The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sioux-on-a-Stick Visits Val

         On Friday I made a pilgrimage. Driving for almost three hours (one way) was worth it, because I was treated with a dee-luxe tour of all the infamous sites that make up Val-land.

      First, we jump-started our blood circulation by wrestling with riding the Gator.  As you can see from the photo, Val did not trust me enough to let me sit in the driver's seat. (That was very wise of Val. Very wise indeed.)

Next, we visited the dead-mouse-smelling post office. Apparently the postal employees had gotten wind that two suspicious characters were on the rampage, because they closed up the post office--early--before we could storm the placeWe got to walk in and take a whiff, but I was unable to interrogate them on what exactly was causing the odor.

By then, we were parched, so we had a spot of tea and some scones...'cause Sioux and Val are such the tea type...Crisp white linens, some violin music in the background and even some watercress sandwiches--what a lovely treat.

Next, the moment I had waited for for years...the chance to actually see the driveway that belongs to Val's mom. It's frowned upon to stare too long at this sacred ground, and furthermore, it's illegal to park on the driveway (unless, of course, you have filled out an application at least six months in advance), so I had to cloak myself in a grass and gravel camouflage suit and bellycrawl onto the property, just so I could snap this photograph. (The driveway is in the background; in the foreground is Sioux-on-a-Stick and Val-in-a-Recliner.)

        Next, we headed to Val's classroom. Unfortunately, the school district security guard was alerted before we could take more than one picture. However, this is a glimpse into her window; the tangle of computer wires that Val and The Pony successfully untangled are just out of view, on the left.

We finished up with more to drink...this time, some elixir from the gods. When the gas station employees got wind that it was one of Val's daily tours ($16.95 for adults and $29.95 for children under 12 because who wants to hang around a bunch of young kids in the summer; a $10 fee for each photo taken with Val-on-a-Recliner is required), they cleared the area so we could take advantage of the photo opp. Most of the time, if two such menacing females would be spied stalking around--suspicious women taking pictures--the police would be alerted. (Actually, we did see a police cruiser at two of the tour sites. I am sure they were not checking out we-who-could-be-terrorists. They were probably there to control the crowds that always create traffic jams when Val makes an appearance in town.)


I could not afford the five-figure fee Val charges to take a picture of her basement lair, where all the magic happens. After all, I'm just a poor third grade teacher who has years to go before she sleepsBut bouyed by the precious elixir that flows from that dispenser (a 17-cent discount on the sodas for Val tour members), I headed back on my three-hour trip home...elated and exhausted.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Old Writers...Old Friends

       Today I am off to interview an old writer--an author in her nineties. (So, when you say you're too old to write a novel and get it published, she did it just recently. So there!)

            I'm hoping that a little of her energy and spunk will land on me...

       I am also going to be visiting someone who is such a worthy opponent (when it comes to all things Seinfeld, songs from our era, and lit-trah-ture), it makes our constant sparring a delight At least it's delightful for me. For her, it's probably a pain in the rear to deal with my pesky  pokes. It would be like Arnold Schwarzenegger arm wrestling Don Knotts--when Don Knotts was still alive, of course. Me, I'm racking my brain and digging into the recesses of my memory when I try to trip her up on some Seinfeld trivia or try to stump her with a one-hit wonder. And she? She has it all on the tip of her tongue--her victories come effortless.  She is also a writer but she's been balking about writing a book. A collection of her stories would have us all clamoring to buy it. Because of her reluctance, I'm bringing my electric cattle prod...

       One of those stories--either the interview or the story about my visit with someone who seems like they've been my friend for a long time--will be posted on Monday.

        ...And until then, head over to read Jean Whatley. What? You don't know her? You don't follow her? You should. Read this post. You'll do a little time-traveling of your own--I imagine--as you take a bittersweet journey into the past.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taking a Risk

          Reading Mary Horner's recent post--about taking a risk and sharing with students/the audience--made me think of writers who share themselves in their writing.

         Some of my favorite authors--Anne Lamott, Augusten Burroughs, Rick Bragg, Mary Karr--are writers who share ...everything. They're brutal. They cut themselves open and lay bare their bones--all the skeletons in their closets come clattering out.

          In May I joined a dozen or so other St. Louis writers for the Listen to Your Mother show. We got up on stage and shared our lives. Some of what we shared made people laugh, and other stories made the audience cry. Almost always I lead with my funny bone, but this time, I didn't.

          If you click on the link above, you'll be able to see me in all six minutes of my splendor. However, consider yourself forewarned. The photographer was ill on the day of the show, and so some of the videos got screwed up. In real life, people often mistake me for Halle Berry, so when you see someone who looks quite different from that, understand: the camera guy had problems...  

        Speaking of risk (again)--I'm friends with some writers who willingly share all sorts of things on paper, and yet when it comes time to share their writing with a live, breathing audience, they hesitate balk. These are writers whose talents are wickedly amazing ...and yet many people miss out on enjoying their gifts because of their reluctance to share at book signings and other events.

        Was there a time when you shared with an audience/family member/friend and the results were encouraging? Perhaps if my shy writer friends hear stories that ended up on a positive note, they might share the next time they get a chance...


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Never Too Late

        Enough cheesecake, chocolate-covered pretzels, fruit, wine and cheese and crackers to feed an army...People crammed into a bookstore like they were thirteen-year olds waiting for Justin Bieber to relieve himself in an alley...Two editors-extraordinaire and one bookstore owner (along with her "bartender" husband)...A hundred or so of readers and writers...Put all of those together and you come up with a winning combination.   

     A book launch for two collections, Not Your Mother's Book...On Family and Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Mom was held this week, hosted by Robin Theiss at her shop, Stl Books. Dianna Graveman and Linda O'Connell, after completing months and months (and years) of editing work, were finally able to let their breath out and celebrate.

     One of the writers who was part of the celebration was Verna Simms. Verna's 93, still kickin' as an author, and just recently had a novel published. She was having such a good time at the book signing, she had to be taken out in handcuffs convinced it was getting late before she agreed to head home.

     So, if you're assuming you're too old to write a book, think of Verna. If you're figuring you don't have a chance of getting published, think of Verna. If you're sure you're past your prime, think of Verna...
      And reach out towards your goals.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Signing--Story Mining

      This Tuesday there is going to be a book signing in Kirkwood. Lots of local St. Louis area writers will be there. The two editors extraordinaire--Linda O'Connell and Dianna Graveman--will be there as well. There will be refreshments, chats with the writers, and pony rides...

(Okay, perhaps I'm mixing this event up with a different event. Don't count on the pony ride part.)

      There will also be readings from several authors. I will be sharing my story about my son and his tattoos.

      "Tat Boy" (I sometimes thought this would be a great nickname for him) is today being honored at a "White Coat" ceremony. He's been accepted into the Doctor of Osteopathy program in Kirksville, Missouri and will eventually be a D.O. (An incredible D.O.--Dr. Fred Duhart--delivered my babies and did the same thing for another one of the WWWPs...Small world, huh?)

      So, come to Kirkwood on Tuesday and be prepared to buy some books, toast Tat Boy today in Kirksville, and be assured: I've been able to mine many stories from my son's experiences, but the excavation process has not come to an end. I'm sure I will get much more fodder as his schooling continues...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Indie Day

      I am taking Margo Dill's suggestion, and I'm heading to an independent book store today, in order to give a twist to Independence Day.

     Also, I'm a few days late drawing a name, but Vickie Newman won a copy of Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Mom. (Of course, Vickie's last name was like a curse whenever it was uttered on Seinfeld--Val, you know what I'm talkin' 'bout--but I certainly won't hold it against Vickie.)

     And as a final note today, Love a Golden is having their annual trivia night on August 23. It's held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in St. Charles. We have a wonderful silent auction and free beer (not a draw for me, but I'm strange). If you live in the area and are interested, check out the "events" for more details. (And if you have anything you'd like to donate to auction/raffle off, please contact me. Love a Golden is a 501 (c) (3) group, so all donations are tax deductible.)