My friend Josie and I drove out to Shelton Laurel yesterday to have lunch with longtime friends, Drew and Louise Langsner. Louise's sister and niece were visiting and I was looking forward to seeing them again. Both are authors and I've blogged here about them before this.
I met Ellen Graf and Eula Biss back in 1978 when John and I were attending a woodcarving class at Country Workshops, run by Drew and Louise.
Back in '78, Justin was about six months old and he attended the class in a Snugli on my back. Ellen was there too and Eula (not pictured below, alas) who was a little older than Justin, spent much of her time in a pack basket on Ellen's back.
Who knew that thirty some years later Eula would have an adorable year-old boy -- Juneau by name?Who knew that Ellen would have three more children and eventually a second marriage to a man she'd only just met -- in his native China?
Who knew that she'd go on to write about this marriage in the critically acclaimed The Natural Laws of Good Luck?
Who knew that the baby in the pack basket would become an noted essayist? Her first book -- The Balloonistsand her second, Notes from No Man's Land (which I blogged about last year,) have won praise from some pretty high-faluting literary types .
But here's the really neat thing, the REALLY AMAZINGLY COOL thing -- this book Notes just won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award!!!
This is a major, major award and it feels kinda neat to say I knew Eula when.
We had an amazing lunch of winter squash soup, garnished with hot Indian pickles, and a savory Chinese dish that Ellen prepared, made of pork, leeks, celery, garlic, and lots of ginger, which we ate rolled up in lettuce leaves. (And I made the panna cotta I was going on about a while back.)
What better way to spend a very beautiful day?