The Nesting Game

By Anita Garner

Staying inside for long periods of time isn’t unusual for some of us. We’re nesters. If a cozy spot isn’t available, we’ll make one.

Be still my heart.

I’m a magpie, gathering a few things that make me feel at home and a few other things that turn a nest into a work space when needed. Everywhere I visit, everywhere I’ve lived, it’s always one small spot that gets my attention. No matter how large the room is, I’ll end up using just one part.

The British have a nice word for these kinds of places. They call a small, peaceful space a “snug.”

There’ll be a place to set down a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea, whichever screens I’m using, pad and pen, magazines, books, pillows, snacks, move a lamp closer, turn a comfy chair to face a favorite view.  Window or not, there should be something peaceful to look at.

Drawn to rustic

Whether it’s an estate or a cottage or an old house for sale, visiting in person or online, I play the pick-a-room game.  Which of these rooms will become a nest?  I appreciate, admire, absorb and when  I leave, one room always stays longest in memory. Online I check out country manors where we see lots of family libraries and before the tour moves on, I’ve chosen a place over by the window.

Okay this is Highclere Castle.  Not your typical “snug.”
It’s Downton Abbey. I’ll take that chair way back there on the left.

I’m interested in people who fix up falling down buildings and reclaim barns and turn piles of wood into habitable homes.  Right now I’m on Instagram helping a family choose paint colors for their summer cabin on a lake somewhere.  I don’t know their names or where this lake is, (maybe I have been inside too long) but they ‘re talking about screening a small porch and that’s interesting. Lots of nesting opportunities on a screened in porch.

If I could create the perfect Instagram account or one perfect magazine for compulsive nesters like me, it would be called,

“Cottages & Cabins & Barns & Castles With Corners
& Nooks & Some Nice Flowers & Trees Nearby &
Once In A While Some Recipes.”

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Missing You. Deli Dreams.

By Anita Garner

Everyone’s posting on social media about what they miss during quarantine, what they’re looking forward to when we’re allowed to mingle.  Some people say poetic things about giving and getting hugs and being out in nature. For me, it’s deli.

My friend, Karin Moss, and I are both deli lovers.  We share conversations about meals at our favorite delis from  years in the entertainment industry in L.A.  I don’t think it’s coincidence that I lived around the corner from Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City and a quick walk away from Art’s.

Now we’re both in Northern California eagerly awaiting the opening of a new deli in Sonoma County.  Full name:  Grossman’s Noshery & Bar.  We had lunch all planned but before we could catch even a whiff of a bagel, quarantine postponed our chat ‘n chew date.

Grossman’s is ready.  You can see them in there cooking up tantalizing stuff for pickup, but we’re not allowed inside yet. They occupy a corner of the historic Hotel La  Rose building in Santa Rosa across the street from Railroad Square where Peanuts statues stand, paying tribute to local genius Charles Schulz and watching over all that goodness.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown watch the building across the street
because that’s where the deli is.

Woodstock and Lucy probably dream of soup

When we’re free to roam, here’s how I see this going:   Bagels to start, then properly fortified, a swing through the Russian River redwoods to catch up at Howard Station Cafe in Occidental.  Overnight on the coast and back through the woods in time for a tall corned beef on rye at Grossman’s. Maybe a little something to take home. A perfect Sonoma County weekend.

Howard Station Occidental, CA

Bonus view of side street next to Howard Station

Until this can happen, we chat about whatever subject is at hand and one of us signs off with some version of “Can’t wait for our nosh at Grossman’s.”

 

These Two

By Anita Garner Gramma K (Zula) and Mother (Fern)
Glendale, California 1960’s

These are the women I come from. The one on the left liked a cocktail or two and danced the night away.  The one on the right left her job as a honky tonk singer to run off with her love, a situation that never was forgiven.

These two couldn’t get along but also couldn’t do without each other. When my family traveled the Deep South, we took many three-day trips on Route 66 from wherever we were performing to Southern California because Mother’s mother migrated there.

Tears at our kitchen table from Mother until Daddy said let’s go.  Within a few hours of our arrival, these two started needling. Each knew the other’s vulnerable spots.  Then the cloud blew over and they were laughing, remembering, acting like schoolgirls with a shared history.  And that’s the way it went all our lives.

Talented.  Bossy.  Emotionally unpredictable. Both of them were all that and each thought the other was more so.

When I was growing up, I’d have told you if it was nurturing you sought, you might want to try another house on another street.  Through the years I’ve seen all kinds of moms, many of them equally as colorful as the women in my family. I’m not sure anymore what  a traditional mother looks like, but if you want examples of what strong women can accomplish, look no further than these two.

 

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I had to stop scrolling for a minute.

By Anita Garner

I spend hours at a keyboard every day and I now have so many versions of my new novel in progress, I lost track of a character I really like.  What happened to Sofia, that little girl I wrote?  I stumbled through multiple files with confusing names, looking for her.  I should never revise when I’m tired.  Or distracted. Or out of coffee. Cutting and pasting and moving paragraphs onscreen offer freedom but they’re risky for a person like me.  My keyboard needs a warning device. Ding, ding ding.  Are you sure you want to change that again?  Ding ding ding.  Maybe wait til you’re fully awake to create another file.

I started as a writer with hard copies, pen in hand, scribbling in margins. I’m glad to have other choices today, but I had to stop scrolling through this project for a while to sort it out.  Drastic measures were needed. I moved all the files to a flash drive and handed it over to someone else to print. I dropped it off one day, picked it up the next, and in between took a little breather.

All the versions are waiting for me on my work table now and those hard copies recognize me. They tell me we’ve done this before, we’ll work our way out of this.

Now that I’m back to editing this the old way, my characters’ thoughts and dreams and misdeeds will be spread all around the room, on the green carpet and on the tall table and on the redwood plank desk under the window.  One strong breeze can scatter pages and change lives.

This morning I found my missing Sofia.  She was right there when I turned over one more printed page, which led me to find the file where she’d been living on the computer. It turns out she isn’t in the story very long but now that I’ve located her, I’m so happy to see her, I’ll give her more to do.A scrolling digression:  Did you see the video of the one year old girl in France trying to make magazines behave like an iPad?  Scrolling was obviously what she learned first so it was second nature.  I wonder if there’ll be hard copies in her future.

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