Letter From An Albany Hotel Room

Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you all well.

I am writing to you this evening from a Best Western hotel room on the outskirts of Albany, New York. My employer sent me here for a day of training, and another day of it tomorrow. Albany is 2-1/2 hours from my home. I do not like to be here. Fortunately, it is not something my job requires very often. In fact, this is the first time in seven years that I have had to stay in a hotel room for my work.

Coming to this heavily populated, thoroughly urbanized, area is a reminder to me of how loathsome such places are to me.

My room here is nice enough. It has a television that, believe it or not, I have not turned on, and will not turn on. When I checked in this afternoon, I saw a sign on the wall that said the hotel had complimentary wireless internet. That’s what I was hoping for. I have my laptop computer and I have something I don’t have at home…. FAST internet service. Awesome.

Looking in The Drawers
Whenever I stay in a hotel room, I check the drawers for a Gideon Bible. I’m glad to report that this room has one. The Gideons are a good organization. I have a black Gideon pocket bible that belonged to my great grandmother, Kate Towle. I remember her, but not well. The little Bible is worn. Inside the cover is a spot where it asks "When you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior?" There, in the shaky writing of an elderly person, my great grandmother wrote, "Many years ago."

A hotel chain my family once stayed at had The Book of Mormon in the drawer. That surprised me.

Years ago, when I was writing books and magazine articles for The Taunton Press, I made several trips to Newtown, CT. Sometimes I stayed in their guest house behind the main headquarters. Sometimes I stayed in a plain hotel down the road. The last time I was there, in 2000, they wanted me to write a book about kitchen remodeling. It was to be part of a new series of how-to books. They were putting a lot of money into it. It was a big deal. They invited several writers for the meeting. There was a guy from California, a guy from Alaska, a guy from down south. They put us up in a real nice hotel and fed us at real nice restaurants.

After getting to my especially fine hotel room I checked the drawer. There was no Bible. Instead, there were half a dozen pornographic magazines. I was shocked. Was this wickedness in the drawer of every room in the place? Or did they size me up at the counter and figure that I fit the profile of a person who would enjoy dirty magazines?

I let the place know what I thought of their warped sense of hospitality.

And, in the end, I turned the book deal down (not because of the rotten hotel room).

Deja Vous?
I think I have written the above before here at this blog. But maybe I only thought about it. Whatever the case, it’s a little unsettling to think that, maybe, I’ve come to the point that I’m re-blogging about things. Hmmmm… that may be a sign of old age (see previous post).

My Dream Job
I love to write. If I could make a living writing, that would be a dream come true. The fact that I can make even a part of my livelihood now by writing and self-publishing my own books, is actually something of a dream come true (and to be able to communicate with you via this blog is something so amazing that I couldn't have even dreamed I would be doing a few years ago).

I joke with Marlene that if one of my books ever does really well someday (100,000 copies would be nice), we will move to Vermont and buy an Inn, like Bob Newhart in that television show from years ago. You remember, the one with Larry, my brother Darrell, and my other brother Darrell. Bob Newhart was a how-to book writer in that show. Actually, though, I’d buy a farm.

In any event, I want to tell you about when I was asked to interview once for a couple of writing "dream jobs." First, the editor at "Fine Homebuilding" magazine asked me if I would be interested in interviewing for an editor position at that magazine. Then, a short while later, the editor of “Family Handyman” magazine (a Readers Digest publication) sent me a personal letter asking the same thing. I was flattered and amazed.

I had no formal training as a writer or journalist. I had never worked for a magazine (except to write some freelance articles). I was a total greenhorn… and they were interested in me. I thanked them, and turned them down.

Why would I do that? Because I had worked enough with magazine editors to know it can be very stressful and, in the instance of Fine Homebuilding magazine, the editors are always on the go, traveling away from home to meet with writers, take photographs, and attend shows. Sure, it’s exciting and appealing. But it did not appear to me to be a “family friendly” occupation. Besides, I would have had to move to Connecticut, near Newtown, which is an expensive and crowded place-- place much like the outskirts of Albany, NY where I find myself tonight.

No thanks.

Sweet Potato Fries
Have you ever had sweet potato fries? Tonight I went to a little restaurant near my hotel room and had them for the first time. They’re French fries made out of sweet potatoes. They were good.

I have friends who grow sweet potatoes here in upstate New York. The latest issue of Mother Earth news magazine has an article about growing sweet potatoes. This year I’m going to try it. I think I’m going to put in a 50 foot row. That ought to make a lot of fries.

Actually, though, I’ll be growing them for my family and as an experiment to see about the possibility of selling them. I’ll see how they grow and what kind of yield I can expect. I’ll see how much demand there is for them among the people I know. Many of our friends are health conscious eaters and sweet potatoes are especially good for you. My potatoes will be locally grown and Organich.

Do any of you northern sweet potato growers have any advice you can share with me on this subject?

Warm wishes from Albany, N.Y.,

Herrick Kimball

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