Category Archives: summer

Friday 5: Only 2 at a time allowed

I’ve discovered something about myself: I can only handle 2 crises at once (and of course I’d prefer only one crisis — or none at all — but life doesn’t seem to work that way).

Here, in current order, are the 5 crises I am juggling for those top 2 spots:

1. My mother’s cancer and continual decline despite her denial (definitely the top stressor this week)

2. Selling our house (trying to be top stressor but being trumped by Mom’s cancer)

3.   The logistics of moving (When? Where? How?)

4. The arrival of 4 more adults next weekend– bringing our household up to a count of NINE — for 2 weeks of graduation festivities and moving mayhem.

5.  The graduating senior who must be prepared for college (he will probably be fine, but his mother isn’t prepared to send him off)

For that, I am thankful

The weather here can’t quite decide what to do. We had some lovely fall weather recently, with daytime temperatures in the low 80’s  (about 28C) and nights that were pleasantly cool. The air conditioner had been resting comfortably. That changed yesterday when our weather reverted to summer behavior and humid 90+ temps (32C). I might have been grouchy, but we had the loveliest storm whip through with MUCH-needed rain and even some exciting marble-sized hail stones.  (I was lucky; the hail didn’t begin until I was safely parked in the garage.) As an added bonus, my car got a free washing since I was driving home when the storm hit.

How about you? What are you thankful for today?

Vacation, day 5: After the storm

Sunrise on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

With daylight, we could see how well our camping structures had fared through the night.  Others were not so fortunate.

The people who were camping here had left more than an hour before the arrival of the storm. They came back to loss and destruction. I’m not sure how 3 people slept in that tent last night, or if they gave up like others and got a motel room.

Beautiful green pavilion in background -- destroyed

I credit my husband’s wisdom and skill that we still have a canopy, tent and a “screen house.”  I also must credit my oldest son, who spent the entire storm inside the empty, dark tent. He held the sides up, pushing back against the wind.  It wasn’t a fun experience for him. In fact, he was (understandably) angry that we were laughing while he was inside the tent not knowing what was happening outside.  All he could hear was the booming of the wind and our shouts and laughter while he was doing his best to keep the tent from collapsing.

By 7am, we were breaking camp and loading up the vehicles. Everything wet and sandy went into the rig with the bikes and boogie boards. (The canopy, tent, and “screen house” would be set up to dry at home.) Everything dry-ish and clean-ish went into the van.
We said goodbye to the ponies…

click on any picture to enlarge

And then we drove to Ocean City, MD, to find a hot breakfast.  “Bambi” –our GPS– told us to turn left onto Boardwalk. We were driving at the time.

We aren’t boardwalk kind of people, and there really wasn’t any decent place to take a grubby family for breakfast there anyway.  (And by decent I mean inexpensive good food.) But look what we found a few blocks away!

They didn’t just serve donuts and coffee… we were able to get a good, hot breakfast (eggs! toast! bacon! pancakes!) before tackling the long drive home.

It almost made the grouchy ones forgive us for making them ride through the storm at the campsite instead of safely in a building.

And then we drove across  the Bay Bridge.

*Bridge photos taken by the front seat passenger, NOT the driver!

It was scarier driving the other direction on Monday.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Vacation, day 4: A Fine and Pleasant Misery

We drove to the coast again, but this time we went north:

Time for camping!

and we FINALLY got to see the wild ponies up close!

The herd here at the northern end of Assateague is separate from the one down at the southern part of the island, where the ponies are owned by the Volunteer Fire Department of Chincoteague and are known as the Chincoteague ponies. The southern ponies get veterinary care and some dietary supplement, plus the annual pony swim keeps their numbers steady. In contrast, the ponies of Assateague are  given a birth control vaccine (each mare is allowed to foal one time) to keep the population from growing too large and destroying the ecosystem. They are perhaps more wild, since they do not receive regular veterinary care or supplements, but they are not fenced off from visitors. Instead, we are told to steer clear of the ponies. They do bite, just like any wild animal.

There is a fence dividing the island and keeping the 2 herds separate.

This foal is 5 months old

We’ll see more horses later. Time to find our reserved walk-in tent camping site. We unloaded the vehicles and set up our shade and bug shelters first. The wind was blowing, but the sun was hot. A fly drew blood on my shin within 90 seconds of leaving the car.

It was Patrick McManus who coined the term “A Fine and Pleasant Misery” to describe camping. We’ve had a lot of experience camping and therefore have claimed many fine and pleasant miseries.  But for now, it’s time to hit the beach!

my water boys

Did you notice that the blue skies seem to have disappeared?

According to one website, “Seashore camping can be a memory to treasure—or a bad experience for the unprepared. There is no shade and mosquitoes can be abundant from mid-May to October. High winds can pull short tent pegs out of sand.”

High winds can also be the vehicle that bring in a severe thunderstorm. When a ranger drove through the parking lot announcing, via loudspeaker, the impending arrival of a severe storm, we figured it was time to get the tent set up and staked down.  Being married to a seasoned camper-of-all-seasons (who is also a former infantryman) has its benefits… and so does having almost-grown sons. They set up the tent in almost record time. Me? I took pictures and video of them working. Sometimes it’s nice to be the only female surrounded by males.

Shelters were already up; now it's time to get the tent pitched.

*Note that green pavilion in the far background. It’s really nice. You won’t be seeing it again.

The storm is a-comin’. It’s a doozie. Here’s a sample:

A Fine and Pleasant Misery, Part 3: the worst of the storm

You can see more storm videos (a series of 7) here

or you can cut and past this link:

After the storm, we lit the charcoal in the grill to put some hot food in our bellies.

The wind made the tent boom until 1am.

Next time, the final leg of the trip…

Vacation, day 2: Chincoteague!

Planning around weather can be a bit tricky this time of year in the mid-Atlantic region. A storm is nearly always in the forecast, so the goal is figuring out where the storm is expected to be and where you can go to avoid it.  The original plan for the day was to rent kayaks at the local state park, but when SuperDad looked up the weather report on his BlackBerry, we decided to postpone that activity; instead, we loaded up and headed for the beach at Chincoteague.

Click on any pic to enlarge

Playing in the hot sun and the rough surf is exhausting.
Luckily, there was plenty of time to relax.

There was time to build sand castles…

…and to observe the constant battle of man vs. nature.

After 3 hours at the beach, we were all ready for a late lunch in town. On our way back out to the island after eating, I noticed a sign about mosquitoes but didn’t have time to read it. (Hey, I was driving!) I hadn’t thought about mosquitoes at the beach; the breeze had been steady enough to keep the bugs away. But there was no ocean breeze on our 2 short hikes and I still have some welts on my back to prove it!
Mosquitoes and I have a long history of one-sided attraction vs. my strong reaction. I’m still waiting for a bug spray strong enough to keep them away from me.

The famous Chincoteague ponies

The ponies in the photograph above as seen through my camera’s zoom setting.
Click on photo to enlarge picture.
The view below is how close we actually were (look for the 2 specks in the right top quadrant) but SnakeMaster still happily posed.

At this rather anti-climatic point, we decided to call it a day, loaded back up, and stopped for ice cream on our way back to our home base.

Vacation: the first day

Before summer ends
And a boy goes to college
Take a vacation

We were lucky to stay in this lovely house for free! It belongs to the estate of a friend’s mother who sadly passed away this year. And if you want to purchase a waterfront house in Southern Maryland near Jane’s Island State Park, I’m more than happy to share the Realtor link.  The master bedroom suite is the entire second floor… oh, the views!!

For the first time ever, we took both vehicles on vacation. It worked so well it may just happen again! Two people drove/rode in the Honda Element, where we stashed boogie boards for the beach and bikes to share on the pathways. We also managed to use it to haul the camping supplies for later in the week. The other 4 of us rode in the minivan with all the rest of the stuff a family needs for a week away.

SuperDad grilled burgers, which we ate on the deck — mine included grilled summer squash and provolone cheese melted on top:  heaven!  — while we enjoyed the incredible sunset view.

Barefoot Summer

Those precious days of childhood
living in a different world
immersed in imagination

I snapped this photo of my 11yo as he intently watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  His sword is his own homemade creation, a product of time spent in SuperDad’s workshop (a.k.a., the Bat Cave). The scabbard is what remains of a cheap plastic sword that lost a battle long ago, and “Tex” is the horse he received on his 4th birthday.
After 7 years, Tex is more likely to be a clothes horse than the faithful steed of a young knight, a prince, or a cowboy — yet here is proof of childhood hanging on to what is good and true, at least in our imagination.

This post goes with Carmi‘s weekly topic over at Thematic Photographic.

Garden goodness

I am thankful for the harvest from our garden — and SuperDad cooking it on the grill!

garden goodness

What are you thankful for today?

Sweating it out

I open the door to the dark morning and feel as though I have been covered with a wet wool blanket. Patches of fog dot the landscape. The dewpoint and temperature are within a few degrees of each other — cool and mysterious on an autumn morning but suffocating when it is 76°F (24°C).

We are in the midst of a hot and humid streak of weather, fairly typical for this point in the summer.  If we are lucky, we get an afternoon thunderstorm to relieve the air just a little bit of its heavy moisture. Even a small gust of wind is welcomed as it blows away the stale air.

On days like this, if you can’t be at the pool, then it is time to stay inside with the comfort of air conditioning and find something to do on a hot summer day.

game of Risk

What did you do to “wile away the summer hours” when you were a kid?