Photo by Karen Raffel DeFronzo
This extraordinary sunset on Sunday night, September 25, was captured by many people holding cell phones. No filters were needed. “The sky was on fire,” Karen said after taking the above photo of the bay in Sag Harbor. South of East Hampton and Amagansett, over the ocean, the sky was just as bright red and beautiful at sundown – surely a “goodbye, summer, hello, autumn” sign from Mother Nature.
It was a hot, hot summer, here on Long Island as in so many places around the country. The Hamptons had its usual overflow of tourists and traffic. On July 17, my birthday, I had a pleasant early dinner with my sister-in-law and niece at Rumba on the bay in Hampton Bays, and then made my way to the annual Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons. I always love the music and dancing, the food and the pastries! I bought moussaka, two gyros, and baklava to take home.
In mid-August I traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to attend a three-day writer’s conference. This was my first road trip in over four years, and my first conference in just as long. HippoCamp, run by Hippocampus Magazine, is a conference for creative non-fiction writers, and it was a pleasure to meet with writers from all over the country, to attend a variety of workshops and to discuss our work. We met at the Marriott Penn Square hotel in downtown Lancaster. My publisher, Lawrence Knorr, the founder and CEO of Sunbury Press, was a speaker, and it was delightful to meet and talk with him. After the conference ended, my travel companion, journalist Debbie Tuma and I traveled out of the city, to Kitchen Kettle Village in the lovely Amish rural area, and spent a couple of days enjoying the restaurants, shops and beautiful farmland vistas of Pennsylvania Dutch country.
“You can’t rely entirely on courses and classes – you have to spend time on your own, just getting the words down on the page and learning from your own mistakes.”
“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”
On September 10 The Church in Sag Harbor hosted Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw, who spoke about Travels with Charley. I named my own dog Charley, after Steinbeck’s and, as Prof. Shillinglaw told me, she did too. I loved reading the book years ago and have just reread it. Other Steinbeck events are taking place in Sag Harbor, as efforts are being made to preserve his home as an arts center. On September 14 I was at our local Cinema to watch The Grapes of Wrath, the 1940 film with Henry Fonda.
On September 17 I did a reading of Three Rooms, Shared Bath: A Landlady in the Hamptons at the Hampton Bays Library. After I spoke, several of the guests shared their landlady and tenant stories, as I hoped they would. There were laughter and frowns, and I signed copies of the books. On Saturday, October 15 there will be a reading and signing at the Amagansett Free Library, from 3 – 5 p.m.; you can call the library to sign up.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Our summer writing workshop classes ended on July 12. We were to start meeting again on September 20 but postponements, due to Covid concerns, have caused delays. Our fall workshop will now start on October 11 and run for six weeks, through November 15. We’ll meet here at my house in East Hampton. In January we will be back at the Hampton Library, after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Call me or call the library if you have questions or wish to sign up.
Joe Bonelli, of Oakdale, my former student at the Connetquot Library for many years, passed away on August 21 of this year. Joe was a musician, a music teacher, and he loved writing essays and memoir. In May 2021 Newsday published “My Turn: A Youthful Introduction to the Civil Rights Movement” by Joe, about a “favorite childhood memory” of his: a 10-day trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his parents and brothers in August 1963. You can Google this and read the essay, which is well worth your time. On the train ride back to New York, there was a stop in Washington, D.C. where, Joe would find out later, the March on Washington with the Rev. Martin Luther King was taking place.
Myrna Davis, of our East Hampton group, impressed all of us recently when her submission to Metropolitan Diary was published in The New York Times. This is some writers’ goal, maybe only second to getting published in Modern Love.
On September 22 a memorial was held at the Parrish Art Museum in honor of Joanne Pateman, who died on December 17, 2021. A classical music trio played as some one hundred people who knew Joanne through her many interests, including as a docent for the museum, drank wine, ate appetizers, and shared memories. Her husband and children were present, and Mick gave a short, heartfelt appreciation of his beloved late wife. He has assembled a collection of Joanne’s Reflection columns for The East Hampton Press, along with photos of Joanne, a former model, and the book, called The Columns will be published this fall.
Diane Morelli published an essay called “Where I Belong” in East End Beacon’s September newspaper. “In this short piece, evocative of the waning days of summer, Diane asks the reader to imagine what it would like to be a grain of sand.” Diane also published a poem, “What Could Have Come First” in Creations Magazine this summer.
Lorna J. Coppola, another former student, has published a sci-fi novel called The Meek. “Awesome read,” one reviewer wrote on Amazon, where you can see the book.
Finally, my good friend, Marilyn Levinson, aka Allison Brook, has just published the sixth novel in her Haunted Library Mystery series. This one is called Dewey Decimated. All are delightful reads. “A charming, cozy town; a spunky heroine; and a mystery that grabs you from page one,” one reviewer writes.
“The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.”
“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”