DENVER, SAN FRANCISCO, SEATTLE: October 3-7

DENVER, SAN FRANCISCO, SEATTLE: October 3-7

The Pictures: Two details from splendid Brown Palace Hotel, Denver; at the Tattered Cover: Lisa Casper, Charles Stillwagon, escort Lisa Maxson; signing books for North California Indie Booksellers at San Francisco Presidio, with Random rep Lis Willner and Hut Landon of NCIBA; recycling baskets at KPFA; Richard Wolinsky of Cover to Cover; Orville Stoeber Mole Day Hymn practice in Hotel Vitale room; onstage practice at Herbst Theatre, Sydney Goldstein of City Arts and Lectures in background; Gail DiRe, Seattle escort; Rick Simon of Elliott Bay Bookstore at Town Hall; photographer Chase Jarvis taking my pic; Seattle Twitterpal StarrySkyz in self-designed T.

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I’m very behind on this blog, due to the rapidity and intensity of the tour—at present I’m on a train from Munich to Hamburg, the first “free” time I’ve had for a while, though I’ve just been doing an interview with Zurich by phone – but here goes.

We did not do full musical and dramatic events in any of Denver, San Francisco, or Seattle – not enough time and/or no one-the-spot points people willing to take it on — but these days were very busy anyway.

October 3: I staggered out to the Vancouver Airport and made a beeline for the Absolute Spa there, where, for $25, Jenny of the sharp elbows went over my back, by this time a wooden pretzel. Somewhat taller, I hobbled onto the plane for Denver, hobbling off at the other end quite a lot hungrier. Munching on a box of popcorn – the only obviously VeggieVows non-meat thing I could see – I headed for the Denver Palace Hotel, a living museum and Denver Landmark dating from 1892. The lobby is also a restful, palm-befronded oasis where afternoon tea is served to the music of a harpist. There I was rescued by an egg salad sandwich and  – yes! – some Brown’s own-brand organic coffee! Did not see any of the ghosts however.

October 4: Denver’s Tattered Cover is one of the best-known independent bookstores in the western United States, and has long been a favourite of authors. Escort Lisa Maxson is an old pal – she’s been working the Denver beat for years, and helped with the entire event. Instead of a singing group, I had the Gardener CD, from which I played several of the hymns, then did bits of all of the voices. Despite the football game and the Run for the Cure going on at the same time, we had a full house and a fine time.

October 5: Off to the airport, where much to everyone’s surprise the plane got changed and 70 people were bumped off the flight. Luckily I’d checked in early. In SF, escort Martha Cullmore scooped me up from the airport and after a bite and a brisk conversation about the future shape of book publishing we headed out to the Presidio –on a peninsula overlooking the bay, once a military base, now used by various orgs and corps for their offices. There I signed the mythical Mountain O’Books with the aid of Lisa Willner (Random rep) and Hut Landon of the Northern California Independent Booksellers.

Then to the Hotel Vitale (http://www.hotelvitale.com),  a gem right near the harbour market. The Vitale was selected for its greenness; the coffee? “Equator” (http://www.equatorcoffees.com.) Awaiting me was a lovely bouquet of white roses from publisher Nan A. Talese, of Doubleday. Phoebe Larmore and singer/composer Orville Stoeber were already at the Vitale, and we had a quiet dinner, a strategy meeting about the Los Angeles event, and a moonlit stroll by the harbour.

October 6: The day began with old friend Michael Krasny’s live radio show, Forum, at KQED/FM. Unaccountably I didn’t take a picture of him, perhaps because Ron Mann’s docufilm team was filming the whole show, but you can find us on (http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R910061000.)  Then it was off to KPFA/FM to see another old friend, Richard Wolinsky, for Cover to Cover (www.kpfa.org/archive/show/326) and then back to the KQED studios to tape a show with new acquaintance Rick Kleffel for The Agony Column at (http://www. Bookotron.com/agony.)  Martha and I grabbed a lunch bite at the Market, and then Orville and I rehearsed the Mole Day Hymn. (It’s a children’s hymn, so one of the few I can actually sing.)

Sydney Goldstein of City Arts and Lectures picked us up for a sound check at the Herbst, Theatre, and after a quick snack we did the event – a two-hander with Orville singing some of the Hymns, me reading, a Mole Day duet, and a Q&A, followed by another backbreaking booksigning, with Book Passage selling the books.

October 7: Seattle. Escort Gail DiRe – another old friend – collected me at the airport and we headed off to Amazon to do a podcast – with Mari Peterson-Malcolm – and have a meet & greet with other members of the editorial team.. Then I attended a very interesting tea party with female executives of Seattle-area tech companies, hosted by Michelle Goldstein of Ignition Partners. Many were the subjects discussed! [For West Coast BookTech & etc.. see the Globe and Mail blog at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/atwood-on-tour.

Right after that, I was collected by very old friends Eleanor Bender Hamilton and her husband, anthropologist Gary Hamiltion. I’ve known Eleanor since she edited an important poetry magazine of the 70s, Open Places. We went off to Café Flora –one of the oldest veggie restaurants in Seattle – where we had a delicious collection of plants, gourds, seeds, roots, grains, and nuts. Then we all went to the Town Hall, where Rick Simon of the grand old Elliott Bay Bookstore was waiting, along with a happy Seattle houseful. I kicked off with some peppy Hymns from the CD, and all rolled forward.

At the very end of the evening, back at the Alexis Hotel, I met with Lisa Shannon, a remarkable young woman who had just raised four million dollars for Women for Women (http://womenforwomen.org//help-womencongo.php.) to help Congolese women and children battered by war and rape. We discussed the possibility of a liaison between this organization and BirdLife (http://www.birdlife.org.) as the Congo is also suffering from tree-and-animal poaching and habitat depletion. Yes, Virginia – everything is connected.

The Pictures: Two details from splendid Brown Palace Hotel, Denver; at the Tattered Cover: Lisa Casper, Charles Stillwagon, escort Lisa Maxson; signing books for North California Indie Booksellers at San Francisco Presidio, with Random rep Lis Willner and Hut Landon of NCIBA; recycling baskets at KPFA; Richard Wolinsky of Cover to Cover; Orville Stoeber Mole Day Hymn practice in Hotel Vitale room; onstage practice at Herbst Theatre, Sydney Goldstein of City Arts and Lectures in background; Gail DiRe, Seattle escort; Rick Simon of Elliott Bay Bookstore at Town Hall; photographer Chase Jarvis taking my pic; Seattle Twitterpal StarrySkyz in self-designed T.

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