While you may not know musician Mike Guarniero personally, odds are you’ve seen him play. For years he has been involved in the Lake County music scene and played with over twenty different bands. You might have heard him play with his band, Dr. Groove, which regularly has performed in the county. Or you might have caught his Lake County Music Guide, which posts on Facebook and in The Bloom (when there is live music). Sitting in the courtyard of Pogo’s Pizza in Kelseyville earlier this week with Mike felt as if we were seated with a long-time friend we haven’t seen in a while. You might feel the same if you are a music lover in Lake County; Mike’s friendly personality makes conversation easy.
We will always live in moments of uncertainty. I have no idea what the future will bring, not only for me, but for our country. The page, however, refutes uncertainty. It is a white canvas, destined for creation, and within its square space, holds the promise of an affirmation. Even while describing loss, our words are born, again and again and again.
There’s a lot going on in the world right now so it’s easy to miss important things going on in our own backyards. Our own 2020-2021 School Budgets, for example. Right now, there is a lot of speculation about what the next school year will look like in the COVID-19 era. Parents are worried about their kids having to wear masks all day. Will the kids be able to attend full-time or will they partake in distant learning? And, if they don’t go to school every day, who’s going to watch them and how will parents be able to pay for that? Good questions all. What’s not getting much attention, though, are the budget shortfalls due to COVID-19. We went into COVID-19 with a state budget surplus in California. Now, just a few short months later, we are facing a deficit. There were some great things that were in the original budget, now the state has cut many planned healthcare expansions and slashed funding for schools. The timing could not be worse. The Middletown Unified School District alone is being asked to find ways to cut over one million dollars from an already sparse budget. They are contemplating doing away with bus services for all except Special Ed for an estimated savings of $427,000. They are seriously considering cutting athletics, drama, choir, and band. All of these choices, by the way, would result in loss of jobs. And, there are long term consequences to making these cuts that go well beyond just this year.
This particular time of the coronavirus challenges us to maintain our relationship with our creative lives and it very well could be a time of pause. One may find it hard to write when we’re worried about our health and livelihoods or our families. One of my favorite writers, Nicole Gulotta, recently discussed in her podcast Wild Words how writing is certainly essential but in a way that is different than our basic essential needs. This may very well be a period of time this year where we slow down or even stop writing because we feel exhausted, we don’t have the energy or the motivation, or we just don’t feel like it. All of this is okay and I would even say that it is certainly a part of living a writer’s life.
Lake County Poet Laureate Georgina Marie and The Lake County Bloom invite Lake County writers to submit to our bi-weekly poetry column, Rooted in Poetry. This column is a collaboration to offer a platform for local writers to introduce themselves to the community through their writing. Writers of all backgrounds are welcome regardless of your experience or style. We support established and emerging writers and look forward to reading a wide range of work and perspectives.
Like all of you, I’m adjusting to this new lifestyle. No facet of my life is unaffected by the pandemic. I’m teaching classes from home. I’m homeschooling a teenager. I’m standing in line for toilet paper at 7:00 a.m. in a mask. I’m dealing with the personal and professional challenges of a “shelter in place” order, and when I get the chance, I’m writing. The following series of poems is dedicated to all of the students who are “sheltered in place” at home.
A total of 22 contest submissions were received from Lake County writers from all around the lake of different ages and writing experience. A reading panel of 5 Lake County residents made the winning poem selections. Submissions were read blind without knowing names of those who wrote the poems until after selections were made. First place winner was Diane Tulley for her poem 65 Year Old Garden. Second place winner was Ariana Weinert for her poem The Market Season. Third place winner was Mia Ruiz for her poem The Golden Peach. Each winner was awarded a monetary amount in market money to use on fresh goods at the market (funds were sponsored by Lake County Bloom and Georgina Marie), had their poems on display for the market’s opening day, and their poems are being published in the Lake County Bloom. The remaining contestants have the opportunity to have their poems posted on the Lake County Farmers’ Finest website.
Art is a conversation. We absorb our worlds, consciously and unconsciously, and when we create art, we’re expressing those experiences, whatever they may be. With the shelter-in-place order, I no longer spent my days teaching in a high school classroom. My ears rang, not with the usual buzz of my 130 students, but with an unfamiliar silence. I felt myself floating in a bubble of space and solitude, listening rather than speaking, an exchange student in a new land.
Jordan O’Halloran lives in Kelseyville Riviera with her boyfriend and their cat, Fuzzykins. By day, she works at a non-profit here in Lake County and every other moment is spent writing. She has been an attendee of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for the last 2 years and attends Lake County writing events when she can. When not writing, you can find her cooking vegetarian food, daydreaming about trees and the ocean, and watching things on Disney Plus. You can find some of her writing in Santa Barbara Literary Journal Volume 2: Cor Serpentis and The Middletown Art Center’s chapbook RESILIENCE. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram as Jordanjotsjoy.
Normally, this column is all about theatre, but it’s a little hard to do that when all the schools and local theatre groups have had to cancel or postpone their productions. I could write about the heartache and logistical issues that come with postponing a show. However, between all the fires, and PSPSs, and now sheltering in place, I think we’ve had enough bad news and negativity to last us a while. So, this month’s column will focus on ways to keep ourselves and our families engaged and entertained. After all, isn’t that what theatre is all about?
This is a time when we are honoring the new. Every day is different: our routines have been altered, and we are faced with uncertainty, which can be difficult to say the least. But we can still write, we can still create and perhaps even without the pressure to finish a poem or write a new book but simply to help us get through this time; to document a time when we were unsure how our day-to-day will proceed, but when we still stayed connected.
Rose’s hip stabbed her at seven. She stretched her legs under the quilt, finding a position her pelvis liked, and then she waited for her bladder to wake up and force her out of bed. In her mind she clicked through her schedule for another Monday: KRON news until nine, then New York Crime Sceneon cable 53, then over to cable 56 for its fraternal sibling, Miami Forensics, followed by the Judges: Ray Brown, and Jody. During lunch she’d watch KTVU news, and then another New York Crime Scene on cable 25. In the evening, she switched over to Las Vegas Crime Scene and then, after her nap, the five o’clock KRON news followed by two of the national news broadcasts: ABC and CBS. Rose loved Dan Rather; was heartsick for a week after his retirement. Then dinner and Tuesday’s prime time reality shows beginning with Police Call, over to channel five and Real Life Forensics, followed by Challenge of Fear, which she watched about half of, with sideways glances at the disgusting parts. Her day would end with the eleven o’clock news on KRON, creating a neat KRON symmetry, the channel already set to start the next day.
Okay – there’s good news and there’s bad news… The Good; those uber-cool elbow bumps are really catching on. The Bad; as we have probably all expected, many of the Lake County venues that provide live music will be limiting service until further notice, which means most of the scheduled live music events have been canceled.