My aunt and my cousin.
My cousin, Jenny, who happens to be a truly *amazing* and talented artist. She had painted Samantha's portrait a few times in the past (see here and here), and has won a prestigious award for one of her paintings of her!
Now something that absolutely baffles me is the beach tag system there. I'd heard someone say they thought that New Jersey is the only state that still institutes the use of beach tags, and someone else said they thought that that particular beach is the only one left that still uses the tags. I haven't yet looked it up to confirm. But how it works is that each season you can purchase tags, with pins, that are good for the season, or you can buy a shorter length tag that's good for a day or two. These tags are what allow you to have access to the beach during the bulk of the daylight hours. There are people stationed at the walkway entrances to the beach who inspect you for a valid tag, and if you don't have one, they can sell you one on the spot. Then there are other people who patrol the beach to make sure each and every person over the age of 12 is displaying their tag. Never mind that the pin leaves ragged holes in your swimsuit or cover up...
On Tuesday morning, amid the clouds, and the wind, and the raging sea, with the beach all but empty of any sign of human life, we left our tags in the condo and went for a walk. And on Tuesday morning, amid the clouds, and the wind, and the raging sea, with the beach all but empty of any sign of human life, the beach tag lady, seated in her chair at the walkway entrance, nose in her book, demanded to see our tags.
Really? I just didn't get the point. If it's to make money, trust me, nobody in their right mind would be coming to the beach in that weather without already being in possession of a tag! Who would actually want to buy a tag, just to spend a few minutes walking back and forth?
Even with my insistence that we would make it a very quick walk down to the water and back, just showing my-cousin-who-lives-in-New-Zealand (and seriously, she lives too far inland to get to visit the beach there very often), she hemmed and hawed, holding her ground, finally relenting when I gave her my solemn promise, completely prepared to hunt down a bible and raise my right hand.
However, as we began to stroll, enjoying the quiet and solitude, chatting about this and that, I realized that I was starting to go against my promise, and to keep the peace and still keep my word in good faith, I knew that I really should go back and get our tags. So I did, running all the way across the sand, heart trying to thump its way out of my chest, camera hugged tightly under my arm. And what did I get in return when I handed over those tags? An eye raised over the tag-Nazi's book, and a curt thank you.
Half an hour later I got a good giggle as I saw her huddled under her blanket, the rain coming down steadily.
Our next visitors, Kelli, Colin and Kailey, arrived a short time later. We'd met them the last time we stayed at the beach there, nearly 2 years ago, and after keeping up with each others' lives via Facebook and our blogs, it was great to be able to spend time in person again!
Colin hadn't been walking when we saw him last, and Kelli had only just found out she was pregnant with Kailey. Frozen cappuccinos in hand, courtesy of Wawa and my occasional errand-runner husband, we were ready to shoot the breeze and catch up in real time.
Happy, well-caffeinated mommies, tired, completely *uncaffeinated* children...
I just loooove this handsome face!! (note the frozen cappuccino exchanging hands in the background...)
I love Kailey's wristband, so visible in this pic.
Cougar, or just happy to have a real, live doll to play with?
Yes, they're watching TV. So sue me.