Sunday, November 25, 2018

Autumn in Sacramento

Years and years ago, Jo Stafford, whose voice was like velvet, sang a song called "Autumn in New York." It was a beautiful, plaintive song with a haunting melody. A love song, of course. But I think there should be a song called, "Autumn in Sacramento," one with a deeply stirring melody to capture the lushness of color and the pleasure of walking around Midtown with leaves crunching under one's feet and beauty stunning one's eyes.

For starters, there is the brilliance of Ginko trees, their leaves a bright golden yellow that simply dazzles me:

       Autumn has become my favorite season. In spring, I love the colorful flowers, but I've come to realize the power of autumn is the range of colors in the trees themselves. In early spring, you get the flowering fruit and nut trees for a short time. Then the green mist of unfurling leaves, and finally the green of summer. But in fall, a season that unfolds in various stages, you get a range of rich colors in the trees themselves. Some leaves still cling to their green; others are in various moments of turning: the liquid ambers, the Japanese maples, the elms, the plane trees, and several whose names I don't know:


There have been various names for Sacramento: Often it is called the "River City." Sometimes "City of Trees." There has been a tentative stab at "The Big Tomato," I suppose due to the past history with the canneries, and maybe with a nod to calling NYC "The Big Apple", but the tomato moniker didn't stick. I'll go with "City of Trees." The trees really make Midtown, and in summer even make Midtown about 5-6 degrees cooler than the suburbs.

Here are more brilliant colors. Every street in Midtown is like this.

           Sadly, I have to include a tree I love but doesn't love me: the beautiful plane trees of Sacramento. During the spring they grow pastel patches of bark and by summer the trunks and branches have shades of sandy yellow, pale green, a pinky tan, pale taupe, and ivory. As  fall comes, the colors start peeling, exposing the underbark, and by winter's end, trunk and branches are a smooth ivory/bone. Then in spring, it all begins again. Well, I just love this tree! Unfortunately, it has three pollen seasons, and I'm allergic to every one of them. So, as I walk down the street, eyes appreciative of their beauty, I am sneezing and coughing during those periods. But I can't help loving their beauty.

Plane tree in distance, already
shedding its patches

Finally, I couldn't resist these two pictures below on my "nature walk" today: a cute little bungalow whose owners have already decorated for Christmas. The two trees out in front just blew me away. They were so beautiful, they made me wish I had a leafless tree in front of our house to hang Xmas balls on.

How about you? What is your favorite season? I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Are you starting to decorate now for Xmas?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Back Home and Signing Books!

We are home now, and getting settled back into life in Sacramento. We arrived exactly two weeks ago tonight and hit the ground running. Whew! We got our flu shot the very next day (and that wiped us out!) Then there was Halloween.  Then dashing to the printers to make up postcards and bookmarks. There was the election last Tuesday and several days of madly reading the propositions on our ballot ahead of time. I had already set up a book signing at Time Tested Books last Thursday, and books had been delivered, so there was just the matter of firming up details and sending reminder invitations.

And then the day itself arrived, November 8th, and I have to say, it was so much fun. I had a good turn-out of neighbors, teaching friends, art friends, poetry friends, and friends from my critique groups. It was like a reunion. Here are a few pictures to capture the spirit.

When I first walked in
the door, before the book
signing, this lovely lady was
purchasing my book! My
first signing! 
On the far side, Kristina Halvorsen and her
husband, Patrick. She taught at my beloved
former school, Elder Creek Elementary.

Kristina's husband, middle. On the
right, Don Brown, former team teacher
at Elder Creek. On the left, Don's
beautiful wife, Ruby Alcartado. (Later,
I read early drafts of Carnival of the
Animals to Don's class for feedback.
They gave great suggestions)
Several writer friends from critique
groups here and another colleague,
 from Elder Creek, Shari Beck,
smiling at the camera

My current critique group who made
this a better book: Jen Hansen, Skeeter
Britton, Nancy Herman, Rosi Hollinbeck.
We were only missing Randall Buechner.
On the far left, Shirley, whom I've met
at SCBWI events.  

The group again — "Storytellers",
all excellent writers. 😍😍

Next to Nancy, Marsha Sylvester
from my other critique group, "Story
Catchers". Another good writer.

Oh what memories. Tom Fante
close right, from a years ago group,
"ASH" (Alumni of Sands Hall.)
What a great group that was before
before people moved away, went back
to school or got involved in other
projects. Other members of the group:
Naomi Williams, David Hagerty,
Nancy Herman, Skeeter Britton,
Randall Buechner.
Part of the crowd

Veronica and Norma, two
lovely ladies from the poetry
group I attend at Hart
Senior Center. The pretty
lady with the golden scarf
is our former neighbor,
Alice Welborn
And this was a thrill and surprise:
Former students from my after school
Art Club at Natomas Community
Center and their mother. The second
sister who was a student isn't in this
picture, but they both were such good
artists. (The younger one here was
too young for the class then.)

Wrapping up with Skeeter and Jen.

This week I'll be visiting students at Matsuyama Elementary School, and I'm really looking forward to that. I love school visits, and I've visited Matsuyama before for earlier books (Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, Dragonella). Both times it was a wonderful experience.

About Time Tested Books. Theoretically t's a "used book store" but they order and stock contemporary books as well. They are a wonderful bookstore and one of my favorite hang-outs in Midtown whenever I have time to amble and browse. I do stock some ebooks, but I love the feel of print books and the atmosphere of book stores. Books that I re-read tend to be print books.

How about you? Do you have a favorite book store where you like to hang out? Do you attend book signings? Do you prefer ebooks or print books?