Sunday, October 31, 2010

Likes, Loves, and Mutual Appreciation

I woke up this morning to my mother shouting from the next room "Jerramy Fine Likes you." Of course, I knew this was in the Facebook sense of the word but it took me a minute to figure out why the author of the book I just finished would pay me any attention. Then I remembered - I wrote a post in my personal blog, Chronicles of My Quarterlife Crisis, two days ago in which I informally reviewed her book. Review may be the wrong word - I loved her book.

It's her autobiographical account of her childhood in a small U.S. country town, raised by hippies, and her obsession with finding her English prince. I feel like I know Jerramy Fine, not just because I've read her autobiographical novel, but because her life and mine are eerily alike. Growing up in a small country town among hippies and cowboys is one thing we have in common, but more importantly, we share the feeling of being misplaced at birth. Like the Stork's GPS system failed, and we were really supposed to go to argyle-clad families in thatched English cottages.

We both scooted over to England at the first opportunity, but the difference is - she didn't let anything stop her from staying there. Living in England is a difficult thing to do as an American girl. Immigration authorities are not kind. It's nearly impossible to get a work permit. Finding a British boyfriend... well, nobody tells that story better than she does. The woes and perils of modern dating are heart-breakingly represented. I'd love to pick her brain on "Ben and Xander's Guide to English Dating" which I posted after visiting Oxford last year, since I believe she somehow managed to get scaredy-cat Brits to ask her out on dates (a feat that Ben and Xander declared highly unlikely).

Basically, I'd invite her over for a pot of tea and cucumber sandwiches any time. So getting a shoutout from this kindred spirit on Facebook and Twitter was an incredible Halloween treat.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Brewing Company Hops into Wine-Soaked Solvang!

Normally I am content to subtly link my articles on my Published Writing page, but seeing this Feature article published is cause for celebration! If I hadn’t imbibed all the beer in my fridge already, I would be popping open a bottle, because this was a difficult birth. I initially interviewed the Renfrows in the partially finished Viking Room on June 25th, when the estimated opening date was in August. Then, the opening date was September, then Oktoberfest, and now – finally – the Solvang Brewing Company has opened its doors and my article hit the stands on Wednesday!

I’m always proud when a feature gets published, but I get special warm fuzzy feelings with this one. It’s the community connection that I love writing about, and covering the long-awaited reopening of the Viking Room and historic windmill allowed me to show what a special community Solvang is. The last paragraph captures the heart of the story:

“A few months ago, this gentleman pulled up—he had to be close to 90—all spiffed up in a dress shirt, a bola, and a cowboy hat, heavy Danish accent. He says ‘When ’ja gonna be open?’” recalled Renfrow, who gave the man the planned opening date. “Fantastic; that’s my seat,” replied the man. “I used to sit there with my wife. Can I have that seat opening day?” Renfrow immediately obliged, promising, “We may have to kick someone out, but that seat is yours.”

Where else can you find a 90-year old Danish cowboy in a pickup truck? Only in my home town.

So I would like to send a shout-out to the Renfrows, their partners, their brewmaster and chef for giving me outstanding material to work with and telling me the stories that created this story. Best of luck on your new venture, and I will be there this weekend to raise a glass to you in person.

Solvang Brewing Company
1547 Mission St., Solvang

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Travel Writer Needs Mental Vacation

 It’s only Wednesday, and I already feel like I need a vacation. One that includes sleeping and eating and lots of it. I spent Monday and Tuesday helping my friend at Blackmarket Bakery to create a press release and doing a few things around the store – who knew that there is actually quite a bit of technique involved to sticking labels on brownies? All those sticker-placement skills I learned in Kindergarten were put to use, which amused me to no end. But let me tell you, hanging out at a bakery for two days, smelling the deliciousness of artichoke asiago croissants, cabernet brownies, cherry chocolate chip cookies, and freshly baked tarts and cakes is torture. Very pleasurable torture. I’m still hungry.

And I’m tired. A mix of getting up early every day this week and learning a lot of new things (at the bakery and at fencing class on Tuesday), and writing all day today has me mentally bushed.

I need a little mental vacation. I need a mental cruise in fact. Because cruises are perfect. You get on a boat, eat, sleep, eat more, get out and look around, go back and eat and sleep.

This schedule is precisely why I am normally not a cruise person. I like action, adventure, and lots of walking. But today, I want to be on a cruise. Can’t afford one, so I think I’ll take a day off tomorrow to eat, sleep, eat, go to the gym (or think about going to the gym and watch TV instead), and sleep again. It’s almost the same thing and it will do for now.

(Incidentally, the picture is of an actual Blackmarket Bakery cake - they are really talented)