A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I starred in a play. A musical called “South Pacific.” Perhaps you’ve tried to Wash That Man Right Out Of Your Hair while having Some Enchanted Evening falling In Love With a Wonderful Guy on Bali H’ai?


Playing those songs on the piano is NOT the same thing as singing them across a crowded room. I almost wanted to crawl on top of the piano and recreate my entire dance number from Honey Bun in the Beaufort Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, because THAT would’ve been less persecution of people’s ears.

Seriously. They might’ve thrown me out for indecent dancing, but it wouldn’t have been like fingernails on a chalkboard. I don’t think………

I pounded through four or five songs and wandered over to the handbell choir. As backstory, I last played handbells 20 years ago. I never played bass bells, only treble. Mostly two-and-three-in-a-hand at the very top of the table.


I rang my way through four songs with my bass E and F bells. I blame my mistakes on their weight, because DANG they were heavy. I rang A LOT of duds.

But I had fun. I forgot what it feels like to lose myself in notes and rhythm and sound. It’s ordered and chaotic and glorious, stuff that doesn’t come back fast enough. Yet, it’s still a rush.

Maybe I like public speaking because I enjoy performing. I miss it in all its iterations.

Lucky me. I have another appearance today. Hilton Head Island, I promise not to sing, play piano, or torture you with handbells. But I’ll weave a good story, if you let me.


Today’s picture is from my appearance at Bluffton Rotary Club, a group that donates one book a week to area schools as part of its Rotary Literacy Program. I’m proud to be a Rotarian. We support the power of reading for children and adults around the world. At my Rotary appearances, $2 of every book sale goes to support Rotary Literacy Programs worldwide. To find out more, check out Rotary.org’s educational programs here: https://www.rotary.org/en/areas-focus

I feel like I’m back on the Natchez Trace. Except my feet aren’t bleeding. And I’m not about to kill Dad.

For the next week, I’m doing a marathon series of book appearances. Lowcountry South Carolina. Boston area Massachusetts. Eleven appearances in seven days.

And I got my period early. Yay me.

Last night, Cindy and Ed Duryea fed me frogmore stew and gave me a bed in their lovely Beaufort, South Carolina home. If Cindy’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she drove all the way from Beaufort to greet me at the finish line of my walk of the Natchez Trace.

She meant for her appearance to be a surprise.

I got a text from her that morning.

Cindy: What time are you finishing today?

Me: Why? Are you coming to Nashville?

Cindy: No!!! Of course not.

Me: Okay……well…….I’m finishing at 2.

An hour later…….Cindy’s daughter Katy texts me FROM CINDY’S PHONE. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that Katy lives in Nashville.

Katy: Andra. It’s Katy. From Mom’s phone. Can you speak at my Nashville Rotary club in the morning?

Me: Does that mean I’m gonna see you in an hour?

Katy: ……………..

Cindy and Katy play prominently in the ending of Not Without My Father. I’m grateful to Cindy and Ed for letting me crash at their house for two nights, though you may read a Thursday post about my playing piano in public for the first time in more than a decade and my first foray in a handbell choir in two decades.

I try to be spontaneous. Really. I try.

Please think of me as I charge through new experiences today.