We went to the Fort Lauderdale beach yesterday, which was a stretch of beautiful warm sand dotted by palm trees. It was the first time I'd swum in an ocean for about 7 years, and I'd forgotten the exhilaration of getting lifted by the waves. The water was amazingly warm - I didn't want to get back out! Once we did go back to our beach towel, though, I soaked in the sun (albeit through my layers and layers of sunscreen and big floppy hat!) and enjoyed watching pelicans glide through the air and then bob among the waves. This trip is the first time I can remember seeing pelicans outside a zoo, and it's made me really happy.
Something else that made me enormously happy was a novel I'd checked out of the library and brought along as beachreading: Shannon Hale's Austenland! I was really nervous about reading this, partly because I've been so disappointed by most of the chick-lit novels I've tried in the last few years, and partly because I'm such a Jane Austen fanatic, it makes me unreasonably picky with any spin-off novels. But I loved this one! It was particularly hilarious after having read the British documentary book Regency House Party (based on a reality TV show), but I would have loved Austenland even if I'd never read that book. The heroine was fantastic, smart and brave despite her vulnerabilities, and I loved her witty Regency dialogue. The whole book was sharp and funny and sweet, but with real emotional depth underneath the light, sparkly surface - and the Jane Austen references were just exactly right (even though we clearly disagree on some of Austen's novels - personally, I LOVE Northanger Abbey). I stayed up WAY too late reading Austenland because I had to know how it ended! For a book so skinny, it packed a real wallop. I thought Shannon Hale's Princess Academy was great (and TOTALLY different from what I'd expected based on that title), but now I really want her to write more adult novels, too!
Sadly, yesterday afternoon was less fun, since there was a sudden plumbing disaster which ate up the afternoon and evening...but the last remnants were cleaned up this morning (poor Patrick!) and now we're back to pure vacation relaxation. Whew!