Dear Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Clubs and book lovers everywhere!
Yesterday I was a fireman, putting out fires left and right as I worked out the final details for my annual book club convention. But perhaps, in reflection, it is better to know when to learn and pass the hose to the one person more capable as I did to my sidekick Tiajuana Neal, the best shotgun in the world. What was taking me all day to keep the fires at bay, Tiajuana handled it seemed in a matter of seconds. Which brings me to the reflection of that day as I drink my think as syrup black, black coffee to get my Energizer Bunny batteries going to face another day. All calm this morning, wow, thanks, Tiajuana, you have brought calm to the firestorm, hahhahaaha! I am forever grateful for your incredible support.
As usual in reflection, everything I do goes back to nature and my childhood. I could not think of anything but how as a kid I used to ride in my grandfather’s old green pickup with him as did his farm chores, fed the cattle, then headed out to check on the Ladd oil leases this morning. I would ride in his pickup listening to Little Donnie Doodad on KFDI radio out of Wichita, Kansas as he whistled and I sang to the country tunes of Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, all the original country singers of his day. As he checked the pumping units we would stop for lunch at a pond to fish. My grandfather’s name was Earl Harrison Maloney but everybody I ever knew called him Dyke including my mother and us kids. Dyke would build a little fire, open a can of Pork & Beans, set in the hot coals, put some hot dogs on a stick he sharpened with his every ready pocket knife and our dinner would soon be on its way. As he baited our hooks with worms he dug up and put in a tin can from the compost pile, I would roast the dogs and get them ready in the buns. As we feasted on this daily ritual we would fish, not usually be catching much, but he would tell me stories. Dyke did not talk much but when he did I listened. They were great stories of him and his brothers and their shenanigans. He had one brother who could ride a motorcycle in circles in a barrel. He was killed in World War II. Most of the stories had tragic endings but I hung on to them for dear life.
Earl Harrison “Dyke” Maloney
One day he picked up this flat rock and he said, “Katsoup,” that’s what my grandparents called me as I mispronounced ketchup, “Katsup, watch this,” as he flung his arm back and I watched. When the rock hit the water on the pond it skipped like eight or nine times. I spent the rest of our lunch hour as he packed up trying to skip that stone until finally, I got a two skipper. I was hooked. I was absolutely enthralled with skipping stones.
Life is kind of that way. Some days we cannot skip a stone if our life depended on it then that day comes when the rock skips entirely across the pond. I can still see those ripples and reflections. Yesterday was a no skipper but today, the possibility to skip that stone across the pond is there. The adrenaline and anticipation begin for my annual book club convention which I seriously work on all year to get it just right. Sometimes I do and sometimes we have no skippers, but as always I have the most excellent adventure of my life as I did with the days riding in the pickup with Dyke.
I do not think Dyke would know what to think of Girlfriend Weekend. He was a true Kansas cowboy who rode his horse almost right up until the very end. Last time I visited him before he died, he hardly recognized me as I all was grown with a baby in one arm, now she’s 23, and a toddler at my side, now 27. But when he made the connection, “Katsoup”, he cried. I was back in the pickup riding with Dyke. I’ll never forget those days because you see, it’s all about sharing the stories. That is what we do at Girlfriend Weekend. We listen to the authors tell their stories and then we create our own stories with the experiences of that adventure. Authors, girlfriends, and yes, some brave reading guys travel from all over the country to share our love of authors, books, literacy, and reading. We are book nerds, but we wear the crown because we know deep in our hearts that it is the “beauty within” that makes someone truly a winner. We walk the walk and wear our Tiaras proudly because it does not matter what people say about us, we just make reading our top priority and have some big-time fun with it. Dyke always taught me to work hard but he always made that work fun, like fishing at the pond and skipping stones AND telling stories.
So if you are ready to get back to what is truly important in life, the sharing of our stories and the community of actually communicating in person with each other, please come to Girlfriend Weekend! It’s our book-loving family reunion and we have some pretty incredible storytellers coming. My co-host is Jamie Ford and that is worth coming for itself as a master storyteller that always makes me feel as if I am the most important person in the world. Then we have Alice Hoffman, Lisa Wingate, Daren Wang, M.J.Rose and Randy Susan Meyers. All have such different stories but again, ones that will enlighten, entertain, and change the way you look at the world. Plus dozens of other authors, perhaps you do not know, but you will know them soon as they become the best friends of your life. That is what these authors are to me and many, many of the Queens, our best friends for life. It is all about the story and the ripple in the pond is growing. We now have close to 750 Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy chapters worldwide. So when I think of Dyke teaching me to throw that flat stone, I think of the results that lesson and story gave to me, the world. That lesson and story gave me the world.
Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend begins a week from this Thursday. You can get day passes, night time tickets, and full packages at www.thepulpwoodqueens.com. I do this weekend for my love of the story and for all of you. It is not easy to pull off and it does have a cost, but the price you pay is nothing compared to the experience of hearing nearly 50 authors tell their stories. Yes, that is right and you get to hear them all not like one or two at most festivals I attend. We are all in the same room and it is very intimate and life-changing. I cry at the end of every Girlfriend Weekend as I do not want it to ever end, Girlfriend Weekend is heaven to me.
So I am giving you the flat rock and I am showing you how it is done. It now is up to you to create your own ripple in the pond for literacy. Who is with me?
My grandparents, Helen and Earl Harrison “Dyke” Maloney and my Aunt Teenie and mother, Mary at their place we called “Outhome”.
Truly, Tiara Wearing and Book Sharing,
Kathy L. Murphy
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