Writer-producer Marshall Zeringue at Writers Read and Campaign for the American Reader asked me to contribute to both blogs, which I did happily. As always when I write a blog post, I start out with some notion of what to say and by the time I reach the end, I discover what’s really in my mind and in my heart.
I’m trying to teach this to my students (and myself!) here at Hollins this summer: to pursue the deeper truth. Instead of walking on the rug–the surface layer of our thoughts–lift up the rug and see what’s underneath.
If you want to read my little piece at Writers Read (the piece is also at Campaign for the American Reader, only with information about Iva Honeysuckle Meets her Match), here’s the link:
Today’s the day! I’m announcing the winner of the a copy of Iva Honeysuckle Meets her Match plus the fossil shark’s tooth (from Fossil Beach in Colonial Beach, Virginia–no, I didn’t find it. I only find turnips on that beach.)
I had a very cute picture of Winchester drawing the winning name. He is wearing his yellow ribbon and fishing the slip of paper out of a yellow dish. But I’m at Hollins University, teaching for the summer, and working on a new laptop. I couldn’t figure out how to download the photo from my camera and I don’t have editing software on this machine either. (I’m already on overload with passwords to the copier and performing voodoo to get into the main system and every little thing we do.)
BUT . . . Winchester let me see who the winner is. And it’s . . . . DRUMROLL . . .
Patty, please send me your address and the package will be sent forthwith! Congratulations!
Thanks, everybody, for coming to the blog launch party and for stopping by to see what I’ve been up to. I’ll be taking a hiatus from my blog until August when I return from teaching. Y’all have a great summer!
Iva: This is it! The Big Day!
Heaven: It’s so cool that we’re having our book party at the beach! Who’s coming? Will Heather Ross be here? Her illustrations are great!
Iva: Anybody who’s anybody. I think the writer is coming this time.
Heaven: Are we gonna tell people what we do in this story? Like how I’m the big star this time?
Iva: You are not. You just act like it. Hey! Isn’t that the funny-looking kid from our party last year?
Heaven (squinting through the crowd): It is him. I think he’s a friend of Yard Sale’s. I wish Yard Sale could have come to the beach with us.
Iva: Me, too. And Sweetlips. Mama said she was gonna trade Sweetlips for one of us. She says the dog is the only one that listens.
Heaven: It is kind of crowded in this beach cottage—Lily Pearl, Howard, Arden, Hunter. And our mamas. You and me are crammed on the screened porch.
Iva: We’d have a lot more room if you hadn’t brought all those stupid suitcases!
Heaven: I packed my wardrobe and essentials for each day I planned in a separate suitcase. Pretty smart, huh?
Iva: Yachting Day? We ride on so many yachts!
Heaven: It’s Boating Day. You never get anything right. No wonder London Howdyshell beat you at everything. Like that disgusting boardwalk food contest.
Iva (groaning): Don’t remind me! Cotton candy, taffy, kettle corn, fried mushrooms, fried cheesecake bites. It was the cheesecake bites that did me in.
Heaven: You ruined eating for the rest of us forever. And you lost!
Iva: Because certain people cheated. We’re supposed to mingle. Look, somebody put a picture by our books. Who is that skinny girl?
Heaven: That’s the author when she was a kid at Ocean City. What an unfortunate outfit. I bet she opened the wrong suitcase that day.
Iva: See that man way in the background? He fainted at the sight of her!
Iva: There’s the author now. She’s a grown-up but she’s snarfing that—I can’t even say the word! I feel a little sick—
Heaven: Don’t you dare! Not at our party! Everybody loves cotton candy. Even that funny-looking kid.
Iva: Is there a trash can handy?
Heaven: If you were truly good and stuck to the rules, you wouldn’t have so many troubles. You get everything you deserve, Iva.
Iva: If you’re referring to yourself, you certainly get what you deserve.
Heaven (smirking): Like that giant shark’s tooth I found in the sand?
Iva: That you gave away!
Heaven: That we’re going to give away! Folks, write a comment about this party! You will be eligible for a free copy of Iva Honeysuckle Meets her Match (about time!) AND a fossil shark’s tooth from a beach in Virginia. All for free!
Iva: Don’t forget! Put a comment about this party and you’re name will be drawn by that funny-looking kid . . .
Heaven: One week from today! That’s Thursday, June 20! Be there…
Iva: Or be square.
Iva: Hey! That funny-looking kid fell asleep reading our book!
Heaven: He’s probably reading a part about you. When he gets to a part about me, he’ll wake up.
I don’t go to Goodwill much any more. And when I do go, I look for dresses, everyday skirts, and tops in green. In and out quick. The other day I dropped off a donation and went inside.
As I clicked along the dresses rack, a woman next to me pulled out a 70s halter jumpsuit in a radical print. About a size 4. She said, “Somebody been hangin’ on to this a long time. Hopin’ to get back in it.” The disco outfit was so sleazy I almost grabbed it to keep as an artifact. Instead I said, “I never wore anything like that, even when I was a size four.” We laughed over it.
While I was looking through green tops, a customer asked a clerk if she thought the economy was getting better like the news kept on saying. “Getting better? Not down here!” The other woman agreed: “Maybe for some but we don’t see it. Nosirree.” “Tight as ever at our house,” the clerk added.
In the dressing room, my thoughts–Did Liz Claiborne ever design a skirt for a post-menopausal woman?–were interrupted by two women I guessed were mother and daughter. The mother said: “They got Dale Earnhart glasses.” The daughter commented: “No, I seen ’em before.”
Their easy talk reminded me of shopping with my mother years ago, or my sister now, how we “find” things for each other, keeping track of the other’s interests of the moment and suggesting clothes that would look good. This is strictly a girl thing. I can’t imagine guys at a used car lot: “Hey, man, get the red metallic GMC–that color is perfect on you.”
The daughter was ahead of me at check-out. Among her items, a NASCAR throw wasn’t tagged. The clerk left to get a price. The mother squeezed past me to join her daughter. She was a large older woman in an ill-fitting sundress, complicted with straps and shoulder buttons and cut-outs. The too-big armholes emphasized her sagging bosom. “Pardon me, sweetie,” she said to me in a low-pitched voice.
The clerk came back–the NASCAR throw was $14.99. Too much, the daughter said and paid for her things. Then her mother set two little glasses–shot glasses maybe, the Dale Earnhart ones, on the counter. She pulled two much-folded dollar bills from her worn wallet. “Thanks, sweetie,” she said to the clerk in her soothing voice. Then she looked at me and said, “Thanks so much, sweetie,” for letting her go ahead of me in line. I bet she bought those glasses for her daughter.
They talked all the way out the door in that easy manner of mothers and daughters who live close by and call each other several times a day. I wanted to go with them.
I paid for the one dress that fit and an Ann Taylor bottle-green shirt and thought how Goodwill has replaced the mall as a place to putter and shop. We used to go to the mall on Saturday afternoons like it was someplace special. Now I only hit the mall on a mission, like for pantyhose. In and out quick.
As for the economy, the majority of us are still waiting for these big changes the news keeps touting. If it seems we’re getting along fine, it’s because we’ve learned to adjust. We still get out and buy little things we don’t really need–or maybe we do–like bottle-green shirts and Dale Earnhart shot glasses.
In case anybody wonders, we’re doing okay, thanks so much for asking.