>One thing I do a lot of is readings in schools. I won’t go into my best and worst experiences (I’ve had plenty of both, though mostly good experiences…the bad ones stick out like sore thumbs), but one thing that often happens is the author is given a gift after the reading. I really appreciate this extra bit of gratitude (I appreciate the cheque, too, don’t get me wrong). The most popular three gifts are a school pin, a pen (with the school’s name on it) or a mug (with the school’s name on it). Having the name of the school is helpful, especially a year later when I stumble across the pen and go, “Oh, yeah, I was there…when was that?” Some of the other gifts I’ve received are two small, nicely framed paintings (both having something to do with the area I was in), a clay ball-like paperweight with butterflies on it (this was made by a student who was inspired by DUST), a beautiful wooden planter with three clay pots (I still haven’t managed to make anything grow in it, though), and an umbrella.
The umbrella was kind of a funny thing to give a kid from Saskatchewan. You rarely see umbrella’s here, partly because it rarely seems to rain. But it’s big and I tell ya, on the day it finally did rain, I went running around with my big umbrella feeling on top of the world (and dry).