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  • Writer's pictureSophia Dunkin-Hubby

Summer Nostalgia

Selfie shot of Sophia Dunkin-Hubby sitting at the tea house in the San Francisco Japaenes Tea Gardens. There is a corner of the roof of the tea house visible on the left and green bushes with a rock wall underneath behind her on her right. A set of stairs leading up to the garden with a bamboo handrail is at the back on the left.

What's gone on this week

Thank Goodness for the Fourth of July holiday! I took Friday off as well so it was a short week and a nice break which I desperately needed. I'm still puzzled by the reversal of fortune I talked about last week, but having time to rest and think has provided some relief.

Last weekend I went up to San Francisco and visited the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park. My family used to go there several times a year when I was growing up and we always stopped at the tea house to have tea before walking through the garden. To this day the smell of Jasmine tea transports me back there - sitting on small square stools, wearing jackets because it was always cloudy and cold, and eating crispy savory crackers and sesame and almond cookies. Summer makes me especially nostalgic for some reason so it was wonderful to go back last weekend and revisit. The tea and cookies tasted exactly like I remember. Plus the garden is stunning.

Wooden table next to a railing overlooking a pond with bridge over it at the San Francisco Japanese Tea Gardens. On the table is a mug of Jasmine Tea, a small wooden tray with handle holding a black bowl of savory orange crackers and two fortune cookies, and in the foreground the edge of a notebook and a black square dish holding nine cookies (sesame, almond, and fortune), and three chocolate covered pocky sticks.
A tall red pagoda surrounded by greenery sits on top of a hill in the center and a waterfall runs down from the right to center into a pond at the San Francisco Japanese Tea Gardens.
A pond surrounded by green grass with two groups of lily pads in the middle of it. A group of small trees trimmed into mounds sits on the edge at the back.
A waterfall in the middle descends into a pond edges with large gray rocks in the foreground at the San Francisco Japanese Tea Gardens.

I also popped down to the Sutro Baths which are near the coastal end of the park. I was craving the windy, spectacular views of the ocean and it did not disappoint. San Francisco is mostly cloudy, cold, and foggy, especially in the sunset, during the summer and I find that kind of weather extremely comforting and invigorating.

A view of the Pacific Ocean from the top of the cliffs overlooking the Sutro Baths ruins in San Francisco. The ruins are in the middle of the photo - a large rectangular pool with smaller square pools on its right. The cliff is covered in greenery and in the foreground lots of yellow flowers.

I didn't do much writing this week. I gave myself permission to take a break. Instead I spent time thinking about the second half of the story, asking questions and letting answers rise to the surface. I also added to my Pinterest board which I've been using for world building.

Since the story has changed a ton since I wrote the very first draft of it, the world has also shifted. The original world was rooted in Medieval England. Too much. Introducing more fantastical elements has really loosened it up, but making the mental shift has been difficult since the original world was well developed. Creating a private Pinterest board has really helped. Every time I stumbled over a new element I wanted to include I did a Pinterest search and saved images that I liked. Anything that came up on my feed that made me think of my story I saved to that board. Recently I created sub-boards for two of my locations. It helps me to think of them like sets.

One of the best things about this technique is that it's something I can do when I don't have the energy to write, so I feel like I'm still making progress.

Garden Update

I planted out the seedlings I propagated indoors. Now to see how they do outdoors. I'm encouraged by my first attempt. I naively put three different kinds of seeds in the same tray. Since they germinate at different rates this was not optimum and when I do it again I will only do one kind of seed per tray. I was mainly testing two different kinds of soil - regular potting soil and a seed starting mix. The seed starting mix is more open to allow roots an easier time to form. I didn't notice a huge difference but will probably use the seed starting mix next time. I'm also going to try a heated mat.

The seeds that I direct sowed outside are doing well. The Cosmos have sprouted multiple sets of leaves while the Calendula have only sprouted one set. Keeping them fed and watered is the main thing now. In theory they should bloom at the end of August to mid September.

What I'm Loving

I listened to two episodes of Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert this week and really liked them to my complete surprise. I've never been a fan of Dax Shepard but he's a great host and I love the wide ranging conversations he has with his guests. The two episodes were with Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Word Count


Photos by Sophia Dunkin-Hubby

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