musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “beach”

first real beach day

At the beach, the world is bright, the waves lull, even when there is a strong riptide, and everything that has gotten under my skin for the past year rolls off of me in the breeze off of mother ocean.

And Captain Comic stops talking when he hits the water, for hours at a stretch, or when he’s buried in the sand. His synapses reset from the sensory input he gets from being wholly contained over most of the surface of his skin, whether sand or water. Sensory ReIntegration. I think he and I are alike in that manner, he’s just more so, to the nth degree. Other than when he sleeps, the beach is the one environment in which he does not talk endlessly.

I loved the beach for a lifetime before he was born, but for him, I love it even more. At one point, he and I took a walk on the pier to see the fishermen’s catch. Toward the end of the pier, one young man had caught a skate! That was really cool for us to see. As we talked with him, he said in the past week, a couple of sharks had been caught at this pier. You should have seen Capt. Comic’s eyes bug out when I said, “Right where you were swimming in the same waters!”

It is a struggle to get him to put on sunscreen before he hits the surf. In front of the woman in the white top from right to left is Captain Comic, Mr. Cynic and Mr. Cynic’s new gf. She’s cute and very nice, also very blonde, hence she is now known as Goldilocks. They had to move away from the pier zone by 200 feet, partly due to riptide, partly the fisherman’s lost hooks. We kept the encampment by the pier, so it was a little walk to the swim zone. Toots decided she didn’t like the ocean after it hit her in the face when she was with Honey. But I got her there a couple times later to rinse a ton of sand off and to cool down. We got hit with a good sized wave, too, But when I laughed about it, she laughed about it, too. She still would rather go to Water Country.

Here is the gang of youngins all helping out to bury Capt. Comic in the sand. Goldilocks was a good sport in entertaining him, and Toots, who is completely enamored with her.

He emerges to rinse off:

 Honey, soaking up the sun. looking up the pier. It’s nice to see him relax. It’s not nice to see how easily he sunburns, even with 45SPF.

Toots, when we first arrived planted herself in the sand and proceeded to swim in it and douse herself with it.

After a couple of hours, and Captain Comic and my walk on the pier, we discovered a playground near the parking lot.

Toots kept up with the teens, fearlessly. I swear she is a girl after my own heart. There was a time I rock climbed, before I totally wrecked my back, shoulder, etc. Captain Comic, after some initial Parkur moves in preparation for making his ninja movie, decided the puddle between the bathroom and play space was the most attractive place to be. Yuck.

 Play is very serious business for a three year old.

All in all, it was a perfect beach day. Life is good. Wear sunscreen.

to ease a case of apoplexy

I’m tweaking. 

I still haven’t heard from the bus office for the school district. but I posted this on facebook after picking him up from school today:

 so there i am in the office waiting for [Captain Comic] to meet me for pick-up since there was still no word from the transportation office, or anyone else, and that’s what i arranged with the a.p. and – well after the dismissal bell rang – i hear come over the secretary’s handheld, ‘we have a special arrangement for [Captain Comic] to ride the special education bus today.’ oh no they di-in’t!!!!!

So I need to breathe.  A lot. Big breaths.  Deep ones.  Ones that prevent aneurysms.

Yesterday, thankfully, we had an absolutely perfect day and a new adventure at a new beach down along Virginia Beach way called Sandbridge Beach.  It’s very Cape Coddy.  Very Outer Banksy.  It has dunes.  It felt homey.  We loved it. 

First, on the way down, which was longer than expected, we enjoyed a lovely view.  Here, I shall share:

Breathe, Cath, Breathe…
See how contented we are?  Ah, another, gentler day…Breathe, Cath, breathe…
I get a kick out of this photo, because Toots is standing nearly identical to me, yet mirror image, hands behind her back.
Toots just hangin’ loose.  Chillax.  Breathe…
Now here’s where things get taken to a whole new level in the relaxation department.  Captain Comic in the shallows letting the surf roll him.
He came up for air…  Breathe, Cath, breathe…
Then back into the surf for the waves to roll him.
Mr. Cynic enjoyed the ocean breeze, even though he really didn’t want to spend the Last Day of Summer with his family instead of his friends.  Breathe…
Honey and girl walking to and along the dunes.  Breathe…
Ehem,  just take a moment to look at those shoulders. Hubba-hubby, eh?
It really was a perfect day.  Ok, I can breathe now.  And while putting together this post, I finally spoke with the transportation office and the bus driver and have a bus number and time it will arrive for tomorrow morning.  
Breathe…
Now to deal with his mis-scheduled English class and the fact that the old school assigned him the wrong summer reading report and project.
And now for something completely different:  me updates:
My writing group met today.  I made progress on my edits, finally, even while scooting out early to deal with bus mess.  I also have a quilt to finish before Toots outgrows it. 
How was eveyone else’s start to school or the week, or your weekend?
And seagull

beach day

It was crowded beyond belief.
The storm out at sea made for extremely rough surf.
We came home with sand in every possible crevice and then some.
Honey lost the second pair of relatively new prescription glasses and his Red Sox cap in the undertow.
We loved every minute of it.

Beach Season

We got a late start to everything yesterday, which included forgetting to grab an actual camera rather than just the cellphones.  When we finally got rolling, we had to stop for sunglasses, because Toots has been begging for them since we all got our prescription glasses renewed a while back.  She felt left out, I guess, but now she’s the coolest chick in the van.
When we reached Grandview Beach in Hampton, VA, we joined friends on the neighborhood private beach area rather than going into the conservation area.  The walk was still quite long.  I did who-knows-what to my ankle earlier in the week, and then found the tidal pool ditch with the same foot.  Weird crunch in said ankle followed, as well as increased swelling.  But otherwise we had a lovely time at the beach.  Even Mr. Cynic, who was none too pleased about hanging out with his family in the bright sun, enjoyed himself in the end. 
The boys found a clam in the dry area of the sand and moved it here, where it could dig back into the wet sand.
Lots of stumps littered the shoreline.  At first I wondered if they were remnants of an old pier, then realized they had to be parts of some old shoreline forest. 
Captain Comic, of course gunned for the water as soon as we arrived.  I had to yell him back for sunscreen, but while I was trying to sunscreen Honey’s back and Toots, while she dumped handfuls of sand all over the blanket we just spread out, he slapped two streaks on himself and ran back to the water, never to be within 15 yards of waterline after. 
Last night, his back was on fire.  Still is.  Minimal white hand streaks are visible in the hot pink fire wall.  No amount of aloe will soothe it, and he won’t let me put zinc oxide (diaper cream) on it.  So I said, okay, kiddo, then suffer, and no pool today.  He’s fine with suffering the sting, but not with missing out on the pool’s opening weekend.  He still won’t let me put zinc on it.  No worries, I’ll win when the rest of us head to the pool, seemingly without him.

wishing ocean

I am wishing ocean
the weather is there
and then it is not
the summer glimpsed
then the wind picks up

the ocean the ocean
the summer breeze
the ocean the ocean
calls to me
the rain threatens
the temperature drops

please summer come
and all this teasing stop

the ocean calls
and I must swim
the ocean calls
and leads me in

the swirling waters break
around my ankles
and come together again
rise to my knees, my waist,
I dip my hands in

take a deep breath
and plunge wholly in,
holy in the water
fresh salt on my lips
the scent of the tide
as I break surface for air

the ocean ebbs
the ocean flows
and with it
all of my woes.

she takes me in,
and out I rise again.

sometimes nothing is better than a mouthful of words

Duck, NC 1.8.2010

The Writers’ Retreat in the Outer Banks, NC

I don’t know quite how to talk about my experience at the Writers’ Retreat. It was rather life, or at least book changing. We got right to it, after a brief lunch on Thursday afternoon last week and settling in. We are six women children’s authors all in a writing group together that has now officially been dubbed Tidewater Writers. We wrote on average, in silence, for nine hours a day. We all felt like if we were in our usual environments we would not have accomplished the things we did or maintained the focus for so long. We did only because five other women were doing the same thing. As for what I accomplished: I nitpick edited my way through three turns of the book, most specifically to get my verb tense consistent throughout the story. I surprised myself with a few new scenes where previously I had described situations. I figured out that I need to meld two characters. This both saddens and exhilarates me. I really love one character I am going to get rid of in the process, and his appearance really defines the family dynamic in the manuscript. Here are some pictures of where we stayed in a little town called Duck.

I took the above from the screened in deck almost as soon as I arrived. The drive was easy and made easier through conversation. I probably talked J’s ear off out of necessity, as I anticipated the silence to follow. I’m a talker by nature, and just knowing there would be other adults to talk to who wanted quiet was going to kill me if i didn’t get it out of my system. My apologies to J, if she sees this post. The water surface was frozen, hard to see from this shot. It was about the coldest weekend the Outer Banks had ever seen. Think about it: frozen salt water body.

A handful of hours later, after we’d been working, and I had fidgeted and moved around too much, battling my own distractions, I looked out the window to a beautiful golden sunset.

I watched it more than I wrote for a while. Below’s picture is blurry, there was a lot less light, and a lot more color. Because of the darkness encroaching, my shutter stayed open too long and I have a shaky hand, so sorry about the blur. Amazing color, not amazing camera, you can see the ice patch better here in the lower quarter of the photo, blurry as it is.

Each night we took turns making dinner. I was shamed by my cohorts. I like to think I am a good cook, but mine was way homier than the presentations by the other women. Even if my spaghetti sauce was homemade. After a couple of hours of work on Friday morning, I wasn’t getting very far going crosseyed trying to edit and was fidgeting. I kept thinking about Toots and that I should be home. I saw J getting restless, too, so I approached her as quietly as possibly to see if she wanted to walk down to the water to clear our heads. So we bundled up and hopped the boardwalk over the dune to the peers and Currituck Sound. At least I think it was Currituck. I’ve looked on a couple of maps and a few sounds and a bay all seem to converge right about where we were staying, on the western shoreline. Again, all these white caps? Not moving, not gently rolling into the shore. Frozen. Solid. The wind was quite brutal.


We wanted to walk out the long peer, but found it blocked by this:

Even though we were renters. So here’s a view from below the peer at about ten in the morning.

We didn’t stay out for long, the wind was really taking our breath away. I heard some form of wildlife rustling on the dune in the grasses and brush, but didn’t catch sight of it. Below is the view of our house from the boardwalk. It was huge. It had a pool, closed, and a hot tub. The hot tub became a vital part of our retreat and writing process. We gabbed about writing bumps and curves, drank wine, and soaked, while the water steamed up into the cold cold night around our heads, and up to where the stars shone brightly.

Saturday, J and I decided, as cold as it was, there was no sense in our coming all the way to the ocean, mere yards away across the main road, and not see it. If you’ve been reading my blog at least since this summer, you know by now my particular affinity for the ocean and beach. We drove down, parked and walked over the dune around four in the afternoon.

If we thought the wind was cold the day before, it absolutely bore through us on the way up the dune. Below is the view from the crest of the dune as the wind began to tear through my left ear.


We walked southward down the shore with the wind at our backs, but still seriously braced against the cold. My Red Sox cap was the wrong hat for the job. I found tons of cool shells and even pieces of bone of small animals, washed ashore. The shells were bigger than any you can find in the summertime at Virginia Beach or Buckroe, my current usual haunts. I’ve been collecting beach detris since I was a little girl growing up on Long Island Sound, and all the beaches my parents trotted us to all up and down the East Coast growing up, and any beach I’ve been on since. I picked up a nice couple of pieces of driftwood on Saturday, along with a pocketful of shells, two whole crab carcasses (two types) and the jawbone of something, I still don’t know what, but it still has teeth!

I soon realized we really needed to turn around if we weren’t going to freeze to death on the way back to the boardwalk by the car. J agreed and I’ll tell you, my mother’s old expression ‘cold as a witch’s titty’ does not even come close to the wind that whipped our faces. The seagulls below stood shivering away from the water’s edge until I pulled out my camera and approached them.
They gave me some serious WTF expressions as they headed toward the water to get away from me.

By the time we jumped back into J’s car, I knew my ears were in serious trouble. I looked in the visor mirror and they were stark white. That is not a good sign. They continued to tingle and hurt two days later, after I’d been warm inside even back home for twenty-four hours.
By the look of these pictures, it seems I spent a lot of time gazing at sky and sea, but really that was a brief respite. The main thing I did all weekend was write. Well, even then, mostly edit, but it was much needed and not something I’ve been able to stick it out and do with all the home interruptions and easy distractions. I feel refreshed and exhausted. refreshed from all the sleep and hot tub that I don’t get at home, ever. Mentally exhausted because I finetooth combed my way through my whole book, and wrote additional scenes. I can’t wait for next year’s retreat!
I am posting this a few days later than I wanted because I came home to a sick cat, and paying attention to family needs. We’re still waiting on test results to find out what is going on with Babette, and I am absolutely drowning under laundry duty, among the usual mayhem.

Holy moley and such weekend

Saturday night, we attempted to go to a free concert of Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs, at a local festival that honors the Chesapeake Bay. I don’t want to go into too much except to say, our jaunt was shortlived between the loud, the crowd, S’s Asperger’s and mostly a drunken belligerent guy who would not stop blowing his harmonica and otherwise getting into Baby C’s face, among other bad behavior for about an hour before the police came to escort him out. Honey was nearly involved in what could easily have become a brawl because of this guy. Thankfully he thought better of it, since he was holding Baby C. The guy was a good example to point to and say to the teen, “K, that right there is why you don’t want to drink too much.”

Otherwise, Saturday was a very lounge around the house day after the first week of school. I think it was good for us all, but I was getting antsy. I feel like, even though August was kind of long and lazy, we didn’t take advantage of it and get out to the beach much or much of anything else. K was really enjoying hanging with his friends, so we kept it low key after the boys came home from their visit to their dad’s for July. Now that it’s September, I am feeling like we need to hurry up and have some fun before summer truly ends. The weather has been about 20 degrees cooler for the past week, so that’s a big incentive, too. Who want’s to do anything when it’s 95 out?

Sunday afternoon, we finally made it to a beach after much grumbling. It wasn’t the big beach ride we attempted and aborted in the torrential downpour last weekend, but a closer one. Buckroe Beach was perfect: cool breeze, not too hot or cold, but it had recently been dredged and stank like a big wet dog. We enjoyed a lovely relaxing time being Godzilla, drawing, reading (well, two pages), pier walking, sea stuff collecting and seagull chasing. I particularly loved lying back with my eyes closed, listening to the waves roll in and swoosh back out again. Nice to have Honey who works so hard all week there, to watch C and S. Finally, I could close my eyes, meditate on the sound of the waves.

S cast as Godzilla rising from the deep.

K examining a razor clam shell I tossed onto his character plotting or maybe it was alien weapons cataloging.
C filling, dumping and refilling the bucket with rather pebbly sand.

These photos are of dredge flotsam washed ashore.

This one I took at the base of the pier. I loved watching the water wash up, bubble and break against the posts.

I don’t know what kind of birds these are, but they’ve been entertaining me at Buckroe everytime I’ve been there. This one cracked me up the way he pranced around.


So after an adventurous Saturday night and a bit of resistance to doing a family thing again on Sunday, we managed to relax and have fun with each other, just doing what each of us loves to do at the beach in the last cool weekends of summer, stretched long like the afternoon shadows across the sand.

Addendum: After much research and an inquiry put out to Facebook friends, I believe the bird may be a Boat-tailed Grackle.

Highlights from 1500 miles of good road – Part II -days in CT

Baby C has been refusing a nap all day, so if this is incoherent or seems incomplete, my apologies. She is screaming her way down on my lap as I type.

Nearing the end of our foray through the miniscule state of Rhode Island, I received a call from my mother who mentioned that my older brother was at his significant other’s place in Madison, CT, a hop skip from the border, so I called him to goof about how were were driving by. His longtime girlfriend answered his cell because he was dragging kayaks from the water, and she said to come on by, we weren’t due at the other brother’s house for a while, and we could caravan together.

I met her father who was a riot and had no idea that we were stopping by when S invaded his house and pushed him aside to get the lay of the place, as he must always upon entering a new place. I’m not certain if he’s searching for goods or an escape route, but this is what he does. Anyway, when S realized he was pushing past someone, when the thing spoke, he piped up with an accusatory “Who are you?!” Without skipping a beat, the man countered, “I’m R, I live here. Who are you?!” Thank you, R, for a completely appropriately funny way to deal with him. R then turned to me and said, “Who are you?” So many of us were laughing that I turned to my brother – here we run into the K problem my family presents – WKC, who R knows and replied, “His sister.” whereupon R conveyed his apologies and – uh-oh, a new initial problem, R’s daughter, WKC’s girlfriend, C3 (to distinguish from myself and Baby C) laughed louder than all of us. More dogs, one bear sized, one horse sized poodle, an aged pitbull who is looking for love in all the wrong places, and a bevy of preteen girls cuddling a min-poo to death.

Moving right along: on the way to KHC’s house, we caravaned a roadside stop for ice coffees, and my tummy rumbled and so the kids’ must be, too, for another hour drive before KHC’s house. After WKC and C3 pulled out of the drive thru, we pulled around for pick up and the window girl said, “don’t worry, they got it.” I laughed more, noting that my big brother thought he was buying an ice coffee for Honey, and sprang unwittingly for 3 large fries, too. Pay it Forward indeed. Right back to when we were kids.

Trumbull, CT: We arrived for the big family get together at my brother KHC’s house. He and his wife have two little boys who are growing faster than I can register. Next month they start kindergarten and first grade. They have an awesome playset which allowed us to confirm our suspicions that Baby C is not as easy going as she generally appears. She’s really a daredevil at heart. The little thrill seeker must have climbed up and slid down this giant slide a thousand times. Where’s her spotter? He’s wielding the camera, apparently. When I was with her, I held on. She was so fast, there’s nary a clear shot of her out of quite a few on this thing. It was wonderful to see everyone, my brothers their families, my parents, the grand patriach and matriach of the clan. We slept at Gaga and Papa’s in Fairfield, and it was good to see my mother getting around really well a mere month after her stroke. One thing about my family, though we might fight, and get impatient with each other and disagree about what happened when, we do generally laugh outloud a lot.

Hamden, CT: The next day we spent the afternoon with Honey’s niece’s family in Hamden. She’s having another baby in December. This is her nearly three year old, M. Baby C loved the fishies and M is showing her the different kinds. “And that’s the spotted one, and that’s the white one, and that’s the black one…” We also saw Honey’s sister and her husband, but were sorry his brother couldn’t make it. He’s very funny and S loves his motorcycle. If you can peer very closely to the framed shot on the bottom shelf, that’s M when he had the same curls as C. Have I mentioned previously that though Honey and I met while living in MA, and now live in VA, we both grew up in CT?


Of course the boys found what they find where ever they can find it. And with new fandangled accessories to boot. Note the looks of concentration. Or are they merely glazed over?

Fairfield, CT: The following day we spent very relaxed at Jennings Beach with my old friend Cathy J and her son. We met in second grade when I moved to a new school. I was writing my name in the dirt in the back baseball field during recess when she wandered over and asked, “How did you know my name?” By fourth grade, her family moved across town. We met up again in the church youth group in 7th grade then went separate ways again, though we saw each other around jr high and high school. I’m not exactly sure how, but we found each other through email around our 2oth class reunion, and have been emailing and sticking close, though miles and states apart ever since. She was the only person who C warmed up to quickly the whole trip. They cooked seaweed bucket soup together at one of the beaches we grew up on. Her family is so local there are historic parts of town from the colonial era named for them. Her husband’s family, too. It amazes me how some families are like that. As much as I love and seek stability, my kin and I seem to be wanderers.
Random baby meeting. This little girl sidled right up to C. Very cute, same age, and big brown eyes, too. She wasn’t a giant baby, merely average sized, which is still bigger than C.
This shot is for balance. I’m overbabying you, sorry. CJ’s son and S took to each other almost immediately in a sea monster game. K joined them eventually, too.
Fairfield, CT: Gaga and Papa’s house. This is taken on the back patio of the house I grew up in from the age of seven. It had been raining for 26 out of the previous 30 days. I helped to weed the slate area of the patio, but the pebbled area is so overgrown, my brother WKC is going to resurface it altogether. That is a first in the decades my parents have lived there since 1973. (That’s right, moved in when I was seven in 1973, you do the math). C was enamored with the bunny. He had to join us for dinner.
WKC’s kids, aged 20 and 17, with my brood in the livingroom at Gaga and Papa’s. KHC came to dinner that night, but his little guys had to go to bed for summer camp in the am. This is just one shot of what it takes to get a shot of all the grandchildren. And two are missing. When they can sit still, they are a goodlooking bunch of kids. We usually try to get an annual portrait of all of them together, but believe me when I tell you this is merely one of very very many before we got the good one. L is a sweetheart, C is so rocknroll, K is dreaming of his girl back home (pah!) and W and S survived the photo shoot contrary to appearances.
The ride home was made in good time, outside of NYC and the GWB, that is. All in all a good adventure, that I’m still exhausted from days later.

Of weekend…and old southern fishermen

Of weekend, writing or not, organization and furniture, productivity or relaxation, beach, t-storms, dead battery, stand still traffic and old southern fishermen.

I’m thinking again. Thinking of writing, thinking of editing, but waiting for editorial input from a few select friends in order to edit my manuscript. Of editing the poem I wrote the other day or not, or of writing the story I started or the one with the fully cast set of characters from about a week ago. Or of finding that script outline from oh, 4 yrs ago, that I still would like to develop. And three derivative character books from my manuscript that I could easily start, not exactly a series, but related books on existing characters.

I’m thinking I’m happy that Honey and I finally rearranged S’s bedroom on Saturday. I’m thinking how long will it stay this clean after he gets home from his dad’s. And of threatening to take anything left on the floor or shoved behind furniture away for eternity, but that’s a lot of money in legos and drawing supplies and dinos and godzillas that I’d rather he use.

I’m thinking I wish I had a laptop and a couple of hours a day in a café or elsewhere so I won’t be on toddler duty, or in the vicinity of laundry, dishes et al, so I can focus on writing and get to the deeper level, find the groove, without distractions in housework or parenting.

I’m thinking what an absolutely gorgeous day at the beach on Sunday. The water was perfect, the beach was packed, Honey and I relaxed, Baby C grew a little more accustomed to the sand and the water, and even pointed from the shovelful of sand I held to show her, and pointed to a speck on my arm and said ‘sahn..’ She watched a kite circle and dip and bounce. She pointed to gulls, to clouds to people to sandcastles, to the ocean for me to say what they were again and again. She pointed and giggled at the flock of squawking laughing gulls dipping and circling and diving at an unattended set-up, where they were stealing snacks, because the family all went to the water together, leaving their belongings to the snarky thieves. That is a lesson learned in my well-beached youth. She flirted with the young guys behind us who laughed and called her adorable, after gossiping about friends and others apparently at their college. I thought and said to Honey, I am so glad I am not that age anymore, when what people wear, their hair, their ‘tudes, their likes and dislikes matter so disproportionately to the entirety of world affairs.

And then the breeze became darkened sky, became drops. I watched the cloud direction and we packed up, headed to the van in the municipal lot, to discover alarm drained dead battery, and then the sky opened up, and Honey and I yelled at each other, til he stood at the edge of the lot to watch for Triple A, who arrived with handheld battery pack in an unmarked Nissan, calling me on my cellphone on the approach. I think, why do we yell at each other so readily, when all else fails.

I’m thinking of getting on the road and sitting in standstill traffic on the bridge. Of the ancient bent man wiping his new truck with a greasy cloth and getting out, hobbling slowly, fly half unzipped, toward his trailered fishing boat. He stopped and spoke to us on his way, offered us a pepsi or a mountain dew with multiple extra syllables in his deeply southern accent, as only the true locals in this highly transitory area speak, and of his spit of tabacca chaw in the midst of the conversation. I’m thinking of the four car slightly more than fender bender and emergency vehicles that held us up and of how C slept so well after the beach through the whole thing.

I’m thinking I have a moment right now in which I could be writing something mentioned above, but that right now, this is what I need to be writing, because I’m thinking of so many different things, including that the boys will be home in a few weeks, and of all the plans I am making for the week we will pick them up, we will spend trying to visit loved ones we miss, see my family, check up on my mom’s progress since the stroke, and of nephews and niece, growing so much – she’s twenty and the youngest nephew is three, and how much of life has passed in the time since I moved away, and since my brothers and I were growing up, and I need to write all of this down somehow, use it, love it, and turn it into something more than the ramblings of my life.

And I’ve suddenly realized I’ve hit a landmark. This is my fiftieth post to my little blog. I guess I’m not so new to this anymore and better figure out how to do that underliney thingie for links instead of throwing the whole link up in the blog.

Post Navigation