Friday, June 29, 2012

Gin and Tonics at Ida Lewis Yacht Club

As many of you know, Newport is hosting the America's Cup match races this week, and I've been lucky enough to watch those beautiful boats out on the water. Reason to love Rhode Island: sailboats under a sunny blustery sky, dancing across the beautiful blue Bay. Spent yesterday at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, sipping gin and tonics and nibbling shrimp, gazing out at that gorgeous view. Sigh...

A nice cap to a week of low key work, reading manuscripts for my upcoming teaching at Tin House in Portland, OR; xeroxing for that workshop and next week's in Chautauqua; working on short stories in various stages of completion; and resting and eating lots of steak and kale to battle the anemia (it's working! iron levels are up up up!)

Today is all about packing for those two weeks away teaching. Annabelle, Gogo and I shuffle off to Buffalo tomorrow and get us settled in at our apartments in Chautauqua. The rest of the crew arrives at various intervals on Sunday night. Gogo has made enough meatballs and sauce to feed us all week, I think. But I'm thinking of making a batch of gazpacho for lunches, maybe even packing up the slow cooker for some BBQ pork...

I just love our weeks there, which began ten years ago. That summer was a tough one, right on the heels of losing Grace. I remember having to cancel the Reading class she'd signed up for, and her swimming lessons. Remember too how hard I cried on this shot July nights, as little girls spun around on the grass, happy and alive. But that summer I met a man who changed my life. Dan Moseley gave the morning sermons that summer, and as serendipity or divine intervention would have it, his topic was grief. I sat every morning, grasping the wisdom he so freely gave, and finally managed to talk to him privately. Dan became a lifeline for me over the next few years, always there for my existential and grief crises. He taught me too, indirectly, how to help others. When I get emails from grieving parents, I  think of Dan and how he knew exactly what to say and do, and I take my lead from him.

We returned to Chautauqua every other year ever since, and have made lifelong friends there. I love the sight of one of my kids riding off on a bike, arriving wet from swimming in the lake, sitting beside me at concerts and dance performances. And so we are off again tomorrow for another week of old fashioned bliss.

Straight from there, I fly off to PDX again for a week at Tin House, another ritual I treasure. The writers, the students, the food and drink, the intellectual stimulation, the nearness of my buddies Heather and Hillary, Portland coffee and Oregon wine and marionberries...

So today is all about packing for these two weeks. And finishing my reading and Xeroxing.

For those of you who might be looking for a writers conference, I want to share the details of the FIU one in Coral Gables, Florida this October 25-27. Held at the historic Biltmore Hotel, the faculty includes Scott Spencer, John Dufresne, Ellen Sussman, Les Standiford, Steven Raichlen, Denise Duhamel, Julie Wade, Lynne Barrett, Debra Dean, and yours truly. Plus my own beloved editor Jill Bialosky and literary agent Richard Pine. If you enroll by August 1, tuition is ONLY $400! That is a deal! Hope to see some of you there!