A Beached Tale

Today I thought I’d just show you some photos of the beach house where we stayed over the weekend, as well as share a little story.

Another view of the house…

Or do you like the black and white version better?

We weren’t as isolated as we looked in that photo; immediately outside the frame on either side was another house. But we did have more room down at the far end of the island than a lot of the rental houses further up do, and the house was just lovely; one of the nicer rentals I’ve ever stayed in, actually.


Not only was the house nice and roomy with a great view, but all the furnishings were high-quality and the kitchen was well-equipped. For the most part, Doug and I rent houses only when we can take our pets along, which means the furnishings are going to be less impressive. Doug was staying home this time, though, so my pets weren’t with me, and anyway, my parents were the ones who rented the house so it wasn’t up to me (if it had been, I would have gone for a pet-friendly place as always).

One seriously nice kitchen

I am like my parents in that I’d rather spend a lot of money on a nice place to stay when I vacation, and spend less on outings and sight-seeing while I’m there. Then I tend to hang around the nice house most of the time and venture out only on occasion. My folks are the same way. A few times we wandered down to the public beach that was right beyond our private walkway, but for the most part we hung out on the balcony or in the huge family area – the wind must have been at least 30 MPH on Saturday and was almost intolerable, so I spent a lot of my time in this room, looking at the beach through the back windows:


Speaking of the public beach, our little strip of it offered an interesting day of people-watching, as beach-sitting always does. The most memorably mind-altered beachgoer had to be the twentysomething woman who drew our attention towards sundown. My niece’s boyfriend was the first one to alert us to her presence; we had just finished eating dinner when he walked over to the windows and said “hey, what is this person doing?” That led to all the teenagers heading to the window, where various exclamations were heard, all questioning the behavior of a person who was “just hanging out” by one of the many trashcans that dotted the beach (if you look in the photo below, you can see a few of them lining the sandy roadway). Eventually my mom wandered over to the windows with her binoculars, at which point they could all be heard squealing, “Eeewww! She’s leaning over it now!” I responded by saying that she’d obviously had too much to drink and was, shall we say, relieving herself of her liquor through less than pleasant means, but  someone said no, it didn’t actually look like she was getting sick, but rather was just sticking her head in it.

Our private walkway to the beach

Well, who just sticks their head in a trashcan? Didn’t make much sense to me, so I finally got up to see what was going on. By that time, the woman had walked away from it; I could see that she was dressed normally for the beach (shorts, a swim top, a light jacket, barefoot) and was walking quite steadily towards yet another trash can; she then pulled back her longish hair with her hands, and leaned right down into it, sticking her head and shoulders all the way in. She did this for a few minutes – and in fact, did not appear to be heaving – then poked her head back up, looked around, walked around to the side of trash can, kicked it over…and then crawled into it. 

And yes, I took pictures. I know what this says about me.

By this time we were all beside ourselves. We’d run through all the possiblities, but none of them seemed to fit. She did not appear homeless at all and was very clean. Her gait gave no indication that she was altered by some substance – she walked in a straight line (when not occupied by crawling into trash cans) and would even break into a run while making her way down the beach. But every once in awhile, she’d stop and stick her head, or her whole body, into one of the cans.


At first I contended that she was mentally insane, but again, that didn’t quite fit – she just didn’t look disheveled enough, although I could totally be wrong about that. My best guess is that she was tripping on acid, which might explain why she could walk so normally from time to time but then get totally distracted by this experience of sticking herself into trash cans. I tried to take the high road at first, but admit I eventually became as amused by her as everyone else (at one point, one of my nieces snuck down to inspect a trash can she’d visited, and came back to report that it was completely empty), and we monitored her progress all the way up the beach until she took a sharp left at a private walkway a good distance away from us and disappeared.

It didn’t stop there though – since my father had his guitar out and was noodling away on it while we all tried to figure out what this woman was doing, someone got the bright idea that we should write a song about her, to commemorate her trashcan-love. As soon as my dad heard this suggestion, he immediately began playing “Annie’s Song,” by John Denver, the first line of which is “You fill up my senses…”  Which of course, completely cracked us up.

I’m sad to say that we still kept going; we actually sat down and wrote new lyrics for John Denver’s song (whom we re-named “John Dumpster” for the occasion) and then WE SANG IT. We are terrible people, I know. But since we’re already going to hell for this one, here are the lyrics for you to enjoy as well. We can all sing this together as we ride our hand-basket into the fiery pits of Hades:

You fill up my senses
Like a night in a trash can
Like the beaches in springtime
Like a walk through the dump
Like a storm in my stomach
Like a summer day’s garbage
You fill up my senses
Come trash me again

Come let me lean on you
Let me give my lunch to you
Let me roll in your lining
Let me die in your can
Let me lay down inside you
Let me always be with you
Come let me love you
Come trash me again

The last thing I’ll say about poor Trashcan Woman is this: the next day, I remembered I’d actually taken a picture of one of the cans the morning before, because I thought the saying on it was amusing – but by that time I’d forgotten what the saying was. When I pulled the photo back up and showed it to the family after all this though, it cracked us up all over again:

Oh Trashcan Woman, it all makes sense now


Beach Patrol

The benefit of hanging out with my family when on vacation is that they don’t care at all if I spend the entire time taking photos and edited them on my computer. My husband gets annoyed if I spend too much time doing that, but no one in my family cared so I got to snap and edit away. In fact, my dad is as obsessive about his hobbies as I am, so while I was editing on the computer he was trying to learn some James Taylor song on the guitar.


This was the neighbor’s beach house, actually; I took that one with my telephoto lens from our balcony as it was actually pretty far away. This was our house:


I took some quick snaps of the interior that I can edit later; it was a really beautiful house. I was deluded that it would take an hour to get there though; it was more like two hours. It was just me and my parents for a few hours, then my sister showed up with three of her four kids and their significant others. They’d had their senior prom the night before and seemed to really enjoy having a day on the beach. They wanted their pictures taken, and then after I took them they wanted to see them right away, so that’s a lot of what I have to share today.

My nephew and his girlfriend

My niece and her boyfriend – that date in the sand is the day they met. Cheesy, I know.


They dug big holes into the sand to sit in. They also dug cupholders.

I took those with my 17-40mm, but since I knew I’d want to take lots of pictures I brought along all my camera gear. I took a bunch with my macro lens, but have only had time to process one of them; it’s a good one though:


I forgot to bring my lens hoods so I started to get nervous about wandering around the beach with them because it was ridiculously windy outside. So windy, in fact, that all of the rocking chairs on the balcony were rocking without our assistance. Of course, I had to film this:

Here’s another I took with the 70-200; I liked how the bird looked like he was tilting in the wind.


I’ll finish up with this one, and tell one sad story: at one point in the afternoon, I was sitting at the dining room table which sits in front of the long row of windows overlooking the balcony and the beach; I looked up just in time to see a Beach Patrol helicopter fly by right in front of our balcony. I literally could have licked it if I’d been on the balcony – OK not really, but if I’d been outside with my telephoto lens and been able to take pictures, it would have looked like it. Sadly, I missed it, and it never came back by. Ok so here it is – it’s Sunday morning and my parents have Fox News on, so I have to hurry up and post this and get the hell out of the room, so  sorry  if this isn’t the most well-written post ever:


Waiting for Bolivar Ferry – Poem

Waiting For Bolivar Ferry

We wait our turn
on a weekend
when tourists and teens
on the peninsula
to stretch their skin
in the sun: engines off,
windows down,
radios up,
as if the beat
some inner rhythm
of parched hearts.

A sheen of boys
begins to volley
for attention, girls
in open truckbeds
cake makeup,
spray hair
already starched
with heat.

The shoreline
brings the sleaze
out of everyone,
the steam
that shimmies up
from the concrete,
the stick, the sweat,
the hidden grit
that slicks
to the surface.

We are waiting
for Bolivar Ferry.

When it docks
we’ll all pull forward
in tight metal rows
onto the boat
that will slick us
like plastic
six-pack scrap
across the sea.

Asking the Water – Poem

Asking the Water

I am sitting on the concrete steps that file down into rocks at the jetties and fade into sand. He does not know me, stands at my back, to my right, as I watch the ocean blind the sky with its own light, watch the skin of sea split open like wound, the white-edged lip of broken water lean towards land, then draw back. The shore

is incidental. Or maybe I am, or maybe it is he, standing behind me, saying: If there’s anything I can do, words that fade like something wet slipped into dryness. He knows how that sentence ends, everyone does, touches my shoulder instead, turns to walk back up salt-dusted stairs to the yellow car that brought us here, the car that will take us back,

and water whispers at my feet, tangling between rocks and shells, the tidal hush of secrets.