Apparently, when you read at Politics & Prose, the world takes notice. We have just learned that we will be guests next Wednesday morning on the morning television talk show Let’s Talk Live!, aired weekdays on Washington, D.C.’s ABC affiliate, Newschannel 8.
We know that we’re going to be talking live (gulp). The question is, what will we be talking live about?
This graphic above suggests that we were chosen for our particular perspective or expertise in some topic related to entertainment, style, fitness, or health. Obviously, we can eliminate style as a contender. Similarly, we cross paths with fitness and health only occasionally, and only by accident. We are assuming, therefore, that we have been summoned in hopes that we will entertain. Luckily, I have been working on a little routine I like to call “Adventures in Spandex.”
While Robbi has been perfecting a performance art piece titled “Big Head/Little Hat.”
At the moment, that’s really all we know. We have been instructed to arrive in the station lobby by 10:45 Wednesday morning. Shortly thereafter, someone will deliver us to a studio where we will be faced with the impossible proposition of sounding coherent while not making ridiculous faces. It seems so unlikely to work out in our favor that I wonder why we try.
To be on television, of course. It is the American dream.
And we are no exception.
Friday night’s reading at P&P went very well, by the way. Photos will be posted whenever Robbi wakes up. Hopefully this happens sometime before tomorrow morning.
You’re probably sick of hearing us say it, but we would be remiss if we did not mention that this very evening we will be giving a reading/talk/signing at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.
It is a rather famous place, and we are honored (and admittedly butterfly-ridden) to be on the calendar.
We’ll be talking about collaboration, running a small press, and our ongoing attempts to find our place in the literary world. We’ll read a few books and show a few others. I’m hoping that fun will be had by at least some. (So far, we have four confirmed attendees.)
We’ve gotten a bit of press, including mention in The Washington Post‘s Literary Calendar and a nice little write-up in today’s Washington Post Express.
We hope to live up to the billing. Here’s the press release if you’re interested. And here is the critical info if you’re trying to find the place.
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
We’ll start at 7:00pm and should wrap up the presentation around 8:00.
We’d love to see you there.
I took lots of pictures in Alaska this summer, almost all with my phone, which was always with me in spite of the fact that it didn’t get any cell or data coverage—kept near because of it’s camera. There is just so much to photograph along the beach.
We gathered for a Fourth of July pot luck in a garage attached to one of the compounds. I’d show you a picture of the extravagant culinary offerings if I had taken time to snap one. I was too busy eating. But after I’d eaten my fill, I wandered outside and looked back toward the tundra. Here’s what I saw looking across a marsh behind the compound.
It’s my favorite of the summer.
Here are a few others from that same day.
This is a smokehouse, I think.
The ubiquitous laundry line.
This is our version of a sidewalk.
Broken frog thermometer
I assure you, it was nowhere near 70 degrees.
These are the artifacts of a place with no room for frills, where necessity dominates, where function trumps form.
But still it is our place.
I’m off to the airport now to fetch my family.
I just talked to Robbi from Seattle. She is now back in “America,” as our neighbor Dave from Alaska likes to say. Alaska doesn’t qualify as America according to Dave. And maybe it shouldn’t.
We don’t have buildings like this in the parts of America I know.
Robbi and the kids are settling in for a long night in the SEATAC baggage claim. Iggy is in the process of being fetched from her crate. Robbi will pitch the tent for the kids and will try to fund an unoccupied bench to inhabit. Good times.
But they are en route. All of them.
And Billie Jean King, of course. Robbi is two days into her 19th week. We have the big halfway-point ultrasound next week.
Belly pics will be posted here soon.
As I was scrolling through the archives just now, I realized that I am a week overdue in announcing the winner of the caption contest. Sorry about that.
Here is the image in question.
I charged you with coming up with the best explanation for what was going through Kato’s mind at this moment.
BecauseI honestly have no idea.
There were many excellent submissions, but I’ll list my favorite three.
HONORABLE MENTION – Brad
Hmmm… I dunno, mom, the emperor’s new cocktail shaker seems a little light somehow…
SECOND PLACE – Mark
Dad, I’ve had enough of your tired William Tell routine.
OUR WINNER – Matt
Mmmmmmmmm, I’m sorry. The answer we were looking for was Czar Nicholas II. That’s Nicholas the second. Better luck next time.
Thanks for all who chimed in. Matt, identify yourself to claim your prize: your pick of any book from our catalog. Send me an email with your address.
If you have been paying attention, you might remember a post from Emma not long ago. I had charged her with buying a deep socket, which we needed for one of our trucks in Alaska. In spite of some unfamiliarity with the vernacular (believe me, Emma, you were not alone in this respect), she managed to acquire said socket and sent it to us on the tundra.
I am happy to report that the package arrived not three days later!
Though postcards to and from our corner of Alaska can take two weeks, apparently the USPS takes Priority Mail seriously, even on the tundra. The only challenge was getting the thing open.
But I did.
It was heavy. Shiny. And undeniably deep.
But the question remained, would it fit?
Here is the truck in question.
Here are the offending lug nuts.
It’s not that we needed the deep socket urgently. None of the tires was flat. But as in all things Alaska, the trick is being prepared when calamity strikes. And calamity almost always does.
For those of you (like Emma and me) new to this dizzying world, for a socket to do any good, it has to be attached to a socket wrench.
Actually, this is a “breaker bar,” a long-handled contrivance that fits into the socket and provides additional leverage for “breaking” the lug nut loose. Our lug nuts live all winter in the unfriendly Alaskan rain and wind. And all spring, summer, and fall. They are rusted fast do not relent easily.
The critical moment arrived. Would the deep socket fit the lug nut? Would it be sufficiently deep to slide over the long bolts holding it in place.
The answer was yes. The socket fit. We correctly identified the size we needed and Emma sent the part requested. It was a minor miracle.
But friends, that’s where this success story ends. No matter how I tried to break the lug nut, I could not get the thing to budge.
The lug nut broke me.
But we had the satisfaction and tentative comfort of knowing that we now have the right tool on hand if, and when, the truck gets a flat.
Thank you Emma. I wish you had been there to take a bow with me.
I made a quick dash into NYC last night to see my friend David in a play. Before curtain, I walked through Union Square Park and encountered this sign.
Here’s the thing…
Aren’t most team sports active? I guess they wanted to make clear that team sitting is also not allowed.
And the last time I checked, “dogs” was a subset of “pets.”
I guess they just wanted to be extra clear.
I’ve posted in detail about how we fish before, so I don’t think I’ll repeat myself today. That post is worth reading if you want a comprehensive play-by-play of how we go about getting the fish out of the water. And it has the added bonus of containing a photo that never fails to make Robbi laugh, one in which I miraculously cause fish to levitate by raising my arms. Here it is, in case you are in a rush.
But without going into too much detail, I thought I’d post a few photos from the beach, some of which have been lovingly enhanced by our friends at Instagram.
As has also been well-documented, going fishing starts with getting dressed.
Here’s Robbi on the beach, hauling in a raft of (not much) fish. Iggy was no help at all.
But Bob stepped in to give her a hand while the kids looked on.
Once the fish were on shore, they loaded them into the cart on the back of the four-wheeler.
And drove on over to the buyers’ truck.
The crane lifted the bag of fish and weighed it.
Then Robbi drove away while Bob picked up our receipt.
Basically, we sell the fish, they write down on a sheet of paper how many pounds we sold, and we get paid at the end of the season. Unless the company goes bankrupt, which means we get nothing. It has happened before.
While Robbi and Bob fished, the kids played in the sand.
And splashed in the surf.
Kato was intrigued by the buoy.
He was small against the wide stretch of beach.
Small but smiling. Small but undaunted.
Wet and cold, he decided to walk home.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was three miles away.
He didn’t get very far before he decided to come back and investigate his buoy, a round red outlier against the beach.
Inspired by an unknown force, Kato headed back into the water to join his sister, still splashing away in her bright yellow boots.
If nothing else, Alaska is a fun place to be a kid.
I’ve spent the day making books. Our reading at Politics and Prose is less than a week away, and we thought it best to create some extra inventory of the titles we’ll be presenting that night.
Here they are, For the Love of God, Facial Features of French Explorers, and The Baby is Disappointing.
You can click any of the links above to read flash versions.
Notice the really big stapler. Did I mention it’s capable of stapling 210 sheets at once?
I’ll do a longer post about the reading next week, but in case you are already planning your social calendar for next weekend, we’d love to see you there next Friday night. We’ll start at seven and go for about an hour.
Unless the tomatoes start flying earlier.
To aid our fishing efforts in Alaska, we have six pickup trucks and three four-wheelers. We also have several old, dead trucks that sit in the bushes rusting away to nothing because there’s nothing else to do with them.
We use the trucks to pull the lines and set the nets and we use the four wheelers to get around and for other miscellaneous fishing tasks that don’t require the power of a truck. Picking up nets for example, or hauling totes of fish around. Our sites are three miles up the beach and the vehicles are old and inefficient (or constantly leaking fuel, in the case of some). Which means that we have to gas them up frequently.
Here’s how we do it. Our “gas station” consists of 50-gallon oil drums, one of which will be tapped with a hand pump at any given time. One person works the pump and the other person holds the funnel while listening to see when the tank sounds full. All the fuel gauges are broken.
Kato was intensely curious. After a few minutes, either Bob or I realized that it probably wasn’t a great idea to have his developing brain sucking up the vapors. Regardless, he was not happy to be plucked from the truck bed.
So there you have it. Yet one more small example of how things just work differently up there.
In case you’re wondering, Kato consoled himself by preparing the next vehicle in the gas station queue.
Today Robbi went to Egigik (the small fishing village across the river, which will be the topic of another post) to do some laundry and called me from a pay phone while the clothes were tumbling.
I got to talk to Alden, who apparently asks where I am about six times a day. She knows the answer: “in the Maryland house,” but the question seems to please her.
This is what I imagine she’s doing right now.
Later, Robbi sent me an email from the cannery. In it, she included a message generated by Alden when prompted with the question, “What do you want to say to Papa?”
Here is my message from Alden: “I got a whistle for the cars. You know where it goes? There was an elephant. My man George saw an elephant! Bye bye, Papa!”
This is how I imagine she looked as she said it.
I can picture it perfectly.