This photo was taken on Feb. 9, 2002… 13 years ago, when Amelia was about six months old, and we were enjoying a family dinner at our home on Rocky Creek Road. We were joined by our other local family members, including Great Grandma Theresa Julien, Grandma Ginny Martin, Grandpa Bill Martin, Ann Kiefert, Chuck Bowling, and their kids Grace and Claire. I’m pretty sure this was one of the first dinners in this home, which was brand new at that time.
Although we moved from that home “into town” back in 2008, it was so special to us – holding priceless memories of both Amelia and Riley’s earliest years, and many of our own defining life-choices – that we could never bear to part with it. So, we have rented it out all this time, miraculously, to one family. Last weekend, Read more
All of this started playing out 14 years ago today – thought I’d bump it back to the top of this blog to rekindle the memories…
Escape from LA
by Roger Darnell
Wednesday, May 30, 2001: The Countdown Begins
As I sat at my desk at the end of the business day (night) on Tuesday, I knew I really needed to get some sleep to be ready to start loading the truck bright and early the next morning; surveying my office, though — still largely intact — it finally also sunk-in to me that I needed to get it packed, once and for all. Fast forward to 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning: I’d worked all the way through the night, the office was 98% done, the house was a scattered array of semi-packed boxes, furniture and closed boxes, all ready for the truck, and we were off to pick up the truck from Budget in Van Nuys on Sepulveda Blvd., the same place where we’d returned our truck from the 1998 move West. This truck was a little bigger — a sign that the move was a success? — and the car carrier, destined to transport our Honda Accord back across the country, may have been the same one we picked up from New Orleans on the previous trip. Beth had slept very little as well, so the recollection of truck-packing day is a little blurry. We were smart enough to request a couple of movers to come to our house at 9 to load the truck, and by 11, they were done. By 5 p.m., Read more
In November of 1998, Beth and I were living in our Barrington Way townhome in Glendale, California, which hosted us and our cats nicely enough through a very exciting and challenging time. Going back to Arc of the Poet, that was our critical California move in the so-called “Fame and Fortune” era. While I was extremely thankful at that time to have landed on the staff of Crest National in Hollywood, my film industry dreams were still very personal, and I pressed on to the best of my abilities on every front. Externally, I continued to “swing for the fence” by submitting my best writing up to that point to places like the Guggenheim Foundation, to competitions, literary agents and contacts I thought might take an interest in the projects or the talent behind them. Internally, even at that time which is now almost 15 years in the past, I had identified a “next level” goal: writing a novel. Maybe if I had won that 1999-2000 Guggenheim Fellowship I applied for in late 1998, I would have made more progress.
Today, that objective remains very high on my list, and my nine-year-old son Riley is just one of the writers in my life who is showing me how it’s done. Through his fourth grade class, he is participating in National Novel Writing Month. He took off at the beginning of November and has been piling on the words.
Another real inspiration for me is my father-in-law Bill Martin. His sixth book has just gone off to the publisher – so the first paperback edition of “Rio Pecos Compound” is just a few weeks away. The adventures continue on the “Tales of Mason” website: http://williamfmartin.com
With all of my writing experience, when I look at long-form fiction writing, my vision splinters into a great number of facets. I feel the responsibilities as designer, architect, resident artist, builder and storyteller, for starters. And as these pieces are organized, then comes the time to put them into action. In the past, I have been able to move characters forward within some pretty interesting narratives; solid choice of subject matter is imperative. That is where I have found myself many times over the years, ready and willing but needing to write the right thing.
I have a guess that when the alignment occurs, it becomes sort of sublime. Below is a poem I wrote on 11/21/98. Amid all the outward amplification of myself happening at that time, inside I knew I had to write engagingly and thoughtfully. So many words can go into something – each must hook, tantalize, convey and deliver along the way toward somewhere worth going, for some reason. I usually wonder this: What’s the reason?
Having recently learned about Canada’s tar-sand mining operations, I have found them to be a monumental man-made disaster. In Alberta, the depth and impact of this immoral business grows daily, expanding exponentially, with devastating consequences for the earth and its inhabitants; just some of us now, but eventually, everyone. Right now, the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline venture is on a fast-track to approval in America, promising to bring crude from Canada’s oil sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast of Texas – at high risk to our air, water and other precious natural resources. Many people are unaware of this story, which boils down to greed versus responsibility. Unfortunately, the blame for “allowing this to happen” touches us all.
It’s very easy to think this issue is not too important, but right now, lobbyists are pushing KXL through very easily. Their backers are set to win, and get richer and richer, at what expense to our environment? Fueled on by unlimited demand for oil and more oil, all those influences ensure oil companies continue turning massive profits every year at the expense of our environment; after all, those corporations are only doing what our laws and actions allow them to do.
It seems clear that only people can protect nature, and although we might reasonably expect our leaders to do so, if we don’t raise our voices in concern, they really cannot stand up and fight. Sadly, I feel that the damaging effects of the planet-altering tar-sand operations occurring inside Canada’s Boreal Forest speak for themselves. Of course, to those making money in that business, negative environmental impacts are trivial compared to tantalizing “jobs” and so-called “energy independence.” Many accept those claims without thinking and seem ready to defend KXL to its bitter end. Respectfully, we invite everyone to stop this madness and help us pursue new sustainable energy solutions. We should not risk trashing America’s natural resources!
Next, please go to tarsandsaction.org to learn the latest about the catastrophic environmental armageddon underway in Canada by oil companies, the misleading claims coming from those companies, powerful lobbyists in America and even some of our most respected leaders… and the irreversible toxic assault set to escalate against America’s natural resources if we don’t stand together now to stop it. Those behind this site are also organizing a demonstration in Washington D.C. on Nov. 6, so this is an excellent time for you to weigh in and help us advance this critical cause in your own ways. Please act soon, as the President may issue his final order granting or denying the KXL pipeline as early as November 1, so we have no time to lose.
Thank you very much for your attention, your peaceful, thoughtful action and leadership, and any constructive feedback you wish to share.
In case you missed yesterday’s report, we did finally catch my dad (aka Big Jim, or BJ) at Cracker Barrel, along with Peggy, my step-mom. We all had a nice dinner together somewhere around 9pm, and then we all made it to the Ramada there in Crossville, Tennessee. But darned if BJ didn’t have another trick up his sleeve, and sure enough, he beat us to Boone… by about an hour!
First, though, I need to back up a little. Read more
The wake-up call came at six Central time, and it actually succeeded in getting Beth to arise (it most certainly was wasted on me). Once awake, this hotel wasn’t a hard one to leave quickly, but we were a little worried to find Callie sitting in the front window, considering that pets weren’t allowed. Oh well — we figured that, if we receive a call from someone asking why they’d seen a one-eyed calico cat in our hotel room’s window, we’ll just say,
Waking up, of course, there they were, under the bed; and there I was, lifting the bed so Beth could scramble under to grab them, give each of our cats their ‘medicine’ and stow them in their carriers. This stuff is getting easier….
We’d settled into a nice hotel on night one, but still the sounds of the highway and the endless passing trains got us going early — or so we thought. Read more
It was time to get up and get moving, but by letting Maggie slip under the covers and curl up, we were able to grab a few more minutes’ rest. Lying there returning to our senses, all the great memories were just cobwebs; the focus was all about getting on the road. All the last junk was piled near the door soon enough, and we made it to Budget by seven, just after they’d opened, to get Dad registered to drive the truck. We were among the first customers in our favorite breakfast spot on the planet (thanks Alan and Fran!) and added BJ (Big Jim) to the long list of immediate family members who have traveled the country to eat there with us. Anyway, that was the last of LA. We got back to our place, loaded the car and pulled away. Ventura Boulevard to the 405 North entrance Read more
And, indeed, it was lights-out for those cats at about 6:45 on Monday morning. Beth was having none of Callie’s hiding under the bed trick — went right in after her — and the carriers were soon stuffed and loaded into our barely-recognizable car, and we into our Isuzu Turbo huge-windowed cab, the accelerator mashed into its position against the floorboard and 60+ mph average began counting down the 370 miles separating us from the property we’d agreed to lease for the next twelve months. Arizona continued impressing us with multi-colored silhouetted mountainscapes, and Saguaro Cacti covering stretches of mountain range most other plants had given up on. We thought about stopping before Blythe at the border to California, to take a picture. By then, Beth had been driving for about 40 miles. The “Now Entering State of California and Western Time Zone” sign was in the middle of a bridge across a river — no room to stop. However, after another sign, “All Vehicles Must Stop Ahead,” we found plenty of parking space at an agricultural inspection station. Read more
It was 4 in the morning when Maggie woke me up to let me know Callie couldn’t sleep. I got up and played with them a bit, peeking out the window to see that our possessions were still ours, then climbed back into bed to make the most of the warm bed where, unbeknownst to me, Beth was having a nightmare. She had also been woken up and had seen me looking out the window, but then, she fell back asleep. In her dream, I turned to her from the window and said, “Well, we might as well get going,” and she’d gotten up and started packing, swearing under her breath, “I just want to sleep; why can’t he just sleep for awhile longer?” Read more