Tuesday, August 2, 2011


It's almost Bastille Day.

Not the REAL one, of course, but the one our family celebrates.

The actual Bastille Day is July 14. But for the Brocato family, Bastille Day is any time all the siblings and our spouses are together at the beach. This feat happens once a year. Actually, we've never had ALL FIVE OF US together at the beach at one time. There's been new babies. Other vacations with in-laws. New houses. Moves. No vacation time. In short, life in general. We were all together at Andy and Juli's wedding in the spring, but we've never managed to get all of us, plus our families, to the beach together. Granny and Pop are the mainstays, of course, everyone else does their best to make it for at least part of the time.

The tradition of Bastille Day started two years ago with a sibling game night. My younger brother, Jim, is NEVER wrong.

He's a West Point National Debate Champion, after all. 

But that one particular evening, during a board game I now forget, Jim INSISTED, based on a game question, Bastille Day was THAT. DAY. (we always go to the beach in August; it could not POSSIBLY have been Bastille Day!) And he couldn't let it go. He was taking quite a ribbing from the rest of us, but he stood his ground. And the further he entrenched, the funnier it became. I laughed SO. HARD. that night I cried until I couldn't breathe or get up off the floor of the beach house. Someone finally pulled out a smart phone or a laptop and proved him wrong, but he still wouldn't admit that it was, indeed, NOT Bastille Day.

Needless to say, it has become a beach tradition to celebrate "Bastille Day" at least once during the week we're there.

It's also a tradition for Granny and Pop to babysit the cousins one night while the sibs go out to dinner.

We always go to Margie and Ray's.

Margie & Ray's is the wonderful little dive just up the road from the oceanfront. I actually have to be careful calling it a "dive" because Margie can turn on you in a New York minute.

It's ALWAYS crowded and ALWAYS delicious. We trade our swimsuits and workout shorts for something a bit cuter.

Sister In Law Lesley, Me, Sister Becky, last year. :-)

We *try* to get close enough to the bar to play Trivia.

Brian, Brother Jim

You can't go to Margie & Ray's without having a cup of She-Crab Soup to start your meal.

In fact, I think it's probably illegal. You *must eat it with hot sauce. I think that's the law, too.
Another thing you *must try at Margie & Ray's are the crabs. They're steamed and seasoned with Old Bay. They dump them on the table on newspaper and it's practically primal the way you have to crack into the crabs and pluck out the meat. Between the buttery crab meat and the crab mustard (only click on this link if you are not faint of heart), it's a sublime dining experience. Last year, Jim and his wife, my beautiful sister-in-law Lesley, even did "shots" of the spicy, paint-peeling dipping sauce.

Heaven on a plate.

 Brian, having grown up in Texas, was not a HUGE fan of the crabs but braved the carnage. He'll get something different this year. 

Another tradition is First Night. The ONLY night we're usually not all drained from the sun and worn out by active children.

Lesley and Jim, Brian, Anthony and Becky by the pool.       

We sit downstairs by the pool, usually open a bottle of wine, and LAUGH, POKE FUN and TELL STORIES that will never be heard by anyone outside that table.

What happens on First Night stays in First Night.

Another tradition is the Pirate Treasure Hunt. This will be the third year that Granny and Pop's over whelming creativity captures the imagination and excitement of the grandchildren. Granny makes the grand kids, Curt, 9, Luke, 7, Jameson, 5, Rylan, 3, Ben, 3, Greycen, 2, and Claire, almost 2, some kind of pirate gear. They must then find a clue that leads them to another clue and another and another until they unearth the TREASURE on the beach somewhere. 

Arrrggghhhh! Digging for treasure, 2010

The Brocato Grandchildren: Rylan, Ben, Jameson, Luke, Curt and in front, Claire (seated) and Greycen  

It's a glorious, if not chaotic, adventure.

Another tradition is walking down the block to get frozen yogurt one evening after dinner. I don't have any pictures of this, but suffice it to say our entourage fills the ENTIRE shop.

Night Pool is a HUGE favorite for my boys. We're hoping the cousins are old enough this year to participate, too. Almost nothing excites Curt as much as the moment the photosensitive lights in the pool come on while the boys are swimming. It's pure joy.

Night Pool, although it's not dark enough for the underwater lights to have come on.

And finally, we ALWAYS take a picture on the lifeguard stand.

The boys ALWAYS jump off of it after the picture.

The beach, with my family, makes my heart happier than pretty much everything. 
And Bastille Day is CLOSE at hand.

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