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Dorland Mountain Arts Travelogue - Temecula, CA

Trip to Temecula, CA to Dorland Mountain Arts Residency

2/18 – 2/25/24

Day Zero – Travel

Austin took me to the airport at 4 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight. It was very nice of him to do this and it shows how much he’s really growing up. A year ago, he would not have even considered it, but now he’s confident of the roads and his ability to find his way home. These are things a parent wants a child to know. How to fly, but also how to find their way back to the nest.

The line at the check-in counter was long and it took 40 min even in the “short line”. There were folks that were far more nervous than I as they hadn’t anticipated this delay. The older woman behind me said, you look like you have an uncomplicated situation with only one suitcase. I didn’t really understand it because strapped to my body was a purse and a backpack. It was odd, but I took it as a compliment and gave her a bookmark. I told her not to worry and that everything would work out. I do everything I can to mitigate the stress of traveling. 

I boarded the plane and headed to Minneapolis. I sat next to a woman who surreptitiously indicated she was in charge of a lot of important things. I watched “Top Gun Maverick” and got through a decent portion before we landed. I love that movie. I picked up some coffee and a snack on my way to my next gate. I had a long layover so I sat down, plugged in my phone and edited one of my poems. It’s currently called “Free Entertainment” and it’s about going to the airport as a child and kind of reliving that free moment again. I think I made great strides. It’s been through many edits, but I’d love to see it in my next book. 

I boarded for San Diego and sat next to a man who works in HR for the Navy in San Diego. We talked for at least an hour until food came and then we ate and watched movies. Of course, I watched “When Harry Met Sally” again and it still makes me laugh. What a great movie. I think that’s my all-time fave. 

I picked up a Nissan Rogue and headed to the residency. An hour and change later in mild traffic, I arrived and was greeted by Janice who runs the place and Melody who is in another cabin. She was working with some sort of dye so she really wasn’t able to chat. Janice started a group text with the artists here and I said they could text or stop by or go for coffee, but everyone said they were good with meeting Tuesday night for a sunset meet-up. It’s worth noting that everyone I came into contact with was very nice and all about customer service. I really appreciated that. I feel like we lost some of that during the pandemic.

I went to Ralph’s grocery store and was surprised I didn’t have a massive anxiety attack or they had to send a search party. It’s a HUGE store. I felt like Cameron Diaz in “The Holiday”. I bought a bunch of snacks, carbs, coffee!, water and even a bouquet of roses. Self care! On the way home from Ralph’s, I went to In and Out to get a cheeseburger and fries.  A must-do in California.

I settled in and enjoyed the views and sunset. The cabin is tucked into the mountains, but you can see the lights of the city and hear the cars on the highway mixed with the call of tree frogs. 

Day 1

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and ambled out to make coffee and sat out on the porch. I took pictures of the plants so that I could find out what they were. So far this is what I found:

  • Rhododendron – Coopers Hardy Ice Plant

  • Silver leaf cotoneaster – Mountain Mahogany

  • Sugar Sumac

  • Almond tree

  • Rosemary hedge

  • Wild succulents

  • Brittlebush

  • Pudding grass

I know there are more, but that’s what I have so far. I also saw a hot air balloon! Always fun to see them in the sky.

I was supposed to meet the four other artists here at Sunset Point tonight but the weather was not favorable so we postponed. I look forward to meeting them at some point. We were supposed to meet tomorrow night, but rain is coming and it might rain all day tomorrow. 

I had a guitar lesson with Helen today. It was the bright spot of the day. Helen and I worked on some bar chords that I have been scared to take on. Once I did the chords, I actually got choked up. I’m so grateful for Helen and our lessons. Music has healed me in so many ways.

I also wrote a poem called ‘Markham Cabin’.

Markham Cabin

I wandered by Sugar Sumac, 

Mountain Mahogany,

Brittlebush, Wild Succulentsand a hedge of Rosemary

hiding a shy gecko.

A pile of Pudding Grasshummed, awash with bees.

Tree frogs and crows 

croaked and cawed

an introduction

to my house of solitude,

reassuring me

I would find treasure

exploring both mountains

and valleys.

Day 2

I woke up to drizzle and fog in these hills. A tree frog greeted me when I went to the porch. Besides the noise from the highway below, it’s a very serene setting. It’s definitely going to be an inside kind of day. I wish there was a comfy couch to curl up on. I sat down and wrote a poem about my time at a school and my meeting with a girl who lost her mom.

Simon and I were talking the other day and he mentioned a quote from William Blake, “The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.” The meaning is that one should not be worried so much about lesser beings or any at all. Be concerned with yourself, your own flight, not that of others.

This is something I wrote in my journal the other day: The broken find the broken. I was thinking it might be better as a song lyric than a poem. 

I took a break from writing and playing music to watch “Broadchurch” – a BBC series. So good.

I finally got to sing one of my favorite songs from childhood – ‘Down in the Valley’ – to a valley. And I’m pretty sure the birds answered me with their song. Karaoke in the Valley tonight! I’d write about it but I have to figure out how to write as I already talked about singing the song when I was younger. We shall see if I can weave it in.

I met Janice and Patti in the Community Room. It’s a trailer with a long room that has a lot of paintings on the wall and a table with folding chairs at one end. We had a cup of Pinot Grigio. I gave them both a set of my books. We exchanged stories and it was a nice hour and a half. Patti is from Michigan and migrated here, worked a while in tech and now is trying to write a novel. She’s written short stories, but is trying to branch out. 

Day 3

It’s a beautiful day in the mountains. A little chilly, windy and partly cloudy. I went out onto the porch to talk to the tree frogs and the birds. I also saw a squirrel that stopped by and was curious. 

I made my usual breakfast, read the history of Dorland and wrote a poem. 

Dorland Mountain Arts Colony

It’s a charming enclave for creators,

tucked into the mountains,

a secret even to the locals.

Terrain is unfamiliar holy ground,

where nature is the best gardener.

Unique cabins dot

the curves of the roads

married to the hills.

Burned to the ground

in the Eagle Fire of 2004,

it melted typewriters

and snuffed a century-old Steinway.

I stood beside a tree

that survived, 

bark still charred

even after re-building,

making everything modern.

Some scars are hidden

for only those that care

to understand the genesis.

I had a chance to talk with Sydney – always a bright spot in my day. She’s so grown up and responsible and vibrant. She’s going to graduate in May and that seems almost impossible.

I checked in with Austin and he and the dogs are doing well – a blessing.

Day 4

I was contacted by a dear friend I’ve known since childhood wintering in California. She lived in Cedarburg when I was growing up and moved to California where she met her husband. We are going to meet for lunch tomorrow in Lake Elsinore.

I sat outside and had a late lunch. It’s very beautiful out there. I’ve been trying to figure out what birds I’ve seen and I think that the black bird (which was quite large) is a crow and the little blue birds are Western Bluebirds. I like it because according to the internet, this type of bluebird has two parents who care for the young. It’s not always the case in nature. Or in real life.

Temecula means “the place of the sun” or “the sun that shines through the mist” and according to Pechanga history, it is the place of the union of Sky Father and Earth Mother – where life on earth began.

I worked on poems I’d written before the trip. It takes many rounds of editing to get things just right.

Day 5

It’s another beautiful day here – it’s going to get up to 70 degrees. I’m excited to see my friend in Lake Elsinore. It’s not as far for me as it is her, but I think it’s better overall for us given traffic patterns. 

I was looking out at the mountains and wondering why I don’t love them as much as the sea. The mountains don’t change very fast – it takes time and wear and most aren’t visible to humans. The sea changes every moment.

I did some more editing of previously written poems.

I had a nice lunch. We had a great conversation and caught up on our lives. She invited me to visit in the summer which I might take her up on. I’d love to go there for a day or two. I’m glad we met up. She is a warm and intelligent person with a lot of integrity. We ate at Jack's Bar-B-Q on the water and it was wonderful food and service with a beautiful view.

At 5 p.m. I went to the community get-together up the hill. Janice was there, as was Amy and Kendra. She and Kendra are multimedia artists. Amy lives in North Carolina. Kendra lives in a ski town in California near Nevada. She too is a multimedia artist and writer. She showed us a funky Polaroid camera that she took pictures of herself at various times. She also takes pictures of things she finds on the ground and transfers them to cloth, a fascinating art. Also, she said she’s making art out of some recycled containers like water bottles and cans. One of the new things she’s going to be working on is a memoir. After her parents died 5 years ago, she found some journals and started thinking about writing a book. She said that her book title and chapters are all going to be song titles. 

I’m glad I’ve been here this long and I’m also glad to be going home on Sunday. I miss my family. 

Day 6

I showered, had breakfast and did a Google Meet call with the Chateau. It’s very exciting. There are a lot of women going and a couple of guys. I don’t think they were all on the call because she said that there will be 23 people there. I’m so glad we have our flights and car reservations already booked. It really sounds like an amazing time. She said we should bring our “swimmers” or swimsuits because they have a pond (?) and it’s lovely during that time of year. 

I’m going to contact Kendra after coffee. I wrote a short-but to-the-point poem.

Escape From the Victim Triangle

I forgive you

I forgive me

but I need to mourn

your death

while you’re living

or you will kill me

Kendra and I went to the UPS Store, Michael’s, Ralph’s and the Wilson Creek Winery for lunch. She and her husband met at college in Santa Barbara and they own a print shop. She’s almost 50 and she thought I was 42 so I’ll take it! ☺ She’s working on some art with cans – like recycling them by cutting leaves, etc. and stringing them onto something. I’d probably cut myself so I give her a lot of credit. She’s also going to work on her memoir. 

We went to the winery and sat down for lunch. It is a huge place and it was nice to just sit down and have a glass of bubbly rosé with lunch. It’s a beautiful day here - in the 70’s. There are a bunch of wineries, but it’s not that kind of trip. It’s time to clean up and pack for tomorrow. It will be a long day but I’m excited about going home. I took time to go outside to look (and yes, howl) at the full moon! I set some intentions and turned in for the night.

I think this trip has been exactly what it should have been. By the way, we saw two red-tailed hawks today. Surely a good sign.

Thank you, Dorland.

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