ANNUS MIRABILIS BECKONS
(a remarkable year)
by Rosemary Lord
Just as I was thinking, “Aah, I can relax, just focus on my writing. I’ve got things covered…” Then everything goes topsy-turvy – again. Why is that?
I’ve been working on a book on the history of the 1905-founded Woman’s Club of Hollywood. I’m thoroughly enjoying diving back into research – one of my favorite things! It’s fun, pulling out the documents and newspaper clippings of the Club history, therefore early Hollywood history. Local Hollywood papers in the 1920s were full of Club news! I love recreating those early 1900 scenes.
Maybe I should just stop there. Because, next, I started on the more recent history story. I gathered the copious notes, Court Reports and endless pages I’ve written about the last ten years of thievery, skullduggery, break-ins, bankruptcy and lawsuits. However, this rendered me emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed, as I relived the stress, the 18-hour days, the threats, physical attacks, the police protection, the ugly shenanigans I endured. My goodness – how did I get through that? That was quite depressing. So, I’ve put that book aside for now. I’ll get back to that later…
Much better is my work on a new Lottie Topaz novel. A wonderful adventure. I’m busy plotting – or rather, following Lee Goldberg’s idea and writing a simple movie script of the story as a basic map. It’s very helpful. I’ll add the fun color my imagination creates later.
I’ve also started a sort of ‘memoir; about my early days in the British movie industry, based on all the diaries and scrapbooks gleaned from my Christmas visit to England. My apartment is littered with these stacks of post-it covered papers and files.
So, I’m loving my writing life once again. And the Woman’s Club was humming along nicely with new volunteers and only part-time attention required from me.
But then the L.A. Building and Safety Inspectors decided to complete their inspection of our Historic buildings, explaining their report was delayed due to Covid-19 shutdown backlog. The original report was from May 2011. It only took them 11 years to catch up! The Hollywood School for Girls schoolhouse was built in 1903, so we knew we had a long list of repairs, upgrades and restoration. We’re doing as much as we can without funding for the expensive, specialized work on our historic landmark buildings.
But the stringent Building and Safety regulators were not satisfied with our progress, issuing a new To Do list, with a fourteen-day deadline! And a fine for the violations! (Such as missing 1903 building permits!) They added $64,000 worth of termite and pest-control tenting and remedying! Hmmm.
Although the Inspector I met was very sympathetic and gave me a time extension to complete. Phew! So now all we have to do is raise about $200,000 to pay for this…
Then the Fire Department joined in. We’re always very careful with brush clearance. In the 1990s, a carelessly tossed cigarette from the apartments next door caused a fire that destroyed four of our small 1915 wooden classroom-cottages. So, we’re really cautious! We shook the trees to remove any dried-out dead bits. One of our younger members climbed some of the trees to remove dead branches. With the help of our local police, all the dead brush was safely removed. We thought.
Aha! We missed a bit! The Fire Department noticed that some of the palm trees – over 100-years old and over 4-storeys tall – had a few more dead branches. More fines! I’m now trying to find someone who can shimmy up those palm trees and thwack off the offending branches. The professional tree trimmers charge thousands – which we don’t have. I thought I might even stop by the Fire Station that cited us: they have tall ladders and are not afraid of heights…
But, I’ve been through worse with this Club. And I shall persevere. People will come in to help, I know. As one door closes, another always opens. I’ll canvas the Hollywood community for donations. This, too, shall pass.
So, all this stopped my writing flow and dragged me back into another world.
Then, last week – just as I was getting back into writing mode – much of the World was shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. I was surprised at how emotional I was. I know she was 96 years old – but we thought she would go on forever. She was always in my life. It’s like losing your favorite grandmother.
Queen Elizabeth truly devoted her life to the service of Britain and the Commonwealth. Growing up in England, I accepted that girls – women – could do anything they wanted. Even become Queen! Elizabeth was not born in line for the throne. She had an ‘ordinary’ (if privileged!) childhood and served in the Army during World War II. People all over the world loved and admired her grace, her sensible approach to life, her love of animals – and her sense of humor. Although, even the Queen had her bad times, her “annus horribilis,” dealing with wayward offspring and grandkids.
But, as one door closes… Britain now has a new King: Charles III. People have been buoyed at the way he is dealing with these early days in his new position as King, knowing that he has had a long ‘apprenticeship’ and will follow in his mother’s footsteps in service to the people. And so, my sadness was soon replaced by hope and pride, watching the new King step into those big shoes! A new door opened – a fresh start.
Excuse my ramblings, as I, too, open a new door in my life. Instead of allowing these ‘challenges’ from the Woman’s Club to destroy me, I’m re-focusing once more on my writers’ life.
And with this view through a different door, I’m really looking forward to an “Annus Mirabilis.” A wonderful Year ahead!
(Rosemary’s delightful blog was posted by Gayle Bartos-Pool.)