Monday, May 07, 2007








WRITING STUFF: RESEARCH IN EXOTIC PLACES

I live in California, in the Los Angeles/Orange County part. (No one calls it "The O.C." here – except a couple of news & traffic reporters from New York)

Now, there are many folks who think just living in the heartland of sun and fun, right next to the mean noir streets of L.A., with all that film history, the beaches, Disneyland, Hollywood, and other interesting stuff should count as a sort of permanent vacation. And for me it does in so many ways. I have a 1954 mid-century modern house with patios plural and a spa. We have fruit trees, with something always ready to pick (okay, mostly lemons.) It's the good life in spite of property taxes being more than a regular mortgage anywhere else.

So why would I want to go anywhere else to write?

Because somewhere other than your home – no matter where you live – is going to yield different thoughts, different adventures, different sights, sounds, smells and characters.

And I need a vacation. I haven't taken any time off work for a year (being terribly sick over Christmas doesn't count.) I need to have some time in an exotic locale, with a bunch of my rowdy-aesthete friends. I need to see and smell and hear odd things (well, odd to me, anyway.)

One year it was The Spiral Jetty and the Sun Tunnels with a trip to Wendover, Nevada.

One year it was Marfa and Big Bend National Park. Many times it has been Death Valley.

Once it has been Ferndale and the Redwoods. Twice it has been Italy (just me & the DH on these trips.)

This time it's the Hudson River Valley – just north of the 212 (New York City for those of you who haven't been introduced to the Divine Miss Snark.)

My rowdy-aesthete friends (bird watchers, photographers, architects, librarians, art critics all) and I are going to spend a week eating, sailing, touring gardens, castles, museums, architectural wonders and at least one hot cemetery. We're going to such fabulous places as the Village of Sleepy Hollow, Hyde Park and New Canaan, Connecticut. We're going to stay in lovely bed-and-breakfasts, except for the night in the modern conference center in Catskill. It's going to be such fun.

I am going to take notes. I think it's time to start a new story, and a creepy mystery set in Connecticut is percolating through the coffee grounds of my brain.

So next week I'll be on the road – well, on the river to be more precise. I'll be missing home after the second day, especially my little doggies and the 3 cats and the garden and the house. My amiable sister-in-law will be minding the place while we're gone, so I needn't worry, but I really do like being home as much as I like traveling and seeing the sights. I hope to get some writing time in, too. I'll take the laptop and see what happens.

What about you? Do you ever do "research" in exotic locales?

THREE BEAUTIFUL THINGS

The back landscaping. It's been a long time, but it's almost done. So nice to look out the window and see order and plants instead of the rubbish that has been out there for a year.

A package arrived from my friend Nancy – she sent me 2 bird watching books. They are beautiful. I'll turn into a birdwatcher yet.

The indoors. It's cool and peaceful and quiet in the morning. This is a picture of Sunday morning. (Before the back landscaping – it looks *much* better out those windows now!)

12 comments:

bunnygirl said...

I'm going out of town next week, too. Have a great time!

Sonnjea B said...

have a great trip! I hope to read a story based on it.

Bernita said...

What a wonderful itinerary!
~colour me green~

Kate Thornton said...

Bunnygirl - thanks! You too!

Sonnjea b - I hope to write one!

Bernita - thank you - wish you could go with us.

writtenwyrdd said...

Oooh, jealousy rears it's green-eyed head. And I just got back from vacation, too!

Kate Thornton said...

Writtenwyrdd, I am so ready for a vacation!

I got a feeling this is going to be a really good one. I was listening to Pete Seeger on the radio the other day - he loves the Hudson River (enough to do something about it - he has been fighting pollution and actually cleaning the river for years) and I heard him sing about his "dirty stream" - I wanted to see it so much, then I remember I would!

Zonk said...

I do research and writing in an 'exotic' locale everyday *grins*

And if you come down here, I'll see if I can get my daughter, who works with the dolphins at the Atlantis resort, to get you in to swim with them, hug them, rub them (they really like that)and so on.

Kate Thornton said...

Zonk, the Bahamas are a fabulous place! Thank you for the lovely offer - I have friends in the Cayman Islands (the other side of Cuba from you for those not familiar) so a trip to your beautiful neck of the woods is not totally out of the question.

Yes, sometimes even though we write in Paradise it's good to write somewhere else as a treat.

Swimming with the Dolphins...it sounds fabulous!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Have a fabulous time!!!

I'm heading to Vermont in September to relax and write. Can't wait.

Kate Thornton said...

Sue Ann - I am so envious! Vermont is lovely and you'll see the changing colors!

I am writing this post from Hyde Park - I can see the Vanderbilt Mansion if I look out the window. I am in a grove of maples, it's 78 degrees (MUCH warmer than anticipated) and there is going to be a thunderstorm this afternoon. Spring flowers re everywhere. The dogwood trees are in bloom, and I have seen deer, raccoons, beavers, hedgehogs (!) and a fox. There are beautiful green woods everywhere and the smell of the forests is delightful. The river is much larger than I imagined - I guess I am used to piddly streams and the turquoise waters of the L. A. Aqueduct, not the brown, swirling, too deep waters of a real river.

Where I live, red Japanese maples are expensive (I know, I bought a little bitty one for $200!) but they are *everywhere* here - glorious, gorgeous, bright red and many grown to thirty feet or more. I am so impressed by what is everyday mundane to the local folks.

That's what's so different about being in a new place - you see everything differently from the folks who live there.

I'm going to have to re-think that story...

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,
I found your blog from Absolute Write. You have many wonderful pictures on it. I love your writing style. Keep up the excellent work!

Michelle Knudson, Freelance Writer
www.michelleknudson.com

Hello from Julia said...

I love the architecture in southern California! Nice! I will stay tuned.