The Gathering of Books and gratitude today…

I’m gathering up books and bits of my life today to see what stays here and what goes to Alabama. I’m going to get back on my blog once I’m settled back in the Central Time Zone. I’ve tried to see everyone here and it’s just impossible – a walk, a coffee, a glass of wine. I’m in that horrible utter place of distraction of trying to pack and trying not to think too much of the people I didn’t get to see.

They say in Al-Anon that it’s good to make a gratitude list when things are spinning.

So here’s a gratitude list for today.

We’re seeing “An Act of God” tonight with Ellen Wittlinger and her family. Hooray!

I’m taking a walk today with friends at 3:30 through Elysian Park – one more walk.

I spent yesterday with Rebecca and Dale getting massages thanks to Gary, and it was so lovely and then a wonderful dinner with Sally and Amy.

A long time ago, I saw Gary and Dale in “Sweeney Todd” and fell in love with both of them as sang of meat pies and London. Dale and Gary played Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett. And I saw Rebecca as Masha in “The Three Sisters” and fell in love with her and all her stories too.

So it’s been years of stories with all of them.

How lucky.

And dinner with Donna and Joe and stories of Salka Viertel (Donna’s book).

And dinner Marla and Amy and learning about the Haden Triplets!!!! (My heart/that music!)

A lunch with Peggy and Lori and stories upon stories.

And a walk in Descanso Gardens with PB, Ellen, Diana, and Heather to celebrate the camellias.

Coffee with Tom and Kiffen.

Coffee Judith D. and Marlene and apple cake.

Coffee with Judith T. celebrating her beautiful story.

Days of writing.

Gatherings of writers and artists.

Sasha’s wedding.

Two trips to San Diego to my parents’ welcoming home and love.

Flannery gave us the old Hollywood tour and we had some really good visits with him, and I’ll miss him.

Mike Tait came from Dundee, Scotland to visit and gave us back our old lives a for week.

100 pages of my middle grade novel have been revised.

I’m working on a memoir about China and more. Who knew?

I’ll get to see Norah tomorrow who has been boarding at AFSA and finding her independence.

We spent an evening celebrating Noah with Kate and Billy but his loss is so hard still.

Better Call Saul is on Netflix!!!!!

We have a stack of British film and television to devour.

We saw “45 Years” and it was wonderful.

We had so much time together.


* * *

I’m so tired.

It’s not a day to be blogging.

My brain is in too many places.

But here’s a little section of Vulcan where I had to jump off the diving board of safe realistic fiction and into fantasy.

I tried to think like a kid again in my addled adult head.

* * *


VULCAN CAN’T SLEEP SO HE CLIMBS DOWN OFF the pedestal, leaving his spear and hammer behind. He does some deep knee bends and stretches to get the feeling back into his legs. He hopes everyone in Birmingham stays asleep. Then he starts walking and moves fast for somebody holding still for so long. He can’t even believe he is doing it, but now that he can’t sleep very much anymore, maybe a good walk will help him sleep – all because that kid keeps writing and writing to him. It is exhausting to have these thoughts pinging back and forth inside his iron brain.

He walks along the trail under the TV station and a large white building on a cliff where he sometimes hears music playing at night, but all is silent now. He doesn’t have much time. He’ll have to be back on his giant perch before the city wakes up and finds him missing. He’s has taken short walks back when he lived at the Alabama State Fair but not since he moved up on Red Mountain. But now he is determined to find Millie-Graciella’s rundown apartment building and get a closer look at it himself. He has no intention of helping the girl. He just wants to see where she lives and possibly ask her to stop writing to him so he can go back to sleep. He misses sleeping and now he is wide awake, listening to the banshee in the woods, and worrying about the kid’s father in the detention center and the old lady, Ganny, too. It is all too much for the iron giant’s brain.

As he tiptoes down the mountain, his footsteps sound like soft claps of thunder in his ears. He follows signs along Green Springs Highway past pawnshops, PAY-DAY LOAN stores that look like cheery hamburger places, and blinking liquor signs back over Red Mountain down Valley Boulevard into Homewood. He searches for clues like the fat man’s tricycle, busted up screen doors, and the fire station with 9-1-1 calls.

After many zig-zags and wrong corners, Vulcan spies the fire station and next to it the beat-up apartment complex with a large tricycle, far too big for a child. Surely it belongs to the fat man, Mr. Gilbert. As Vulcan stomps closer on tippy-toe, the crepe myrtle tree shivers in the courtyard even though it is a hot August night. Vulcan peers inside the window of Apartment A, and sees the family sleeping except for the old lady in a hospital bed. She is staring at him with a smile. But right then he hears a 9-1-1 call at the fire station nextdoor.

A voice yells, “It is so an emergency. I’m not crazy. I have insomnia and so I was awake. I swear I saw Vulcan out there on Green Springs Highway.”

            “Are you drunk, sir? Have you been drinking?”

            “I’m telling you I saw him over on Green Springs near the Salvation – .”

            “Sir, I suggest you take an aspirin and – ”

But Vulcan doesn’t wait to hear the rest. Should he jump or run? He takes a chance and jumps. Boom. Ouch. Let’s try that again. Jump, boom. Ouch. Now, focus…And jump, and then this time he really focuses and aims for the stars on his giant iron legs to get back onto his pedestal in a flash. Once firmly planted up on Red Mountain, he picks up his hammer and raises his spear to the sky as the red sun is rising.

* * *

And just to end the gratitude list:

These three beauties from 2010.


Flannery lucy norah UCSB


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