Category Archives: the beach

In the Water!

I finally got in the water for the first time this year, and it was as wonderful as I thought it would be. I really like the Gulf. I like the warmth. I like the mild waves. I like floating and, well, I just like it. I wanted to go out this weekend, but you know, there are rules about swimming.

I believe in the Buddy system. You just do not go swimming–especially in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Texas coast–without a buddy. Yes, there is a lifeguard, but you need somebody there With you, paying attention To you, who will notice when you’re not where they thought you were. So, I had informed the fella I wanted to go swimming. But he wasn’t feeling well. (He’s been dealing with allergies and bronchitis all week.) I was hoping I could get him to at least come down to the beach with me to sit on the sand and be my swim buddy while not swimming. But the boy got off work early. He came home at 6 p.m., instead of the 11 p.m. hour we were expecting him. And I got him to come with me.

We also took the dog, because Dolly likes to swim too. We walked over. I still think that’s total coolness, that I can WALK to the beach to swim. We had to take turns going out to floating depth, because dogs are short and one of us needed to stay with her in the shallows. I was walking back to our stuff to put the boy’s glasses on his shoe when he was out past the breakers, and Dolly slipped her collar. She didn’t mean to–she just wanted to go sniff something else–but she came back and let me put the collar back on her. There was a little Yorkie yapdog barking like crazy at her, and she wanted to go over and say hello, and we were mean and wouldn’t let her, because the Yorkie was behaving so aggressively, it would get itself eaten. And then people would be mad.

I had a wonderful time in the water. I went out twice to float–just laid back and let the water rock me. Got caught once when it broke over my head, but I didn’t have to touch bottom. Just spit out the water and straightened out again. Oh, and I was body-surfing in, and got stuck in water just a tad too shallow. See, it’s kind of a production for me to stand up when I’m on the floor, or the ocean bottom (those bad knees again)…and the water kept knocking me over before I could get up. It got rather comical, before the next breaker sort of pushed me up to my feet… The second time, I started walking a little sooner.

Then we had dinner and all of us went out to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I enjoyed it, though the fantasy elements had me rolling my eyes a little. Just once. It was fun.

Father’s Day, the boy offered to take his dad out to dinner at the restaurant where he works, but since the fella will be having lunch there three times this week, he said “anywhere but there,” even if it is one of the nicest places in town. (Darn.) So we went to the Chinese buffet, because the Japanese place is closed for lunch. And we took naps and I had a really good Father’s Day. Not so sure about the father in the family… 😉

This will be a very, very busy week, with stuff going on just about every evening. No, not just about. Every. Single. Evening. And to get everything done, it cuts into my morning writing time. I am going to work like mad to try to get at Least 2 pages done every day–and I’m afraid that will be a tough job. Still, I did get my 2 pages for today, between sticking a chicken in the crock pot for supper, doing laundry, cleaning up for group meeting at our house tonight (still have to buy ice cream on the way home…), and… I’m sure there was something else I was doing this morning. Oh yes! cleaning the boy’s bathroom, because he didn’t do it. And we’re having people over tonight. (The ice cream is to make root beer floats.) 2 pages. Basically, I finished up a “confrontation” scene. I had ideas on where to take it next, but had to write them in the margin, because I was just out of time.

(Had to go to the bank, the post office (My bookrak books came in, Yay!), and to Comcast to take back the old converter box and get a new one, before work. Fortunately the Comcast office is right next door to the newspaper office, literally.)

Who knows when I will get to go back into the water… I’ve got a “roundtable critique” thing in Fort Worth this weekend, ApolloCon next weekend and… well, there’s bound to be something else going on, but darned if I know what it is. At least it doesn’t take long to get to the beach… :)

When I don’t WRITE FIRST

This is the granddog. Dolly wanted me to throw her bone for her when I took her picture. She’s not jealous of her toys at all, though she does like to play tug-of-war. She was just home for the weekend when I took the pic. She’s spending the summer with us now, and has filled out a little more. She’s just now getting to be a year old. I’ve enjoyed having a dog to play with and take out to walk.

We went walking this morning and she worked me hard–didn’t pull or anything. She was very good on the leash. But she likes to walk fast, and I hate to hold her back, so I walked a little faster. Which is good for me, so I probably ought to take her out more often, huh?

I was fussing at her, trying to get her to hold still in this other picture, and she dropped her bone and put on that “I’m in trouble?” look… No, I didn’t crop or compress the pictures. Should have, but I didn’t. I was mad at the computer, because it wasn’t downloading the pictures the way I wanted it to. I did finally get them downloaded–after only a little cussing…

I’ve been wanting to share pictures of the granddoggy–and to put some pictures on the blog just because they look nice, but, well… Mostly I blog at the dayjob these days, and I don’t have my pictures there. I e-mailed these to myself. I’ll have to do that more often. :)

Don’t know what I have to blog about. Went walking today. The beach was lovely. Not so much seaweed today.

I did get six good pages written yesterday…and today, I wrote a paragraph. I think it had more than one sentence in it.

See, I’ve listened twice now to a workshop on Writer’s Bootcamp, which discusses lowering goals to raise production. If your goal is one sentence, and you write two, you’ve achieved 200 per cent of your goal. (Right, math person?) Anyway, I’d like to write more than one paragraph, but –and I do know exactly what I did wrong.

I did not Write First.

I’ve learned over the years, especially when I got to write full time, that if I am going to get any writing done, I have to Write First. Before I look at the computer, package up books to mail, print out critiques for writing chapter meetings–any of it–I have to write.

Now, it is permissible to shower and have breakfast, and even to go out for a walk with Dolly (or without) (in which case, the walk comes between breakfast and shower, ’cause, you know, one must wash off the sand and salt and sweat–this IS Texas. The temp may only be 87, but there’s, like, 900% humidity which makes it feel like it’s 418 degrees…) before I start writing. I can also put dishes in the dishwasher, or put laundry on to wash (preferably not both), or make necessary phone calls before I start to wash. (The phone calls really need to come before the writing, because otherwise the phone calls get forgotten and my meds don’t get renewed, or my hair gets longer and longer and longer–which state it is in right now. Way Too Long and Shaggy.) But those are the only permitted chores. Otherwise, the writing HAS to come first.

And today, I didn’t. I needed to send an important e-mail, and I needed to see if another e-mail had come in. (I hadn’t checked e-mail since Monday, so there were a lot, and I didn’t read very many of them.) I needed to download pictures from the camera. I needed to print some stuff out, except I couldn’t remember where I’d put the files. Then I got out the pages I wrote yesterday. Then there were the books I finished that ought to go on Shelfari (I know. Time-wasters…) Then I looked at what I wrote yesterday.

I added a phrase here, moved parts of a sentence around there to give it the highest impact. I clarified that bit and took this other thing completely out. Then I had to put a sentence in another spot. I tinkered. And when it was time to go on, I wrote my two sentences. (I’m pretty sure there were two.) And came to a stuttering halt.

I HATE this. I want to be able to sit down and just write. And I’m fumbling all over the place. Summer usually sucks when it comes to the writing. There’s a lot of stuff going on. I’m traveling a lot, have commitments in the evenings, more people at the house. But those are just excuses. Because if I remember to Write First, I can get it done. Sometimes it comes slow, but it does come. I just have to Write. First.


Graduations, sisters and seaweed

So, we went to the niece’s graduation last Friday. I took the day off work so we could arrive early enough to help out with the shishkebab party, and got to cut up potatoes, peppers, melons and strawberries to go on skewers. The potatoes and peppers were cooked (with some pretty cool marinated meat). The fruit (which included both green and orange melon and pineapple) was not. (Though I did put some pineapple on to cook, actually.) I got to visit with the sister AND the brother and various in-laws. The nephews condescended to at least say hello, though not much else. They’re mostly at that monosyllabic teenaged or pre-teen phase. The nieces did chat more. (There are only two of them, and one is only 8. But her almost 18-year-old sister did visit quite a bit.) It was fun to get to see everybody. This leaves only 5 more kids on my side of the family still in public school. These kids are growing up.

My sister has graduated from college with her teaching degree–just three or four weeks before her daughter finished high school–and has a line on a job in the school where they live. We’ve all got our fingers crossed.

We came on back home Saturday, because we’ve got a lot going on this week. And now I try to think what it is, I can’t. Lots of church stuff going on. We’ve been experiencing house shopping with the daughter–they have now made an offer, and it was accepted, so they’ll be moving soon if all goes as it should. Hopefully I won’t have to go help them move. I’ve moved too much already this year.

I’ve been trying to get back in synch with the writing. It’s going a tiny bit better. I got 3 pages written today, rather than the 2 pages I wrote yesterday. Maybe I can write 4 pages tomorrow.

I went walking on the beach Monday and took the granddog. I’d been nervous about taking her with me, not knowing how she would behave, but I broke down Monday morning and just did it. Dolly did jump over the seat to sit in the back seat, rather than the back cargo area, but didn’t move any farther than that in the car. And when we got to the beach, she was a perfectly behaved little doggy. She didn’t even chase the birds, much less try to play with the few kids out that early. We didn’t walk in the water much. The seaweed has come in.

Oh BOY has the seaweed come in. It made an ankle-deep blanket about 3 or 4 feet deep right at the water’s edge, because there was so much of it, the water couldn’t push it any higher on the sand. It kind of dammed the water up, and if we wanted to walk on the water side of the sargasso, we were almost knee deep in the water when the waves came in. And it was this thick along the whole mile course that we walked, and all the miles we drove past.

Dolly’s a medium-sized doggy, so she walked a little faster than I do, which got me walking a little faster. Not as much faster as to keep up with Dolly, but faster. I’m a tad sore today.

So, that’s the news–pitiful, isn’t it? But I’m going to leave things at that.

Blown Away

The wind has been blowing like crazy the past few days–knocking over the glider-swing in the back yard every night (as well as the big trashcan) and scaring the granddog into barking. There’s sand blowing across most of the streets in town and piling up in intersections or along curbs or the risers of the stairs up the seawall.

My hair, which needed cutting about 6 weeks ago, is at that awful length where, when the wind gets hold of it, it makes this Dutch-Girl-Paint-girl-hat curl over my ears and nothing I do can make it not stick out in that stupid Bozo-the-Clown curl. The wind is very damp, and has salt in it, and that combines with the hairspray (if I didn’t glue my hair down, it would hang straight down in my face and make me CRAZY) and makes the hair even more impossible. I really need a haircut. Bad. And can’t seem to remember to call anywhere or squeeze out time to go to a walk-in place. I’m either going to have to get used to looking like Bozo every time I set foot out in this wild wind, or manage to get this mess cut off.

I went out to walk this a.m. Right At High Tide. Usually I’m an hour ahead of the tide turning, or an hour behind, or sometimes smack in the middle. But today, I was on the beach for the only turning of the tide today, as high tide hit and then started back out. Not that I really noticed the turn of it, but I certainly did notice that it was high, especially since this wild wind–enough to make cars rock–is blowing straight onshore and pushing the water in more. I had to go almost to 39th street to find stairs that led to sand rather than water, and even then the water was almost knee deep a time or two. And since the tide was so high, the water was over sand that spends most of its time out of the water. Only the very top layer was wet. Immediately underneath, the sand was soft and squooshy, so I was sinking into the sand rather than pounding along the hard surface you usually get with wet sand, because it wasn’t wet enough. All that sinking in makes for quite a workout.

The wind is so strong, the birds were flying at an angle. I saw a few pelicans flying southwest, but pointed south (the direction the wind was coming from). Kind of like you have to drive your car in a strong wind, with the steering wheel pointed into the wind to keep the wind from shoving you off the road. The gulls were flying like crazy just to stand still. It’s been this way for days.

I’m waxing so poetical (or maybe obsessively) because there’s not much else to report. The fella and I did go out to see PRINCE CASPIAN last night, finally. The boy had to work, or we might have gone to see Indiana Jones. That’s the one he wants to see. I forgot to take my sweater, but didn’t get too cold. The folks behind us in line had obviously been to the local theater before, because one had a huge fleece robe, and another had a big jacket. Man, they keep that place cold.

The writing, it also sucketh. No real excuse for it, except that I keep finding excuses. People visiting. Errands needing running. Granddogs needing to be played with. Nieces and nephews graduating. The nephew’s done. The niece is tomorrow. Have to/want to go. Get to leave early enough to go eat shishkebab at the sister’s.

I think I’ve written a grand total of 5 pages this week. That’s five more pages than I had last week, but they’re all…transition. Getting from the morgue to the murder scene kind of stuff. Bleah. I mean, we have to get from one place to the other, but it shouldn’t have to take 5 pages to do it. Of course, I’m disposing of an excess character (indisposition, not death) and switching POV in the process, but it doesn’t feel like anything’s happened. Suppose that’s because it hasn’t. And I’m still not sure where the villain will show up and cause trouble. I’d really like a bit of a frothing-at-the-mouth scene. Especially since I have two potential frothers. Maybe I can use the alternate frother here… Hmm.

Anyway–there’s the News Of The Week So Far. Enjoy, and watch out for that wind. :)

Summer Crazy Season

Yes, it has started. The Summer Crazy Season. It begins with graduations, so for us, it started this past Saturday when we went to watch one of the nephews graduate. That meant a trip to Fort Worth, then sitting outdoors (fortunately, the ceremony was in the morning before it got Really Hot and under a tent, so there was less threat of sunburn) for a couple of hours, then off to a family party and much eating of barbecue and shrimps and cake. This is not particularly crazy, but it did involve driving long distances and sitting outside in the heat (they had little cardboard fans on sticks with a photo of the graduating class to stir the air) and lots of very loud children. We have pictures of the grandboys to post–but I don’t think they’re uploaded yet.

But no, the craziness does not end there, because the very next day, we had to go load up the boy–who is not so boyish any more–and move his stuff to storage, then move the rest of his stuff, and the granddog, home for the summer. This meant lots of climbing up and down stairs and vacuuming and re-packing of overstuffed boxes. (He didn’t inherit the packing gene which his father and sister have…That’s my boy…) And then driving again.

We had a party/potluck barbecue Monday night I made a bushel of potato salad for. (Other families don’t eat potato salad like mine does. Five pounds of potatoes is only the beginning–and if the other folks at the pot luck don’t eat much, all the better. They can have it for breakfast.) (Yes. Breakfast.) Also made the flour-free peanutbutter cookies, AKA the easiest cookies ever.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent trying to get the boy’s internet up and running. I have internet. We’re just trying to branch it off the main modem for him. The router we used in the Panhandle is refusing to work. You can only buy wireless routers now–though the one we got does have wire hookups for four computers, plus the wireless thing. But it’s extremely slow when it does work. So I think he’s taking it back and picking up another one. (Things are beginning to feel expensive.)

I did use the trip to the mainland to pick up the router as an excuse to stop off at the mall Waldenbooks and snabble up a copy of Blood Noir. I read it too. I’ll wait a day or two before I go through it again and make sure I caught everything. I also bought a bunch of new romances because, hey–Waldenbooks has a “buy 4 get 5th free” thing, and I’d already picked up 3 of them. So I got 5 in all. The new Quinn, the new Layton, the new Chase, an Elizabeth Bevarly and … one other I can’t remember right now.

Let’s see–this coming weekend, we have company coming. Tomorrow. The next weekend, a niece is graduating and we’re going up for that. Then there’s stuff during the week. Oh, and it’s time to get ready for hurricane season on top of everything else. We live on a Gulf coast barrier island, so this is not something to ignore. So we have to put together a couple of hurricane kits–one for evacuation and one for riding it out in place (for the Category 1-2 size hurricanes).

Then I think we’re here for a weekend, and then it starts again. Ack!

All of this makes it very hard to get much writing done. I’m creeping along this week at about 3 pages a day–on the days I get there. Friday will be hopeless this week. I just have to keep plugging.

Pelicans, and other thoughts

The thing about living at the beach is that you have to LIVE at the beach. All that regular, everyday stuff still has to be done, even though the beach is only two blocks away. Cooking, laundry, scrubbing bathrooms, going to work–all that stuff takes up going-to-the-beach time. So you just have to go anyway, and still, somehow get everything done.

I was thinking about this as I walked on the beach today. Tide was in-ish. (Didn’t look for the times in the paper this a.m.) I could walk around the boulders, but the waves still came up–just not too high. I was thinking about how I still had to go home and do stuff, but wasn’t it great that I could spend this little amount of time out communing with nature.

The sargasso seaweed is starting to come in. In places it looks like a crinkly, crocheted blanket, it’s so thick. I’m not sure if the birds eat something on the seaweed, or if they eat the stuff that’s tangled up in/hiding in the seaweed, but the birds–seagulls and sanderlings and plovers and willets–seem to hang out near it and hung through it.

Today, I found the biggest shell yet. Most shells that wash up on our Gulf coast are small. Mostly they’re scallop-type shells in white or black or yellow-stripes, an inch, or maybe two across. The vast majority are much smaller, some smaller than my tiniest toenail. But this one is at least 4 inches across. Maybe 5. Bigger than the palm of my hand, and deep, and almost black. Part of the rim was broken off, but it’s pretty much whole. I also found what I think is a piece of coral. I think it might be brain coral, from my minimal research. No picture of it yet…

I only saw one pelican flying today. Monday, row after row flapped by overhead. Usually I see at least one line of pelicans heading east–maybe it was a wind thing. Yesterday and Monday were very windy, today was less so. Anyway, Monday, I decided to count the numbers of pelicans flying in their lines.

When I was growing up not far from my beach, and would come down to swim and ride the ferry and such–I never saw a single brown pelican, much less a white one. They were quite endangered. One reason I decided to count how many I saw on Monday. I think I’ve also mentioned here that pelicans like to fly single file. I assume this cuts down on the headwind issue, like the wild goose V, but I’ve never seen pelicans fly in an actual V, just single file.

Anyway, I counted two lines of eleven pelicans each. Then one of thirteen. Then one of seventeen pelicans. That’s a lot of pelicans. I was beginning to think that pelicans had a thing for odd numbers–but then I saw two separate lines, flying somewhat close together, of eight pelicans each. One had seven at first, but there was a singleton flying really hard to catch up and fall in at the end of the line. Now I shall do math.

I had to get out a pen and write on the bottom of a cutline page. I saw in one thirty-minute walk sixty-eight (68) brown pelicans. (If I added wrong, please correct my arithmetic in the comments. thank you.) That’s a LOT of pelicans. They were all flying the same direction, so I’m reasonably certain it was 68 different pelicans, not the same ones flying in circles. Which to me is absolutely totally cool, since it was my own childhood when pelicans were so endangered you just did not see them on the island. At all. Oh, and I didn’t count the single pelican I saw flying in to land beside one of the jetties. So that makes 69.

The beach belongs to the birds from dawn to about 10 or 11 a.m. I may go out walking at 8-ish, but the beach is still theirs. They tolerate me grudgingly.

I got started writing a little late. The plumber guy came and fixed the toilet from its intermittent running (which can be shocking while in the shower, since it would run every five minutes and alternately scald/freeze you while it ran) and I took my sweet time cleaning up after the walk. But I still got 3.5 pages written. Did 6 yesterday. I’m not sure I’ll keep what I wrote today–or that I’ll keep it in this location, but it’s written.

Oh. I just remembered. I entered my very first juried art show Saturday. The very first one where I took paintings in and let other people (who are neither relatives or friends) Look at them and decide whether they were worthy of hanging in a show. They were judged in the non-professional category, of course, which probably helped, but there are some very good non-pros. Anyway, one of the two paintings I entered made the cut. (I suck at painting/drawing hands and feet. And arms. Some arms, anyway.) I didn’t win a prize, but I made the cut.

So my painting of Robert is going to be hung in this art show. (It’s in the blog archive if the other link doesn’t work. I can’t figure out how to post it on the blog with this work Mac. Just scroll down till you see the painting of the person near the bottom…)(If you want to see it.)

I’ll take a picture at the show, so you can see it hanging with other people looking at it. 😉

High Tide

First things first, here. I’m donating the prize to be given away at the 2 B Read blog this week. This is the blog of the published authors chapter of RWA, and I’m blogging over there on Thursday. (I’ll remind you again on Thursday. ) If you comment at the blog, you will be eligible to win the contest. So go read the blog posts, and comment!

High tide was at 7:12 a.m. today. I went out to walk on the beach at 7:50 (approximately). So the sea was very, very close to the seawall when I climbed down the stairs. I drove past the seawall parks (wide areas with benches and picnic tables and big piles of pink granite boulders extending way out into the water) to a place where I could walk more than two jetties without having to walk waist-deep in the water to get around the big piles of rocks–and the water came right up to the bottom of the stairway. I stepped of the concrete step into water.

I tried at first to walk around the rocks–because the sand did not cover those right at the base of the seawall. But the water was just too deep. Up to my knees. And I couldn’t see the sand, so I couldn’t see the places where the water had washed it away. It wasn’t safe walking there. But I could carefully work my way up right next to the seawall and walk through the maze of rocks pushing up through the sand. High tide was really high…

But after I got through the rocks and to a section of beach where the waves didn’t wash quite so close to the wall, I was able to notice all the giant rows of giant pelicans flying down the island, ten and twelve in line one behind the other, and the sanderlings and another type of sandpiper-like bird picking at the seaweed. I thought the other birds were kildeer, but I just looked up images of kildeer, and what I saw was different, so I’m going to have to go home and hit the bird book to figure out what they are. I think the birds were probably selecting little bits of the crinkly seaweed to use for nest building, but I’m not sure.

Had a busy weekend. I had hoped to stay home, but ended up not getting to. Wound up having three softball games to watch on Saturday, since the college team — well, they lost their very first game, but won the second Friday game, which meant they got/had to play Saturday morning at 11:30. They won that one, which meant they had/got to play at 2:00. Then they won that one, which meant they had to play again at 4:30… We didn’t stay for the third game. By that time, the team was so exhausted, they didn’t win again. But they had a good run in the regional championship tournament. I enjoyed watching the two games we did watch.

And somehow, even though I stayed under the awnings and shade all morning and afternoon, I somehow managed to get enough sun to burn. My face and neck turned bright red, enough to show through the makeup, which at least toned it down a little. I wasn’t in the sun! Okay, maybe 10 or 15 minutes, because it was cool enough that the sharp wind made it downright cold. And I burned in that 10 or 15 minutes. Good grief. Okay, so no more going anywhere without sunscreen. Especially at midday.

I’ve been able to get back into the writing this week. Except I had to get into my file cabinet to dig out some research. (I am pretty sure I have some more somewhere, but couldn’t find it yesterday.) Which meant I had to get down on the floor to look through that bottom file cabinet drawer. Which meant I had to get back up. Which is a huge production, given the state of my knees and the rest of myself. And since the file cabinet is behind my desk, creating the walkway between desk and closet, I brushed against the lampshade of the lamp on the desk and sent it slowly crashing over to dangle from its electrical cord in front of the desk chair. The lamp knocked over the Coke Zero I’d been drinking, which dampened the page I’d been writing on, which fluttered to the floor. The Coke dribbled across the desk and onto the floor… Big mess.

So today, I re-copied the page that got all wet, because the ink ran on it, and I revised it, and I went on with the scene…and then I couldn’t decide where to go next.

I kind of think I need to summarize a bunch of stuff here and move back to the main mystery, but I keep getting bogged down in logistics. My heroine has no girl clothes. She needs girl clothes before she can really do many of the things she needs to do. She’s rooming with the girl wizard. Do I need a scene to set up how that’s working? How would that contribute to the furthering of the story? Maybe if later the heroine stops showing up at the rooms…? Bleah. Hopefully I can figure all this out by the time I need to start working in the morning.

And I need to come up with a profound–or at least profound-ish–topic for a blog on Thursday, at 2 B Read. I want lots of comments, so I can give away a book. To YOU, perchance–

Thirty Two Years

That’s how long the fella and I have been married. I have trouble remembering the exact number from time to time, actually–that’s what age does to one, after all–and then I have to Do Math to calculate it. But that’s the number. 32.

We delayed celebrating on our actual anniversary, Thursday, and went to church band practice instead. New songs every week can be a lot to learn. Friday, there was a faculty awards banquet the fella had to go to, and of course, I dressed up and went along. Stayed after and had a giant margarita while chatting with various faculty and spouses. And then, Saturday, we made reservations at one of the best restaurants on the island. I’d been wanting to go there for a while, so at last, we did. They do seafood with a Central American flair…and yes, you know I’m going to share our menu with you.

I like calamari, at least the fried appetizer kind. I even like the ones that have all their little tentacles. I have never had calamari flavored like this, though. It was delicious, fried up like those other sorts, but dressed with sweet banana peppers and caramelized onions and red bell peppers…pretty sure they were cooked in olive oil, and then all mixed up together in a sweet/hot/crunchy/calamari-tasting deliciousness. Oh, and they also serve–like you get tostadas with salsa at a good Mexican restaurant–this place serves plaintain chips with salsa and a green sauce–I think they called it chimichurri. The salsa was milder, with other flavors than in a Mexican salsa casera. Anyway, very good.

We had what one of the other waiters described as a signature dish of the restaurant. Red snapper with a plaintain crust served with raspberry chipotle sauce and Parmesan scalloped potatoes. The plaintains weren’t sweet and only faintly banana-y. Nice and crunchy, and wonderful with the sweet-hot of the sauce. Not very hot, just … right. And then we succumbed to dessert. I had a pecan ball, which is a giant scoop of ice cream coated in pecans (I thought it would be a little smaller) drizzled with butterscotch. They didn’t…quite…have to bring out the wheelbarrow to roll us out of the restaurant. It is really a treat to live where there are so many wonderful places to eat. We still haven’t made our way through all of them…

And then we went home to watch Charlie Wilson’s War, and enjoyed lying around like overfed slugs to watch it. And that was our anniversary celebration.

Oh. And okay, let’s just confess my native dorkiness here. I dropped, dribbled and/or dripped every single course on myself, beginning with a banana pepper slice, continuing through a piece of Caesar salad dressing-coated Romaine, to a droplet of chipotle sauce and ending with a major dribble of ice cream and butterscotch, right down the front of my red blouse. Sigh. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy my food…and I really tried hard not to wear it too…but, well, somehow these things always seem to happen to me. It has become a family joke. Years and years ago. Sigh.

Beach Report: I am now a seagull voyeur. I caught a pair of seagulls Doing It, and did not look away and give them privacy. I figured if they were going to Do It right there on the public beach with a dozen other seagulls watching, they probably got off on exhibitionism.

The male was standing on top of the female, who looked rather long-suffering, squawking like a little boy doing sound-effects for a slow machine gun, sort of an ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah. In seagull voice, of course. And in perfect rhythm, every dozen ah-ahs or so, the female would give off a little high-pitched squeal while he wriggled his butt against hers. The squeal was the only thing that convinced me she wasn’t totally bored by the whole affaire.

Now I have to wonder where the seagulls nest. Probably over in the marshes on the bay side of the island. It’s sure not safe to build a nest on the beach with all the beachgoers exploring.

And now I must add seagull porn to my oeuvre. Ah well. This, I think adds either to my geekiness or my nerdyness quotient. Nerdyness, I think. Geeks tend to be monomaniacs. Nerds want to know everything about everything, and since birds are not my only fascination… Yep. I’m a nerd.

Beach Reports begin again

Not that they’ll be any better than sporadic until I get my time organized a little better. But I did get out to walk on the beach yesterday. It was in the evening, so quite a few people were out still enjoying the day. I found my new shorts I bought for my friend’s visit that I didn’t get to wear because a cold front blew in and we had to wear jackets to walk on the beach. I found my flip-flops. And I drove to the beach and Walked.

The water is WARM! YAY!!! At last. It’s not bathwater warm like it will be in September, but it’s warm enough for a pleasant swim, if the sun’s out and the wind’s not blowing too hard. I admit it. I’m a wimp when it comes to swimming water temperature. It comes from living in Texas so many years. If it’s not at LEAST 90 degrees (32+ C) air temp, I’m not going in, and 95 F (35C) is better. Either that, or the water had better be warm. I’ve been swimming in hot springs pools when the air was “brisk” and that was acceptable. But I don’t like to be cold when I’m wet. So, now that the water’s reaching the 70 F (21 C) range, and the air’s pretty consistently close to 80 F (26.6 C), I ought to be able to go out one day soon and enjoy a little wave action in the water.

The thing I like best about the Gulf coast surf is that there isn’t much of it. We just don’t get the big surfing waves that they get on the Pacific coast. Have I said this before here? I just really like the fact that the surf doesn’t beat you to death, and that it’s easy to go out past the surf, where the water is still just chest deep, and let the non-breaking waves just rock you. It’s infinitely relaxing to touch sand between the waves, then ride gently over them as they come rolling in to break (not too violently) twenty or so yards farther in toward shore. Soon. Maybe this weekend. (Though I have plans–Saltgrass Potters spring art show and sale, and maybe the garden club plant sale over in Bayou Vista.) (And getting the car washed. I did get the license plate and its holder put back on my car. Had a bit of a close encounter with a large trailer hitch in the parking lot at Fish Tales… But the beast (aka, my vehicle) is still filthy.)

About the beach–okay, the water was warm. Swimmers were out. Not much seaweed, and it was mostly the little crinkly stuff. No jellyfish yesterday. Lots of shells, and I even found half a sand dollar. First hint of a sand dollar I’ve seen in the 7 or 8 months I’ve been here. So I took it.

Today is our 32nd anniversary, and the fella was, as usual, up to par. I received a lovely arrangement of yellow roses (he knows I like other colors better than red) and some very interesting purple bud-like flower before I had to leave for the paper. (Where I am currently sloughing off by writing this blog post.) I think we’re going to celebrate Saturday with dinner out, and Charlie Wilson’s War at home. We meant to go see it in the theater, and never did make it, and I don’t think there’s anything out now that we really want to go see. I will try and remember to report back in… TRY.

Think I’m through the “going back to fix” pages in the writing, and can start forging ahead with new stuff. If only I can remember where I thought I was going from here… Hmmm. Well, I can write it, and then if I have to, fix it.

Writer’s Weekend

I had a wonderful weekend. A Writer’s Weekend.

My best friend–the one I went to New Mexico and Arizona on a research trip with a couple of years ago–came down to the island on Friday with her husband, because she didn’t want to drive through the big-city traffic by herself. My fella was out of town on business, but her guy did very well staying out of the way. 😉

I took them out to lunch at my favorite “local’s hot-spot”, and then we went downtown to see the hawk show they were having for FeatherFest. (This bird is actually a Sea Eagle, and he’s checking us out.) After the hawks and a walk around town to look in a few shops, we had ice cream at the son’s favorite ice cream parlor. (Mine, too. But I won’t let myself go there unless we have company in town.) We drove around the historical district a little bit, and then headed back to the house for a little while.

B and I (we sign our e-mails by initials only–I think I started it because I’m bone-lazy, but our little group all started doing it, since we all have names with different initials–and now we call each other by our initials) had exchanged a few pages for critique, so we went out on the back covered patio to go over our pages, and while we were out there, it rained. We were under the roof, so we didn’t get wet, but after an hour or so, it started getting cold and we went in. Had supper at Tortuga’s Mexican Restaurant and watched the wind blow the palmettos around. Then we went back home again and plotted a book for B.

She brought her sticky notes and her big foamcore plotting board and her tape recorder (which kept stopping intermittently unless she smacked it–we decided it had become masochistic…) and a spiral notebook and her AlphaSmart. I never realized just how much equipment was necessary for plotting a story. 😉 She had a huge cowboy boot box for the sticky notes, because the first time we tried plotting with sticky notes, we kept saying things like “We need more colors–we need a color for the villain, and for the hero’s internal conflict, and for the suspense subplot, and for–” So every time she sees sticky notes in the store, she checks to see if they’re a color she doesn’t have already. I think she has enough sticky notes to last the rest of her life.

By this time, we were really tired, so we went to bed. Her fella had crashed a while back–the driving stress tuckered him out.

Saturday, we got up, drove to McDonald’s for some breakfast take-out, and after we ate it, we plotted a book for me. Of course, I have more books plotted than I have time to write, and am having to take a week off working on Old Spirits to drive back to the panhandle this week and supervise the moving of the rest of the furniture, so I’m going to be writing even less (which upsets me no end), but we plotted yet another book for me. While we were plotting, her hubby went out walking down the seawall. He went into every souvenir shop along the way, and wound up walking all the way to 6th Street. Which is almost 5 miles from our street. And then he had to walk back. We’d have come to get him if he’d called, but he never did…

B and I went out and walked a couple of miles on the beach-or maybe only one. I was too busy talking and looking at all the birds to pay attention. I even saw some terns. We did walk out on one of the jetties–one with a paved walking path. It was quite chilly, or we might have gone walking earlier, but we wanted to wait for it to warm up. And we still wore out windbreakers to go walking. We weren’t really hungry, so we went back to the house and had peanut butter cheese crackers and watched movies, then went out to one of the better seafood houses on the island for supper. (Had the charcoal grilled/fried shrimp combo–very good.) The man in the house was snoring by 10 p.m., because of his 10-mile hike…

Sunday, we got up and did speed-writing drills. We wrote 10 opening sentences. Not opening sentences to anything in particular, just opening sentences. Then we switched pages, and drew numbers, and wrote scenes to go with the opening sentence that matched that number. I got one that said, “Oh, honey, with a package like that, I’ll do ya for free.” (B is a stinker, because she KNEW I would have to write from her sentences, and put that one in just so I’d have to write something beginning with that… :P) It was a lot of fun, and we laughed a lot.

After that, I had mentioned a free reception and tours of one of the big mansion museums on the island, so we went to that–looked at all the stuff on display in the basement, and went upstairs to look at the living area and take pictures on the spiffy-cool front porch and such. (This is B and her fella on one end of the porch–yes, it’s a round gazebo-y area.) Then we went to eat at a Louisiana-style seafood place downtown, and look at the stores on that end of the street. And then, alas, it was time to say goodbye.

Most of the time, there are at least three of us on our Writers’ Weekends, but our third couldn’t get away this time. But since, despite his ten-mile hike and aching legs, her husband had a good time on the island, I don’t think I’ll have a lot of trouble convincing them to come back. Maybe if my fella’s here next time, the guys can go fishing. I know mine likes to fish, and I think hers does too… We didn’t even ride the ferry or go out to the state park. And maybe our third can come next time too… Can’t wait.

Now I have to just get busy writing Old Spirits, so I can write another couple chapters of Thunder, and get a little farther toward finishing it, and then I can write Time Catch, and then I can write the third, still-nameless blood-magic universe book, and then I can write this book we just plotted. Sometime in 2010, maybe???