In The Writer's World

The State of the State

It was a busy month for being Out There instead of In Here. I gave three presentations to various groups on “Setting as a Character”, wrote eight play reviews, discovered a new-to-me author I very much enjoy, and attended two dear friends from far-flung places.

A day at Alter Ego Cider with Cristina Gonzalez, Renie Steves, Angie Watkins, and Anne Hubatch.

Renie Steves is a food and wine writer I met many years ago on a press trip to Italy. She’s from Fort Worth, Texas, and our backgrounds are about as different as they could be. We became friends back then, and have grown closer over the years. Renie wanted to learn about the Portland cider craze this visit. We enjoyed a tour and tasting at the wonderful Alter Ego Cider  with its co-owner Anne Hubatch. Anne also is founder of Helioterra Wines. Both are under the same roof in SE Portland.

Hubatch, who nearly went to culinary school, got into cider because “I love food and flavors.” At her cidery, she pours two core ciders–the Brut and the Guardian Angel–two seasonal ciders, and two limited edition. Her cider is a proprietary mix of culinary and heirloom apples pressed at a processing facility in Hood River, Oregon, then trucked to Portland to be processed into hard cider.

After an incredible lunch at Afuri, Renie and I drove out to visit my daughter, Wynne Peterson-Nedry, at Carlton Winemakers Studio where she is winemaker for two ultra-premium wineries–her family brand RR Wines, and 00 Wines.

A cider flight at Alter Ego.

A couple days later, Toni Morgan came to town to promote her four published novels at a signing event at the University Club. I met Toni in a writer’s critique group several years ago. She moved to Idaho a few years back, but we manage to see each other at least yearly. Her book Queenie’s Place focuses on a young southern California woman who moves to the Jim Crow South when her Marine officer husband, recently returned from Vietnam, is stationed there. Life on Officer’s Row is not kind to Doreen, but when she and her son Billy get a flat tire out in the country, she finds true friendship with Queenie, an older African American woman.

Toni Morgan, right, at the University Club with books and her sister, Jo.

Toni’s Echos trilogy, set during and after World War II, is a set of historical novels dealing with Japanese and Japanese American families and their ordeals both in Japan and the U.S. Not-to-be-missed reading for history buffs!

Book Doings

Book promotion has kept me more than busy for the past month-plus. The most recent event was a house party hosted by great friends Joann Herrigel, Molly Holsapple, and Lynn Greenwood. Their guests were wonderful fun, smart, and full of good questions. This is the fun part of book promotion, and my talk was well-received. Thanks, friends. If any of you readers would like to schedule a light entertainment with a book talk, reading, and literary fun, just let me know. I can be there for you in your home…or wherever suits you.

A tribute to Fierce Women

Portland icon and Columbia Sportswear head, Gert Boyle, died early this month. Her story is one of legend. When her husband dropped dead of a heart attack, leaving her with three kids and a recently indebted small sportswear firm, Gert grabbed her son Tim, at the time in college, rescued Columbia from the ashes, and turned it into a company worth billions that is marketed worldwide. Gert was CEO for the company for decades, well past what most of us consider retirement age.

When Gert was 87, some young fools tried to kidnap her from her garage when she came home one night. She outsmarted them and survived, thank you very much, with a few scrapes and bruises.

While her tale is iconic, it is not unique. We all know many women who have been handed lemons and made powerful lemonade.

When I was younger than I ever remember being, I spent most of a month in New York City in the offices of Mademoiselle Magazine as one of 20 guest editors.

One day Clay Felker, editor of  New York Magazine, came into the offices to speak to us innocents about the New Journalism movement which was taking the world by storm. With him was Gloria Steinem, another editor at NYM. I didn’t know who she was, and I didn’t learn much about her that day because mostly Felker talked about Gloria’s legs. He mentioned them several times. I was struck at the time by how uncomfortable that made me feel. How diminishing. And yet, how expected for any of us who had ever held a job. A year later, Gloria broke from New York Magazine to found Ms. Magazine–a significant contribution to the media world then and now! Fierce women are everywhere. We run into them daily and it gives me hope. There has been progress.

Female superheroes are everywhere. Who watched the Women’s World Cup soccer matches? One of the most watched sporting events in television history. Fifty years ago, women were not playing soccer. And we were putting up with harassment on a daily basis. It’s better now. It’s still not good enough, but it’s better.

And so, dear friends, the holiday season is upon us. Celebrate and be well.



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