Thursday, July 20, 2017

Panida Theater Homecoming for "Housekeeping" Author

Marianne Love, Luke Mayville, Christine Holbert, Marilynne Robinson and Nancy Gerth. 

"Housekeeping," of the literal sense, almost kept me from meeting Pulitzer Prize-Winning author and Sandpoint native Marilynne Robinson who has come back to her hometown to speak tonight (7 p.m.) at the Panida Theater about the importance of public education. 

Robinson, who published Housekeeping ( Pulitzer-Prize finalist) in 1980, won the Pen/Hemingway Award for best first novel.  Since then, the novel has received acclaim as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time. 

The author later won the Pulitzer Prize for her best-selling novel Gilead.  Other notable titles include bestsellers Lila and Home.  

In 2016, Dr. Robinson was named by Time Magazine as one of 100 of America's Most Influential People.

To get more insight into Dr. Robinson and why she has earned the status above, check out

And, there is much much more as evidenced by a simple google search. 

Tonight's Dr. Robinson's appearance serves as a formal launch for the grass roots movement called Reclaim Idaho, initiated by two other Sandpoint products:  Dr. Luke Mayville and Garrett Strizich.

Their initial goal:  to raise awareness statewide about the importance of public education, health care for working families and protection of public lands. 

Their ultimate goal: to campaign legislative candidates statewide in the 2018 election who support each of the three issues mentioned above. 

As one who has been working with these students on their ambitious and creative movement, I offered to take Dr. Robinson, Luke and some other organizers to dinner last night. 

So, in late afternoon, with a little spare time before changing and heading to town to meet the group, I decided to make quick run through the house with my Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Our Border Collie Liam, carrying his usual ball, saw me pick up the vacuum as he was headed outside.  Probably not a good idea, I thought ever so briefly.

Fifteen minutes later, after returning the vacuum to its usual spot in the garage, I began rounding up dogs.  

No Liam.

When I couldn't find him in his usual spots, panic set in as did the reminder of that moment when he saw the vacuum cleaner.  Liam had run off one other time last year after seeing me with the vacuum cleaner.  That day he headed over to Meserve's and eventually began herding Bert Wood's cows. 

Yesterday afternoon, however, he was not at Meserve's herding cows.  He was not in the woods.  He was not at any neighbors' homes.  

No matter how often I called his name for nearly an hour, even wishfully coaxing him to "bring the ball," Liam was nowhere to befound----until FINALLY, I saw the most beautiful black-and-white figure standing on the other side of the gate leading to the hay field. Liam was waiting for someone to come and open that gate. 

I also think Liam was just as relieved to see me as I was to see him.  He was covered with hay seeds, and I'm guessing while avoiding getting sucked up by that scary vacuum cleaner and racing to the hay field, he may have gotten disoriented in the tall grass.

Liam's eventual discovery meant dinner with a famous author after all.  And, what a night it was!

Good food at the Floater along with an abundance of food for thought flowed for three hours as discussion of politics, education, religion history, the plight of America was sprinkled with a fair amount of personal anecdotes and an ample serving of good humor.

Marilynne Robinson is a literary heroine to many, especially to Luke Mayville who boldly took on the notion a few months back that if he wrote her an email and explained his vision for Reclaim Idaho, maybe Marilynne Robinson would come on board.

She wrote back the next morning, telling Luke that "yes" she would come to Sandpoint from her home in New York and speak at the Panida about her passion for public education----and she'd do it on her nickel. 

So, last night it was fun to watch Luke leading much of the discussion in an effort to glean as much knowledge and insight as possible during this unique but quiet gathering.  We have learned in our research that Dr. Robinson prefers small groups because she loves conversation. 

From the moment I met her and observed that she was taller than I had imagined, I found myself feeling very comfortable with this lady who has accomplished so much at such a high level during her life while never forgetting the importance of humanity.  

She's brilliant (pretty much every word she spoke was profound and worldly) yet down-to-earth and very approachable. 

It was truly an honor and an exciting few hours of my life to be in the company of an educator, thinker, researcher and writer of such renown.  

And, to compare notes about being born at the same hospital overlooking Sand Creek and hearing our mother's tales about how long they had to stay at the hospital after giving birth in those days---definitely a connector. 

I will treasure my experience from last night and am looking forward to this evening when Dr. Robinson speaks at the Panida.   She'll do a few questions and answers afterward. Then, Luke will wrap up the program with a call to action for attendees to consider volunteering either time or money to the Reclaim Idaho cause. 

It should be an inspirational evening.  Tickets for the event are $5.  They can be purchased on line at or at Baxter's, Eicharts, Eve's Leaves or at the door. 

Also, for more information about tonight's event, tune into KRFY-FM 88.5 at 8 a.m. PDT. You'll hear from Dr. Robinson and from Luke. 

See you at the Panida tonight. 

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