Monday, August 18, 2014

My Summer Working Vacation

I just returned from my summer vacation. I used to go on cruises and big trips with lots of running around, but in the past few years I've come to prefer quiet, relaxing vacations that also include book research. That makes it a working vacation, but I don't mind as long as I enjoy it. It's a two-fer I've come to love.

On August 7th I met up with Susan, one of my BFFs, at the airport in Hartford, Connecticut, grabbed a rental car, and drove about an hour to East Brookfield, Massachusetts.  I was born in Haverhill, MA, which is tucked in the northeast corner of the state, but my immediate family relocated many years ago to Brookfield, which is in the south central part near the tourist area of Sturbridge. I love that area and am seriously thinking of relocating there when I retire in about 5 years or so.  You see, I don't mind cold weather and snow as along as I don't have to drive to work in it.
Is this adorable or what?
Anyway, rather than stay with family in a crowded house, I decided to rent a cottage on nearby Lake Laskaway. OMG! I fell in love with the place. It was this small cute cottage with all the amenities of home (washer/dryer, full kitchen, TV with cable, WiFi) and some I don't get in the middle of Los Angeles (lake front, quiet, flower garden). It was priced reasonably and the owners, Pattie and Peter O'Neil, had thought of everything to make their guests comfy. I slept like the dead each and every night and woke up each morning to the peaceful flow of the lake.

Our first full day we drove to the town of Greenfield where we met up with my brother Thom and another of my friends, Stacia.  Both of them live in Vermont and were happy to meet us halfway. My sister-in-law Marlaine came and brought my two youngest great-nieces to see their grandfather. We had a great time catching up over yummy New England fried seafood. After, Susan and I visited Magic Wings, a butterfly conservatory just a few minutes away.  This place was AMAZING and if you find yourself in MA, try to fit it into your schedule. There were butterflies EVERYWHERE and they had lots of birds and even interesting reptiles and insects. The people who work are charming and knowledgeable and very eager to tell you all about the creatures who reside at Magic Wings.

Saturday found us at Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum, which we visited with my niece Lindsay and my eldest great-niece. I had never been there even though I'd been to Sturbridge many times. It was a good place for me to do some of the research for the 6th Granny Apples novel (which Berkley just bought!), as well as a great place for Susan to visit on her first trip to New England. She and I also did a lot of driving around the countryside as I soaked in the ambiance for Emma's trip to the area in the book. Later we gathered with my family for a cookout.

On Sunday a bunch of us gathered at the Spencer Country Inn for brunch to celebrate the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook being on the brink of 1,000 members.  Cyn Reilly, her husband Steve, and their son joined us. Cyn started the fan club and administers it along with Lindsay. It was another great time of good food and visiting and lots of laughter. Later Marlaine and Lindsay came back to the cottage to enjoy the lake with us.

The brunch bunch - Cyn is in the middle
Monday Susan and I hung around the cottage and later went to Marlaine's for dinner. Tuesday we hit the road again for me to do some book/area surveillance and made another short trip to Sturbridge to visit some shops. We had lunch at the historical Publick House.  My last night in town Lindsay and her boyfriend Jeff took me to dinner.


My office while on vacation
Most mornings found me armed with a cup of coffee and writing at the picnic table facing the lake. I could do that every day! I even put in some time at the picnic table on an afternoon or two. I don't force myself to write when I go on vacation, but if my muse whispers in my ear, I don't ignore her. I'm happy to say my muse made the trip with me and she and I got a lot of work done, both at the cottage and on the flight home. I was working on the 10th Odelia Grey novel, which is due to its publisher in early October.

Susan and I had PERFECT weather the entire trip and I have the tan/burn marks to prove it. It wasn't even muggy, which is the norm for New England in the summer.  The day we left a big storm blew in and we made our way back to the Hartford airport in pouring rain. Nice timing, Mother Nature, and much appreciated!

Even though I've spent most of my life in Southern California, I can't deny the pull of my New England roots and still call it "home." Like I said, I'm considering retiring near my family when the time comes. I love living in LA, but as I get older the crowds, noise and traffic are really getting on my nerves.  What can I say? I'm an old fart now and this old fart is craving the peace and quiet of country living, preferably by a lake.

1 comment:

Alisa said...

Beautiful scenery for what sounds like a lovely vacation. I've always wondered what took you to California having been born/bred in New England?