Life jackets. Or the closest I’ll come to a PSA.

“Don’t be alarmed. When you see our house, every manner of emergency vehicle will be parked out front.” It was my father-in-law.

This was the call we got as we drove over the bridge to the St. George Island.

Sure enough. When we rounded the curve to the beach house we’ve stayed for the last few years, a firetruck, sheriff’s cars, ambulance, resort security truck were all stopped in front of the house.

Poised in front of the house was the better word.

An electricity tickled my skin as I got out of the truck. Something was dreadfully wrong.

 

*  *  *

 

“Please pray mister.”

A young boy ran up to my brother-in-law.

The upshot of all this emergency hoopla was that two riders had tipped over a jet ski and couldn’t be found.

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See. This is what it looks like when loved ones are looking for you.

Loved ones who don’t know if you had a life jacket on.

Kind of like wanting to attend your own funeral to see all the down faces and tears. Well, hopefully to see tears.

 

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First we heard two girls were on the jet ski. And that they weren’t wearing life jackets.

Then it turns out the girls were the ones who came to shore and told my son that the elderly men riding with them (granddads perhaps?) had tipped over.

And were gone.

One girl thought they were wearing life jackets.

One girl wasn’t so sure.

“Well. If they were wearing life jackets, I’d say the chances are good they will be found alive.”  I said this to my in-laws and sister-in-law gathered at the rail.

As I went upstairs to help unload all our gear, looking out the window reminded me of one thing.

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It would be dark in 15 minutes. Rescue boats and jet skis had been crisscrossing the water for an hour at this point.

I prayed. I did these prayers while shoving down my imagination, which tried ever so forcefully to insert the terror the loved ones must be feeling.

We all were praying.

“Why don’t they send out a plane?” my mother-in-law asked.

And as if on cue  . . .

 

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Well, about 10 minutes after the plane went out we saw activity.

People running to the sheriff’s SUV and driving off.

The men had been found.

Four miles out.

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One of the police boats out in the Gulf.

 

 

Yes, just as darkness closed in, they spotted the men.

Alive.

Bobbing four miles out to sea. Wearing life vests.

Neither could swim.

Seat belts and life jackets.

No trip is too short.

 

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Surrender. At the beach?

Surrender.

That word popped in front of me twice in the last 20 minutes. First, in a note from a friend about mining our artistic talent and another in a comment on another blog I read.

I didn’t surrender very easily when younger. I still think of it as a word of weakness. But when looking over the prompts for MamaKat’s Writer’s Workshop:

5.) Show us what winter looks like in your neck of the woods!

I got to thinking.

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This year we went to the beach on Christmas day and stayed for a few days.

Now we didn’t drive south for 10 hours.

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We didn’t fly toward the equator for two hours.

We just drove for three and a half.

To Tybee Island right off the coast at Savannah.

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As you can tell, it wasn’t a balmy 80 degrees.

Here I am with my oldest, the ardent fisherman.

He was on the pier a little bit every day.

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It was cold. And to tell you what a baby I am — looking into the churning water crashing into the pier and the cold wind biting in my weathering hands — all I could think of was those Deadliest Catch fishing boats. And how bloody cold it must be.

It was probably only 50 degrees on Tybee that day. But it felt like I was in stationary boat in the Bering Sea without fear of being washed overboard into the icy depths. Thank God.

Yes. It was winter at the beach.

And I loved it.

I loved the gray skies.

I loved the wind.

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I loved desolation mixed with the enormity of God’s creation raucously reveling in cold water and gray sand and gray boardwalks.

I had surrendered to the beauty of the beach at winter.

Not feverishly searching for sun. Not neurotically scanning the forecast for 70 degree days. Not fantasizing about what it would be in this exact spot five months from now.

Okay. There may have been moments of daydreaming but I didn’t dwell on images of brown bodies smelling of coconut oil wrapped in colorful bathing suits.

What can I say? I’m a writer. We live to imagine stuff.

No.

For the most part, I walked and walked. Smelled the mix of salt and musk. I ventured out each night at dusk and absorbed the twinkling lights on brightly painted cottages.

I surrendered to winter at the beach.

And it was good.

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Ever been to the beach at winter? I mean real winter, not Miami winter.

Mama’s Losin’ It
 

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Sometimes you just need a paperback. Beach reading.

I love to read. I just don’t have much time these days. I creep through books a page or two at the time before I fall asleep.

But on vacation — whether by the hour at the lake or actual three day getaway — I can enjoy reading for more than five uninterrupted minutes.

Though I love e-reading, when I get poolside or with my toes in the sand, for me nothing beats a paperback.

Because let’s face it, paperbacks can take a beating and keep on ticking.

Wet, sand, suntan oil, glare. No problem. And no worries about no charge and no charger. Hate it when that happens.

So when I’m anticipating a few days of beach reading, I head to my friend’s flea market.

 

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Though I’m searching for books, I’ve always got to take a look around.

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Still on the lookout for a table for my friend’s apartment. Think this one might be too big.

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I spotted this light up sign and clock. I’d so want that if I had space for it. Karen’s husband made that out of an old sign. Love, love it.

But then I found what I was looking for.

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Books.

I don’t know about you, but being a writer, I never go into a library, bookstore or see a stack of book anywhere and think of how much work when into each volume.

And here all that hard work sits.

I guess that’s not why a writer writes.

After looking a bit I grabbed this.

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And this. I’ve read a lot of Shreve’s work. Hers is a very easy uncomplicated, well-written style. Her voice and characters always keep me turning the pages.

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And then, I found something else. As I always seem to do.

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 I took this cute, funky bag home as well.

So I’m traveling with Cold Mountain, The Weight of Water and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen on my Kindle App. Be interesting to see what I end up getting though.

How about you?  E-reader or paperback at the beach?

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Falling down the rabbit hole.

Hello. Does anybody hear me?

Yes, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole — or through a worm hole. We got home from our vacation to having our house look nothing like our house. They have completed most of the demolition for the remodeling to start.

Walking into our dusty shell of a house felt like creeping a bit on the moon.  There is no air conditioning, no kitchen or no bath — no water — just like a dark, dusty hole in the ground.

For the time being, my family moved to a in a 700 square apartment out back. With no internet. Today is the first day, I’ve made it up to the command module — my little makeshift office. An upstairs room in our house that is shut off from the mayhem downstairs that also has a window unit.

This space also is the new home to my printer and the only space we can get internet access. So it’s a little easier to breath up here.

Just checking into to say I am alive and that I have found a lifeline to the online world. Hurrah.

Here are a few photos from the beach last week. I’ll post pictures of the demolition on the house tomorrow.

How are things in your world? My world is great — though a bit upside down at the moment.

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The beach. My favorite place in the world.

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Florida Road Trip — Nine-Year-Old Style. New Smyrna Beach.

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After helping Mary ease into her sixth decade last night, I didn’t set the alarm today.

Even in the summer, I’m up before 6:15 every morning. Last night, going to sleep in my old room with no reason to get up before 6:15 other than to exercise voluntarily — I chose to see how late I could sleep.

When I crawled out of bed at nine, I looked at my Joe and asked, “What should we do today?”

“The BEACH!”

The beach is an hour away from my childhood home. And get this people. At this beach you can drive your car right on the sand.

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When we announced our plans to my mother her response. “By the time you get over there, we have thunderstorms every day.”

Pooh.

She was right you know. Central Florida has been the Central Florida of my childhood recently. Huge electrical shows every afternoon. But what the hay? We drive and hour and just get an hour on the beach. Better than no hour on the beach.

By the time we gather our things. Stopped at the store for provisions: Cheese-Its, pretzels, water and sunscreen. It was almost noon before we got to our spot.

Joe was fired up.

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Notice dark clouds behind him.

But no. I wouldn’t.

We swam and boogie-boarded. Made drip castles and scooped up tons of periwinkles shimmying down into the sand.

One line of black clouds, rain and the occasional flicker of electricity went by.

Phew.

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We bought hot dogs and snow cones. Swam some more.

Then this cloud. A cloud of biblical proportions gathered to our north.

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Surely this was the cloud that would send us home. But we had been there at least two hours so not bad.

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This was the view on my left.

This was the view to my right.

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And somehow MIRACLOUSLY (with a few flickers and KABOOMS that made me nervous) the storm stayed out at sea and passed by us going southeastward.

Hurrah.

We ended up staying as long was we liked. The high tide washing into our chairs and towels.

As we were packing up to leave I heard a “Jamie?”

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One of my sister’s closest childhood friends.

So that was fun.

The whole day was fun.

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This was the last shot before I pulled out at 5 o’clock this afternoon.

In life, a lot of ugly storm clouds threaten.

But hang in there.

You’ll probably get a lovely day.

Right?

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I’m going to my happy place.

It’s like going to the beach.

That’s my answer to Jana’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Sunday.

It’s like going to . . .

Five minutes of unedited writing.

GO

Find a happy place.

That’s one of my favorite sayings. And if I had to describe my happy place it would involve white, warm sand. Crystal blue, warm water.

Bright, cloudless, warm sunshine.

Hey. That reminds me of some place.

THE BEACH.

This time of year, I find myself lost in fancy dreaming about swimming in warm water, rolling over to float on the heavy salt water as I gaze onto the cerulean heavens.

I go there in my mind when finances, commitments and time of year just won’t seem to cooperate with my fantasy life.

I feel my breaths deepening. My shoulders dropping.

Maybe even my blood pressure going down a notch or two.

The sound of the water.

It is my happy place.

TIME

Where is a place that makes you giddy?

Click on the link and come over and join us.

 

 

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Saturdays shifting away from the beach.

A photo for the month.

A picture that sums up what this September has been for our family.

One only has to look at today’s date, the 11th, to realize how powerful one photograph can be.

A last trip of the summer to the beach left me with this image.

Sand and water and sky.

There were lots of photos with my loved one sitting in beach chairs enjoying good wine and food.

Like paper dolls, I could cut and paste images of my sister, my daughter, my mother and I into this background of the surf and water. Having conversations, eating a few too many chips and laughing at even the littlest of things as the evening wore on.

 I like this empty vista. A beach set to tip toward fall. You can tell by looking at her, she is thinking that it is time to start slowing down and relax a bit after the bustle of the summer crowd — preparing for the raw of winter.

But I won’t chose that picture. I’ll select this one.

A few Saturdays ago, we went to see my son at college.

After the game, the players come back on the field and family and friends get to say hi.

My son passed me and walked out with his father. Then I saw his two siblings running after him. I grabbed my camera to get a photo — but I was running late, probably after messing around trying to get the perfect Instagram shot of the scoreboard. Good grief.

This is what I got.

It makes me happy.

Linking up with Galit and Alison for Memories Captured.

Come join. What’s your photo memory of September?

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I always hate myself when it’s over.

Road trip.

Last weekend, my daughter and I took a short, long weekend trip to the beach.

Long because it was a three-day jaunt. Short because — it involved a lot of driving — and not as much surf.

Which I really didn’t mind, the driving that is.

No, the road trip with my daughter is not what I dislike intensely about my behavior.

It’s this.

 

The remnants of a fast food meal I ordered only to eat a little bit of then proceeded to eat everything including half of a grease-stained napkin.

It’s not this particular chain’s fault I love onion rings, chicken tenders, white gravy and Coke Zero.

The white gravy is my daughter’s fault. She always orders the white gravy and I then tumble along after her on the white gravy train.

I could have insisted we dine-thru elsewhere. An establishment where I could have ordered a salad and a ice-cold bottle of water. But my daughter loves this place and I am a grown, disciplined, health-conscious woman.

But no.

I become weak as these pumpkin seedlings who went limp with thirst while we were away as I stare down a speaker next to a picture of fried things.

I might wake up all hours to tend to sick children and pets. Wash every sheet in the house.

Clean vomit and doggie diarrhea till a raging germaphobe would eat off my floor, take ten nine-year-old boys for an all day adventure at a waterslide park…

Okay. I haven’t done that last one.

But I bet I could do it easier than not ordering those onion rings.

We finally got there and it was worth the drive.

But was it worth the meal?

That is where the photos end.

No iPhone bathing suit photos of me after that lunch.

Unless someone offers me a great sum of money or extra large basket of onion rings.

Linking up with Greta and Julie for iPhonePhotoPhun.

What about you? Any fast food weaknesses?

GFunkified

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Hope, Halsey, Truman and Me.

I can’t play the piano a lick.

But I can do the beach.

So that’s where I am right now.

A girls’ weekend celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday with my sister, my daughter and of course, me mum.

We had an awesome late afternoon on the beach.

For dinner,

I steamed shrimp and fried hush puppies for dinner. My sister made cole slaw and the most awesome-ish cocktail sauce ever.

And over dinner we started talking about the owners of this house.

The McFall House where Rear Admiral McFall retired.

His four grandchildren now own the spread and one of them happens to be neighbors to my sister.

They graciously let us rent it for the weekend.

Woo.

But I just thought Woo because beach. Then we started talking about the Admiral.

He was the first person to EVER successfully make it in a plane catapulted off a warship. There had been other attempts but McFall was the first to do it.

Luckily he didn’t live up to his name.

A graduate of the Naval Academy, he later served as its athletic director.

He was commander of the USS Hornet when it was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea.

And here’s the cool part. His final tour was as commander of the Jacksonville Navel Air Station.

While there he entertained dignitaries such as Bob Hope, Bull Halsey (another Admiral that I didn’t know but my mum — the 80 year old one knew all about) and a then Senator from Missouri Harry Truman in this house.

That’s when Mom said, “Have you seen the top of that piano? It’s scuffed and got glass rings all over it.”

Piano? I’d been in the place for six hours and not even noticed the piano.

Rear Admiral McFall. I noticed him on the wall.

But right under him was a piano.

A water-marked piano that held highballs of history-makers while Harry Truman played the Missouri Waltz.

How cool is that?

“Hannah,” I said to my piano playing daughter, “You’ve got to play on the piano Harry Truman played.”

“What? I don’t know anything to play?” was her sullen reply.

After cleaning up the kitchen mess with Sister, the more I thought about it. Darn it. Why wouldn’t someone want to play that piano?

I can play that piano.

So I put my highball on the beast.

Okay, it’s a glass of chardonnay. I’m a girl. What can I say?

And I played the one song I know how to play.

Chopsticks.

But I played.

I drank a toast with the spirit of Hope, Halsey and Truman, all the while apologizing for my inability to play the piano.

And my lack of respectability in choice of a drink.

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My Perfect Day. Minus the dishes.

Today was a perfect day for me.

Minus cleaning up the kitchen and sweeping sand off the floor.

You see it was a surprise.

I woke early to thunder and lightening. Quite the storm. I got up. Checked the radar.  Did some work while everyone slept.

Checked the radar.

Went back to bed.

By noon the sun came out and I had the best day ever.

 

Got in the water.

Got out of the water.

Got back in the water.

Then ate my child’s ice cream.

 

Was your day that perfect?

Probably not.

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