Our privacy and gardening

Santa Cruz

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 26 Apr 2023


Santa Cruz

1*D1g0uW9X1hbdjK_l8X_WuQ.jpeg The joy of motherhood.

Pregnancy and reading

“ Jan 15th Thursday 2 a.m. We’ve been in S.C. now one week, looking for a lodging from a motel room. Arrived last Wednesday eve., high and frantic, having left Berkeley in our mobile home, a humorous enough scene. I made a quick trip there to pick up some speed, after a three month hiatus. Called friends (Santa Cruz ones) without success upon getting here, then searched for a cheap room and found one, so cheap it was dangerous (the neighborhood) and foolish as there was so much money in our camper.

“Walked out to get food, wine and newspaper by myself, very high, quickly, not wanting to leave stuff in room unguarded. Back after an hour, cheap dinner and telephone calls and talk till 1 a.m. with Sanita. Broken sleep for me till 6 a.m.. Then up with a head full of things to do and planning. To breakfast solo, buying this pad and pen. Sanita up by ten. (I must note that during her entire pregnancy she wisely abstained from speed, except for one little line just once at Ted’s). We move to a better motel and go car hunting. At 2 p.m. we look at and buy one, a Datsun 260 Z.

“Then to Steve and Consuelo’s place for a spaghetti dinner, Steve’s brother Owen also showing up and another friend Kevin. Much lively talk and wine. We head back to the motel at 11 very tired. Friday after a good rest house hunting begins, after insurance for car and D.M.V. Restaurants and house hunting by day. T.V. and much sleep the next four days. Yesterday, (Wednesday) we apply for a second place (one the day before). Now waiting on landladies’ background check. I renewed my license yesterday afternoon, bored later and on the spur of the moment decide to drive to E. Bay and Jim’s. There by six and then to Ted’s after a frustrating half hour wait, (amazed at my anticipation) more than ever before. He arrives, lines, crazy car talk then back to Jim’s where Sanita sat waiting.

“Pleasant talk with Jim about trip then off to Steve’s, very delighted to see us again. He was already in bed but got up for two hours with coffee and lines. Fond talk of old friends and news of M.’s car accident. I called Marg. just to say hello, but unpleasant reserve and paranoia on her part and corresponding disappointment felt by Sanita as if her close friend was lost. (Marg. was always a huge worrier over every little thing.) At Steve’s I found out Bones and May were in another reclusive stage and Steve’s resentment at their coldness. We leave midnight for the hour and a half drive in the new car, nervous over some strange sounds it was making. We split the driving and talk of this night’s visits, overall pleasantly passed. Felt very benevolent towards all, especially Steve. Felt self-mad at my lark to Ted’s and thankful that Sanita put up with it… Looking forward to a comfortable life, a home, full privacy and time, no daily distractions or worries, an ideal setting for study. We’ll see”.

And we found it. The next day we signed the papers to rent a cute, small, shingled ranch house, narrow and long, our bedroom at the back end, then a living room then a kitchen and past that a small bedroom soon to be the baby’s room. The lot was all fenced in by a tall, tight (no slats) wood fence, perfect for privacy from all neighbors, a wooden gate at the front street after a long front yard. No one could see in. The fence was seven feet high. The lot was at the North end of town, about three blocks from the edge of it, two blocks from the ocean, with a beautiful little cove beach past that, where Sanita spent many hours sunbathing.

One hitch was that we had to wait two weeks to move in. So we took another trip to L.A. of which I record nothing. But I have in the journal of this year a list of book purchases. I was slowly starting to build up a library to my taste, which grew to several hundred volumes by 1989.

1*kd4pZjzyX8doa2zhY9gD2w.jpeg The brown books on the middle shelf contained my fourteen volumes of Livy.

Once we settled in it was a time to take it easy. I set up a study in the baby’s room but spent most hours in an easy chair in the living room. I rediscovered the historian Livy at this time and read through all 14 volumes with Freinsheim’s supplements and thousands of double columned note, every word, each volume 6 to 8 hundred pages long, all in Latin. I often read six hours a day and it took four months to finish the collection. But it was the happiest period of reading in my life, as the text, the notes and the long supplements were so fascinating to me. Livy had a unique talent (the Roman’s called it ‘lactea ubertas’, ‘milky richness’) to modulate his sentences in ever diverse and interesting ways so he never grows dull or repetitive. I could read him forever, so I read him through.

Sanita was likewise sedate and happy, laying in bed often twelve hours a day, reading magazines or sunbathing on the porch or at the beach. She said the pregnancy took all her energy, but she did find the few hours to plant a large garden in our front yard, peas, carrots, melons and other vegetables which we enjoyed that summer.

She couldn’t quit smoking but cut way down by giving me total control over it. I bought and hid the packs and doled out to her four cigarettes a day, one at a time, spread over the hours evenly.

She didn’t drink at all, while I drank about a liter of wine daily, or nightly I should say, starting with dinner. I admired her abstinence and came to her every call, to answer her every need, like a nurse. We were truly a pair and deeply in love. I wrote her this poem:

I hardly knew my wife had crept to bed
Beside me, as it happened late one night,
’til next to mine she lay her sleepy head
And closed her eyes while I dimmed down the light.
For I was deep-enthralled in some romance
That promised hours of indolent delight.
To her soft breathing many scenes I read
(strange that I still recall the circumstance)
When in her sleep her arm, as to embrace,
Slipped ‘cross my chest. Next, reading on I felt
The flutter of her eyelid on my face
And breath in which my name was faintly spelt
As her arm closed and pressed us heart to heart
As if our souls had secrets to impart.

It’s hard to describe our happiness and peaceful life then. We had few visitors, though Steve and Consuelo would drop by about once a week, or we’d sometimes visit them. Consuelo became very close to Sanita during her pregnancy and sometimes came alone. Their home front was less than idyllic as Steve was trying to finish a degree but was remiss to a fault and often late with his assignments. It became Consuelo’s full time job to press him to complete projects, an unpleasant, unending and often unsuccessful task, full of bickering. So she’d sneak over to our house to tell us about it, just for a break.

We were alone and happy to be alone together. Pictures are better at telling the events of serene, lazy, repeated days of tranquility and bliss. So I’ll describe them properly.


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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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