles. And, by personal, I mean that I personally watch her videos on YouTube.  If I had a personal yogini, this is who I would want. Of course, I would have to share her with Deepak Chopra. But, I’m sure we could work something out.

This is basic yoga that anyone can do outside on your back porch, balcony or anywhere that you can fit a yoga mat or beach towel.

 

 LivingLola Tip: Need a new yoga mat? Before you run out to Target or Academy or speciality sports store, hit up a Tuesday Morning, Marshall’s or Ross. The selection may be a little sparse, but for $6.00, I am fine with aqua blue. The quality of mat is pretty damn good, too.

Home is what you choose to make of your space. It is more than geography.

“Wherever you go, there you are.” (unknown)

Texas, Martha’s Vineyard.

“Alabama, Arkansas….Home is wherever I’m with you.”

Namaste.

 

a divine summer spirit

I had one of those perfect summer days. You know. Productive, kids visiting, fabulous weather, dinner with friends…even a hilarious prank call to a friend at work.  The only thing missing was my dear hubby, working in Texas, supporting my perfect summer day lifestyle. Thanks, honey.

It all started with a bike ride, early in the morning.

There were strawberries at every farm stand.

As I peddled on, more and more berries. So, I started thinking…between breathing, of course….

How about a nice, cold, refreshing strawberry cocktail?

Sometimes a rigorous workout leads to divine inspiration. Usually around the time you start seeing spots.

 Let me preface: I drank plenty of water first. By happy hour, I was ready for my divine summer spirit.

Strawberry, Cucumber, Champagne Cooler

12 strawberries, stems removed and halved

6 slices, peeled cucumber

1 tsp. light agave (or natural sweetener)

ice cubes

champagne or sparkling wine

Puree strawberries, cucumber and agave in a blender with one or two ice cubes.

Pour into a glass and top off with your favorite champagne.

Garnish with a cucumber round.

Cheers to summer!


 

 

TCM Tuesday June 5th

It is a very blustery evening as I write. The wind is howling and there has been an unrelenting light rain all day. This is the weather forecast for the island for the next few days. I have plenty of food and provisions. And, I have plenty of DVR material to catch up on. I actually love this weather and I am looking forward to writing and catching up with the blog.

Here are my picks for this week, including one of my favorite films of all time, “Jezebel” with Bette Davis. It is the feature this week on TCM’s The Essentials. It’s going to be a good week.

 

Tuesday June 5th

(EST)

2:00 AM

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)

A black police detective from the North forces a bigoted Southern sheriff to accept his help with a murder investigation.

Dir: Norman Jewison Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates

C-110 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

While many movies attempt to show an honest narrative of racism in our modern history, they fall short when trying to appease a PC status quo. This Oscar-winning screenplay is brilliant for showing that racial tensions could be more than one-sided. Released in 1967, many viewed this as a timely film. But, let’s be honest, it is still timely today. This movie still stands as a timeless classic. Steiger won the Best Actor Oscar; the film, Best Picture. The Oscars were actually postponed that year for several days, due to the assassination of Martin Luther King. Sidney Poitier has often said this is his favorite movie. “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” is 16th in AFI’s greatest movie lines.

Thursday June 7th

8:00 PM

JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957)

After learning to play the guitar in prison, a young man becomes a rock ‘n roll sensation.

Dir: Richard Thorpe Cast:  Elvis Presley, Judy Tyler, Mickey Shaughnessy

BW-96 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format

Dance Alert! Elvis’ un-credited choreography for the song “Jailhouse Rock” is absolutely brilliant. He made it up on the spot, after the film’s choreographer realized that Elvis was not a professionally trained classical dancer. Gene Kelley was on set to watch Elvis film his most famous dance number. Sadly, Elvis refused to watch this movie because of the tragic death of Judy Tyler, just three days after filming was completed.

Friday June 8th

8:00 PM

SPIRAL STAIRCASE, THE (1945)

A serial killer stalks a mute servant girl in a remote mansion.

Dir: Robert Siodmak Cast:  Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore .

BW-84 mins, TV-14, CC

Grab a cozy throw and settle in for an excellent psychological thriller. Along with an excellent ensemble cast, the Victorian mansion, that most of the film takes place, is a character itself. (A quality I adore, as I am a huge Nancy Myers fan.)  This film is a masterful work of black and white photography.  It is also a lesson in cinematography and the ability to convey atmosphere on film.  

Saturday June 9th

8:00 PM

JEZEBEL (1938)

A tempestuous Southern belle’s willfulness threatens to destroy all who care for her.

Dir: William Wyler Cast:  Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent

BW-104 mins, TV-PG, CC

Woot! One of my favorites! Grab the Maker’s Mark, stir up a pitcher of mint juleps and get ready for one melodramatic trip to the South. Davis deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as stubborn, spoiled “Julie”. Wow. She nails it!  Some of the “traditions” and culture of the south may have you scratching your head, but just think of it as a history lesson or a “we’ve come a long way, baby” moment. Hell, just have another mint julep and enjoy classic Bette Davis.

BONUS: This is part of TCM’s The Essentials line-up and will be introduced by Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore in their special series. Another good reason to make a night of it. Cheers!

Sunday June 10th

7:00 PM

WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, THE: 50 YEARS OF MAGIC (1990)

The story of how MGM created one of the most beloved family films of all time.

Dir: Jack Haley Jr. Cast:  Angela Lansbury, John Lahr, Liza Minnelli

C-51 mins, TV-G, CC

8:00 PM

WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939)

A Kansas farm girl dreams herself into a magical land where she must fight a wicked witch to escape.

Dir: Victor Fleming Cast:  Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger

C-102 mins, TV-G, CC

I recommend this to everyone EXCEPT Jeffrey, and Larkin. (They really hate those flying monkeys.)

If you were a kid in the 70’s, doesn’t this movie remind you of getting fed and bathed early so our parents could set you in front of the TV to watch the ANNUAL airing of “The Wizard of Oz?” That’s right, all you kids with your fancy technology and your DVD’s and your Hulu and your Netflix. We had to WAIT for that ONE time of the year. And, we loved it.

It is summertime, so if you have little kids or just love this movie, I highly recommend tuning into The Essentials Jr. on Sunday nights, hosted by Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live. He will introduce this masterpiece that has been the inspiration for so many re-makes, adaptations, art, books and songs for over 60 years.

And, you can give your kids a little glimpse into the “olden days” when you had to watch a movie when it was actually ON. Regardless, it is a beautiful film with more poignant “finding your true self” metaphors than there are….well, FLYING MONKEYS….hee! hee! hee! hee!

 Enjoy!

the summer of peace

I am getting settled for another summer on my beloved island. It is always a little bittersweet, because Larkin has to commute every few weeks. We really do hate to be apart. Texas is very far apart. It takes a car, a plane, another car and a ferry to get here. But, as a dear friend once told me, “if it were easy, everyone would do it.”

While here, I will get to spend more time with our two college kids. Jordan is finishing up at BU and can take the ferry over on weekends. The Boy is spending his summer here on MV, searching for a little summer job, a few gigs and a lot of artist peace and quiet.

In between ALL of those loads of laundry (!), he and I have had some long talks about peace, comfort with who your are and being comfortable in your own skin. Why is it so easy for some, while others have to really fight for a place at the table of calm?

 

Do you find yourself searching for peace?

If so, then please stop. Just stop. You cannot go out and search for it. Be still. Let it be. Allow peace to come into your life. It is there waiting patiently and quietly…after all, it is peace!

I believe some people do not see themselves worthy or deserving, so they fool themselves into searches for causes or purpose or bliss, whatever the current blog buzz word happens to be. It is like busy work, tricking yourself into believing that the search is the hard work. If you’re out looking for it, you are missing it altogether.

The hard work is being still. Accepting what is. And, simply, let it be. No shame. No judgement. This is life. As Katharine Hepburn put it, “Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”

We’ve always known that life is ups and downs, ebbs and flows. So, why can we get so thrown?

Conquering unhappiness, depression, addiction, insecurity, health issues, divorce, unemployment, financial fiasco, anxiety, obesity, self-harm, loneliness or even general malaise; they all share a starting point, a first step towards the light. It begins with peaceful acceptance. “It is what it is.” (Larkin’s favorite.)

Now, you are ready.

 Facing the issue, steadying yourself to be open to the calm, will bring you to a state of peace; an unshakeable force to handle stressful times at work, school, parenting, dealing with difficult people, bosses, bullies, relatives or even teenagers. You will be armed to fight off any mental, emotional or physical issue.

Peace is your superpower. Set your buttons to your default, locked on peace. Then, nobody can push those buttons, “not even the people who installed them”, one of my favorite Larkin-isms. (Can you tell I miss him?) Your own thoughts are the most challenging enemy to your peace because they live on site. Your thoughts and your peace are roommates. But, you can give those thoughts strength or you can render them powerless.

 It is all you.

Peace is not a geography problem. Although, I highly recommend the Vineyard for some serious down time and relaxation. “It’s so choice.” (Quick! Name the movie before you get to the end of the post.)

I am thankful everyday for our home here. Even more so, that Joshua is finding his own calm here, too. But, being 19 and an artist, it is going to be just like his keys or his wallet. He has to remember to take his peace, wherever he goes.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Got to love a blog that quotes Emerson and Ferris Bueller.

Peace.

No TCM, No Cry

TCM Tuesday from Martha’s Vineyard, has been preempted, in order to do the 11 loads of freshman dorm laundry.

I have had 3 girls return home from freshman year. This is my first boy. Did I miss something? Is there a protocol?  Was I supposed to just burn all of this?! Wow.

As I’m finally going to bed, I realize that I have an answer to the age-old hypothetical question:

If you were stranded on an island, who would you want with you?

Easy. Lorena. My housekeeper back in Texas.

Back to classic movies soon.

Goodnight!

a spring break

via @MVY/twitter

 

It was a perfect Spring Break on Martha’s Vineyard. But, then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Back to reality. Back to Texas. Back to the blog.