Thursday, July 30, 2009

Seeing Joyce Maynard Again

Last night I drove to Book Passage, a wonderful independent bookstore in Corte Madera to hear one of my former writing teachers, Joyce Maynard, read from her newest book, Labor Day, which just hit the bookstores. Since Book Passage is in the same neck of the woods where my brother works I met him for dinner at Izzy's before the reading. We don't get much time to talk—visits are usually family affairs, lively but chaotic. My brother is a musician, posing as a salesman by day. He is hugely talented (at both music AND sales), well read and has a wickedly twisted sense of humor that I just love. It was great to see him. Izzy's is a classy joint with wonderful food. My blackened snapper, scalloped potatoes and green beans were perfection. The mojito wasn't bad either.

Seeing Joyce again was fun. She was in a giddy mood and most of us in the audience were friends and acquaintances. She had a glass of red wine in her hand and laughed a lot as she recounted how this book was written in about ten days. It was inspired by a dream and she said it was such a joy to write as the characters quickly took on lives of their own and just flowed. She felt she was taking dictation. She referred to herself once as "Mrs. Self-Disclosure" which is pretty true. She often writes memoir and has gotten to a place where she's not afraid to show her life, warts and all. She is probably best known for the newspaper column she wrote for years called "Domestic Affairs." She caught a lot of flack for her memoir, At Home in the World, notably about her year long, live-in affair with J.D. Salinger when she was eighteen. It, too, is a fascinating read.

I purchased a copy of her new book and started reading it when I returned home. The characters are well-drawn and compelling. I'm enjoying it quite a lot. You might want to check it out.

After she signed my book a friend snapped this picture of us.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Home Alone

I was sitting here with my morning latte when I heard some unusual sounds. What is it? Oh my god, those are my thoughts. MY thoughts. No questions. No requests. No television or music blaring in the background. No conversations, or arguments breaking through into my consciousness. It is as though I've entered a foreign country. The quiet is palpable. And delicious.

My family has been off doing other things for a couple of days and I have the house to myself. What a concept! Apart from the birds, the cats, the fish and the dog I have no one else to prepare meals for but myself. Yesterday I ran a quick errand and then spent the whole day—yes the WHOLE day—writing. I forgot to eat breakfast, ate a late lunch and skipped dinner when I realized that I had to get ready to leave for my writing group in the evening. I ate dinner at 11:00 pm and wrote until 2:00 am.

Now I'm not saying I'd want to live like this all the time. I love my family and the energy that surrounds them. But every now and then (okay, maybe a bit more than that) it would be so refreshing to have some alone time. In the two days they've been gone I've lost two pounds. I've written a new chapter for my book. I've run errands, done laundry and attended a writing workshop. And I've allowed thoughts that had been bumped aside by the jostling of family life to bubble to the top and be scooped up and examined.

I guess this is my own private version of a staycation.

Monday, July 27, 2009

On the Road to Cloverdale

Last Friday night was the last night my daughter was performing in "The Tempest". They had taken the show on the road up to Cloverdale where the theater company was putting on two performances to raise money for the new Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. Since the new arts center is not yet complete, they performed in the old Grange Hall.

It was my daughter's last performance before heading back to college so naturally, being the obsessive fans that we are, the family hopped in the car and drove to the little town of Cloverdale.

Since we had to drop Bri at the theater early so she could get ready for the show, the rest of us took a stroll downtown to the Friday night Farmer's Market. There was a band playing and the mood was pretty mellow.

Cloverdale, I discovered, had a lot of public sculpture around the town square that was really fun.

I loved the big green lady,

both fore

and aft.

The giant wire man that hung from the side of a building was way cool.

I thought the Tin Man was cute.

And I adored the lines of the Spider.

But most of all, I loved the dragon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meeting Francis Ford Coppola

Saturday was pretty amazing. My husband, daughters and I headed to Rubicon Estate Winery as part of the contingent from the Northern California Screenwriters (a group I am a part of.) We were there to hear readings from Francis Ford Coppola's short story on which his latest screenplay, Tetro, is based. We really didn't know what to expect.

The winery is beautiful. When we arrived we were offered a complimentary glass of wine and then we headed to a dimly lit cellar where there were a few tables with chairs. A reading from Zoetrope: All-Story (Coppola's literary magzine) of "The Nice Little People", by Kurt Vonnegut was in progress. It was accompanied by an artist doing a charcoal sketch that illustrated a scene from the story and by someone playing an odd instrument that made eerie noises. I noticed a quiet man sitting alone in the back corner at a table marked "Reserved." He looked an awful lot like Francis Ford Coppola. I kept wondering, is that HIM???

We quietly found seats, but not together. During the reading I discovered that one of my daughters, Bri, was seated next to the gentleman at the "Reserved" table. (She later told me that he noticed her looking for a seat and offered her one at his table.) When the reading ended we were invited to enter the small room behind the cellar that was warmly lit and lined with dusty bottles of wine from the 1930's. The room had an oriental carpet, several chairs and two velvet sofas. I think there were ten of us in the room altogether.

It turns out the mysterious gentleman was indeed Mr. Coppola. When we entered the second room he was talking to Bri who was now seated next to him on one of the sofas. I watched as he pulled out his iPhone. He was showing her photos of his granddaughter. He asked Bri all about the play she'd just finished—The Tempest—and then asked what her costumes looked like, whereupon both my husband and I pulled out our cameras and showed him photos we'd taken of her play. He was absolutely charming. My husband took some photos of him with Bri.

I took a photo of him with my other daughter, Krissy. (She wrote a very interesting post on her blog, Thinking Of Blue, that you might want to check out.)

We listened to the reading from his story "Tetro" which appears in the Summer 09 edition of Zoetrope: All-Story. After the reading Mr. Coppola suggested we might want to check out his collection of magic lanterns which was upstairs. These lanterns were the precursors of our modern day movie projectors. Upstairs I also found a Tucker! This is one of the 51 vehicles that were produced. Coppola's movie, "Tucker", tells the story of Preston Tucker and his vision for this car.

Last night Bri and I went to see the film, "Tetro", at The Rialto Theater in Santa Rosa. Coppola wrote, produced and directed it. "Tetro" was a fascinating film with intriguing themes and visually arresting images. We both really enjoyed it.

All in all, it was a real "Dear Diary" kind of weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Free Music on The Green

I just returned from a fabulous night of Cajun/Zydeco music on the Town Green in Windsor. My daughter and I went this morning at 9:00 am and staked out our spot on the lawn. Even that early there were already about forty chairs already claiming spots for tonight's show. When we returned about 5:30 this evening with our family and good friend, Cynthia, the entire Green was covered with lawn chairs, blankets and families. I would guess about two thousand people showed up.

The Thursday night Farmer's Market was also taking place tonight. I took some pictures of colorful veggies unlike any I'd ever seen before.

A dance floor was laid down on the concrete walkway that traverses the Green. When the music began, supplied tonight by Tom Rigney & Flambeau, people got up and began to dance.

The woman playing keyboard wore the snazziest skirt!

So you think you can dance? I tell you, tonight the town of Windsor was dancin'!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Free Movie Nights

Last night I drove by The Town Green in Windsor where I watched The Tempest last week. They were in the process of setting up the giant movie screen for their free, Tuesday night movie series. I wasn't interested in seeing last night's movie, "Hotel for Dogs", but I was curious to see the screen. People had come early to set up their chairs to save a spot. I just love how folks leave their chairs then go about their business, only to return hours later to watch the movie. I felt like I'd fallen back in time about thirty years to a time where people were more trusting.

As you can see, the screen is constructed like a bounce house. Once it is inflated it becomes a giant screen. I think it is just a brilliant concept. I don't know why more towns don't follow suit. There are so few places for families to go these days that don't cost a small fortune.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Tempest on The Green

Last night marked the beginning of the second and final week that Shakespeare's, "The Tempest", will be performed for free on The Green in the little town of Windsor, California. It played last Friday through Sunday nights and was wonderful. People come with blankets, chairs, picnics, wine, dogs and kids. They park themselves down on the grass and enjoy the free performance. It's a great way to introduce kids to a bit of culture without breaking the bank and if they get fussy you can quietly get up and take them for a little walk. But the kids last week were pretty engrossed in the show or else they just fell asleep on their parents laps.

Our family plans to see EVERY performance. The pre-show begins at 6:30 with music or dancing and the main event begins at 7:00pm. Why did we want to see so many performances—apart from the fact that it's FREE entertainment which is hard to come by in this economy? Well, and this is the best part, our daughter, Bri, plays Miranda and she's wonderful, if I do say so myself. The cast really is terrific. Prospero is played by Steven David Martin who has appeared in The Tempest at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and he's magnificent. It is great fun. You should come if you can.

Here are some photos from The Tempest.

Spectators begin to gather

The Pre-Show Entertainment

Miranda (Yeah, I took a lot of photos of her—Mom's prerogative!)

Prospero and Miranda

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Walk in the Woods

This past weekend we made a quick trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve in Guerneville, California. It was really lovely. Majestic redwoods, ferns and even my beloved Stellar Jays. Next time I'll have to bring some peanuts, if that's allowed. We only had a couple of hours but it was a welcome break. Here are some photos from our trip.