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Mary Gentry Writes


English teachers rock!

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Mimi and I have had several fun “Meet the Artist/Meet the Author” events lately. On Halloween, we performed at The Brilliant Moon in Shelton. The audience was a nice mix of familiar faces and those ‘new to us.’ One of the faces that seemed familiar but that I couldn’t quite put a name to turned out to be one of my high school English teachers, Les Smith. I knew he had copies of my books, but I hadn’t been paying enough attention to Facebook to know to expect him at the party.

Saturday was what Winnie the Pooh would describe as a “very blustery day,” a legitimate excuse for anyone to forego the drive and stay home by the fire. What a sweet surprise to discover that the man who requested I read “You Take the Cake” – a story about making bread – was one of my favorite high school teachers, who made the drive to Shelton from Bremerton.

On Wednesday, we spent the evening at the Olympia branch of Timberland Regional Library and once again were met by a warm and receptive crowd. At the conclusion of our presentations, we drew names for a couple of prizes. The first prize-winner got a box of Mimi’s greeting cards, and the second, a set of my books. Much to my surprised delight, the second name read was Ty Flint, a former English and drama student of mine at Tumwater High School. For many years, Ty was a familiar voice paired with Charlie Brown on KUBE radio in Seattle.

I consider my days in an English class among the best, no matter which side of the desk I was on. These recent surprise reunions serve to remind me that no door is ever completely closed, and that when I least expect it, someone will step through and lead me back to another time and place. I intend to follow up with both Les and Ty to insure that this circle keeps going on. Once around is surely not enough!

More Than a Fuchsia Basket

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Mother’s Day is soon upon us, followed by Father’s Day a month later. Given that Mother’s Day celebrates the best job I’ve ever had, it demands more than a fuchsia basket to honor its significance.

There’s no mandatory retirement from motherhood; just a gradual adjustment to the responsibilities and venue. Being Kate’s mother has been an unalloyed pleasure.  Most of my ‘mother’ friends feel the same way. Happily, having qualified as a mother set me up for the ultimate bonus, being a grandmother – much better than a gold watch or a Caribbean cruise – a particularly sweet happenstance since no amount of ‘mother manipulations’ can bring it about. It’s out of mom’s hands!

A number of my friends maintain that being a grandmother is better than being a mother. That seems a bit churlish to me. I’d say it’s more like a dead heat in two different races.

One evening after giving Eleanor a bath and turning her over to her mother, Kate nearly overcome with emotion, said, “Oh mom, I love Eleanor so much!”

I put my arms around her. “I know you do.” I said.  “Just remember, you’re my Eleanor.” I recall vividly the moment I realized that my parents must have loved me the way I now loved my daughter.  It was surprisingly shocking.

My family’s stories, the ones I played a part in, as well as the ones told to me, are brought together in “Too Far from the Tree.” The release of this collection, celebrating family with humor and affection, is well timed for Mother’s and Father’s Day. I hope reading “Too Far from the Tree” will inspire you to poke around your own family stories waiting to be uncovered, not far from the tree. Who knows, maybe you will decide to write them down.

Hunkering Down

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A hunkering down kind of day!  My favorite, to be sure, especially when, as now, I have a lot of writing projects in the works! “Quite Contrary” is now available at Barnes and Noble on their Nook as well as at Amazon, both as a paperback and an  e-book. I will be handling the shipping of books from Amazon so orders will be filled with a book signed by both Mimi and me and inscribed to the purchaser.  I hope some of my followers – that would be you –will write an enthusiastic endorsement and post it on Amazon.  Reviews by readers are very effective.

It will be interesting to see how well “QC” sells as an electronic book.  I like having a selection of e-books on my iPad when I am travelling but I am not sure I would feel the same about my little book of essays.  Still, a couple of friends who live in Europe and the UK have been able to get their eyes on it if not their hands by buying an electronic edition. So that’s a good thing.

I am busy working on copy for “Too Far From the Tree” which will debut at Art Walk, April 24th and 25th.  Once again I will be at “All About You” 117 Fir NE in Olympia.  It turned out to be such a great location last fall that I have to go back.  On Saturday, April 25th, Mimi and I will be on hand. Mimi will demonstrate her linoleum block print technique and I will read selections from the new book.  Look to this website for more information about this and other book events.

Mimi has completed the print that will be used for the cover.  I am so eager to see it that I am fixing dinner for Mimi and Don tomorrow in order to take a peek. “Too Far From the Tree” has a family theme that ought to make it a good Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift.

Next week will find me in La Quinta, California with 13 good friends who met in September 1961, when we were Gamma Phi pledges at the University of Idaho. We didn’t know anything about each other then, but by this time there isn’t much we don’t know about each other.  We’ve shared death, divorce, and other less catastrophic disappointments. We’ve laughed and cried together, been enthusiastic cheerleaders and reassuring confidants.  We’ve told and re-told the same stories many times and always laughed on cue.

The proximity to Palm Springs to this year’s reunion affords unique opportunities for sight seeing, shopping, and museum crawling, as well as soaking up some sun.  Most of us are just delighted to have sunscreen on our packing list. But, the activity we are all looking forward to the most is being together once again.