Yesterday I returned to Atlanta from part one of the book tour. The dogwoods are now in bloom.
It was so sweet to walk in the door after driving all day and have my dog Raney run crazily back and forth between Alan and me. Raney is so affable, so friendly with everyone, that I sometimes wonder if she likes me particularly. But seeing her happy dance of wiggles and wags, I am now convinced that the dog digs me.
Moses the cat jumped into my bubble bath last night. I guess he didn’t understand that bubbles=water. Or at least, bubbles lead to water. He was out of there in about .005 seconds, somehow managing to knock the towel I had perched on the side of the tub into the water on his way out.
The Virginia portion of the tour was great. In Roanoke I got to see three of my old profs from Hollins, the inimitable Richard Dillard, Cathy Hankla and Jeanne Larsen. Also at my reading (which was at B&N) were my old landlords who now have an orchard and chicken house in their side yard, my old neighbor Dianne who once lent me a Lee Smith novel, my fellow grad school colleague Doug who now travels all over VA community organizing (I told him not to take any crap from Giuliani), and two fantastic librarians, Laura and Ginger.
The reading was exciting, but even more exciting was the fact that Alan and I got to eat at Alexander’s in Roanoke. I heart Alexander’s!! It is this calm, soothing restaurant in downtown Roanoke with pastel walls, a tin ceiling, fantastic service and wonderful food. Bjorn and Kelly, our two favorite waiters from our time in Roanoke, were there that night and were so great! We had amazing food–french bread with shrimp etouffee and a cider glazed pork chop from a heritage breed in Charlottesville. Pork was served over hominy and butterbeans (I think they were butterbeans…) For dessert we got the glace chocolate, which is a sundae, but a damn good one. Vanilla bean ice cream, homemade rich chocolate sauce, seasoned pecans and a little whipped cream. Must wipe mouth. Am drooling.
We also went back to the Wildflour cafe in Roanoke. Wonderful place. Incredible wine prices, most bottles under 15 dollars. Great vegetarian selection. In an old storefront in old Southwest, light and airy with homemade cakes lined up in a glass display case, including my favorite, lemon with a lemon curd filling. (Southerners love their sweets!)
Then it was onward to Richmond where I read first at the beautiful Fountain Books and then read at a reception hosted by Bev Reynolds, owner of the fabulous Reynolds Gallery. I read at Bev’s gorgeous house, filled with beautiful, important art. What an amazing venue to read Bound South!! Then it was off to Charlottesville to be on a panel with Cary Holladay. In Charlottesville we stayed with friends Jack and Vic who live in an old train depot. 20 foot ceilings, practically a pasture in the backyard that Jack calls “Tuscany.” The trains running by every few hours keep things real. OH, also keeping things real is the cock (literal cock) who lives next door and starts his crowing every morning around 4:30 am.
Vic wrote my favorite NYT’s Modern Love column ever. Read it and see.
So. Lots of book events. Lots of re-visiting with old friends. Lots of food.
All good things, still, it’s nice to be home for two days.
Next up: Birmingham! And Highlands Bar & Grill…