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Sunday, May 27 2018

Caretaker Profiles

A Portrait of a Writer - A Profile of Cynthia Morgan


Date of Birth: 6/10/47
Interests: Writing, cooking, gardening, swimming, and reading.
Quote: "The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill one's heart. We must imagine Sisyphus happy." Camus

PHOTO
Cynthia's taking a writing break, away from her computer!

When Cynthia Morgan was a child, she certainly didn't think she would be a caretaker when she grew up.

After graduating from college, Cynthia wanted to try her wings at novel writing before getting involved with a teaching career. The question was, what could she do to earn a living while writing her book? "I figured I needed something to tide me over for only a year or two that wouldn't force me to work an eight-hour day. I walked over to the employment office at San Jose State University where I discovered a job I'd never thought about, a not-so-highbrow caretaking position.

Although the wages were low, $300 a month, this job also offered living quarters. It doesn't take much to get by if you don't have to pay rent or house payments. So I went for an interview and that was the day that altered the course of my life.

I was lucky for two reasons: I stumbled upon a Garden of Eden to caretake and there was no competition for this kind of work. While my friends went on to legitimate careers, I turned into a country girl, and life became very simple."

Cynthia's first caretaking job was working for a wine family housecleaning, chauffeuring and cooking. For this work she received her own cottage smack dab in the middle of the vineyard. There was an extensive rose garden beside the cottage, planted by the wine maker of previous years.

On the other side of the cottage, under two giant Eucalyptus trees, there was a fenced-in 'barnyard' for chickens and rabbits. All the grapes she could eat were free for the picking. "I couldn't have bought this kind of environment on a teacher's salary. Which reminds me, with my first paycheck I had enough left over to buy six chickens, four geese, three rabbits and a partridge in a pear tree.

Ha ha - just kidding. And an electric typewriter." That was twenty years ago and Cynthia is still friends with the winery owners today. The typewriter, however, has faded out of the picture and has been replaced by a computer.

Cynthia has certainly found the right niche for herself. The artist's complaint has always been that there isn't enough time or energy to create because one has to also earn a living. After a full day in an office or factory, the last thing one wants to do is sit down and compose a symphony, paint a picture or write a book.

Not to mention the importance of focus. It can be hard to concentrate on a project when one is being infiltrated with data from another job. Cynthia has been able to pursue her craft because of her caretaking jobs. In addition to her vineyard caretaking, she has lived in a cabin in the mountains, a cottage on a small ranch, a mansion and had her own house at a resort.

The resort position was in Big Sur, located along the river. There were two small cabins, each with their own hot tub to tend. Being the only person working the resort, Cynthia was responsible for making phone reservations, greeting guests and showing them to their cabins, cleaning the cabins, laundry, banking, gardening and mowing the lawn that ran alongside the Big Sur River.

She would get up at five a.m. and write until check-out time, which was noon. By then she was ready for some physical labor, after being bent over her computer all morning, and went to work cleaning the cabins and doing the laundry. Check-in time was five p.m., so she had a couple of hours for a break, which meant a drive down the road to the post office. After that, she could take an hour's break for a cappuccino in the sun, often with a fellow writer friend who was caretaking the Henry Miller library.

What an ideal situation for a writer! In fact, Cynthia says she can't think of any drawbacks. "Caretaking can be a uniquely intimate job, however, in that you live and work in your employer's home environment. The benefits can be numerous once you've learned to walk the fine line respecting the privacy and 'space' of your employer."

Cynthia's enjoyed the use of the swimming pools and hot tubs she's maintained and the tennis courts she's swept. She's had a complimentary membership to a country club, and driven a Mercedes, an Explorer, a Cadillac and a truck.

"Even the work itself is a benefit, as far as I'm concerned. After a morning of writing, I get the kinks out running errands, grocery shopping, cooking - and there are no interruptions so that I can think about the book I'm working on, even as I'm working for someone else. I get to own my own brain!

Yet the biggest benefit for me is TIME to write. And I've found that the people I work for like the idea that I'm using my free time for writing and not escaping off the property somewhere." Landowners know that, with a writer caretaker, they have someone who will be there to watch over the property. This makes a very amiable situation for both parties!

PHOTO

The California home where Cynthia is caretaking.

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