New News

A Long Road

While cleaning up all the spam on my site, I forgot why I came here in the first place. But in coming back, I also realized I hadn’t heard from any of you in months and months. And then, in realizing this, I also remember why I’ve avoided posting these last few months and it probably relates to many of you.

In addition to holidays and all the other things that overwhelm our time, I stopped writing here because I didn’t like and couldn’t master the new format. Everytime I turn around, I’m confronted with new and different in the world of technology. Ergo, I’m still living with a 2010 cell phone. I know how it works.

However, that’s all old news and I’ve titled this piece New News, so here ’tis.

I have a publisher for my memoir!! – the same memoir I’ve been writing and revising and editing and revising for about five years. Over the past few months, I spent a lot of time researching and querying agents. No doubt, you have an idea of how that endeavor turned out. Several rejections, and most of the time no answer at all.

So. I began researching small publishers. For months and months and even sent proposals/synopses/ full chapters etc etc with about as much success as I had with agents.

And then, a sudden realization came. I’ve been working with a small publisher for years: Shanti Arts which along with publishing books, publishes a bi-yearly journal Still Point. Christine, the publisher, has published several of my essays over the years, most recently accepting an essay, To Everything a Season for the Still Point Journal coming out any day now, with the focus of elders.

So I queried her about the book manuscript with the required several documents, pdf of contents, etc etc, and a pdf of the entire manuscript. She replied to me in about four day. It’s such a cool reply, I have to reprint it here:

Janet, Thank you for your patience. I always get a bit behind during the last couple of weeks before the journal needs to be finished. But, I just sent it to the printer, so now it’s catch-up time. I proofed your piece “To Everything a Season” just a couple days ago, and I was thinking how much I love your style. It’s free and easy, the power of it sneaks up on you and that keeps moving you forward. Because I get so many submissions, one of my rules is that if, after reading the first couple of paragraphs, I’m not eager to continue, I stop. Not the case with your work. So, I’d be delighted to publish your book. It will be great fun to work with you on this, and I look forward to it. I’ll put a contract together and send that to you soon.  Thanks for sending this to me. Many thanks!

Wow! I immediately wrote back with capitalized and YES!!! And a profuse thank you.

At the moment the title is From Ocean to Desert: a journey to find me although she’s said she wants to change the subtitle to stronger words – which is fine. This manuscript has had so many titles over the years — The Reluctant Master was one — and I trust her judgment. The subtitle can be whatever she chooses – as can the title for that matter!

So. That’s my “new news.” I have a publisher for ‘da book!!

No doubt there will be more work involved and that’s fine. I’ve been working on it so long, what’s another few months.

But I wanted to spread the news and I knew you, who have been writing here and responding to my posts and have become friends if only on paper, would be happy for me.


Thank you all for being my writing friends and for coming with me on this new ride.

Since You Asked

A blogging friend, Brian, asked, Where are you? Haven’t seen a post in some time. Well, you’re right. You haven’t. In fact, I haven’t posted since my June birthday post.

I don’t know about your lives, but mine has been, again, pretty nuts. I’ve written about cleaning up the farm – did I write last fall (2018) about the noise of having our 1924 house completely rewired? If I didn’t, well, it was loud and costly and went on and on with banging and pounding and etc etc etc. There were, the electricians discovered, bare wires in the attic. Ergo, top to bottom rewiring.

But we finished, eventually, and managed to sort out the bills, which we are still paying on, but we have new wiring, new panel, and new outside wires with new weather-head.

This last part blends into this year’s chaos. Last winter, we had a huge snowstorm that dumped enough snow to bend over tree branches and pull out said weather-head along with chunks of stucco and the eaves.

While we have insurance on our house, it does not cover everything I learned. In fact, I learned so much about house insurance I should be an adjuster…NOT. I also learned a considerable amount about contractors: I’ll call you next week…NOT…we’ll be out next week…NOT.

This went on and on for weeks/months and I became crazier and crazier and my desk filled with pieces of paper on which contractors’ many names/phone numbers were written. My previous post about all my kids coming home for my birthday was my one bright spot in the year in which I put aside all calls and complaints and just played.

So here’s the good news: I’ve not found a publisher for my memoir but I have had three essays picked up for publication. I’ll post the info once they are published. If I remember correctly (and that’s always somewhat of an iffy proposition) I also posted a URL to some or one poem that was published.

And now it’s Christmas. I’ve baked between six and eight loaves of banana bread and sent them off to various children along with chocolate chip cookies, keeping track of which child liked nuts along with chocolate chips and which didn’t, although I had to be reminded. And last week was the finale task, Kruschiki for Cliff’s brother in time for his Dec. 21st birthday, the same Kruschiki their grandmother made by the box full. I made a small box full.

Essentially, it’s fried dough covered in powdered sugar. However, one has to first make the very sticky dough, knead and knead, let it rest, and then roll out the dough to about 11″x8″ and one twelfth of an inch. Yep. That thin. Then cut 1″x11″ strips, make a slit down the middle, loop both ends through the slit to make the bow tie shape, trim the ends, fry in hot Crisco (yes, Crisco – these are very healthy cookies…) drain on brown paper, transfer to clean brown paper and cover with powdered sugar. Probably the most healthy Christmas food you could have (and yes, I’m kidding).

Now, Brian, do you understand why I haven’t been posting much? hahahahahaha…

But now all the cookies/banana bread are mailed, presents wrapped and under the tree, (oh, yes, between or among all the above we decorated the house) and Mrs. Claus is ready for a long winter’s nap.

Solstice has come, the Sun stands still for a couple more days, and then begins it’s northward journey. So however you celebrate these holy-days/holidays, Happy Sun Return. I wish you all good times, gracious friends, and more food than any of us really need but it’s fun.

Once the New Year passes, we’ll all enter the next phase of holiday-making, the diet.


A Milestone Birthday, They Decided

Christian and Great-Grandma

Some months ago, younger son who lives in Florida said, “This is your 75th? That’s a milestone.” I agreed. It certainly was or is, as the case may be. I preferred not to think about it. Mostly, I didn’t know HOW to think about it. I mean, I’m still active, still working out, still writing, still being me. What made 75 seem like such a big deal? i.e. I preferred not to think about it once I’d done some math and realized 80 is only five years away and 85 and 90, etc etc. But since my life plan goes to 104, I decided this was only one more.

Not so, as it turned out, to my family. Especially my husband, who in concert with children and behind my back, decided otherwise.

First was a booze cruise around Weatherby Lake, north of Kansas City, on the Friday evening before my Tuesday birthday. Our friends, Venessa and Justin, have a house a couple of blocks from the lake and a pontoon boat. Cliff fixed about twenty crab cakes and off we went for an evening on the lake. Along with two thermos (what’s the plural of thermos? thermoses??) of gin and tonic. Not any gin, mind you, rather Hendricks Gin which is amazing if you’ve never tried it. And since it’s a pontoon boat, music and dancing on the forward deck. We had a blast. And drove home in the deep dead of night, around 1 :30 a.m.

On Tuesday, which was my rightful birthday, I was coming down the stairs in my nightgown when 6’4″ son who lives in Florida walked in the door! “Happy Birthday, Ma!” he said. And grinned. He fills a lot of space. Elder son who lives here in Kansas City is a little over 6′ but that extra 4″ fills a lot of space. So, on my birthday, two sons got busy fixing things. First it was a trip to Home Depot. I forget what all they came home with, but stuff, and began fixing. First it was the sink disposal unit that had become increasingly cantankerous. That took them awhile. While they were at it, they changed the under sink water filters. And tossed some stuff that needed tossing. I can’t remember what all they did on their fixing rampage. But stuff. Like old houses always need. Including a new ceiling fan and overhead light in the living room. Fortunately, older son once made his living as an electrician and is very careful around electricity. But whatever they did required several trips to Home Depot.

Two nights later, younger son left in the evening to go see a friend from when he lived here in KC, he said. Okay, I said. He came back about an hour later with grandson/granddaughter/great-grandson, who live in San Diego. I didn’t know they were coming either. We shuffled and moved things and set up beds in both offices and it was a very full house. The “boys” kept fixing things and I played with two-year-old great-grandson, Christian. He laughs a lot. And I baked cookies – about 6 dozen chocolate chip and ditto with oatmeal cookies, and went to the park and let Christian run and laughed and watched television and ate whatever it was my husband cooked each night.

Christian is a mix of three cultures: Korean, Filipino, Caucasian. When granddaughter, a year ago or so, said, “I can see the Korean and the Filipino, but I don’t see the White part,” I told her the White part is the crazy part. It appears I was correct. He and I did crazy together really well.

It was the most amazing birthday a Wife/Mom/Grandma/Great-Grandma could have. I soaked it in and was tired and sad when they left. The ceiling fan works great, by the way.


Books and the Writing Life

To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things. Pablo Neruda

Two experiences this week sent me to my fiction bookcase. One was a friend of many years and is recovering from a stroke who said, “Bring me something interesting to read.” The other was this quote from Neruda.

I have seven shelves of fiction, if you count the shelf of books in Spanish which I’ve owned and kept since I lived in Mexico. One of the books I read while learning Spanish was Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. It’s a verrrrry long book and took me months of reading with a Spanish/English dictionary at my side, but I was determined. And finished it after about a year. I can still read Platero y Yo, but it’s short and written for children. Not sure I can read Marquez anymore in the original, but I have several of his which are translated into English.

But I digress. As I often do. Looking for short and lovely books for my friend, who is 89, I chose Molly Fox’s Birthday, set in Ireland, and a book of New York essays by Paul Auster. Both books are short and both I’ve read more than once which my friend said was a good recommendation.

I can’t remember when books were NOT in my life. That, primarily, due to my mother, who was a reader and a writer, but her mother and father were readers and writers, so I guess reading books, and writing, falls into that family inheritance thing. Or gene pool.

As I’ve probably written previously, I’ve lived in this house longer than I have lived anywhere in my life. That fact has both a plus and minus side: on the plus side, I know where most everything is – my books and papers and years of pieces of writing are all here in my writing room and not stored in boxes somewhere; the minus thing has to do with so much stuff in one house. We have, in fact, seven bookcases in this room, two downstairs, and one in the small office. My life in words. To which, it seems, I am right now, adding more. Oh, yeah, all the writing that’s stored in various places in one or the other computer.

Words. A life in words.

So thank you for the affection you send me after each of these rambling posts; in Neruda’s words… to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful

Thank you to each of you who responded to my frustration over the new and improved WordPress writing space – I think I’ve figured it out as this rambling post — NOT in blocks–attests. You all are the best audience I’ve ever had and your kindness and affection keep me warm in the times when I fret over not publishing this memoir. I guess, all in all, this blog is the best memoir I could have.

Love and gratitude to you all. J.

Finding My Way….again

It seems that WordPress has succumbed to the new and different so constant in today’s world. Especially the world that relies on images rather than words. I don’t particularly want new and different, I simply want to write. But sometimes, new and different can challenge my thinking – and my mind – and sets me off to wandering somewhere until I’m lost. Ergo, an image of the Peter Principle.

I’d rather like to think I’m somewhere between the second and third level, but more likely between the third and fourth. However, I am doing my best to avoid the fourth.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 512px-peters_principle-svg.png

And therein lies the Peter Principle. I am rising to my level of incompetence. But not, hopefully, today; however, unfortunately very close

You see, after all the research and trying out new buttons (including the one which is supposed to return me to the “classic” WordPress which I can’t tell if it has) I have completely forgotten why I wanted to write a post in the first place or what the content is supposed to be.

Ergo, reaching perilously close to my particular Peter Principle. But then, I don’t know if any of us who are older than say 40 understand how to navigate this expanded world of technology. By relying on images and blocks of images, I’m wondering if we’re forgetting how to think or reason. “An image is worth a thousand words.” That saying has been around a long time. But I’m wondering if an image can make me think in a new way or just give me more words to wonder with.

As in, “Why in the world did …… take that photo?”

Really. That’s a valuable question, given the image.

Image vs Words: They say “an image is worth 1,000 words.” Especially in sales. I can understand that, but other than Goethe, who drew images in his wonderful book, Botanical Writings, most thinkers used words. I can’t think in pictures. I can dream in images, and I can even think in images, particularly when I’m looking for my glasses which have somehow eluded my understanding of where they are if they aren’t around my neck (which they usually are on a long strand of black cord, thankfully), but the only images I use when writing are the ones I describe. I guess what I do is trust my readers to see the image themselves.

So, here’s an image that pretty much contains my mind at the moment. And, quite frankly, even though I’m not trying to sell anything, it pretty well captures where my head is.