Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Books, food and Halloween

It's always fun to get one of my books in finished form. Today I got author's copies of Audie Murphy: War Hero and Movie Star, a short book for 4th graders. It's part of the Stars of Texas Series from State House Press. The topics of these books are determined by the list of people Texas 4th graders are expected to be familiar with for the TAKS test. I'm not sure, personally, about Murphy in this category. He fought bravely in the European theater of World War II and was such an excellent marksman that the number of enemy soldiers he killed is high. Discharged, he went to Hollywood and became a movie star--but it was sort of an on-again, off-again career that spiraled downward, in large part due to his problems with what we now call post-traumatic stress but which then was generally unrecognized. Still, young boys will probably revel in the tales of his war adventures. I just don't think I'd have liked him if I met him, although he was supposedly charmingly boyish and shy. And he did have to work hard to overcome his farmer's drawl--and the walk that looked like he was in the cotton patch. If you check back here in 24 hours, there'll be a picture of the cover.
Yesterday was a long day that made me realize how much I count on my afternoon nap. Just about the time I was getting ready to take a nap, the Dish Network guy came and stayed, for two long hours. The first receiver he put in didn't receive or whatever. But he finally left, and I spent a very happy evening watchng the food channel while sitting at my desk--I'd never been able to get the food channel before, and I loved it! This new addiction, which probably means I'll never write another word, began when I was in Frisco babysitting four-year-old Edie. We watched idly on Saturday, but Sunday morning, after watching Meet the Press which she couldn't possibly have understood, she said, "Juju, I'd like to watch the food channel now." We watched it all day, me with one eye while cooking dinner and occasionally stopping to sit with her on the couch. I've asked her folks to tell her we can watch it here now.
Tonight is Halloween, not my favorite holiday. I think way too much is made of it. I know that sounds curmudgeonly, but TV programs (even the food channel) are full of Halloween, and today I went to lunch at a restaurant where a huge contingent of costumed people filled the sidewalk tables. At Central Market the other day I was studying a shelf of something and looked up to see such a realistic straw man that I almost threw my hands in the air in surprise. Halloween seems to me a celebration for young children (yes, I know the religious tradition from which it comes--we just did a book on the Day of the Dead, which is slowly turning into a Mexican Halloween instead of the religious festival it was meant to be). When I had small children, I enjoyed it, and I've loved the few Halloweens I've spent with grandchildren. But generally I bring the dog in, turn off the lights, and ignore those few trick or treaters who don't take seriously the signal of my dark porch. Jacob is having a party tonight--such a clever child at 16 months!--and I was going to go, but the more I thought about it, the more it didn't feel right. I want to bring Scooby inside so he doesn't bark all night, and I don't want to come home to stumble across a dark front porch (peppered with this year's acorn crop, and if you stop on one in the dark, you're liable to go flying). So I called Jordan with my regrets, and she didn't even protest. I'm savoring the thought of a lamb chop and green salad.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stuff about nothing

My brother complained last night that I don't post as often as I used to, and I replied that if I did it would have "and then I did this . . . and then I did that" quality, which is a red flag to me in a manuscrpt. I've been busy but some days it beats me if I know doing what.
Sunday was a hectic day with two signings for the brand new book, Grace & Gumption: Stories of Fort Worth Women, but they were the kind of signings a publisher dreams of. I took 24 copies to a Sunday school group at Trinity Episcopalian Church, where Katie, the editor, was speaking. Sold 23 (one was damaged) and could have sold four or five more. Then in the afternoon all the contributors were at a funky small gallery on the East Side. They requested 30 books, sold the 35 I brought in the first half hour, and took orders for another 25.

I came home and put the finishing touches on supper for Linda and Rodger from Granbury. We sat on the porch, drinking wine, eating salsa and chips, and laughing a lot. The pinto bean soup for dinner was delicious--I doctored the recipe by browning the chopped onion and garlic before adding it and adding four boullion cubes to the cooking liquid. But Linda was in severe pain from a bad knee, and it got worse when she tried to stand up at the dinner table. Seems she's facing double knee replacement but the surgery can't be scheduled until late January.
The Scottish mystery wasn't quite as exhilarating as I expected. It's set in Glasgow, not the most picturesque place in Scotland, and the people are dysfunctional (they call it mental of knackers). There's a slight bit of drug dealing--the protagonist's brother--and lots of use of the F-word, along with dialect that I sometimes have to guess at. but I'm hooked enough that I'll finish it. Maybe today, since I'm stuck at home waiting for the DISH man to hook up my office TV and upgrade my service, so Edie and I can watch the food channel. I do however have work to do--am ready to draft a piece on Merrill and Paul Bonarrigo, owners of the Messina Hof Vineyard and Restaurant.
This weekend Megan and family are coming, and, I hope, Jamie and his family. I've bought a huge chuck roast to make barbecue, and if there are only three adults, I'll have a lot left over! I haven't seen Megan's boys, Sawyer and Ford, since August, so I'm anxious to see them.
A note about how lucky I am to have good friends: tomorrow morning at 8:30 I have to have a routine echocardiogram, but it always makes me nervous. When Jordan has to have hers, Christian goes with her. So Betty is going with me, and I'm most grateful. Besides, I don't like self-service elevators alone, and by the time I climb to the fourth floor, I'm out of breath and my blood pressure is high, not auspicious in a cardiologist's office!
I just got the signing check for leasing the gas rights to my property. It's worth about two-and-a-half children's books, which strikes me as funny. I work so hard on those books and this money I got for just signing my name. Off to the bank tomorrow morning!

Friday, October 26, 2007

What a Week!

Whoosh! What a week! I came home about about two this Friday afternoon and thought gratefully that I don't have to do anything I don't want to for the next day and a half. My week was filled with small chores--a flu shot, cooking two company dinners, turning in my rent car and getting my VW back (thank heaven). I'd been driving a PT Cruiser while my VW bug convertible was getting the dent pounded out where a woman driving an "old lady's car"--a steamboat she couldn't steer--gently bumped into the side of my car. It may have been gentle but it left a good dent. Both my brother and my younger daughter thought it was embarrassing that I was driving a PT Cruiser, and truth to tell I didn't like it nearly as well as my car. In fact, I got so flummoxed by getting the car switch done and then rushing to the grocery to have supper supplies for Jordan and family that night I forgot an appointment with my boss--not good politics, but she was very understanding.
But there were bigger things in my week: a meeting of the TCU Press Advisory Council (went well, came up with good suggestions and ideas), a talk to a senior level marketing class, a talk to a local women's group of about 20 on one of our new books. I had a couple of important business lunches--always looking for projects and partners in publishing--a meeting about finances, and a conference with a woman who's done a children's book on cleaning up our rivers. As an academic press, children's books are not our thing, but this might be a public service project.
Tonight I'm home itching to read a good book, though first I may work a bit on my book on great Texas chefs. I drafted a piece on Terry Thompson-Anderson last night. She cooks with Creole and French influences and does a lot of game, like quail with black coffee gravy (sounds wonderful!)
The week also brought interesting possible projects to the press, particularly the idea of a book on Texas Congressional legislators--Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, Jim Wright, and a host of others. In general I am out of patience with politicians, from national to local. I read with amusement this morning that the White House press secretary justified the "editing" of the recent report on the environment to emphasize the positive aspects of global warming. Excuse me? It seems she did a spin that said it was good for the world because it keeps people from freezing to death. Makes me feel we're living in the dark ages of superstition.
And then there's the local city council member who "outed" a candidate for the council at a public meeting. That particular candidate has been public about his lifestyle for many years, but to bring it up in a joking manner at a fundraiser was unbelievably crude, and I resent that the man who did it (I won't use the term gentleman) serves on our city council. I write letters to the editor and try to make my voice heard so often that I am sure they're tired of me and grateful for their once-a-month rule.
Tomorrow I'm going to Central Market, a trip I always enjoy, and I'm going to cook a huge pot of pinto bean soup for company Sunday night. And I've got a new mystery to read--Garnett Hill by Denise Mina. It's set in Glasgow and was one of several Scottish mysteries I found listed in an article by a friend in the TCU Retireees Newsletter. In the spirit of my learning about all things Scottish, I thought I should read it. Strictly duty, you understand.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Museums and Presbyterians

Last night I went to the signing for the Day of the Dead book at the Museum of the Americas in Weatherford. The museum is one of those undiscovered treasures that exist throughout America--and it's fun to discover it and then share it with friends. Owner Harold Lawrence gave us a little background--a retired professor of English, he's been collecting for over 50 years and his wife for over 30. Their collections complement but do not echo each other. The front half of the museum--one huge room with magnificent old wooden display cases--is "his." It showcases artifacts from all over North America, almost exclusively Native American things but not just the Southwest. All areas of the country are recognized, particuarly Harold's native Northwest. Clothing, food vessels, an amazing collection of arrowheads, too much to mention and certainly too much to absorb in one visit (this was my second visit). And all of it carefully labelled. The labelling of the large arrowhead collection most amazed me--they arrived all jumbled together in a box. Harold sorted, identified, mounted and made signage.
The back half of the former storefront displays Elizabeth's interests in Latin and South America, especially Mexico. There are four smaller areas back there, and last night one room was devoted to a wonderfully colorful and authentic Day of the Dead altar, modeled in part on one of the photographs in our book.
Ward, author of the text, gave an informal but charming and informative talk on the custom of the Day of the Dead, and then people milled, looked, drank wine and ate Elizabeth's wonderful food--and generally had a good time. (I hope they also bought books!) It was an eclectic crowd--mostly older (look who's talking) but wonderfully friendly and enthusiastic.
Afterward my neighbor Sue and I had supper at Sapristi's--she ate mussels, which I'm a little bit leery about trying but might well love, and I had a Caesar salad and a decadent chocolate mousse.
This morning I went to nearby St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church with my friend Betty. We wanted to see the Kirken O' the Tartans (Blessing of the Tartans). Eight bagpipers were accompanied by several drummers and followed by a parade of tartans--wish I knew more about identifying the various plaids, but I don't. The thunderous music was thrilling, reason enough to be there. But I found the church interesting--I know of course that the Presbyterian church traces back to Scotland, but I didn't realize how heavily they rely on Scottish creeds and prayers and how often they refer to Scotland. I've been to other Presbyterian churches--indeed grew up in one that was a combined Presbyterian/Congregational congregaton--and still don't remember that. So it may be this church and this particular service. Otherwise, the service was more formal and full of ritual than mine, although the Disciples are an offshoot of Calvinism. Still I'm used to hearing ministers pray from the heart rather than read a prescribed prayer, and I'm not used to the congregation reciting so many creeds. And then there's the issue of that focus on how sinful we are . . . . well, I won't be transferring my membership but I enjoyed the morning immensely.
The service ended with the recession of the tartans and once again, they were escorted by the pipers and drummers. Betty offered to leave early but I wouldn't hear of it. Somehow though we were the first out the door, to be greeted with the people bearing tartans on standards lining the walk away from the church--nobody followed us, so we made that long walk (I suspect there was twenty tartans displayed) by ourselves feeling a little as if we were walking the gauntlet, though all the tartan bearers smiled and greeted us happily. I sort of wanted to linger and ask each what clan they represented.
Now a quick nap and then off to a party at a friend's lake house. Quite a weekend.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


This is a lovely weekend in Fort Worth--sunny, beautifully clear, cool this morning, almost 90 this afternoon. But lovely enough that I served cocktails on the porch last night and lunch--leftovers--today.
The photographer and author of our Day of the Dead book are in the area promoting the book. Late yesterday afternoon good friends Sharon and Bill Benge met them at my house, and Sharon did an interview for the arts show she does weekly on WRR FM. Then I served wine and antipasto and sent them off to sign books for two hours at Barnes & Noble. Turns out Sharon's favorite place is Oxaca, with most of Mexico coming in close behind, so they all had lots to talk about. Denis, the photographer, has in recent years, also made three trips to Cuba and is proposing a book to us called Capturing Cuba. Day of the Dead, after two months, is a rip-roaring success, so yes, we're interested. Now that we have cracked--okay, Melinda has cracked--the secrets of publishing four-color in China, we're lining p all kinds of coffee table projects that should help our bottom line immensely. Also they're lovely, books that make me glow with pride that we did them. Of course, I can't retire!
Today I called a friend who has had knee surgery and picked her up--we hit DSW Shoe Warehouse and Barnes & Noble and then came back here to eat leftover pickled baby corn, salami and cheese, southwestern tuna, olives, dolma, whatever was left from last night. Made a satisfying lunch, and once again it was lovely on the porch. This afternoon I'm playing catch-up, but I find myself putting off my great chefs project. I'm just going to have to get firm with myself and get it done.I have all these gorgeous cookbooks sitting on my desk, waiting to be written about! But I keep getting distracted by mysteries, and today I bought three set in Scotland. Which reminds me that tomorrow, I'm going to a nearby Presbyterian church to hear the Kirken on the Tartans--I'm not quite sure what it is, but I know it involves bagpipes, so I'm excited.
Tonight a small privately owned museum in Weatherford, about 30 miles away, is opening their annual Day of the Dead celebration, and there's a big reception. Our book, our photographer, and our author are featured. My neighbor Sue and I will go and then stop on the way home for a glass of wine and a snack. I hope, of course, that they sell a lot of books. Check it out on and see how beautiful it truly is: Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos with photography by Denis Defibaugh and text by Ward Albro.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book clubs, mineral rights, and baby kisses

Oooh--I just got back from eating chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes at the Star Cafe, where I used to work. I'd forgotten how good it is--and how full it makes me feel.
This morning I talked to a book club, at the invitatoin of a friend from my church. Ten ladies, including my good friend Betty. I was to talk about my short story collection, Sue Ellen Learns to Dance and Other Stories, which I did but then the conversation veered off into books in general and publishing in detail. The ladies had questions about self-publishing, electronic books, all kinds of things. For me, the conversation was an ego boost. I think that what I do every day is just plain common sense and anyone could do it, but they kept talking about my knowledge of an entirely different world--the books I referred to, the terminology I used, the knowledge I had. And it made me feel good, like "Hey, I really do have an area of expertise!" I am really comfortable and at ease talking to small groups like that where I can perch on a footstool and have a conversation--just don't put me before a podium and a formal audience. These ladies had read the short stories and were enthusiastic about them, asking questions about specific stories and their origins, and so on. I came away feeling good about my career and my storytelling.
Ever since the Barnett Shale was discovered in North Texas, my neighborhood has been in a dither about mineral rights. Companies planned to put a drill pad on 8th Avenue, uncomfortably close to some of my distant neighbors. The neighborhood association urged us to act as a group and wait while a committee, including several lawyers, hammered out an agreement, which they did. It includes a more distant drilling site and a much better signing fee, plus the company donated a nice sum to the neighborhood park that we're building. So we're all set to sign. But today I got a contract from that company, plus one from a company that had not negotiated with the neighborhood and did plan to drill on 8th Avenue but was offering $1,000 more for sign-up (about $250 for most of us). So the dither began again, with a flurry of emails on the neighborhood news. I voiced my opinion that we should stay with the people who listened to our quality of life concerns, and most seemed to agree. But there it is--that uncertainty again. Given my druthers, I'd not sign at all. But I see that as a gesture as futile as spitting in the wind--drilling is inevitable, and if it's going to come anyway I might as well take the signing fee. Yes, it's going to be an enormous boost to the economy of this area--but you can't help worrying about risk and disruption of our peaceful neighborhood. I'm all for progress, but sometimes it's really painful to know which is the right course.
Jordan and Jacob were playing at a friend's house close to me tonight and ran by for a hug because Jordan knows I like to either hug my children or at least talk to them before they leave town. And all of the kids fly to California tomorrow for a weekend with their father. So after I gave Jordan a hug, I called the others. I somehow feel it's important to say, "Be careful, be safe, enjoy." A bonus tonight: Jacob has started giving kisses. He says "MMMmmmm" and puckers his little mouth. So adorable!

Monday, October 15, 2007

On being a grandmother

Wow! Thanks to Charles Rodenberger for telling me that blogger saves drafts. Here's the Monday night post I thought I lost, though it's probably still of interest only to me.

I spent this weekend in Frisco with son Jamie and his famly--well actually they weren't all there. Friday afternoon I had brief glimpses of daughter-in-law Mel and granddaughter Maddie and then they were off to Brownie camp. But four-year-old Edie and I spent much of the weekend together, because her dad had a triathlon Sunday a.m. (He came in 7th in his age group, which is pretty darn good and I'm proud.)

Much of Saturday, for him, was taken up with check-in and all the pre-race stuff. Edie and I played with her dollhouse, sort of read a few books, made blueberry muffins (she has her techinique all figured out for that one, and it's executed on the kitchen floor) and watched the food channel. By the time Daddy came home, we were antsy and a bit tired of each other, I think. But Sunday, the day I knew in advance would be mine, went smoothly. Edie declined to help me fix Norwegian hamburgers and mashed potatoes, but she did snap beans with me--though I discovered she was twisting them. I tried to show her about snapping, and she said, "I'd rather do it my way."

She watched "Meet the Press" (I doubt she got much out of Bill Cosby's thoughts on racism in today's America and what the black community needs to do, though I thought it was really interesting) and then came to me and said she wanted to watch the food channel. So for much of the day that's what we did. When someone made dates stuffed with ricotta, wrapped in bacon, and baked, she said solemnly, "I think I would like that." When I asked if she liked sushi, she said, "Some. I like California roll." A sophisticate at a very young age! And yet she had filled the weekend by giving me a list of the things she doesn't like--an extensive list, including chocolate, though Sunday night I found her happily eating chocolate cake--go figure!

Sunday night we had the dinner I had cooked. Maddie was full of the wonders of her camping trip-a rock with a crustacean in it, a biarre rock that looked painted but wasn't, the copperhead she had seen, the silly song-game she had learned. Everyone was exhausted and there were meltdowns. We all went to bed early.

Today getting home was an endurance contest--we left in plenty of time for the 8:45 train but torrential rains slowed traffic to a standstill and we missed it. I finally took the 10:08 train and was in Fort Worth by 11. A friend picked me up, and we had lunch at a nice bistro. Then I dropped my car off to have the dent repaired where someone hit me and went to pick up a rental--the whole process took nearly two hours, to my dismay. I felt like I'd had all of the day I wanted.

So I have no great new intellectual insights, no literary wonders to report, just that grandmothering is great and four-year-olds can teach you a lot. And then there are the talks I have with Jamie in the car--where I learn a lot about how my kids think and how the world goes. It's pretty great being a grandmother and the mother of neat really nice adults.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Women's Rights and Children's Books

I recently wrote, on assignment, a book for 4th and 5th graders on global women's rights--not an easy topic to put in young people's terms. I struggled with it. This week, I got the manuscript back with the content advisor's suggestions. It made me see the great gulf between feminists and fourth graders. The advisor made a good point--I hadn't mentioned the women's rights classes and even departments that are proliferating in colleges, including my own university where there is now an Institute for Women & Gender Studies, and the fact that those classes are now being taught in high schools and even middle schools, all a good thing. But she suggested a number of scholarly associations that I should cite--they wouldn't mean a thing to a nine-year-old! Their websites are full of abstract resolutions against violence, abuse of women, economic and civic oppression, etc. But not much in the way of concrete suggestions.
Then in the section of "What Can You Do" she took out the story of Rigoberta Manchu, a poor and uneducated Mayan native in Guatemala who fought for peasants' right to the land. The advisor's objection? She didn't really support abortion rights. Well, first, we were specifically told that abortion, rape, genital mutilation, etc., would not be discussed in this book--which makes it hard to talk about global international women's rights. Second, she substituted a list of women whose stories should be told to inspire kids to do what they can. One woman was assassinated, one executed, two are highly educated and sophisticated professionals, and one is an outspoken lesbian (if we're not talking about abortion, we're surely not going to lesbianism as a subject!). None of those women would give kids the light-bulb on experience of thinking, "I can do something like that." Rigoberta might have.
Fortunately there is an organization called Females United for Action (FUFA), formed by young women in the Chicago area, which has taken concrete steps toward ending oppression of women--getting a local radio station to change its advertising, mounting an exhibit of positive images of men and women together, holding public education events, enlisting young men in the fight against violence to women. That filled that slot nicely, but I am left chuckling at the content advisor. Overall her suggestions seem to me to typify the "ivory tower" concept that too often separates academics from the real world.
I wonder if she has daughters--or granddaughters.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fall Means Book Signings, Programs, Cooking and Busy, Busy

After having sort of loafed my way through a couple of weeks, almost but not complaining that nothing was going on, I now sing a different tune. Everything is going on, and I'm feeling really busy and pushed both in the office and with events. Saturday I sat for two hours at my publisher's booth at the local Junior League Christmas Festival, a splendid and well done affair. I was supposedly signing my book on John Barclay Armstrong, Texas Ranger, but I was seated next to two ladies with illustrated books for young children. They were busy all morning signing, but I sold not one book, nor did my new friend, Marjorie Parker, sitting on the other side of me. Her book, David and the Mighty Eighth, is about WW II, set in England, and like mine intended for young boys say 5th or 6th grade. We gobbled a chicken salad sandwich--more about that later--and made our way to far south Arlington to a Barnes & Noble where--you guessed it! We sold not one book. People were pleasant, and I had some interesting encounters, such as the lady who didn't buy a book for her son because he only speaks Chinese. But no sales. We got into the car to head back to Ft. Worth and Marjorie asked, "Did the chicken salad make you sick?" Truth to tell, it had.It just affected each of us differently. I was most glad to sneak home for a late nap and quiet evening.
Sunday was peaceful until evening when Jordan, Christian and Jacob came for pinwheel steaks and the German potato salad that Christian loves. Jacob decided to be a brat, throwing his food on the floor, never sure if he wanted to laugh or cry (he did a lot of the latter and that wasn't helped when he took a header on the concrete porch). We were all tired by the time they went home.
Monday night I met friends at the Museum of Modern Art (known locally as the Modern) for a play, "The Mystery of Irma Vey." Two actors did a mighty job with multiple roles, signalling their changes only by literaly changing their hats or wigs. It was very '60s, very farcical, sometimes hilariously funny, sometimes dragging, and all in all a little too long. We came back to sit on the porch and enjoy a cool evening and a late supper. They decided to show me that Scooby really would behave without a leash on the front porch--of course near-disaster ensued when he took off after a dog across the street and scared the life out of the woman walking the dog. She began to screech, I stood on the porch and screeched, and Lisa calmly went to get Scooby (he does come when called). I got a leash and some treats, and his freedom was over. I am really afraid to leave him loose, even though he eventually comes when his adrenalin slows down, because mine is a busy streeet. He could easily have been hit by a car. My guests left at 11:15--way past my bedtime, and I cleaned up the kitchen and fell into bed. It had been a fun evening, the kind I don't do often enough--sort of an experimental evening.
Tonight my friend Charles and his daughter came for an early supper, and we went to the TCU library to hear Dr. Paul Boller talk about his new book, Presidential Diversions, about the amusements, hobbies, whatever of presidents. Paul is a great speaker, full of anecdotes, and it was an interesting hour. Charles particularly enjoyed it, and I was struck by the fact that both men--Paul and Charles--are now in their nineties. Great role models.
Here's my cooking hint for the day. I served the same meal last night and tonight. We began with tomato basil soup--if you buy it made in the store, it costs twice what organic cream of tomato does in those nice cartons at Central Market. So I added my own basil and a few croutons. I had earlier made chicken packets--take a large piece of heavy duty foil, moisten prepared stuffing mix with water until it's fairly wet but not runny and put a glob in the middle of each piece of foil. Layer a small chicken half breast, a slice of ham, frozen green peas (I like the petit pois), sliced mushrooms, and top with a can of mushroom soup that has been mixed with 1/4 c. water--or you can make your own white sauce with chicken broth, white wine, and a dab of sour cream. Really good and one of those things you can do beforehand.
I'm off to read recipes and finish the last little bit of Same Kind of Different As Me.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Still doing nothing--hard

The fact that I've not posted for 5 or 6 days does not mean that life has been dull--though I'm not sure where ithe week went. As I look back on it, there weren't that many events--a luncheon for the past presidents of the Friends of TCU Library where we had wonderful roast beef, a dinner of tapas and wine with Betty where I caught up on her trip to San Diego, and just lots of work. Yesterday, Thursday, Gayla came from College Station and A&M to pick up books, jackets--and me. We were supposed to have a late lunch, but I gave up on her. Went home, had lunch, a bit of wine, and a nap before she ever got here. We went to Dallas to a signing for Fran Vick's new book, co-authored with Jane Monday, Petra's Legacy. The party, at Fran's son's lovely home, was fun--I saw people I was glad to see, helped Gayla sell books, drank a bit more wine than I should have, and ate a lot of the most delicious meatballs I've ever had. Jamie came to pick me up--but he got most distracted visiting with all of Fran's children, with whom he worked for years. It was almost 8:30 before we left, but we did make it to Frisco before the girls went to bed, and I had a good visit with them. They seemed glad to see me and show off all their tricks, tell me what they'd been doing. This morning, before school, I got about another hour of their time. Maddie conned me with a card trick her dad had taught her--and then explained the con to me, including the way you distract your target victim from what you're doing. What is she learning at age 8? Edie claims she is counting the days until I come back--7 days--and how long I'll stay--four days, or at least parts of them. We're planning to cook and have fun while her mom and sister are at camp and her dad does a triathlon.
Even my reading was "escapist" this week--I finished the Catherine Coulter and moved on to a J.A.Jance novel that I finished today. So now I'll get back to some serious reading--a memoir about life in the Highland Breaks at the north end of the Isle of Skye and the book Same Kind of Different As Me, about the friendship of a high-end art dealer and a man who was homeless for 30 years. It's a "buzz" book, the kind that everyone talks about, and Ron Hall and Denver Moore are ubiquitous. As I mentioned I heard them last week at church. They've been at churches all over town and drawn huge crowds and were to be at TCU last night for an alumni dinner. Proceeds of the book--which must be mounting by now--go to help the homeless.
This morning we missed the train, and Jamie very sweetly drove me to Fort Worth because he said it was his fault we missed the train. Blame aside, I was glad to get home about 11:00, get a few things done at the office and grocery, and come home to read all the things I had stacked up. Tomorrow two book signings, Sunday a trip to Central Market and dinner for Jordan and Christian. No big deals, nothing significant, no earth-shattering insights to share or even penetrating analyses of literature--just the thought that life is good.