Enjoy your meal, your loved ones and a good book.
I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I've been very ambivalent about preparing for the holiday. Although I'm certainly not ambivalent about eating the food. Since Ricky is home with us now I decided I should make the effort and enlist his help since who knows when we'll be able to celebrate it together again. So, today I took the first step and bought a turkey. Now I really do have to start cooking. I wouldn't mind so much if I didn't have to cook our regular food as well. Guess I'd better get started making pickled pineapple, applesauce and my late Hungarian grandfather's pickled cucumbers.
Enjoy your meal, your loved ones and a good book.
Yesterday Ricky and I drove to Glens Falls, New York for the Chronicle Book Fair. We were thankful for daylight savings time since the extra hour made it easier to wake up at 6:30 a.m. and leave the house at 7:30a.m. for the more than two-hour drive. It was a beautiful, if cold, day with patches of bright blue sky and the sun often peaking out from behind ominous looking dark gray clouds. We had thought the foliage was finished but bright yellow or red trees here and there proved us wrong.
It was my first book fair and I wasn't sure what to expect. Nancy Means Wright, a wonderful prolific Vermont author had taken part in several of the Chronicle's book fairs and said it was her favorite fair so I decided to give it a try. I had such a good experience I am now a convert, and I hope to take part again next year.
I sold several books, which went a long way towards my enjoyment, but I also had a wonderful time chatting with other writers and with potential book loving customers. There were so many interesting people there. Book lovers are a very different breed, one I feel at home with having grown up in a family of them. The fact that most of the shoppers were actually there to buy books made this experience quite different from book selling ones I've had so far. Usually, when I give book talks most people are there for the "story," not to buy a book. Other venues I've set up at have not targeted book lovers so I felt lucky when some happened to pass through.
We met a writing teacher with stories to tell who happened to have an adult daughter, a geologist by training, teaching English in Osaka. A woman wearing a gorgeous wooden necklace explained to us that her son, who is a rustic furniture maker, made the necklace for her from the root of a lilac bush. Another woman told us all about the summer month she'd spent in Japan and her food experiences with her home stay family.
The woman I shared a table with was the author of a novel. She was originally from the upper New York area but lives in Maine. Her whole large family still lives in the area. She was telling me she used to be a crafter with all its ups and downs. On the table she had one beautiful and meticulously drawn lighthouse in a frame. Although lighthouses had been her specialty (each an original - no prints) she also made jewelry from beach glass - each piece unique. Store owners wanting to buy from her just didn't understand the concept of natural and unique. They would say, "I'd like to order10 of these and 15 of those."
Then there were the people who attended the craft shows and said to themselves, "Hey, that looks easy, I could do it." Their customers would remember having seen Mary Lou's booth and mistakenly think she'd made the defective object. They'd bring her things that had fallen apart. She would have to tell them to look at the sub-standard imitations they'd bought and see how different they were from her originals. "Maybe you'd like to buy a real one this time?" Mary Lou was an artist not a craft making machine and she finally gave it up.
Just before we started packing up a woman approached. She was all set to buy a copy of my book though she hadn't even picked it up to look through. She just knew she'd want it. I chewed her ear off and read her some excerpts. She had sparkling eyes which seem to glow like the necklace she was wearing. Her jacket or scarf also had threads that sparkled. I wondered if she'd been an actress. She had a special presence and warmth. She mentioned that my mother's story was like "A Majority of One," a movie with Rosalind Russell which had earlier been a Broadway play starring Gertrude Berg. I told Marian that as a matter of fact, my mother and father had been given tickets to see the show when my mother won the essay contest and the prize trip to visit her pen pal in Japan.
This "kindred spirit" had lost her husband several years ago. He was a professor, writer and publisher. I googled him and was quite impressed with his body of work. Although I don't recall actually reading them, the titles sounded very familiar to me. I'm sure, voracious reader of books that she was and avid reader of the Times Book Review, my mother must have read at least some of them. Although my mother has been dead since 2008, when I got home I had the urge to call her to ask if she knew of him and them.
The only sour spot of the day was being cornered in front of my table by a short, German man with a white moustache who said he was born in Germany in 1934 and came to the States in the 50's. I listened politely to this soft spoken man, who sounded like he was making a memorized speech, not exactly sure what he wanted to tell me and what the connection was with my mother's story. There was no connection. He was using the old argument about Hitler having been good for Germany, returning its self-respect and ending unemployment. I fell in and started to say that it was at the cost of millions of lives systematically murdered. To him that was inconsequential and America did . . . I started to edge away from him hoping he'd leave, but he had entangled Ricky in his web. Seated on a chair on the other side of the table, my son was wiser than his mother. He just nodded politely as the obscene garbage quietly spewed from the old German's mouth. Finally, the man left. Ricky was a bit angry that I had escaped and left him cornered. I'd really been on the verge of saying excuse me and asking Ricky to come with me someplace when the man left and proceeded to talk at the next table on a theme about the U.S.
As I was waking up this morning I went over in my head ways I could have, and should have, asked the misplaced Nazi to leave my table area. I could have thrust a book at him and asked if he wanted to buy it or even two. I could have simply asked him to move aside since customers couldn't see my display (which was true). I could also have been more direct and said I didn't want to listen to this Nazi apologia any more. I honestly hope I never have an opportunity to deal with someone like this again. Luckily, he was not the last person I talked to so I am left with much happier memories.
I feel like going back to bed right now, but i suppose I shouldn't miss any of this beautiful day. The sky is blue and there isn't a cloud in the sky. I'm also beginning to get a bit hungry.
I wish you all happy reading and writing. It's a good season for both.
Hi, I'm Susan Saitoh, author of "Encounter with Japan: An Adventure in Love." I am a baby blogger, taking my first steps. This is my first blog and it's part of my first website. Hope I'll get the hang of it fast.