Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Friday, November 30, 2012

Social work and writing… when will I finally pick a profession that pays well?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:45 AM •
Thursday, November 29, 2012

Across from my sister’s house sit two white trucks. Emblazoned on their sides is the sign, “Boos – Cleaning, Hauling and Demolition”. Welcome to New Jersey post Sandy.

It’s morning and the sun is shinning so brightly I’ve had to lower the blinds to see the computer screen. The weather is just about perfect. Sixty degrees. Cool breeze blowing off the bay. Birds from the preserve across the bay flying overhead. If it weren’t for the constant sound of hammering, trucks and men at work, even on a Sunday, you’d be hard pressed to believe that Sandy roared through this island just a few weeks ago.
I wondered as I traveled here for the holiday what I would find. Interestingly, as you walk the streets of these quiet little beach communities, you’d never know that anything untoward had happened. From the outside most houses look intact. There’s an occasional water line visible but not that often. Windows are where windows should be. Doors are where doors should be. The sand that overwhelmed the streets and sidewalks has mostly been returned to the beaches.
Look a little closer, though, and you see that most buildings have huge dumpsters in front of them filled with trash bags. Some have a whole life strewn on their front lawn, from beds to bureaus to children’s toys and cribs. The water damage so invisible from outside is clearly present inside.
My sister’s friend walks with me and discusses the fun of getting to know FEMA personally as she addresses the flooding of a low room in her house. She’s already dealt with insurance over the two cars that were destroyed by the saltwater and sand that rose all over the island. But she’s still one of the lucky ones. She’s replacing one room, not an entire house. Her mementoes and memories sit safely atop her tables and in her drawers, not out on the street soggy and ruined.
Most of these low lying coastal communities first boomed as homes for city folk wanting to enjoy the beach in summer. There were few building regulations in place then. Enduring storms and the damage they could bring was a danger you accepted as the price for living so near the ocean; the price paid for getting out of the city in the hot sweltering summers; the reward of the American dream for working hard and not spending frivolously.
Over time those regulations changed. If you build or renovate now, you are required to build up and off the land. The open space under your house is there for many reasons but mostly to allow flooding to swirl around and through your piece of the shore without getting into your house.
Those homes that were built up survived Sandy with little water damage. Those planted solidly on the ground didn’t.
Thanks to insurance and FEMA, most will be able to salvage their homes in one fashion or another and rebuild or renovate as needed. Which, of course, leads to the inevitable question of whether that should be done at all. Given the overwhelming scientific evidence of rising ocean levels, would it not make more sense to relocate these homes a safer distance from the sea?
But relocation is a disruptive and discombobulating occurrence, even if it’s only your summer home being moved. People get attached to their little piece of paradise. I once watched the North Slope Borough try to buy out some homeowners on the bluffs over the Chukchi Sea that were eroding at a rapid rate. Where once there had been enough land behind them for a road, now pilings hung in midair.
Yet despite the offer to move them to lots inland that would be twice the size of the land they had left, none of the homeowners would sell. This was their land. This was their lot. This was their home. They were not going anywhere unless their houses literally fell into the sea.
Given the economy generated by summer tourism and beachfront property, I’d have to guess that even Chris Christie, despite riding a wave of goodwill over his handling of the storm that has shot his favorability rating up almost 20%, is not going to be able to accomplish this. So as the debate continues over the wisdom of rebuilding, the work of rebuilding continues.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why do I find it funny when I watch someone smear a light butter substitute on their toast and then use that toast to make a bacon sandwich?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:55 AM •
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Saw a posting on Facebook where someone placed a sign that read, “This year, I’m grateful I’ll never have to say the words, President Romney”.
That says it well for me.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:24 AM •
Monday, November 26, 2012

Baby milk farts are as deadly as anything a grown man on a bean diet can produce.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:21 AM •
Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lean scrapple is not only a contradiction in terms, it is ultimately nothing more than leftover pieces of pork scraps from which the only really flavorful part has been removed. If you are going to eat scrapple, be a man about it and eat the real thing.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:58 AM •
Saturday, November 24, 2012

I forgot the meter to check my blood sugar when I came east. But it doesn’t matter. I’m lucky. Both my brother and sister are diabetic. So no matter where I go, there’s a meter I can use.
Family togetherness - it works well.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Friday, November 23, 2012

There are no words other than OH MY GOD!
Would that we had someone, anyone, like Lincoln in politics today. Instead we get… sigh… I can’t even start typing the names. It’s too damn depressing.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:23 AM •
Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I get to eat a wonderful meal with my family without the stress of gift shopping first. No trying to guess if Junior wants some specific video game that makes you blush to pick up. No attempt to figure out if Sissy wears see through tops that also make you blush. Nope, just a wonderful day of overindulgence in food followed by tryptophan induced naps.

This year I’m spending the holiday with my East Coast family. Given the devastation that Sandy created, I’m very grateful to have everyone in one piece with homes that, if damaged, can be repaired. We have two new family members to celebrate, two little babies to be passed from one loving set of arms to another as everyone proclaims them the most perfect baby girls ever. Our table will groan with traditional dishes, new age dishes and family favorites from the many different families that now make up one.
There will be a lot of laughter despite the recent losses we’ve suffered. This will be the first Thanksgiving without any Zeccardi elders. I guess my generation now comprises the elders since the generation above us has moved on to a different feast in a different location.
Laughing has always come easily in my family because many of us are blessed with a sense of the absurd and refuse to let those who are not take control of the conversation. Tears may occasionally be shed and sadness permeates the table as we realize that some familiar faces will never be there again. Those moments tend to fade quickly as we laugh over the wonderful and insane memories of them we’ve banked over the years.
We miss Aunt Adeline but find it hard to stay sad while recalling the story of the time she baked the dish towel in the turkey, thus creating a Thanksgiving dinner that had everything but turkey. Apparently when you cook a dish towel in a turkey for four hours, the dish towel tends to infuse the otherwise mouthwatering taste of the meat. No amount of prompting convinced our uncles that hot dogs were a good substitute. It was the one and only time Aunt Adeline was allowed to host Thanksgiving.
Of course, that didn’t stop her from bringing her very own sensibility to other Thanksgiving dinners. You haven’t really tasted cranberry sauce unless you tasted her homemade version of it. She didn’t like sugar or sweet things. So she made cranberry sauce without any sweetening agent at all. It gave a whole new meaning to the word “pucker”.
I remember childhood Thanksgivings with my father making his Clams Casino for appetizers. This wasn’t the Clams Casino you order in restaurants. This was his special recipe Clams Casino. They would come out of the broiler and onto the table and the hardest part of the whole meal was waiting for them to cool enough to slam down. My mother would hover around the periphery of the table telling people to slow down because she’d cooked a turkey and they had to save room for that too.
If I had one wish for the world on Thanksgiving it would be that everyone could have their own wonderful memories. And, even more, that they would be sitting down at dinner with family and friends, continuing to create even more wonderful memories. I would wish that everyone had a day full of laughter and love ahead of them that would start their holiday season off on just the right note.
But we all know that’s not reality. There are a lot of people for whom this day is just another one to survive, whether in the streets, in jail or in a soup kitchen. Memories are all they have, if they even have that, of the wonderful time this day can be. We should all spend a moment thanking whoever we believe in for giving us so much. And we should ask that those who have so little will be able to know even a scintilla of the happiness we enjoy and, all too often, take for granted.
The holiday season is starting. While you’re fighting your way through the Black Friday crowds, remember to pick up a little something extra for those who have nothing. Bean’s can always use another turkey.



Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The older I get, the longer plane trips seem. Used to be, when I was young, that a fifteen hour flight to Asia was merely a stepping stone in a great travel adventure. Now, gearing up for a trip to the East Coast to see family seems to get longer and more uncomfortable with each passing year.
Alaska Airlines is finally flying into Philadelphia, which means I only have to change planes once in Seattle and that cuts a good four hours off the trip since I no longer have to change planes in Chicago or somewhere like that. My only wish for Christmas is that Alaska Airlines will start direct Anchorage - Philly flights before I die so I can get on the plane here and get off it there with no tedious wait in-between. But meanwhile, I’m grateful for at least one leg being cut out of the trip.
Maybe I’ll eventually get so old that it will go back to being no big deal to fly for 18 hours in cramped seats with little fresh air and no amenities… and that’s on Alaska Airlines, one of the best flying today… I can’t even imagine this flight on some airlines that simply make the trip nightmarish. But I’m guessing that until they can teleport us to where we want to go, I’ll just have to continue to swallow Melatonin and hope for the best.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
image

I got this damned duck in my mouth with blocking my nose and choking. I am amazing!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:10 AM •
Monday, November 19, 2012

Why do people always sound so surprised when they tell me that what I’m wearing looks good?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Sunday, November 18, 2012

According to MItt Romney, Obama won because he gave out all kinds of gifts and money and then people voted for him because they wanted more. I’d like to ask directions to that line of giveaways since I seem to be missing my gift bag.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:22 AM •
Saturday, November 17, 2012
imageimageimageimageimageimage

I know I’m a terrible mother for saying this, but the funniest part of BuddhaBubba and her toys is watching her try to breathe once she actually gets one in her mouth. It smashes right up against her nose and eventually she has to choose between her toy and death by suffocation. In between, she makes loud snorting noises as she tries to inhale through the toy. Then she drops it, looks up at me laughing hysterically and you can see in her little mind she’s thinking, “You laughing at me? Well, are you? Because it isn’t funny. I almost died there.”
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:38 AM •
Friday, November 16, 2012
image

And the rest of them still don’t fit in his mouth. Sigh.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:27 AM •

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >

Subscribe to My RSS Feed: RSS 2.0