Thursday, January 19, 2012

A publishing summit--sort of

No Judy's Stew last night because I could not get Gayla Christiansen and Fran Vick to stop chatting; if I left the room, they'd chat about me, so I was stuck. Gayla is director of marketing for Texas A&M Press; Fran is the retired director of the University of North Texas Press, and I am, of course, retired as director of TCU Press. We call ourselves the Front Porch Wine Drinking, World Problem Solving Three Ladies of Publishing. Our sleepovers are hard to schedule and therefore don't happen as often as we'd like, but the ladies do like to come here and let me cook for them. Each has her own bed--Jacob gave permission to Gayla to sleep in his bed, but she'd been sleeping in it long before he ever did. Kathie Lang Allen (retired senior editor from SMU Press) and Carol Roark (retired curator of the Texas Collection at the Dallas Public Library) joined us for dinner and talk ranged from personal to professional and back again, with lots of laughter. I have beene threatened with bodily harm if I share the sources of the laughter but as Gayla said this morning, the comfort level was high. It is good to have old, comfortable friends--and I mean that in the best way. And there are some ex-husbands and husbands whose ears should be burning this morning.
Gayla and I share dog history--I "interviewed" her first dog, Eppi, for her and she loved that dog beyond measure. Eppi died this fall, and Gayla has Jake, sort of a border collie mix. I have been actively watching for a second dog for her--Jake is lonely without Eppi. But both ladies needed to meet Sophie. Late in the evening Gayla sat on the floor and I brought Sophie in, having warned Gayla that once you're on the floor you're a toy and all rules are off. Sophie jumped and licked but soon lay quietly (all adjectives are relative) in Gayla's lap with an occasional venture to let Fran pet her. So nice to know she can do that. I wish I'd gotten pictures--I tried but neither the dog nor the woman were still long enough.
I often surprise the ladies with a gourmet meal, usualy something I've never cooked before. Last night, it was a beet/orange/avocado salad with vinaigrette and a pot of chili. We've decided it must be the "Chili that is not chili." It contained along with all the tomatoes and hamburger orange juice, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in it in addition to coriander and chili powder--no onions. Garlic yes but not discernible. But yes, beans (black). (I can hear chiliheads exclaiming in horror.) I thought there was too much tomato puree and added a can of beer to thin it. And I'd doubled the recipe. You can imagine the result: I have half a pot of chili left over. Sent two ladle-fulls (ladlesfull?) home with each of them, plan to give some to my neighbor, and will serve some to Jordan and Christian and myself tonight.
Dessert? What else after the week's headlines? I served a basket of Twinkies. Not as good as I remember from childhood. I'll see how Jacob likes them this afternoon.
At 11:30 I finally announced I was going to bed (ever the good hostess) and they followed with suitable warnings about alarm systems, coffee pot, front door locks and the newspaper. They probably took half an hour to settle down; at 4:30 Fran's light was on and she was reading in bed. When I got up at 7:00 they were drinking coffee, fully dressed, in the family room. We greeted Jacob on his way to school, which they thought was great fun, and went down the street to the Neighborhood Grill for breakfast about nine. Stayed there an hour, more talking and laughing.
I saw them off with mixed feelings--so much fun, such good friends--but so much to do on my desk. Such breaks are a wonderful change in routine, and I'm lucky to have them happen so often in my life. It isn't always Gayla and Fran, but there's always something around the next corner to look forward to.

1 comment:

Fran Vick said...

It was indeed a wonderful evening. Not near enough of them. I am not a chili head, so what do I know, but this was great chili, or whatever you wish to call it. And, I am a 6th generation Texan raised by a man who could not pass up any greasy spoon cafe in Texas that served chili. So I have had my share of chili. We can't have sleepovers at my place because I can't cook like Judy and I don't have a front porch, but I suppose we might try it one of these days. From Fran+