Coast Starlight

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.

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