Friday, August 20, 2010

The Last Beach Day

It was a perfect day at the beach.

Sunny. The tide was out and the wind was down. Waves were present and predictable. I spent quite a bit of time in the water today.

We started our day with a walk on the beach at 6:15. The water was calm, the light was beautiful, and the mosquitoes were out. There were a couple of other humans on the beach, many birds, and tons of shell litter. It was clear from the bird prints that any protein left in all the mussel shells had been picked clean by the gulls. I got Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going" stuck in my head seriously. "I had me a man in summer time, he had summer colored skin..."

Home to urge the girls out of bed. They didn't love my rendition of "Dear Prudence" - but the sun was out and the sky was blue, it was beautiful and (well, I'm their mother) I think they are too - So breakfast, laundry, and off to the beach.

Hotter today at the beach because of the lack of wind, but we stayed in the water, bobbing like corks, riding the waves, and getting boogie board rash. Ah, the beach life.

I made it two hours before my heat-and-salt-o-meter went off, and I headed back with the girls to shower and make lunch. But I promised myself one last beach before the day was over.

And I got it. At 3:00, I headed back to the beach all by myself. I had a chance to stand in the water and think about this summer - the water kept me afloat as I rose and fell with the rollers coming in. There is a lot to think about. I've read some excellent books and some perfectly lovely junk food reading, I've been under the tutelage of master teachers, I've met and collaborated with teachers from all over North America, I've watched my daughters grow and assume new responsibilities, I've spent time with good friends, I've learned things about my own reserves and feelings, I've come to appreciate my extended family for the care they give each other, I've enjoyed food and wine with friends, and I've changed as a teacher and as a person. This summer's experiences have changed me in so many positive ways. And as I stood at the beach, packing up to go back to the house to get ready for dinner, I was sorry to say goodbye to LBI.

There is plenty to greet us back at home in Evanston. Sam turns 50, Emily starts YAMO rehearsal, friends from the Faire are in town from Minneapolis - and we need to buy school supplies (It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year).

Goodbye, LBI - It's been a real pleasure. Thanks Bob and Claire (my In-Laws) for making this all possible.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday on the beach

What a pleasure to wake up early but not get up. The girls were fully cashed out and Sam was in NYC, so I read my book. It was very nice to not worry about anyone. And I did enjoy City of Bones. Now I need to read the rest of the series.

We went to the beach this morning, and we were there for over an hour. Not a ton of time, but the sun is strong and we are SPF conditioning. I want to be able to really hang there by the end of the week. The waves were great. Not so strong as yesterday, but enough to knock you over if you weren't looking.

We were home in time for a late lunch. Bob and Claire went out to run errands and had lunch out, so we quesadillaed and the girls watched a 30 Rock marathon. I read, as you can see. It rained, I pulled all the towels in from the line, did my usual two loads of laundry, and made a big tomato-y beef soup for dinner that made Emily happy.

I bought tasty wine. I friend of mine is enjoying a '61 Latour tonight for his 52nd birthday. I had a passable chardonnay. I pretended for just a minute that I was enjoying a glass of that wine as a part of his birthday celebration. I have a VIVID imagination.

I'm off in a few short minutes to pick up Sam and Martha from the Manahawken Bus stop on NJ Transit. They have bussed in from NYC.

I love the beach, even when it rains. And if I can get my new/used camera to stop giving me a CF error or error 99, I will get up bright and early and get those post dawn beach photos. The forecast calls for possible rain tomorrow and glorious weather for the rest of the week.

Reading IS doing something.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday in Beach Haven

How can you complain about a day that was just about perfect (with a couple of small exceptions)?

We woke at our usual early hour but chose to not get up right away as the house was cool and still. As I could NOT keep my eyes open last night, this gave us a chance to talk through Sam's proposed trip to NYC tonight with Paul and his return on the bus to Manahawken with Martha tomorrow, late. This idea was moving forward so that Sam could finish his role of tech support (living, furnishings, computing) for his mom. We brought a used computer from the school computer sale (one of the first intel chip macs that has an integrated iSight camera) and Hannah has set up all the voice activated controls that she can for Gilda. Sam gets to show her how it works.

We went for a walk to the Village hall to see about beach tokens, got the info we needed, met Paul who had arrived from NY, and headed back to the house and then to the beach. It was great to have Paul here, and we headed to the beach with Grandpa Bob in tow for some wave jumping and general beach merriment. We had a great couple of hours on the beach where we were in and out of the water, rebasted with sunscreen, and nourished with cheese crackers and grapes. I stayed at the beach for a bit longer than the rest and arrived home to find lunch made. Lunch DOES taste better when someone else makes it.

I'm reading Cassie Claire's City of Bones (woefully behind, I know) and loving it, so I read some more, worked a bit on some InDesign work and napped a bit while the children went shopping with Paul and Sam. Excellent.

Dinner was started with the one wrong note of the day, a dreadful bottle of wine that Paul brought. He says it needs more time in the bottle. I am skeptical.

We made the Fishkin standard lemon garlic chicken with rice and three vegetables (hoping to tempt some folks to eat the vegetables). Oh, well. And in the midst of all this I washed clothes.

Sam and Paul are off to NY and we will hold down the fort here in Beach Haven. Tough duty, but we are up to the challenge. Tomorrow I will buy more seltzer (the girls have fallen in love with elderflower syrup) and a decent bottle of wine. All will be right with the world again.

And the sun set over the island. Cloudy, but Sophia (Sam tells me the photo is hers) got a nice image (see above).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Day at the Beach

The day started out as overcast and cool, but that never stopped us!
After we blasted the girls out of bed, we headed for our first day at the beach.

We dragged the grandparents with us, and we settled in for an hour or so of surf jumping and reading.

We had an agenda besides the beach:
  • Visit friends up island at their home in Loveladies.
  • Make lunch
  • Shop for groceries
Not in that order. I made lunch (which was delicious as far as I was concerned but was not lunch-perational to everyone at the table. Well, that's life and lunch.

We headed north to the fabulous home of friends of Bob and Claire where Hannah and Emily swam in the pickle barrel/swimming pool with the friends' great-granddaughter. Then off to the Shop-Rite for a major shop.

So dinner and a lovely glass or two of GrĂ¼ner Veltliner, an Austrian white wine. Light and refreshing. A little spritzy. Delicious summer wine. Lovely summer day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Long Beach Island - the week begins

We are visiting Sam's father and his wife Claire this week. They have rented a house in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, and this house is beautiful. We are pretty far down the island, near the bird sanctuary, and the house is situated so that the breeze is amazing as well as the view.

This is the view during the day, looking west, and we had a spectacular sunset.

We had the usual traffic on the causeway and the Garden State Parkway today as we drove to the shore. We had lots of time, and we were in no hurry. All hurry would have done is cause heartburn, and that seemed contrary as the smell of the sea became stronger and stronger.

I'm amazed at the house. It's well equipped and so comfortable. The view (as you can see) is broad and beautiful. And then, if all of this isn't enough, this little sliver of moon rose over the end of the Island tonight.

More from the Island as the week unfolds. And yes, I'm using my sunblock.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

All we do is eat!

So - meals at Mansfield College are serious business.

Every day, breakfast is as large as you want it to be. We begin with juice, fresh toast (in little toast carriers) with jam, honey, nutella, or Marmite (shudder) while you wait for your cooked breakfast. There are also cereals (USA favorites and UK home team players like Wheatabix).

Fruit? Yes. Cheese and smoked salmon? Yes.

Cooked breakfast includes - eggs fried or scrambled, beans, tomato, hash browns, pork, sausage, bacon, and mushrooms. Mix and match.

Coffee or tea - and you are ready to face the day.

Dinner has been three or four courses depending on how you count them.
Sunday night:
Caprese salad, rolls and butter
Roast chicken with a timbale of stuffing, bacon wrapped sausage, haricort vert, roasted potatoes, and carrots.
Chocolate coated caramel ice cream.
Coffee and chocolates

Melon and prosciutto, rolls and butter
Poached chicken breast with tarragon sauce, roasted potatoes, green vegetable, and carrots
Strawberry Shortcake (made with shortbread).
Coffee and chocolates

Avocado and baby shrimp in a lemon vinaigrette, rolls and butter
Lamb cutlet with a mint sauce, roasted diced potatoes, leek gratin, and sauteed courgettes (zucchini)
Creme brulee
Coffee and chocolates

Butternut squash soup, rolls and butter
Chicken Kiev, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, carrots
Fresh fruit compote with honey cream and a madeleine
Coffee and chocolates

Hummus and pita
Poached salmon with hollandaise, boiled potatoes, Haricort vert, steamed broccoli
Pear tart
Coffee and chocolates

I will complete this report from the front lines of overeating as meals are served. - and so...

Creepy shirred egg with spinach and cheese - way too glisten-y uncooked for me. The first "Ew, what is that?" food
Beefsteak with a green peppercorn sauce, zucchini, boiled potatoes, and broccoli/cauliflower medley - our first overcooked vegetables
Peach fool
Coffee and chocolates

The only bad meal of the entire week
This was a formal meal with menus on the table. We began with a sparkling wine made delicious with a splash of elderflower cordial.
I've forgotten the first course (probably the fault of the delicious wine and elderflower mixture. Whatever - it was not memorable.)
Herb encrusted lamb loin (over cooked and unassailable given the cutlery at hand), Roasted root vegetables - potatoes, parsnip, turnip, and carrot, sauteed sugar snap peas
Chocolate tart (with a cement tart shell)
Coffee and Chocolates

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is it farther to Boston or by bus?

It was good to not be in Manchester last night. Live American Idol tour concert 1 block from the hotel AND the Step Up 2 Dance Tour finals (Olympic Miss Dance finals) began today at the same hotel/conference center we were at. Abandon ship!

There are some trips that I am happy to not be anywhere near the driver or navi-guesser's seat. Yesterday's trip to Boston was one of those.

Traffic. Fog. Rain. Lots of course corrections. No thanks, I'm happy to let the driver drive.

In Boston we went to Fablevision studios. Fablevision is an animation software company founded by the children's book author and illustrator Peter Reynolds. We enjoyed their hospitality and I was intrigued by the layout of the room. Desks around the periphery, facing out, with an oval table in the middle of the space. I can see how this would allow for fluid collaboration but also the ability to work by oneself if that was what was needed. The room was full of toys, and it had lots of elements of theater (a curtain), stories and storytelling, and play. They had a fabulous pink sparkly beauty-parlor hood dryer that was just - did I mention - FABULOUS. Must get one for the room.

After Fablevision, four of us walked along the wharf to the North End. There was a powerboat there that was huge but the most impressive vessel in the channel was a schooner, tons of varnished teak, roller furlings, HUGE - my heart got all weirdly fluttery. We couldn't see her name, and she had a party on board that night, but my oh my, some serious boat there.

We had dinner a Piccola Venezia in the North End (I could finish about half of the portion they served) and had enough time before 11:00 to walk through Haymarket, show Stephanie the Union Oyster House and the Bell in Hand and take our time through the Boston Holocast Memorial - one of the most effective and affecting pieces of public art and memorial I have every seen. Grand but intimate, personal without ignoring the enormity of the loss of life, it honored each camp separately but also was a cohesive whole. Moving. Timeless. Horrifying. Perfect.

We wandered past Kings Chapel and Burying Ground, Park Street Church and the Old Granary Burial Ground, and the Old State House. I am always reminded of The Scarlet Letter when I am in Boston - contrary to the misdirection of attention of the opening "Custom House" chapter, TSL is set in Boston. I can imagine the scaffold on the corner of Tremont and Park and unctuous Dimmesdale standing on that little iron balcony over the heads of the people.

The bus arrived just as we did, so there was no awkward hanging out at the T station, and the drive home commenced. Traffic was dreadful and we didn't get out of the city for 30 minutes. Some members of the group still managed to talk all the way back to Manchester, even given the advanced hour (11:30 pm). Fog to drive through. Glad it wasn't me. Tired and happy, we crawled into our beds.

Boston Riverscape by jmcclurken (thanks!!)