Thursday, July 19, 2007

Summertime Diversions

Larry noticed that I was climbing the walls with boredom and consented to take time off from work to take us all to the beach for the day. It's proof that I was bored out of my skull that I agreed to sit in the car for 3 and a half hours so that we could lug half our worldly possessions (or so it seemed) from the state beach parking lot to the one empty place on the sand and broil ourselves in the sun all day. Oh, and then drive all the way home that same evening. Anyway, it seemed like a good idea when he suggested it; and once we got to the hot, sunny beach and the children were cavorting in the waves and digging in the sand, both Larry and I felt repaid for our efforts. Until I couldn't see. I thought that my glasses were fogging up, so I took them off; but everything looked misty and weird still, and I was just deciding that I was suffering from some form of rapid-onset glaucoma when I noticed (with some relief) that the lifeguard was blowing his whistle and waving for everyone to come back to shore (not that anyone could see him that well). So there we were, sitting in the middle of a cloud and listening to the ocean and gazing at the first line of breakers (because that was all we could see) and trying to convince the kids that they should just enjoy playing in the sand, which is normally fun, but it isn't as much fun when it feels as though you are sitting in a small gray box. We decided to wait out the inclement weather (which Larry posited was brought on by global warming), since we weren't exactly going to pile back into the car at that point; and after an hour or so of waiting (with some moderate episodes of whining) and after eating some extremely expensive french fries, we decided to amuse the children by taking them for a walk down the beach. So we all stumbled down to the shoreline (I should have tied us together with ropes, for safety) and felt our way down the beach aways and half-heartedly played Frisbee as if it were bright and sunny out. It was pathetic. Then we felt our way back to our umbrella and blankets, with Larry and I saying to each other the entire way, "I think it's lifting" and "Say, isn't that a second line of breakers out there?" By 3:30 or so, the fog rolled back enough for the lifeguards to allow us back into the water and then the sun did come out and even Susie rebounded from her lack-of-nap slump and ran around giggling at the edge of the sea. Of course, the lifeguards all went home shortly afterwards, leaving us (literally) high and dry again. So we decided to call it quits and head home ourselves. A little disappointing, but I would like to think that the kids learned a valuable lesson: even a day at the beach isn't always....a day at the beach.

We only had to take one van, as Theo is away, so our whole day (including the french fries) cost a mere 65 dollars, which came to less than one dollar per person per hour. I think that is pretty cost-effective, don't you? I'm trying to watch our spending, which isn't hard to do, because there isn't much of it to keep an eye on anymore. That's what happens when you decide to increase your mortgage by 50 percent, you know? And I can't help wondering whether the sacrifice is worth it, just to live in a house where I still don't know where everything is and where all of Larry's free time and disposable income for the next, oh, 10 years is going to be spent fixing it up. Owning a home isn't all it's cracked up to be. I find myself fantasizing about renting a nice little 2-bedroom condo with a maintenance team on call. No, I don't know where I would put the kids. That's irrelevant. Sometimes you just have to look out for Number One.

Today was typical end-of-summer exciting (we start our summer vacation early, so we're near the end now - at least, it feels that way). We are sort of pooled-out, if you know what I mean; so we sat around and did a Hershey's Cocoa jigsaw puzzle (which made me hungry, of course) and then we went out and got our free ice-cream cones at McDonald's. They're free because nowadays all the public library systems bribe children to read books over the summer. Our local system hands out coupon books if the children read (or are read to) a mere 15 titles. So far we've gotten free Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas and the aforementioned ice cream cones. We're looking forward to our free boxes of real-fruit popsicles from Whole Foods, small pizzas from Jerry's Subs and Pizza (actually, I'm sort of dreading that one - the lady who runs the shop gets rather hostile when she finds out that you are actually going to eat your food at one of her tables), and free yogurt from the local grocery store. Cool! We also have to remember to collect our free books from Barnes and Noble (you only have to read 8 books for that one); I have to fill out a separate form, however. The paperwork involved with these freebies can be a little overwhelming at times. Oh, well, all in a day's work....

We're updating our car to the digital age by having a radio with CD player installed (my birthday present - thanks, Dad!). For no apparent reason, Honda was still putting tape decks in their lower end models back in 2004. Well, come to think of it, there was a reason - so they could try charging us 600 dollars to upgrade to a CD player. Or else to convince us to upgrade to the EX model that had the CD player included (which would have been a few extra thousand dollars, in which case that should have been one heck of an audio system). But we couldn't afford either option, so we've been driving around sticking cassette tapes into our radio, just like I'm sure those pioneers did in their covered wagons. Just try explaining the concept of a cassette tape to kids these days. Turn it over? Huh? Rewind? Auto reverse? How retro can you get?

And just to prove that I am not a complete sound system ignoramus, I'll let you know that I made sure that Best Buy is installing the cable that will make our new car stereo IPod compatible. Not that we own an IPod. But it's best to be another 3 years, who knows? Compact discs may be on their way out.

Anyone need some old cassette tapes?

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