The Beach, a Memory: NaPoWriMo

Dimply in the dapply light,

she danced in joy, my little sprite

the sea breeze tossed her springly hair

while seabirds squawckled in the air

she skipped upon the golden sand

till her father took her by the hand,

together they walked to wavy sea

(tumbling, white-capped, spumey sea)

where in a Jersey summer rite,

she jumped right in, such pure delight

 

Day 18, NaPoWriMo. The prompt was to incorporate neologisms, made-up words.

This poem is based on my memory of the first time our older daughter saw the ocean.

A Day at the Beach, with a Side of Guilt

Monday Morning Musings:

IMG_4147.JPG

“Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,

so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”

William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 60”

 

“The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.”

–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

 

Fantastically, wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration,

a plan to get my mom to the beach for the day.

A notion hatched by H.

on Saturday afternoon, for the next day.

Younger daughter and I already had plans

because we like things set in advance,

definite, not tentative,

BUT

we decide to go along with this wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration idea,

despite the weather forecast.

Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm?

(My first question to H.)

Texts and phone calls back and forth.

 “Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans.”

(Daughter says to me.)

So plans evolve.

We’ll travel in the morning,

have lunch there

and return home early to avoid the traffic.

Husband and I will still get together

with daughter and her husband later for dinner.

A horrible, wonderful, wildly improbable idea,

a beach day for my mom.

 

Three cars from three destinations travel to Ocean City, NJ.

It’s a Seinfeld episode,

or any sitcom,

the human comedy,

the comedy of errors

What could possibly go wrong?

IMG_4146

 

My husband and I are the first to arrive in Ocean City.

We drive around, looking for a place to park the car.

We park.

The downpour begins.

I text the others

We’re here.

We’re sitting in the car

Waiting for the rain to stop.

Trying to be optimistic.

Oh, I hear thunder now.

Daughter replies

There’s a flood watch in effect.

All day.

But the skies clear,

the sun comes out

and my husband and I walk to the beach.

The sun is shining.

The beach looks washed and clean.

It is beautiful.

Daughter and her husband arrive.

They have met

H., her family, and my mom,

who have decided to walk on the boardwalk.

They will have lunch there.

We have packed our lunch,

but I expect we’ll see them soon.

Daughter and I walk on the beach,

walk and talk,

gazing at the ocean

looking at the gulls,

IMG_4150

watching people,

the little boy who wanders in circles,

shovel in hand,

smile on face,

I keep expecting H. to text me

so we can help them

get my mom onto the beach.

I don’t want them to miss this beautiful day.

But no text.

We return to our beach chairs.

Daughter sits down with half a PB&J sandwich,

she takes one bite,

I hear a scream,

a gull has snatched the sandwich from her hand.

Scary, but kind of amazing.

We wait for H.,

and watch dark clouds moving in.

We wonder where they are,

she hasn’t answered the texts.

It’s getting close to when we planned to leave.

A beach checker comes by.

Do you have beach tags?

We don’t.

We decide to pack up,

and wait for H and family on the boardwalk.

Daughter sees them then–of course.

H. has paid for a special wheelchair contraption to get my mom onto the beach.

My mom can’t get into it.

So my mom holds H’s arm on one side

mine on the other, and

we begin a slow walk over sand,

a few feet that seem like miles.

H’s husband sets up their umbrella and chairs,

and it begins to rain.

My husband and daughter have packed up our things.

We leave my mom with H’s family on the beach,

feeling guilty,

but it stops raining.

at least for a time.

 

In the evening, after showers and rest

my husband and I eat pizza and drink wine

with our daughter and her husband,

dog and cat sitting with us companionably.

We watch an old Star Trek movie,

it also involves fantastically, wildly impossible ideas,

but we know Captain Picard and his crew will triumph over

the creepy Borg Queen,

love, friendship, kindness, and creativity

trump evil,

humanity will be saved

once again,

a comforting thought.

I haven’t heard yet what happened

with H., her family, and my mom.

I hope they had a great time on the beach.

It’s a fantastically, improbable idea

but one worthy of consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Morning Musings:

IMG_3958

“Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

“Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul.”

–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 

Nine people killed in a Charleston Church

on a June day last year,

forty-nine killed in an Orlando club

a week ago this June

innocent people going about life,

eat, pray, love

dance to the music

black, white, Latino, gay, trans, and straight

hearts that loved

no longer beat

no more inhaling and exhaling

sending breath into the air

in and out

inhale

exhale

 

We began as creatures of the sea

perhaps a sea sponge, 640 million years ago

or perhaps a comb-jelly drifting through the ocean,

we emerged from the sea

a cross between fish and reptile,

walking as if on crutches,

moving between sea and land

what compelled us,

creatures of earth

to leave the sea

to breath the air

inhale

exhale

 

And yet, the sea calls to us still

a longing for the rhythm of life,

rocking on the waves

that soothing lullaby of motion,

we tell tales of mermaids and selkies

creatures of both sea and land,

fantasy, or secret desire

to live between these worlds?

We’ve been sprinkled with stardust,

sparkles in our genes,

perhaps we have relatives on distant worlds

who swim in other oceans

whose breath sparkles as they

inhale

exhale

 

My husband and I spent the day on the beach

we walked, leaving footprints behind us

that filled with water and vanished

removing all signs that we had strolled that path

we splashed in the surf,

causing ripples in the water,

like those we create each day, existing

rippling time,

watching the seabirds soar above us

their wings wide and white,

I thought of angels,

like those shielding the mourners in Orlando,

like those who stood at the funeral of Matthew Shepard.

I watched those birds,

wondering about the fathers and mothers

protecting their young ones

do they listen for their breaths

as they

inhale

exhale?

 

We read our books

and watched the waves,

a beautiful day,

the sky bluer than the sea

almost cloudless as we arrived,

but then clouds grew

blooming like flowers,

floating like creatures in the sea

or like the frozen breath of giant beings

formed as they

inhale

exhale

 

Father’s Day,

neither of us with a father any longer,

but he a father, and I a mother,

our children began as cells, multiplying,

growing arms, legs, brains

swimming in an amniotic sea

listening to my heart beat

and my breathing

in and out

till they emerged,

tiny and perfect,

and breathed on their own

and walked upon the land

inhale

exhale

 

Do souls cross the ages

as clouds cross the sky?

do we wander through space

after we die?

do we visit oceans on distant worlds?

Do we breathe,

absorbing stardust and infinity

becoming luminous, as we

inhale

exhale?

 

As oceans are made up of drops

so each one of us is a drop in the universe

each drop is inconsequential,

each drop is unique and important,

the universe is composed of such paradoxes

and so we float and swim

and we drift, we walk on crutches

and we fight to survive

we breath

inhale

exhale

but when the sea calls to us

we return

carried by tide and time

to the sea that gave us life.

 

IMG_3940

Ocean City, NJ June 19, 2016

 

On Saturday night, “Father’s Day Eve,” I called it, I made pizza, and we watched the movie Cloud Atlas, based on the book by David Mitchell. Somehow we missed it when it was in the theaters. It’s not for those who like straight forward narrative, but we loved it. I would definitely watch it again. All of the main actors play multiple roles, changing gender and ethnicity. I haven’t read the novel, but I have read David Mitchel’s The Bone Clocks, which also told multiple interconnected stories over time.

Looking back, I discovered that my Father’s Day post last year discussed my father, his life, his death, and how he loved to take us out to eat. I also discussed the Charleston shootings. If you want to read it, you can find it here.

 

The idea of animals walking as if they used crutches, came from this article.

You can read more about the angels here.

 

 

 

By the Sea

Monday Morning Musings

We made it.

Down the Shore.

Circling for blocks

And blocks

For a parking spot.

We are a bit farther

than we planned

But it doesn’t matter.

Because we’re here.

And we sit and gaze

At the waves.

IMG_2582

And at the sky.

Plane pulls an advertisement for the Impression Exhibition we saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Plane pulls an advertisement for the Impression Exhibition we saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

And at the people.

The girl striking ballet poses

For her mother’s photo shoot

She’s all arms and legs,

Coltish

Her arabesque held

Only for a second.

Fleeting,

like this day

In a long line of days

that make up life.

But proud

In her youth.

“Look what I can do!”

In her life

It’s been an eternity

Since she was that toddler

Carefully placing each foot,

Her diapered bottom just inches

From the sand.

But to the sea

It’s only a second.

Then there’s

the couple playing catch.

And the family digging

A huge crater in the wet sand.

What are their stories?

I wonder.

We read our books,

And we gaze some more.

My husband's pensive pose.

My husband’s pensive pose.

There are no shark sightings.

But there is this little guy.

IMG_2568

The day is cloudy at first,

But still it’s lovely

Sitting there.

Then the sun comes out,

And it is glorious.

A perfect beach day.

The very definition.

Blue sky

A few puffy white clouds

Not too hot

And

A light breeze from the water.

We hate to leave,

But we’ll be back

Some other time.

After all,

The ocean is always here.

We simply need to pause

sometimes to see it.

A stop for water ice

Mango Water Ice

Mango Water Ice

Before we walk back to the car

And home to reality—

Showers and feeding the cats–

And feeding ourselves.

Of course.

But we were

By the sea,

By the beautiful sea.

You and me.

Finally.

IMG_2577

Blueberries Mean Summer

I’m often surprised to discover how certain foods trigger such vivid memories, at least for me. Early yesterday morning I heard a report on the radio about the record blueberry season happening right now in New Jersey. Hmmm. . .blueberries.Image

Well, I just happened to have some of those delicious New Jersey blueberries in my refrigerator–and the time to bake some blueberry muffins.

I can’t remember the last time I made muffins. I bake frequently—cookies, bread, cake, fruit crisps, and on and on. But since our daughters are not living at home, my husband doesn’t eat breakfast, and I usually have a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (sometimes topped with blueberries) to sustain me through morning work and sometimes morning workouts, I haven’t baked muffins in quite a while. Today seemed like the perfect day. Our younger daughter is home, and I had the opportunity.

I followed a recipe I got from the BarneGate Bed and Breakfast in Ocean City, NJ. We used to stay there each June, as I mentioned in a previous post. The couple who owned the place retired several years ago, but my family and I think fondly of them and of our summers at their cozy inn. Opening the spiral-bound collection of recipes elicits numerous memories of our stays there, sitting in the dining room while we ate muffins, drank coffee, and talked to Frank and Lois, the owners. Each summer they commented on how our girls had grown and asked what we done during the past year. They filled us in on what had happened in their lives, too. Our family looked forward to our vacations there every summer. In my mind I picture those long ago summers when our children were younger, and so were my husband and I. . .so many memories triggered by yesterday’s muffins.

When our daughter woke up and came downstairs to find the freshly baked muffins, she was pleased and excited. (We get excessively excited by food in our household.) Then she stopped and told me the muffins made her think of her beloved cat Michael, who died during her senior year in high school. She had remembered that she couldn’t leave blueberry muffins on the table because he would eat them. Michael would eat almost anything that we left out, not simply meat, milk, or cheese, but baked goods, too. We could never leave baked goods to cool on the counter unattended. For some reason, he particularly enjoyed blueberry muffins. Not that we ever gave him muffins or any food not labeled cat food, but he could was very clever—and fast—and he had super-cat powers when it came to finding food. (He got excessively excited about all sorts of food, too. I guess he was a natural fit in our household.)

So yesterday’s muffins brought back bittersweet memories to both my daughter and me, but that didn’t stop either of us from eating them.
And they were delicious.. .

Image
but really, how can fresh, blueberry muffins not be delicious?

BarnaGate Bed and Breakfast
Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins (with some adaptations)
Makes 12 Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 ½ cup blueberries
¼ cup sliced almonds mixed with 2 Tbsp. sugar for garnish (I finely ground almonds and mixed with sugar—I probably used more of both almonds and sugar.)

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add blueberries; stir to coat evenly.
In small bowl beat eggs with fork; beat in milk and butter.
Add wet mixture to blueberry mixture; stir just until blended.
Fill pans 2/3 full and sprinkle with almond-sugar mixture.
Bake for 15-25 minutes.

Morning

 

Sunday morning coffee

Sunday morning coffee (Photo credit: krasi)

 

“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”

 

William Blake

 

I am a morning person. Yes, one of those annoying people who wakes up able and willing to carry on conversations before having coffee.  I try to keep these conversations to myself—or I converse with the cats—because it is a struggle for my husband to put two coherent words together until he has had coffee and been awake for an hour or two.

I awaken with my mind full of lists and ambitious. I see the day before me as a fresh sheet of paper on which I can write a new story, one that I hope will include my own triumphs, accomplishments, and joys, and that will not include disasters—kitchen or otherwise—or despair

I want to do everything in the morning—writing, exercise, chores, and errands. I would be happy if mornings lasted all day.I decided to re-season my cast iron frying pan at 6:30 this morning, while cooking oatmeal. Who does that—unless they are a morning person? The downside is that I’m tired and barely articulate by eight o’clock at night, and when early darkness hits in December, I feel like I should be getting ready for bed at six. That’s six PM.

 

My biological clock is set to a preindustrial time when people arose with the dawn and went to bed at sunset. (I understand, too, why preindustrial people sometimes slept with their livestock to keep themselves and the animals warm. People with dogs or cat that sleep on their beds know how much heat they generate.) My body and mind, however, are firmly rooted in the twenty-first century. Waking up would not be pleasant without indoor plumbing, heat, and a coffee maker.

 

Although I realize that going to work, especially with long commutes, getting children off to school, and other chores make mornings less than fun for most people, I still love them. The mornings I love the most, however, are the quiet relaxing mornings when there is nothing I have to do and nowhere I have to be. For many years, my husband, daughters, and I went to a bed and breakfast inn in Ocean City, New Jersey in June. We took the attic “suite” –two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a sitting area with a small refrigerator. In the mornings, I woke up early and went out to the sitting area to read. After my husband woke up, we would go downstairs and sit on the porch. There, encased in comfortable chairs, we enjoyed the sea breeze and the promise of another day of vacation, as we drank coffee and watched early morning joggers, bikers, and dog walkers, and waited for breakfast to be ready.

 

This past Sunday, I woke up long before anyone else. Our children and their significant others were home and still sleeping, as was my husband. We had had our lovely and wonderful Passover meal the night before. The morning was quiet and beautiful. I was happy and feeling content with my life. I fed the cats, sipped my coffee, and read the newspaper–which had arrived on time, even though it was Easter morning. Perfect.