8/08/2010

A Thousand Words: Passing Storm


40 Fun Things to Do on a Hot Summer Day


Image result for hot summer day


It's a hot, sticky summer day - way too hot to think.  Why even try?  The thinking has all been done for you, so peruse the following options, pick one that appeals, and "chillax" - relief is a list away!
  1. Go to an over-airconditioned theater and watch the same movie three times in a row.
  2. Buy a kiddie wading pool, fill it with water, put on the Beach Boys, and have a pool party.
  3. Start a water balloon (or water gun) fight.
  4. See if your car's hood really does get hot enough to fry an egg.
  5. Practice your goofiest dives at the local swimming pool.
  6. Hunt down an ice cream truck - pursue one by car if necessary.
  7. Buy slurpees and deliberately give yourself brain-freeze.
  8. Run through a hose (or sprinkler) - either your own, or stalk a landscaping crew.
  9. Jump in a pond, lake, ocean, or any other naturally occuring body of water.
  10. Visit the local fire station and offer to field check their hoses for free.
  11. Wade in a stream or along the edge of a river.
  12. Go to a water park.
  13. Hang out in the frozen foods section of a grocery store.
  14. Make fruit-cicles by freezing fruit juice in ice cube trays.
  15. Make homemade ice cream.
  16. Sell lemonade or iced team to people who are as wretchedly hot as yourself. Make enough money to fly to Alaska.
  17. Play "Beau Geste" with your friends, pretending you are lost and dying in the desert.  Take turns sacrificing your lives for each other.
  18. Put on a tape of the ocean, sit back in a lounge chair, and pretend you're at the beach or on a cruise. To heighten the realism, manipulate a member of your family into bringing you chilled drinks on a tray.
  19. Put your teeshirt in the freezer before putting it on.
  20. Shove ice down the back of someone's shirt.  Hope that they will return the favor.
  21. Fill your birdbaths to the brim - if you're hot, imagine how it must feel to have feathers.
  22. Give your pet a bath - you're going to get wet anyway, so why not do it on a hot day?
  23. Fetch that snowball you froze last winter out of the freezer, top with chocolate syrup, and eat.
  24. Crunch on ice chips.
  25. Find an electric fan and point it directly at your face.
  26. Continually agitate your wind chimes so that it sounds like a windy day.
  27. Think about that dud of a boyfriend/girlfriend you almost married; sure to give you chills.
  28. Go fishing. Try to fall in the water as often as possible.
  29. Go paddleboating, canoeing, innertubing, or rafting in a convenient body of water.
  30. Read a Jack London book - you'll be grateful to be somewhere warm when you're done.
  31. Sit in your car for five minutes, then climb out: guaranteed to make the outside air temperature feel positively temperate!
  32. Frolick in a public fountain.
  33. Find an excuse to hang out at the (air conditioned) public library for a while.
  34. Freeze your food before eating it.  (Tip: Works well with fruit, sandwiches and cookies, not so well for mac and cheese.)
  35. Stand in front of the refrigerator with your forehead pressed against the door.
  36. Do a rain dance.
  37. Three words: root. beer. float.
  38. Sit under a shady tree and read a good book.
  39. Ride your bike downhill to generate a breeze. 
  40. Get in the car, turn on the air conditioning, and drive north.

8/06/2010

Books About the Sea


What could be more appropriate to read at the seashore than books about the sea?  Here are some suggestions:
  1. Adventure at sea- fiction.  Of course the grandaddy of all ocean adventures is The Odyssey (Homer), though Moby Dick (Herman Melville) comes in a close second.  Other epic sea adventures include Sea Wolf (Jack London), Captains Courageous (Rudyard Kipling), To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding), The Bounty Trilogy (Charles Nordhoff/James Norman Hall), The Caine Mutiny (Herman Wouk), Lord Jim (Joseph Conrad), and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Edgar Allan Poe).  In the mood for something more contemporary?  Try American Sea Writings: A Literary Anthology (Peter Neill, ed.) ... or you can't go wrong with anything by Clive Cussler, whose dashing hero, Dirk Pitt, is the Indiana Jones of Underwater archaeology.
  2. Adventure at sea- fact.  In this case, fact is often more riveting than fiction.  The following all tell tales of real-life ocean voyages, complete with storms, cannibals, despotic captains, pirates, and more: Kon-Tiki (Thor Heyerdahl), Two Years Before the Mast (Richard Henry Dana), The Journals of Captain Cook (James Cook), Percival Keene (Frederick Marryat), Sailing Alone Around the World (Joshua Slocum), Before the Wind: The Memoir of an American Sea Captain, 1808-1833 (Charles Tyng), Over the Edge of the World (Laurence Burgreen), and The Saga of the Cimba (Richard Maury). 
  3. Stories about people marooned on islands.  You might want to read these in case a big storm comes along, sucks you out to sea, and eventually deposits you on a deserted island.  Improbable, perhaps, but if this should happen to you, wouldn't you be glad you just finished reading Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe), Swiss Family Robinson (Johann Davis Wyss), The Coral Island (R.M Ballantyne), The Mysterious Island (Jules Verne), The Tempest (Shakespeare), The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) or Lord of the Flies (William Golding)? 
  4. Naval warfare - fiction.  No one writes naval fiction like Patrick O'Brian in his Aubrey-Maturin series, though C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series comes in a close second. Other fan favorites include Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho series, Julian Stockwin's Thomas Kydd series, Dewey Lambdin's Alan Lewrie series, C. Northcote Parkinson's Richard Delancey series, James Nelson's Revolution at Sea series, Richard Woodman's Nathaniel Drinkwater series, Edwin Thomas's Martin Jerrold series, Peter Smalley's HMS Expedient series, and Dudley Pope's Lord Ramage series.  Or try Under Enemy Colors (Thomas Russell) - a great read without the necessity of investing in a series.
  5. Naval warfare - fact.  These books are the next best thing to shipping out with Nelson or John Paul Jones!  Try The Cruel Sea (Nicholas Monsarrat), The Safe Guard of the Sea or The Command of the Ocean (N. A. M. Rodger), The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783 (Alfred Thayer Mahan), or Delilah: A Novel about a U.S. Navy Destroyer and the Epic Struggles of Her Crew (Marcus Goodrich).
  6. Books about submarines.  Guess it's only fair to include books about adventures under the sea, especially since life in a submarine is inherently chilling, even before you throw in sea monsters, depth charges and nuclear reactor accidents.  I respectfully recommend: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne), Run Silent, Run Deep (Edward L. Beach), Das Boot (Lothar-G√ľnther Buchheim), or Hunt for Red October (Tom Clancy).
  7. Stories about doomed ocean voyages.  There's no better time to read about doomed ocean voyages than when you're safely ashore!  Try one of these tales of ferocity, heroism, and despair:  The Perfect Storm (Sebastian Junger), A Night to Remember (Walter Lord), In Hazard (Richard Hughes), Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea (Gary Kinder), In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Nathaniel Philbrick), Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (Alfred Lansing), Fastnet, Force 10:The Deadliest Storm in the History of Modern Sailing (John Rousmaniere), or The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway). 
  8. Stories about Being Adrift.  Speaking of chilling, imagine being adrift on the ocean for days, weeks, months.  Or don't imagine it - read about it in one of these tales of survival (some fiction, some fact) on the open sea: Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea (Stephen Callahan), Life of Pi (Yann Martel), The Open Boat (Stephen Crane), or Mutiny on the Bounty (William Bligh).
  9. Stories about pirates - fiction.  Your first choice has to be Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson).  Beyond that, you are sure to enjoy The Red Rover (James Fennimore Cooper), Captain Singleton, Colonel Jacques, The Pirate Gow or King of the Pirates (Daniel Defoe), Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk or The Black Swan (Rafael Sabatini), Adam Penfeather Buccaneer, Black Bartlemy's Treasure, Martin Conisby's Vengeance, or Winds of Fortune (Jeffrey Farnol), Tigers of Malaysia series, Black Corsairs series, or Pirates of Bermuda Series (Emilio Salgari), Frenchman's Creek (Daphne du Maurier), The Pirate (Sir Walter Scott), Tales of Pirates and Blue Water (Arthur Conan Doyle), Birds of Prey (Wilbur Smith), On Stranger Tides (Tim Powers), Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie), or Cup of Gold (John Steinbeck).
  10. Stories about pirates - fact.  Who needs fiction when you can enjoy the real thing?  Books about real pirates and their adventures include Under the Black Flag (David Cordingly), A General History of Pyrates (Daniel Defoe), A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (Captain Charles Johnson), Sir Francis Drake: The Queen's Pirate (Harry Kelsey), History of the Buccaneers of America (James Burney), The Pirate Hunters (Richard Zachs), Pirates: Predators of the Sea (Angus Konstam), Real Pirates: The Untold Story of Whydah (National Geographic), Fast Ships, Black Sails (Naomi Novik), A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: The Life of William Dampier (Diana Preston), Jolly Roger (Patrick Pringle), and The Pirates Own Book: Authentic Narratives (Charlles Elms).
  11. Stories about monsters of the sea - For those that prefer to encounter sea monsters in print rather than in life, you may enjoy the following tales of man vs. a variety of sea beasts: Jaws or Beast (Peter Benchley), Moby Dick (Herman Melville), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne), The Foghorn (Ray Bradbury), Sea Monsters: Prehistoric Creatures of the Deep (Michael J. Everhart), Chased By Sea Monsters (Nigel Marven), Monsters of the Sea (Richard Ellis), or the most recent addition to the canon, Sense & Sensibility and Sea Monsters (Jane Austen and Ben Winters).
  12. Funny stories about the sea.  In case you prefer your entertainment a little lighter and a lot funnier, these books deliver seafaring adventure with a dose of laughter: The Pyrates: A Swashbuckling Comic Novel (George MacDonald Fraser), Doctor Dogbody's Leg (James Norman Hall), Mr. Roberts (Thomas Heggen), The Adventures of Roderick Random (Tobias Smollet), The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (Christopher Moore), The Princess Bride (William Goldman), and Mr. Midshipman Easy or Peter Simple (Frederick Maryatt). 
  13. Fiction set on the sea.  There are probably thousands of books set in beach towns, the vast majority of them chick lit or romances, some more trashy than others.  I leave you to find those on your own.  Some more literary options include Ship of Fools (Katherine Anne Porter), The Emperor of Ocean Park (Stephen L. Carter),  South Beach: The Novel (Brian Antoni), On Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan), and Beach Music (Pat Conroy).
  14. Children's books about the sea.  Tons of books written for children/teens about the ocean, sea creatures, and the beach.  Here's a very short list of some of my favorites, generally organized by age (youngest to oldest):  Mr. Seahorse (Eric Carle), Rainbow Fish (Marcus Pfister Herbert), Little Mermaid (unknown), Call It Courage (Armstrong Sperry), The Sign of the Seahorse: A Tale of Greed and High Adventure in Two Acts (Graeme Base), Carry on Mr. Bodwitch (Jean Lee Latham), Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell), Nim's Island (Wendy Orr), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi), and The Water Horse (Dick King-Smith).

8/04/2010

Events for Beach Olympics

Every year our family - all three generations - hit the beach for a week of relaxation and togetherness.  One favorite activity is Beach Olympics, a series of events that changes from year to year.  We do a few events each day, keep track of points, and award prizes at the end of the week, but sure this could be done other ways.  For most activities we pair really young kids with older kid/adult to keep the teams fair.  Here are some of the events we have attempted over the years - feel free to use these or make up your own!
  1. Tallest sandcastle contest
  2. Human pyramid contest (prizes for highest pyramid, pyramid that lasts longest)
  3. Most creative sandcastle contest (we have had haunted castles, princess castles, wild west castles ...)
  4. Relay races (each team member carries scoop of sand to bucket, dumps it, then returns; winner is team that fills bucket first)
  5. Crab races (carve circle in dirt, put crabs in middle; first crab to leave the rink wins)
  6. Boat races (dig channels in the sand, close enough to ocean to fill with water; use breath to waterguns to propel boats forward)
  7. Sea doggie contest (contestants stand with back to waves; last one standing wins)
  8. Beachball contest (which team can keep their beachball continuously in air for longest time)
  9. Frisbee throwing contest (prizes for length, accuracy)
  10. Deepest pit contest
  11. Buried alive contest (who can completely bury thier teammate under sand the fastest)
  12. Raft raiding contest (played in ocean; which team can take the other team's raft by force or stealth)
  13. Raft riding contest (which team can get cram most team members on a raft without falling/sinking)
  14. Worst sunburn contest
  15. Long jump contest
  16. Limbo contest
  17. tug-of-war contest
  18. Surfing contest (person able to stand on surfboard/boogieboard longest wins)
  19. Sea creature sand sculpting contest
  20. Loudest snoring contest
  21. Dodgeball contest (using beachball)
  22. Precision water gun shooting (most fun if you use cold water and a human target)
  23. Beach scavenger hunt (who finds most items in assigned time; or who finds all items first)
  24. Wheelbarrow races (funny because if you drop your partner, they land face-first in the sand!)
  25. Funniest "hot sand!" dance

8/02/2010

50+ Things to Daydream About at the Beach

Laying out on the beach lends itself to quality daydreaming - the sun forces your eyes to close, the heat compells your mind to wander.  Following is a list of ideas meant to inspire your imagination and coax your mind into wandering ...
  1. If you could live in any state in the U.S., which state would you choose, and why?
  2. If you could live in any country in the world, what country would you choose, and why?
  3. If you had unlimited resources, what kind of house would you live in?  What rooms would it have? What amenities? 
  4. If you had the opportunity to visit the moon, would you go? Why or why not?
  5. Create a mental list of the 10 places in the world that you would most like to visit.
  6. Create a bucket list - the things that you would like to accomplish before you die
  7. If you could be the world's expert in any topic, what topic would you like to be an expert in? Why?
  8. What did you want to be when you grew up? Have you changed your mind since then?
  9. If you had unlimited resources (intelligence, training, physical attributes, etc.), what career would you choosenow,  and why?
  10. If money, time, etc. were no object, what 3 hobbies would you most like to cultivate?
  11. If you were to hold any record in the Guiness Book of World Records, what record would you hold?
  12. Imagine that your bio were to appear in "Who's Who in the World." How would your real bio read? How would your "fantasy" bio read?
  13. What are three things about you that most people don't know?
  14. What's the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
  15. If you could take the place of any character in a book or movie, what character would it be, and why?
  16. If you were a movie director and could turn any book into a movie, what book would you choose to direct?
  17. Think of a favorite movie and change the ending. Is your version better or worse than the original?
  18. If you were an author, what type of books would you write? What would be the plot of your first novel?
  19. If you had a love potion, whose drink would you pour it into?
  20. What is your idea of a perfect date? Where would you go? What would you do? What would happen?
  21. If you could give yourself permission to sleep with any five celebrtities, which five celebrities would you choose?
  22. If you could redo any single decision that you've made in your life, what decision would you change? How would your life be different as a result?
  23. How will you be remembered when you pass? Is this how you want to be remembered? If not, what kind of things could you do to change the way you will be remembered?
  24. If you could be president for one month, what would be your top 5 priorities for the country?
  25. If you could live the life of any artist, politician or celebrity for a day, who's life would you choose to live? What would you do that day?
  26. If anyone in the world alive today could be your penpal, who would you choose?
  27. If you could be a teacher (elementary, secondary, graduate, post-graduate), what topic would you choose to teach, and why?
  28. If you could be a contestant on any reality show (cooking, singing, dancing, designing, social, etc.), what reality show would it be and why?
  29. If you could be a world famous athlete in one sport, what sport would you choose? Imagine your dream career, from beginning to conclusion.
  30. If you could go back in time and spend a day with any character from history, who would you choose, and why?
  31. If you could go back in time and live your live in any historic era, which era would you choose and why?
  32. What are some ways in which the world will be different 50 years from now?  (Think science/technology, economy, politics, culture, music/arts)
  33. If you were given 3 wishes (and none of them could be to wish for more wishes, or for money/wealth), what would you wish for?
  34. If you have ten million dollars but you could ONLY spend it on charities, what charities would you support, and why?
  35. What are your 10 favorite movies? Why? (you can also do this with TV shows, books, restaurants, foods, songs, etc.)
  36. If you could keep any breed of dog as a pet, what breed would you choose? (Repeat for type of car)
  37. What's your favorite holiday and why?
  38. If you could afford season tickets to any ONE sports team, what team would you choose?
  39. If you could attend any ONE music concert, which artist would you choose?Invent a recipe utilizing your favorite ingredients
  40. If you could watch a marathon of any movie actor's movies, what movie actor would you choose? What movies would you include in your marathon?
  41. Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
  42. If the world was going to end and you had to plan your last meal, what would you eat?
  43. If you could invent a new flavor of ice cream, what would it be?
  44. If you could create and market an invention, what would it be?
  45. If you could invent an app for the iphone or computer, what app would you invent?
  46. What type of weather is your favorite? Why?
  47. If you were accidentally locked in a store all night, what kind of store would you like to be trapped in?
  48. If a disaster were about to overtake your house, and you could only save 10 things (omitting family members and pets), what 10 things would you save?
  49. If you were a muppet character, which muppet would you be?
  50. If you could be a superhero, what superpower(s) would you want to possess?
All this daydreaming about daydreaming is making me long for the beach ...!

8/01/2010

50+ Fun Things to Do on the Beach


For decades now, every summer my husband's extended family has rented a big house on the beach for a week of relaxation, food and fun.   The following list contains a couple of hundred ideas of ways to have fun on the shore, most of them extensively beta-tested by us!

DURING THE DAY
  1. Swim, float, body surf, dive under waves
  2. Go snorkeling, scuba diving
  3. Play wipe-out (turn your back to the waves and deal with what comes)
  4. Surf the waves on an innertube, raft, boogie board, surfboard, wakeboard
  5. Go kayaking, canoeing, waveriding, sailing, parasailing, waterskiing, jetskiing
  6. Play a beach-friendly sport: volleyball, racquetball, horseshoes, frisbee, dodgeball, tag, tug-of-war or football
  7. Have a sandcastle building contest
  8. Have a sand sculpting contest
  9. Host beach olympics (see separate blog entry for a list of suggested events)
  10. Have a watergun fight
  11. Enjoy music (listen to radio, iPod, sing, or bring an instrument and create your own)
  12. Dance
  13. Play chess, checkers
  14. Collect shells, polished stones, seaglass, driftwood, sand dollars
  15. Crab racing
  16. Hang out in a comfy chair: read, sleep, sunbathe, catch up on phone calls, drink something fruity
  17. Daydream (see separate blog entry for list of suitable daydreaming topics)
  18. Put your chair in the surf and dangle your legs in the surf
  19. Write words in the sand large enough to show up on Google Earth
  20. Carve a maze in the sand
  21. Bury people
  22. Dig a pit big enough to float in
  23. Use a metal detector to hunt for buried treasure
  24. Feed the seagulls
  25. Go fishing, crabbing, clamming
  26. Search for tidal pools
  27. Search for sea creatures: dolphins, whales, seals, puffins, turtles, mermaids
  28. Fly a kite
  29. Stroll/hike/jog along the shoreline
  30. Reenact the D-Day landing
  31. Watch the sunrise/sunset
  32. Have a picnic
  33. Talk about your favorite episodes from Shark Week
  34. Create art: paint, sketch, take photos, compose music, write in a journal, compose poetry
  35. Go topless
  36. Leave something funny on your chest, fall asleep, and wake up with a goofy sunburn
  37. Identify shapes in the clouds
  38. Practice your life-saving skills
  39. Blow bubbles
  40. Meet someone new
  41. Take photos of the family (serious or goofy - for example, posed as bathing beauties or muscle men)
  42. Exercise (jog, do yoga, gymnastics, calathenics)
  43. Walk a dog
  44. Reenact your favorite beach/ocean/island movie: Beach Blanket Bingo, Little Mermaid, South Pacific, Robinson Crusoe, The Odyssey, Jaws, Blue Lagoon, Apocalypse Now, Lord of the Flies (just kidding about the last few ...)
  45. Swim/walk in the rain
  46. Read stories/poetry about the sea (see separate blog entry for an appropriate selection)
  47. Identify plants, shells, or wildlife (birdwatching, identify animal footprints in the sand)
  48. Play Pictionary in the sand (your team has to guess what you're drawing before an incoming wave erases your picture)
  49. People-watch (cutest kid, best body, worst body, best tan, worst sunburn, ugliest hawaiian shirt, etc.)
  50. Seal a message in a bottle and send it out to sea
  51. Give yourself a beach spa treatment (exfoliate using wet sand, have someone lay warm stones on your back)
  52. Wave at passing boats, airplanes
  53. Have a beach party (music, food, , goofy games, dancing)
  54. Ride dunebuggies, horses, motorcycles on the sand
  55. For the ladies: don a guazy dress and stand in the wind
  56. Pick up trash, litter
  57. Pretend to be a pirate: tie a kerchief around your head, bury treasure, make a map, talk like a pirate, drink grog, force people to walk the plank
AT NIGHT:
  1. Enjoy fireworks (watch others or set off your own)
  2. Hunt for crabs
  3. Light a fire and have a cookout/clambake
  4. Tell spooky ghost stories about pirates
  5. Attire yourself in glowsticks and go for a walk
  6. Watch lightening (from a safe vantage point, of course!)
  7. Watch the stars/moon using a telescope
  8. Watch for shooting stars, UFOs
  9. Walk hand-in-hand with a loved one
  10. Look for glowing seaweed, seacreatures
  11. Recreate the beach scene from From Here to Eternity
  12. Dance to the music of the waves
  13. Swim nekked