I sat beside the lively Shirley Tallman who always encourages me as a mom, since she is a red-headed Irish Catholic who birthed six children and adopted two, and as a writer, making me feel like I have something to say even though I've written about 1/7 as many books as she.
Somehow Shirley has kept her love of life and amazing humor despite the terrible sorrow of losing three of her children, one as an infant, one to cancer, and one to a tragic accident.
We were sitting off to the side of a huge room full of displays of the kinds of things that get judged at the county fair. Quilts, decorated cakes, jellies, canned tomatoes, photos, paintings, and much much more. The entries were divided by age--adults' over here and children's over there. We sat close to the adults' food entries, so the signs said "ADULT JELLIES," "ADULT DRIED HERBS," "ADULT CANNED FRUIT" and so on.
After about three hours of chatting, not selling books, and staring at jars of food, Shirley suddenly turned to me and said, "What IS it with all this ADULT stuff?? I mean, ADULT DRIED HERBS. What IS that--marijuana??"
I told her the entries were divided by age, and the children's entries were in a different part of the building.
We laughed and laughed.
Shirley said, "My husband says I'm so naive."
I do love people who could intimidate me if they wanted to
After Shirley left we had a couple of hours with only three of us at the tables--me, Bill Sullivan the hiking expert, and Joe Blakely the historian.
|On the left: Shirley and Joe|
Somehow the three of us got to talking about Bigfoot.
I turned to Joe and said, "Did you ever see Bigfoot?"
And he said, just that quickly, "Well, I saw something. I was driving on a dirt road out toward Alsea, early in the morning, to go plant pine trees on some property I had, and something crossed the road in front of me about 40 yards away. It was not a bear. It strolled like a man, but with much bigger strides than a man. It was hairy, but not as hairy as that old picture that everyone's seen that turned out to be a hoax, and it was more erect. It didn't have clothes on. It wasn't a person and it wasn't a bear."
I stared at him.
He shrugged. All he knows is what he saw. He doesn't tell the story often because people will think he's a kook.
Well, I said, he's definitely not a kook.
There really wasn't any more to the story. He didn't stop and look around; he went on to his property and planted trees. The story is what it is. He wouldn't have told it if I hadn't asked.
This led to Bill telling a story about a conversation he had with a poet lady who came by to look at his books. I thought it was the sort of conversation that would happen only in Oregon.
Poet Lady: You've hiked 20,000 miles of trails in Oregon. Have you seen Bigfoot?
Bill: No, I haven't.
Poet Lady: Well, that makes sense. She doesn't reveal herself to just anyone.
After my long day of chatting but not selling books I went to buy gas and a lanky young man pumped it for me. "How has your evening gone so far?" he asked, like he wanted to know.
I decided to tell him about the disappointing sales at the fair. He was sympathetic.
There were other customers, and when he returned to finish up and give me my receipt, he said, "I just had an epiphany! You should have a dunk tank! It was such a hot day, so people would be glad to pay to try to dunk you, and you could have them pay for that, and then give out your books as prizes!"
How often do you hear a gas station attendant use the word "epiphany"??
I told him he is overqualified for his job.
Yeah, well, but he needs a job and he's hoping to get into the U of O's CAD program this fall.
I wished him well and said I'm sure he'll go far.