Fall 2021

Sag Harbor American Music Festival – Sept. ‘21 photo credit @pipideer

So here it is — the end of September. I hope you all had a lovely summer, with trips to the beach, hikes through the woods, family barbecues, relatives and friends who visited. Plus warm days and cool nights, with good reading, TV and music. And – no Covid!

Above is a photo from the tenth annual four-day music show that took place last weekend, day and night, at venues throughout Sag Harbor village. So many singers and bands — from jazz to soul to rock to blues to zydeco to Latin to Native American –performed, and all for free. This is one of the pleasures of the fall season here on the east end. It is party time for locals. Pictured here is the main stage at the John Steinbeck Park.

Meanwhile, in East Hampton, our village celebrated its 100th anniversary. This actually occurred in fall 2020 but events were postponed because of the pandemic. The weekend included a parade, a children’s fair, music, a classic car show, and barbecue.

“Then all at once, summer collapsed into fall.”

— Oscar Wilde

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.”

— Virginia Woolf

It was a delight to spend my birthday in mid-July with my son, Jeffrey and his partner, James, who visited from California, and with my step-children, Karin and Robbie. Karin traveled from Richmond, Virginia, and Robbie from Boston. We had over 30 family members gathered for lunch at Sundays on the Bay, a restaurant near the beach in Hampton Bays. There was much table-to-table hopping as we all tried to catch up with each other after the long, pandemic time-out. And we’re hoping it won’t be too many months before we can meet up again. I’m hoping to travel, to California and elsewhere.

Our summer writing workshop, held at my house, ended on August 6. We could not meet at the Hampton Library again this fall so, as of Tuesday, September 28, we are back at my house, in my dining room, windows open, central house fan on, and socially distanced. There are only six of us, so this is manageable and, we believe, safe. We’re very glad to be back sharing our work and ideas, exchanging advice and critiques.

“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate.”

— Flannery O’Connor

My book, Three Rooms, Shared Bath: a Landlady in the Hamptons is now available in libraries and in all our local bookstores. It can be ordered through my publisher, Sunbury Press, through Barnes & Noble and other venders, including Amazon. There are some lovely reviews on Amazon, with more to come, hopefully. Tom Clavin reviewed Three Rooms on August 12 and this appeared in three of our local (merged) papers: The East Hampton Press, The Southampton Press, and The Sag Harbor Express.

Tom: “The subtitle offers more about the story. Drawing on her own experience over the years, Obser tells the tale of Diana Long, a middle-aged widow who rents room in her East Hampton home and the relationships she forms with the tenants . . . Diana ponders if she is stuck in a rut. Tenants come and go but she stays in place, and she is caught between wanting to break free of her carefully preserved routine and the simple comforts that routine provides.” For the rest, see the newspaper review online or, better still, buy and read the book then send me your own “review” (preferably, a good one!)

On Thursday, August 19, as part of the East Hampton Library’s Author Talk series, I spoke about the book in person and on Zoom – a hybrid event. Friends were in the audience, which made it easier and fun for me in this, my first Zoom appearance. There was laughter at times when I spoke and some good questions were asked.

My next reading took place on Saturday afternoon, August 29, at the Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor. This gallery features art of all kinds, plus an interesting assortment of books, and it was the place where I launched my memoir, Only You, the first edition, back in 2014. This time the event took place in the garden, behind the gallery. The gathered group didn’t want me to stop reading and talking and created a lively, fun atmosphere. After we were done, they all bought my book.

On Saturday, October 23, from 2:30 – 4:00 I will speak and sign books at Canio’s Bookstore in Sag Harbor. I hope you will come by and join in the event.

It has been difficult planning book readings during this Covid time and that may continue. Library events are mostly on Zoom, and few authors are being scheduled. Conferences have been cancelled. I am making plans for events now through December and expect to take the book “on the road” right through spring, and maybe into next summer.

I’ve started going through my large file of essays, published and not. That’s my fall and winter project, a possible collection of essays or essays-as-a-memoir.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

— Mark Twain

“I don’t know where my ideas come from, but I know where they come to. They come to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again.”

— Philip Pullman

Joanne Pateman’s July 29 Reflections column in The Southampton Press (Express Group) is called “Quit Wishin’”. It’s about a fishing station in East Moriches called Silly Lily dating back to the 1930s “that has been brought back to life. It has the vibe of the Caribbean or the Florida Keys.” Fishing is a “big deal” here, and after reading the column you’ll probably want to go there.

“Driving Lessons”, Joanne’s column of September 9 was about what the title says: her granddaughter came to visit and was ready for lessons. The instructor: Mick, Joanne’s very patient husband. Joanne’s own experiences learning to drive, then getting licensed, along with stories of other family members and their efforts make for a really fun read.

The September 9 issue of The Press also featured an interview with Bob Martin, of Montauk, whose book, 9/11 Remembered: Twenty Years Later was released this summer, as mentioned in my last newsletter. A former NYPD officer, Bob will be donating all proceeds from sales of the book to a foundation that honors numerous local and regional charities.

Enjoy the fall season, keep reading and writing, and send me any news for next time.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald