This Is My Plan

June 29, 2011

8:15 a.m.

Today’s Special:  A grilled chicken chef’s salad with a cup of Mediterranean vegetable soup.

We don’t open until 11 a.m.,  but that’s what I predict for a lunch special.   It’s a perfect day for it:  sunny and crisp.  Today I drive to Mackinac City to pick up inventory for the diner.  While I’m there I’ll sign books at the Island Bookstore for Mary Jane Barnwell and crew.  I like this mingling of jobs:  go to a signing on the island, pick up buffalo on the road home.  Go to the bridge for Eckrich and bacon and fish, sign books at the mainland branch of the bookstore.  These two jobs–writer and diner owner–have joined hands and are swinging along together like it’s the most natural thing in the world, and I’m very happy about that.

I’m happy in general.  Happy and tired, which is just part of summer.  I didn’t sleep much last night–probably something to do with the coffee I sipped all afternoon and evening.  The weather was cold and rainy and I had hauled my black mug that says “I drink coffee for your protection,” down off the shelf, so could feel cheerfully tough, plus think fondly of Meghan who gave me the cup.   And I had to have tiny samples of things as they came out of the oven:  cream cheese brownies, mixed fruit crisp, lemon oatmeal cookies.  Can’t do all that without coffee.

This morning the espresso is in a peaceful sage green and cream colored mug from Jenna.   I have a hundred things to do already, and am already working at letting at least half of them go.   There’s a line from a book I loved, GOLDEN DAYS, by Carolyn See (a hope filled story about the end of the world) that I think of often:  This is my past, I bless you and release you.

Now, you’ll have to read the book to get a sense of how funny and poignant and dumb and not-dumb-at-all this is coming from the narrator, who before the nuclear holocaust was a devotee of self-help seminars, and after the disaster looks wonderingly at the burned out hulk of a car and thinks, slowly and with some effort, “Car.  There used to be cars.”

I’m quoting all this imperfectly because it’s been ten years since the last time I read the book, but I know I’m close.   I often think to myself seriously but not-seriously, This is my plan.  I bless you and release you.

My plan for the next 1.5 hours is to get orders in to Pomegranate, Partners, House of Webster, Milkweed, Gordon’s.  To make triple berry muffins and cookies and pie dough.  To pay the water and coffee and car bills.  To walk the dog and write this blog.  Call my mom and my sister and my brother and my other brother and sister in law.  To post all the photos from all the events I’ve done so far and write about them.  Got to the bank and the post office.  There’s more, and clearly, it’s not all going to happen.  Must prioritize!  Must get real.

So, in a sudden disorganized flurry of writing, because I have to go do other things:

I want to thank all my old high school classmates who’ve emailed me after hearing of SOUTH OF SUPERIOR.  I haven’t answered all your notes yet, but it’s nice to hear from you.

Thanks to all the reviewers and bloggers who’ve had such great things to say about the book.

I was thrilled when Danielle Sosin introduced herself to me in front of the deli case in the diner the other day.  She’s the author of a novel that was just released from Milkweed Editions called THE LONG SHINING WATERS.  I’m looking forward to reading it.  She says on her web page that she wanted to try and explore what it is about Lake Superior that so haunts and fascinates her.  I know I’m going to be intrigued by her book, which is getting great reviews.

Danielle Sosin and I in the diner

I want to hop up and down (and did quite a bit of that yesterday) because I’m so excited that my middle grade novel, PRAIRIE EVERS, is going into production.  This is the really fun part!  A proposed cover came into my inbox yesterday, and I love it, and it’s all really real–P. Evers will have her day.

Finally, I want to thank my mom, for everything.  I tend to write about my dad more–partly this is because he passed away quite a while ago.   That means I don’t have to consider how he might really feel, but only have to imagine how I think he would have felt.  Conveniently, in my mind he’s always delighted with every word I set down.

Partly it’s a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.  My dad was an amazing person,  delightful and infuriating.  He was passionate, overbearing, needy, and joyous.  He was a voracious and very serious reader, and he was, I think, a writer.  He only ever wrote journals and letters and one short story (a story that makes my skin prickle with grief and and understanding each time I can bear to read it, which isn’t often), but he was a writer, so we had that in common.

But Mom–Mom is the one who made everything possible.  She was a wonderful parent who kept everything together with a smile, without histrionics.  She was–is–always there with encouragement, support, and love.  She was always reasonable and calm.  You couldn’t always say that about my dad.   I literally can’t imagine life without her.  She was the glue that held everything together, and she was–is– a lot of fun.  Thanks, Mom.


Category: Books, Today's Special 16 comments »

16 Responses to “This Is My Plan”

  1. karen costello

    always, ellen airgood, your words move me to tears. beautiful words about your parents. i lost my mom 4 years ago, and she sounds a lot like your dad ~ without the writer part,. i miss her, so. so glad to hear that you are enjoying the joining of your lives and doing it brilliantly, i see. keep talking about delicious food and amazing stories. i just finished, “help”, the book i was telling you about, and it was an absolute delight.

    fondly,
    karen

  2. ellenair

    Karen, Thank you so much for these kind words.

  3. Laura

    Yup. What Karen said. Plus, that run to Mackinaw City sounds familiar. That is what used to be Daddy’s run, isn’t it? They liked doing that together.

  4. Lisa Snapp

    Prairie Evers! Yay!! I am so happy she is going to make an apperance for all to enjoy. She’s feisty, that one. Like you.

    No need to comment back. We know you have things to bake and order and throw in the dryer.

  5. Pamela Grath

    I call mine “the revisable life,” but your literary allusion is funnier: “This is my plan. I bless you and release you.” Perfect!

    You and Danielle together in Grand Marais! I love it! My two authors from the Lake Superior Month in Northport! I’m so glad she stopped at the diner and you got to meet.

    I’m happy, too, and you’re a part of it. Also my garden, which is growing lush and green. Lettuce and radishes and strawberries these end-of-June days.

    Say “Hey!” to Rick for us.

  6. John

    Not too hot for soup?

  7. Jean

    Ellen,
    You are an amazing woman!! Thanks for so much friendly sparring at the Diner AND for the Triple Berry Muffins. Each delicious bite brings fond memories of Dad, Paul and I sitting at the table by the deli cooler- enjoying your company!

    You are a Superior person!!

    Jean

  8. ellenair

    Jean, You are so kind. I love sparring with you two, and I want to know about that guitar and your Paul someday.

  9. ellenair

    : )
    Little did I know, if there was going to be soup, I’d have to make it.

  10. Karen Casebeer

    Hi Ellen…Happy to report that when the Up North bestseller list came out in Sunday’s paper, South of Superior was #2 on the list. Congratulations! Karen

  11. ellenair

    Karen–Wow! That’s amazing. What fun! Thanks for writing to tell me.

  12. Pamela Grath

    SOUTH OF SUPERIOR has moved to #1 on that list! I put the list on the display table, with #1 circled.

  13. ellenair

    Pamela, Double wow. !!

  14. Genevieve Griffin aka Sherri Price

    Ellen, I really, really enjoyed reading South of Superior. I am glad your big sister has been promoting it! I have read through some of your blog and plan to come back for more.
    The characters in the book are so real I feel like I could sit down and have a chat with them. Some of them remind me of people from back home. My home now is a big city, but that small town part never really leaves me, as hard as I have tried to get rid of it. I think I will just stop trying.
    You are a great writer, and so I will wait patiently for the next book when it comes. And, I will keep reading your blog!
    Gen

  15. ellenair

    Gen, Thank you so much. Yes, I think you should not try to eradicate that small town part of you. It’s a good part. In small towns high schoolers sometimes get to drive Ford Broncos… : ) (or was it a Jimmy?)
    All best, Ellen

  16. Jen

    So excited to hear about Prarie Evers! I need to bring you my original and have you autograph both of my books…;-) I always knew you would do it! So happy for you! Hopefully we can share a prime rib and smoked cheddar sandwich someday soon…

    Thinking of you often…Jen


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