At 5:00 A.M. on Friday, October 1, 2010, as I back the car out of the garage to begin the drive to the MEMO Conference at the Civic Center in St. Cloud, Nancy comments, "It sure is dark out there now, but I think it's going to be a great day."
Although I'm hoping her optimism comes true, I say nothing, which is unusual for me, but my thoughts take me back to April when I received the Email invitation to attend the MEMO conference. When the email explained that MEMO meant Minnesota Educational Media Organization, I immediately emailed back a positive response. Why wouldn't I want to be at a convention attended by hundreds of media specialists from the great state of Minnesota? These are very busy professionals who manage the libraries and media centers of our schools and schedule events that bring in authors and other artists. I knew it was a lucky break for me.
As the car accelerates into the darkness, I have some doubts, but the journey is smooth and we arrive at the Civic Center parking lot before 7:00 A.M. and a coin operated gate requires only four quarters to let us park all day. "Unbelievable low rates," I say to Nancy.
As we enter the Center we find that check in is less than 50 yards from our parking spot. "This never happens," Nancy says.
"I hope we haven't used up all our luck," I add, always ready to spot the cloud behind the silver lining.
The MEMO staff are cheerful and efficient. Joan, the lady on the right, gives us our badges and tells us that we have our choice of author tables.
All the tables offer great views of the River.
It's early so we stroll over to the MEMO display of books and we are pleased to see that MEMO has all five of our books for sale at their table along with books from many other authors who are at the convention today.
We eat a tasty hot breakfast and stay for the keynote speaker, Buffy Hamilton, who discusses how to meet the many new challenges facing the media specialists today. As she compares the work to a balancing act, her words ring true and take me back to my days of teaching.
After her speech, it's time for the author spotlight, where each author has a few minutes of stage time to highlight what he or she has to offer at a school visit. Wanda Erickson, an enthusiastic media specialists from Upsala, introduces our session.
After the spotlight, media specialists stop to chat with authors and schedule them to visit schools.
A couple schedule us immediately and others plan to send an email after checking with teachers.
Nancy and I enjoy talking to these professionals because they are interesting, hard- working people, who dedicate every day to providing the best leadership they can for their school programs.
However, it's especially fun, when we meet people we know from the present and the past.
Cousins Nick and Joyce Cervenka give us a surprise visit, and I am especially happy when they ask me to autograph my newest book, A Farm Country Thanksgiving, for them. After they leave, I remember that we should've taken a photo with them.
When a former student, Sandi (Kasper) Ferris, stops by and we both recognize each other immediately, we take out the the cameras without hesitation.
I notice her smile and personality are even more winning than they were when I was her high school English teacher. She is now a Media Specialist at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School.
Another former student, Nancy (Girard) Eull stops by to say hello. We both readily recognize each other.
Holly Thompson introduced herself as the daughter of Donny and Julie Speiker. Donny and I grew up in the same farm neighborhood, and although he was a few years younger than I, we shared some of the same farm experiences, like chores and threshing. It was great talking to Holly, who now works at the Osseo School District.
Seventeen authors are at the event, each with special talents to offer schools they visit. I feel really lucky to be part of a group of such diverse and wonderful authors.
Note that I am not the only author in costume.
Here I chat with David Geister and his wife Patricia Bauer, who are each authors on their own but take great joy in working as costumed interpreters at Ft. Snelling.
We stay for supper, which is at 6:00 P.M., and share a table with several fun people, including Tami Tagtow, a media specialist at Atwater.
Tami agrees to take a parting photo of Nancy and me before we start on the trip home.
Our smiles are genuine because we had a great time at the conference. We sold books and met new friends, old friends, relatives, and neighbors. We met many wonderful media specialists, many of whom I am sure will become our friends.
And the authors I met were wonderfully talented and unique. Nancy and I wish them all the very best.