I'm back now from my blissful six and a half weeks away, first presiding over the annual conference of the Children's Literature Association in Columbia, SC, and then teaching my chapter book writing class for six weeks at Hollins University in Roanoke. I was a tad apprehensive about my homecoming, the return to real life after so long in the enchanted world of children's books, what one friend calls my "Betsy-Tacy bubble." But it turns out that home is pretty sweet, too.
Nowadays, with daughter-in-law Ashley in residence, I return to a sparkling kitchen, well-stocked fridge, and elegantly lettered message on the dry-erase board saying WELCOME HOME, CLAUDIA! Now, with grandbaby Kataleya in residence, I return to this:
I've already been back to church for a wonderful guest sermon by the chaplain of the campus Wesley Center and exhilarating music from a world-class trumpeter who plays in the summer Colorado Music Festival orchestra and uses our church as practice space. I've attended my writing group and toasted one member's just-signed screenplay contract. I've laughed and prayed with our church's summer women's book group: we're loving Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith by Michelle DeRusha. I've taken little dog Tank on daily walks; he writhes with rapture at the sight of me approaching leash in hand, or even at the sight of me with hat and sunglasses on. I've eaten cherries by the pool with my friend Rowan and celebrated her birthday at a delicious breakfast outside on the terrace at the Buff (where I also enjoyed one of their 99-cent mimosas). I sent last comments to my Hollins students, faced the copy-edited manuscript for my Ethics and Children's Literature collection, wrote a blind journal review for an article on The Hundred Dresses, and started on final revisions for the Simon spelling bee book.
I even dealt with a leaking upstairs bathroom shower drain and a ruined downstairs bathroom ceiling, with two visits from a plumber to deal with the former and two from a carpenter to deal with the latter.
It's a little more than two weeks now to my 60th birthday, when the curtain will go up on Act III. I've been calling this summer "intermission," but now I'm starting to hear the distant strains of the pit orchestra tuning up for the overture. And I like what I'm hearing.