March 8th, 2008


A train ride and a movie

Last night I went to Santa Margarita Ranch to take a short train ride, have some wine and appetizers, and watch a movie. It was the opening of the San Luis Obispo Film Festival. The first time the opening has taken place outside of San Luis Obispo city itself, it was held on a beautiful piece of property with a great deal of history in the little town of Santa Margarita.

When I arrived the train was just coming in. It's the one on the left in this photograph, smaller than the one on the right.

Collapse )

Bottoming out

I was reading a recent post by Elaine when I thought about what she left out. She writes about why being a vegan may be easier for her in some respects than for some others, about how people make assumptions about her choices because she is a white woman, somewhat privileged, about how she can't know the experience of black men, for example, who go vegan. She makes references to her childhood and to people who say that she will love her animals less when she has a child.

It was this last comment that got me thinking. Did I love my animals less when I had children? I don't think so but I do remember bottoming out in Los Osos.

We had moved to a duplex in Los Osos when my children were three and five. I worked in San Luis Obispo, about 10 miles away, and I managed to get my children into school and other activities in SLO (something that is rather harder to do now). We talked in the car, listened to tapes and the radio, and we went from work (where they often showed up after school) to gymnastics or some other activity, and often arrived home when it was dark. We often ate out, cheap meals, not very nutritious, in large part because I couldn't face my kitchen. The kitchen was full of dirty dishes. The counters were covered with food and dishes, the floor was not clean, the kitchen table was mounded high with whatever I was interested in at the time or possibly some parts of a school project. Even the piano was piled high with books, magazines, mail, music.

At the time we bottomed out Elaine and Mary were in grade school, but I don't remember just how old. We had acquired cats. One of these cats had kittens before I got to the vet to get her fixed. It seemed that our commuter lifestyle left us no room for actually living in this home. It was more a place to sleep, to get through the night, and it was pretty awful. One day we discovered that one of the kittens was throwing up. I thought it had eaten something bad and the illness would go away. I wasn't paying a lot of attention.

Then one night we slept on the floor in the living room. Did we do that most nights then? It's possible. I woke to see a kitten near me and I saw how thin it was. I was horrified. These kittens were dying right before my eyes and I hadn't even noticed. I could hardly sleep the rest of that night and the following morning I took them all in to the vet - except for one - or was it two? - who had already died. They were dehydrated and sick. Some survived. I don't remember what happened to them from then. There have been so many cats, so many deaths, over the years. But I paid more attention from then on. I am ashamed to say I learned from my mistakes, that many animals paid for my sins over the years. Unfortunately, so did my children.

Acting workshop

I volunteered at the "Acting for Film" workshop today. It was held at an unusual venue: a place newly named La Perla del Mar (Pearl by the sea). La Perla is a converted Methodist church. The church was on the market, expected to be torn down, when Shelly Malcolm and her friend Garin Sinclair met with the owners to work out a purchase. The church was renovated in six months and opened last December as an event hall.

I sat at a table outside to take money from attendees. There weren't many. There was a filmmakers workshop in SLO at the same time, which I expect would have drawn some people who would otherwise have gone to this one. After the workshop had been going a while I was able to slip inside and watch the rest.

The church:

Workshop leader Aaron Metchik:

The light inside was dismal for available-light photography, and because I was at the rear of the room I lost other opportunities to maximize its potential. So these pictures are barely usable. Still, the flavor:

Some improvisational scenes:

All of the workshop attendees did very well, regardless of experience. I felt that Aaron created a positive, non-threatening environment for them and I even thought it would be fun to try this myself some time.

I gave in to paperbackswap.

I am a diehard bookcrossing creature. I love the concept of leaving books anywhere, not knowing where they will go. Therefore, when others told me about paperbackswap I wasn't all that interested. But several months ago when I was hunting within bookcrossing for some specific books, to see if other bookcrossers had them and would send them to me in trade, another bookcrosser said she used paperbackswap for this purpose. She happily lives in both worlds so I thought I'd try it.

To request a book you have to register ten books of your own that are available for sending to others. I didn't get all ten listed right away and my account just sat there. Yesterday I decided to fill it up by listing some of my "better" fiction. As soon as I hit ten my books were made available to others on paperbackswap, including everyone who has a wish list that automatically hunts. Within a few minutes three of my books were requested by others.

Well, I love it when others want to read my books. For this feature alone I already love this place. But there's more. When I clicked on the button that says I would mail the book within two days, I was offered the opportunity to print the wrapper. I could choose to print just the names and addresses or I could add postage and delivery confirmation. An added bonus is that the weight of the books is on record so the correct postage can be calculated easily. The final joy came when I learned that I would not have to go to the post office to mail these books, wrapped in these wrappers, labeled (as they are) with "media mail". I could just drop them in mail drop boxes. The address information prints on 8-1/2 X 11 paper which can be used as the wrapper by itself, suitably wrapped around the book and taped securely. Where does the postage come from? By paying into a PBS account - through a credit card or paypal. A charge of 50 cents is made for each transaction.

I have therefore already sent off four books and I have a fifth packaged, ready to drop. I have also registered several more books there. And of course every one has a bookcrossing sticker inside. I can hope.

Oh, ironically, I have several books on my PBS wishlist and so far nobody is offering them.