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Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

Much of our recent trip west was spent enjoying The Great Outdoors …what splendor and awe we found, most often in the most secluded and rugged places.

Boy meets Pacific Ocean

Redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park

Yup, I drove through one!

Majestic Mt. Shasta

Beach boy meets snow for the first time!

Fortunately there were only two spots where there were rocks in the road with no place to swerve but off the cliff. Woo-sah, I can still drive high elevations after all these years!

Smith River…my favorite place to see a shade of blue you never see except deep in glaciers or geyser pools

Oregon coast

Now we know what a “sneaker wave” is!

Multnomah Falls

Thank You, God, for an incredible trip, for the privilege of being able to share Your inspired creation with my son, for spectacular shows of nature and for happy memories. God, may all people experience the natural revelation of You. May we serve You through caring for this world and its people, preserving these special and awe-some sights for generations to come.

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So for the first time in 17 years, I’m leaving my beach Sunday morning and going on a pilgrimage back to Oregon (and also California), where I spent a couple of game-changing chapters of my life that are near and dear to my heart.

I can’t promise photography as stellar as this video featuring one of my fave talented musicians who has visited my beach (Mat Kearney), but you can be sure my lens will be in action throughout the trip. Stay tuned, musers!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=35bD5ULInHw

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It has literally been years since I created a new header, but I was inspired to freshen things up a bit by my (Irish) bff who recently treated me to a yacht excursion.

The “recommended pixel dimensions” and limited cropping windows prevented me from capturing the true moment, so I wanted to share the essence of the day…including the captain casually but expertly steering with his feet!

(Blessings beneath the pics)

Cloudy but calm seas

Thanks, God, for smooth sailing!

The common Irish blessing (and a few others) come to mind here:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

May good luck be with you Wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow.

 

May your days be many and your troubles be few, May all God’s blessings descend upon you, May peace be within you, May your heart be strong, May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

 

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been

the foresight to know where you’re going

and the insight to know when you’re going too far

 

…and, in that vein:

“May you be in Heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you are dead!”

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In the last installment, Subtropical storm Alberto was about to impose on my world. Perhaps the main twisted part had to do with the media coverage elsewhere (for ratings’ sake) than what actually was the case here.

The good news was it provided some great surf for the local surfer fanatics who don’t have the luxury of living in Australia or Hawaii. And that my kid’s skull wasn’t impacted. The bad news came home this morning:

No worries, we were able to save the ankle tether and this was just a backup surf board.

Now we’re just waiting for a “real” storm.

I don’t think I’ve introduced you to Donut the therapy dog yet….Santa brought him at Christmas to our house from a very special place across the country, for our special needs kids:

(when in my lap, he doubles as Toonces the Driving Dog)

He is decked out for Memorial Day.

God bless all who sacrificed their lives for ouR freedom….

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Polo!

Here in the South, there is never a shortage of Big Occasions. Life is a revolving door of one Big Occasion after another, and, like the new Geico commercial says, we have “more fun than a slinky on an escalator.”

New Year’s Day is laden with meaningful traditions which involve black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread, and shortly thereafter we rev up for Mardi Gras. Then, about the time we’re polishing off the last Moon Pie and recycling our beads, it’s time to think about Spring Break, Easter and then summer vacation. Football season is a series of Big Occasions in and of itself, taking us through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then we start all over again.

And down at the beach we have our own Big Occasions like snowbird and tourist seasons, seafood, beach, music and art festivals, Cajun and other local holidays, hurricane closure days with hurricane parties and all other manner of other excuses to eat, drink and be merry.

Sprinkle in all the usual holidays the rest of the country celebrates as well as those distinctly Southern, and it kind of makes it look like work/school is just something we do to fill the days in between all the Big Occasions and three-day weekends.

Even weekly Sunday School classes do not go without mini-buffets of sausage biscuits, fruit plates and Mrs. Eunice’s requisite Crockpot of Little Smokies. If there happens to be nothing special going on, someone will inevitably initiate the First Annual Something-Or-Other, guaranteed to draw a crowd. And we even make Big Occasions out of the things we can’t control, like births (the mother of all casserole contests), deaths (deviled egg showdowns) and yes, taxes (party at the Post Office!).

Y’all c’mon, now, y’heah?

Each spring and autumn where I live, we have another Big Occasion in the form of a polo tournament. The well-manicured lawn which sits idle most of the time bursts alive for two weekends each year with some of the top international polo players gracing our humble “horsey park,” as my youngest dubs the place we whiz past every day on our way to and from our daily routines.

Like the Kentucky Derby, most of the event is dedicated to food/drink, people-watching and enjoying the weather. And hats. Why, I can’t imagine – the horses are some of the most magnificent creatures to be seen, most of them thoroughbreds and well-trained animals, precise in their maneuvers and accurately reading the minds of others. I suppose the same could be said of the spectators. The players are an interesting sort, as well, with colorful backgrounds and stories to tell, if you ever get a chance to befriend one.

Nevertheless, the real focus of the event is the tailgating, with spreads of all kinds:

From the excruciatingly cozy (Triscuits, check – mimosa, check – smartphone, check) …

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…to the seasonally-correct, decked-out spread:

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You can tell folks’ priorities by what they whip out first – in this case, he got the bubbly going before the table was even set:

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Beautiful basketry, but where’s the food?! TELL me he didn’t make his gal trek back to the Escalade to get the cooler…

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This bloke couldn’t even wait for his chug-a-lug-of-choice to be poured into a more discreet cup (tut-tut):

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Creative pumpkinry at its best…

Polo Decos

For a minute it looked like a mannequin on a pole –

Polo Mannequin

…but upon second perspective, it was a lady with really BIG, um, equipment:

Polo Camera Chick

Oh, and of course, btw, there was some quality horsing around going on out there…

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4:34: Awoke at normal-ish time, but remembered it was Saturday; realized I had at least one more hour to sleep.

6:32 – Whoops! Overslept!

7:18 – 3 minutes late leaving if I was going to break the speed limits; 8 minutes late if I was to obey the limits, to take #3 to pre-game practice.

7:35 – Called #1 to make sure he actually got OUT of bed when told to get up, to remind him to wear khakis/polo to band ensemble audition two towns north.

8:00 – Took these pictures and realized I no longer had time to take a morning run along the water, but would have to go back to the ball park, park car and make my route consist of running from ball park to waterfront and back to be at game on time.

Birds, boats and bay

Dewy roses

8:30 – Game started, I arrive looking like hell, all sweaty and scary hair thanks to humidity which is not clearing out on the same schedule the weathermen predicted. Shoulda worn hat, but, oh well.

9:00 – Discover via friendly bleachers-chit-chat I am conversing with a publisher; immediately neglect to notice when my kid is up to bat and take copious mental notes of everything she is telling me about how to get my dusty manuscripts published.

9:14 – Still yakking in bleachers. Super-Duh: By default from someone else’s mom calling out my kid’s name, I realize my kid is again up to bat and join in on cheering him on.

9:25 – Game interference caused by seagull dive-bombing pitcher on mound. Seagull mistook baseball for food.

9:40 – Thanking the Lord I live here, where even trash is beautiful:

10:00 – Congratulating the team for finishing the season 13-1, mentally preparing for tournament season.

10:09 – Texting family closest to ice cream sale to make sure to pick up half-gallon of Chocolate Trinity for near-future consumption.

10:30 – Home for dishes, laundry, accounting and brunch (al fresco) with goodies like cheese grits and Cajun sausage. More laundry. More dishes. Realizing I could permanently station myself at either post and remain gainfully occupied.

11:15 – Put the baby down for nap and catch up on online stuff.

12:00 – Overcome by sleep – take nap, too.

1:38 – Report from unsolicited onlooker that light snore was in progress. Register official embarrassment and return to slumber.

2:55 – Startle from scary dream about eccentric neighbor with unruly chickens.

3:08 – Toddler toddles in chirping about going to beach. Other children noted in background to be emptying beach towels, toys and other nautical-themed paraphernalia out of bathroom and hall closets. I am cheerfully railroaded into compliance.

3:10 – Grog-fall out of bed and mechanically put on swimsuit and flip-flops.

3:30 – Finagle 10-inch hanging pot out of nursery down the road on way to beach, as storm 2 days ago caused one pot to fall, crack, and flowers quickly dying…nursery forked over spare pot that was otherwise doing nothing but taking up space out back. Front porch soon to be restored to symmetricality.

3:40 – At beach initially planned to visit; set up beach chair, get crucial belongings positioned on nearby log (phone, drink). Ahhhhhh…

3:41 – 2 out of 4 kids chime, “Hey, look! Maggots all over the place!” Aaagghhh!

3:42 – 4-foot fish noted to be rotting nearby. Abrupt change of plans.

3:50 – 1/2 mile down the road claiming a small, private stretch of beach shared only by pelicans overhead:

A dozen pelicans

Sunblinded Flight

5:00 – Visitors show up with 2-year-old grandchild. Get to talking and inform them of stuff they never knew about their second-home’s environs, such as shipwreck location, manatees upriver at spot where Yankees came ashore to sneak up to last Civil War battle after treaty already signed at Appomattox, and best places to find thus-n-such.

5:23 – Mercy granted for their allegiance to rival college football team.

5:52 – Refrain from inquiry regarding contents of their blue Solo cups and vice versa in our water bottles, as conversation grows more friendly and animated. Simultaneously, this driftwood starts looking more and more like a beached dolphin or shark:

What do you see?

6:30 – Sandy children strapped in car, brought home and deposited directly into various and sundry hose-down areas.

7:15 – Munching pizza on front porch, little bunny hops across street and is shortly thereafter eating baby carrot out of my hand, much to children’s delight.

7:20 – Children locate cage and entrap little bunny. #4 decides he now likes to eat carrots, too (whatever works!).

7:51 – Kids in bed, us on front porch swing, enjoying fireflies and kitty’s reaction to caged bunny.

8:00 – Long awaited shower.

8:49 – Chocolate Trinity, small serving due to recent discovery that regular servings may be responsible for restless sleep due to triple chocolate/caffeine effect. Consider it for breakfast, instead.

9:40 – Tune in for weather, to hear what we already know: perfect, perfect, perfect.

10:something – Contented collapse.

Thanks, God, for granting us the ability to willfully ignore the underlying stressors of life, if only for one Saturday. Thank You for the fun days to counterbalance the days of hardships – past/present/future – and for giving us sweet memories to soothe in times of distress. Without suffering, there would be little perspective. Without joy, there would be little hope. Thank You for both joy and suffering. Thank You for One Saturday.

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The Grand Old Oak Tree

How many monkeys can you see?

Zoom in close and count with me…

One, two, three, four, five, six ~ seven;

These loving arms are a child’s heaven!

 

A Home Away From Home

This boy has found a notch on which to hang his Crocs, a nook for his Co-cola, a wedge for his hot dog foil and a quiet place to enjoy his book.

What’s your favorite childhood tree memory?

 
 

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Go ahead, admit it. You at one time have inflicted some sort of harm upon a hapless insect or other ruinous species of the animal kingdom, and derived pleasure out of it. From finally terminating that overexuberant house fly who keeps trying to land on the bbq and potato salad after putting you through tremendous upper body workouts, to more elaborate schemes to control pests à la Prestone Pot Roast (and you know who you are…yes, you do, my dear friend – your secret is mine), it is probably safe to say man has been forced to have dominion over the animals. For safety and for sanity.

And don’t even try to tell me there is merit in those termites chomping through your walls, and that hibernating bats are somehow good for the greater ecosystem up in my attic.

Here we vie for space with fire ants, not so graciously brought to the South by a commercial ship from South America in the 1930s. Thanks, bunches. Turns out they rather enjoy our climate and sandy soil, and, like us, have set up shop and called it home. They especially like to build giant mounds at the bases of shrubs, or the more passive-aggressive types aim for a spot smack-dab in the middle of your nice lawn or golf course, for added landscaping effect.

There are all sorts of ways to manage these pests, but my favorite thing to do is to get them really mad before we do them in. They are great fun to watch when you disturb their mound, scurrying to and fro, trying to decide if they should drop the big, white glop they were in the middle of delivering somewhere, and come sting you. These suckers communicate, too. They can climb clear up a leg without biting, then one of them sounds some kind of inaudible command, and they sting in unison. Teamwork!

So I send my team of bug explorers out to get them all riled up before we spray them dead or hose them out. With all the fervor of Bill Murray offing the gophers in Caddyshack, my crew gets right to work:

King of the Hill!

Why he continues to stand so close likely has to do with his lack of experience with how quickly these pests can boogie. They actively seek to protect by harming intruders, and they are hypervigilant. This child standing mere inches away is as inconspicuous to the ants as that dude was to the rest of us shoppers in the express checkout line at the warehouse club, purchasing an industrial-sized box of condoms. Both are being curiously eyed by incredulous onlookers. Both flirt with some level of impending doom for their zealous enthusiasm for getting too close, too often. Somebody’s about to get slapped, then dumped for a more appropriate playmate.

Learn from his youthful errors, which he is about to permanently correct via experience: Vertical holes cause less damage and require more work than horizontal attacks, thereby increasing one’s time frame of risk. Flip flops within biting distance. And, not captured above was the move he ceremoniously made when he removed the stick quickly and waved it like a victory flag, catapulting dirt and ants airborne and triggering the rest of us to hastily evacuate the radius while scolding him soundly, then checking heads and clothing for any gravity-prone offenders. For our three year old, this is better than Montessori!

Here comes his older brother who learned all about fun with fire ants before he was two, and, shortly thereafter, made his first trip to the ER, covered in bites from the hips down. It was pure hell seeing him across the yard by a post-hurricane anthill (when they are most aggressive), hearing his cries and not being able to get to him faster than the ants could. It was like a slow-motion sprint, a lost race. And it took mere seconds for him to toddle over there and sit down in the absolutely worst spot in the yard at the moment. But I digress…

Expert Ant-Upsetter

Now 8, this child has mastered the art of ant harassment. Behold the longer dagger. Sturdy shoes AND socks. Horizontal attack, pointing away.  Knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart, firm grip. Apparently he got something out of the jousting field trip he attended earlier this month. And he is bold enough to conduct the attack while still in his school uniform. Makes his mama proud, he does! A real warrior. Now, if I could just get him to make his bed with equal diligence…

In other news, a humble thank you to Shoes On The Wrong Feet for bestowing upon me the One Lovely Blogger award. I am more than honored to accept it, and blessed to provide that “unexplained sense of coming home” on this blog to this dear Seattle reader, and all others.

And a special welcome home to Cecilia and Her Sisters, who was inspired to take my  invitation to “hit the beach!” quite literally, and moved the whole family to the beach of their dreams. Because, you know, life IS so terribly short, so why not make a vacation out of life itself, live your dream and insert yourself directly into it?

Welcome home, y’all! Now grab a stick, gloves and some spray, and help me get a handle on these beasts out in the yard…then we’ll have some sweet tea on the front porch, deeply inhale the sea-laden air in between sips and relish our victory in reclaiming our home from these tiny ant-agonists.

Coming soon: Today’s awesome 10K + cooling down on the 2-mile fun run (hurts so good, baby!) with a down-home weekend festival, the Great Potty Crisis at the Special Olympics, alligator bites (tastes like chicken! really!), the National Junior Dishonor Society ceremony and What Happens When You Swallow a Battery.

Thanks, God, for fire ants, blogging friends and for WordPress for this platform to spew myself and my little piece of life into the universe.

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Mandatory Fun

“Sorry,” the ferry captain shook his head. “The two cars at the very front of the line will be lucky if they get on…capacity is 170 people. Everybody from the other side parked over there, bought round-trip tickets to come over here for the parade and will be getting back on for the 2:00 eastbound. We won’t be able to add any cars. You’ll either have to wait for the 3:30 (if there’s even room then) or join the bumper-to-bumper crowd over the bridge. Have fun, y’all,” he winked.

Stranded in Paradise.

Again.

My only option was to hang loose and have fun. Mandatory fun. No way out of it.

“I have to stay for the parade…I can’t get off the island. Sorry, sweetie…” (said with semi-sincere furrowed brow).

My shift ended at 12:30; here I thought I had concocted a brilliant escape off the island to get to watch the parade from the ferry line AND get off the island first, avoiding the traffic and crowds. But, oh well…I should have known there would be 170 others seeking a designated driver this time of year, here. So the auto-ferry was transformed into a party-boat.

Fact: Southerners know how to party. In fact, I think we invented the word, since I don’t recall hearing of any or many notorious celebrations north of the Mason-Dixon line which have endured for so many centuries in our nation.

Mardi Gras preceded them all, beginning in 1699. There exists a certain obligation to maintain traditions in the South which is always steeped in deep pride and unrivaled enthusiasm. Such  is the phenomenon of Mardi Gras, and one which must only be experienced firsthand, since many of the facets of Mardi Gras can seem to an outsider trivial, frivolous, wasteful, or any number of such judgments.

And what is so wrong with a tradition of relaxed fun? Or a month of it, for that matter? After all, life is hard and all too short. It really is a win-win, especially when old and young alike have a week off – no, 10 days – to look forward to (you know, Lundi (Monday) Gras, Fat Tuesday, a day thrown in to tip hats to President’s day and a couple of (*snort*) “teacher’s work days…”). Even local federal offices are ghost towns on Fat Tuesday; there is no business conducted to speak of on the biggest parade days, where all along the Gulf Coast, most cities have multiple parades throughout the day. This is about the only business being done:

Vendors are a pre-parade event in and of themselves.

So we backed out of the ferry line, made our way down the boulevard lined 10 people deep waiting for the parade, and managed to find a parking space next to a Sheriff’s car – no one dared park on the grass by him until Mrs. Brash here pulled up in front of him, but by then it was so crowded, he was happy for us just to get the heck off the street, and smiled/nodded his blessing upon us as we pulled the beach chairs out of the trunk (yes, they remain in the trunk at all times – you never know when you’ll need them around here).

Y'all come on down and find a spot...

Prime parking spot headed toward the bridge headed off the island, prime spot lining the parade route to sit/stand/enjoy, all we had to do was wait. And have fun. No choice in the matter. Sealed fate, more or less.

Southerners love their hats for every occasion...

Mardi Gras appeals to all 5 senses. Missing from this post would be the smells and the feel. Smells of multiple barbecues in progress up and down the roadside mixed with the sea air, with a wisp of a molecule or two every few breezes, of various beverages being consumed somewhere deep in the crowd. Fresh cotton candy and funnel cakes. Shrimp boils and gumbo. We saw them setting up shop at 8 am, already claiming their spot on the parade route, coolers unloaded, tailgates open.

Southerners love any excuse to have a tailgate party!

And the feel…of catching beads and moon pies, the warm sunshine beaming on your smiling face.

Throw me something, mister!

Oh, and the sounds…of the endlessly festive cacophony of music, some coming from truck stereos, some coming from the parade itself. The sound of children chanting for beads as the floats roll past – “Hey, mister, throw me something!” and when mounted police or other police-type parade participants roll by, children jokingly calling to them to throw them some handcuffs instead. Alas, no handcuffs, but always plenty of beads, moon pies, stuffed animals, trinkets and treasures.

Some parades are  better than others, but all parades have something to offer, something to send you away feeling glad that you came.

Mardi Gras parades are not spectator sports...they are interactive social events.

This wise guy drove a "Hardly-Dangerous."

This float-puller felt the need to have an open box of Cheez-Its on his dash for the drive. It ain't a party without food of some sort...

While everybody else was reaching for beads, I was analyzing the car and driver. Boar's head with borrowed horns, crap all over the dash (air horn, cd out of case, roll of electric tape, etc.). Come as you are!

Why do we celebrate? Because of Jesus, although He seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, not unlike Christmas. Mardi Gras is the last hurrah before Lent, when we straighten up our spiritual posture and assume a more reverent regard for Him as we await the celebration of His resurrection.

Death gave way to life...okay, so it's a stretch to pair a skeleton dude and the Easter bunny together and make something meaningful about Jesus out of it, but...traditions water down into representations over time. At least we are reminded - our choices hence are up to us.

Hey, God – thank you for good times, for reminding us daily of You (in ways we choose or do not choose to notice), and, of course, for the fun You afford us along The Way.

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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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