Diamonds in the sawdust

July 26, 2023

   The annual outdoor Laguna Beach Sawdust Arts and Crafts Festival features close to 170 artists working hard at their crafts in a wide range of media including ceramics, painting, jewelry, glass and photography. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of day trip that has me heading for a darkened corner of the couch begging for mercy and trying every lame excuse I can think of, including “But it’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel!”

It was a slow start

   It turns out, however, to be one of the activities Carol uses in her constant drive to steer me from becoming a sneering, manifesto-scrawling recluse, and into a more normally cheerful, outgoing human being. It’s a transformation not unlike that of The Incredible Hulk, except in my case, it’s more like The Incredible Bulk. Hah! (She has less success when it comes to vegetables, standards of dress and kale, but I admire her relentless pluck.)

But the wine helped

   So there we were on an overcast and lightly spitty Sunday afternoon (my prayers for it to turn into a torrential downpour having gone unanswered) aboard the Laguna Trolley providing free transportation from Irvine directly to the festival. Carol had also rooted out that Lake Forest residents got into the festival free after 4pm on Sundays. I felt marginally better that at least perusing the ceramics, painting, jewelry, glass and photography hadn’t cost me a dime as yet.

 As much as I tried to disguise it, Carol could easily detect my RFF (Resting Funeral Face). 

   I arrived for what I expected to be a snooty and pretentious  mise en scene, and immediately scoped out the location of the trolley stop for the ride back to Irvine. I quickly calculated how much time I’d have to spend before I could legitimately begin badgering Carol to go back home – unless the forecast for thunderstorms suddenly and prayerfully materialized. (They didn’t; I was glad, eventually.)

Something about kids and magicians and wonder

   As much as I tried to disguise it, Carol could easily detect my RFF (Resting Funeral Face). “I’m getting a glass,” she suddenly announced. (It was not supposed to be a wine day according to my new A1c reducing guidelines.) But I will freely admit that wine does for my social skills what spinach does for Popeye’s biceps. Immediately it was as if our house had crash landed in Munchkinland. All the  ceramics, painting, jewelry, glass and photography were glittering, vibrant, sparkling, creative and provocative. The live music was scintillating, and the roving magician causing gasps of disbelief from all the children had me praying the rain would hold off.

   What had started out with my thin reed of a hope of leaving after an hour, turned into an evening of wine, music and people watching. I sat and people-watched (several of the artists were straight out of the Summer of Love, just up the road in San Francisco) while Carol explored the ceramics, painting, jewelry, glass and photography.

How about a $16,000 coffee table made from a tree stump

   When we decided to call it a night, we arrived at the trolley stop very nearly simultaneously with the trolley’s arrival.

A pleasant ride into the sunset

   “Trust me,” Carol had said at one point during a break in one of the performers’s musical sets that afternoon. “I know,” I said. I’ve always known.”

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