June 2009

Serendipity, unexpected delights. That’s what much of a writer’s life is about but then, that’s what much of life in general can be about if we allow it. Some of you at writer conferences I’ve spoken at have heard me say that in the Biblical Concordance there are more columns devoted to the word “behold” than to the word “believe.” My writer friend Venita Hampton Wright notes in her book The Soul Tells a Story that it’s part of an author’s work to help readers “pay attention” to the world around them, to their lives, to the stories of their souls. I agree.

This past week I spent in Texas meeting new people, exploring “new markets” as Jerry describes it, his former life as a salesman peeking through the curtain of retirement. Serendipitous moments included seeing a cousin I hadn’t seen for forty years and learning we both like to collect Bauer pottery, one of the first crafts companies (begun in Paducah, KY in 1909 then moving on to Los Angeles). My mom and dad bought a set of the multi-colored fired plates, serving dishes, bowls and platters on their honeymoon to Texas in 1941. She never used it. When we moved my parents to their assisted living facility on the Warm Springs reservation in 2000, I got the pottery! Hurrah!

I use them.

Jerry broke one of the platters and went to an antique store to replace it hoping he wouldn’t have to tell me but the only one he found, smaller than the one he broke, cost $350. He had to confess…. My cousins told me not to put them in the dishwasher, so that was a wonderful serendipitous moment of wisdom.

I stayed with a woman I’d met while the two of us worked on a Women Writing the West conference held in Ft. Worth some years ago. What a delight to spend six days with Cindy and her husband Sandy. We discovered many serendipitous moments woven with many common threads. Cindy loves Far Side cartoons, too! She’s a writer who sometimes has a hard time promoting herself – she writes as Irene Sandell and both her books are historical novels set in Texas and are terrific reads!. She taught history for 33 years -- not something we both did, but I love history, too. With her husband and son, she makes documentary films to go with Texas curriculum. Jerry and I and his son make this writing/ranching life work. In her spare time of retirement, she tends to her grandkids, picking them up and taking them to preschool and school, cheering at their basketball games and graduations into kindergarden. Family is important to them all and…they have a ranch they sometimes think of moving to but it’s kinda far off the beaten path. Hmmm. Sound familiar?

Having a few days in between events when I couldn’t clean my house (hers was clean!), didn’t have the dog to walk (they have a cat named George but I did walk nearly every day and got Cindy started too!) and when I knew issues needing resolution at home would have to wait, gave me permission to write. I found myself reading more, laughing with the Sandells, noticing the world of Dallas and Plano Texas, meeting up with fans and making new ones, one who drove more than 150 miles to attend my signing and another who had attended Beachside Writers two years ago bringing her mother to meet me. A quilt event at the Heritage Village in Dallas turned out well (they liked hearing about Aurora there!). All were lovely serendipitous gifts that make me more aware of trying to noticing those energizing moments every day when I’m at home.

So instead of being stressed right now that I’m a day late with the words of encouragement, or that my website has been giving me fits (as some of you know!) or that the first cutting of our hay crop is toast as its too full of fox tail rather than alfalfa and even our six steers won’t touch it; or that my Oprah Doesn’t Know My Name book synopsis is due in less than three weeks (and I have to finish the revisions in order to write the synopsis…it’s just my way J); or that I have revisions for the sequel to A Flickering Light awaiting my fingers, despite all that, I’m going to go take a walk with Bodacious Bo and enjoy it.

By the way, Bodacious Bo The Dog is about to have his own blog once we get this website trained. That’s another serendipitous thing: my friend Judy whom I met in Wisconsin in 2005 has a husband willing to help me out and I’m SO grateful for a technical person who is cheerful and on top of things. He and Judy suggested Bo’s blog.

But enough about Bo. Well that’s not possible, but I digress…

By mid month, I hope to have more serendipitous moments when Jerry and I travel to Minnesota for events there promoting A Flickering Light. The St. Paul Pioneer Press is scheduled to do a feature about the book in their entertainment section so if you’re back there, please look for it sometime during the week of June 11-20. Please check my schedule for the Barnes and Noble book signing in Roseville, MN on June 16th; a KARE Showcase Minnesota television appearance that same morning; Winona Historical Society presentation on the 18th; Red Wing’s Best of Times Books presentation on the19th and a signing in Burnsville at Northwestern Bookstore on June 20th. In between we’ll visit with descendants of Jessie Anne Gaebele, the subject of the book and my grandmother. So far, I’m still being invited to the family reunions…and I’ll get to see my brother and his family whom I adore, each one! (Happy birthday, Barbie!)

June will also see us taking some days at the Oregon coast with our friend Sandy (not the Texas Sandy) where I’m committed to taking deep breaths of gratitude for a life full of fascinating experiences that sometimes occur away from the homestead but more often than not, occur right here at home. If I just notice.

I need to go out now and check the garden Matt and I planted inside two cattle troughs left behind by the “stupid cows”. Oh, I’m not calling them that any more. They rip happily at grass in the fields across the river as they are now owned by a ranch woman who once was young enough to sit atop a pile of watermelons we took to them to feed their pigs. I can wave at those cows and pointed out to them our trough garden.

The tomatoes are doing well.

I hope you are too!
Warmly, Jane