In which my fridge is full of yummy leftovers, I decide to take it easy after a really busy weekend, I take two yoga classes back to back, and the highlight of my day is how much I love my old battered and paint-splattered dining room table being in the middle of the room with the new orchid on top and surrounded by the chairs dressed in the slipcovers my friend gave me. Little things like that make me really happy – which doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally splurge on the big things, but more on that later. I’ve a pretty epic adventure in store.
Also, my historical expert sent me her notes on my Betty manuscript today. As usual, she has really good insights, some of which are funny. She notices, for example that Betty eats way too much meatloaf – not a practical choice for summer in a home with faulty ACs. Point taken. I have to invent some other meals for Betty. What did people eat in 1961? So far I’ve come across shrimp cocktail. I also found out that was the year carpaccio was invented – but it’s unlikely Betty would have been eating such a thing in Galveston.
Also, my lucky lizard is still around. He’s shifted to sleeping on the other side of the lemon tree, and is now on a different leaf, with his tail hanging, not curled. But he’s still there. And I hope this little cold front we’re having doesn’t upset him.
I always look for the statue of Mary Star of the Sea when I go to Galveston. Standing on top of the Basilica, she’s a symbol of Island survival. In fact, they say that as long as Mary stands proud, the Island won’t go under. This superstition has even made it into my new manuscript.
But last week I noticed Mary was absent. The spire stood empty, which was upsetting in more ways than one. The friend and collector I had lunch with told me she was being restored. After all, she’s been standing up there since 1848. She was due some TLC. Still, a little voice inside me protested: Couldn’t they restore her once hurricane season’s over? Who’s going to protect us in her absence?
Three different friends texted me today to report on her whereabouts. It turns out one can actually visit her in the church parking lot until October 6th, and I think I will go. In the meantime I painted her. She does, of course, go very well with my large Storm Survivor painting.
Today it rained and I set out to make a large painting that would serve as the cover art of my new novel, the Galveston ghost story featuring Betty, Edna, Suzanne, and Josephine. I had collected many watercolors and drawings from this blog that are inspired by that manuscript. I decided to copy them in black and white, but was totally at a loss as to how to incorporate them into a large painting, and what exactly the background should be. It pretty much took all day, involved a lot of soul searching, and a lot of physical labor, but I now have something I really like! The final version of this painting will be revealed during an exclusive event at the gallery at the end of this month – when I will also reveal the title of this new book. But for now, here’s a sneak peek. Also, it’s totally surreal that it’s raining while I’m working on my hurricane story.
“Everyone knows those horses lived,” Gina said. “There’s nothing wrong with them saving their horses.”
There’s a story, probably apocryphal, about two horses rescued from the 1900 storm, that keeps coming up in conversations among the characters of my new novel. I really liked inserting that into the manuscript. And the longer I work on it, the more such ideas come to me.
I also made a different kind of abstract painting today. I’m calling it Layers of Identity. And I also did something I rarely do: I went to the movies with a friend and saw Hustlers, and really really liked it. It made me miss New York though, and made me think of how strange it is to have lived such different lives in so many places.
At night I saw the heron again. He appeared as an elegant silhouette in the grass just as I was thinking of some new ideas for my business. I took this as a good omen.
Today marks the anniversary of the Great Storm of 1900. It was a perfect day to work on my Galveston ghost story. Spoiler alert: neither Suzanne nor her nurse, Josephine, survives the Great Storm, but they house they live in does, so it occurred to me that in the 2008 chapters it should have one of those plaques marking it as a storm survivor, and that the characters should acknowledge this plaque, maybe even touch it for good luck.
The rest of the day was brightened by a trip to the Chrysalis, a meal with my friend, a half an hour reading outside at sunset, and a phone call from my mentor who wanted to check on me. All of this was nice and comforting, and I feel that the week ahead looks promising.