Celebrating My Book Cover

It’s Celebrate The Small Things Day. Something I’ve achieved each week, no matter how small. If you’re interested in doing the same thing sign up here at Vicki’s blog. But before I tell you what I’m celebrating today, I have a little catching up to do since I’ve been missing from this spot for an entire month. And I’ve got to thank Kate Larkindale over at Fiction and Film for commenting on my last blog and inspiring me to get back in the game. Thanks Kate!

I’m blaming my absence on summer. I just gave into it. I put off all my writing projects, including finishing the proofs for Loveyoubye and choosing the final cover for the book. Instead, I danced my ass off at Laguna’s “Music In The Park” every Sunday, sometimes after which me and my girlfriend Laural would stop at this or that little rooftop or beachside bar and have a nightcap before heading home. Then there were those sunset dinners with friends and that wonderful spur of the moment day spent in Studio City with my five brilliant writer girlfriends, the trip up to Sierra Buttes in northern California (woods and lakes and cooler than here) with my son and two granddaughters—damn those little girls are fun!

But then I got an email from She Writes Press; my decision on Loveyoubye’s cover was due on Friday. Time to call it. Now, I’m not that hot on making decisions anyway, but this one has been agonizing. What if it’s crap? But time was up. That’s where the celebrating comes in. Yesterday, I took a deep breath and in the early morning chill of approaching fall, I submitted my book cover proofs!


Sawdust Celebration Tonight

Tonight I’m off to the Sawdust Festival’s opening night celebrations. This is an artist’s venue a block from my house down Laguna Canyon Road, where they sell everything from jewelry to iron sculpture to ceramics, clothing, paintings, blown glass, even tiny little ceramic and cloth fairies. There’s also music and dancing on the stage by the water wheel. It’s an invitation-only affair and the sawdust-covered grounds are always packed to the rafters  cedar fence.

From ’82 through ’86, my ex and I used to sell our ceramic creations at the Sawdust. Mine consisted of hand-built fish, vases, wall plaques and flowers, while he had his pots, plates, bowls and cups. We made, glazed and fired all this while working full-time. Of course it was only for the summer, but those were eighteen-hour days. We also did the Westwood Festival in Los Angeles during Christmas. It was an exciting and heady time. And exhausting. It about killed us. I hurt my back and his already gimpy shoulder gave out. He continued for a while then gave it up. I began writing.

So these days I head down to the Sawdust to visit friends’ booths, see what’s new, drink some wine, have a delicious gyro at the Greek booth and dance.


Tree Hugger’s Ball

Last night my friend Laural and I went to a fundraiser for the Santa Ana Mountains, the “Tree Hugger’s Ball & Sustainability Fair.” After parking up a dusty canyon straight out of a cowboy movie, we cruised the booths, mostly about sustainable living, all of them with a delightful homemade look. We got some wine in  lovely wineglasses, not plastic, and chatted with a woman in oversize sunglasses dressed as a bee (she’d created the stripes around her legs with black duct tape). There was also a grown-up fairy flitting around, okay, not exactly flitting, that came later on the dance floor.

John Muir’s Great-Great-Grandson gave a speech on conservation along with slides; he was followed by a group of Acjahemen Indian women who spoke and sang about the land they’d revered and tended for centuries. As the lead woman ended her impassioned speech, two raptors appeared in the space between the trees above the stage, hovered for a moment and then wheeled away with a screech. Goosebumps.

Then came an obnoxious performer from New Zealand, Rusty Balls–really, that’s his name–who did magic tricks. Finally. The dancing. There were two different bands, one a bluesy rock, the other a flashrock, reggae, ska group. Laural and I danced our butts off!! For two solid hours. There was this one teenager who really got into it, not embarrassingly so, and he wasn’t trying to be cool, he was just enjoying bopping around on a crowded dance floor with a mash-up of what were were mostly women of all ages (along with a bee and fairy).

And then we got lost coming home. And I wasn’t even driving. Even that was fun. I got to see Blackstar Canyon.

Snakes and Ladders, and Roach

After the Getty that first evening, we took the dollar-a-ride Blue Bus the two miles down to Santa Monica beachfront from our high-priced basic motel room (with its rooftop terrace, complete with astro turf, bogus ferns and a couple of Greek statues). We were rewarded with dancing and singing street acts along Third Street Promenade, as well as the boardwalk in front of the pier. The loin-clothed guy below got the prize for the sheer novelty of his act. As you can see he’s on a ladder, his black skin gleaming with sweat from the effort it took to balance while gripping two writhing snakes.

Okay, the snakes were fake, but there was a certain irony in his expression, along with a couple of comments he made that allowed him to pull it off.  A short walk away, was Border Grill, the place I’d been dying to try where we had reservations; it was a bust for the most part. Except for the fact that it was a hole in the wall–which to me, is essential for a Mexican restaurant–with a wild bold fiesta décor, a long saloon-type bar, and the mango margaritas and the Jicama Orange Salad were fabulous. And then there was that little extra, a tip from the bartender that just across the street lay Harvelle’s, a quintessential blues, jazz, and soul club, in operation since 1931.

Later that night, we squeezed into Harvelle’s dark narrow barroom and found a seat up front against the wall, just in time to see the performers take the stage—the Blues Brothers incarnate, plus Roach, the female singer. They started playing and it took everything not to get up and dance, but then we would’ve lost our seats. The highlight of the night for us was this one smokin’ number from Roach. I think I managed to capture her acting it out in this iPhone shot: “If you ever see me at three o’clock in the morning on Montana Boulevard, you know, a black woman with blond hair, pull over and help me or get the hell out of my way.” Note: Montana Boulevard is in a rich white neighborhood.

It was hard leaving the show but we had a bus to catch before they stopped running and tomorrow was another day of fun, fun, fun. And an almost disaster.