Saturday, June 17, 2006
Cloudy and humid
Tiring few days.
Thursday was a loss, in every sense of the word. I was waiting for confirmation of the supposed resolution of the Situation – although people are celebrating, I feel it’s jumping the gun until we have proof. The Other Side has done nothing but lie and misrepresent since Day 1 – they are not going to pack up their tents and go away without a final, heaving volley. Letting our guard too soon could be fatal.
Friday morning, I left early for New Bedford, MA, for a research trip. I’d been to the Whaling Museum in the late 1960s – early 1970s with my parents. Since then, it’s expanded a great deal, and the entire Historic District is trying to make a comeback. They aren’t letting the big, amoral developers in – they’re keeping tight rein on everything, to make sure it all contains mixed income housing and people aren’t priced out. There’s a lot of empty space still for rent as part of all this, which is worrisome, but, since the aim is restoration, not gentrification, although it’s taking longer, I think the ultimate outcome will be more positive for the community in the long run. It’s right on the cusp now, and I hope they continue in the direction they visualize.
I also hadn’t realized how predominantly Quaker the town’s history is, nor what enormous import it had as one of the main stops on the Underground Railroad. Not only did the population speak abolitionism, they lived it – it had one of the largest communities of both free blacks and rescued slaves in the country. Even now, when you see five locals walk down the street together, they’re diverse. Shops, restaurants, museums, art collectives – diversity is a way of life, not something that’s being strained to achieve. It simply IS. The harbor continues to be a working harbor instead of an outdoor theme park. The mix of history and present life is a fact of daily existence. The town is struggling and working hard to achieve its dreams, but it’s doing the work to achieve those dreams.
I took a lot of pictures, bought some books, and we ate the best lobster salad I’ve ever had at Firestone’s Grill. It was packed with almost all locals (always a good sign), everyone was friendly, and the food is outstanding. The wine list is pretty terrific, too, and the beer list contains quite a few local microbreweries.
I got a ton of information for the whaling saga, and, when I need to, the Whaling Museum has its own research library to which I can request access, which will be a big help. Between that and Mystic and some of the smaller historical societies on the Cape, I think I’ll be in good shape.
For the whaling saga, I find that I’m going to have to write up a family history before I can work on the book, along with an historical timeline. The heyday of whaling was relatively short – once petroleum was discovered and the oceans had been over-fished, the industry died the death for which it set itself up by destroying its natural resource – the whale. Granted, the global awareness didn’t exist to the extent it exists in most moral people today, but that two-pronged pitchfork is the main reason the industry died. Had petroleum not come into use, the whaling industry would have caused the extinction of the whales and caused its own extinction anyway.
And, of course, a few at the top made the money while lives were regularly lost so they could make those obscene profits. Some things never change.
One of the books I picked up is called Sail Away Ladies, by a Cape historian named Jim Coogan, who began the imprint Harvest Home Books with another local man. The book is excellent, drawing on journals, letters, and other documents written by and about Cape Cod women who went on these multi-year voyages with their sea captain husbands. It was so fascinating, I devoured it in one day.
I’m sad to hear Inara Press is shutting down – I’d hoped to work with them. But I’m glad they shut down before I’d put too much time and effort into the projects geared for their press. Those stories aren’t particularly pulling at me, so I can put them aside and concentrate on those that are.
I’m working on the ghost story. I realized I’d switched POVs at one point, and it didn’t work, so I’m fixing it. Also, one of the big conflicts was too easy and not conflicted enough, so I have to ratchet that up. I’m also revising two other stories as part of the Dog Blog exercises.
I ordered yet another stack of books from Strand, and I’m looking around, wondering where I can squeeze in yet another bookcase. The books are starting to stack up on the floor. Again.
Jotted down ideas for some more short stories. I like working on short stories in tandem with longer pieces. I find that they feed each other.
Lots of time spent running to this store and that store grocery shopping this morning – trying to find the freshest, most organic food (since I’ve developed allergies to many non-organic foods) at the best price I can. I tried to do laundry, but the machines aren’t working properly, so that was a bust.
I’ve got a deliciously scented pine creativity candle burning, and I hope that gears me up. I’m trying to push the Situation to the background, at least for now, so I can concentrate on the work. I was quoted in the local newspaper discussing it. They didn’t get the quotes exactly right, but close enough so I don’t need to pitch a fit. I just want things resolved, one way or the other. We’ve been living under torturous (in the literal, psychological sense of the word) for seven months now, and I’ve had enough. I’m also not willing to back down and allow myself to be a victim.