In September I went to Provo, Utah, where my friend Paul works as a screenwriting professor and occasionally invites me to be a guest lecturer. I stay with Paul's family, and they have an AMAZING garden, with: tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, Yukon gold potatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, LOTS of herbs, three kinds of grapes, an apple tree and raspberries:
They also have two dogs. Sophie is the border collie in the front. Behind her is Igor, who I swear is part bear. He's very old and has arthritis, so he has this very stiff, regal walk. It's quite intimidating.
There was gorgeous scenery on this trip, thanks to lots of fall foliage. However, due to the rain (a nor'easter blew through) and my newfound guilt about taking photos, due to a column by Sierra Magazine's Mr. Green, I didn't take any photos, so illustrations will have to come from the websites of the places we went.
1. The Nelson Rockfeller estate.
2. The Vanderbilt mansion (what money will buy you)
3. Storm King Art Center: a HUGE and very cool outdoor sculpture garden
4. Dia: Beacon: a modern art museum located in an old Nabisco Factory
I loved Beacon and definitely want to go back. We had lunch at this great restaurant that had the most amazing vegetarian meatloaf I've ever eaten.
So, until I get a phone that takes pictures and that I can charge on a solar charger, eco-guilt will limit my picture taking. If anyone knows of a small camera you can charge via a solar charger, let me know...
The piano playing is heating up next door. The musician keeps practicing scales, plus the first bars of "Clair de Lune." (He never seems to finish it -- maybe it's just a warm-up exercise.)
Then, yesterday, he started in on some jazzy Christmas carols. He was obviously practicing the riffing, etc. "O Christmas Tree" and "The Christmas Song," and then, as if my mental request arrived on his music stand -- "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi. I now predict some gathering around the piano at Christmas and singing.
Meanwhile, my enemy, the very well-fed squirrel, has started in on this year's crop of avocados. It's very annoying, because they're not ripe yet. He chews around the stems but can't keep a hold of them, so they fall to the concrete below. Sometimes he manages to get through about a quarter of it, before it falls.
To be honest, if he's only chewed the stem, I'll take the avocado and let it ripen. So far, no rabies. Really, this is the healthiest squirrel ever -- very glossy coat and thick tail -- what comes from a steady avocado diet. HOWEVER, the avocados are not ready yet. They don't ripen if you pick them this early, they just rot. I have tried to explain this to the squirrel, but he just ignores me.
Seeking Fresh Topics
So far I've only written about avocados and my musical neighbor! Such is the life of the apartment-bound work at home writer. However, I hope to have new material since I'm heading east, first to visit family in Philadelphia and New Jersey, and then to tour around the Hudson Valley in New York and experience some pretty fall leaf viewing.
This morning, after breakfast, my musician neighbor received delivery of a piano. Shouts of glee ensued, along with a lot of riffing. Throughout the day today, while mixing his latest assignment, a pop/disco piece, there were frequent breaks to play the opening bars of "Clair de Lune."
I took piano lessons when I was younger, but I hated practicing and was in general a lousy, rebellious student (ditto for guitar and oboe). I loved playing though, and after my parents lost patience and stopped paying for lessons, I played a lot. "Clair de Lune" was also one of my favorites, along with the classic "Fur Elise," which I memorized, along with "The Theme from Romeo and Juliet." Interestingly, another tune I loved to play was "Tubular Bells" from "The Exorcist," even though to this day, I've never been able to get through the movie (I'm VERY easily scared).
This evening, the musician has segued from "Clair de Lune" to jazz riffs, like the kind you hear at a piano bar. I predict future gatherings around the piano and singing by friends and family. Once again, just like the movies...
In the movies...
When I watched movies as a kid, I loved how people who lived in the city (especially New York City) always had someone an opera singer living upstairs, or a piano player across the courtyard or could hear a saxophone coming from nearby.
Then, when I moved to New York City to go to film school, I actually ended up with an opera singer living upstairs. Her singing echoed across the courtyard. In another building I lived in, there was a trumpet player. It was just like the movies!
Here in L.A.
I now live next door to a musician, who writes music for different venues -- films, TV, commercials (from what I understand from his cellphone conversations -- the buildings are very close and I can hear EVERYTHING). It's all original music, all in very different styles, although he may be writing music for a demo too.
Luckily, I like his music, because I often have to hear the same tune over and over and over, as he works on it, or listen to just parts of it, over and over and over, as he edits/produces. His relentless work ethic is actually quite inspiring. He revises and revises, just like I do when I write, down to the tiniest detail.
Mostly, it's just really cool. A couple of days ago, I heard him working on the lyrics with a collaborator. They sit out back under the avocado tree (the tree is actually on their property, although the branches happily extend to our side), and brainstorm. It's so awesome to hear them discuss phrases and rhymes -- it's just like the movies!!
Right now, as I write this, he's playing his guitar. Just a short, sweet acoustic riff. I think I'll go listen...
I'm a novelist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Find details on this "blog" about my books and appearances. Want to reach me? You can Contact Me here.
What I'm working on now:
- A new YA novel
- A middle grade novel
- An original screenplay for the Disney Channel
Writing Book of the Month:
"The Comic Toolbox" by John Vorhaus.