I suppose you could call it a book tour, indie style.
Or the busy, spring season right after your book comes out.
Or you might just call it hitting the road again.
It's a fun week after a great Easter Sunday. I'm heading out to the Fairmount Public Library in a few hours where Director Linda Magers graciously invited me in to give a "What's in Your Attic?" audience-participation program tonight. We will have fun!
Big thanks to our mutual friend, Cathy Shouse, for introducing us, and for using her fine journalism skills to spread the word in area newspapers, including the Marion Chronicle-Tribune.
Tomorrow, I'm speaking at the Henry County Extension Homemakers' annual Achievement Day. It will be a happy time with a good number signed up to attend. They haven't gotten to have this annual time together since April 2019.
I look forward to seeing what the Homemakers bring as they will provide centerpieces and decor with heirlooms they will also share in a show-and-tell activity at the end of my program. Another fun day when the sun rises tomorrow.
A couple fun things to check out. I was interviewed for this podcast on April 10.
This looks quite interesting. Who knew?
And finally, here's my most recent column for the newspapers I write for. Enjoy the rest of the week whether you're wearing your heavy-duty winter coat like I did last night, or sandals, which I hope to sport on Saturday ... at my third gig of the week.
Goal: Do better than ‘light’ housekeeping
If you’re amped up on spring cleaning, ready to blend that perfect mix of vinegar and water to make the windows shine, if you can’t wait to tidy up the landscaping, or clean your woodwork, you have my admiration.
It’s my second spring as a retiree, and our house could use some sparkle, our landscaping some tidying, our woodwork some scrubbing.
I’ve allowed light housekeeping to become a permanent state. In fact, using the word “light” as a descriptor is more aspirational than actual.
This isn’t what I thought this era would be. I figured with all this time at home, and the kids out of the house for some years now, our house would resemble a bed-and-breakfast lobby, but somehow, I’ve found other priorities than making that happen.
Such as routinely hanging out in my pajamas until noon.
It’s not that I can’t clean in my PJs. I’m just lazy. But also, morning is when my mind is as nimble as it gets. It’s when I catch up on email, work on book programing and publicity, and come up with my best ideas—the ones that seem less than outstanding by afternoon.
Since his retirement seven years ago, Brian has taken over the vacuuming and most laundry except for what I call “specialty” loads. This is the clothing with tricky fabrics and icky stains that need the kind of TLC Brian won’t provide. He prefers gathering all dirty clothes and stuffing the lot into the machine.
He's the Bobby Knight of laundry. No matter the fabric, the stains, nor the colors, the dirty clothes are all expected to pull their weight. Then he turns up the heat in the dryer.
Brian is gruff with our laundry, and doesn’t make exceptions for fabrics that need a little more encouragement to come clean than, say, poly-blends. It’s as though he’s lecturing the sweatshirts and dress pants, the church clothes and underwear. “You’ll all get along. That goes for you lightweights. And for you with special instructions on your tags—dream on. No one is a VIP in this load, got it?”
So that’s why I pull some things out before he gets to them. You know, the delicates and hand-washables that need a little boost. Some of us require more hands-on support than others. Call me the laundry good cop to his bad.
But dusting? Brian doesn’t dust. I’m not big on bed-making unless someone is coming over. If that’s the case, it’s game on, complete with stacks of dressy pillows, meant to glamorize ordinary beds.
Today I surprised myself. I took a chunk of my usual morning writing time to thoroughly clean out the refrigerator and freezer, along with relining fridge shelves with plastic to pretty-up the aging surfaces.
Martha Stewart would be horrified to see what I had in there to throw out. It amounted to a kitchen garbage bag full of bulky containers and leftover-too-long food remnants. But the end result is a thing of beauty: pretty bowls of oranges and apples; the cheeses lined in a row in their drawer with the cheese sticks separated thoughtfully from their perforations for easy grabs.
Even the potatoes are reclining comfortably single-file in their mesh bag with a suite, uh, drawer to themselves.
We can even see what’s in the freezer over looking at jigsaw-puzzle-esque pieces of partial bags of fries and tater tots, blurs of frozen strawberries, and cartons of low-cal freezer meals.
When I finished, I needed a nap. It was 9 a.m.
But I need to sweep and clean the floors, dress the kitchen and dining room tables with tablecloths and centerpieces. After all, the church ladies are coming over for a supper meeting tomorrow.
I keep opening and closing the refrigerator door for inspiration, and as a reminder that I can do this! What happened to the lady who wanted to open a B & B nine years ago when she wrote her first book?
I don’t know why I’ve become so, shall we say, relaxed about housekeeping. I always figured I would accomplish many things if I only had the time. But 15 months into retirement, I now know that it’s not about time. There are just other things I’d rather be doing.
Such as writing this column.
It’s time to get back at it and knock out that kitchen. Then, I need to make sure I have everything put away from Christmas.
After all, Easter is over.
Connecting the dots: This Julie Jolliff photo was taken during my talk on Saturday at the Union County Public Library in the community room where the original library had the checkout desk and books when I was a kid. I used the entrance you see at left, center, for my first-ever visit--and library card.
I remember the day.
I may have been 10, accompanying the neighboring Chapman kids and their mom to Liberty. I suppose their mother was grocery shopping at Woodruff’s, close to the Union County Public Library, and we girls were killing time.
We walked through the lower-level library doors. I had never been there before. The Chapman girls had library cards. They said I should get one. So, I did –my first library card!
It was a defining moment, although I can’t tell you what or if I checked anything out that day. I never dreamed then of the places a library card would take me, including cyberspace, and being able to read checked out books on my telephone!
Who could have imagined that more than half a century later, I’d be in that room we entered through those side doors, standing at a lectern, giving a talk about the day I got the library card—and about my third book? Yet there I stood Saturday, with some family, some childhood friends, and some community folks listening.
Library Director Julie Jolliff wasn’t even born when my library card was issued. I think I surprised her by having it.
That’s a pack rat for you—and for that I make no apologies. That library card is a passport to not only stories I read in books, but to memories.
I told some stories from There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go, that relate to growing up in Union County at Rural Route 1, Brownsville. There was talk, following the book signing, of some other venues I might speak at locally.
My personal “drop the mic” moment came when an audience member, Janice, told a story about my grandma! The story even related to some artifacts I displayed that day. When you get to be in your sixties and come across someone who remembers your grandma, who was born in 1892? Priceless.
If only for a couple hours that day, I felt as though I had never left home; had remained a part of the community. It's called roots.
Julie filled me in on the many ways the library serves the community. I follow the UCPL page on Facebook and in local media where I read about the ways it serves all the population from toddlers to the most senior members of the community.
It’s not “just” a library. Not that any library is that—as a library introduces us to a world, at our fingertips—through books written over millennia as well as the most current bestsellers, periodicals, and other forms of modern media. Yet those are only a small part of what modern libraries do in and for their communities.
Libraries provide programming for young and old alike, offer services such as meals and daycares, gathering spaces, a clearinghouse for family and local history, answers to questions and how-to information. Libraries are community centers for activities, conversations, meetings, and life.
I am inspired and delighted by Julie’s enthusiasm for her job, and by her love for the community that I too love. I thank her, as well as Cindy Morgan, for inviting me into their world, just as the Chapman girls invited me with them into the library so many years ago.
Through the years, and in particular, during the last nine on my author journey, I’ve been in many libraries, large and small, in a variety of cities and towns and settings from A to Z—Attica to Zionsville. Each library and its personnel and patrons come with a distinct vibe and personality. I love how they are not all the same, but rather, quite the opposite of the same!
It is a blessing to see that the first library I ever entered remains in good hands.
I think the good people of Ukraine are showing us all regardless of our political stripe, that it is good to love your homeland, good to feel a link with a place and a people. Good to value your roots.
I’ve always felt those things about my little slice of the sweet land of Union County, Indiana. A little farm community? You betcha: the permanent address of my heart.
And ... where I'll be on Sunday:
SPRINGPORT-I knew that Friday would be a treat. Not only that hostess Cindy Bay's beautiful noon meal of nibbles, individual salads, hot chicken salad, and a chocolate and ice cream dessert (don't tell on me at WW) would be delicious, served on her vintage spring lily of the valley plates, but that the conversation would be lively, and the laughter sweet.
This is the third time the Literary Lounge Book Club had me in for a discussion about a book I wrote. Book clubs are a blast, and it is an author's honor for her book to be featured. But this one had a highly unique twist: That the cover image created by artist Marilyn Witt is modeled -- literally -- after Cindy.
Marilyn and Cindy are both artists and they paint together in New Castle one day a week. Cindy posed for Marilyn to paint the image of a woman at the top of the stairs inside her attic that appears on the cover. So Cindy was there from the ground up.
Guests shared special heirlooms of their own as we chatted and discussed the book and the various ways they related to my chapters about our stored stuff. I made a video of them talking about their treasures but my videography needs some work as I moved the camera in too many different directions and it doesn't look so hot. If I can edit it, I hope to eventually post it. Live and learn.
They shared lovely stories from grandparents' wedding cake toppers, to a first edition of Ben- Hur, vintage jewelry that sparkles in perfect style today, and so much more. Loved our time together.
Look at the way Cindy served sweet little salads.
I'll do a separate post this week about my Saturday at the Union County Public Library as soon as I get the photos together. Today is a major catch-up day! Yesterday I booked another program, and this week a church service group I'm involved with resumes, and the Writer Chicks Society meets Thursday. On Sunday afternoon, I'll be at the Hamilton East Public Library at the FORUM Events Center, 11313 USA Pkwy, Fishers, near IKEA. So I'll have more on that, too.
It's all part of an idie-author spring "book tour." I'm enjoying the ride. Thank you Literary Lounge Book Club! Read on, ladies.