I am the speaker chair for this year’s Wit, Wine & Wisdom event that benefits the Rochester Public Library Foundation. Due to Covid, this year’s programming is an online affair via Zoom conferencing call. The past few months have been a flurry of enjoyable planning, but this week has been distilled into a “crunch time.” All of the sudden, those “to dos” on my list aren’t items that I can put off any longer. One of them was preparing a “camera-ready” space for the sessions I’m moderating.
Honestly, I’ve enjoyed those interviews where the watcher can get a glimpse of what’s on a celebrity’s bookshelf and man – I could have a lot of fun with that, but I decided to go for the “artful” route versus showing my husband’s collection of Star Trek novels or revealing to the audience that we have at least three copies of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” books.
So the picture above is my set-up. The picture is taken in my old office (which is a long story of location shuffling due to Covid). My husband has gracefully dealt with the sheer amount of stuff that I have on the shelves surrounding my old desk, but I decluttered for my upcoming interviews. Here’s what made the cut:
- A piece of artwork from one of my kids. I may love the library and I may be a writer, but I am a mom first (especially these days …). I don’t remember which kid made this masterpiece for me, but it was cool enough to frame.
- An event poster from the Edina Art Center and the first official book signing I attended for my short story in Rhonda Gilliland’s anthology “Cooked To Death II: Lying on a Plate.”
- I lived in west central Minnesota at the beginning of my career in journalism and befriended an amazingly talented artist named Ron Adams. Hell, he’s more than a friend – I call him my Papa Ron and he’s extraordinarily dear to me. Willmar has an annual festival called “Celebrate Art, Celebrate Coffee” and in 2000, Ron designed the poster. I didn’t know him very well at the time (he was one of the photographers at the paper), but the piece spoke to me and I bought one of the numbered copies and accosted him in the paper’s photo bureau to sign the print for me. Little did I know that he would later become one of my closest friends. I treasure this piece for its artistry, but I love this piece because it reminds me to take a chance when it comes to people.
- I come from a family who’s pretty damn proud of our Scandinavian heritage. For me, this includes receiving pieces featuring “rosemaling” from my great-aunts. Luckily for me, I’ve befriended a Rochester, MN artist named Janet Swanson who paints some of the most amazing pieces. I picked this one up pre-Covid and treasure it. (Janet is married to another amazing artist/photographer named Rick, who is also a dear friend.)
- I cannot say enough about my friend Cathy Wheeler. She’s a force of nature. She’s kind, she’s talented, she gave me my sourdough starter at the start of Covid, she knitted items for my children when they were born, I used to babysit her cousin’s kids and … and … and. I don’t know what’s bigger – her heart or her immense talent. This piece is an original work that she gifted to me.
- Finally … FINALLY! My husband and I joked that I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do something that was slightly subversive. You can’t really see it, but there’s a little trio of items that I have in the corner of my tableau – a wooden cat figure that’s gray, a cherry-stained wooden box, and a ceramic skull that my husband gave me when he came back from a work trip. Why yes, that box holds my cat’s ashes. This is the tribute to my late cat, Digger. He was a force to be contended with and he’s always with me in spirit. And in some cases, on screen.
Not seen is a picture that’s directly behind me. It’s an old picture of my grandpa Stan from the 1970s at an auction. He had a gift for gab, I’m hoping that there’s enough of him in me to make me sound smart and not like a stuttering fan girl as I interview folks this upcoming weekend.
Blessings: Emails from friends and family. Facebook Messenger strings and text groups with good friends – exchanging recipes and memes, helping each other navigate motherhood and life during Covid. Adorable cats. My family who puts up with me. Hello Fresh deliveries that do the bulk of grocery “shopping” for me.
Reading: One of the authors I’m interviewing is C.H. Armstrong. I read her books “The Edge of Nowhere” and “Roam.” They were both unputdownable books. I also finished Sherry Thomas‘s “Murder on Cold Street,” the latest of her Lady Sherlock series. That was so good and it was a read that had me up way past my bedtime.
Random: I triple-booked myself on Tuesday, which, if you know me – that’s not unusual or impossible. Luckily for me, everything these days is virtual and both sessions I attended were taped via Crowdcast or Zoom. First, the national Sisters in Crime held an editing session with Jess Lourey. She’s a Minnesota author who is amazingly talented and kind. To get to learn from her is a master class in and of itself. But I also took a chance on a virtual book event from the Harvard Book Store – Irish actor Gabriel Byrne was doing an event to promote his second memoir “Walking with Ghosts.” I tried talking myself out of registering for Byrne’s event, but I’m glad that my frivolous side that hoards books talked louder than the rational side of me that reminded me that I had a webinar with Jess Lourey and a 7 PM meeting for another engagement. There are so many terrible parts of Covid, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact that Zoom enables a different sort of connection.
Sending love and socially distanced hugs to you all!
What is Friday Fare? As a recap, on Fridays I post link love to the various bits of arcane shiz I discover on the Interwebs. I liken it to a glimpse into my mind, but without the 80s song lyrics or mental cobwebs.