Friday, June 30, 2017

Guest Post - Judy Alter Author of "The Color of Fear"

The day my library flooded
It was a book lover’s worst nightmare. In the spring of 2016, one of Texas’ spring storms hit in the night with hail and rain driven sideways, hard as nails, against the house. My nine-year-old grandson and I watched it, counting our blessings that no windows shattered. Eventually, the storm moved on, and we went back to bed. Next morning when I woke up I went into the kitchen and smelled—wet. I can’t explain how I knew—it wasn’t mildew or anything, it was simply a wet smell.
I was dramatically downsizing my library from the eight overcrowded bookcases spread throughout the house. I was also having a new roof put on the house. The roofers had finished all but the flat roof over the add-on family room, and they’d protected it with a huge tarp. My daughter had spread my large overstock of juvenile and young-adult books on the couch in the living room. We intended to have a special sale for moms at the elementary school across the street, where my grandson attended school and his mom knew lots of other moms. We were ripe for a disaster.
The wet smell unnerved me, and I waited until Jacob got up and then sent him into the family room as a willing scout. He ended up ankle deep in water. Everything was soaked—books, new long L-shaped couch, table, and chairs. The new supersize built-in TV dripped water, and the floor was awash.
Daughter Jordan organized a work crew before I could even begin to think clearly. The contractor remodeling my garage into a cottage for me and the owner of the roofing company were on their hands and knees, mopping up water. A neighbor was sweeping water into a bucket. Jordan established a line of runners who carried dripping books to the front porch where she sorted damaged from ruined. There were none untouched.
I am forever grateful to all those who helped for hours that day. I was awaiting surgery on a severely disintegrated and painful hip and could do little but wring my hands and say thank you. I hope to this day they know how grateful I was and am.
Fortunately, most of the books I wanted to keep as I downsized were already boxed and stacked in another room. Many more had gone to libraries, Goodwill, and the like. The children’s books were a loss because I would have preferred to put them in the hands of children, rather than destroy them. Insurance did compensate me to some degree for lost revenue.
The real tragedy was my entire cookbook collection, which had been on the chest-high top shelf of one bookcase. I lost practical books that had belonged to my mom and I still used, and I lost coffee table books, like one from the Four Seasons that I had treasured for years and Terry Thompson Anderson’s Texas on a Plate, a new acquisition that I loved for its layout and design as well as its recipes. I lost the odd occasional one—a Santa Fe cookbook, one devoted to pasta (I can’t even remember the title), the I Hate to Cook Cookbook, several from various junior leagues, and so on. A particular loss: my mom’s battered Good Housekeeping Cookbook, so old and used that the index had fallen off, and my vintage Joy of Cooking.

It could have been worse—injuries, fire, lasting damage to the house. But to see all those books, pages wrinkled and twisted, covers bent beyond saving, broke my heart. I’ll never forget that day.

An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of several fictional biographies of women of the American West. In The Gilded Cage, she has turned her attention to the late nineteenth century in her hometown, Chicago, to tell the story of the lives of Potter and Cissy Palmer, a high society couple with differing views on philanthropy and workers’ right. She is also the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series. With the 2014 publication of The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries.

Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the WWA Hall of Fame.

Skype: juju1938

Buy link for Murder at Peacock Mansion:

Buy link for The Gilded Cage

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