Cat fight outside (not ours, but you still wonder until you get up and go check), early newspaper delivery (thwack) and where am I? Oh, yeah. This is my room. In my house.
Insomnia. 4 a.m.
And I think we used up the last of the coffee at the beach. I’m askeered to go look. Ack.
We were at the beach! Staying at a beach house! For a few days, even. Isn’t that a thing of beauty? My mom and late, Dear Granny share(d? what do you say after they’re gone? It’s still her birthday, even though we can’t call her to tell her feliz cumpleanos) a birthday. Mine, as you may recall, was a week ago. It was always cool, having them together like that.
But this year is different.
Man. Is this year ever different.
When I called my mom to ask her what she wanted to do (thinking she’d say dinner out, maybe go for a hike…) she surprised me — “Take the kids to the beach!” Well, alrighty. So she rented us a beach house, and we covered the driving, groceries and meals out. It was so rawesome, as my son would say. Rawesome. We haven’t rented a beach house since I was a kid. (Pixie Kitchen, Pixieland, hours on the front porch reading, digging an entrenchment and castles in the sand, walking on the beach forever… fun.) (More pix of Pixieland? Okay, here you go. I’ve linked these before, I love ‘em.)
I was convinced that the Dorchester House was the old Pixie Kitchen, until my mom reminded me that it burned down. Denial, denial. It is a beautiful place to go in your head. (I had completely forgotten that it burned down. I’ve also forgotten which motels and hotels we’ve stayed at, our favorites, the best routes to the beach, once you’re there. Our house was great, but the staircase to get beach access was not. Concrete, carved into the hillside, 132 steps from here to there.) And being the Oregon coast, and not say, Carlsbad, California, it was blustery, cold and gray. Fleeces, hats that won’t stay on, long pants…
“Perfect weather!” says Hockey God.
We didn’t do any of the touristy stuff (including, but not limited to: Depoe Bay and the Sea Hag (we did go to Mo’s twice, yay, Mo’s), Newport and the coast aquarium — Wacky Boy is fond of the Oddwater exhibit — Devil’s Punchbowl, agate beach, the outlet stores, the freakin’ casinos… so many options, so little enthusiasm for driving). Steve and I did take a walk one morning and went for coffee. The girl was confused by his double espresso order and wanted to put chocolate or ice in it.
We visited Connie Hansen’s garden, which was, as always, delectable and perfect. They built sand castles and entrenchments, I watched until I got too cold. The news about the tides was right — they have been way out and the tidepools were extraordinary. Steve took some cool photos and I’m hoping he’ll post some. We watched movies, ate like pigs, read, did a puzzle, played games — it was a great weekend.
I read Joyce Carol Oates’s “We Were the Mulvaneys” cover to cover like a madwoman — could not put it down, stayed up late, got up early to finish it. It is her masterpiece. She just got out of the way and let Judd tell his story. Oates, the writer, who is such a strong presence in her own work that you can almost hear her voice sometimes, moved out of the way. It was Judd’s story, and Marianne’s, and Patrick’s. And there was Corinne and her husband, Michael Mulvaney, and their eldest, Michael Jr., who, in that frustrating way of older brothers, was elusive, bigger than life, then just almost there — then gone.
Oates is reliably good, spooky, deep, Gothic, emotional and detached all at once. Her writing means a lot to me, as a writer and as a woman. “Black Water” for instance was so good — years later it is still tucked away in my mind. (This is why I can’t remember our phone number, the password for the voicemail, which buildings have burned and which haven’t — it’s all those books tucked away, taking up space.) Intense book.
Gotta work out, catch y’all later.
Hope everyone had a good Fourth (if you’re in the States and like to blow things up). We loved being away from the fireworks and howling dogs.