Monday, April 26, 2010


Home, Kansas City, Washington DC, Other Home

Friends know I have an unquenchable wanderlust. It's supposed to be hard to travel with children, but not impossible. I decided to do a test run to California with Ewan, in order to prepare for a longer trip later this spring when we will go to Japan. I have to say, Ewan did very well. My seatmate gave him a 9.5 out of 10.

I also badly wanted to be back in California. Some part of me always looks to the west for home and trips back to Carmel sustain me during the rough times in New York. Everyone always talks about how beautiful spring is in New York. And, yes, it is. But California is much prettier.

The fruit trees were blooming and I know that we will have a crop of plums, cherries and apples to look forward to in the months ahead. The olallieberries are also in bloom and we are hoping the bees will help give us a crop. The air is rich and the light powerful. We had a small storm, but that only sent us a pair of Mallard Ducks who have taken to the back yard for mating. I'm hoping for a family of ducklings.

Ewan had his first trip to the beach. It was a glorious Sunday, and easily 75 degrees. I bought a sun parasol for the beach for future trips this summer. I can't wait until Ewan can wade and go poking around in tide pools.

I was pretty excited last year when I learned that the Kansas City Public Library had picked my book, Picking Bones from Ash, for the April Book Club read. I've wanted to go to Kansas City for a long time. Every harvest, we used to talk about making the road trip from Nebraska to Missouri to go to the Nelson Atkins Museum. My father, finally did--I never had. So, I leapt at the chance to meet some of my readers, and to visit a city I've always wanted to see. I was thrilled to see many of the treasures that I've known about from books. And of course, it was fun to see pieces which could very well have been featured in my novel.

Kansas City isn't just about a museum, however. As the slogan goes, it's about blues, jazz and barbecue. We hadn't been on the ground for more than a few minutes before we started asking where to go and eat. Everyone said the same thing: Jack Stack.

The photo above is blurry, but there we are, newly off the plane and chomping down on a huge plate of meat, with some beans, corn and potatoes (and beer) on the side. For some reason, Ewan wasn't included in the photo.

A close up of the food.

Those of you who know about my farming occupation are probably aware of the fact that I check the wheat prices at the Kansas City Board of Trade most days. In fact, that's one reason I wanted an iPhone. Here is the building itself, with some kind of metal-work wheat on the front. I didn't get to visit. That will have to be on another trip.

Kansas City is also known as a city of fountains, and here we are with the cat fountain. (Or rather, here is my mother and here is Ewan). I have to say--we found the city really beautiful and there is more I want to see when I go back.

I was a little nervous to meet with the Book Club. I mean--what would they say? The evening turned out to be a true highlight for me--perhaps the highlight since I've started touring around to talk to people about Picking Bones from Ash. Everyone had read the book and enjoyed it. And I was so pleased to learn that nearly everyone had a different take on what the book meant to them. This, after all, is why writers write--to reach people. And hopefully to entertain. A few of the book club members posed for this photo with me--a few were camera shy. No matter. I can still see what it was like to sit in that room, flanked on either side by readers.

And here I am with librarian Carol Levers. I'm grateful to her for giving me the chance to interact with her book club group. I hope we stay in touch and that I can visit again some day. We spoke only briefly after the discussion ended and I learned what an interesting person she is, with an fascinating personal history. I also have to say that the Kansas City Library is quite possibly the most gorgeous library I have ever seen. You hear about how people don't read and libraries are closing. I am glad that the library in Kansas City is in such gorgeous shape--and is also so busy.

From Kansas City, we returned home to New York for less than twenty-four hours before barreling off to Washington DC. This time, we traveled by train to celebrate the inaugural issue of the Asian American Literary Review, which contains an essay by yours truly. Eight writers also spent most of the day reading and talking to an eager audience on the subject of writing and being Asian American for the syposium: 8. I was so impressed by the variety of viewpoints represented at the Symposium. I was also so happy to catch up with writer Ru Freeman, author of A Disobedient Girl, who poses here with Ewan. They make a nice couple.

Thanks for your kind words about Kansas City. I copied the book group photo. I might post it on my facebook page.
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