Monday, November 24, 2008


Suzanne, my daughter, has completed her Peace Corps Service and is home at last!

I am so thankful!

We fly to Charlottesville, Virginia for Thanksgiving, and on Friday I will give a reading with my childhood friend, Anne Marie Slaughter at the New Dominion Book Shop.

Amazing--now that I think about it, I can still remember where Anne M sat in first grade . . .

How she knew all the answers and always had her hand in the air. There was this girl, Lisa, who sat behind her and who liked to eat paper bags.

Odd the things one remembers years later.

I am really looking forward to our trip. I only wish our son, Jimmy, could join us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Miami International Book Fair

I had the most amazingly fun time at this book fair. I would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to go. It's huge, huge, huge! And there are so many stellar readings, one after the other. Unlike the events at AWP, I didn't go to any mediocre readings or panels. Everyone was ON. And I mean really great.

There were so many famous writers there. I shared an elevator with Scott Simon, a bathroom with Dave Barry. It was a UNISEX bathroom, one of the more interesting features of the Writer's Room. ( Barry asked me how many sexes were in the bathroom. I asked which ones was he hoping to find. ) Vernon Jordan was there. Scott McClellan. Salman Rushdie. And the list goes on.

I read with two amazing and beautiful women. Terri Witek, author The Shipwrecked Dress. And Mia Leonin, author of Unraveling the Bed. I am reading and enjoying both of their books now. I love finding new writers to love at these events.

One of the funnier writers I met was David Henry Sterry who wrote A True Story of Sex, Drugs, Roller Skates and Chippendales.

On the downside, if there is one, I would say the book fair is so big, you can get lost in it. Also, it was hard to find the books and then get them signed because the books sales take place in a different hallway from the readings (and the location is announced at the reading). And then the author is placed (after his or her reading) in still another room or hallway. So you have to run around just to find a book and then to get it autographed. With so many great readings to attend, it was easier to avoid the book buying part. I saw a lot of famous writers sitting alone, waiting hopefully for people to come to have their books signed as participants rushed past. And I heard a few complain that they didn't sell any books.

And then there was the table with Andrei Codrescu and Robert Olen Butler--no one was there (it turned out the fair had not ordered their books, though only a few people bothered to look for them) seated across the hall for their signing from Frank McCourt and Dave Barry who had an endless line of fans . . . The famous vs. the very famous . . .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reading in Florida

Karen Schubert and I are going to the Miami International Book Fair this weekend!

Reading on Sunday at 2:30.

I'm looking forward to some sun and warm air.

(I'm also counting down the days until Suzanne comes home from the Peace Corps!)

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Sometimes people ask me what it was like growing up on a farm. I can’t answer that easily, but usually the next question is—what animals did you own. That’s when I talk about cows. Cows and more cows. What did you do with the cows? they ask. And then they often say something about how dumb cows are. It’s true. But there are a few things to say about cows. In fact I just had two essays on cows taken by a literary magazine. Now THAT, I never imagined possible. But about cows—just because people ask . . .

Some days after school I’d lead train calves, leading them a little ways, then wrapping the lead- line around a tree while they bucked and fought, then trying it again. (The calves don't really appreciate being dragged around by their neck at first-for some reason.) After a few days of trying, they’d tire out and walk beside me. It was important to train them before they got too big—Ayreshire cows (the kind we owned) weigh over 1000 pounds, and they’re one of the smaller breeds. By show-time the cows always walked easily around the ring, and they stood nicely as well, stretching their necks just so when I pulled their heads forward, or posing with one back leg forward and the other back slightly to show off their udders for the judge who would come around to each contestant, touching her back to be sure it was straight, examining her tail and withers and etc.. The cow would look pretty hot and bored, and she’d usually start licking my arm or pants with her long sticky tongue or rolling her eyes at me. I’d want to apologize to her, to say, yeah, this is pretty dumb. I admit it, but when it comes to human behavior, this sure isn’t the dumbest thing we do. When it comes to questions of intelligence, I know we always look down on our bovine friends. But at least their behavior usually makes sense.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Bush Library

Jim's department secretary forwarded this along. Pretty funny . . .

Plans for the Bush Library are already in the works. Below are some of
the rooms planned for the library.

1. The Hurricane Katrina Room which is still under construction and pretty much a mess.
2. The Alberto Gonzales Room where you won't be able to remember a thing.
3. The Texas Air National Guard Room where you don't even have to show up.
4. The Walter Reed Hospital Room where they don't let you in.
5. The Guantanamo Bay Room where they don't let you out.
6. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room which no one has yet been able to find.
7. The National Debt Room which is huge and has no ceiling
8. The Tax Cut Room with entry only to the wealthy.
9. The Economy Room which is in the toilet.
10. The Iraq War Room where after you complete your first tour, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth and sometimes fifth tour.
11. The Dick Cheney Room is the famous undisclosed location complete with shotgun gallery.
12. The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
13. The Supreme Court's Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
14. The Airport's Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
14. The Decider Room complete with dart board, magic 9-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.

The museum will also have an electron microscope to help you locate the President's accomplishments!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Few Thoughts

1. That poor man, Mom said happily when she mentioned Obama's win. Such a terrible time to be president.

2. 71% of Republicans approved of Sarah Palin--said she was a good VP choice.

3. A few years ago Strickland was at our home and said, I will make Ohio a blue state. I didn't believe him.

4. Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio Secretary of State, was sued by the GOP for making it possible for voters to register and vote on the same day. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Brunner.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Funny and Not So Funny Moments on the Political Scene

1. A friend attended an Obama meeting in the week following the R convention. Everyone was feeling so blue, she said. So the young organizer had them all close their eyes and do a little meditation in which they relaxed, breathed deeply, and pictured Obama winning. It was a combination of Wayne Dyer and Zen and Obama fever.

2. My 91 year old mother called to tell me her 88 year old friend was knocking on doors for Obama. Wow, I said. I thought she'd identify with McCain. Oh no, Mom said. He's much too old and feeble.

3. Jim suggested I trade the political signs in people's yards on Halloween. I thought about it. But then I thought again--I could only do it in the dark. And there's that guy with a gun collection on the corner . . . I thought he might shoot me if I traded his McCain sign with the Obama across the street.

4. Jim is working as a poll-watcher today. When he arrived at the church in Youngstown where he is to observe, the church representative asked him to leave the premises and called the cops. When the police arrived, they informed this man that he had to allow Jim to enter (duh). He was nice enough after that--though he gave him a little talk on the ten commandments--a least until some of his church members started circling voters and handing out religious materials, complete with advice on how to vote--and then asking them to pray. When Jim called the Obama headquarters, they sent a Board of Elections rep. who came and told the church to curtail their activities.