“Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV
I had three parties to get to this weekend. I made it to one. This morning, I picked up Stacy and off we went for a delicious brunch followed by three inappropriate, yet totally hilarious, games of Cards Against Humanity with Susan Stewart, Catherine Brereton, and Annie Bassoni. We five hadn’t seen each other to play a CAH game in quite a while. I’d gotten a new deck anticipating our need to refresh and it did not fail, that’s for sure. I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all.
Ann Bassoni may be the queen of practical jokes. Yesterday, we’re driving home from the Distillery District when she says, “Hey, Catherine and Susan live right here. Let’s stop.” Naturally, we all say okay. Then Annie says, “Okay, listen. We knock on the door and ask if they have any fresh baked goods. If they say no, we just leave. Don’t say anything. Just get back in the car.” Naturally, we all say okay. We go to the door and knock. A totally disheveled Susan answers. It was obvious that she’d been trying to enjoy a Sunday afternoon nap. “Do you have any fresh baked goods?” Annie asks with a straight face. Bleary-eyed Susan replies, “Uh… no,” and the four of us immediately turn around and head back to the car…except Stacy. She took maybe four steps before I heard, from behind me because, you know, I’m headed to the car with Crystal and Annie, “Wait, are we really gonna leave her?” Well, yea, we were. That was the point. Stacy’s reaction was as funny as Susan’s. So we go inside for a few minutes, and before we left, we tried a self timer picture since none of us had had showers and four of us had been in the scorching heat for hours. Yes, we were all looking our very best. Perfect time for a photo. My friends love me, but they do occasionally give me no small amount of grief over the photos I choose to post of them. Of all the pictures I could post from our drive-by visit yesterday, I chose this one because I owe my friends a little something in return for not killing me over their photos. I think it’s my best side. <snort>
“Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in the past was that I believed love was about finding the right person. In reality, love is about becoming the right person. Don’t look for the person you want to spend your life with. Become the person you want to spend your life with.” ~ Neil Strauss
Today, Solidago Literary Journal was at the Lexington Farmers Market representing Brier Books at the Homegrown Authors table. Catherine, Susan, and I talked with people interested in what we were doing, gave away free bookmarks, marveled at the woman with a dog in a baby carrier strapped to her belly, and sold a few copies to complete strangers; “not sympathy sales” as Catherine called them. We saw a few old friends (Gail Kennedy smiling below, and Bethany I-didn’t-catch-her-last-name smiling above), and made a few new ones as well. In between all that we plotted the future of Solidago, solved the world’s problems, and ate sausage breakfast biscuits. Okay, I ate the sausage breakfast biscuit. All in all, It was a rousing success and I remain humbled by just how cool this project is. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been involved with.
“Fill your heart with what’s important and be done with all the rest.” ~ Unknown
Solidago hit the stores tonight and what an honor to be shelved beside Bobbie Ann Mason. Our forth issue made its debut at Brier Books who hosted a launch party to celebrate. Brier Books is also our first brick and mortar store! They’re very focused on Kentucky writers. They happened to be looking to add more journals to their fold the day we walked through the door. Perfect timing.
Though Solidago is not exclusive to Kentucky – we have writers and artists from all over the world – we have had several writers from Kentucky make the cut. Five of those writers were with us tonight to read from their submissions (above: Sean Corbin, Bobby Steve Baker, Pat Holland, Allison Thorpe, and Kimber Gray). Corbin and Thorpe have chapbooks being released in the next few months, and Baker’s latest is already in stock at Brier Books. It was thrilling to hear their beautiful words. Pat Holland’s short story really struck a chord. A former National Geographic employee, she wrote a great piece about Barrow, Alaska, which resonated with me as a one time resident of the polar city. Finally, Kimber Gray closed the evening with her exquisite poetry. I predict great things for this young writer whose works are laced with humor and raw honesty.
The evening would have never happened without Catherine Brereton and Susan Stewart. The journal was their idea, and they inspire me every day, especially when I see the stacks and stacks of writing they sift through after every submission window closes. I feel so fortunate that, out of all the talented people they know, they chose me with whom to partner. I am very, very honored by that, and right proud of what we’ve done so far. But we’re just getting started, and that needs to be true for no other reason than we need better selfies than this one. I love these gals from the bottom of my heart, and I love our little journal.
“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
I had the great pleasure of meeting Catherine Brereton’s parents and youngest brother, Joe, tonight. They’re here from Britain for the Bluegrass experience. There was a large group assembled at Lynagh’s Irish Pub hoping a fiddle would appear so that Catherine’s mom, Fliss, could make her American debut with Liam’s Fancy. Alas, it was not meant to be, but that didn’t stop our intrepid visitor from joining the band. She was the life of the party, and just as kind as she could be (no surprise given how kind Catherine is). I hope this isn’t the only time I get to see them because I really enjoyed our all-too-brief visit. And you never know; maybe I’ll get to hear Fliss play a reel before she flies back across the pond. I’m holding out hope.
“Simply knowing that God loves all people is not enough – it is the first step in allowing deeds of compassion, mercy and justice to flow from our hands.” ~ Rev. Katherine Redmond
I stepped outside the office to view the eclipse and ran into lots of people I know like Catherine Brereton (above) and Deirdre Scaggs and Reinette Jones (below). The first time I saw the sun through the eclipse glasses (thanks to Stacy Yelton) it was totally amazing. I mean totally amazing. With the naked eye, and with my phone’s camera (carefully shielded by the eclipse glasses), there’s still a lot of light even at 95% totality. So, the glasses were a crucial part of the experience. It didn’t get nearly as dark as I expected, and the temp also didn’t fall as much as I thought it would. But none of that matters because watching the moon blot out the sun was seriously incredible. I feel like this was my warm up for the next eclipse due in 2024 north of here. I am so taking the day off (or I’ll be retired by then), getting an eclipse filter for the camera, and taking a road trip to the path of totality. What a glorious experience to watch the heavens work.
“Surround yourself with people who talk about visions and ideas, not other people.” ~ Unknown
Here are a few friends that talk visions and ideas all the time; Catherine Brereton, Susan Stewart, Annie Bassoni, and Stacy Yelton. This morning we converged for brunch (deliciously prepared by the Brereton/Stewart family), a couple hands of Cards Against Humanity, and a wonderful visit on the porch. These women inspire me every day in a variety of ways, and we never fail to laugh when we’re together. We also never fail to eat well, and bread and/bread-like foods are usually involved. What amazing minds I’ve been fortunate to call friends.
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work. And when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” ~ Wendell Berry
This is Geoffrey. He’s the sweet boy that looks after Catherine and Susan. He’s got a curious look about him with huge eyes and a wonky ear that looks like a piece of wadded foil on the tip. He’s a small build with a mighty heart. Unlike many cats who shy away from visitors, Geoffrey joined the gathering in the kitchen for a time, and he was interested in my camera. I couldn’t get it to fire when he had his nose stuck to the lens, so I stalked him down the hallway until he did a pirouette in the bedroom doorway as if to say, “What do you want, human?” I was smitten with this kitten.
“Never forget yesterday, but always live for today, because you never know what tomorrow can bring, or what it can take away.” ~ Tiny Buddha
Stacy, Annie, and I were invited to Susan and Catherine’s for brunch in their new house. PJs were optional, but as you can see, we all showed up in casual wear. What a treat it was to spend a few hours with these smart, witty, funny women. The C&S team cooked some truly remarkable vittles, too. Susan had warned us about Catherine’s homemade cinnamon rolls, but her description didn’t do them justice. They were ridiculously good. We laughed, we talked, we shared our love of grammar and gravy. It was as gorgeous around that breakfast table as the bright blue sky outside. I’m so grateful for their friendships.
“Happiness isn’t getting all you want. It’s enjoying all you have.” ~ Unknown
I had a pleasant surprise yesterday when Catherine Brereton dropped by my office for a special delivery of Solidago’s inaugural issue. The journal was all her idea. I’m constantly surprised that she asked me to be involved. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. She (and Susan-the-awesome-poetry-editor) is so easy to work with, smart, creative, and other adjectives. I’m such a lucky gal.