Revel by the Sea

Sometimes the simple moments that fill a life with joy require fewer words than others. A photo or two can do the trick. Take a peek below into my past couple of days as I savor the tail end of summer vacation by the shore…and enjoy.

An early-morning walk by the sea, where only the fishermen, a couple of boats, and a gigantic sky keep me company.

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With sandy flip flops and salt in my hair, I meander back through sidewalks of flowers and cozy cottages.

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Stop at a farmers market and breathe in even more deep, fresh scents and colors…a revel for the senses.

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Such pockets of beauty and wonder everywhere. All ours for the taking.

Suddenly it feels a bit cooler as throngs of sleepy beachgoers trudge back to cars or cottages, their carts overflowing with umbrellas and chairs, sand pails brimming with shells.  The hot, vast sky turns periwinkle-pink and the sun begins her do-si-do with the moon, who just keeps on pulling tides and making waves, pulling, making.  And though I am quite sleepy myself, I feel her pull me too; bedtime will have to wait.

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Shenanigans for Kevin Bacon

I adore Kevin Bacon. He could act out the phone book and I would watch with glee. Give him the Oscar, the Golden Globe, an Emmy, some sort of Golden Ticket immediately.
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So…imagine my squeal of delight as I spotted his band’s name on the boardwalk marquee this morning after a blissful walk on the beach. Then, wait, is that … holy cow! It’s his tour bus pulling up right underneath our condo’s balcony.  I’m not embarrassed to tell you that I jumped out of my chair to run inside and put on a nicer tank top and shorts (dress is veeery casual at our vacation getaway here) and then returned to hang over the balcony with my iPhone camera poised in position. My sister scolded me for staring, opting to play it cool, but every ounce of cool I may have possessed flew off the railing with the seagulls.

Well, we missed him at that juncture, the bus departed, and Emily and I carried on with our vacation Monday, until…the bus returned! Now, in an unexpected turn of events, Sister contracted Kevin Bacon Fever and tore off up to the Music Pier to wait for a sighting. I could barely catch up with her in my flip flop feet, frizzy hair, and, uh, no brassiere (in my haste to follow her I forgot to put it back on!).  I’m lucky nothing flew out of my old, saggy tank top as I ran after her.  So now there we are, standing outside the stage door as the brothers finished playing their set (which sounded amazing, by the way), two goobers giggling like schoolgirls up to no good.

We waited. We waited. They played a couple of encores. We waited some more. We got to talking and laughing with two other ladies waiting for our star to appear. Emily marched toward the concert hall to try to peek through the doors, only to be chased down and yelled at by the “security guard” (who looked younger than some of my sophomores). We waited. I took a photo of the exit door to make sure my phone’s camera was focusing. Emily got to talking with another one of the staff….Wait, what? <insert sound of screeching brakes> He’s already left the building? <insert a loud, distorted, slow motion Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo>

And so, my friends, it turns out that good things do come to those who wait, just not necessarily the things that were expected. Kevin Bacon was whisked away to safety out of another door and is already sleeping soundly, relieved to have evaded the two googly-eyed female stalkers spotted lurking by the Exit.  And two sisters are still laughing themselves silly over their night filled with shenanigans by a starlit summer sea.

A Few of My Favorite Kevin Bacon Films:

  1. Footloose
  2. She’s Having a Baby
  3. The Big Picture
  4. Apollo 13
  5. Mystic River
  6. The Following (Television series)

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A Summer Sunday

I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of Sundays. (Were you expecting a juicier, saucier admission?) During the school year, I awaken on a Sunday morning and immediately think of the million and one things I want to squeeze into the day ahead before heading back to work on Monday, things I probably should have already gotten to during the workweek or at least part of Saturday–you know, three loads of laundry, a Crock-Pot of chili, a full week of celery chopped, pile of bills, at least one power walk, vacuuming, five classes worth of essays to grade, finish writing a book of poems, iron my shirts, read the Times front to back, watch every single football game being televised, go to a football game, watch Masterpiece Mystery, write a novel, read a novel … well, you get the idea. Never enough time. And poor, innocent Sunday seems to rub that in my face, though I know she means no harm.

Now, part of me is being hyperbolic, of course. I am a teacher. I enjoy freedom-filled Sundays all summer long. I load my time with what I want, when I want it.  I have sacrificed a lot of material and financial comforts to follow my dream of teaching, but I reap every single reward this special vocation offers. I am grateful that I have always inherently enjoyed simple pleasures and that I know how to live comfortably and within my means. And I have also lived enough and seen enough to know that all of the  blessings in my life make me wealthier than any man or woman on the Forbes list.

But I digress…back to Sundays. This Sunday. Today. Simply spectacular! My sister and I are together again for a week of shenanigans on our annual summer vacation at the Jersey Shore. We have vacationed here since we were tiny girls, playing Charlie’s Angels with cap guns, smashing around in bumper cars, licking ice cream cones, and sharing stories of what we were going to be when we grew up. We return because this place connects us. Its roots grow deep.

Anyway, nothing earth-shattering, just simple and restful, like Sundays are meant to be, I suppose. Soul-filling. I sketched. She sipped a special coffee. We laughed and chatted, people-watching from our balcony a few yards from the boardwalk. She napped. I plunged into the most beautiful coffee table book entitled The Sea and daydreamed of manning a lighthouse in the middle of the Irish Sea or re-cruising the Alaskan fjords. We savored a delicious caprese salad (including cucumber slices and garlic stuffed olives) composed with the freshest of ingredients from my visit to my friends’ garden the other day. She bought two original paintings at the art show on the boardwalk. I ballooned with joy as she excitedly recounted her conversation with the artist. And we ended the day in the best way possible, perhaps the only way, when you’re down here on vacation…a twirl of soft serve ice cream. Dipped in rainbow sprinkles, of course.

Sunday, I may just be discovering your wonderfulness after all.

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Two original paintings (on aluminum) by New York artist Kevin Liang

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Channeling Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau said that an early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. As always, he was right. My eyes popped open around 6:30 this morning (oh, the luxury of summers off without an alarm clock chirping before 6), and so I decided to take a walk before another hot, humid day trapped me inside by the air conditioner.  Today’s jaunt wasn’t about lowering my cholesterol or trimming my waistline, though I did pick up the pace a few times; no, I just meandered through the sidewalks of one of the nearby seashore towns, up to the boardwalk, and down to the ocean, where I promptly took off my flip flops and plunked my toes in the sea.  Icy!  Wonderful!

Take a look at the flowers and seaside houses I spotted along the way….

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The perfect way to begin this Friday. So how better to end it than with one firecracker of a storm. You know the kind. Big jagged streaks of lightning in the sky, loud claps of thunder that send a cat scurrying under the bed (well, Mimi did anyway), and torrential rains that wash the street clean and leave deep soppy puddles in the grass.  One of summer’s best bits.  I’m sure Thoreau would agree.  Don’t you?

August Afternoon with Friends in their Garden

Well, August sure started off as August will do. Hot, sticky air all morning, a quick torrential downpour mid-afternoon, and now warm, balmy breezes this evening as I sit down to write. I could probably use a little bit of air-conditioning, but I am enjoying the scents of a summer night wafting through the window-screen above my desk.

I had a swell day with my friends (and their family of cats, dogs, and chickens!), catching up on our summer shenanigans and then walking around their beautiful acreage.  Their months and months of toil, sweat, and bleeding fingers have produced bountiful gardens of flowers, vegetables, and fruits.  Heirloom tomatoes, wildflowers, figs, peppers, jalapenos, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, sunflowers, you name it.  We plucked a few cherry tomatoes from the vine and popped them in our mouths like candy…except oh so much better.  Tim proudly showed me the two large watermelons that have appeared nestled underneath a cluster of vines. They have a bit longer to go before they are ready for picking, but I have a feeling they will be worth the wait.

Always the consummate hosts, they sent me packing with the best kind of gift bag: several heirloom tomatoes I can’t wait to bite into, cucumbers, and a bouquet of fresh basil, which is resting in a vase of water on my kitchen counter. Boy, does that smell delicious. I am already dreaming up the dishes I can make with all of these fresh homegrown goodies.

A summer day filled with simple pleasures is often the best kind, don’t you think?

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Sunflowers look like little happy, giggling faces to me. (Maybe I watched too much Magic Garden as a child in the 70s.)
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An apple tree amidst the wildflowers.

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Farewell, Sweet July

Hello! I am relishing a quiet, peaceful last morning of July here at home. I debated going to the beach, then thought I might run to Target and Wegman’s, stared glumly at the World Literature textbook I need to start re-reading and planning for September’s classes. In the end, the nicest choice won out: reading some poetry on my balcony and listening to the choir of birds chirping in-tune, out of tune, perching quickly on and off the railing to say hi.

Have you read Mary Oliver? She writes with such an observant, poignant, grateful eye. Take a look at this nugget from “Messenger”:

My work is loving the world./Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird–/equal seekers of sweetness.

Ah, I love that. Imagine if we were all “equal seekers of sweetness”?

I can’t wait to see what sweet simple joys August brings. Thank you, July, and farewell.

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Mimi wishes I would open the screen door and let her out on the balcony.

A Simple Life…

Hello! Welcome to my new blog, where I hope to journal the simple, wondrous, beautiful things I come upon day to day. You know, like a delicious book or new vinyl record, a bright orange flower, rainy afternoon, line of poetry, or morning walk by the sea.

Thanks for following along….

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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