Hello steady readers. I am here with a postcard from home, where I have been after my seaside holiday with Sister at the end of March. Now I sit down to tap out this post which was meant, as the title implies, for April. I was waylaid you see, by my porch, books, cats, walks, and living in general. Which, as you know, tends to take up enormous pockets of time. But here I am on a fine Saturday morning in May, to finish what I started last month.
What follows is life as seen through the lens of my sketchbook since last I posted.
I fill my pockets with flowers when I walk, then press them in my car’s thick manual I keep on the front seat, and eventually transfer them to my writing journal, into which I make daily deposits as usual. It is alas my sketchbooks that grow lonely.
I’ve said it so many times it doesn’t bear repeating, but I will anyway. Working stiff life is incompatible with my true nature.
Still, I could have been born in a different century and forced by necessity into a factory job, or coal mine, slaughterhouse, steel mill. I did, for a brief time in the late 70’s find a job at a Levi Strauss Factory where I labored long and hard to sew up the crotches of mens’ jeans. I was fired soon after I started. Too many mistakes, not fast enough, bad attitude, foul language, disrespectful towards authority. A story for another day.
Here I am. In this life. Where I’m smart enough to know I have it rather good.
Still. A life of leisure beckons.
Patio lunches are over, but summer is around the corner.
My seaside retreat in late March with sister was heavenly. We stayed in a darling cottage close to the ocean.
How good it was! How good this entire pandemic sabbatical was! How lucky to work from home for an entire year!
Our outdoor patio got a lot of use. We were practically outside from dawn to dusk. Walking, writing, reading, eating, and arting. The usual repertoire of activities.
Here we are exploring Rosemary Lane, home of a splendid group of Moody sister cottages.
And here again is our Carpinteria cottage.
Rocky Nook Park in Santa Babs has perfect benches for journaling and sketchbookery. A canopy of oaks provides shade.
One thing I know without a doubt. Working life makes these breaks all the sweeter, so in a way I suppose I’m grateful for the balance.
If you venture to Carpinteria, do make time for a jaunt to see the Portola Sycamore. It’s an ancient tree that is enormous. A sentient being.
It has real presence. Which it will share with weary travelers in need of some grounding.
From the plaque:
The Portolá Sycamore
Oral tradition holds that this tree survives from
the naming of “La Carpinteria” – the Carpenter
Shop – on August 17, 1769 when the Portolá
Expedition observed the Chumash building plank
canoes at this site.
Our Carpinteria cottage was enchanting.
All too soon it was home again home again jiggety jig.
My porch continues to feed me with a steady diet of love and peace.
With the return to the live classroom I’ve been drawing and painting less. In the morning I teach in-person class to the 7 students who have returned and continue with Zoom in the afternoon for the ones who’ve stayed in the remote program. I’m lucky to be at a school I like surrounded by friendly faces.
Even so, reporting for duty to a job at a physical location is a shock to the system, but I’m adapting. I enjoy the interactions with real children versus Zoom screens. But don’t misinterpret that to mean I was aching to get back to the children and the business of teaching in-person. I wasn’t. The only business I’m hoping to get back to is that of porch sitting and walks under shady trees. Writing, reading, and painting.
I’ve arrived at the tail end of my career and I am eager to be finished with it and start a new way of living and being in the world. To that end, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for windfalls that conveniently fall into my lap, thusly speeding my way down the broad boulevard of early retirement. One must always hold out hope for unexpected marvels.
on my bookshelf
After finishing Ann Patchett’s PSOL I have sworn off further fiction by Ann, unless Tom Hanks is reading it. (Dutch House!) The endings of her books have worked me into a tizzy and after finishing Patron Saint I’ve decided I’m quitting Ann and her erratic choices in character development. But most especially her endings that feel haphazard, poorly constructed, and just wrong. I’m tired of loving one of her books and then being so disappointed by the ending that feels like one of my 5th graders wrote it. However, as you see, I won’t give up her essays, which I think are mostly marvelous.
Pew was unputdownable, but like all my recommendations, don’t take my word for it. My favorite thing about this book is about the power of silence. So much can be revealed about people when they are met with silence instead of the response they think they deserve. I’m almost finished with it.
I wrote those sentences about Pew in April. It’s now May. I finished. Don’t start that book unless you want a crazily obscure ending that would give even Ann Patchett a run for her money.
I’ve just started listening to The Midnight Library. Promising! Addendum: utter crap. I couldn’t force myself to finish.
Hamnet. Sigh. How I wish I was just starting it. I listened to the audio version and it felt like a fairytale. The story is fantastic and the reader is perfectly suited to the telling of it. Can’t say enough good things about it. Well-written, beautifully developed characters, and a thoughtful ending.
If you’ve read any of the above, do let me know your thoughts! If there’s any literary fiction to keep my eye on, I’ll need recommendations. If you know any booktubers over the age of 50 with whom I should be aware do tell.
Keep me posted. On every single solitary thing.