Friday, April 18, 2008

blog tour, transportation, quilt show and spring

My dear webmaster still hasn't loaded up on my site so I appreciate you waiting for that first chapter read. It won't be long and I'll have a new webmaster (my niece with her five kids is moving on to other things!) but thanks for your patience until then.

On Tuesday, my newest book released! It's called A Mending at the Edge and there's a great review of all three books in the series at written by Kim Ford. I hope you'll go visit it. Tonight I have a signing at Powell's Bookstore in Beaverton, OR. Powelle's is one of the world's largest independent bookstores. I won't be in the downtown store. My first and only visit there was two days after 9/11 and 125 people came, seeking comfort I think and because all the airlines were cancelled.

I had a great trip to Chicago at the quilt show and some other events there. But I was booked on American Airlines and was on the first flight cancelled out of Portland on Tuesday and on the last flight cancelled on Saturday night getting out of Chicago. They flew me to Dallas where THAT flight was cancelled. They found another plane, and we took the skytrain to the new gate and the skytrain stalled! People don't like to get behind me at the copy machine...but this time it wasn't me! Still, we formed a community we people trying to get to Portland and stuck in the world of transportation.

Today it's beautiful on this ranch, white fluffly clouds shadowing the growing alfalfa and the newly seeded sections of the fields. We're fortunate to be here yet another spring. I hope wherever you are today you are inhaling the goodness in your life. Jane

Friday, April 4, 2008

Italy and the next book

Italy was Bella! We had a wonderful time, walking everywhere (except when we took the bus or the train). On Easter in Sorrento, the church bells start clanging at midnight and ring on the hour with fireworks at noon. At the hotel, each room was served a lovely traditional Easter bread shaped like a cross (I didn’t eat it but my traveling friend, Sandy, did and announced it bella!). Behind our hotel a series of steps, hundreds, made their way up the steep mountain side and at different landings were the fourteen stations of the cross. Someone had placed a flower in a vase at each station and at the top there were bouquets of flowers inside the small chapel there. We could see out over the Bay of Napoli to Vesuvius (we could also see Vesuvius from our hotel room window, just lying in our beds!) and view the town of Sorrento with its red-tiled roofs and olive and orange groves throughout the city. Easter morning we kept walking up along a path that eventually took us to another road and there we walked another hour or more past olive groves and orchards where both oranges and lemons grew on the same trees. We carried our umbrellas that day but didn’t need them. It was truly a lovely day of newness all around and I felt so blessed to be spending Easter Sunday in Italy.
At the noon meal later, the hotel brought in a huge (the size of a five year old child) chocolate egg. They then cracked it open and we all got sheets of dark chocolate as dessert for our meal. In Sorrento, they also have a custom where smaller chocolate eggs (the size of footballs) are filled with trinkets, little bracelets or toys for children, and the stores the day before were filled with these presents wrapped like we wrap roses with colorful cellophane paper. Easter Monday is also a holiday there. And by the way, the lemons are the size of grapefruits. We learned that they’re on steroids, really, and people buy them for the novelty of the size but they also cut them open, take out the pulp and put in lemon sorbet that is then frozen and the dessert is served in that huge lemon half with a tiny piece of chocolate for color. I loved that sorbet! It didn’t have flour in it either the way gelato does.
Good Friday was a special day as well as most of the small towns held processions to the church carrying a statue of the crucified Christ. We arrived late on Good Friday and were caught in the traffic jams following those processions. Believe me, the streets are very narrow in places and our driver knew the back roads or we’d still be there waiting for all the little Smart Cars and scooters and three-wheel vehicles to make their way through the maze of alleys and roads so narrow I could stand in the middle and almost touch both sides of the walls lining some of them!
But it was the people and their dogs we loved the best! Of course we were meeting people from around the world, especially Europe, at the conference; but the community of Sorrento was filled with warm and helpful people too. No one every groused at us when we had to ask for directions or asked what something was. I ate gluten-free and only had one bad day (and that might have been from the excess chocolate!) We took some side trips along the Almafi coast, the Isle of Capri (pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable, Cap) and into Rome and even there we figured out how to adapt when the bus we’d planned to take back to Sorrento decided to leave two hours before their printed schedule. So we took the trains and walked back up to our hotel after 10:00 PM feeling very safe (and escorted by some of the street-savvy dogs who show up often to check out the scrap-department. Sadly, we left them few!)
I told Jerry our next project should be to photograph “The Dogs of Sorrento” as they were many and varied but also well-behaved. And it would get us back to Italy!
Maybe I was thinking dogs so much because while I was gone our old lab, Brody, had another stroke and lost control of his functions and Jerry had to have him put him down. I’d said a good good-bye to him before I left thinking that at 14, he might not make it many more months. He didn’t. He was such a good dog and we’d had him at least three years longer than we’d thought we would by giving him what we called “Happy Pills” for his arthritis and other pains. He eventually stopped going on walks with me and with Bo, but before then, he’d walk as far as the two trees that were on the property when we bought it, hackberry trees, growing on the ridge below the house. He’d lie there in the shade and wait until we made the river loop and came back by to pick him up, often having to get the six-wheeler so he could just step in and ride back up the hill. Brody came to us when Mariah did the first time, when she was seven. She’ll be 21 this year so we’ve had a long and loving time with Brody. He’ll be missed.
My sessions at the conference went well. Talking about Enduring Stories or The Seven Thoughts that Hold us Back and how we can transform them, appear to be universal issues. The women from Qatar spoke to me afterwards (there were three of them attending the conference) about how fear and anxiety and unworthiness have to be addressed as their country undertakes an amazing commitment to education bringing six American universities in to provide degrees in medicine, engineering, architecture and more at the upper end while committing to extensive early childhood education and on up to stop what they called the “brain drain” of their countrymen and women who leave to study abroad and often don’t come back. They hope to educate their citizens there and keep them there to continue to advance this small Middle Eastern nation rich in natural gas reserves. The head of their ministry of education is a woman whom these women said was truly a model for them. It was a delight to discover that the material I had to offer, the material that is both a part of my mental health life and my writing life and homestead, too, can speak to people on the other side of the world, about changing how we feel and changing the lives around us by how we live our own.
The main presenter was Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb all seven of the world’s highest mountains including Mt. Everest. His presentation brought both tears and laughter along with awe of the power of the human spirit to dream big, to gather up a team of remarkable people (19 of the 21 person team also summitted, the greatest number of team members to do so on any expedition) and to learn to reach further and higher and to inspire those around them to seek greater heights as well. He also showed video clips of some of the challenges of the climb; but also of new technologies that showed that the brain continues to “see” even when the eyes don’t and he is testing a device where he holds a sensor on his tongue which is connected to a computer carried on his back that sends him messages where he can “see” to play tic tac doe with his daughter and see well enough to catch her cheating! He did have three O’s in a row before her three X’s! Ah, the amazing brain.
His story also spoke to me of the work I did with families challenged by developmental disabilities and several other presenters spoke about educational successes around the world in serving students with special needs. The head of the Perkins School for the Blind also presented and gave a horrifying statistic that over 6 million blind children world-wide are not involved in any educational programs because in many countries they do not believe they are entitled to education. Through Erik’s non-profit foundation, he took six blind Tibetan students on a rock-climbing expedition. Imagine the soaring of their spirit to know that they could indeed learn to do things that even sighted people (like me!) quiver at doing, climbing some huge rock, and be successful at it!
So this April, I hope you’re ready to see how eariler inspiring moments and beliefs of my life and Emma’s history got translated into A Mending at the Edge. It’ll be out in two weeks! You’ll be getting a postcard if you’re on my mailing list and there are a number of events where I hope to see you including the coast launch of the book sponsored by Time Enough Books in Ilwaco, WA, not far from where Emma and Christian lived their lives (at the Heritage Museum there, April 20th at 2:00 PM) and of course in Aurora itself on Mother’s Day at 2:00 PM. A new exhibit is opening that weekend as well “All About Emma” and I believe there’ll be tours of some of the museum sites including the house that Emma once lived in. So if you’re in the Northwest….come visit.
I’m scheduled for a number of blog tours during the next weeks. I just have to figure out how to let you all know that! Hmm, maybe posting them on my own blog? You think? I’m still getting the hang of all this!
We’ll be back on the Oregon Coast on April 26th in little Toledo, OR at 1:00 at the Methodist Church there. We’re (Jerry and me) invited back by the Serendipity Book Group that’s been meeting for many years and one of their members, Dixie McKay, is the mom of the woman who invited me to Sorrento as part of the European Council of International Schools. Her daughter is second from the left in this photograph (with new friends Fran (on the far left) and Adelle, next to me, also presenters at the conference). This was at the gala on Saturday night where we were serenaded by waiters who sang so beautifully they could have been on stage. Maybe during the day, they are! Dixie, the mom, rounded up close to a hundred people in that little church the last time we came. We hope we can repeat it!
Very soon, the first chapter of A Mending at the Edge will be posted on my website, I hope you’ll be interested enough to want to read more and then this fall, will also want to see photographs both old and new of the quilts and crafts for which the Aurora colony was known regionally in the book Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt and Craft. We hope through the photographic non-fiction book to let people around the country (maybe the whole world!) know of this group of Christians who sometimes stumbled and fell but who picked themselves up and did their best to live out their Christian beliefs including the Diamond Rule, where they hoped to make others’ lives better than their own. It’s a worthy effort to pursue and this month of spring I hope to do something each day that just might make another’s life better than mine. It will be a challenge for I am humbled by the richness of my own life.
I hope you’re humbled by your own as well. Ciao for now!