Lonelyville Charmer 649K


OF ALL FIRE ISLAND COMMUNITIES, each with its own beachy character, my favorite has to be Lonelyville. First of all, there’s that great name, which it seems is also the title of a bluesy number sung by Della Reese in 1958 (as well as an episode of Law & Order, seventh season).


Lonelyville is bohemian, a little off the beaten boardwalk. It doesn’t have its own ferry landing; Dunewood is the closest. There’s no grocery store or lifeguard stand.


I  have fond memories of spending a month in Lonelyville in the early ’80s, when my parents rented a cottage there. Vegetation was much sparser then. There were long stretches of sand between houses, some of which are old cedar-shingled cottages floated over on barges from the mainland.


Today, Kitty King, a real estate agent, showed my sister and me this hidden, 3BR oldie a short way from the ocean, with a spectacular pergola-covered roof deck. It’s just the kind of place I like — quirky, comfortable, oozing with charm.


The sellers have owned the house for 40 years. It’s been on the market for quite a while, apparently, and has already been reduced once. While 649K may seem a lot to ask for a house that can only be used part of the year, it is reasonable for Fire Island, where quite ordinary houses are priced in the 700’s and 800’s.


No house with birds and vines painted on the porch ceiling could possibly be ordinary.

For more info, go here.

Cottages of Dayton Lane


TRY AS I MIGHT, and living in the Hamptons as I do, I just can’t seem to aspire to a sprawling house on some acreage, with a swimming pool, behind a hedge. It’s the little cottages I invariably relate to, that make my heart sing (although I would definitely do something about the ivy that’s devouring the one above).

These pictures are of three neighboring houses on the outskirts of East Hampton village, opposite a cornfield. There’s something about them — their un-ostentatiousness, their not-trying-too-hard charm — that make them look, to me, like happy places to live.


French blue window trim, split rail fence…


Wooden pergola, brick walk…


Gravel drive, arbor at the end…


Annuals, grasses, wind chimes, and watering cans…


Leafy driveway receding into private territory…


Blue shutters,  hearty hydrangeas…

Keeping it simple.

Good Morning, Garden


SOMEWHERE I READ that if your garden doesn’t look good in August, it ain’t never gonna look good — or words to that effect.


This morning, I looked out my front door and ran to get my camera. Everything looked so sparkly after another night of rain (yay, rain!)


Below, the beginnings of a new path, created with pieces of slate found around the property, set in a bed of wood chips. Temporary-looking, perhaps, but a damn sight better than dirt with weeds and crabgrass.


Here’s the view from my new bathroom door this morning, below , before the planting of an ilex crenata ‘Steed,’ just purchased from Spielberg’s Nursery in East Hampton (at 30% off, natch) for the space between the shower platform and the main deck.


And there you have it, from a different angle a few hours later: instant screen, instant green.


Considering all was bare and barren a few short months ago, I’m pretty pleased.

Annie’s Porch


SOMETIMES YOU DON’T NOTICE A HOUSE, however interesting, until your attention is forcibly called to it. That was the case for me with the Annie Cooper Boyd House, owned by the Sag Harbor Historical Society. I only visited it last Friday because I happened to see an ad in a local paper for an event called ‘Annie’s Porch,’ which promised a) blog material and b) free wine.

Turns out Annie Cooper Boyd (1864-1941) spent an idyllic childhood in Sag Harbor as the daughter of a whaleboat builder. Her family lived in the fine Main Street house, below.


She grew up boating, fishing, collecting shells and seaweed (there’s a display of magnificently pressed and catalogued seaweed samples), and riding her horse to the ocean in Sagaponack. On reaching marriageable age, she turned into a proper Victorian young lady, got dressed up in white finery, and spent time with relatives in New York City, where she found a spouse.


She married John Boyd in 1894. Their primary residence was on Lincoln Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Her father bequeathed her the old house next door to his, set back from the street, where some of his workers had been housed. That became her own family’s summer home.


Now open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4PM, the house was built originally as a simple saltbox around 1790; the Boyds added the porch and dormer in 1906.


Annie Cooper Boyd became a watercolor artist, covering the interior walls of the house with painted decoration.


Her paintings of local scenes provide a valuable historical record. Many are stored  in an upstairs room, recently fitted with racks to properly preserve them.


Her diaries have been published as a book called Anchor to Windward (her name for the cottage). Along with hundreds of paintings, they were given to the historical society by Annie’s daughter, Nancy Willey, who died in 1998. The diaries cover the period 1880-1935, from the waning days of the whaling industry to the Great Depression, when she augmented the family income by setting up a tea room in the house and selling her artwork and handmade holiday cards.


It all comes to life in the house itself — which, incidentally, is only one of 37 sites on a self-guided walking tour of Sag Harbor’s historic district. For more info, call 631/725-5092, or go here.

Long Live Peconic Public Broadcasting

THE NUMBERS 88.3 on my car radio were instrumental in my decision to move to the East End of Long Island in 2009. It was a clear day in February, with snow on the ground. I was driving the back roads of East Hampton — the ones with wonderfully evocative names like Two Holes of Water Road and Stephen Hands Path — just to see what was there. I had lived in New York City for many, many years, and was having trouble envisioning myself in the country among cornfields and wild turkeys.

Until I realized that the radio station I was listening to, WLIU, was playing music that was just perfect for the likes of me. It was an NPR affiliate, at the same frequency as my New York City mainstay, WBGO, and it was playing an uplifting mix of blues, jazz, soul. I heard Billie and Solomon Burke and Ella and Louis… listened for a while, and thought, YES. I can live here. This is a good place to live. I will be all right.

And so I was. Unfortunately, the station is not. A miracle is the form of a couple hundred thousand dollars is needed by the end of this month to keep the station from folding. Last fall, the license for 88.3FM was purchased from Long Island University for $2million by an independent group. It became known as Peconic Public Broadcasting and continued to play the same great music. Partial payment was made; a final payment is due August 31, a deadline that can be extended no more. Read more details here.

Last spring, when Peconic Public Broadcasting moved from the campus of Southampton University to smaller quarters in the village of Southampton, I volunteered a few hours to help them pack up. I met some of the DJs whose voices and choices I’ve so enjoyed. Smooth Brian Cosgrove of “Afternoon Ramble” (thank you, Brian, for playing Van Morrison on a daily basis, and turning me on to Betty LaVette, as well as older stuff I had somehow missed, like Keith Richards’ “Make No Mistake”). Eddie German, of the evening “Urban Jazz Experience” and ready-made dance party “Friday Night Soul,” who seems to specialize in digging up underplayed, esoteric cuts. Relentlessly cheerful Bonnie Grice, whose “Eclectic Cafe” and “The Song is You” accompany me on my morning errands and who introduced me to jazz violinist Regina Carter and many others now on my iPod.

If you want to offer some 11th hour help, this Wednesday night, August 25, is “Locals Live,” a benefit concert at Old Whaler’s Church in Sag Harbor featuring East End bands and artists, including Nancy Atlas, house band at the fabled Stephen Talkhouse music venue in Amagansett. Admission is $25. Or just call 631 591 7003 and pledge, or do it here.

The voice of 88.3 FM
will be silenced
on August 31, 2010
if you don’t act now!
CALL (631) 591-7003
to find out how you can play a significant role in the
future of the station.

We mustn’t let the music die!