March 2009

Grammy’s Big Night

Last night I got to show off for my daughter and granddaughters before a hometown crowd. Jennifer, Lily, and Anna watched as fifty-some people sat or stood in San Jose’s Pruneyard Barnes & Noble, listening to me describe how my book came to be. Victoria, the minister from my Unitarian church was there, along with a dozen members. Some are part of the women’s spirituality group I joined. Some arranged for a ride because they can’t drive at night anymore. One brought his camera and emailed me photos early this morning.

Dorothy, a fellow volunteer at Hospice of the Valley, came and brought her daughter and a friend.  Katie, who sweats with me at the YMCA three times a week, brought her friend, John. Nick and Ingrid, new friends of Jennifer’s, came to hear her mom read and to buy her book, as did her old friends Carol, Karen, Linda, and Alex, all of whom have included me in their family barbecues and holiday get-togethers.

“It’s your big night, Grammy,” Anna had said an hour earlier, over the pot roast dinner my granddaughters and I had made together (my cooking school reopened, as of last night). She must have shared the thought; how lovely of her second grade teacher, Jim, to respond by being there in the audience, for her.

So many thoughtful people, so much kindness and support—all generated by a book about love and appreciation. March 2009 has to be one of the most meaningful months of my life. How can I not become a better person as a result of this book?

Grammy’s Big Night

By Ellen Greene

Last night I got to show off for my daughter and granddaughters before a hometown crowd. Jennifer, Lily, and Anna watched as fifty-some people sat or stood in San Jose's Pruneyard Barnes & Noble, listening to me describe how my book came to be. Victoria, the minister from my Unitarian church was there, along with a dozen members. Some are part of the women's spirituality group I joined. Some arranged for a ride because they can't drive at night anymore. One brought his camera and emailed me photos early this morning.

Dorothy, a fellow volunteer at Hospice of the Valley, came and brought her daughter and a friend.  Katie, who sweats with me at the YMCA three times a week, brought her friend, John. Nick and Ingrid, new friends of Jennifer's, came to hear her mom read and to buy her book, as did her old friends Carol, Karen, Linda, and Alex, all of whom have included me in their family barbecues and holiday get-togethers.

Read More

Homecoming

By Ellen Greene

It felt great to be back in my hometown last week. Fond du Lac, "Foot of the Lake" (Winnebago), Wisconsin, population 42,000. I drove up from Chicago, admiring as always the pristine red barns and white farm houses set high on hills along the route. Took a spin through Lakeside Park  as soon as I hit town, then drove down Main Street to Gillie’s for the ritual custard sundae.

They’ve been good to me in "Fondy." Radio interview, full-page spread in The Reporter, high school classmate, Mary, ordering dozens of my book from Amazon and selling them out of her drug store on Main Street. She ordered a tableful of sweets, too, for my book signing event and cornered other classmates, not letting them leave the store until they’d heard all about the book and the event.

Read More

Homecoming

It felt great to be back in my hometown last week. Fond du Lac, “Foot of the Lake”(Winnebago),Wisconsin, population 42,000. I drove up from Chicago, admiring as always the pristine red barns and white farm houses set high on hills along the route. Took a spin through Lakeside Park  as soon as I hit town, then drove down Main Street to Gillie’s for the ritual custard sundae.

They’ve been good to me in “Fondy.” Radio interview, full-page spread in The Reporter, high school classmate, Mary, ordering dozens of my book from Amazon and selling them out of her drug store on Main Street. She ordered a tableful of sweets, too, for my book signing event and cornered other classmates, not letting them leave the store until they’d heard all about the book and the event.

The public library and Windhover, the town’s center for the arts, co-sponsored the book signing. Both are jewels—the libs voted best in Wisconsin; the art center, a stunning rehabbed Masonic temple with the original carved stone and polished woodwork left in place, booked solid for months. Both are run by energized newcomers with fresh ideas and visions of greatness for the town.

Ben and Jane, in their eighties and our neighbors on 15th Street when I was a kid, were among the first to arrive. As was my Aunt Jane; never mind the stroke that necessitated a wheel chair. Kim came with a photo of us as seven year olds, sitting under a tree, arms wrapped around skinny bare knees, grinning into the camera. Bob and Bonnie from the donut shop; Joan, my mother’s bridge partner for decades—familiar, encouraging faces sharing the experience with one of their own.  I felt honored, touched, at home.

The Party at Pudding Stone

By Ellen Greene

What a great New York City party my brother and sister-in-law threw for me at an Upper West Side wine bar called Pudding Stone. The mood, the place, the magnanimity of the guests — everything was at perfect pitch. I minded my manners and made sure to visit with everyone, which was a pleasure as well as a personal best for somebody infamous for parking herself in one spot, feeling too awkward to mingle.

Hours later, as people started to leave and the party wound down,  a young couple, thirtyish, wandered over and sat down at a table behind us. Noticing the copies of my book scattered around, they asked me, who stood near them, if this were a book party. Yes, I said, and without giving them a chance to say more, immodestly added that I was the author. They asked what my book was about, listened to my description of the Sweet Things List, then shared that they had just gotten engaged and would be married this fall.

Read More

The Party at Pudding Stone

What a great NYC party my brother and sister-in-law threw for me at an Upper West Side wine bar called Pudding Stone. The mood, the place, the magnanimity of the guests—everything was at perfect pitch. I minded my manners and made sure to visit with everyone, which was a pleasure as well as a personal best for somebody infamous for parking herself in one spot, feeling too awkward to mingle.

 Hours later, as people started to leave and the party wound down,  a young couple, thirtyish, wandered over and sat down at a table behind us. Noticing the copies of my book scattered around, they asked me, who stood near them, if this were a book party. Yes, I said, and without giving them a chance to say more, immodestly added that I was the author. They asked what my book was about, listened to my description of the Sweet Things List, then shared that they had just gotten engaged and would be married this fall.

I reached for a copy of the book and handed it to them. “Congratulations,” I said. “Please accept this book as an early wedding present, along with my best wishes for a marriage as happy as Marsh’s and mine.” They were delighted to accept, they said, and propped it up in front of them on the table. 

I couldn’t have orchestrated a lovelier end for the evening.

Jackie’s List

Jackie Tear, along with her parents, braved a beginning snowstorm to come to the book signing at Tatnuck’s in Westborough, Massachusetts, last week. Marsh had been a family friend and Jackie’s Sunday school teacher when she was a kid. Later he was her boss for a few years at a Worcester envelope factory, where they helped each other endure jobs as dreary as the product line they manufactured . 

Jackie came prepared with a list of her own which she shared with me. “I thought you might enjoy reading some of my best memories of Marsh,” she said as she handed me a typewritten sheet of a couple dozen entries. What a lovely thing for her to do — thank you so much, Jackie.

Read More

Jackie’s List

Jackie Tear, along with her parents, braved a beginning snowstorm to come to the book signing at Tatnuck’s in Westborough, MA, last week. Marsh had been a family friend and Jackie’s Sunday school teacher when she was a kid. Later he was her boss for a few years at a Worcester, MA, envelope factory, where they helped each other endure jobs as dreary as the product line they manufactured . 

Jackie came prepared with a list of her own which she shared with me. “I thought you might enjoy reading some of my best memories of Marsh,” she said as she handed me  a typewritten sheet of a couple dozen entries. What a lovely thing for her to do—thank you so much, Jackie.

Here are some of my favorites:

-Hooking his St. Bernard, Barry, to a wagon to carry kids down our street, Sunset Drive.

-Being the fire swallower in the 4th of July parade.

-Organizing summer greased watermelon competitions.

-Teaching us kids to ski at “his mountain,” Mt. Wachusett.

-Buying ice cream for the factory workers when the temperature went over 100 degrees.

-When in a bad mood, warning me, “Give me a wide berth today; I’m running on a short tether.”

-After a disgruntled employee pulled a knife on me, disarming the guy and taking me out for a drink to calm my nerves(but I really think it was to calm his).