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?

Summer’s not complete without the Farmer’s Market

One of our highlights of visiting the beach in the summer is the Farmer’s Market. I discovered this year there are two –Thursdays in Caprinteria and Saturdays in Santa Barbara. That makes buying fruit and veggies more manageable. I don’t have to stock up only to have fruit get over ripe. I can buy just enough.

There is one stand with all sorts of peppers and tomatoes that we stop at. Farmer Fred is the owner. He’s friends with several of our Santa Barbara friends who gather at his stand to chat each weekend. It’s fun to join in and feel like a local.

By our house in Arizona, we have a tiny Farmer’s market. I call it a Farmer market because there is one veggie stand. There is local honey, jewelry, baked goods, chips and dip and trinkets.

It’s a joy to have an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies. We’re especially enjoying Flavor King plums, sweet corn and shishito peppers.

Santa Barbara Farmer's Market Rocking Chair Farm Markets fruit stand.
I bought white peaches and yellow nectarines here. They are so delicious, they are beyond words.
Bright red tomatoes at the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market.
Gorgeous tomatoes.
rainbow of colors of eggplants and peppers
The colors of peppers and eggplants are worth painting.
Avocado stand in the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market.
An abundance of avocados. I took them for granted in California. They are not so available in Arizona.
bright orange dragonfruit
My dear friend from Singapore introduced me to dragonfruit. I’ve never seen it in a market before.
The didgeridoo is a sacred Australian Aborigine instrument. Our friends say this woman has been playing at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market for years.
The Farmers Market in Santa Barbara.

Do you have a farmer’s market near you? What are your favorite things about Farmer’s Markets? What do you like to buy?

Life at the beach

Another foggy day at the beach.

People who live here year-round complain it’s been too cold this summer. We’ve had foggy days with small slivers of sunshine peeking through. On some days there’s no sunshine.

That is fine by me. I’m loving the cool weather for beach walks. It’s such a contrast to our desert life. Also, the tiny house doesn’t have AC, so it’s better to have cool weather than hot.

I read in the news that Interstate 10 washed out near the border of Arizona and California. We missed wild weather.

I’m hoping the road will be fixed before we drive home. The alternate routes are hours longer! Plus one alternate route closed due to downed power poles and lines.

Maybe we’ll be stuck here at the beach in the tiny town of Summerland.

What has your August weather been like? Is it unusual or more of the same?

We watched a pod of dolphins playing during our afternoon walk.

Beach walk cut short

Beach
Empty beach below our Vrbo.

This morning on our beach walk, I first noticed three signs and yellow tape.

marine wildlife warning sign
Warning signs posted at the beach.

We stopped to read the signs and a woman approached us wearing a hat that said volunteer for some marine life organization. She said there was a distressed sea lion ahead. It had been resting on the beach behind the signs and yellow tape.

Then when a young woman was walking her pit bull, the dog pulled out of its harness and attacked the sea lion.

The volunteer from the Channel Islands Marine Wildlife Institute told us the sea lion escaped into the ocean. She explained that the sea lion was suffering from Domoic Acid poisoning, which is caused by algae bloom.

My husband said that algae bloom happens every year. Isn’t that a normal thing? Wouldn’t sea lions be used to it?

She said they were inundated with calls about sick sea lions along the coast and that the Domoic Acid poisoning could be fatal. The volunteers were out observing the sea lions from sunrise to sunset along the beaches. Apparently stress could make the illness worse. She was standing on the beach all day to keep people and dogs away from the sick sea lion.

I asked if we could still take our morning walk.

“If you have to,” she answered. “Please stay along the cliffs and as far away from the sea lion as possible.”

We started on our walk, but as we got closer to the sea lion, we turned around. It wasn’t worth it.

We also spotted the young woman with her pit bull walking down a trail to finish their morning walk. She was avoiding the volunteer who was positioned by the signs. The young woman spotted the sea lion in the ocean in front of her and thankfully turned her dog around and headed back up the trail.

If you want to read more about the sea lions and Domoic Acid poisoning, here’s an article from the local news. The article said the Institute is fielding 50 to 100 calls a day.

Who knew that stress was so harmful to sea lions? What are your thoughts about what stress can do to us?

sea lion sick with Domoic Acid poisoning
The sea lion seeking comfort in the ocean.