beach

What Time Is It?

Bottle without a message

Bottle without a message

Time for Mrs Fringe to have the first beach day of the season to herself.  I feel pretty lucky to have kiddos that recognize my particular brand of lunacy requires both beach time and occasional time by myself.  So the other day–the day before the girl’s last day of school– I checked the weather (iffy, which made it perfect to not bring Art Child), packed my bottle of frozen water, bleach-stained oversized towel, my trusty black and white composition notebook (just in case I should be inspired to write, hah!) and got on the train.

At first it seemed like the iffy weather prediction was completely wrong.  A bit of wind, but blue skies and sun all the way.  A bit more wind.  Eh, the sand scraping across my skin is free exfoliation.  I can be freckled and have a youthful glow!  Before two hours had passed, I found myself wondering how long I could lie there with sand blowing straight up my nose before I suffocated.  I gave up.  Took my towel and headed back toward the train.  While I stood on the boardwalk shaking out my towel, I thought of the many times I had gone to the beach in my angsty teen years, shivering in out-of-season winds while sitting on the rocks writing horribly overwrought poetry.  For some reason I also remembered going with my mother to the “big girl’s” shop on Coney Island Avenue, to buy housedresses for a relative in California, while my father sat in the car outside, grumbling about muumuus.  Shh, it’s a secret, don’t tell anyone.  For my mother, the secret was that this glamorous, beautiful cousin was a “big girl.”  For me, the secret was she wore house dresses in her home that seemed like a mansion compared to our semi-detached brick two family house.  For the love of God, she had gotten three thousand miles away from there, didn’t she know there was a reason they didn’t sell those polyester monstrosities in Southern California?

It’s a funny thing.  When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to “escape” South Brooklyn.  Seriously, it was like living the script of Saturday Night Fever, those bridges and tunnels represented everything.  I’m a cynical gal and always was, but I can and do certainly look back and realize my rose-colored glasses were firmly in place, like most other young people.  If I lived in the city (people who live in the outer boroughs refer to Manhattan as “the city,” regardless of the fact that it’s all five boroughs that make up NYC), life would be different.  I would be free, not trapped, living the life I always wanted.  You know, in a cold dark garret, chain smoking clove cigarettes while scribbling the great American novel.  Manhattan/Paris, Nineteenth Century/Twenty-First Century–it’s all the same thing, right? I’d be living the dream.  Regardless, I certainly wouldn’t spend twenty years dodging PTA meetings and worrying about doctor’s appointments.  Whatever happened, I would never find myself back in Brooklyn.  Most of all, I would never, ever wear a housedress.

So what do I do now with every opportunity on beautiful (or iffy) summer days?  Hop on the train and go over the bridge back to the Brooklyn, of course.  Just the beach, but.  No matter how many times I’ve gone back, no matter that it’s been a firm part of my summer routine for eons, I have to laugh at myself.  The first couple of times I went back, I wondered if I would run into anyone I knew.  Never have.  Who knows, maybe I’ve been towel to towel with someone who graduated from high school with me and neither of us recognized the other.  I quickly stopped thinking about it.  The realities of living in a city so densely populated is that I have people who live on the same floor of my building that I don’t see for months, sometimes years, at a time.

This winter I reconnected with an old high school friend, through Facebook.  She left Brooklyn before I did, and it turns out she too, is back in NY, living in a different borough.  We briefly talked about meeting up, but it hasn’t happened.  What would I say, without judiciously chosen and edited photos to represent my life?  Badge of honor, I’ve never worn a housedress!  Still, I found myself on Brighton Beach Avenue before I got on the train, looking at my favorite (cheapest) variety store running a going-out-of-business sale, and wondered if I had $5 on me.

A dollar short, story of my life.

A dollar short, story of my life.

First Time for Everything

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Labor Day weekend, the last hoo-rah of summer.  I really, really wanted to squeeze in one more beach day, and not over the three day weekend, because the sand is impossibly crowded on these days. Greedy, right?  I have enjoyed quite a few beach days this summer, all of them lovely, was at the NJ beach for an afternoon earlier in the week and of course, an entire week of vacationing on the beach down south.  But, one more on “my” beach in Brooklyn sounded irresistible, especially because Man Child is here.  He hasn’t been able to enjoy many beach days over the last few years, and I’m enjoying spending some days with him before he flies off overseas.

Of course I noticed the clouds as Art Child, Man Child and I walked to the subway, but there was no hint of rain, nothing that seemed threatening, we had actually gotten out of the apartment by 10am (we’d get good spots near the water!) and when you’re lying on the sand a few clouds can offer a bit of respite from the sun.  And of course it was windy when we got off the train, but the weather is always a bit different when you’re actually on the beach.  Besides, I kind of like those days, where it’s just me and the other diehards.

Oh.My.God.  It was a fucking sandstorm on the beaches of south Brooklyn.  First, we teamed up and wrestled the wind to get our towels down. We laid them close together, so we could pool bags and flip-flops to keep them anchored.  Man Child’s went first, and by the time we secured all four corners, the towel was half covered in sand.  He didn’t even try to lie down, went into the water instead. Art Child and I threw ourselves down on our respective towels as soon as we got them down, in an attempt to keep them from flying away, and trying to block the sand from our eyes. I grew up on that beach, and I can honestly say I have never experienced this amount of sand pelting everything and everyone outside of a November pre-rainstorm.

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At first it was kind of funny.  Go to the beach, she said, it’ll be fun, she said.  Man Child lasted about three minutes in the water, it was bizarrely cold for August. Give it a few minutes, surely it will blow over.  Art Child was huddled on her towel, shirt completely wrapped around her head, while Man Child and I laughed, chewed sand, spit sand, and waited.  Inside of 30 minutes, there wasn’t a centimeter on any of us that hadn’t been exfoliated, including my throat and eyeballs.  If you’ve never experienced it, crunchy contact lenses aren’t a rejuvenating sensation. Art Child was now shivering, so we decided it just didn’t make sense to stay, made a futile attempt to shake the sand off our stuff,  and packed up. Ten minutes waiting for the train, another hour and twenty minutes home.

We walk into our building, laugh with the security guard and super that it’s a good thing they didn’t come with us, go upstairs, and…can’t get inside.  For the first time in my entire life, I had locked myself out of my apartment.  If you’ve ever lived alone, you’re cautious about that kind of thing. I moved out of my parent’s house when I was 18? 19?, lived alone for years, and in those years, often worked a swing shift.  You cannot ring the super or landlady’s bell at 2am and ask for them to let you in.  I guess those habits get ingrained, so in all these years, I’ve never locked myself out.  I also gave up on making sure anyone else had a copy of my keys.  Apparently when we switched apartments last year, we didn’t give the super the new keys either. We live in a large, post-war but not new building.  This means there’s no jimmying the lock with a credit card, bobby pin, or other MacGyveresque maneuver to break in.  No external fire escapes on these institutional-style buildings to be climbed.  Sure we’ve got a terrace, but it’s 16 floors up, the terraces don’t begin until the fourth floor, and shockingly enough, I am not Spiderman.  Hell, even if there was a way to climb up, it’s rare that I can get the windows open from the inside.  From the outside? Hah!

Husband had gone to work.  In New Jersey.  Friday, of Labor day weekend.  No way he could run back home to let us in, and ludicrous to think of taking the bus to NJ and back in sand-filled bathing suits so we could pick up the keys. It would have taken 6-7 hours roundtrip in holiday traffic.  He was going to be home in another 8 hours anyway.  So we went to Mother-In-Law’s.  Thankfully she was home and a good sport about the whole thing, though I suspect she was done with us by about the 6th hour. Husband was a mere hour and a half late getting back into the city, and we were home by midnight.

Speaking of midnight, the moon put on quite a show over this past week, and I was able to get a few good shots.  If anyone knows why it was so red/orange, I’d love to know, but in any case it was beautiful.

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Not That Gal

Final installment of Mrs Fringe Takes a Vacation–I promise!

Much as I’d like to be, I’m not that gal.  You know the one; who appreciates everything she has, cleans the toilet thinking how lucky she is to be living somewhere with indoor plumbing, and is grateful to have (reasonably) working limbs and the luxury to grocery shop when the refrigerator is empty.  The one who takes a vacation and thinks, wow! I so appreciate a life where I was able to do that, what a wonderful time I had, and now I’m happy to be home.

I want to know when I can go back.  Art Child and I agreed we would start a jar of coins dedicated to our next vacation.  I thought about the jar of coins I already keep, the one that’s supposed to go towards Christmas presents, but usually ends up spent on a bill, or groceries, or some other necessity.

I’m the one who picks up the free real estate magazines whenever she goes anywhere, and imagines how it would be to live there.  The one who spends the entire thirteen hour drive home trying to figure out how many dogs she’d have to walk to buy a little beach house.  (Yah, I know, I haven’t been able to dog walk because I got all broken.) And ok, not so little, because I’m not alone.  Maybe not on the beach, because insurance.  And hurricanes.   So, walking distance to the beach.  Still in the million dollar range?  Ok, reasonable driving distance.  So maybe then I’d need to have a pool, because it’s hot hot hot there, and I wouldn’t want the girl to spend all her time off the beach locked in air conditioning. Who’s that knocking at my door–Reality?

Fuck you, Reality, I’m not ready to end my fling with Fantasy.  Talk to me next week.

Oh, the beach houses, which one would I choose?

Oh, the beach houses, which one would I choose?

Lovely, but too fancy.

Lovely, but too fancy.

This could work.

This could work.

How about this little one?

How about this little one?

We have a winner.

We have a winner.

Every day should begin like this.

Every day should begin like this.

The picture of a promise.

The picture of a promise.

View from the apartment we stayed in.

View from the apartment we stayed in.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

My toes are tingling.

My toes are tingling.

This was one of my favorite parts of the vacation. A washer and dryer IN the apartment! Mundane but true.

This was one of my favorite parts of the vacation. A washer and dryer IN the apartment! Mundane but true.

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I could spend hours looking at the patterns left in the wet sand by the waves.

I could spend hours looking at the patterns left in the wet sand by the waves.

I may print this one.

I may print this one.

Yes.

Yes.

The dark clouds felt just right for my last morning on the beach.

The dark clouds felt just right for my last morning on the beach.

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t spend one post touching on some of the critters to be found in the ocean and on the island. Born and bred a city gal the thought of a bear, or a mountain lion, or even a deer, terrifies me.  But because I’m a reefer, let me glimpse a few sea critters and I’m all in.

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So much more polite than the gulls in NY ;)

So much more polite than the gulls in NY 😉

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aah yes, the early morning prospectors--what are they looking for?

aah yes, the early morning prospectors–what are they looking for?

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Fall in line, boys!

Fall in line, boys!

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Lots of sunrise fishing

Lots of sunrise fishing

Love the flowers that pop up on the dunes.

Love the flowers that pop up on the dunes.

 

look close!

look close!

One afternoon we took a 2 hour boat tour of the waterways surrounding the island. One of the things I love about this area is the proximity of the dolphins.  While it didn’t happen this trip, there have been times where we were at the beach and there were dolphins swimming a hundred feet from us.

oyster beds all along the waterway.

oyster beds all along the waterway.

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We did spot several dolphins close to the boat, but I wasn’t able to get any great shots.  Honestly, I quickly gave up and just enjoyed watching them.

 

sorry, this is as good as I got.

sorry, this is as good as I got.

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One morning on my sunrise stroll, a woman came running up to warn me, “someone dumped a garbage can over there, and there’s some kind of sea creature!  You’re barefoot, and it has tentacles, be careful!!” She was genuinely frightened, and I, of course, went running straight towards it.

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Is it the creature from the black lagoon?

Is it the creature from the black lagoon?

bwahahaha, a not so scary at all horseshoe crab.

bwahahaha, a not so scary at all horseshoe crab.

I was a little disappointed, I had visions of something a-maz-ing.  Southern octopus?  Sea turtle nest in a strange spot? Or maybe a shark that I could have rescued and sent back to the water.

Jelly, and yes, I was stung by one of these guys our first day there. Not the first time, and I'm certain not the last.

Jelly, and yes, I was stung by one of these guys our first day there. Not the first time, and I’m certain not the last.

So fast, very hard to catch a shot that wasn't a complete blur.

So fast, very hard to catch a shot that wasn’t a complete blur.

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Beautiful, but not as serene as we pretend it is.

Beautiful, but not as serene as we pretend it is.

Later on the same day of finding the horseshoe crab, I was back on the beach with Husband.  Art Child was tired, and had stayed in the apartment with the boys. When I said good morning to the guy renting beach chairs, I laughed and told him about the crab, and how I had imagined it would be a shark. The water was a little rough that morning, so I didn’t go out too far.  Next thing I know, beach chair guy shows himself to be a lifeguard, calling everyone out of the water.  He had spotted a shark–closer to the shore than I had been–  said it was the largest one he had ever seen in this area, and kept everyone out of the water for at least half an hour.  How freaking cool is that?  But I admit, I spent the rest of the morning at the pool.

Saggy Bits

Walking Sticks and Flip-Flops

Walking Sticks and Flip-Flops

Installment #2 of Mrs Fringe Takes a Vacation.

You might be wondering a couple of things.  For example, was I inspired to do any writing while admiring the beauty and sunrises of the beach?  No. I wasn’t, and I didn’t. On our first full day there, I found a rejection in my email that referenced the agent’s “enjoyment of and obvious strengths of” my work.  I spent about 43 seconds stomping my foot–if it’s so obviously strong….I’ll likely have another seven years to obsess about my words and lack of publication before I’ll be back on that beach. Thankfully, the sand doesn’t make for satisfying stomping ground, and so I let it go to enjoy where I was.

The second, obvious question; what did that shameless hussy who goes by the name of Mrs Fringe wear on the beach?  For my sunrise photography sessions, I wore my 8000 year old workout clothes. Mostly because I’d get up, have coffee, do my yoga, and head straight out. The rest of the time? Bikinis all the way. That’s right, I’m a 40,000 year old woman with three grown and close to grown children wearing the effects of gravity like a sarong.  My concession to a body that nursed three babies for a grand total of 58,000 years is to make sure the top has an underwire.

I’ve talked a lot about my love of my Brooklyn beach, and this is much of it.  On that beach you find women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and fitness wearing their bikinis without a thought to what anyone else might or might not think, before they put their tent-resembling chintz house dresses back on and unfold their walkers to go purchase a pound of ground chuck for dinner.  Somewhere in there is a lesson on feminism, accepting who we are at all stages.

I try to care. I even went shopping before we left and bought a conservative tankini, very pretty. The tags are still on it. Instead, I went shopping again while we were on the island, and bought another bikini. I wasn’t sure about it, thought the design might be a little “young” for me, so I walked out of the dressing room to get an opinion. There was a woman standing there, about my age, who misinterpreted what I was asking and told me I should buy it, she’d absolutely wear a bikini if she could pull it off. She proceeded to call her 85 year old mother out of a dressing room to look at me so she could agree. I’m fairly certain her mom couldn’t actually hear a word of what was said, but she smiled and nodded.  Then the woman called her teenaged daughter out of her dressing room to add to the vote.  Hah! The girl popped her head out, politely tried to cover her horror with a twitchy grin, and slammed herself back into her cubicle. Naturally, I bought it ($12!), and wore it the rest of the time we were on the island. To my dressing room buddy:  You can pull it off.  If you want to do so, wear a bikini. It’s that simple.

The tide goes in and out four times (high tide twice, low tide twice) each day on Hilton Head, with a huge difference between high and low.  This means that during low tides, yes there are lovely, warm little tidal pools that are the equivalent of natural sea baby pools, but it also means there’s plenty of width and time to walk (or wheel, for those using wheelchairs) to the shoreline on sand that’s firmly packed, leaving stable ground beneath you. Why mention this? So you can picture how easily Mother-In-Law and I left our canes along with flip-flops and towels in the narrow stretch of soft sand so we could go swimming.

Today’s photos are mixed, a couple of sunrises with some late morning shots sprinkled in.

Path between the apartment complex and the beach.

Path between the apartment complex and the beach.

Sea oats

Sea oats

flip-flops on, off, who cares?

flip-flops on, off, who cares?

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Trash on the beach is terrible, yet there's beauty in there.

Trash on the beach is terrible, yet there’s beauty in there.

Bristle worm

Bristle worm

I was far from the only one in the water at sunrise, I think I fell in love with this woman.

I was far from the only one in the water at sunrise, I think I fell in love with this woman.

Can you feel it?

Can you feel it?

Those beach morning glories from yesterday? A late morning shot.

Those beach morning glories from yesterday? A late morning shot.

why choose to get up at 5am on vacation? This is why.

why choose to get up at 5am on vacation? This is why.

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Beach patrol, out every morning at sunrise to pick up trash left behind and blown in.

Beach patrol, out every morning at sunrise to pick up trash left behind and blown in.

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Up

Up

up

up

a little more

a little more

almost there

almost there

lost for a second

lost for a second

perfect new day.

perfect new day.

Where Ya Been, Mrs Freckle Fringe?

After much agonizing and whining, I booked a vacation.  So yes, Fringeland moved south for a week, and I’m now back on the terrace.  This will be the first of several posts about, and pictures of, our trip. I didn’t post about it beforehand because of weirdness. First of all, it had been so long since we took a vacation, all I did was stress about it. Second, right after we booked it, obviously, the girl started to not do so well, so…more stress. Packing up for a road trip to a beach break is simple, right? A few bikinis, a few towels, comfy traveling clothes, and you’re done.  Not in Fringeland. We don’t go out often, and we vacation much less often, so when we’re away, I like to have some nice clothes for going out, and all the makeup I generally don’t wear, and the hair dryer and the straightening iron that I don’t end up using, and no less than four anti-frizz products to keep my hair weighed down in the humidity and breezes. Then there’s an entire small suitcase of meds for Husband and the girl. Yes, I want the comfy traveling clothes, but I also want to look decent, just in case. My version of “wear good underwear in case you get into an accident” is wear decent clothes in case the car breaks down, or someone gets sick and I end up needing to meet strange doctors in a strange hospital, or or or.  See what I mean? Stress! Sure it’s self inflicted, but I can’t help it, goes with the whole vivid imagination thing.  And maybe a dash of experience.

Man Child wasn’t able to come with us, but we were still a crowded vehicle; me, Husband, Art Child, Nerd Child, one of my godsons (Mr Goodheart), Mother-In-Law, and all our assorted crapola. We didn’t bring Little Incredibly Dumb Dog, because I didn’t book said vacation early enough, and all the affordable places within walking distance to the beach that were pet friendly were booked.  A huge, huge thank you to El Fab for taking care of my little beast, the container garden,  AND the tank. I literally took thousands of pictures while we were gone, it’s going to take a bit to sort through them all. My intention was to blog and post pics while away, but once we were there, I just didn’t want to. Sorry! So I’ll break up my pics and stories into a few posts, and put them up here as I sort them. In other words, warning: the next few Mrs Fringe posts will be photo intensive.  Maybe by the time I’ve finished I’ll have stopped sobbing because I want to go back and stay there–but I doubt it!

While on the road, we always stay in low-budget motels, whenever/wherever we are when we just have to crash. Gives us a little more leeway while we’re actually at our destination, and it seems like a waste of funds to spend more on a room you’re literally only going to sleep in. On the way down, we stayed in what must have been the worst (though not the least expensive) motel we’ve ever stayed in. The manager was friendly and chatty, though. He generously offered to give me a tea bag from his personal kitchen, asked Husband “is that a Mexican name?” (all Latino names = Mexican, right? sometimes, and sometimes Dominican, Spaniard, Puerto Rican, South American…), and while I was telling our crew to get out of the car and unload, he proceeded to tell Husband about the woman who had walked in behind us–as she was standing there–how she asked to see a room, used the bathroom while she was in said “clean” room, and was menstruating and now he had to clean up blood.  Thanks for sharing a bit of your life, buddy!

And now, pics from this too-grossly-funny to be believed motel, and the first morning on the beach.

Dinner?

Dinner?

Pets were allowed

Pets were allowed

Anyone care for a yellow, crusty washcloth? I bet no one steals their linens.

Anyone care for a yellow, crusty washcloth? I bet no one steals their linens.

Yesssss, going over the bridge to the island.

Yesssss, going over the bridge to the island.

I wouldn't mind one of these.

I wouldn’t mind one of these.

Even looks like a sigh of relief.

Even looks like a sigh of relief.

Though the island is only about 13 hours from where we live, and we planned to break it up into two days of traveling, we hit every traffic jam possible (seriously–at our first coffee and pee break, we tried to get back on the highway and it was completely shut down because of an accident) and so didn’t arrive until early evening of the second day.

I could spend all day looking at these live oaks, truly magnificent.

I could spend all day looking at these live oaks, truly magnificent.

Even in road trip stupor, it's impossible to get a bad shot of this sky.

Even in road trip stupor, it’s impossible to get a bad shot of this sky.

And now, the first sunrise. I was a bit late getting out there, but still caught some pretty shots.

And now, the first sunrise. I was a bit late getting out there, but still caught some pretty shots.

The dunes are protected and respected.

The dunes are protected and respected.

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Put your toes in, even at 6am the water is warm.

Put your toes in, even at 6am the water is warm.

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My little posing friend.

My little posing friend.

Still wondering why I’m sobbing about having to leave?

 

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Why go home when you can pass out right on the beach, errr, watch the sunrise?

Why go home when you can pass out right on the beach, errr, watch the sunrise?

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These seemed to be a beach/sand morning glory. Each morning at sunrise the buds were closed, by the time I came back out at 9am or so they were open.

These seemed to be a beach/sand morning glory. Each morning at sunrise the buds were closed, by the time I came back out at 9am or so they were open.

Thanks for the morning welcome song!

Thanks for the morning welcome song!

 

Making It Up

 

 I don’t wear makeup frequently, which means that buying makeup is a rarity–usually prompted by leprosy or pink eye caused by wearing really old makeup.  Recently, Art Child has been curious, and wanting to play with some of the stuff out of the oh-so-fancy ziploc bag that holds my war paint.

The day before yesterday was a fabulous one; Man Child and Miss Music had come down for a couple of days, and so we went to the beach together.  Perfect, fun, relaxed, I was still feeling good from it.

Exactly the right mood.  It was gray and expected to rain yesterday, so why not hit the makeup store?  It’s been a long time since I went in anywhere and had my face done, but I figured this way I could update my look (ha!) and the girl could watch and see how it’s supposed to be applied.  And what better way to ignore the story idea knocking at my brain than to walk away from the laptop and pretend I’m a normal woman who doesn’t imagine living houses and talking trees?  I told the make-up artist that I don’t wear the stuff often, and when I do, I like a “natural” look, minimal products.  Apparently it has been a reeeeeally long time since I did this, because there’re about 12 new steps and layers that I’ve never even heard of.  Something about priming and contouring, I don’t know.  From what I could tell, these new steps involve varying shades of gray and beige painted on, dried, and then painted again until your face has been appropriately shellacked so you look like a cadaver–this is all before applying the steps and products I’m more familiar with.

When it was all done, I looked like I was ready to jump onstage with David Bowie, circa 1981, and it was pouring outside.  Serious, monsoon time. By the time we walked the three blocks home, I had a slime coat dripping from my forehead to my knees, black gook rings covering two-thirds of my face, and my back and hip were screaming in pain. I guess the combo of high humidity, heat, and sitting still in the makeup chair for an hour wasn’t the best plan.  Nerd Child was awake by this time, looked up from his computer, recoiled, and said “What did you guys do?”

By the time Husband came home from work, I had given up and was in pajamas, in bed.  “What’s the–oh! Umm, did you put makeup on today?”  I could hear him snickering as he went to grab me a pain pill.

This morning the humidity is down, the rain is gone, my face is clean, and I’m feeling much better.  Still, I think I should stick to my algae studies on the beach. Besides, I hear green hair algae is a great wrinkle cure.

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Lousy Poem Wednesday

For whatever anyone (including myself) may/may not think of my writing, I am not a poet.  I love poetry, but don’t know anything about the various forms, never studied it or felt compelled to do so. Of course, when I was a teenager and young adult, I wrote plenty of angsty poems.  All free verse, because, of course, I didn’t know what I was doing.  Attempts at rhymes resulted in the love children of elementary roses-are-red and the man-from-Nantucket, and I abandoned poetry for short stories by the time I was in my twenties.

Once in a while, though, like once every ten years, I have an urge.  I went to the beach with Art Child the other day.  Took the train out to Brooklyn to “my” beach, just beyond the shadow of the elevated train tracks.  Brighton Beach isn’t what anyone would call paradise, or even clean–truly, you have to shower off the layer of dirt and grime before determining whether or not you got any color– but I love it. It feels like home, what can I say.  When we were walking to the water, I noticed chicken bones scattered in the sand, probably rejected by seagulls.  Those bones, complete with bits of batter and gristle, stayed in my mind. image

Past the end

down and down the steps

up the ramp

splinters of before

push through

 

Sun soothes, empties the cells

Look Ma! No cancer, Vitamin D–

except skin

Pleats and furrows pulled taut by kelp flies

pores opened by the heat

for sweat to drown the fleas

Open

wider to swallow

shell fragments

broken beer bottles

chicken bones

 

And the salt

taste it

on the breeze

in the water

against the scummy layer of coconut oil

 

Grains of could-be

meld into

Squishy mud of

should-have-been

and I dive.

image

And Away We Go?

Lilies, a new love

Lilies, a new love

We all have those little things we do and/or buy to make life more pleasant, reduce the drudgery.  For me it’s my reef tank, and now my terrace container garden.  I’m enjoying watching the flowers and veggies grow, figure out what I’ve done wrong and what I’ll change next time. Do these things work?  It’s the small moments that add up to life.

I always say my tank is my beach house in a glass box.  And it is, sort of.  I can accept it as a replacement for my dream, but those LEDs don’t take the place of feeling the sun on my skin, doing water changes and suctioning cyanobacteria off the sandbed doesn’t replace feeling waves roll over my head.

LPS frag growing nicely

LPS frag growing nicely

Husband and I have been discussing the possibility of taking a vacation this summer.  We shouldn’t.  Financially, it isn’t a smart choice.  But from a psychological standpoint, oh, we all need it.  It’s been seven years since we last took a vacation.  Seven years.

Putting to the side the people and years when there is 0 money, 0 choice; everyone has their threshold.  Some people need to go away twice a year, others every year, every other year, every few years, or never.  When Husband and I got married, we didn’t expect there to ever be such long stretches with no vacation.   I didn’t expect us to go away every year, but maybe every 2 or 3. Fatigue and I have been friends for 13 years, and I’ve never seen him take a vacation, he’s never talked about feeling a need to get away. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t taken a vacation in his adult life. I’d like to be him, but I’m not.  By the fourth year of no real break/change in scenery, I’m feeling it.  Did I mention it’s been seven years?

I feel guilty because we never got the kids back to Disney World in that window of time where Man Child was still young and available enough to come with us, Nerd Child would relax and enjoy it, and Art Child was old enough to remember it.  We thought we’d be able to, but we couldn’t.  Disney is expensive.  Luckily, Husband and I both enjoy beach vacations best of all. Lucky because we enjoy the same relax and do nothing, and if you discount camping (no, just no), it’s the most budget-friendly way to go.

Husband is ready to say yes, let’s go, figure out the dates.  I’m angsting about the money.  Thinking about the small day trips and overnights that must happen this year for Nerd Child to visit colleges.  Time and money.  Thinking about the fact that Nerd Child does not enjoy the beach at all.  It isn’t a fun and relaxing vacation if one of us is miserable.

So I keep going onto the terrace, to find solace in the flowers and tomatoes.  I planted the seeds and bulbs, and they’re growing.

Another couple of nights and I think the moonflowers will begin to open, I can't wait.

Another couple of nights and I think the moonflowers will begin to open, I can’t wait.

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The summer daffodils I planted are even blooming.  We won’t talk about what happened to the zucchini.

The blooms are much smaller than regular daffodils.

The blooms are much smaller than regular daffodils.

I grew peas, successfully.

This morning I learned if you wait too long to pick it, the peas aren't as sweet.

This morning I learned if you wait too long to pick it, the peas lose their sweetness.

I can go on the terrace and smell lilies, come back into the apartment (an apartment we waited a long time for, that’s finally enough space, and cost a small fortune to make livable) and watch the jawfish as he makes funny faces at me from underneath the zoa covered rock.

zoanthids

zoanthids

It should be enough, shouldn’t it?  No medical crisis this year for anyone.  Art Child had pneumonia, but no hospital stay necessary.  I broke my everything, a painful, protracted nuisance but not a crisis. A garden on the terrace, an underwater garden in the tank, the absolute luxuries of a dishwasher and an extra half bathroom.  The oldest successfully graduated from college, the next one looking at colleges, and the youngest about to start high school.  I’m not torturing myself trying to find meaning that isn’t there in rejection letters.

I even canceled plans to attend a large, local reefing convention, because I knew if I went I’d be unable to resist temptation, and buy new frags.  But it isn’t just Husband eyeing the suitcase.

Not All Beach Days are Perfect

But somehow, all perfect days include the beach.  Today was one of those days, and the first officially unofficial beach day of the season for us.  Must be summer! Warning:  photo intensive post ahead.

This morning I charged the camera, Husband, Art Child and I threw towels and waters in the car, left our sleeping and completely-uninterested-in-all-things-beachy Nerd Child behind, and got on the highway.

Getting excited as we leave the city.

Getting excited as we leave the city.

Lucky souls sailing down the Hudson River.

Lucky souls sailing down the Hudson River.

Yes, that Asbury Park--and I was Born to Run.

Yes, that Asbury Park–and I was Born to Run.

Pfft, no umbrellas required.

Pfft, no umbrellas required.

Wouldn't be me without some macros thrown in.

Wouldn’t be me without some macros thrown in.

The water is still cold, but I couldn't believe how clear and lovely it was.

The water is still cold, but I couldn’t believe how clear and lovely it was.

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Something about this one, I like it.

Something about this one, I like it.

I hadn’t been to Asbury Park since, well, a long, long time ago.  The beach and water isn’t just cleaner than it used to be, it’s clean.  And beautiful.  One of my beach obsessions involves the critters that live in the sand. Funny how one roach in the hallway will send me on a three-day scrubbing and freak out spree, culminating in 50 Combat traps, but I’m fascinated by the creepy crawlies in and around the ocean.

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We didn’t stay too long.  First day out, why ruin it with sunburn? So we packed up and walked along the boardwalk for a bit.

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Homeward bound.

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Ok, even I’ll admit these grains of sand are getting mighty uncomfortable.