Group photo

Hi everyone,

My thanks to everyone who came to my fourth virtual blog party. Many of you traveled long distances so your efforts were especially appreciated. I thought you all might like a souvenir group photo, so here it is. Lots of smiling faces! If I left anyone out, or you were standing behind someone, I apologize.

I realized later that I had posed you in a really tough place so thanks for being patient with me, especially those who had to sit on the retaining wall, kneel between the fountain and tables, and even grin from the pool. You were all good sports.

Let’s party hearty!

Hi everyone,

It’s party time! I welcome you today to my fourth blog party. Come one come all. Bring something if you want, or not. Virtual parties are known for the ease of cleaning up afterward and one cupcake may well last all day and please the palates of dozens of guests.

Cool off in the pool if you brought a suit. For men with a 38 waist, I have a couple of spares. For women, Sandy might come up with one for you. I keep pool heated to 90 degrees, which is handy because when we’re not swimming we throw in a bag of potatoes and serve soup to the neighborhood. The water is only four feet deep and we have a stock of new noodles to help you bob around.

The grill is clean (by my standards more than those of my M.O.W.’s) so help yourself to it if you want to throw on burgers or brats.

You’ll find tables here and there. My two favorites are the ones closest to Goose Lake but there is one by the pool, one close to the kitchen door, and another at the far end of the patio for those who just want to enjoy the view and be left alone.

We have twenty outdoor chairs around tables and others that can be arranged to suit you needs.
I think all the plants are watered but if you’re given to puttering around in gardens, you’ll find a watering can wherever Sandy left it last. (No, my darling, I didn’t mean anything by that last “crack.” You’re just being overly sensitive. Yes, of course I apologize, Sweetheart.)

Sadly, my fallen tree is sprawling across part of the yard and down into the lake. We have someone coming to remove it next week. At some point I may offer a toast to the fallen beauty.

If you brought something in need of refrigeration, I’ve left the kitchen door open so help yourself. The counters are pretty much clear and the cutting boards are next to the coffee pot. No, the other coffee pot. The one that works. One of these days I plan to take the broken one to the garage, but it’s a long walk of twelve feet or maybe more and I’ve been busy these last two years.

So welcome! I am delighted to greet you, whether you’re a newbie to my parties or a veteran. The idea behind these events is to encourage folks to become acquainted and enjoy a chance to visit. If you spot someone you’ve been wanting to meet, march right up and introduce yourself. If you have questions to ask, ask away.

I never know how long these parties will last. One went on for three days. Please come and go as your time permits. My suggestion is that if you are returning to the party, you might want to make an announcement so everyone will know you’re back. Otherwise it’s easy to be overlooked in the crowd. And don’t forget to thank Joy Acey and Matt Forrest for dreaming up this party in the first place. Joy lives a lot of time zones away these days so you may have to shout to wake her up.

Teacher Appreciation

Hi everyone,

Tonight in Springfield is the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet. I don’t know what the attendance will be but it’s generally in the 850-1,000 range. It was my idea, twenty-three years ago, to have a banquet each year to remind teachers how much they are appreciated, provide the community with an opportunity to meet and celebrate their teachers, and demonstrate to students that teachers are highly respected. I helped run the banquet for the first seven years. Nancy Graff, her staff, and I formed the core team and we reached out to as many others as we needed. I haven’t played a role for a long time but I almost never miss the event. I even have a special tie that I only wear once a year to the Teachers Appreciation Banquet.

Each year at the banquet a teacher of the year is announced from among five finalists. For many years I used to sit on the committee that interviewed all nominees and selected the five finalists. Tonight one of the five finalists for Teacher of the Year teaches at David Harrison Elementary School so I have an extra incentive to be there! Way to go, Kevin Zimmerman!

No complaints

Hi everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week. I didn’t get as much written as I’d thought I would but it was still a productive five days and I think I can wind up the long story by the end of next week. That would give me a head start on the new project I mentioned. Plus I got the blue ribbon and received all those clever poems and good wishes. My thanks to all for that! Sandy worked it out so she could get away to Chicago so it’s on for the award ceremony. I’m very grateful to her for that. I’m finally going to be there for one of these things.

Mike O’Brien’s induction into Writers Hall of Fame

Hi everyone,

This coming Saturday evening (April 8), Missouri Writers Hall of Fame is inducting longtime Springfield News-Leader journalist and professor of journalism Mike O’Brien. The induction event will take place at Highland Springs Country Club, Springfield, Missouri. Silent auction and cocktails, 6:00 – 7:00; dinner and ceremony to follow. Net proceeds go into the Student Scholarship Fund to benefit high school seniors enrolling in college to study writing.

To help raise money for the scholarship fund, I’ve donated three items.
• A feature on my blog. This will go to the high bidder who can use it personally or give it to someone else as a gift. Valued at $150.
• Three of my books – NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T; COWBOYS; and PIRATES. I’ll autograph the books at the banquet or mail them to an out-of-town high bidder. Valued at $55.85.
• Lunch with me. I’ll take the high bidder for this one to lunch and answer questions about writing. I’ll read up to three pages of the bidder’s work and do my best to critique and advise. Valued at $150.

If any of these opportunities interests you but you won’t be there in person, please e-mail your bid(s) to Kim Piddington ( ) or call her at (417) 581-7660 no later than this Friday, April 7, at 12:00 noon CST.

This is a silent auction so your name and bid will be printed on the bid sheet(s) before the guests arrive. The highest bids win and you won’t have another chance.

Thank you for any donation you might decide to give. There aren’t a lot of agencies that reach out to encourage and support young writers of the future. We’ve had some wonderful success stories but we always want more.