18 October 2008

Last Weeks before Election

We are all so excited. Should I be even thinking this? I should wait just in case the bad luck gods are listening. Okay, I'll wait until November 5 to jump for joy!
Meanwhile, we are sailing along, embracing fall, bravely saying goodbye to oh, beautiful, beautiful summer. Last week we went to listen to Paul Theroux give a hugely disappointing talk. What a downer to discover that somebody you've 'known' for years - in his personal narrative style books he has a way of making the reader feel like you and he are real good pals - is actually boring on the stage. He seemed to go off on tangents A LOT and the audience was left wondering if he actually spent any time preparing his talk. I do recommend his books, though. I loved SIR VIDIA'S SHADOW and MY SECRET HISTORY.

We also went to a few local concerts recently. Jennifer Terran is a local singer/songwriter and performs for a select audience at her home in a converted barn. She has loads of talent and the atmosphere at her place is warm and friendly. Another concert we went to was at a cafe - Muddy Waters. We saw Scott Ray, the brother of our friend, Vickie Ray, a professional pianist. Scott does this slide guitar thing and creates very interesting, whimsical music. He happens to be married to someone from Durban! Vickie is married to Shaun, who grew up in Ladysmith! What a world of coincidences we live in!

Oh, another big event was me being a guest author at a local event called "Breakfast with the Authors". This is organized by the school county library and it's an opportunity for educators to meet and interact with local writers of children's books. Each author had to give a two minute talk so I tried my best to sound impressive and worldly.

With two months of teaching behind me already I have to say I'm really enjoying it all. Mostly because the students I have are really sweet and are very highly motivated. It's such a pleasure to go to school everyday and see their smiles and feed their brains. They are good, and I see them lapping up knowledge like hungry kittens.

05 October 2008

Sunday Thoughts

Yesterday, Saturday, all of us in Santa Barbara were walking around with big smiles. The reason: it was a grey, drizzly day! The last time it rained here was in late February. so we were delighted. Trees and shrubs in our gardens are still covered with ash from the big July fire so we welcomed a downpour to rinse off the air and the plants and make it all clean again. By mid-afternoon the clouds had pretty much disappeared and the sun made its appearance. Today we woke up to blue skies and warm temperatures.

This past week we had a string of sweltering days. Not terribly unusual for us. It's as if summer is making a last burst of effort. You can tell it's all just a show, though. Kinda like Sarah Palin pretending to know stuff. Fall signs are all over the place. Am I ready for short days and crisp evenings? Never!

As I made my Sunday rounds - pool, hot tub, then market - I thought about delightful Sundays I experienced in other places. In the fall of 2004 we were on Sabbatical in Barcelona and there we used to start the day by going to the local bakery and buying breakfast pastries and a yummy cake for dessert in the evening. Often we chose 'The Opera', a layered chocolate cake. Then we'd pick up a newspaper - The Observer - overpriced, but we craved news from the English speaking world - and spent the mornings relaxing with coffee, pastry, and the paper. I would then go to the gym across the road and do my 'spa' routine - pool, hot tub, sauna. Around midday Daryl and I would take the metro into the city and have lunch at Maoz Falafels. This tiny place - right on the Ramblas was always crowded. They made terrific falafels and you got to stuff your pita pocket with an enormous selection of great fillings. A truly satisfying meal. Then we would head out to a cafe we discovered just past the market for coffee and a chocolate dessert. This was sinful indulgence. We would spend the afternoon sightseeing and afterwards head out to an atmospheric square for a glass of wine. Back home we'd prepare a dinner with the amazingly wonderful produce and mushrooms, etc we found so easily in Barcelona, and end the day with the delicious cake we purchased in the morning.

Other fun Sundays - like the ones in Cape Town and the ones in Oxford - scrolled through my mind too. But, Santa Barbara is such an uplifting city that I didn't find myself longing to be elsewhere.

Even though I feel resentful about not owning my time anymore, I can't say that my days are awful. I'm enjoying teaching third grade. The kids are so delightfully motivated and so full of heartwarming innocence. They love to read and would keep their books on their laps to sneak a quick read whenever they can. They are also so thrilled that their teacher is an author. One of my students checked out UNDER THE AFRICAN SUN from our school library. The kid who sits next to her looked at her other book and said to her, "Did Ms Moodley make this book too?" Cute, or what!!

And so life has slipped back into the 'normal' state. The university is back in session and so downtown is busier and grocery shopping at Trader Joe's on Sunday afternoons is impossible.

A month from now we'll know exactly how racist America is. The whole world knows who we should pick for a president, but will it happen? I think so!!