Jayne's Room With a View

Looking back at my trip, it was all so perfect and fun that it's hard to choose experiences or events that stand out more than the rest, but one that I can truthfully say was a highlight was the evening I met author Jayne Martin...

I admit that I was nervous about meeting her long before I even got to the Santa Ynez Valley, where she lives. I'd not only read her very enjoyable book, Suitable For Giving back when it was first published, but I'd also found so many similarities between our lives although really, we're not that much alike personally. Jayne not only has authored this book, she has also written a number of screenplays that have been produced for the Animal Planet and Lifetime networks. I've been a great admirer of Jayne's for a long time and if you know me at all, you know how nervous and flighty I can come off when I meet someone I respect that much. I don't make great first impressions anyway because I stammer, forget what I'm trying to say, and fidget. My ADD makes these meetings very hard because I can't "land" and people think I'm a scatterbrained air head when nothing could be further from the truth.

"What appears to be air to one person may very well feel like lead to another."
SK Waller, 1983

When I met Jayne I liked her immediately and I kept telling myself, "Breathe. Drop your shoulders. Relax. This is a fun thing!" But did I listen? She was calm, collected and very gracious, which helped a great deal.  In fact, she reminded me a bit of my character Elizabeth Hayes (Liz) in Beyond the Bridge and that kind of grace always makes me feel like a Doofus Deluxe. This nervousness on my part was not her fault in any way, of course. I just can't seem to pull myself together when I encounter the serene elegance that I will never possess. It's not easy being me. I come from Vaudevillian song-and-dance comedian stock, but it's all good.

Sweet, gentle Dixie
Jayne lives on the top of a mountain in a circular house that has an amazing 180° view of the Valley below. It's the kind of place I would give my left mam to own, the perfect writer's aerie. She also has two pets. Scratch that. I don't really like the word pets. She shares her space with two four-legged friends: a big old cat named Mason (sorry I didn't get a photo of him, but he was sleeping and I didn't want to be rude) and Dixie, the sweetest, most loving, tender-spirited little chihuahua I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Dixie and I took to each other immediately and she sat on my lap for most of the time that Jayne and I shared wine and nibbles. If I could be assured that any dog of her breed would be exactly like her, I'd get one in a heartbeat!

Two redhead authors!
We talked about our books, life in the Valley, the similarities and dissimilarities of our life experiences, and then we drove down to Santa Ynez to have dinner on the terrace of Trattoria Grappolo, where Jayne had thoughtfully made a reservation. I'll tell you one thing, when I lived in the Valley we didn't have restaurants like this! All we had was Wilkes' Drive-In (no longer in business) across from the park and the Bit 'O Denmark. Well, there was Mattei's Tavern out in Los Olivos, but my family never ate there for some reason. In fact, my first job was washing dishes at Mattei's, completely under the table because I was only 15. Anyway, both the food and the service at Grappolo were excellent and we spent a lovely evening together. Because I'd stuffed myself earlier on an avocado and provolone sandwich, all I could manage was an arugula salad topped with a light, tender crab cake. It was divine! Jayne had the same, then tucked into a light pasta dish. We discussed sharing a dessert, but we were full by the time we got to that point.

Dixie & her mum
After dinner we went back up the mountain and sat on her deck admiring the view. I wanted to stay a little longer (I was finally starting to relax), but I knew I had to navigate the steep, twisting dirt drive in the dark after having a bit of wine, so we bid our farewells.

Those of you not fortunate enough to be able to meet this beautiful lady really need to read her book. She has been through so much life and has come out the better for it and with her sense of humor in tact, and she has shared her discoveries and wisdom in such a charming, heartfelt way. In fact, I intend to read it again immediately.

I promise the next time we meet, Jayne, I won't be such a case. Lynette will be with me and she's very adept at holding the string of my balloon.