The past few days have been wonderful – except for my new computer dying on me, but more about that later.
We met Steffan, Di’s husband, who is very charming and funny, and then Alex arrived home followed by Matthew and Kieren. They are all adorable; Alex is quiet and artistic, Matthew is the family comic; Kieren is very charming and smart – they are all very smart – just like their parents. They got straight on with their homework and piano practice – and I even bumbled through a couple of pieces with them. Then we went out into the yard and there were squirrels! I love them – they are so fast and cute.
Dianne had worked her powers all over Greenwood and arranged for me to visit five of the local schools over the next three days. On Wednesday morning after a traditional southern breakfast of Grits with egg, sausage and cheese – this was my first ever try of Grits and, I would go there again. It’s not at all what I expected – I thought it would be crunchy but it’s more like a smooth cereal. I gather it would be pretty tasteless though without the eggs and sausage.
That afternoon we took Kieren and Matthew to swimming and Alex to gymnastics and then Di and I hit the supermarkets again. Again I was gob-smacked by the bargains. The town has and Aldi and a Bi Lo as well as some other supermarkets I don’t recall the names of, in addition to Wal Mart. There are also just about every chain restaurant you could ever imagine. That appears to be very common across the USA.
Woodfields is a beautiful school – the design is fantastic with five wings fanning out from a central atrium. The principal Mrs Metts and the librarian Miss Steffke were so welcoming.
I also loved the children’s names. There are lots of doubles – Anna May, Emma Grace and then some more unusual ones where the second name is the mother’s maiden name. I love that, except in my case I’d have been Jacqueline Jones – not so great. There are so many southern belles!
Pulled pork is delicious and I will have to find out how to make it. We also sampled some lollies or candy that we had never tasted before. We had been given a big box of Saltwater Taffy which we opened after dinner. They reminded me of a lolly we have back at home called a red skin – only softer and better.
I talked to a huge group of grade 3-5 students in the cafeteria. The kids were fabulous – answering and asking questions and listening so well. We had a role play out the front and Alex played Alice-Miranda this time. The boy who played Jacinta was scary!
There were several students who made a big impression on me. A girl called Julia who said that she wanted to be a writer. She asked me what I did when people put me down and told me that I couldn’t do it -meaning being a writer. I told her that people usually did that when they were jealous that you were pursuing your goal, and the best way to get over it, is work hard and achieve your goal. No one can tell you that you can’t but only you can decide if you really can.
I was standing saying goodbye to the children (leaning down) when several of the girls began touching my hair. One of them said, ‘how come your hair’s so soft?’ I was fascinated with the African American girls’ hair with their extraordinary braids – some of the girls said that it took their mothers all day to do it but they kept them in for a couple of weeks and slept with the beads and bubbles. I don’t know how they do it but I loved their hair.
When we arrived at McCaslan’s we met the lovely Anne who had helped organize the signing and orders for the schools. The store has been in the same location on Main Street for 91 years. There was already a queue (a line I should say) and I met lots of children and their me-maws (that’s grandmothers to us back home), mums and dads. It was great to have kids who I had met over the three days coming in to buy books and have them signed and I think Anne and her team were pleased with how it all went. We sold out of Alice-Miranda On Vacation and had only a few Alice-Miranda At Schools left.
While we were having dinner three little girls walked past and smiled at me. I had visited their school. A little while later they came up with their mother and asked if I could sign them some autographs. It was so cute – so we took some pictures as well. Then one of the Crackerbarrel waitresses asked if I could sign something for her grandchildren too. I happily obliged – after all, it has never happened in a restaurant before at home!!