Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fairhope's Winter Visitor

Last year I spent the month of February in Fairhope. By the time I got back to Hoboken the brutal weather was about over and I made a decision I'd come again in 2011. So as I prepare for Christmas in upstate New York with my family I'm mentally packing my bags for a jaunt to warmer climes for the month of January.

Decided to push the date forward a month, choosing January instead of February, largely because of the events surrounding the Wharton Esherick events. Mark Sfirri, woodcarver, professor, and expert in the Modernists of the Philadelphia area in the 1920's, will be talking about Esherick at the Fairhope Library at 1 P.M. January 8. As noted in previous blog posts here, I met Sfirri at an Esherick symposium at the University of Pennsylvania in October and he was very intrigued by Fairhope and the role it played in the life of Esherick, his family and friends of that period. He'll show some of Esherick's art work and sculpture and put it in the context of Fairhope in that time frame.

The next week I'll speak at a tea at the Fairhope Museum of History on the history of theatre in Fairhope, which will cover the old Shakespeare Festival, the many informal theatrical events of the 1920's and 30's, the Fairhope Little Theater of the 1940's, and the birth of Theater 98 in the late 1950s, as well as Tom Pocase's Theater 8:15 and other theatrical projects including the Equity Jubilee Fish Theater of the 1990's. I'll talk to the Baldwin Writers' Group on Jan. 15 about how I got my two books, Meet Me at The Butterfly Tree and The Fair Hope of Heaven published in the early 2000's, and I'll be signing books at Page & Palette from 2-4 that afternoon. NOTE: My novel That Was Tomorrow set in Fairhope in 1921, is available on my website or on amazon. com, Barnes & Noble. com or iBooks.

My vacation month is fast filling up. I hear that an old friend may be getting married and several who have moved away are planning to be in town for the event on the 22nd. Haven't seen some of them in two or three years, so that will be nice.

Before the visit, I thought I'd spend most of the time doing research on my novel set in Fairhope in the 1920's. It didn't work out that way, but the book is now finished and available.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Time in Old Fairhope

From the novel I'm working on, That Was Tomorrow, here's an excerpt about The Gables, a hotel run by Capt. and Mrs. Jack Cross:

The first settlers, who had moved from Iowa and other parts of the Midwest, had not been farmers, but were eager to learn how to grow enough food to feed their families, and they had assumed this gloriously warm climate would provide a garden of Eden for them. By now they had learned that the soil of Fairhope was sandy and alkaline, not ideal for many crops. But they endured in a spirit of cooperation and optimism, and many had accepted conventional wisdom that citrus, particularly the new Japanese satsuma orange, might be the salvation of Fairhope’s economy. The growing season was indeed a long one, and they experimented to extend it even longer if they could by growing and preparing vegetables and fruit unknown to them before their move to the South. There was a bounty of okra, which was quite tasty when you got used to it, and there were varieties of peas, beans and nuts which they came to enjoy over time.

That initial visit, Amelia stayed at the Gables, a simple two-storey wooden building, which Mrs. Johnson had recommended to her. The Gables was a little less fashionable and less expensive than the Colonial Inn, which sat a few blocks west, on the bluff overlooking the bay. The Gables, on the other hand, was right in town and just a few blocks from the school. The Gables was run by Captain and Mrs. Jack Cross. Mrs. Cross was a busy, funny lady—and her husband a raconteur with an English accent, who held forth with his pipe and a cup of tea on the front porch every afternoon, as cronies and neighbors stopped by to discuss the fate of the world with him. They often talked about the politics of the village, and about the future of the single tax system, and about books they were reading and authors they admired. The elders of the town stopped by to air the latest issues they were dealing with—even E.B. Gaston, the editor of The Courier and virtually the founder of Fairhope—stopped by on his morning walk to exchange pleasantries with the Crosses. It seemed to Amelia that this little hotel was the hub of the community, but the more she got to know her way around, other such hubs were revealed to her. There were three or four little cafes in the village of about 1,500, and about 15 hotels with dining rooms, and coffee urns all over town were hot with fresh brew all day long.

“Wherever there’s people in Fairhope,” Mrs. Cross said to her, “There’s coffee. Or maybe that should be, wherever there’s coffee, there’s people.” She made tea for her husband and his friends, but there was always hot coffee as well. The Crosses, both devoted to the cause of single tax, had moved to Fairhope with the idea of running a farm, but, like many idealists who had never farmed before, changed their minds after a year or two, at which time they had taken over the management of the Gables Hotel, where Mrs. Cross cooked and supervised work inthe kitchen. She laid an old-fashioned boarding house type of table, which was popular with locals as well as transients.

Amelia found both the Crosses fascinating people, and their visitors from town were a certain breed—earnest, wordy, and wise, with one central agenda, which was how best to put Fairhope on the map and change the world through single tax philosophy.

They hadn’t yet realized that the wave of the immediate future of Fairhope was actually Amelia and those like her who were moving to the town to participate in Mrs. Johnson’s school. Seven years before, the famed educational philosopher John Dewey had come to Fairhope to review the school for a book he was writing. His visit had set the little village on its ear with excitement. The children, informed that the only day Dr. Dewey had available to observe the school was Christmas Eve, voted to keep the school open its regular hours that day so that he might get a fair picture of it in operation. Mrs. Johnson took some of them outside, as was her custom so often, to teach a class, Dewey’s daughter photographed the scene which became the frontispiece of a book.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Old Oak

I used to live on Bayview Street directly across from this oak tree. People who had grown up in Fairhope told me when they were kids growing up they would climb to one of the welcoming lower limbs and sit for hours and read. This came from at least two people of different generations, making the oak symbolize to me the mood of Fairhope of a former day, when children climbed trees to read and spent hours just exploring, playing, and dreaming. Marietta Johnson once said, "The little child should have much time for play, and even for dreaming. If one may not dream in childhood, when will time be found for this accomplishment?"

The oak came to evoke the heart of Fairhope itself to me--like a sturdy, comforting friend. That venerable tree had held growing children in its limbs when they still had time to read and to dream. I never passed it without feeling a nostalgia for its embrace even though I had never felt it. It is something I visit when I go back to Fairhope, just to scope out the neighborhood, just to confirm my hope that some good things don't change.
This woodcut, produced in the early 1920's by Wharton Esherick, looks like the same oak tree to me. Over the years it's had a limb or two pruned, and it has lost its Spanish moss, but it continues to grow and spread and be the best tree it can. I sent a copy of the top picture to one of the lecturers from the symposium and he says without a doubt it is the same tree. I hope we're both right, and that Esherick saw his own children climbing in it, and maybe lingering with a book in its sturdy branches. It is a remnant of the best of Fairhope. Wharton Esherick appears as a minor character in my novel That Was Tomorrow, set in 1921 in Fairhope. For more about my book, visit  my website.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Wharton Esherick and Fairhope

For the current inhabitants of Fairhope, the name Wharton Esherick is rarely remembered. But in his day he had some impact, and there can be no doubt that the years he spent in Fairhope (1919-1920) changed him forever.

I heard from my friend Chock McInnis about a symposium on Esherick at the University of Pennsylvania October 1-3, and we both planned to go. He was bringing some people from Fairhope, he hoped, and had great expectations for the conference. His special interest was in learning something about Sherwood Anderson, the writer who was Esherick's great friend in Fairhope, and picking up more information about Esherick himself. the symposium promised sessions on the many influences on Wharton Esherick, and Chock and I both knew he had always said he got his start as a woodcarver in Fairhope. I knew that Esherick had come to Fairhope to teach art at the School of Organic Education, and left with a new set of carving tools that was to change his life. But there was much more to learn.

At the prestigious UPenn symposium, I was astonished to hear "Fairhope, Alabama" ringing clearly any number of times in almost every lecture about Esherick. The picture these talks painted was of a Bohemian Socialist-leaning settlement in a remote and seductive place. I yearned to jump up and take the lectern to throw in a few choice facts myself. I had learned of Esherick when I worked at the Marietta Johnson Museum in Fairhope some ten years ago. A picture he had painted of Marietta Johnson hung in over the mantelpiece at the School Home, but I never knew that. It was not a flattering likeness, and as I child I always secretly hoped it wasn't her. Esherick was not very successful as a painter, but when he learned to carve he became known as the country's premier wood sculptor. His woodcuts are elegant and simple; his furniture is breathtakingly bold and practical as well. His relationship to his medium seems organic and fundamental. Along with a few other artists, he was present at the birth of what has come to be called Modernism.

Chock, Marlene Cavanaugh and I were all pleased to introduce ourselves at the coffee breaks to those who would listen by saying "We're from Fairhope!" although I had to qualify it since I no longer live there. At last Fairhope emerges from the shadows as more than a classy retirement community--a place that nurtured an artist who came to be in the vanguard of the Modernists. We watch Power Point presentations that showed snapshots of his family, him working in his woodshop, and samples of his paintings, woodcuts, sculpture, furniture, utensils, and even houses, designed by Esherick. His amazing oeuvre has a whimsical personality of its own, both practical and unique. It in many ways embodies what I think of as "old Fairhope," created as he himself evolved and lived what he thought of as an organic life. A very stimulating two days that left me with a wish for more--more recognition for Esherick and more information as Chock and I separately seek to research the Fairhope of the past.

Update in 2012: Wharton Esherick makes a cameo appearance in my book That Was Tomorrow, now available as an eBook. Esherick and his friend Sherwood Anderson make a brief appearance at a Fairhope party, which they may well have done in 1921. Esherick had left Fairhope but returned from time to time to visit, and he and Anderson did enjoy the party scene. That Was Tomorrow is now available on my website my website or on amazon. com, Barnes & Noble. com or on iBooks.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Meet Marietta Johnson

My sister-in-law, Maggie Mosteller Timbes, has created a video with herself as Marietta Johnson, the visionary educator who founded Fairhope's School of Organic Education in 1907. Maggie is director of the museum, which is one of the oldest buildings in Fairhope, located on the School Street side of Faulkner Community College campus in Fairhope. As you'll see from the video, it's worth a visit!

To view and hear it, just click on "the video" above.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Remembrance of Things Past

You can’t think of Fairhope today without grieving. The oil slick lies ominously close; a tropical storm is churning in the southern Gulf; hurricane season will begin in a matter of weeks, and the town is working feverishly in 95 degree heat to ward off the almost certain effects of the gushing spill. Will boom work, will barges, fences, and committed citizens be able to keep the oil from Fairhope’s precious resource—Mobile Bay? We who live afar watch in horror and fear for the outcome.

If you’ve never visited Fairhope, you may not comprehend fully the enormity of the disaster, no matter what is done. In my book, The Fair Hope of Heaven, I wrote this of the beach in Fairhope:

You can see the old pictures all over Fairhope today – ladies in their modest bathing suits, gentlemen wearing neckties and straw boaters, gleeful children leaping into the warm unpolluted waters of Mobile Bay. Before 1928 the only way to arrive in Fairhope was by bay boat from Mobile…surely those were the days Fairhope was a paradise of summer joy, centered on the bay with its public pier, its sandy beach, its casino (not, as some would have it today, a gambling house, but a barn of a building with a big dance floor and showers and changing rooms for bathers), its little wharf restaurant, and its inns on the bluff overlooking the water -- with wide porches to catch the breeze.

There were once dance pavilions scattered along the beach front. Local bands played music you could dance to – the baker who moonlighted as a bandleader was dubbed “Buns Lombardo” by his buddies who wanted to capture all his talents with one moniker. The first ice cream factory in the state was at the north end of the beach, where the duck park now is. There were sliding boards off the pier; there was a track that took the “People’s Railway” up the hill – uptown to the center of business. Fairhope was a town of talk in the winter – of ideas, meetings, forums, plans, and visions – but summers belonged to the beach.

By the 1950’s, when I was a teenager, there was as yet little air conditioning in our world. Our bodies adjusted to climate changes. We played outdoors all year long and found no displeasure in being hot in the summer, because, after all, summertime was when you got to go outside, climb trees, explore gullies, and swim in the bay every single day. Most everybody went to the Yacht Club to learn to sail and to win races. The public tennis courts were near the gully’s edge across from the University of South Alabama theater (at that time St. James Episcopal Church). Now there is a parking lot where the courts were. One of those early dance pavilions, Burkel’s, had become a roller rink by the 1940’s and was a popular place until it was destroyed by fire in the early 1950’s. Burkel’s was located on the beach at the foot of Pier Street.

Even with excessive heat and humidity, we went to the beach. We didn’t perceive the heavy air as a sweltering damp blanket, but as a comforting mist-forest that reminded us that it was summer in the most wonderful life we could imagine.

Citizens of Fairhope are bracing today--and have been for weeks--for what is to come from the leaking geyser of oil off the coast of Louisiana. Here they are demonstrating "Hands Across the Sand" to protest further deepwater drilling. Diehard opponents of government intervention are begging the president to do something to help, not trusting that he is certainly doing all in his power. Lovers of the profit motive and the large corporations who fought for and achieved lack of oversight and cost-cutting that led to the spill are hard put to defend them at this point. But most of all they are working through the grief process and its five inevitable steps: Denial, anger, bargaining, sorrow, and acceptance. Things will never be the same.

Some, mostly those who moved to Fairhope because of what they describe as its pristine perfection or its storybook charm, will choose to leave as suddenly as they came. But those who stay will discover the real Fairhope, the soul of the brave little settlement which was founded on an idea of perfecting the human race, and not just providing comfort and aesthetic charm for it. Fairhope will survive and come out a strong and fine place, the place it always was. Much will be different, but a great deal will be the same and perhaps better.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Readying for Re-Entry

February 28, 2010

This is Sunday, the last day of my one-month vacay in Fairhope. It's been by turns edifying, exhilarating, stimulating, and disappointing--but I'm leaving with a sense of accomplishment and eagerness to get back to my life in New Jersey. By far the best part of the vacation was the escape to moderate temperatures in a February that may go on record as one of the most brutal in the Northeast since they started noting such things in weather history.

I'm starting to get packed, and hope for a marathon tutorial on my new Mac today from the person I refer to as my Mac-friend, who has the patience of Job and knows the equipment literally from the inside out. When I sit at a computer I tend to think of it as a glorified typewriter, and ignore many of the features and programs that would make working on it easier and more effective than the old Smith Corona. Maybe I'll get some new information that will bring me more in line with the 21st Century. However, knowing computer-geeks types under the age of 60, I may not see him at all today and will be on my own with the electronics.

I tell some of the story of this month on my other blog, Finding Myself in Hoboken. It will be months and perhaps years before I actually know what I got out of this month, but I am already trying to address its significance. The weather factor is really what brought me here, but Fairhope itself imposed its will on my journey by throwing a few people in my path and exposing me to the ambiance unique to the town. The family homestead in Montrose seems to have been sold (with a closing date set for mid-March) and my brother and I were drawn closer in our mutual dealings with the absent sister who has all the cards. I did not have time to accomplish all the things on my own agenda, but none was crucial, and, being on vacation, I did not push myself to do anything that didn't come rather easily.

I took out a temporary membership at the gym at the hospital and kept up my exercise program as well as I could--going at least three times every week and usually four, as I do in Hoboken. I tried to watch what I ate, but have no doubt will have gained a few pounds. I went to a lot of dinner parties and even gave one myself.

Being in Fairhope changes people a little, and I hope I have changed for the better this time. I reflected on why I left and why I still enjoy the place when I return, and why I look forward to leaving and also look forward to a return visit next year. Just thinking about all that will change you a little. Fairhope means more to me than it might to most people, because it ignites inner conflict ("You can't go home again") that may never be resolved, or might actually have been resolved years ago. My book The Fair Hope of Heaven describes this pretty well, I think.

I visited with so many people, way more than I do in a month in Hoboken. Most of them assume I've got at least one more book in me, and all who do beg me to write about something other than Fairhope. I came here with the intention of starting work on just that, and have not written one word of it.

Starting work as a writer doesn't always mean writing. What is buzzing around in my brain now may well become a book in coming years. If so, I think it will be a good one. And I think Fairhope will have a place in it, if only because of my own back story, having grown up in Utopia (apologies to Paul Gaston, who has a recent and excellent book about Fairhope with that title), left it, and never stopped looking back.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The House I Built

February 24, 2010
Today I was driving in Montrose, the village where I lived until the age of 19 when I left to get married, the village that is now almost completely swallowed up by Fairhope itself. I decided to whip out the digital camera and get a photo of the house I built in 1999 and lived in until about 2003.

It was based on plans from Southern Living Magazine for a "Gulf Coast Cottage." Our mother gave the three children lots off the back of her property and each could do what he or she wanted with it. I wanted to build a house that looked and felt like the old-fashioned houses that had graced "old" Montrose in the years I grew up there. There is a large central hall and equal-sized rooms at the front on either side. I had the time of my life buying antiques to fill it, buying antique architectural elements (the front door, for instance) to enhance its connection to the past. It was a wonderful house to live in.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Houses I Have Owned

February 20, 2010

Driving back to my little cottage this morning I noticed that I was not only taking the long route, the scenic route, I was destined to pass three houses that I had owned when I lived in Fairhope. I looped around the long end of Bayview Street, once named Bayview Avenue (a name more melodious, and rhyming to boot), passed the curve, and saw the little creole cottage I once occupied with my late husband Jim Adshead. The once small one-storey has grown over the years and now looks rather imposing from the street, but still says "old Fairhope" with its situation on the lot and the oaks surrounding it. Then I crossed Fairhope Avenue, drove over the filled-in gully where the street replaced what had once been a little footbridge, and on my right was the beautiful bungalow where I last lived in Fairhope, the house I called "The Captain's House," because it had been built by Capt. Roberts, one of the bay boat pilots from Fairhope's early days. I've written much about the captain's house on this blog--using the little search window you can find many descriptions of it. Much of my heart is in both those houses.As I neared my rental, three houses away as a matter of fact, I came upon the house I once owned on the corner of Liberty and Pine Crest. Small and compact, this is a little 1950's cottage, like so many in the "fruit and nut" district (so named because of the preponderance of streets named for fruits and nuts), that doesn't look like much outside but has a lot of charm once you cross its threshold.

All these houses have been extensively remodeled since the days I lived in them. They look spruce and bright, and beckon the passersby to come in for a visit. In many ways I wish I could do just that, but I also know that my time in each of them has passed and I am off on another journey. Happy houses. Beautiful day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Winter Cottage

When I was asked what distinguished my rented cottage my answer was, "Nothing. From the outside it looks exactly like all the houses in the Fruit and Nut District."You enter into the adorable 1950's kitchen.Then you come into the cute little 1950's Fairhope livingroom.There is a charming "cottage" master bedroom.And a sunny second bedroom.There is, in fact, a little dining room and a nice back yard. Only one bathroom, but it's shiny and comfy for all practical purposes.

This house is typical of the kind of places that were built to be affordable, in the years roughly between 1955 and 1970, in a neighborhood with streets named Pecan, Kumquat, Orange, and Fig. All are not named for fruits and nuts--there is Pier Street, there is Liberty, there is Pine Crest. This particular house is not far from the bay, and the picturesque geography of Fairhope itself adds interest to the situation. It's cozy and livable. Notice there is a camellia bush in the front yard, and it has blossoms in February.

I may make this winter vacation a yearly habit. So far, it is working out well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Adventure in Florida

A few months back I was invited to talk to a book club at the Santa Rosa County Library in Florida about The Fair Hope of Heaven. This library is in Seaside, and apparently Fairhope has a lot of fans in Seaside. (Seaside's developers are said to have made a number of visits to Fairhope when in the design phase.)

I was in Hoboken, where I now live, when I got the information that the book club in Seaside had read The Fair Hope of Heaven and wanted to meet me. I already had plans for a vacation in Fairhope for the month of February, so the talk was arranged. I had been through Seaside before but had only a vague idea of where it was in relation to Fairhope. I figured it was just a hop the other side of Pensacola, which is an hour's drive. Joan Head, the organizer of my excursion, arranged a night's lodging for me in the carriage house of her friends, Ralph and Ann Bogardus. (Ann said, "Joan calls it a carriage house. We call it a garage apartment.")

The talk was set for Tuesday after my arrival in Fairhope the preceding week. I was to spend the night in the carriage house, make my talk at 10 A.M., join Joan and the Bogarduses for lunch, and then drive back. Anticipating a drive of about two hours total, I packed and left in the late afternoon Monday. I drove and drove. Crossed the bridge to Pensacola beaches, drove through Gulf Breeze, Navarre, and on and on. I was sure I had gone too far. I pulled into a little Gas 'N' Go and showed the man behind the counter my directions. He shook his head and said I hadn't gone nearly far enough, that I was headed in the right direction, and just to keep driving.

It was dark. I was hoping to be there by 7 P.M. because Ann said that Ralph was making jambalaya. I always get antsy when I think I've driven too far, and that happens usually when I haven't driven long enough, so I knew this was just a much longer drive than I anticipated. Still, I wasn't clear about when to make my turn, so I pulled over once again. This time the man behind the counter knew nothing of where Seaside was or how to get there. Luckily, there was a customer in the store who told me I still had about 20 miles more to drive.

I made a turn at the appointed spot, then drove for a mile or two with nothing in sight, so I was sure I was going the wrong way. This time I went for my cell phone and called the Bogardus number. Ralph was friendly and told me to turn around. I did and came to the end of the road and realized I had been going in the right direction in the first place. Hoboken friends and acquaintances will recognize from my many posts about being lost in New York City and in Hoboken that this is becoming a pattern with me. I don't have the best sense of direction in the world, and, as a matter of fact, even when I'm going the right way I tend to think I'm not.

I found Ralph and Ann's house, and Joan was there with her husband Bob, all awaiting the jambalaya and a visit with the befuddled author. We hit it off as if we'd known each other for years. I spent a nice night in the garage apartment, wondering if I'd have anything to say about the book or about Fairhope when I spoke the next morning.

I needn't have worried. The book club was a very friendly audience. Most had read my book and loved Fairhope, finding its history very interesting. I was comfortable telling them about the book, why I wrote it, and answering questions about Fairhope today and yesteryear. Had my lunch and went back to pack for the return trip.

Now I was prepared for the almost-four hour drive, I shook hands with Ralph and Ann and thanked them for their hospitality and said, "If you're ever in Fairhope, come and see me."

It wasn't until I was about half and hour on the highway, with a Frank Sinatra CD playing in the car, that I realized I don't live in Fairhope any more.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Bountiful Trip To Fairhope

January 25, 2010

Got my suitcase out, just checked the weather forecast for next week in the Mobile area, and am getting in the frame of mind to spend the month of February in a furnished cottage in Fairhope. It won't be like the trip to Bountiful, of course, where the old lady remembers a glorious farm of her childhood and yearns to return, only to find there is nothing there any more. I know exactly what to expect as I was there for two weeks in November.

But there is some nostalgia involved. I lived in Fairhope in my childhood and teenage years and then returned for 20 years, moving back to the Northeast in December of 2007. I spent the 20 years trying to connect with the Fairhope I remembered, and if possible to change it back, finally realizing that the "new" Fairhope had won out and I would either have to accept its reality or move. I moved, and am adjusting to what Fairhope has become from a distance. Maybe by vacationing there I can come to accept, not only Fairhope, but life in the 21st Century everywhere.

I've noted a number of people find this blog by Googling "Fairhope Utopia." The dichotomy of Fairhope today is that even though it has been transformed from the utopia of its founding, it is still being discovered by people who regard it as a utopia. It's not surprising that we are still looking for Utopia--Thomas More's 16th Century concept of a community that is as close to heaven as we earthlings can get. Even though Conservatives use the words "utopia" and "idealist" as negatives, they still strum on the heartstrings of people everywhere.

I've written two books about the utopian ideal that was responsible for Fairhope's creation. My first, Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree, was a nostalgic trip taken by me with Bob Bell, who had written an enchanting novel set in Fairhope entitled The Butterfly Tree. In my second book, The Fair Hope of Heaven (note I spell Fairhope as two words, as in the name of this blog and as seen in Paul Gaston's beautiful little history Women of Fair Hope)I expand on the theme of utopia to bring Fairhope into the present day.

All these books can be found at Fairhope's indie bookstore, Page and Palette, and more information about those I wrote are described on my website Finding Fairhope. I need not tell those who are not near Fairhope that the books can be found on and The best book about growing up in Fairhope and then facing the larger world is Growing Up in Utopia, by Paul Gaston. If you want to know more about that one, scroll down in this blog.

For a month I will be ensconced in a little furnished house in my old neighborhood, which is known as the Fruit and Nut District because the street names are almost all either names of fruits or names of nuts. There were never many fruits or nuts living there; it is a very conventional neighborhood that grew populous in the 1950's and looks it. My cottage will have all the comforts of home.

I expect to do a lot of reading and writing on this vacation, and a lot of visiting with people I've known for years. It will be a more social life than I have in my cocoon in Hoboken, which is so close to the city life of Manhattan yet so isolated and self-involved. I'll make a few book talks and do some work with the Marietta Johnson Museum. I'll bask in balmy weather (I hope) and check out the daily sunsets. I'll meet with realtors about the family homestead. I'll try to avoid talking politics and focus on what I want to write and how I want to write it.

Much will probably appear on this blog--yet I don't want any blogs to steer me off my bountiful track. Stick with me and let me know what you think.