Posted by: jeannineatkins | July 29, 2010


Sorry about being a bad blogger the past week or two. I was just having too much fun, and little internet access, on a family vacation. This was followed by catching up and making a wobbly way back into my writing routine, which, having spent the first half of July doing slash and burn, has become more about quietly adding and arranging.

Here’s a quick recap with pictures my husband mostly took while visiting our daughter at her home in L.A. We loved seeing where Emily works, and enjoyed the courtyard, which smells faintly of limes from small trees. I put my computer on the table there for a while, and Em noted, “It looks like you could stay here all day.” Yes, or about forever. But while she worked, Peter and I toured the La Brea Tar Pits. We breathed air that smelled like spring roadwork and imagined stories from the days of mammoths and American lions that we’ll probably never write. A girl who shouted out about two orange dragonflies fluttering over the deep black pits may make it into a manuscript. See? I did work a little.

The three of us drove to Pasadena to the Huntington Library and Gardens. We looked at old manuscripts and rows of lavish roses with interesting names, quiet Japanese gardens with orange fish in pools, and surreal desert cacti.

To us even the palm trees are stunning.

Here Peter and I stand before bamboo, where many signs were posted warning against carving your names. A good idea, but I thought the Botanical Gardens we saw in Santa Barbara were still smarter to nail a bunch of interesting wood scraps together and give those who need to carve names a place to do so.

We visited the Warner Brother Studios where Em swooned, no, gasped when the house where Growing Pains was filmed was pointed out, I marveled at seeing ways snow and gunshot wounds are fabricated, and the three of us tumbled, before the guide could change his mind, onto the couch where Monica and Rachel sat in Friends. It was fun seeing a floor full of costumes from the Harry Potter movies, though I kind of wish I didn’t try out the Sorting Hat. The guide’s assurance that I was put in a House with very smart people was no consolation.

Here are Emily and her equally lovely roommate Colleen. To celebrate our shared birthdays, the four of us drove north to spend the weekend near Santa Barbara. Peter was designated driver over the old stagecoach route through the mountains, where we stopped for a few wine tastings. Not that any of us are about to give up wine from a box.

And almost every day we listened to the Pacific Ocean.



  1. Welcome to my world! Loved seeing it through your eyes, sensing it and savoring it in all the ways that you did. 🙂

  2. Oh, that last picture is perfect! You could use it as an author pic 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. You look marvelous!

    Lovely! Just lovely! I’m so glad you were able to spend time with Emily, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of CA! Next time come up North! 🙂 xoxo

  4. Looks like fun! And yes, that last photo is definitely a great candidate for an author photo!

  5. How wonderful!!!! I was going to e-mail you today to make sure you were OK since I hadn’t heard from you in a while. Lovely to hear you’re doing just fine! 🙂 And happy birthday!!!

  6. Love your world, Melodye! One of these trips, I’d love to see you there!

  7. Thanks!

  8. Re: You look marvelous!

    Thanks, Debbi. And actually, we are talking about next time flying into San Francisco, renting a car, and working our way down along the coast. It would be wonderful to eat cupcakes with you!

  9. Thanks, Rose. And looks like we’ve been enjoying some of the same places lately, though us with a smaller crew.

  10. Got back on Tuesday, then laundry, getting more reaquainted with my ms. yesterday, and Peter asked: when are you going to blog? I said, yes, Jo will be making a gentle inquiry into my well being very soon… glad to say we were just vacationing, with Peter deciding to come last minute. Which was great. But instead of writing and blogging while Em worked, we were more out and about.

  11. This post cheered me right up! Lovely photos. I can hear those waves crashing and feel the fresh breezes blowing. Sounds like a wonderful, carefree vacation! And Happy Birthday :).

  12. Sounds like an absolutely wonderful trip!

  13. I love these pictures! Especially the last one of you at the beach – you look so happy. Glad it was magical!

  14. I was wondering too where you’d disappeared to. Happy to see you got Peter to L.A. at last! Sounds like a great trip–makes me want to go back soon. Aren’t those Tar Pits crazy?

    Ellen W.

  15. I’m glad you had such a great trip! And what wonderful photos, too — especially that last one of you. Loved picturing you and the girl and the dragonflies at the Tar Pits. (I wonder what Mary Anning would have made of La Brea?)

  16. Wonderful! And I love that last picture especially! You look radiant!

  17. Wow, you hit all the great CA hotspots! Glad you had a good trip.

  18. Thanks for all the good wishes, Jama, and I’ve been happy catching up on and rereading your lovely blue posts. At some point I want to be able to make my own pile of blue books! And listen to the blues. And Paul.

    It’s good to be home, eating cereal and blue –what else? berries.

  19. Thanks, Kathy. Sounds like things are good in your world, too. I’m excited about your secret project.

  20. It IS magical being near the ocean or a big lake. The Pacific didn’t speak to me quite as much as Lake Champlain, but I wasn’t listening as much either… still, a very lovely time.

  21. Thanks, Ellen. I’ve been thinking of you. Em took us to a great restaurant called Lobster on the Santa Monica pier. But meanwhile… we need to get to Esselon!

  22. Those tiny orange dragonflies were something, as was the girl’s excitement, which kind of echoed into … nothing… except into me.

    Mary Anning did a staggering amount of hammering, but I am glad she didn’t have to deal with tar. The history is amazing, but the smell, not so great. Still, I wish she might have seen it…

  23. This was a really great stop we made along the Pacific Coast Highway, after stumbling down a rocky hill with sagebrush and lizards… gorgeous.

  24. Thanks, Edith. We did manage to get to some great places and still stay relaxed — my daughter, a huge Disney fan, would not let us say we hit everything, but there is always another time…

  25. Tell her she didn’t miss anything, Disney World in FL is waaaaay better. 😉 I’m glad you guys did the Warner Bros tour, that’s one of my fav LA things to do! Oh and if you are looking to do another studio tour sometime, the Sony tour in Culver City is great as well.

  26. Em’s roommate, a bookseller who is trying to break into the costume business, has done the Warner Brothers tour many times, and was quite jealous that we got to sit on the Friends sofa, which she’s never been invited to do. Thanks for the tip re the Sony tour!

  27. I agree (although, being the taker of the photo in question, I could be biased) — there is something very charming about that image of Jeannine walking out of the crashing surf while making the classic fingers-on-chin “thinking” gesture. When I look at that image, I imagine probable poems taking shape in her head. — PL

  28. I had missed you, though I’ve taken my own short sabbatical, too. So glad you had a wonderful break. I hope you are feeling renewed and ready to get back to the writing projects.

  29. Ooh, yay! Looks like such a fun reason — great reason to not blog 🙂

  30. Aw, thanks for missing me, and I hope you enjoyed your time off, too. It was fun… and good to be back to the dogs and blogging and revising!

  31. The ocean really did need me to listen to it… glad you got to do that with the Atlantic recently!

  32. What a wonderful vacation! Glad you had so much fun and had a chance to relax and enjoy your time with family and friends. And a belated Happy Birthday to you!

  33. Vivian, thanks for stopping by during your busy summer!

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