Tag Archives: vacation

TGIW: A day at the beach

by Libby Sternberg

Summer’s end is now in the rearview mirror. And an end-of-summer ritual for us has become a beach excursion. We travel to Delaware’s Bethany Beach, a small resort community near the Maryland line, in September after the crowds leave and when the rates drop. We know we’re taking a chance on weather, but you do that every time you book a beach vacation, no?

Me at the beach. Not.

Me at the beach. Not.

When I was a young’un, living in Baltimore, Ocean City, Maryland was the place to go. “Danny Ocean” was not a name, it was Balmerese for where you went for vacation.¬† The summer after I graduated from high school, friends and I rented an apartment in Ocean City for a week in June. What fun! Later, my husband and I stayed at reasonable (okay, cheap) hotels to grab some sun and sand. Even though we live in Pennsylvania now, I still really enjoy seeing Ocean City’s “Rodney” television commercials, where a lifeguard rescues people from summer boredom by taking them Danny Ocean:

One year, however, a friend recommended staying in a townhouse at Bethany, rented out by a friend of hers. We took a chance and had a delightful time. The townhouse was a long walk or a short drive to the beach itself, and it was surrounded by trees, had a nice kitchen and living space, and a deck. Its community had a swimming pool and tennis court.

When we moved to Vermont, it was hard to get to the beach, even to closer Cape Cod. Something always seemed to get in the way. But one year we managed to cram in a vacation with two of our three kids (the other was doing an internship) at the same Bethany townhouse.

Now, all the kids are grown, out of the house, on their own. You know what that means–we are no longer tethered to school schedules! So, we could go “danny ocean”…in September. September when it’s still warm, when the water itself is warmer, when everyone else has gone home. Bliss!

Instead of heading back to the townhouse, we chose another resort community called Sea Colony. For those on the East Coast near the Delaware beaches, I recommend it. It offers either oceanfront high-rises or inland “tennis community” condos across the coastal highway. We choose the latter. I don’t play tennis, but my husband does. Besides, those condos are situated on lovely little ponds, with pleasant decks that beckon you at twilight, glass of wine in hand. They also feature a heated outdoor pool where this non-ocean-swimmer can joyfully paddle in the mornings.

The community is so quiet at this time of year that when we do see others out and about, we think: Don’t they know this is our time? ūüôā

We’ve made two discoveries while there I’d like to share with other Bethany beachgoers: McCabe’s Gourmet Market and Catch 54 Restaurant.

McCabes is a little south of Bethany proper on the Coastal Highway, a small market crammed with essentials and delicacies–pastries that could compete with those from any French patisserie, specialty foods, coffees and…frozen prepared dishes. If you’re feeding a condo full of friends or family, try their frozen lasagna.

Catch 54 is a restaurant in nearby Fenwick Island, on the bay side (Assawoman Bay — I’m not making that up). The owners pride themselves on using as much local bounty as they can. The food tasted fresh and flavorful, portions were perfect (not oversized), service spot-on, and the view from the deck–outstanding.¬† Be warned–don’t bother putting the address in your GPS. Ours led us astray. The eatery is on Route 54, across from Harpoon Hannah’s, another bayside restaurant.

The deck of Catch54 restaurant.

The deck of Catch54 restaurant.

The past few years we’ve gone to Bethany Beach, we’ve been very fortunate with wonderful weather–sunny days, temperatures either hot or warm. Yet every visit, when we leave, the weather seems to change. This year, temps dropped the day before we exited, as if to say, summer’s over, you can go home now.

What a wonderful way to cap off a lovely season! Time to start planning for next year.

Libby Sternberg is a novelist. Buy her books so she can afford to go to the beach next year, too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dirt blindness, its symptoms and cures

by Libby Sternberg

When I was a child, my mother would put my sister and me to work scrubbing down the kitchen walls during spring cleaning. We used buckets of soapy water which I imagine contained some grease-cutting detergent. I remember it smelled….clean.¬† But heck if I recall the actual dirt and grease on the walls. For all I could see, we were just wiping spotless surfaces.

I'm told this is a dust bunny. I see nothing.

I’m told this is a dust bunny. I see nothing.

This, I now realize, was the first symptom of a syndrome I have borne all my life: Dirt Blindness. (Immundus Caecitate is the medical term.) After years of therapy, I have come to accept my affliction. Symptoms of Dirt Blindness include some or all of the following:

  • the inability to see dust in corners, tabletops and especially on lamp shades
  • the inability to see grease buildup on any kitchen surface except when the angle of light is just right
  • microwave amnesia: immediately forgetting the way the inside of the microwave looks once you’ve shut its door
  • regularly mistaking cobwebs on walls¬†for sun-dappled shadowscapes
  • viewing stacks of papers, magazines, junk mail, and old store receipts as a charming still life¬†about which you¬†occasionally fantasize spray-painting neon pink and submitting to an art contest
  • thinking there’s something wrong with your computer keyboard when crumbs make one or more letters hard to click
  • shaking your computer mouse and screaming “Oh, the humanity” rather than opening it to empty debris (what debris?)

Dirt blindness has no lasting cure. But it is possible to trigger remissions. Here are some techniques I’ve found useful:

  • Go on vacation. Coming home after several days away allows the Dirt Blindness to lift for fleeting moments as you see your house afresh.¬† Be warned: The moments of remission might leave you shocked and in need of emotional support. Or a martini. Yes, a martini is better than emotional support. Sometimes two. ¬†(Note: To be truly effective, long and luxurious vacations are the best. )
  • Have company. Dirt blindness seems to recede in the fifteen minutes before any company arrives on your doorstep. This strategy has the added benefit of giving you a high-power workout as you scurry to get rid of the dirt you can finally, finally see in that short window of time.
  • Change your light bulbs: Amazingly, a higher watt bulb can sometimes illuminate dirt for brief periods (up to five minutes if you’re lucky). Please note, however, that this is temporary and curiously only works in the area immediately near the light.
  • Hire a maid. Technically, this doesn’t get rid of your Dirt Blindness, but it does make life easier for the rest of your family, so they don’t have to suffer with you. And, strangely enough, while Dirt Blindness makes it impossible for you to see unclean surfaces, you are able to appreciate, in all its splendor, a sparkling clean house.

I’ve learned to cope with my Dirt Blindness over the years, mostly through acceptance of this sad affliction. I hope my ideas help others who’ve been cursed with this syndrome. Please, feel free to share your own strategies for dealing with this problem, if you are a fellow sufferer.

Libby Sternberg is a novelist. In lieu of contributions to the Dirt Blindness Association, please buy her books. That temporarily lifts her Dirt Blindness Ennui, a secondary syndrome caused by the primary disorder.  Check back this Wednesday for the TGIW post on television ads to love and loathe.

Leave a comment

Filed under cleaning, Uncategorized