What I read on the beach

Books I read on the beach.

My beach chair has a pocket on the back with a zipper. That’s where I keep sunscreen and books. I selected two books by Shirley Jackson and my goal was to get through them while I sat on the beach.

I adore reading on the beach.

“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” is one of my favorite books. I’m thinking of assigning it to Book Club when it’s my turn — if book club survives. The last book club turned into a disaster more on track with “The Real Housewives” than a social evening to discuss literature. A spat broke out between two ladies. One woman went way over the top — and the other countered by sending a certified letter telling her she was out of the group.

Since then, two months of book clubs have been cancelled. In August only one person RSVP’d. September’s book club is off because the woman hosting said she needs a break. After that last episode, we all need a break!

Back to the beach. I LOVED reading both Shirley Jackson books. She is such an excellent writer. “Come Along with Me” is the beginning of a novel she never finished due to her death.

In 1968, Jackson’s husband released a posthumous volume of her work, Come Along with Me, containing her unfinished last novel, as well as 14 previously uncollected short stories (among them “Louisa, Please Come Home”) and three lectures she gave at colleges or writers’ conferences in her last years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Jackson

Although I’ve hauled “Come Along with Me” from Washington to California to Arizona, I’ve never read it. It was the perfect beach book. I read one short story or a lecture each day at the beach and finished it the day before we left. Her unfinished novel “Come Along with Me” was a joy with a very quirky character who was clairvoyant and communicated with the dead.

At the beach house I had a Liane Moriarity book I was reading but didn’t finish. “Nine Perfect Strangers” may remain strangers to me.

The contrast between Shirley Jackson and authors today was stark. I felt almost smug reading such a talented writer and forgoing my usual beach romances. I have five more Jackson novels yet to read. I can’t wait!

What type of books do you like to read on vacation?

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Have you read Shirley Jackson’s stories or books besides “The Lottery?”

Quest for the best dolphin video

This was the winner of y best dolphin video quest during our recent beach vacation.

My husband and I named our August 2022 beach vacation, “The summer of dolphins.” Despite the sadness of sea lions infected with toxic Domoic Acid, that I wrote about HERE, the dolphins were thriving.

Every day we saw dolphins. I was mesmerized watching them. I love to watch them cruise, leap and play. One teenager was swimming along with mom and dad. He’d roll over on his back and do a backward flip — showing off.

This video was taken on our second to last night. The water was like glass, the sunset shimmering pink reflected on the sea. You can see the dolphins tails as they dive.

We decided the best times of our vacation were:

Evenings at the beach during our last week

The visit with our son and his girlfriend

Farmer’s market fruits and vegetables

Dinners with friends

Fresh seafood

What are your best memories from vacations?

Ocean view condos!

The condo development at the beach below our Vrbo has grown this year.

The past few years, we’ve been fascinated with a driftwood art installation at the beach. We first noticed it four or five years ago. I wrote about condos at the beach last summer HERE.

This summer, the person who is working on what we call the “beach condos” has added more people, creatures and signs. We’ve never seen anyone working on it. But it keeps growing and getting more interesting. I’d love to know who is creating this. I am picturing an aging hippie with long white hair.

Here are random photos I took yesterday morning:

driftwood character at the beach
One of the many driftwood people at the beach.
cartwheeling driftwood
Looks like he’s doing a cartwheel
Summerland beach club
Summerland Semi Social Club sign
driftwood dogs
Driftwood dogs.
driftwood person
Another character at the beach.
Please remove your shoes.
“Please remove your shoes” makes me laugh.The other sign reads” Please leave it as you found it.”
dancing driftwood
These guys look like they’re dancing.
driftwood person
The artist is obviously having fun.
pirate driftwood
Ahoy! A pirate.
Video overview of the beach condos.

Have you encountered anything like this at the beach or anywhere else? Which person or creature is your favorite?

A sign things are “normal”

backyard downtown Palm Springs
Our old backyard in Palm Springs with a view of Mt. San Jacinto

When we lived in Palm Springs, Calif. which is one of the hottest spots in our nation — next to Death Valley — we used movies as an escape from the heat. It didn’t matter what was playing, we’d find something we were mildly interested in. It got us out of the house where we spent most days.

Then COVID hit and movie theaters were closed. I missed movies a lot. I loved the smell of popcorn when you walk through the theater doors. I loved the few hours sitting in the dark, watching the big screen with unbelievable sound.

I remember writing during the shutdown that the first thing I wanted to do when things reopened was go to the movies.

Fast forward to September 2022 — and we hadn’t been yet. The reason why? I was uncomfortable sitting in the theater with a bunch of strangers. Once we moved, the theater was a 30-minute drive, not a few blocks. The Phoenix area has 6 million people, rather than the 48,000 of Palm Springs. Whenever I looked online, the theaters were full.

Labor Day was packed at the beach. We went early and left when floods of people set up their umbrellas and chairs. We came up with the brilliant idea of going to the movies!

We saw Top Gun. I loved every minute of it. I felt like it was a milestone of getting back to “normal.”

What was first on your list to do post shutdown?

Magic at the Beach

Beach at Padaro Lane
Labor Day walk at the beach. We go early to beat the crowds.

Every single day we observe dolphins. At first, it was one or two. Then it became three and four. Now I walk a quarter mile with dolphins leaping, playing, cruising up and down the beach. I can’t imagine how many are in pods that stretch the length of my walk.

Every single day I try to get a video. They don’t do the dolphin magic justice. That is what they are to me. Magic. Or is it spiritual?

My husband was out catching waves with our son’s girlfriend. They both told me how they were out beyond the waves and a dolphin leaped out of the water right before their eyes. It’s mesmerizing.

I can spend hours starting at dolphins. I feel peaceful and in awe.

Here are four fun facts about dolphins from the Monterey Bay Aquarium followed by one fact from the Dolphin Project:

  • Bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia learned to wear sponges over their beaks while foraging among sharp coral — the only known case of cetacean tool use.
  • As is true for all cetaceans, a dolphin’s nostrils have shifted to the top of its head, becoming a blowhole that permits easy breathing at the water’s surface.
  • A bottlenose dolphin contains three times more blood than a human by body weight, increasing the dolphin’s oxygen-storage capacity during dives.
  • When asleep, a dolphin keeps half of its brain awake in order to keep breathing.
Image result for dolphin facts

Dolphins have very large brains– their brain to body size ratio is second only to our own! They also exhibit sophisticated forms of communication, tool use, cooperative feeding methods, culture and social learning, and play.

https://www.dolphinproject.com/resources/about-dolphins/dolphin-facts/

I keep taking videos of dolphins with my phone. As soon as I stop the video one or two leap into the air. The best one was filmed on Labor Day.

A pod of dolphins near Santa Barbara.

What magical or inspirations sights have you seen lately?

We’re having a heat wave!

Showing off my new boogie board.

It’s hot. Hotter than at my home in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and we are at the beach. It topped 104 degrees in Santa Barbara yesterday. The only cool place to be is in the ocean.

Taking the advice of fellow blogger of Living in the Gap, Cheryl Oreglia, I bought a boogie board. She didn’t say “buy a boogie board.” She asked if we’d done anything spontaneous lately. If you don’t follow her or read her blog, you’re missing out. She has her first book under contract that will be released in 2023. You can find out more from her latest posts.

I haven’t been in the ocean for several years. First it was my knee surgery from a ski accident. That was 2018 and I was sporting the heavy ACL brace you see on NFL players. Not a good thing for the ocean. Then I worried about waves and babied my knee the next year. The following year there were the Great White Sharks.

I watched my son’s girlfriend surf for hours every day while they visited. She inspired me. I remembered the days when I’d ask the lifeguards to watch my kids while I swam out to a buoy or did a bit of boogie boarding. Then I boogie boarded with my kids as they got older.

The other day, I was hot and I wandered into the ocean knee deep to cool off. It dawned on me — my knee is okay. Also, I had cataract surgery. I don’t have to worry about losing my hard contact lenses that I wore from seventh grade to age 59! Woohoo! One drop of water on my eyes and I’d lose my contacts. It really restricted my ocean adventuring.

I decided to rent a boogie board where my son’s girlfriend rented her surfboard — at the surf shop a quarter mile down the beach from where we hang out. $15 for one to three hours. But I was at the grocery store when I saw a boogie board on sale for $15 because it’s the last weekend of summer. Tough choice.

So I did it. I got back into the ocean after four or five years and I feel like a kid again. The perfect end to our beach vacation. Even with the heat wave. Or especially BECAUSE of the heat wave.

I caught a wave! A little one, but I’m back!

Heatwave, Ella Fitzgerald.

Are you having a heat wave? How do you survive the heat?

Have you done anything spontaneous lately? What was it?

Amazing sights!

This is what a sea lion does when it’s stressed. It raises its neck and head off the sand.

Sea lions, dolphins and terns — amazing sights I’m enjoying.

I wrote about the Domoic Acid poisoning that is affecting the sea lions last week. If you missed it, you can read it HERE.

My husband and I encountered a second sea lion in distress a few days later. I called the marine life rescue hotline to report it. Within minutes, volunteers were out staking signs and yellow crime tape to cordon off an area around the sea lion. One woman was the same volunteer I had met the week before. She reminded us to leave the sea lion alone, because they often die from stress if they are suffering from the toxins.

I was infuriated to watch people who let their dogs off leash, walk in front of the signs and tape with their dogs barking at the sea lion.

This is the sea lion in a relaxed, non-threatened position.
I called the rescue hotline for this sea lion.

Now for the truly amazing sights of a flock of terns at the beach:

My husband walking down the beach with the terns.

I spotted the terns way down the beach. They looked like a solid white stripe across the beach where the sea lion sat the day before.

I was afraid they were munching on the sea lion’s carcass, but fortunately that didn’t seem to be the case. I’ve read about terns and they like lagoons and canals.

The terns were in front of this canal. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’s home. Here’s an article with more pics.
Another view of the terns.

What amazing sights have you seen this week?