Sunday, December 25, 2011


Today is Christmas, and you know what that means in the Spaeth household. Yes, turkey wrangling!

I did okay this time. Found all the horrendously icky bits (though I had to dig around to find the aptly named "package"--it was in the, uh, other end if you get my drift), dispatched them to the trash, and got the turkey in the oven.

Then I merrily did some dishes, sang some carols to myself, talked myself out of an early glass of wine and settled for coffee from my brand-new Keurig (Merry Christmas, Janet!), and did a time check.

Heart stop.

3:52??? How did that happen? What did I do with the day? I know I read the paper but honestly, I'm a fast reader. Did the puzzle (crossword, that is--abandoned the Sudoku), brushed my cat--how did that consume the entire day?

Then I realized that on my new stove, the timer takes over the clock. 3:52 meant 3 hours and 52 minutes til the turkey was done. It was only really something like 1:00.

I was telling Music Guy about this, and he pointed out that if I'd watched the clock on the stove, I would have seen time going backwards! 3:52, 3:51, 3:50.... I would probably have put down the coffee and found that bottle of wine (no glass--bottle!).

Now, for a story of Christmas Past. I put this on Facebook, but I like the story so much I'm telling it here too.

I was 2 or 3, and it was almost Christmas. My mom was just getting ready to plunk me in the bath when the phone rang. My dad answered it.

"Janet, it's Santa!"

I tore into the living room, totally naked, took the phone from Dad, and said, "Santa, I don't have any clothes on!"

Santa laughed and my mom nearly fainted because....

It was a spot from the radio station, and we were live, and I had just announced it to all of Grand Island, Nebraska.

Yes, we moved shortly after that. To another state.

Merry Christmas, all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Counting my blessings...still

Well, there went another month. My last post here was 25 days ago! And much fascinating stuff has happened in those 25 days! But this post is about the highlight of this month--Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I'm torn by the inherent issues of the actual holiday itself but what I do love about it is that it truly is, for many of us, a time to recognize our blessings and to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, we can't take credit for them.

Every day of my life I say the same three words: "I am blessed." I am blessed beyond what I deserve. I am, without much thought on my part, taken care of. I'm warm. Fed. Loved. Safe.

It's the last two I'm especially grateful for.

For those of you, family and friends alike, I am thankful. You keep me feeling loved and safe. You are blessings above measure.

I am blessed. I love you all!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Non, je ne regrette rien

Edith Piaf sang, "Non, je ne regrette rien," which means in French, "No, I don't regret anything." She was an amazing singer (with amazing eyebrows--I'm starting to notice a theme here, but I'm meandering) and this is a fantastic song.

The lyrics tell us how she's thrown away the sadnesses of the past, and it ends with a yummy bit that makes me weak in the knees:

No, I don't feel sorry about anything,
Because my life, my joys, today begin with you. (Janet translation)

Excuse me while I pause to wallow in the lines. Those are beautiful words. In French, they're an absolute knock-out:

Non, je ne regrette rien,
Car ma vie, car mes joies,
Aujourd'hui, ca commence avec toi.

I'd like to add one teensy thing: this isn't exactly true. I do regret a whole lot of stuff I've done, and I think that's natural. Nothing too major, and nothing that there are outstanding warrants for.

Music Guy and I were talking this weekend, having a deep conversation about who-knows-what (he'll remember, bless his little Memorex heart) (he can remember all kinds of stuff! He probably even knows where his snowboots are, although I am just a wee bit unsure at the moment regarding the location of mine) and I said something about regrets being my school--that I keep them with me because I've learned from them, and they make me a better person.

That's a whale of a sentence. Oops.

I'm not perfect, but every day I get closer to my ideal of who I should be. Who I can be. And, honestly, who I must be.

Okay, enough seriousness. What else is going on in JanetWorld?

Well, Janet went a-wayfaring. Oddly, so did Music Guy! We had a fantastic time in the Cities, seeing friends and family and enjoying an eating frenzy. I have to report that I did not enter a single store, not even the gift shop at the Walker. Apparently it's possible. Who knew. Usually when I get to the Cities, the credit card comes out and doesn't go back into the wallet until it's fairly well melted.

Halloween came and went, and so did the candy.

Birthday came and went, and I'm a year older, just like that. In the shift of a second, I aged an entire year!

We're at the turn of the seasons now, my darlings, so find your snowboots and make sure your mittens match. It's near.

But meanwhile, enjoy the extra hour you get tomorrow night!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October music

Music Guy gave me tickets to the Museum concert series for my birthday! (Not to worry if you haven't gotten me something. There are still 12 shopping days left in which to select something absolutely exquisite.)

Today was the first day of the series. I drove since I have a campus parking pass, and it occurred to me as I whipped into the parking garage (and visibly aging Music Guy, who kind of yelped as the wall came perilously close to his side of the car) that not everybody appreciates my driving skills. Eh. Que sera.

The concert was marvelous! I realized that hearing the Mozart piece was like hearing a long-forgotten language--or one I thought I'd forgotten. I could almost lean into the direction it was going to go. Even after abandoning a music major to go the more lucrative English major route, I could, decades later, understand the music. Mozart was still talking to me. It was an amazing gift that Music Guy gave me--and he didn't know the depth of it (until he reads this).

I did have one moment of absolute horror, as I was sitting in the audience and a stray thought came tearing into the mass of cells I call a brain: So, Janet, first time wearing this jacket. Did you by any chance take the tags off it? I tried surreptitiously to wiggle around in a discreet manner and feel for tags. I hope it didn't look like I had some kind of infestation as I checked the likely spots for tags. Fortunately, I was good.

Then, after the concert, Music Guy and I watched Bell, Book & Candle, which I'd seen in play form a few days ago. Let me say this right away: Kim Novak had AMAZING eyebrows in this movie. But despite the eyebrows (which should have have an IMDb entry of their own), this film had an all-star cast and was charming beyond belief. If you're ever looking for a subject I'll quibble with you about, bring up the fact that this is called a comedy. Only in the broadest of literary terms is this a comedy.

But no quibbling, not at this time of night.

It was a wonderful Sunday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Outing

In my last post, I credited a good friend with getting JanetWorld back in business.

That prompted an early morning call.

"GOOD FRIEND?" he yelled. "GOOD FRIEND?"

Okay, I'm sort of exaggerating. It wasn't early--well, it kind of was. 9:30 on a Sunday morning. And he didn't yell, not really. He was teasing me. And he can tease me because he is a good friend. You know.

*clears throat*

I told him I was going to out him in this post, tell the world who is responsible for nagging encouraging me to open up JanetWorld again, and he said: "Janet, I know I can trust you to be discreet" or some such nonsense.

Discreet? Since when was THAT part of the deal?

Okay, here we go, being discreet: he's Music Guy.

Actually, when we first met, years ago, he had a guitar in his hand. He's always been Music Guy. But now Music Guy is part of JanetWorld.

Music Guy is the official nagger encourager for this blog.

Okay, enough about him. Let's talk about me.

Here's what I've been doing: cooking. In an effort to expand my culinary art, I took out the crock pot (which I swear I've never seen before but whatever) and made some deliciousness.

But not before trying to slice off my fingers. It's probably just as well I don't have the Ginzu knives (although as Music Guy very aptly pointed out, if I did have them I could cut some bathroom tiles, resole a shoe, and then slice a tomato paper thin). My decades-old knives don't cut through my fingers any better than they get through a squash. If I had a Ginzu knife, my kitchen floor would be littered with Janet-body parts.

So, in the interest of personal safety, I've decided I'm never cooking anything that requires me to get into a squash. And I'm not buying a Ginzu knife. It's probably best for everyone. Especially me.

By the way, I appreciate the comments and I wish I could respond but for some reason Blogspot is not letting me post on ANY blog in the comments section. I don't understand it. I've been nice (well, pretty nice) (all right, I've been okay) (tolerable) (nobody's sued me) (yet) but it seems to reject me. I'm trying not to take it personally, and please, I don't want you to either.

I hope everybody gets out and tromps through the leaves before the city says they have to vacuum their yards. I'm all for tidy, but honestly, this is fall! It's a lovely, noisy season--the sound of dry leaves skittering through the air and across the ground is wonderful. So quit reading this, post a quick comment saying hello to Music Guy, and go outside and kick some leaves!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Grand Re-Opening!

A good friend discovered my blog (I suppose having the link at the bottom of every single email I send might have helped him "discover" it). He calls this "JanetWorld" so that's what it shall be.

JanetWorld. I like that.

He also pointed out that despite my best intentions and publicly avowed promise to blog more, the blog has been completely silent.

No more.

JanetWorld is back in business. It's time for a Grand Re-Opening!

*rubs hands together*

So, what shall I talk about first? There is so much on my mind, it's hard to decide.

The writers conference I oversee has just wrapped up, and it went well. The editors were kind and helpful (Brian Farrey, Elizabeth Law, and Jennifer Arena--a triad of wonderful people!) and the headline author, Kurtis Scaletta, was fantastic.

Writers conferences invigorate me and help me focus my often-roving brain and remind me that I am a writer. It's an identity that's, honestly, hard to come to terms with, even after all those books on the shelf with my name on them. A writers conference brings me around again, and reminds me who I am and what I do when I'm not doing the zillion other things I do that suck the identity right out of most of us women. (Maybe guys too, but let's face it--no.)

I learned a lot not just about writing but about me, which is sort of the neglected part of the equation, isn't it? Here's what's on my mind tonight:

* I really do need to trust my instincts.

* I need a huge network of supportive friends. And I have them. I am blessed beyond human thought.

This is deep for the woman who dropped the entire plate of cat food on the floor this morning (and right down the front of her white nightgown too--that ain't ever coming out). And who yesterday called zucchini a root vegetable, and moved Bambi over to the lamb family, and today sort of leaped from Shanghai to South America and didn't take her listeners with her.

I really do have a PhD. I do. It's here somewhere.

Okay, it's been an incredible week.

Thanks, everyone who came to the conference. Thanks, AFL-CIO, for 100 years in North Dakota. Thanks, dearest Lord, for getting me through this week and keeping Your hand clapped over my mouth when I was perilously close to meltdownville.

And thanks to my family and friends who keep me sane and laughing and loved.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Brain Dump

Today I had the chance to listen to a panel of esteemed writers, and I realized that I heard nothing they said in the first five minutes. Well, I heard it but I couldn't concentrate.

Then it dawned on me why. My brain wasn't ready to hear about writing because it had other Very Important Things to deal with first, like:
*Laundry. Socks, especially, and did I ever empty the dryer?
*Dishes. It's been a busy week and I'm way behind. Evidence is in the sink.
*Car payment. Did I or didn't I?
*Cat litter. I bought some but did I use it already? Do I need to buy more?
*What will I make for dinner?
*Taxes! Uh-oh! Taxes! Terror! Taxes! Taxes! Where are my W-whatevers, and do I have things to deduct or claim?
And so on.

The list was getting longer and longer and bits and pieces of it were falling off the edge. Or the things I was juggling were raining down on me. Choose your image. Whichever it is, I was forgetting things--or worried that I was forgetting things.

So I got out my notebook and began a brain dump. I wrote down all the things that were nagging at me. It went quickly and soon I was able to listen to the speakers and enjoy the rest of the hour.

I know that some of my friends journal. Just the thought of something that organized, that planned, that scheduled makes my brain itch and my soul crawl. I don't journal. I list. Endlessly. In color, preferably, and when something is done, it is blocked out with great panache.

And my life is filled with notes to myself: clever things I could put in a book that I will never remember if I don't write them down...not that I remember where I wrote them down, or if I even ever found a pen.

And once the words are on paper, I can listen to life again, hear the poets talk about creativity and imagination and exploration.

I still won't know about the car payment or the cat litter, but I'll feel much better.