July, 2002 Archive


Friday, July 26th, 2002

Wasting desire in rare and fleeting joy
Infinite promise unfulfilled
Brought despair in youth

Now age astonished with store
And pleasure daily reached
Exults in limitation


Thursday, July 25th, 2002

Back on the train to Santa Barbara, coffee in front of me, Ocean on the right, rocket launch towers on the left, smooth rocking.  It recalls the train’s passing during the concert last night in San Miguel mission where we celebrated Jan’s 57th birthday and sat with Eric G. who told me about this early morning ride. I’m carrying some sample page files for prefroofing according to Mary’s instructions.  The concert was memorable”an a capella performance of Mexican Baroque music sung by Chaunticleer, highlighted by Corey McKnight, a countertenor doubling as soprano whose soaring melismata took me on a flight with the dove painted above the altar.

I see flocks of snowy plovers on the beach as we stop at Surf.  No people for miles.  Offshore a towering oil platform.

Joe and Amy want us to buy a condo in Ketchum for 350K. Stock market is crashing.  I call broker and tell him to sell 100K. The market goes up 500 points.

Working all week at the computer lab on the Field Guide page layouts.  Mary sits next to Brian and points with her finger at the screen telling him precisely what changes to make in Photoshop and Quark.  Bob H., who wrote the book on Photoshop gives me advice on how to improve some difficult slide scans.  The confusion and misinformation  circulating among us is partially cleared up.  Brian working in the lab till 11:00 p.m. I pick it up there after the concert.

Claire is working as a “bookkeeper” for a friend’s garage.  I’m looking after Ian, whom I take to Laguna lake to visit ducks and playground and then to computer lab.

Train has just rounded Point Conception, heading east now, sun’s out, fog on mountain top, ocean white caps ignited.

California Collection

Wednesday, July 17th, 2002

Lunch under the Redwoods in the Arboretum, the tiny creek flowing in a shady wetland created and maintained artificially. Birdsong and sprinkler sounds.  I hope for another glimpse of the two western tanagers that darted by as I was thinking about the paragraph describing them by Johanna after three prompts and her claim that she’d never seen any on Cal Poly land.

I spend today and tomorrow with a printout of the second proof of the book, making corrections, writing notes and photo credits and the acknowledgements and table of contents.  Today Anna assembles the colored printout into a new comp and then Brian and Mary move forward with the page by page image processing and detailed layout. My meditations are consumed with the details and fears of more unforeseen pitfalls. I take little joy in the baby steps of progress, now that the thrill of scanning has worn off. I had no idea how many of them still lay ahead to realize Mary’s uncompromising plan.  All the organization and talent she’s devoted to this I regard with impatience.

I’m also coming down from the 60th birthday festivities that Jan orchestrated on the weekend. Friday night was the dinner party with Vicky T., Melody, Paula, Mike, Lindsey H.  The fresh baked Ahi and salade Nicoise were delicious.  Jan announced the occasion at 10:00 p.m.  After private festivities in the morning, we went to see Oma, who perked up after I found her hearing aid and a missing lens of her glasses. Back home I loaded mulch from the pile in front by bucket to the back yard.  At noon I heard a noise on the patio and spun around to find the silver-haired figures of Caesar and Penny. I hadn’t seen them in over a year”since Claire’s wedding. A fine surprise. Later came Ruth, then Claire, Dennis and the baby and a trip to Pete’s café for dinner.

Coast Starlight

Wednesday, July 10th, 2002

Santa Barbara two days scanning slides into digital files for the book

Scanning my own photos taken with a professional camera in a professional lab with professional equipment.  All slides and negatives in a binder in perfect order with the complete comp version of the book to check against.  After many false starts and rescans, the procedure is now smooth.  Sky has been a wonderful guide and hostess, stopping in four times yesterday to give Mary and me moral support, taking us to lunch in her new Audi at Tutti’s in Montecito, where Mary wanted to go to see movie stars, then to dinner after a 13 hour day at another Italian restaurant in Montecito where we met Richard his his daughter and son.

The feeling now a little like at the end of writing a chapter or the introduction of a book¦things cruising, falling into place, producing better than expected yield.  Just the opposite of slogging through and getting delayed and needing to redo.

Richard insists on paying and then we drive to his and Sky’s new house”a palace, which reminds me of J’s house on Edna Ranch where Jan’s bookgroup Christmas party took place last year. Two-story roof and beams, stonework, light arch windows, stained redwood siding, three car garage.

Being in this place and having the help of these folks feels right at this stage of the project¦after years of begging and scraping and doing things alone and wrong, and redoing, and going backwards rather than forwards and not knowing what’s next and being humiliated by errors and delays.  How much unhappiness and discouragement and anxiety went into this project.  Not, as they say, a job for the faint hearted.

How will the book turn out? How will it be received?  Shakespeare and the Bible was best I could do, got some fine reviews, also panned.

Taking my own pictures for the book, as commanded by Sky and Mary, has gone from an ordeal to a challenge that I now hate to relinquish.

On the train back to SLO

Sun golden on the ridge of Point Sal.  We creep by the haunted junkyards of Casmalia on  a siding as the dominant freight passes on the right.  The seat is comfortable, the train almost empty.  The cost of taking me home with my CDS and Giggy, my portable hard drive filled with digital images is ten or a hundred times the twenty two dollar fare. I’m in no hurry for this trip to end, though I relish the thought of seeing Jan tonight. Reading “Headlong” by Michael Frayn, the novel she recommended, is a rich indulgence, the narrator like me an academic in constant dialogue with himself.  The gentle rocking movement and the insulated quiet unlike any other form of travel I know.

One slight breach in this contentment: when I met Sky at Armstrong she was pissed that I left scans for her to finish tomorrow morning, since she had so much else to get done and was jetlagged after her return from Thailand.  I had an excuse–I thought she and Mary had agreed to finish them together–but I could hardly bear the shame.

The pink sun was just grabbed by the gray fog.  The sound of the horn as we cross the Santa Maria Valley: muted, melodious, melancholy. Pink-orange glow behind the chocolate brown of fields of blue-green broccoli.  Diner, Eucalyptus, Forests, the Dune Lakes, the crop fields of Arroyo Grande at the base of Nipomo Mesa.