Monday, February 08, 2010

So Many Books...

As Gerald and I started home from Friday night fish down at Lake of Egypt with his brother Keith and our sister-in-law Barbara, the snow flakes kept getting larger and larger. They were melting as they hit the road, but we could see snow accumulating in the grass beside us.

The fish had tasted extra good to me because dental work on Thursday left me with a temporary gap where a capped tooth had been, and I was given written directions to only eat liquid foods. I had broth for supper, a milk shake for breakfast after a routine blood work appointment—that had been easy to fast for, and tomato soup for lunch before I spoke on the Trail of Tears to the Marion Women’s Club. I settled on coffee as my participation in the club refreshments since my 24 hours were not up. Fish, slaw, and potato salad surely beat drinking my meals.

Saturday morning the snow again covered the ground, but only lightly in comparison to the snow a friend in a Washington D.C. suburb facebooked about. She had 13 inches on her porch, which she had cleared the night before, and 21 inches in her yard. Roads here were fine, so I gathered a few of my books for the first time in months, found my toy tractor that I always use on my table top, and drove to the Marion Illinois Centre Mall for Southern Illinois Writers Guild’s participation in the fifth annual Winter Book Fair there.

I looked forward to the day despite knowing I would not sell books since everyone local who wanted one had probably bought it years ago. But I knew I would enjoy meeting new authors and seeing friends with their books. With some writers not there yet, I quickly shifted my name plate so I could sit next to my friend Maxine Pyle, whom I had wanted to congratulate on her beautiful book on Congressmen Ken Gray.

Before the day was over, I’d visited with Roberta Phipps, Jari Jackson, Jim Lambert, Fog Gilbert, Joy King, Jon Musgrave, Joanna Beth Tweedy, Carol Jennings, and met some writers I'd not met before. I also met Carol Jennings’ cute daughter Honey.

We owe the book fair to Carol since she came up with this idea and promoted it to the mall management. We had fine foot traffic and could not ask for a more attractive venue or a better organized book fair. Right now people aren’t flush with extra cash to buy nonessentials, but when the economy gets going again and it will, I suspect the fair will become even more profitable to area writers. I forgot at the end of the day to ask our president Jim Lambert how our anthologies sold. One woman who bought one as a get-well gift for a friend came through and had several of us autograph it.

I traded books with a couple of authors and couldn’t resist buying a few. Now I have more piles of unread books to tempt and taunt me, but I am enjoying them nevertheless. I’ve read a few of Fog’s poems, looked at some of the fascinating photos and captions in Maxine’s book, and almost finished Joanna Beth Tweedy’s debut novel.

An area native from Murphysboro, Joanna teaches at Benedictine University at Springfield, but she came down for this event with her book On the Yonder Side of Sass and Texas, which has the southern part of the state as its locale. (Although the chapter I just finished before making myself stop in order to blog, was all about Sass’s visit to Rome. Sass’s real name is Arkansas and Texas is her sister.) Tweedy’s poetic prose and runtogether words make for interesting reading. (Some examples: sunshade, fogfulls, combobulations, harsh-headed, yammersnitch, orchardfulls, riddletalk, deathside. Yougettheidea.)

Just as we were leaving Woodsong for church this morning, our son-in-law showed up from central Illinois checking up on his rented land here. We left him to shower and come over later for worship and afterwards for the pot-luck barbeque dinner we had at church. With bright red Valentine decorations, Shirley Butler as usual had made our cavernous basement beautiful. The dessert table was aglow with gorgeous desserts. As we feasted on barbeque beef and turkey from the Old Home Place, there was time to visit with friends and to comfort Eddy, whose former wife June had died yesterday afternoon. With an “evening service” held immediately after the dinner, it was still early in the afternoon when we gathered our left-overs and some took plates to shut-ins. There was plenty of daylight to enjoy the snow-frosted cedar trees lining the highways back to the farm.

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