Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dream Fulfilled

Some of you know that my favorite author is Frances Mayes. I have always wanted to meet her, to tell her how much she's inspired me and how I have enjoyed her writing.

Tonight, I got to do just that!

I even had the wherewithal (what a great word that is) to tell her all that and more without gushing or giggling. I was so nervous all day, all the way there (2 hour drive to Portland) and the entire time I sat there at the book reading. I enjoyed hearing her read from her book but, seriously, my hands were sweating, I was so nervous about speaking to her. I had been practicing what I would say, so I would sound like the intelligent person I believe I am (hah!). When I finally had my turn to meet her, I told her she had inspired me to write and she asked me what I wrote. Whoa! I didn't expect her to ask ME a question. I told her I wrote from my personal experiences. And that I've attempted to learn some Italian. She was very kind and signed my copy of her new book. Gee, at the beginning of this day, I had no idea I'd end it with a new Frances Mayes book! I'm waiting until tomorrow to open it. Extending the joy!

Yesterday, I was reading the book section of the Sunday paper and came across this tiny ad about Frances Mayes being at Powells Books in Beaverton. I wanted to go so badly but didn't know if the planets would align enough for me to go. It's not easy to get out, especially at night and so far away. God answered my prayer. Todd wasn't working and I was feeling up to going, so I got the kitchen all cleaned up for Todd to make dinner, fueled up the Prius and took off.

I had such a good time. It was heaven to be with other people who enjoyed Frances Mayes books. It was a joy to see her and hear her read from her new book. And I'm still thrilled about meeting her. When I left the parking lot, I was trying to process the evening. Sometimes I immediately forget what I just said after I talk with someone and I wanted to remember. I do remember saying, "... and I can't remember what else I wanted to say!" But I was gracious (and so was she) and she won't remember me. I know I'll remember finally meeting her. She has made such an impact on my life and I hope to continue to be inspired by her.

It's funny, after hearing her talk, I realized just how much I've learned about her through her books. And that's what I want people to feel about my writing - I want them to know me from my words. Another thing I got from tonight was the idea (not a new one) that you should live your life and the write about it. Which is what I do anyway. Good advice - I think Mark Twain said that, didn't he?

Even more fun was the fact that I met a terrific couple who homeschool their son. They were sitting behind me at the book reading and I mentioned to the lady next to me that I homeschooled, which started the conversation with them. We talked the whole time we were waiting in line for Ms. Mayes to sign our books. By the time it was my turn, I was totally relaxed and it was pretty easy to talk with her. Again, God is good!

On my way home, I was thinking how I went out tonight hoping to meet my favorite author and always remembering this evening. Well, I think I still feel that way but I had just as much fun talking with this homeschool couple, as well as talking with the ladies sitting around me about books and writing. It was a really, really nice evening. I've been stuck on writing inspiration lately but now, I'm feeling refreshed and renewed

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


My mother turned 80 a few weeks ago. I had no idea that this occasion would cause me to feel old. But it did. It seems that now, when I talk on the phone with her, she says things like, "I'm 80, I can't do _____ anymore." Or, "I'm 80, I get confused."

As frustrating as this is for her, it is also frustrating to me. I feel badly for her and I wonder how much of this is truly valid or just her giving up. Since I've only seen her a few times in the last 20 years, it's hard for me to really know how she's doing. I hear from her and then I hear from my sisters (once a year or so) and the two stories are usually in conflict. Who to believe is anyone's guess.

Either way, it just makes me feel old. I don't know why. I suppose I get concerned that I'll be that way someday and I don't want to. I don't want to be reminded that I'm not 25 or even 30 anymore (30 seems SO young when you are 46!) It's not that I want to be that young ever again. I like the knowledge and wisdom I have now. Insight I didn't have then I'm so thankful for. Being able to see the whole picture is such a blessing. I wish someone would have filled me in on such things way back when. But when I talk with my mom, I just feel ... well, old.

I feel guilty that I really don't want to talk with my mom much on the phone. But I will continue to call her because I love her dearly. I'm sure this is just a phase (for me) and I will adjust.

Gosh, if you aren't depressed by now, then good for you! Now, how can I end this on a lighter note? Let's see ... I recently read in a magazine that married couples in their 40's who "cuddle" (or whatever your code word is) three times a week look younger. You can choose to tell your hubby that information if you wish!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Vancouver ... Over Too Soon

I'm always a little sad when the Olympics are over.

This past February, during the Winter Olympics, we wanted to get a daily paper. This is one of those RARE times I wish we had TV but it's not important enough to go that route. Anyway, after several days of struggling to find quarters, forgetting to go out to get one until after dark, etc., my brilliant husband suggested we sign up for a subscription to the daily newspaper. Don't know why I didn't think of that sooner (yes, I do ... Carmen had a bad cold for three weeks in Feb., I was distracted.) So, when I called the local paper distributor, the lady said we could have a two-week subscription for free, then decide if we wanted to commit to a subscription. Wow! I was so happy! It was so nice to get the paper from the driveway and check up on the Olympics. Chad and I began a daily discussion on what we'd read in the paper. It has been a great addition to his education. Unfortunately, I hate all the bad stuff they print. We kept receiving daily papers, even after the two free weeks were up. I gave them a call and she said that they'd had extra papers for some reason so they just kept delivering! Sounds good to me! However, I did decide to subscribe for weekend delivery. Daily was just too much information and now that the Olympics are over, the sports have gone back to highlighting the latest bad boy in basketball/baseball/name-that-sport. It's pathetic (my opinion).

My mom did tape the Olympics for us and we received 9 video tapes last week. It's always a little strange to view the Olympics weeks after they happened. Like a time warp. When we were watching the Opening Ceremonies, the tape made it as far as Wayne Gretzky getting a little nervous when the flame ceremony didn't go as planned. Then the tape stopped. Bummer. But that's the way it is when you rely on Grandma to tape the games for us. She doesn't watch them, just sets the tape and lets it go. I find it amusing. I remember the Salt Lake City games, they were just about to hand over the torch to the final runner (a secret) and the tape stopped. We all shouted, "No!" Of course, I never, ever tell my Mom. I'm just grateful she takes the time to do this for us.

Don't get me started on those infernal commercials. I am so anti-commercial. I hate them. Hate them! It's a good thing fast-forward exists.

When we first heard the Games were going to be held in Vancouver, BC, I was really hoping we'd be able to go. I mean, it's just a few hours north! Closer than Salt Lake City. Years ago, when the Summer Olympics were in Los Angeles, I was living about 45 minutes away from most of the venues but wasn't able to attend any events. A girlfriend and I did go downtown and drove around to see all the Olympics sites, taking photos of each other in front of the Coliseum, etc. Being there and really "being there" aren't the same thing.

As it was, there was no way, for various reasons, that we would have been able to go this year. Oh, well.

Looking back, I suppose the Olympics were ingrained in me as a young child. Mark Spitz was so important in our home. If you don't remember who he was, you probably don't care. But my sister had a life-sized poster of him on our bedroom wall, wearing nothing but his speedo and his seven gold medals. Having that imposing figure staring down at you every day must have made an impression (be it good or bad). And, believe it or not, years later when I was working as a typesetter in Huntington Beach, California, someone from the business next door came running over to tell us that Mark Spitz was in their office! We all ran to the window and I was just in time to see his elbow as he was leaving. His elbow! Imagine that!

We weren't a sports family but the Olympics were important. And still are, I suppose. For me, the inspiration and interest is not just in a particular sport or athlete but the coming together of so many nations for a single purpose. If only our entire world could unite in peace, for even two weeks. What an impact that could make!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Coincidence Queen 2010

Yes, it's time again for a little ridiculous fun. Read on if you dare.

On February 14th, my mother-in-law sent us a Valentine’s Day e-card and on the same day, I was looking for a card to send her in return, as a thank you. I came across a sweet card that had a beautiful piano arrangement of a song I really like. I knew the singer (Seal) but I didn’t know the name of the song and I happened to mention it to my son, Chad. I figured I'd do some research later and decided to send the card to Todd, so we would have it on our email. That afternoon, Chad was reading his 2008 World Almanac and was telling me different winners of the Grammy awards. I don’t know what led him to do this but I was listening and making comments about different people. Then, he said, “Seal won for “Kiss From A Rose.” I yelled, “What? Say that again?” He repeated it and I reminded him that Seal was the singer I was talking about that morning and that Chad had just given me the answer I was looking for. I was blown away. We both laughed.

On February 19th, my son and I were discussing Seal and I said I didn’t know his real name or at least, his full name. Tonight, I went online and my home page listed things that happened today, including the birth of, you guessed it, "Seal," an English Afro-American soul singer. His full name is “Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel” (whoa) and he was born the same year I was. Unbelievable. I laughed out loud.

Chad has been working on a piano piece, teaching himself, for several weeks now. One morning, I found myself humming a tune I couldn't quite place until I heard him practicing. Duh! It was the piece he’s been playing! I asked him the name of it and he said it was from the opera, “Raymond.” I was unfamiliar with it so he told me the composer’s name. I didn’t recognize him either and we wondered as to how to correctly pronounce his French-sounding first name (Ambroise Thomas). Chad went to the computer to do a Google search on Ambroise and discovered that 144 years ago, on this very day, this composer had died!

Saturday night, my husband was at work, and I was listening to a local radio station that plays all 80’s music from 6 to midnight. They played a song by Robert Palmer and, remembering that he had died in the 1990’s, I decided to learn more about him. Reading Wikipedia, I was reminded of the videos he did with five models backing him, all dressed nearly identically. I always wondered what that was all about and learned that the videos were reminiscent of a particular artist’s work (the name escapes me at the moment). Anyway, the next day, I got the Sunday paper and opened up the Parade magazine section. There, on the “Ask Walter Scott” page (a page dedicated to reader’s questions about famous people, etc.) was a photo of Robert Palmer with some of those models standing behind him, from one of the videos! The question was about what had become of the models but I couldn't believe the timing. Why would they run a piece on Robert Palmer on that particular day?

On Friday, I was reading the newspaper. I saw all this on one page: A zebra named Lima escaped from the Barnum & Bailey Circus in Atlanta, Georgia. After a long chase down an interstate, the zebra was caught, unharmed. Directly below that was the byline, “Obama Quietly Meets with the Dalai Lama.” We all laughed at the zebra-Lima-Obama-Lama page and figured the editing department of The Oregonian had fun with that. The next day, Saturday, I was reading the paper again and saw a photo of an army soldier, after a skirmish in Afghanistan. Reading the article, I saw he was with the Lima Division. Directly after that, I turned to the weather section, looking for somewhere it was warm. You guessed it - one of the first places I saw on the world chart was Lima, Peru. And, yes, it’s warm there today.

Another Saturday night, I was listening to the radio and heard a Billy Joel song. The DJ mentioned that he had recently seen Billy Joel and Elton John perform in Portland. The next day, I got the Sunday paper and opened up the Parade magazine section. Elton John was on the front cover. In the interview inside, the writer said that Elton looked well-rested even though he had performed the night before with Billy Joel in Atlanta.

My New Zealand friend, Cate, mentioned in her blog a quote from a U2 song. It was the last thing I read on the computer that night before I went to bed. The next day, I went to the orthodontist and sat down in the waiting room. They usually have a radio going and the first song I heard was a U2 song. Days later, Cate mentioned the group, AC/DC and, this time, I had heard an AC/DC song just a few hours prior to reading her blog. These are not groups I hear often on the radio.

I was reading the magazine, VIA, that I receive because we are members of AAA (an automobile club). In this issue, there was an article about Ashland, Oregon, listing places to eat, stay, etc. It caught my attention because the last time we were in Ashland (years ago) we couldn't find a good place to eat. One of the restaurants they mentioned was in a small town not far from Ashland and I took note of the chef. The next day, the Oregonian newspaper ran a column about several Oregon chefs that are up for the James Beard Award, a prestigious trophy coveted by many chefs. Yes, you guessed it, this particular chef that I read about in VIA is one of those chefs in the running. I guess we should try out her restaurant if she's that good!

Finally, the polar bear. On Thursday, I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR), and during a program called “All Things Considered”, one of the reporters speaking was Robert Segal. I listen to this program all the time. Mr. Segal was speaking about online video games and used the term “polar bear” as an example of a user name someone might use. The next day, he said a listener had emailed him to ask why Mr. Segal used the term “polar bear” twice, not only in the radio segment I’d heard but in another segment about something else that I hadn’t heard. Mr. Segal simply said it was just what came off the top of his head. Then, the next day, I opened up the Saturday paper and there was a large photo of a polar bear. I can’t remember why it was there but I was feeling haunted by polar bears by now. And then, on Sunday, I opened up the comics and there, in Mark Trail (a nature comic) was a frame showing a polar bear, look here to see for yourself. I hope it ends there, believe me.

So, have you noticed any coincidences in your life lately? Or do you have better things to do with your time?!!