Sunday, June 15, 2014

At the Beach in Santa Barbara

I was stymied on how to proceed with the newsletter. I sent out two editions in March celebrating the Fishtown Woods Massacre of 1988. This heartfelt and well-researched story met with widespread and rather definite indifference.

And then I thought -- "Geez, I'm in Santa Barbara three years now, and I'm getting out of touch with the Pacific Northwest, and I just can't sell another Fishtown story. Their not mine to tell anymore."

So I dropped it. I put the files back in the box and put the box back in the attic. Let it gather dust with the rest of the archives.

I plunged right into another project which has kept me occupied these past two months -- and those two months, if you may have noticed, did not get you any more Frog Hospitals.

Instead I composed a family story -- about my Uncle Ted and my Granpa and my great-Grandfather. I had lots of photos and documents, and I spun it into a story -- rather than a history. With a story you can just make stuff up to fill in the gaps -- it saves you a lot of painstaking research.

Anyway, most of this "Uncle Ted" story was posted on Facebook in daily doses, like a publication in a serial format. And a lot of people liked it -- mainly my cousins. I really enjoyed getting back in touch with some cousins I haven't heard from in 20 years.

My cousin Florence, for instance. She married Uncle Ted's boy Dick in 1951 and they moved to Wisconsin and we didn't see them much after that. But I got her phone number from her daughter and I called her one Sunday afternoon. Florence and I haven't had a chat in almost 50 years, but she was right there. I just said hello, this is Fred Owens, and she laughed and said "What a surprise!" And right away we got talking.

Cousinhood does not expire, I realized. Friends may fade away, but cousins are forever.

Charles Dickens. I'm reading Charles Dickens this year, all of Dickens and nothing of non-Dickens. Not literally all -- I doubt I will read Martin Chuzzlewit, but I will read Little Dorrit and the Old Curiosity Shop, and am reading Oliver Twist right now, and did finish the Pickwick Papers last week, with an intervening plan to read two Sherlock Holmes short stories between each Dickens novel. This will keep me literarily occupied for 2014.

The thing about reading Dickens is that there is no possible better use of your time.

Writing Letters. I began to miss writing letters, so I have began doing that again. Paper, pen, envelopes, stamps, the post office -- the whole shebang. Send me your address, and I might write to you.

Or send me a letter and I will write back. Write to Fred Owens 1105 Veronica Springs Road, Santa Barbara, Ca 93105

This is a revolutionary and highly subversive activity, because I am sticking it to Facebook and Gmail and the NSA. I am tired of those people and their "free" services. Facebook is mining my data. Gmail has saved and will never forget any email I ever wrote on their program. The NSA snoops on everyone. To hell with them.

Besides that, the mail works just as good as it ever does. Think of what you have to say, and realize that almost everything you have to say can wait for the time it takes to deliver a letter. "Instant" communication is rarely necessary or helpful.

Thank you very much and Happy Father's Day to everyone

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