Monthly Archives: June 2009

It’s about the time

We got up early as we always do on the day we leave the beach. It’s a long drive home and we always leave early to beat the chaos around the traffic that comes when one leaves later. So it’s a tradition to leave early and that doesn’t bother me. The funny thing that I always hate about leaving the beach, however, is putting my watch back on. I hadn’t worn my watch from the time I entered the house.

The thing about time is that it matters so much of the time. We couldn’t arrive at the house until 3 pm and we had to be out before 11 am. We had to be home in time to get back for work and we had to pay all the bills on time that had stacked up in our absence. But while we are at the beach, time does not matter at all. We eat when we’re hungry, we sleep when we’re tired and we play all of the time. Time doesn’t matter at the beach and that’s why I love it so much. All the rest of my life is scheduled (or so it seems) so the time away renews me.

I always ponder the return to time and it sort of rattles my head. Time flees so fast the rest of the year. I love our stay at the beach each year where time seems to stand still. I get a chance to totally enjoy my kids and wife and we soak it up, indeed. The times without time are the only times that really matter.

A regular hootenanny

Emily is the counselor at a year round school in Charleston.  In WV there are only a handful of year round schools so her schedule is pretty unique.  Basically, she is on for 9 weeks, off for 3 weeks, all year round.  That fact pretty well guarantees that we take vacation in the middle of June.

The funny thing is that Emily’s birthday is also always in June.  It never seems to vary.  So, once again, we celebrated Emily’s birthday at the beach.  It’s a little strange to celebrate a special holiday away from home.  All of the best gag gifts have to be hauled in for the event.  We seem to have a tendency to play jokes and horse around a good bit…in case that surprises anyone, we are a bunch of goofballs.

Anyhow, my Mom and brother also have birthdays in June so we decided to have a regular hootenanny at the beach this year.  Mom brought a bunch of luau stuff and we dressed up and then danced (really loudly and obnoxiously) to bluegrass music that my sister-in-law had brought.  It was an absolute blast.  Some had liquid courage to help with dance moves but everyone had a blast.  Folks walking past from the beach certainly gave us funny looks but we put our best West Virginia on and hooped it up at the ho-down!

Somehow the porch on our house survived the dance and we finally settled down when the cops came…just kidding.  We finally settled down when the sugar highs and liquid courage ran out.  We wandered back in and crashed for the night.  I am pretty sure that we honored Emily’s birthday appropriately.  She’s pretty old though so I don’t know if she’ll remember!

(Note the touchless hug)

5 to 10

When we go to the beach, we have a pretty set routine…we get up around 8, grab a quick bite to eat and start applying sunscreen. Once properly lathered and slathered, we grab another bite to eat and head for the beach (with our coolers full of food). Beach tents have evolved and we have moved along with them. We carry our tent down and set it up (and maybe grab a bit of beef jerky or some peanuts) and head for the water. My immediate family body- surfs until noon at which time we grab a bite to eat and then back at it.

I sort of love the beach because we basically have no rules. For breakfast and lunch, Chips-Ahoy cookies are perfectly acceptable as the main course or as a side item. I drink pop by the two liter and am rarely caught without a handful of some sort of food that is ruining my bikini body. But it’s the beach you see so all rules are pretty much out the window.

So after a day full of eating at the house, we always go to some fancy (or at least expensive) seafood place where we eat far too much (and far too rich) fresh seafood. One place that is a ton of fun at Tybee Island is called the Crab Shack. The Crab Shack is certainly not a fancy place but it is expensive. It’s sort of hard to imagine why the prices are so high since all of the dining is either outside under the trees or inside a shack. By shack I don’t mean a quaint little restaurant building…I mean a shack. Cats crawl all over the place grabbing the bits of seafood that people drop and birds occasionally swoop in to snatch a piece of low country boil of a runaway shrimp.

In spite of its humble appearance, the food is really great. They specialize in “low country” food like low country boil, shrimp on grits, shrimp a-la-mode (channeling Bubba from Forest Gump here), etc. Everything is brought on a paper plate and the tables have holes cut in the middle where diners throw everything when finished. We eat everything with our fingers and garner the biggest smiles from the kids you can imagine!

Anyhow, an additional draw of the place is the alligator lagoon where a few dozen alligators reside. For $3, one can purchase 4 soft dogfood-like morsels to hang on the end of a bamboo pole to feed the gators. It is a blast although it appears that the gators eat well as they sometimes don’t want to play along with the “gator fishermen”. I suppose a cat might fall in here and there to satiate them, but generally, I think every patron must be feeding the gators ’til they are full. We were lucky to find a gator that put on a good show for the kids and ate everything we sent his way…must have been the runt of the group I guess.

Anyhow, we eat way too much every year and I generally gain 5-10 pounds in a week. It’s worth every calorie though as fresh seafood is hard to beat!

The color of idiot

Did you ever wonder what the color of idiot looks like?  Read on friends and I will show you…but a little back story first.

We made it to Tybee Island near Savannah on Saturday. Our house is nice and right on the beach so have spent a lot of time in and near the ocean.  Dolphins come by each morning eating the small fish that seem to be everywhere.  They tend to jump in the air which makes no sense to me.  I have taken to calling them suicide fish.  Pelicans and seagulls fly over all the time and the silly jumping fish are just advertising their location.  I guess it’s their business but really my fish friends…life is worth living.

At low tide we found that there are hundreds and thousands of sand dollars in the shallow water.  Isaac started collecting them planning to sell them on ebay for a dollar a piece.  You should have seen the dollar signs in his eyes.   Since they are living creatures, I made him return them to the ocean of course.

We also found sea stars all over the place.  I seemed to be able to find them every step I took.  No one else had the sensitivity in their feet I suppose.  I always knew I had rosebud feet.  It’s kind of silly I suppose but I sort of feel bad for these creatures that must be under foot all of the time.  I carry every creature I find back out into deeper water.  I know it probably doesn’t make a bit of difference in the grand scheme of things.  It just bugs me when silly redneck idiots gather handfuls of sea stars and sand dollars to watch them bake on the beach.  I don’t really have a solution that involves me saving these low-tide creatures while not going to jail so I silently do my part by carrying every one I find to deeper water.

So, back to the original question…the color of idiot.  When I arrived at Tybee Island, my skin color was this:

By Sunday at noon, my skin color was this:

Can you pick the color of idiot?


Bees are funny critters.  They seem so primitive in one way…in fact they are primitive having originated 35 million years ago.  But in another sense, they are incredibly advanced.  They communicate the location of food to each other through the “waggle dance”.  They live in community (uncommon for insects) and they know how to do laundry.

Well, they don’t really do laundry because bees are naked.  But if they wore clothes, they would know how to wash.  See, bees do this funny thing called washboarding.  In the bee world, washboarding is the term for when bees congregate on the outside of the hive in good numbers and appear to scrub the hive with their feet and tongues.  It’s sort of difficult to describe so make sure you see the video.

(if that video doesn’t work on your machine, please try this one)

Bees that exhibit washboarding are apparently happy bees.  The first time I saw it, I was sure that the bees were getting ready to swarm or attack my kids and wife, or maybe eat holes in the o-zone layer.  It turns out that washboarding bees are pretty docile, in fact.  I get mesmerized by watching their simple rhythmic behavior.  It seems that all of the bees work in unison.

So, if you ever see bees washboarding, consider that this 35 million year old species is doing laundry now and may be ready to take over the planet in another 35 million years!  They do appear to be benevolent so we may be ok though!

p.s.  I am heading to the beach for a week starting tomorrow.  This is how I feel:

See, you can tell by my exuberant “thumbs up” and my snazzy shirt!

On the river

We got a canoe many years ago, shortly after we were married.  At that time, graduate school left us with very little free time so we didn’t use the canoe much.  Then we started having babies and, though I tried to work out a safe way of buckling a car seat into the canoe, we decided not to take wee little kids on the river in a canoe.  Since we moved back to WV, we have been itching to get on the river with our canoe.

I grew up near the Allegheny river and we canoed on it quite a bit.  My hometown was very rural.  In fact, if you drive up to the edge of the Earth and then turn left and go 25 miles, you’ll get there.  Anyhow, we did lots of outdoorsy stuff and I had missed that in Nashville.  Now that we are in WV, we have more opportunity to be in Nature.

So, when we got the call to go canoeing with Emily’s aunt and uncle, we jumped.  They canoe often so showed us a fun launch on the Little Coal River (it’s WV…there is lots of coal here, of course).  The river was up some and moving pretty quickly from recent rains.  As we looked on the river, Isaac said, “Uh…I am not comfortable with this!”  Abigail quickly came down with an upset stomache as well.  They were both so funny and cautious (a definite good thing!).

We finally got the kids in the canoes and got ourselves launched and had a wonderful time coasting down the river.  There were few distractions and the lack of sound actually made my ears ring a little.  It was wonderful.  The kids settled down and we just coasted…and relaxed…and talked.  I loved being back in Nature (with a capital N for its importance!) and hearing birds and the water gurgling.  I loved hearing my kids chatter about the river and their thoughts.  I loved to see my son take his turn in the front seat, paddling pretty well.

(You’re kidding, right?)

So, we’ll get back on the river soon.  We’ll look for chances to slow down and relax together.  We’ll fish and drink too much pop and eat too many marshmallows and we’ll enjoy life the way it is supposed to be!

He hugged me

My son is very much like me…we don’t do people.  I mean, I would rather do 1,000,000 deep knee bends than hug a person.  Some folks I know are huggers…they want to greet me in the morning with a hug.  I always respond, “I don’t hug my wife and kids, I d@#n sure am not going to hug you!”  Usually that calls off the attack.  I don’t like to shake hands or even bump into someone else.  I am not sure what my parents did to me as a child but it’s how I am.

Now honestly, I do hug my wife and kids (and I enjoy that) and I will shake hands in a pinch or where social norms demand it, but I am not a free-toucher.  Isaac is just like me…except he barely hugs us either.

So, you may be wondering what this has to do with anything.  You may remember, this week I am going on about simple pleasures.  Uh…ok…so what’s my point?  Well, last night Isaac willingly hugged me and kissed me on the cheek!  I’ll say it again, Isaac hugged me and kissed my cheek…without coercion!

My boy loves to read and he reads at a high school level in 3rd 4th grade.  He just finished the Star Wars book that parallels the third Star Wars movie (the one where Darth Vader is made).  Until now, we have not let the kids see that movie.  I don’t know that it is all that bad really, but so many parents around us have banned their kids from seeing it.  I guess we decided to follow their lead.  Anyhow, since he finished the book, I decided to let him watch the movie.  We’ve been trying to work out a time to see it and finally last night was the night to start the show.  When he got the news, he was so excited that he gave me  a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek!  That one thing, truly, made my week!  I am a little less tired because of it!

Babies having babies

Spring is such a cool time.  I have been looking for simple things that sort of calm the spirit and this spring has brought us babies…we are overrun with stray cats.  Two mother cats have had kittens this year (so far) so we now have 8-9 more cats added to the zoo.  They can be a nuisance I suppose but kittens bouncing around and tumbling with each other is pure and simple joy for me.

But Momma cat is pretty young herself.  She’s still a baby really.  Didn’t her mother teach her any better?  Sheesh, what is the world coming to?  Well, she did make cute babies though they and the mother are completely wild.

Family of deer

Last year we got to see a new born fawn amble down through the yard.  It happened similarly again this year.  Yesterday, I saw a new fawn and its mother in the yard.  This one was not as new as last year’s fawn but it was tiny….more babies around my house and I smiled again.  I love spring and baby animals and green grass and puffy clouds…

How’s your zoo looking this year?

I’m not dead yet

I wanted to take one of those pictures like American Beauty…you know, with the half naked girl all covered in rose petals. But instead of that, it would be me covered in books about the undead. But then I got creeped out and decided to skip that part.

I mentioned yesterday that I was tired and was going to begin my quest for things that make me un-tired. It’s funny, but the undead make me un-tired…at least reading about them make me un-tired. We started reading the Twilight series of books. The Twilight books are about a family of vampires that “go vegetarian” and try to somewhat live in society. You really should read it for yourself (or, if you aren’t a reader, see the movie).

After posting about my interest in the Twilight books, Erica mentioned the Sookie Stackhouse series…a more adult vampire series.  Really, the books aren’t adult in an “adult” way but are probably less appealing to teenage girls than the Twilight books.  Anyhow, I am now reading them as well. The HBO series TrueBlood is based on the Sookie Stackhouse series…it is more adult in an “adult” way. Not too bad, just HBO-style! Anyhow, we’re getting them on Netflix…

So, reading is one of those things that makes me un-tired.  I get a chance to slow down and get lost in someone else’s world.  The best part is that it’s partly my world too. That’s why I like book so much I suppose.  A movie presents it all to the viewer and leaves little to the viewer’s imagination.  A book sets a scene but leaves so much for the reader to imagine.  It’s a wonderful escape for me!

Since we’re speaking of the dead and the undead, I got to thinking about Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie…you gotta watch this clip….”I’m not dead yet”…it cracks me up every time!

So what about it…are you reading the Twilight or  Sookie Stackhouse books?  What other summer books are on your “list”?