A Writing Residency (Part 3)

Dorland Mountain Arts Colony Cabins
Dorland Mountain Arts Colony Cabins

As we post this, we’re in the midst of a week of meetings—all-day meetings, back-to-back meetings—and trying to catch up and keep up with the uptick in work email and other tasks that mark the semester’s beginning. Only days ago, we were at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and here’s how it panned out in the end.

PART 1: Days 1-5

PART 2: Days 6-12


This afternoon, we drove over to the Bel Vino winery. There was some confusion over the tour situation, and it was the hottest day in the last two weeks, so the folks there offered us a free tasting instead. We had a wonderful tasting guide, who offered all sorts of information, opinions, and answers to our questions—and the questions of the dozen or so others who came and went at the tasting bar over the ninety minutes we spent at Bel Vino. We agreed on our favorites: the 2009 Sangiovese and the 2007 Lagrein. Apparently, we like French oak barrels and not necessarily what’s most popular.

WineryNext, we had a late lunch in Shorty’s Bistro at the Mount Palomar winery across the street. We were pretty hungry by this time, so we ordered three appetizers and a salad to share. The service was good, and we were the only ones of about a dozen guests who requested to eat inside, so we had the Italian cave of sorts to ourselves. Everything was delicious, and the portions were big enough that ate a second round of this meal for dinner back at the cabin later.

Admittedly, even after just a little wine, it was very tempting to lounge around the rest of the day. With our two weeks waning, though, we pressed on for a while between lunch and dinner, our two halves of the same meal. We rounded out two chapters we were working on.

Unbidden, an idea for the possible ending section for the book came to Doug, so he hashed out a couple of pages so we could discuss the idea. We say unbidden, but, of course, that’s not accurate. One thing we’d discussed connects to another, and that extends in a new, but logical direction. The writing residency has created a state of mind for us and kept our butts in our chairs so that we invite ideas readily and catch them when they happen come to mind.

DAY 13:

LizardYesterday, a lizard hung out on the porch, moving with the sunshine. This morning, he or she was back. By the afternoon, two lizards sat on the porch. Meanwhile, we wrote.

DAY 14:

We wrote. We cleaned the cabin. We picked up pizza from the Temecula Pizza Company, which has some quirky pizza options and, for eat-in patrons, a fantastic draft beer selection.

As we were going over new pages together, Doug looked up from his reading aloud. “TARANTULA!” He pointed, and there was a good-sized tarantula right there on the floor. We knew almost nothing about tarantulas beyond recognizing this black creature as one. Later, we read that they do not usually wander inside houses. Once we’d done our research, we figured this was a male looking for females. We probably would have been even more cautious if we’d known that they have both fangs and barbed hairs that they can throw when threatened.

TaratulaAnna grabbed a plastic food container to trap the arachnid, which stayed pretty much frozen until covered. Doug slid a folder, then a clipboard, under the plastic container’s lid and under the tarantula’s large fuzzy legs. We let the tarantula adjust, then Doug carried the contraption outside and several feet from the cabin’s porch, where we let the seemingly agitated tarantula settle down some more before release.

When Doug lifted the plastic container, the tarantula chased Doug toward the cabin door. That’s right, the tarantula could have run off into the mountain terrain but, instead, turned toward Doug and chased him. Tarantulas can run at up to ten miles per hour, which we hadn’t known before we saw it with our own eyes. Doug barely had time to slam the door between himself and the speedy arachnid. It sat outside the door waiting until after we went to bed.



Oh, of course, we’re happy. We headed home with new pages and great optimism. We spent an amazing two weeks together with our writing. But oh, we would welcome another day, another week, right there right now.


TemeculaSunsetWe had one full day between the end of our writing residency and an especially busy meeting week for the new semester. We cleaned our own house and started to catch up with work. In other words, we returned to the life we’d left two weeks earlier.

But we struggled with the inevitable deflation. And we wanted to translate some of what we had experienced at the residency into our regular day-to-day life. So we printed out the book manuscript as it now stands. It looks and feels like a book manuscript, with heft and chapters lining up in order. We took it and a draft of this and next week’s blog posts to Ruby’s to eat dinner and talk about what we’ll be doing as writers together this fall.

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