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Posts Tagged ‘Beach’

Pie on the Porch

Welcome, friend…and happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S.

Thanksgiving at the beach is delightful. It was sunny and warm both indoors and out.

You know what the beach looks like, and you know what Thanksgiving fixins look like. So instead I will share other scenes from heeyah today:

At approximately 18,000 pounds each, these cotton modules are worth about $17K apiece.

Our equine neighbors were enjoying their Thanksgiving, too.

Down here, camellias are now in full bloom and their bright, colorful flowers will carry us through the winter..

 

As we were clearing our plates, it dawned on us that we should have dined al fresco today. So instead we had pie on the porch.

 

Our pet gecko had a happy Thanksgiving after we spotted the grasshopper behind the azalea bloom...can you?

 

We planted pineapple tops on a whim this summer...and they are taking off! Who knows if they'll actually yield fruit, but they love the sandy soil.

 

A seasonal stoplight, the Japanese Maple is green in the spring and summer, yellow in autumn, then red in time for the holidays.

 

Our family tradition is to walk it all off down on the pier every Thanksgiving sunset. Arriving a bit early, the sun illuminates the bubbly fountain.

 

At ease, sailor...

 

We hope someday to meet Chloe & Isabelle; they loved their Yaya & Gpa...and we'd like to ask them what they meant about the elevators...

 

An uprooted tree still left over from Katrina reminds us of the things we're all thankful for today. How quickly we forget....

 

Yo, dude, check out that dark-haired chick right under ya...she's busy texting and just outta my range!

 

Last check on the crab traps near the Loch Ness Log

 

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Hey, God…and hey there, my friend…

Thanks for pulling up a chair.

And thanks for another great day.

I was mentally blogging on a thousand subjects since my last post, each one worthy of its own post.

Remind me to tell you sometime about the guy who flirted with me for two years, and has now has turned his sights on the coworker who filled my shoes. After coworker and I put two and two together and giggled like schoolgirls about this poor chap’s efforts, I bribed her with chocolate if she’d use on him the last line he used on me a couple of months ago just before he met her. And capture his reaction on her phone. Then we can blow him away altogether and both take him to that Mexican restaurant (watch him squirm!) he kept trying to lure me to on a lunch hour. Holy guacamole, that would be fun!

Or the business idea my hairdresser and I hatched while she excitedly envisioned and whacked away. Uh oh! I gotta remember to do most the talking so she can tune me out and concentrate on what she’s doing. I think this idea might just fly, though…

Or the cute dude behind me for most of the commute, who wasn’t so cute after all, after he became obsessed with his hair for six straight traffic lights (it can only go so many ways when you’re thinning, got it? okay, then…get your eyes off yourself in your rear view mirror and drive, ya groomin’ monkey…).

Or the new challenges at work I’ve never encountered before, complete with mutiny on the bounty, and the sage advice of my superiors laughing off my uneasiness and telling me to hold my head high, keep doing what I do best, they’ll get over it, and soliciting my solemn promise not to think one iota about anything remotely related to “this place” over the weekend. Okay! See ya!

Or getting conked over the head with a new frontier at home altogether, and having to pass through several stages before I decide what I really think about it. I’m still thinking, but I think it’s cool. Hmmm…a taste of my own medicine.

“In a time of treason, is the time to trust,” so sayeth Bono these days. I’ll buy it. Hope I’m not being stupid naive. Again.

So, friend, enough of all that garble. What I really wanted to talk to you about today is not about me. It’s about you. So many times you pull up this chair with me here on the beach, and it’s my agenda. Today I want to hush up and let you enjoy what we’re seeing and hearing today at the seashore. The tourists are gone now; we have it all to ourselves. Be with me, and let’s just enjoy what we’re seeing, what really existed this morning, once upon a time, in a land not so far away, in utter reality. Let me share with you my world today, and you lean back and enjoy.

Sea spray inundating our senses, foam at our feet.

Sparkling shimmers on the waves, sun rising and bright, dancing in a thousand splendors, inundating our rods and cones.

A lone pelican diving for jumping fish. He’s so huge, yet so graceful, scooping up his breakfast in that long beak!

Let’s get up and wade…each wave creeps a little higher until the part we didn’t want to get wet, gets biffed anyway. What the hey, might as well wade deeper! Go ahead, envelop me…let me not be in control for a spell.

Moon Jellies!

What’s that weird feeling at our ankles? Wow, it’s a giant moon jelly! Look at it!

Four perfect crimson circles in its center, graceful glob flowing with the whims of the water….

don’t worry, moon jellies won’t sting.

But look out for that ray! And here’s a giant blue crab, worthy of taking home for lunch…except it’s a she…have to try to untangle it from our net and let her back out to sea.Can’t boil a she-crab.

Let me pick up and twirl in the air, the little child who just caught his very first sea star! It’s missing part of one of its five legs, but it gets around great anyway. You found another one! This one is perfect. Let’s watch them help each other crawl back into the sea together. They are so beautiful, so alive.

Let’s sit for a while now and let the surf wash the sand off our feet. The aromatherapy of the sea washes the grit out of our hearts and minds, too.

Let’s just veg, k?

Mmmmm…hear the waves with your eyes closed.

One eye open. Both eyes fly wide open at the sight of a bottlenose dolphin, not too far from us, leaping 15 feet out of the water! Oh, WOW! There they go, there’s a whole bunch of them – look at them fly! Fish leaping, dolphins playing and feeding. How do they do that?! They look so happy! Joyful! Wheeeeee! We watch them till their acrobatic maneuvers blend in with the waves on the horizon. Eyes closed again.

Breathing deeply, fully inhaling sheer relaxation. Exhaling all that mattered before we got here. Letting the sea breeze carry it all away…

Thank you, God….and thanks, my dear friend, for being here with me. I hope this brought you rest and rejuvenation.

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Really, it WAS a dark and stormy night, all purple prose aside.

The day had been punctuated by startling moments of sensory surprises, like standing at the copier in the office under a skylight and being suddenly overcome by a perception that something is amiss in my brain’s sense of Normal Daytime Expectations. I looked up and beheld a completely black sky overhead, prompting me to seek the nearest vertical window and exclaim to anyone within earshot, “Oooooh, look!” Looking, we all saw an impressive gust of wind busy itself with pruning a few dead leaves and small branches, barely visible through the thick blankets of rain.

Commuting home, the forward march of one of Lee’s outer bands ominously loomed in the distance, casting a mirror image of his fury across the water below, the water precisely matching his darkest parts and a couple of sparse hints of shimmer on the water, showcasing Lee’s best efforts to conceal the sun, which he had effectively snuffed out ’round about noon on Thursday.

Then came night, indistinguishable from many parts of the day. That last band had graciously passed at the time designated as local sunset (the clock was all we had to go by, as the dark clouds made the night darker….likely what Mr. Edward Bulwer-Lytton was trying to convey by describing a dark night with the word “storm” in the same sentence). Darker than night, how ’bout that?

Sitting quietly before bedtime, an other-worldly sound pierced my peace with its ghostly strains, demanding that I engage in the process of attempting to decipher its meaning and purpose. I was too tired to play another head game with Lee, so I took the best shortcut to make someone else figure it out: “What the hell was that?” It could have been the approach of the headhunters on Gilligan’s Island, for all I knew.

I don’t believe a definitive conclusion was ever reached, so we chalked it up to a wallop of wind, since the noise was immediately followed by an intense tropical downpour. The wind bullied the thunder, restraining its commanding voice by carrying its crash aloft in waves, making it sound like a strange symphony of muted tympani and belittled brass. This, combined with the tinny thud of each heavy raindrop landing on the chimney cover, lulled me to sleep, the backdrop sounds yielding to the strangest of dreams….

….dreams which were interrupted at some point by a poltergeist-like indoor event, the miniature Dirt Devil toy vacuum turning on by itself, its glaring light at the base illuminating the room and the sickly groan of a toy with drained batteries trying to revive itself back to life. Who left this out last night, anyway? As if we didn’t have enough entertainment going on outside our walls.

After surviving some of the most destructive hurricanes this beach has known, a little ditty like Tropical Storm Lee is most welcome. We need the rain this year. It waters the garden of journalism for the long weekend, encourages bonding among the affected, and forces those of us with growing lists of Ignored and Mundane Indoor Tasks, to finally face the music. You know, stuff like sewing the button back on the forgotten shirt that’s been patiently waiting, folded on the shelf in the laundry room for a semi-eternity (does it even fit anyone, anymore?) Studying for that nagging exam. Purging the accumulating crap off the (name any and all surfaces throughout the house). Fixing the leaky faucet. Carving a path through the dust on the uncluttered surfaces. Reclaiming the tool drawer as a right and true tool drawer, instead of the tools being crowded out by things like the spare part to the thingamabob which we no longer have, the broken piece off of Buzz Lightyear’s space pack which would never survive being glued back on anyway, and the massive collection of Keys to the Unknown, which go to nothing anybody in this current generation of home occupants can recall.

On the other hand, Lee is an even better excuse to relax and have fun. Every tropical storm has a silver lining! Instead, I think I will stay in my jammies a little longer today, with an extra cup of coffee fueling the posting of this blog, to the beat of another band of downpour drumming overhead.

I will continue to ignore the buttonless shirt in the laundry room and instead spend a little extra time studying the Scrabble board so I can beat all my online opponents, instead of my usual, thoughtless, hurried plays on the fly which inevitably cause me to pay attention and wonder why my average has tanked.

I will walk briskly past the tool drawer on the way to the freezer, where I will get out the ice cream to go with the cake to go with the presents which go with the young man in our house who turns three today. We will sing “Happy Birthday” at the top of our lungs, the surreal thunder that’s not quite thunder accompanying our rendition. We will be wearing our conical SpongeBob party hats and plying the children with terrifying amounts of refined sugar and Red Dye # 40. I will take said young man on my lap and marvel at how quickly time passes, and attempt to hold on to him tightly (little wiggle-worm!) and hope that he doesn’t repeat what he did last night when I attempted the same (he did what any pre-gentleman would be tempted to do as a practical joke on someone’s lap – ’nuff said).

Speaking of which, we will bypass the leaky faucet and nosh all day on the Boston Butt our good friend talked us into buying, all proceeds going to a child’s gymnastics travel fund (eating for a good cause is standard in the South).

The exam material will be ceremoniously bypassed as we stampede out the door in between rain bands, to pile into the van and go looky-looing – you know, go see what roads flooded, take pictures of the angry surf, run barefoot in the puddles-turned-streams…maybe hang around for a beach concert moved indoors and see a fairly popular musician.

We will go beach combing for leftover tarballs Lee may stir up. (“No-no, baby, don’t touch that shell…that’s not a shell.”)

I will hold my head high as I walk past the piles of accumulating stuff, and pause at one of the dusty surfaces, and use my index finger to draw a pretty design in the dust. I may delegate a more thorough, less creative dusting to the Child Labor Department another day, but for today, we will take advantage of the circumstances.

Thanks, God, for circumstances. I see it is getting dark again in the middle of the already-dampered daylight – we’d better go make a run for the van now, while the running is good.

Whoops, too late – that was fast! Another downpour. We’ll just serve up the cake and ice cream for breakfast, instead….

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Hey, God…

What makes a song a favorite song? Is it the memories invoked, or the longings provoked? The identification experienced, or the inspirations evoked?

Some of my favorite songs over time have led me to dream bigger, run faster, consider the unconsiderable, to be good, to be naughty, to swell big, to shrink small, to sing loudly, to weep quietly. And to reminisce both fondly and with bittersweetened regret tainted with shamed relish. Today a fun song (not my current favorite) inspired me to perfect my ability to spit gum out the passenger window as I was driving. Aim high, calculate the trajectory, assess the traffic patterns and have a backup plan in case it lands in the back seat and starts to melt into the upholstery.

Usually I can identify what it is about a song that makes it my favorite, but not this time. Like I prefer to wait and see what the tide brings in rather than rush up to it and lose the overall effect of the moment, allowing the song to wash over at will without pursuing it, seems to help maintain its allure.

In this day of instant gratification, can a song be a favorite if it can be summoned and experienced upon command? I remember having to wait to hear a favorite song, played at the will of another. The anticipation and subsequent joy of experiencing it allowed for heightened savoring and insight, just as awaiting the treasure of the tide rather than pursuing it up close. It is better to stay seated and allow the water to rush in and see what it does to your senses…whether soothingly warm or sharply chilled, if it respects your boundaries or overcomes you, and if it deposits a treasure, or hurries back out of your realm without leaving an imprint. Do your feet sink a little further, or was it not strong enough to alter what was?

Just as I prefer not to peer too closely into the wave to see what it has stirred up out of the sea until it is sure it wants to present it as a gift to the shore, I would rather not listen too closely to the lyrics, lest they not be exactly aligned with my expectations, or one line be askew of an otherwise perfect song. Therein spoils the beauty of the experience, and diminishes the point at which two creative forces brush up against one another.

This is akin to my disdain for music videos…how to ruin a perfectly good song with the images of someone else’s idea of what the song means. Someone else defines it for me, as if I were devoid of my own imagination, as if I had no need to dream. Someone else’s dream came true, and they got a piece of the pie in the process. And my notion of the song is inextricably altered, forever, prisoner to another’s ideas.

Have greed and control overrun our natural ability to imagine?

How does one reconcile what seems like wisdom in waiting and ways of the past, with the ways du jour? It is indeed fun to rush up and see what the tide has brought in, but in doing so, the song loses its mystique and allure. The draw is in the unanswered haunting that beckons me to wait and see. I love this song right now because I don’t hear it as much as I think I would like, and I long to know and hear more.

But I don’t, and I will myself not to pursue it.

I will wait in my beach chair and see what the tide brings. In the meantime, doing so allows me to savor, to dream, to imagine, to relish, unspoiled, to relax in knowing that not satisfying my inclination to pursue will yield even greater returns as the tide wills. And it will forever remain my own music video, in my head.

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Hey, God…

The water was unusually low as I went across the bridge, an almost unsightly combination of colors and elements that was not the sparkling eye candy I am accustomed to enjoying at that time of day. Receded, the water left behind a visual cacophony of unsightly sea gunk. I was slightly disappointed not to see the usual whiz-bang scenery.

Upon closer examination, I noticed the once-hidden things now evident: fresh shellfish, elusively perfect seashells, sweet seaweed that nourishes the undersea life, and greater treasures in all their glory. I had greatly underestimated, and at first glance diminished, the true bounty of the unseen.

Oh, how we can be lulled into the comfort of what we perceive to be the eye-catching ideal, when so much more lies below, more than we can comprehend! We do this with things…with situations…with people. Take heed what our eyes are drawn to, that we don’t miss what is directly underfoot because we are comparing, expecting, supposing, idealizing, judging.

May we always be aware of the great riches underneath the glitter of that which we believe to be gold.

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Clouds Dancing

Hey, God…

So the tiny child stopped me in my mental tracks, as I was wandering in the wilderness of busy-ness, with one, simple observation: “Clouds dancing! See? Clouds dancing!” He pointed excitedly to the sky, where my eyes were drawn by his little finger, and I beheld the world through his eyes for a moment, echoing his mirthful wonder.

What priceless delight and repose can be found by pausing from our busy schedule to catch a slice of the busy schedule of the universe! Indeed, like graceful dancers with flowing robes skimming across the sky, the clouds did dance, and we got to watch. Blowing, wisping, merging, billowing, parting. They invite the mind to wander…to imagine…to marvel. It must be like Heaven, to know our seemingly small but important part in the grand scheme of things, but to be invited to fully enjoy the beauty and majesty of things greater than us.

Why does it always seem to take one who is smaller, younger, weaker or somehow lesser than we, to humble us in our tracks and draw our attention to where it should have been all along? Only You could be behind such a feat, Lord!

Come sit with me here by the sea and lets watch the clouds dancing!

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Hey, God…

Today I read about a new drug that is showing promise in helping to “cure” Down syndrome. Do we really want to change those things that have been made perfect in Your image? You have said that our wisdom is but foolishness…and indeed, one can see the beauty and love in the face of any child with Downs, Your beauty, Your love. In weakness is Your strength, and many people have come to You through weaker people, as You touch us through them. They humble us, they teach us, they remind us of our priorities.

If people with disabilities did not exist, how would we learn and be humbled? What, then, would the order of our priorities be?

It is touted as scientific breakthrough, but at what point do we restrain ourselves from assuming we know what is best for another creation, just because they are different? Are we projecting our own fears upon them by thinking they must be suffering, when they may actually be perfectly content?

How can we possibly judge another’s perception of their quality of life?

Or are such “cures” merely for our convenience, to allay our fears and insecurities about suffering?

I am reminded of my food allergies, one of which is shellfish (ironically, despite my love of the sea). When others learn that I cannot eat, say, shrimp, I am inundated with expressions of pity and presumption, such as, “Oh, you poor thing! How awful for you! I bet that must be so hard not to be ABLE to eat shrimp!!!”

I don’t think of it as a disability…since the only shrimp I have tasted has caused such trauma and discomfort, I do not yearn for it; I am perfectly happy without it. It is not a pleasant thing for me to regret and miss, since I have not walked on the side of enjoying it. I am blissfully ignorant of the experience, thank you very much, and am perfectly happy with the rest of my diet.

Could it be the same for some others with certain disabilities, that they are entirely complete and fulfilled in the way they have been wonderfully made? Should we not carefully consider what projections we may have when we seek to “help” others and find cures?

Too, suffering has its place. It is not often sought, nor is it bearable many times…yet it blesses with gifts such as perseverance, tolerance, new coping skills, heightened sensory perception and deeper insight into others’ character and virtue, as well as our own. We find out quickly who our friends are, in our suffering.

Here on the seashore, I find broken shells, some of which are absolutely more interesting and beautiful than had they remained wholly intact. In the broken shells, you can see what they’re made of, you can see farther into them, you can see things you can’t see in their unbroken state. They are like snowflakes, each one entirely different from any other….a beautifully abstract medium that begs the imagination to fill in the spaces of its journey, its life, its purpose. The broken shell forces us to focus on those things outside our comfort zones, stretching and molding and growing us in ways we had not considered before. It demands that we pick it up and focus on it, instead of ourselves, instead of on the ideal, instead of on the perfect. Do we toss it back into the sea because it does not meet our standards?

God, may we have wisdom about and sensitivity to Your will. May we have the courage and zeal to embrace those things which we deem as difficult, painful and imperfect. May we resist the temptation to tamper with that which You have willed.

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Flexibly Grateful

Hey, God….

So the maintenance dude shows up this morning to install the blinds I requested (but in the wrong color: “Sorry, this was all they had for this size…”) in my new office. Somehow he knew nothing about the hot tub supposedly going into the  adjoining mystery closet that nobody’s opened in months, perhaps because no one’s really sure if it’s legend or fact that there is a sink with possibly-functioning-plumbing buried under the years of forgotten items behind that creepy door, and because he was accustomed to my sense of humor. I very much look forward to opening that door when I am in a peak purging mode, and exploring the possibilities. Evidently a hot tub was not one of the possibilities envisioned by my superiors. Eh, well…I am grateful for the pleasantly bright office with the restful view, much less and not to mention having a job. I especially thank you for that, God.

(Oh, my dear friend in the beach chair next to me…I have not told you what I do! I work and play with Very Upset Children. Some of them are angry. Some of them are haunted. All of them are precious. I have worked to mend broken souls for many years.)

God, I pray for the children I am leaving behind, for each of them to grow and succeed with my replacement, and I pray for the new ones You’ve entrusted to me. Thank You that I will be close, that I can still watch my former charges evolve daily as I tackle these new challenges. Give me wisdom and humility, as You have always taught me the biggest of lessons through the littlest of people. I also pray for the team in the trenches with these children day and night: give them strength, courage and insight as they help transform these betrayed souls into what society expects.

Thank you for making me move my beach chair to another spot; I was enjoying getting my feet wet with the rising tide in this spot – the water was warm and lulling – but I suppose it’s time to gather up my energy and submit to yet another dance with flexibility, lest my limbs fall asleep, getting relaxed and comfy where I was.

In the meantime, I will prepare for this change with the interlude of an absence. I hate leaving this seashore for any time, but again, change is good. I will look forward to being rocked to sleep by the rhythm of the rails once again, for the rails are deep in my blood. Nonetheless, I do not like being carried away from here, but isn’t perspective only gained once one stands back for a time? But how will I ever hear You above the din of the rails and then of the city? How I will long for the peaceful, familiar sounds of the sea!

But away I must go, with mixed regret and anticipation, and I will look forward to plopping back down in my chair here on the beach with You soon. Save me a seat, God, and please move my chair if the tide gets too high again while I’m gone. Just flag me down and show me where You put it when I come back, so I know where to go. And I will return refreshed and flexibly grateful for blinds of any color, and I will set about to conquer the legend of the buried sink. And we’ll mend some more souls together, You and me.

 

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Hey, God….

So what’s up with dreams? Do You control the programming on those channels, or when You designed our brains, You just sort of set things in motion and let ’em spin? What a mystery.

Moments ago I was in some surreal world…a freeflowing puppet starring in some other-planetary production in which I was among the cast of characters. I evidently knew all my lines, but it wasn’t me knowing them. I was both audience and thespian, simultaneously. What marvelous capacities You designed us with…and with such limitations, all the necessary harnesses built in. I awake and cannot grasp the fading dreamscape; it haunts and teases me, making sure I remember it’s there somewhere within my being, yet I cannot access it at will. You remind me that You have made us with things even we cannot comprehend and control. That in the end, it really does boil down to You and Your will. So why do we fight that most of our lives, even when we think we’re being or acting close to You, and why do we not just succumb to Your will sooner? How can we ever think we can know all things, when there are things we cannot know (and deep down, we know that we cannot know)?

Why isn’t it easier to choose Your will?

Stubborn, foolish little creatures we are!

So here I sit with You and my coffee on the beach chair, watching the sun rise, hoping the humidity isn’t frying the laptop. What a glorious day You have made. Awesome birds chirping and singing, Lord. Do birds have dreams, too? I love the mix of cicadas and crickets, too. The crickets, wrapping up their nighttime symphony and fading into to rising light of day…the regular cicadas, slowly warming up their chorus and reaching a feverish crescendo up in the trees, and then their relatives, the other group which prides itself on rhythm, the steady bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz that lends itself to comfortable predictability and reminding me what part of the planet I currently occupy.

And the rest of this part of the planet is sitting in church just about now, and derelict me sitting here (as I cannot hear You as well when I’m surrounded by man-made noise), enjoying You all to myself (and all You have made). Thank You for the serenity of this morning. Thank You for answering some of my questions, and allowing me to wonder about others. For if there was no wonder, to whom would we turn? Some questions demand to remain unanswered and unknown, for they are usually spoiled in one way or another when we try to ascribe our version of an answer to them.

I do not know why I am drawn to the seashore, but You have provided the elements with which I can joyfully dig in the sand, get my hands all goopy and messy, and fill that pail with my little shovel. I don’t understand why this is the sequence of things,but it is right and good, and one’s soul knows it. I might get biffed by a wave as the tide rises, but this just adds to the elements going into my pail and makes it a better sand castle when I dump the whole thing upside down. I am only vaguely aware of the fresh scent of the sea breeze giving life to my endeavors in the pail, but it fuels me along with the happy sun, and all is well.

It is then good, I conclude, to remain as a child: perceiving the world as a dreamscape (with dreams as real and true as waking moments), taking innocent comfort in blurred realities, doing what a child is supposed to do without adopting unnecessary worries…and ever remaining filled with wonder.

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