Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memories! What would we do without them?

With this weekend being Memorial Day, it is appropriate that we reflect on memories. I belong to a writers' group called Word Mage. My good friend Billie Williams is the head honcho. We recently gained a new member, who calls herself Pee Wee. Pee Wee lives in Florida with her husband Ralph in a 5th-wheeler. Pee Wee was talking about memories, and what life would be like without them.

As I reflected on that conversation, I wondered about people who have amnesia or Alzheimers and who have no memories. Would you miss not having them? With amnesia, at least you have the option of creating new memories.

I would like to share a couple of memories, both old and new, with you. Another friend, Barbara (Babs) Williamson-Wood and I were recently discussing the book she is working on. It is about a glass hummingbird. As she described the old woman in the story, a visual image of my Great-grandma Bowen popped into my head. As I told Babs about Grandma Bowen, she agreed that the two women sounded like one-in-the-same. I said I had some pictures of Grandma Bowen, and she asked me if I could send her one.

That sent me to a box of pictures my mother had given me shortly before she died, in Dec. 1996. I had never looked through all of them, so this was as good a time as any. I found pictures of our own family from bygone years, pictures of my "early" family when I was just a child, pictures of my mom when she was young along with a lot of relatives I hadn't thought about for years. And yes, I found pictures of Grandma Bowen, including the one at the top of this blog. I remembered her sitting in that rocking chair, when she was in her 90s, telling my dad, "Howard, don't ever live to be an old lady. People feel sorry for you." My dad assured her that he never would. He lived to be 83 years old, and he kept that promise to her. Memories! I didn't want to do without them! They were far too precious.

As I continued on, I dumped the contents of another manila envelope onto the bed, I gasped. My husband Ivan and I were missionaries in Venezuela for 9 years. I had pictures of Venezuela, but on our final trip back there we had a blowout on a tire on the trailer that contained all of our worldly possessions, including our photographs. The contents were for the most part scattered all over the Interstate in Florida, right near the Busch Gardens. Like it was a sign that God had not forsaken us, the English bone china tea seat Ivan had given me for my first Mother's Day, was in tact and we got all of the pieces back and only one cup was broken!
Now, facing up at me on the bed, were the pictures I had sent to my parents of Venezuela. I could not help myself; the tears flowed freely. How I missed those dear people. Yes, I still have contact with some of them, but I was incredibly homesick for the land that had become my own homeland during those years we spent there. I looked at them, one by one, running my fingers over the people's faces as if I were a blind person feeling the ridges and wrinkles of the person standing in front of them as they tried to "remember" how they looked. Ah, these pictures evoked memories of long ago that I was so glad to rekindle.

And now, on to new memories. My latest book, Bank Roll, just came out this week. It has had a strange run already. The storyline is about a young woman, Max (Maxine, but only to her mother) Stryker, who left the small fictional town of Willow Creek, MN to seek her fame and fortune in "the twin cities" as a crime reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In the book, The Pioneer Press had a huge cutback and Max ended up jobless, and she had to decide whether to try to get on at the neighboring Minneapolis Star Tribune, or to go back home to Willow Creek, which she vowed she would never do, and where nothing exciting ever happened. She finally gave in and decided that she would go home again, and as fate would have it, the first exciting thing to happen since the moose got loose and caused poor old Pete Broquist's demise took place when the bank president was kidnapped.

Now real life is often stranger than fiction, and Max Stryker is living proof of that. The day after I finished the edit on the manuscript, Knight Ridder announced they were selling their newspapers, including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and there were going to be a lot of job losses in the process. Fast forward to May 7, 2007, the day Bank Roll went up at Ingram so bookstores could get the book. The news broke on May 8, 2007, in an AP release that went nationwide, the Minneapolis Star Tribune announced that they were cutting back 145 jobs.
I called the reporter from the Star Tribune to discuss the cuts and Bank Roll. By the time we finished talking, he commented, "I'll bet she is really glad she didn't stay here. She'd have her second pink slip!" I reminded him, politely, that she is a fictional character. His reply was simple, but so inspiring to an author. "Oh, I forgot." I suspect that Max Stryker is on her way to making her own memories!

Finally, I do not often wax political, but this time I cannot help it. As we face a new Memorial Day, our hearts and memories go back to those who have given years of their lives to preserving our rights. Ivan served in Korea, as did a cousin of mine--Billy Rosenbush. His brother, Bob Rosenbush, was in Germany. My father-in-law and his brother both served in WW I. They all came home safely, but Billy was killed in a freaky car accident just shortly after he returned. To them, and to all the other brave men and women who have fought on our behalf, I say "Thank you." But now we are facing a new era. My heart aches for the young soldiers who are at war and who are dying daily. Just this week we have lost two men from our area; one was from Wahpeton, ND and the other was from Hawley, MN. One of them was only 23 years old and had a wife and a 2-year-old baby. I have to wonder why they were even there. Granted, we need protection from terrorism. I don't want a rerun of 9/11 any more than anyone else does. But our young people are our most valuable commodity. I want them here with us--with their families, at their jobs, continuing the studies they had to vacate--so they can make their own memories. I want them to be more than just a memory. I salute each of you, but I want you home!

I will be back this weekend with a new blog on a lot of exciting things that will be happening on my "Marketing for Fun and Profit" Internet Radio Voices program. Stay tuned! And above all, stay safe! Until next time!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Universe in Surround Sound

You just have to love it when things happen in unison. You know, when you could hear a message as a solo, but instead you get it in three-part harmony. Such was the case this week. Let me start at the beginning.

I got a newsletter that talked about making yourself your best friend. The writer said that it is OK to acccept those personal flaws that bug somebody to the nth degree, but no matter what you do, you can't seem to make the necessary changes to please everybody in the world. It is, alas, so true that you can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

OK, let's take a little time for introspection here. I admit that I have ONE fault. (Yes, just one! LOL!) It is my lack of doing housework. My husband, Ivan, blames it on the fact that when we were in Venezuela we had a young girl, Maria, who did all of the mundane chores for me--at a very modest price of about $5/week. No, I wasn't cheating her; that was the fair fare at the time. Yes, it was a long time ago. I don't think that's it, because I really used to do fairly well at it. I think it is basically Ivan's fault. It is not my fault that I am tied to this machine like a newborn to its mommy by the umbilical cord. I argued with him for several years. I balked, I argued, I complained, and finally I gave in. He was happy--until it became more time consuming than Law and Order reruns are to him. So, I admit it. There are quite a few things in the housekeeping area that I don't do, but I DO windows--MS Windows, that is!

So it was nice to hear from the newsletter that I could love myself, in spite of my shorcomings. Besides, I figured it was OK. After all, the primary commandment of the New Testament is to "Love your neighbor as yourself..." Not only does that encourage you to love your neighbor; it gives you permission to love yourself.

But just like I needed re-enforcement of the fact, Ivan got a newsletter in HIS email from Eat Healthy. Guess what they figured out? People who live in dirt are actually healthier than people who live in immaculate surroundings. I'm sure they weren't talking about the filth of people like the Collyer brothers, who were found dead in their Harlem mansion in 1947. It took 17 days to remove enough trash and objects from their mansion before they could find the second brother! Moderation, you know! Everything--even dirt--must be done in moderation! Anyway, I was delighted to know that not only should I not condemn my lack of housekeeping interests, but I was actually helping us live a healthier life!

But wait, that's not all. They say that things often come in threes. Three deaths, three surprises, three unsolveable puzzles... Well, this morning in our Grand Forks Herald, in the book section, the third confirmation that I was on the right track showed up. The main book review was entitled "Bless This Mess." It was written by Vick Mickunas, and the release was from the Cox News Service. The bi-line read, "Author says if clutter works for you, there's no need to tidy up." The title of the book is "A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder." The authors are Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman.

The article starts out by quoting from the book: "Children exposed to fumes from home-cleaning products, among other chemicals, were up to four times more likely to develop asthma."

It goes on to explain that "Messes can incubate ideas. For example, in 1928, the British bacteriologist Alexander Fleming returned from a vacation. He had left his office in disarray. He noticed a moldy petri dish. It piqued his curiosity. Penicillin would not have been discovered that day in a tidy office."

Mickunas goes on to say, "The authors cite numerous other historical examples of messiness that inspired strokes of genius. Your average slob should feel thoroughly validated."

It also says that "the mind is built around disorder on several levels, ranging from the processing of raw sensory data to the juggling of complex ideas. Our brains are evolved to function in a messy world..."

It reminds me of a very wealthy woman here in Grand Forks. It was said that she had to go open the doors of the First National Bank every morning before the bank president could go to work. She was, by all reports, "a bit strange," but money talks, and she obviously had plenty of it. She was a non-practicing MD, although at one time she had apparently had a private medical practice. When she died, they had to tear down her house. There were dozens and dozens of cats' skeletons in closets, cupboards, etc. She was obviously onto the secret of non-cleanliness, but she carried it to an extreme.

And just in case you are wondering, yes, you can walk from one end of our house to the other without tripping over anything. But don't look in the closets, or the two "storage rooms" that used to be our kids' bedrooms. And don't stop too long to study the stack of "stuff" on my desk. I did clean the piano bench and the piano off the other day. I should have known better. Today when we went to go out for a bit I couldn't find my glasses. I knew exactly where they were before I cleaned the piano off!

I think I'll join the Universe and make it a quartet!

See you next time. Don't forget to check back often.

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