Thursday, June 29, 2017

With thrips and ukuleles, please.

 You’ve won a month-long, all-expenses-paid writing retreat. Where would you go and why?

By Catriona.

I'm not much of a one for writing retreats. My ordinary life is more like a retreat than most retreats I've ever considered. I live in a house in the country. It's empty all day. A man who can cook comes in at six . . .

But in 2015 I did go on an accidental writing retreat for a week and I was at least three weeks off being sick of it when I had to leave.

The man who cooks was committed to a week-long conference on tomato spotted wilt virus and its vector, the dastardly thrips. (SIDEBAR: plant pathology jamborees can get wayyyyy specific. (SIDEBAR TO SIDEBAR: plant-pathology disease-naming is not very creative. Guess what tomato spotted wilt virus does? Also, there's a rot that turn the ends of potatoes rubbery. Guess what it's called.))

The problem was I had a broken arm, couldn't dress myself couldn't cook much, couldn't drive and couldn't bathe without someone to help me put on the waterproof arm-bag. 

So I chummed along. To a retreat at the Asilomar Conference Grounds on the Monterey peninsula. It's a beautiful sprawling 100 acres of pine trees and sand, with buildings designed by Julia Morgan, in the Arts and Crafts style. It was a YWCA until the Great Depression, soldiers' accommodation during WWII, and now it's heaven. 

But those plant pathologists really did talk about TSWV all the time. There was a meeting of the Western Ukulele Confederation also having a get-together at Asilomar just then and within a couple of days they were writing songs about tomato spotted wilt virus. 

So, anyway, if I had to go on a month's writing retreat, that's where I'd go. Or a castle in Scotland. Or a flat in London. Or - ooh-ooh - Hawaii! As things stand, though, Starbucks it is.

(Potato rubbery end rot.)


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I too thank you, sir. This is truly hilarious :)

Susan C Shea said...

Idyllic. Especially with thrip music. I love Asilomar. Working with a college president who chaired it, I helped manage an international affairs weekend there once. I've always said I'd get back there...I'd even put up with listening to a lecture on potato rot...

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