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05/19/17 10:00am


Find another way
To the Editor:
I am one of the 15 homes — and Legion Hall — directly abutting Fiske Field. In this regard, I am highly concerned by the potential well contamination that would result from spraying such a large area with tickicide. (more…)

10/08/16 8:00am
AMBROSE CLANCY | Spirit in the sky.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO  | Spirit in the sky.

Do we travel just so we can go home again?

My traveling companion (MTC) and I are heading out today and that old question usually seems to be answered in the affirmative by the faces I look into when we fly away. They are the faces of the doomed, shipwrecked before they set sail. (more…)

12/03/12 10:06am

The columnist wonders why getting out of town never gets easier.

It takes me longer every year to pack our motor home for the trek that leads us snowbirds from Shelter Island to Key West.

This year our RV had been serviced, our house was ready for the winter and the proof-of-insurance cards for the RV and the car it tows were under a magnet on the refrigerator a full three weeks before our departure date. There was no excuse to not do it right this time. And yet — once again — as I sit here typing, I can hear my traveling companion rummaging around for his good belt. If he asks I’ll say what I always say, “Oh, it’s here. Somewhere.“ But I know it’s not.

No matter how much time I have to get ready for a trip, it’s just never enough.

What happened to me? I’m the woman who could travel anywhere on a moment’s notice. “Paris? Sure, let me grab my toothbrush.”

Here‘s a perfect example circa 1976, Virginia: My husband was at sea and I was fixing breakfast for our two preschoolers when another navy wife called and said that our husbands’ ship was going to dock for three days in Florida. She was flying on a plane that was to leave in less than three hours and when that plane taxied down the runway, I was sitting in the seat beside her.

During the span of time between her phone call and take-off, I’d managed to shower, dress and convince my neighbor, the over-worked and perpetually tearful mother of three preschoolers, to add mine to her mix (they were so small, I figured, she’d hardly notice them in all the chaos.) I packed clothes for me, clothes for them, then raced the boys to the house next door so fast their four little feet never even hit the ground.

“Kiss kiss. Mommy loves you. Be nice to Mrs. Westbrook, she looks like she’s having one of her nasty migraines.” And … I made it to the airport with a half-hour to spare.

But I don’t operate that way anymore. I need three days just to plan an excursion to Riverhead and it takes me 45 minutes and 10 trips back and forth between the house and car before I ever leave the driveway.

Phone? Yes. No. Go back and get it.

Bathroom? No. Yes.

Out to the car. List? Yes. No. Go back and get it.

That’s why I was relieved to have so much time to get ready for this year’s trip.

When I was whining about packing up, a friend said “I know what you mean. I hate packing for a vacation.”

Vacation? Pardon me, but this snowbird stuff isn’t like that. When you go on vacation you take sunscreen, “50

Shades of Grey,” and a party dress; not a vacuum, the crock pot and the entire contents of your medicine cabinet.

A veteran of many snowbird excursions told me that she prepares by placing items into piles. “You’ve got your yes piles and your no piles,“ she explained, “Yes goes with you, no doesn‘t.” I used her method and made yes-no piles throughout the house of clothes, shoes, belts (!) and kitchen items. There were yes-no piles of important papers, foods, books, medicines, everything. I was so pleased that I’d finally discovered a workable system.

I will admit to feeling kind of uppity when we finally hit the road. Never before had I been so organized, nor had the packing up process ever been so painless.

The flaw in my system wasn’t apparent until our second day on the road when my husband pulled out a pair of paint-spattered denims with the baggy seat.

“I didn’t mean to bring those!” I said, wondering how they managed to jump from the no pile to the yes one. The next pair of denims had paint spatters and acid holes (and a baggy seat.) It was then that I realized what I had done, not with just his pants, either, but with nearly every well-sorted pile. All the rejects are with us, here, in Key West.

And the proof-of-insurance cards? Yeah. They are safe. Under a magnet on my refrigerator. On Shelter Island.

Editor’s note: Joanne will  be checking in regularly about life on the road, in Key West and on Shelter Island.

07/07/12 10:39am


Joanne Sherman, award-winning humor columnist for the Reporter, will be the featured speaker at this year’s 17th annual Catch-A-Star Luncheon, sponsored by the Daughters of Israel, the sisterhood group of Congregation Tifereth Israel Synagogue.

The event will be held on Thursday, July 12 at 12 noon at the Sound View Restaurant in Greenport. Ms. Sherman’s topics include comic adventures traveling in an RV, among others.

Ms. Sherman has been a columnist for 20 years and continues to write a regular column, “From the Slow Lane,” for the Reporter where she formerly was associate editor.

Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Newsday, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle and Southern Living. She has also produced award-winning commentaries for WPBX in Southampton and has been a guest faculty member at the annual Tennessee Williams Writer’s Conference and the William Faulkner Writer’s Conference.

Tickets are still available at $35 each by calling 477-1234.

03/24/12 12:00pm

I am writing this from my corner of our motor home. My traveling companion and life partner, the man I married 45 years ago ­— perhaps in haste — sits in the opposite corner of the RV glaring daggers at me. I don’t know if he’s snapping the paper because I’m making too much noise (even though I’m pretty sure I can pound on this keyboard a whole lot harder before it breaks), or if he’s snapping the paper because he knows how much I hate it.

After spending months living in the confined quarters of what is basically a bus, we are kind of getting on each other’s nerves. And retiring to opposite corners of a 30-foot RV is an exercise in futility as we are always within sneering, snarling and growling distance of each other. But we are not alone.

One of my RV neighbors came by to borrow some Tylenol and to say goodbye. “We’re heading out,” she said, adding, “you know it’s time to go home when your jaw locks from clenching your teeth.”

Seasonal bickering is a common occurrence in Florida campgrounds populated by northern visitors and a sure sign that it’s time to pack up and head out. Early in the winter most couples were all hug-hug, kiss-kiss, but by the Ides of March, some version of the following snowbird sniping takes place behind the thin walls of RVs:

What’s wrong?

Nothing, why?

You keep looking at me.

No, I’m just looking in that direction.

But it’s where I am.

Well I can’t help that, can I? Everywhere I look, there you are.

I guess that’s what happens when you live in close quarters for any length of time. In our case, since November 19, which, if today is March 22, has been 125 days (or 3,000 hours but who’s counting?).

You know it’s time to go home when you need a calculator to figure out that 3,000 hours equals 180,000 minutes.

Even for the happiest of couples, this cheek-to-jowl cohabitation works for only so long before things sour and what started out as a cute little quirk explodes into grounds for divorce.

At an afternoon gathering of RVers, a woman from Michigan commented that her husband chewed funny and it was driving her crazy. Her husband, who overheard her, responded, “well, you whistle through your nose, and that drives me crazy!” After that, it was bedlam with husbands and wives slinging spousal barbs at each other: He leaves used dental floss on the sink! She doesn’t fold the paper back to page one. He slurps his coffee, she reads to me from the paper after I’ve read the paper, he refolds the towels, and on and on and on.

It hasn’t always been this way. Early in snowbird season, back in December and January, you would see these same long-time married couples holding hands as they strolled in the glorious sunshine. Well, there’s not so much hand-holding now. In fact, hand-holding has been replaced by eye rolling and paper snapping. And that glorious sunshine? Come on! That thing’s a fireball. Have you been outside? It feels like 185 degrees out there!

Because our RV has been parked beside the newspaper boxes all winter, I was able to watch one particular couple every day. In January, they would stand, leaning into each other, shoulders touching and read the headlines. Then he would reach into the change well to mine for unclaimed quarters. Occasionally he would find one and hold it out to his wife, who grinned as she accepted the found treasure. I called them my goofy couple because they were kind of goofy, but in a cute way.

Early February I noticed a change in habit. Instead of giving her the loot, he slipped it into his pocket and by the end of the month I watched them race to be first to the mother lode, not gently touching shoulders anymore but bumping shoulders as if they were trying to knock the other down and even slapping the other’s hand away to be first to the loot.

Not only are RV couples getting on each other’s nerves, we’re getting a little testy with our neighbors, too. January’s heavenly sounding wind chimes tinkling in the balmy breeze start making a hellish racket in the gales of March when that delightful afternoon “tinkle, jingle, tickle” morphs into “CRAZANK, KERPLUK, DWOINGGGGGGG!” at two in the morning. One RVer’s wind chimes CRAZANKED! until an unseen hand (not mine!) tied the clangy parts together sometime during the night.

“Gee, I guess someone was bothered by the wind chimes,” the owner said.

Ya think?

Each winter, there’s an incident that signals maybe it’s time to think about heading home. This year it was the unfortunate demise of an RVer’s 12-foot-long windsock whirly-gig flying from a pole above his RV. It was a tall pole.

But not tall enough, apparently, because when the wind changed, the tail of the whirly-gig windsock started to slap at the RV next door. If this incident had happened earlier in the season, the RVer getting slapped would have just merely told his neighbor, who would have fixed the problem. Instead, the owner of the RV being assaulted got out his scissors and chopped off six feet.

You know it’s time to go home when people start cutting off each other’s whirly-gigs.