on the road again

So I didn't bring the camera with me Saturday before last, when we attended a house party and were mightily entertained by the Hotlanta Dixieland Trio, all friends who have played with Jim. I didn't bring it the next afternoon, when Jim gigged at the first jazz jam in our neighbor's living room. Players were on keyboard, banjo, guitar, upright bass, clarinet, mandolin, balalaika, and the original instrument: voice.

I dearly wished I'd had my camera, so I could share with you that experience. Folk tunes, jazz standards, Russian gypsy songs, Yiddish favorites, ragtime, and Dixieland - I took my knitting but couldn't tear my eyes off the scene in front of me. It was so good to be with friends, surrounded by music.
I didn't bring the camera to Panama City, Florida this past Friday, either. Five hundred enthusiastic classroom teachers, grades K through 12, attended the Bay Area Reading Association's annual conference, and I got to open the day with a talk about books and reading, family and community. It was an exhilarating experience to stand in front of such a dedicated, amazing bunch (some called themselves "the amen chorus"!) and share stories.

I got to talk about Countdown, too -- and what a great place to tell all about this story, as in 1962, kids in Florida were ducking and covering under their desks as well. There are many air force bases in Florida, not to mention NASA and Cape Canaveral, and the little detail that the tip of Florida is a mere 90 miles off the coast of Cuba. Boy, did I hear stories, all day long.

The best part of the day was working again with Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt's Ronda Baggett, and meeting her daughter, Hannah, who was in the middle of reading Each Little Bird That Sings. She stayed with us for half the day, until her father came to get her at lunch.

"Are you ready?" asked her father, with a wide smile. Hannah said no -- she didn't want to go. Her mother said, "But, honey, you're going to see Avatar! Don't you want to see the movie?" Hannah looked at me and shook her head. I hugged her, thanked her, and promised her she would love the movie more than she loves me. haha! But ain't it wonderful? You know you've arrived, when a ten-year-old would rather hang out with you while you sign books, than go to the movies with Dad and see James Cameron's latest blockbuster. Whoo-hoo! What a sweetie.
Jim picked me up from the airport on Saturday night, and we spent Sunday in front of the fire. Sitting by the fire in winter has become our favorite way to decompress from long weekends full of fine folks and good work.

I've been off the road since April. I finished a novel. I'm revising the next. I've established routines, and I've grounded myself in my adopted hometown of Atlanta. I've made new friends here, too -- a wonderful benefit of being home enough to do so. I am grateful.

And now it's time to go back to work on the road. I fly to Memphis on Sunday and will work in Arkansas schools next week, then have a bit of a break before heading out again. I'm so looking forward to this. It has been a long time! I have missed you. Here we go. I'll try to remember my camera!


  1. Hannah will be thrilled to see she made your Blog!
    You are remarkable!!!


  2. Ha! It's Hannah who is remarkable, don't you think? And she has a remarkable mother as well. Thanks for everything this past weekend -- what fun, and what good work. Hug Hannah for me.


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