Tag Archives: As Sweet As Honey Tour

Bags and Bags of Books

Chilmark Reception Site/Vineyard Gazette

When one comes back from a book festival, one’s arms are loaded with books.  Mine were, along with a goodie bag full of chocolates, more books, and cloth bags.  I also carried back a gallon of raw milk, and two large tubs of yogurt.  Bliss.  Of course I cut a comical scene with my bags slipping off each other every few paces, my arms threatening to fall off, but soon, I reached home, after one of the most invigorating and fun weekends I’d had in along while.

The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival is offered up every two years, and this year was presented in two locations, in Edgartown, and in Chilmark.  A heartfelt thank you to Suellen Lazarus and Bunch of Grapes Bookstore for organizing the events so seamlessly and so generously, and to Maggie Shipstead, Kitty Pilgrim, and J.Courtney Sullivan, plus our gracious tour-guide Howard for being such good company. And a shout-out to the lovely Joan Nathan who set the ball rolling.

Festivities for the authors included a number of receptions and breakfasts, including one in the very palatial yet discreet place that rumour has the Obamas staying at on their vacation.  I sipped mineral water and wondered what it would be like to wake up with the ocean in one’s backyard.

Very nice indeed, I imagine.  Very nice indeed.

When the Hummingbird Looks You in the Eye

© Conchasdiver | Dreamstime.com

© Conchasdiver | Dreamstime.com

You blink.  It is hard to believe this bullet shaped body, green like a parrots, hovering in front you  and beating its wings so fast, the sound is as thick as a bee hive.  It wanted the lavender astilbe which finally decided to bloom, the specific bloom I was standing next to.  It looked at the bloom, then at me. I f I reached out my hand just a little, I could try to touch it, but I stood still, thinking it would surely move on.  We had a human to bird face-down, I waiting for it to move, and it for me.  I spoke to it all the while, and maybe my voice kept it hovering.  When it finally darted away, I stepped through the garden and turned from the stairs to watch.  It perched on a tree, and only when the coast was clear, waded in.  My metaphors are mixed because the hummingbird is a mix of a bird and bee to me.  I will post the video from last year of the boy and his rescue of a hummingbird below.

Meanwhile, I attended two phenomenal literary events.  One was the Wequassett Literary Luncheon, presented by the Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore on Cape Cod.  Every summer,week by week,  guests fill the banquet halls to lunch with old friends and hear various writers talk and read from their new books.  I accompanied J.Courtney Sullivan, author of The Engagements, a book that is engaging from the first page, and Ann Hood, whose most recent book is The Obituary Writer.  It was a lively event, with an audience who listened intently, loving books so much to spend a summer day inside. My table was filled by multi-generational members of a family tree and friends, with makes true the notion books create literal and figurative companions.

Wequassett Inn Literary Luncheon, 2013

Wequassett Inn Literary Luncheon, 2013

Boy& Hummingbird http://youtu.be/LvrcdQWzH-8

a place for an imaginary journey


I trekked back to Sag Harbor, where I once had a home, to teach a workshop on imaginary geographies. The landscape flying past my train windows was very much real, a study in contrasts of lush marsh grass hosting a heron or two, to the power plants in the horizon. It was a new train in the LIRR fleet, and all was smooth, easy-going.

At Bridgehampton, I was picked up by a workshop participant, one of six lively women who gathered to write for four hours. In a close circle, we wrote through exercises about the place and self, beginning with settings of familiarity to those of the imagination. After a delicious lunch provided by the host bookstore, Canio’s, we drew imaginary cities and villages on portions of a map of Paris. One by one, the participants revealed their public markets, their factories, their slaughterhouses, and cafes.

We discussed using setting like character, using setting as plot.  We spoke of how characters move through settings, and I wonder now if I mentioned that while in real life, what happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, in fiction, it cannot.

Three days later, I sit at a cafe in the seaport in Boston, where I can glimpse planes taking off, their underbellies gleaming like whales. Melville mentioned Sag Harbor in Moby Dick, a port of trade and business. Here, all is tourism and relaxation, as the temperature climbs toward 95 F, and I wait for a ferry to take me home.

Should we have traveled or stayed at home? In the film, Reaching for the Moon, Elizabeth Bishop walks with Robert Lowell, struggling to compose “The Art of Losing.” Only by traveling into the interior, of a country and her heart, can she complete the poem.

There is a fierce need to complete poems, to complete acts of arts, and to travel, if only to return home, more capable of understanding ourselves and others.

Indira Ganesan, Heading Home, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Heading Home, 2013

Food and Books, in Lambertville

English: Indian spice

English: Indian spice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Thursday, I gave a reading at a lively event. It was at Anton’s at the Swan Hotel, housed in a building from 1870 furnished with curiosities and memorabilia, in New Jersey, where a once month, a dinner is given at once price, with one menu, to an enthusiastic crowd. The events are put together by the very graciously hostess, Miss Maxwell, and this one was suggested to her by my old friend Diane.

I read for my supper, and what a supper it was. Two long tables holding seventeen place settings were placed in a room covered with silks and chiffon from India. The tables held a long beguiling row of carefully potted marigold pots. In between the first (spinach and lentil soup garnished with a bright cucumber-tomato mix) and second course (baighan bartha, mango chutney, flat bread and basmati), prepared expertly (and deliciously, to the surprise of my family) by Chef Chris Connors,I read. After munching on cumin-seed shortbread and sipping strawberry lassi, I signed books, surrounded by family and friends, all under the painted gaze of British royalty.

I’d to return, to sip a martini or fauxtini, look for the John Cleese photo, as Diane suggests, and explore more of the Swan.

Texas, Cambridge, & Home

Texas Wildflowers

Texas Wildflowers (Photo credit: TexasEagle)

Indira Ganesan, Cambridge Tulips, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Cambridge Tulips, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Welcome Home, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Welcome Home, 2013

Returning from a near week of travel, I was happy to see the welcome committee of brave tulips at home;a scraggly bunch to be sure, but a welcome sight.

College Station, Texas has wildflowers in bloom, though I missed the best of the blue bonnets, I was told.  It was a surprise, for I did not know what to expect in my first trip to Texas.  I overheard a man ask another about his boots, and the conversation turned from admiration to a tale about cowhide. I passed up the opportunity to visit the George Bush Library, but I did see the terrific Women Call For  Peace : Global Vistas exhibit in the gorgeous art gallery at Texas A & M University, a beautiful collection of vivid imagery by Siona Benjamin; Helen Zughaib;  Aminah Robinson; Faith Ringgold, Judy Chicago, and others. As the gallery notes, ” world-wide military spending is above $1.2 trillion annually; while the peace-keeping budget at the United Nations in 2009 was only $7.9 million.”

I see blue people. (and artist siona Benjamin )

I see blue people. (and artist siona Benjamin ) (Photo credit: doodlehed

Story Quilt Detail:  Faith Ringgold

Story Quilt Detail: Faith Ringgold (Photo credit: cobalt123)

The professors of the South Asia Group, English, and Women Studies departments took extraordinarily good care of me, and I found myself dining on dosa, idlis, and laddoos, a true feasting, especially as my idea of dinner is often a grilled cheese these days.  A well-attended reading, a large-group version of telling matriarchal ancestor stories, and good South Indian coffee rounded out a delightful weekend.

Boston was bittersweet, not because only because so much happened a week ago, but also because I gave my last classes.  It is always difficult to say goodbye to a group of people I have seen regularly twice a week for sixteen weeks; we have written together and talked about fiction, and got to know one another a little.  This is a special class, for it was the first that I shared my publishing story as it unfolded in real-time with a new book (so far, a kind of once in a blue mon event for me) and one in which they, but not I, were in a city-wide lockdown.

The small things always go together with the large, and if it were not for grammar (the infinite space a semi-colon provides , the rueful continuity of an ellipses) I know not what we would do. Thus, in  Cambridge,  I discovered a new cafe which encouraged a spate of writing, lusted after some vegan bags at a store, watched some dance on campus programs. I got charged twice as much for a cab ride to the station, but the day was too nice to complain. My bus arrived on time, only to have the driver tell some of us that it was full, and we needed to wait for the next one.  Always an adventure on the bus, but I can’t help wondering: was it because I decided to catch the “next” bus instead of revisiting the vegan shoe and bag store as I intended?

Home, I returned local library books , only to realize I have a few more to return in Boston.  The rent is paid, grades and bills are due, and the summer soon awaits.  I hear that this is a funny time for Saturn, so maybe that accounts for restlessness.  Still,  a good time to concentrate on writing.  Isn’t it always?

Then, Arugula

I rode the bus to Denver and passed the stadium where Rockies fans were roaring, long after the cows and calves and mountains on route. My friend Cynthia met me and showed me around her town before my reading at Tattered Cover. We visited the site of the Before I Die I Want To______project by Candy Chang, in which we wrote out in chalk, alongside dozens of others, our wishes. Then we took in the art museum, the Public Library, all exteriors as I marveled at the architecture of this city. Udi’s Cafe where pizza with arugula and juices was delicious provided a satisfying meal before the reading at Tattered Cover.  I am still dazzled by events coordinator Pat’s warm welcome, and the deliciousness of Tattered Cover itself, a bookstore for readers and writers. A look at the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art as well as its wonderful El Anatsui exhibit.  A city offers riches too much to take in a day, which I suppose is why cities thrive.

Cynthia Morris, Viewing Before I Die Project, Denver, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG Viewing Before I Die Project, Denver, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Anonymous Couple(to me) in front of Denver Public Library, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Anonymous Couple(to me) in front of Denver Public Library, 2013

Indira Ganesan, El Anatsui: when I Dreamed of Africa,  Denver Art Museum, 2013

Indira Ganesan, El Anatsui: when I Dreamed of Africa, Denver Art Museum, 2013


Cynthia Morris, IG & Tattered Cover billboard, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG & Tattered Cover billboard, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG with Tattered Cover customer & Pat, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG with Tattered Cover customer & Pat, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Rachel's Flowers, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Rachel’s Flowers, 2013

Marmelade Skies

Indira Ganesan, Back to Boulder, 2013

Boulder is in a bubble, they say. An air-filtered, non-smoking (hurrah!) mostly, vegetarian-conscious, compost-enlightened, spiritually aware and awfully expensive place to live. It has demanding yoga, serious runners, and a farmer’s market that is a good size. I go on and on about this place because I adore it, even if I have had both low and good points there. It is where I am deeply connected because of people in so many walks of life.

Boulder Bookstore

Boulder Bookstore (Photo credit: Jesse Varner)

I read at the Boulder Bookstore to a warm, gracious audience mostly made up of friends. I spoke a    little about myself, feeling oddly tyrannical while standing up holding a microphone. It struck me suddenly that this is a very unnatural thing to do. I went on anyway, self-conscious and feeling slightly ridiculous, because I was speaking to my friends from my notes, my iPad in fact.

A friend generously housed me, others treated me to dinners, and all in all I felt deeply taken care of. I had a chance to visit my favorite cafe and attend a yoga practice to which the instructor kindly remarked, “you have not been practicing in a while, right?” advising an early savasana.

I ran into friends on the street, not having to explain that I’d been away two years. I met fellow writers,and felt embraced. I wrote a happy book in Boulder. How could I not?