Thursday, July 24, 2008

California Bound...for the Moment

In the midst of making packing choices, (how many cashmere sweaters will I need in England? Should I include my measuring cups and spoons for all the kitchen pottering I intend to do?) I'm making Bed and Breakfast reservations all over the Scottish Highlands. Llew and I intend to drive (meaning that he will drive, I will navigate) for ten days in Scotland and Northern England before I begin my teaching stint in London in early September. As I browse through the websites trying to find suitable digs, my mind is filling fast with the most tempting visions of mist-hung lochs and heather-clad mountains, not to mention pebbly streams stocked with wild salmon and trout and wooded pathways alive with the sounds of grouse and pheasant. I fear we might never want to leave those heavenly vistas behind.

Then, reality strikes and I hasten to my duffel bag, forcing myself to bring my thoughts closer to home and the trip I will take this Saturday to the University of California at Santa Cruz to attend the annual Dickens Universe (where the focus is on Hard Times and Mary Barton by Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell). Because I know how chilly I was last year in those giant redwood environs--also mist enshrouded at dawn--I have stuffed the duffel with woolen sweaters and pantyhose and will keep a merino cardigan on hand for the flight. The long drive into Silicon Valley from San Francisco past San Jose into the heights of the campus that overlooks Monterey Bay will require me to switch from my East Coast summer uniform (shorts and T-shirts) to West Coast summer uniform (hoodies and jeans). I hope to get some serious writing done during the week while also exploring parts of the Bay, downtown Santa Cruz , Salinas and perhaps also snazzy Carmel-By-The-Sea.

It's hard to deal with the triple projects of packing for a conference week in Northern California on the one hand, for a week's vacation in the Scottish glens on the other and for a year in the British capital on the third. Talk about confusion worst confounded!

Tomorrow I am also on duty as a volunteer at the Pequot Library Annual Summer Book Sale where I shall probably be assigned the handling of the credit card payment gizmo--a thingamajig I learn to use afresh each year. Over 100,000 books, donated year-round by the members of our community, are on sale for an average of $1 each. This is the same weekend that our stores hold their Summer Sidewalk Sale but only early birds and eager beavers get the best bargains. The most coveted merchandise will be long gone by the time I wend my way to the stalls after library duty ends at noon. Still, my inner shopoholic is optimistic.

Summer in Southport...what's not to love about it?

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