Mmmemories

In today’s Daily Post, Robyn talked about a recent birthday and went on to suggest five different post ideas based on nostalgia.  One of those was to write about a food that reminds you of your youth.  She didn’t say it had to be a pleasant memory and the best I can do is sort of a mixed memory, if you follow me.

I wish I could write that the tantalizing scent of steak on the grill brings back memories of an idyllic childhood.  I adore steak and would love it if it were tied to my memories in some way.  Well, technically I guess it is – as an adult I’ve made lots of good memories around steak!  What’s not to love?

One of the few clear memories I have of childhood returns whenever I smell stuffed bell peppers.  I don’t remember how old I was the first time this classic dish triggered the memory.  What I recall is the punch in the gut that came along with the homey aroma.  On the night my grandmother brought us home to live with her the pungent odor of their dinner permeated the house, overshadowing most other impressions.

While I don’t remember what year it was, I know my brother was pre-school age and that made me somewhere between 8 and 10 years old.  I’m not surprised I don’t remember how old I was; I blocked out a lot over the years.

After walking down the short front hall I dimly recall entering a warmly lit living room.  Straight ahead was the glass door exiting to the backyard.  It was pitch black and we wouldn’t see the yard until the next day.  The dining room opened off of the main room to the right.  It included the standard table and chairs plus a matching sideboard and opened into the kitchen.  The furnishings were probably as typical of the mid-1960’s as the floor plan was of the suburban housing development they lived in.  In the living area I want to say my grandfather was perched on his recliner like a member of the royal family, but I honestly have no idea whether the recliner was there then or added later.  And truthfully, I can’t remember seeing my grandfather at all that night, though I must have.

All of those memories were made before I lost that little girl I used to be.  Young Janey was so happy that night!  And perhaps a teensy bit scared.  She didn’t really know these people.  It’s possible they were familiar but that memory eludes me today.

For what seemed like years and years little Janey and her younger brother had lived with a beastly woman, left behind by their own mother.  I don’t think I used the word abandoned for what our mother did until I was much older, maybe even an adult.  But that’s exactly what she did.  I still have no clue how long we actually stayed with our mother’s “friend” before our grandmother found and rescued us.  It could have been mere weeks or actual years for all I know.

The clarity of that memory has dulled some over the years, but whenever I smell stuffed bell peppers I remember that night.  Sometimes I recognize it as the happy, hopeful time it was then.  Other times I cringe, knowing it was the beginning of the end of my innocence.  I can’t change what happened there, but I can acknowledge that it wasn’t all bad.

Now (Janey says, rubbing her hands together gleefully) who wants steak!?

Minimalism

Those of you who read JDB now and again probably know I am not usually a photo blogger but today’s Photo Challenge reminded me of a photo I took on my commute a while back.

I don’t know whether this meets the criteria for the challenge, but I liked it enough on seeing it again that I’m posting it anyway.

Old and new - 2

Old and new.

And now…I’m off to continue slaving away at the computer.  Oh and I guess I should do some work too.

Happy Weekend Peeps!

Life Changing – UPDATED

Since I’ve already mentioned I’m “so not into” branding my blog or doing anything specific with respect to growing it, I thought I’d update this post instead of following the Blogging 201 assignment today.  I guess I am that student.  Oh well.  On with the update!

I shared Estrella’s article below with my daughter K a little while ago.  Last Monday she started a new job which she had been wanting for. freaking. ever.  The first thing she did on the work computer was set up a new password per Estrella’s suggestions.  Yesterday she called me as I was headed home to tell me her first goal has already been met!  Her new password was a form of “new car” and Saturday, my friend P gave a car to my daughter!  

While it’s hardly a new car, it IS new to K.  A pretty car it isn’t, but it runs strong and with some regular maintenance it will get her around while she saves toward something a little newer.  She’s already trying to decide what her next password/goal should be.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the original post below and then Estrella’s article.  

Today’s Blogging 101 assignment was to share some of the blogs I follow so other readers might be awed by their glory … or something like that.  Since I messed around last week with my sidebar and added the Blogs I Follow grid I think I’ve got that covered.  So instead, here’s a semi-real post!

I recently stumbled across an interesting article and it was so wonderful I had to share.  Mauricio Estrella makes a good argument for loving your passwords people.  I can’t speak to its effectiveness yet because while I did change my password straight away, it wasn’t really a quantifiable choice.  I need to rethink what my goal is and make another change before I make any judgment.

If you try this I’d love to hear how it goes.  Have a great week everyone!

How a Password Changed My Life.

Me snobby? (Janey says, red-faced from omitting the title)

Today’s Daily Prompt asked us what we were snobby about.  After thinking a bit I realized there are two things that push my snooty button faster than anything.

How hard is it to use the tools provided?  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve stopped reading something, or discounted what a writer was saying because they didn’t run the damn spell check!  Hey, I know not everyone can be a Spelling Bee Champ, I wasn’t.  But if you have a tool that’s a mere button press or mouse click away, why in the name of everything snarky wouldn’t you employ that tool!?  Sure, sure – I realize you can run a spell check and still wind up with a word that’s incorrect.  Take this example for instance:

Time weights for no man.

Um, yeah.  Time has weight alright.  But time waits.  Or doesn’t according to the meaning of the sentence.  Sigh.

So spell check alone may not be enough.  A writer needs to read what they wrote.  Wow – groundbreaking!  Now hold onto your tomatoes peeps because I’m not finished.  I know good writers (and that includes all you bloggers out there) read what they write.  As a long-time secretarial person I also know that you can read your own work till you see it in your dreams, and you may still miss some embarrassing boo-boo.  That’s why secretaries still exist!  Well, one of the reasons anyway.  I work for attorneys (now would probably be okay for the tomatoes – ducking) and when you get half a dozen of them working on the same pleading?  Fugedaboutit!  This is why I’m known in the office as The Proofreader.  Okay, not really.  But that doesn’t stop them from bringing me (or now emailing me) a document that requires a close, careful read.  They rely on me to weed out misspellings, inconsistencies in formatting, abbreviations, pagination, etc.  It’s even been noted specifically as one of my better skills on my annual evals.  But it’s a curse I tell you!

I can’t read anything … from the back of a cereal box to an ad on the side of a bus  – without running my mental spell check and judging the author.  That tends to make it difficult to take someone’s work seriously.  They spent hours or days or weeks researching, compiling and composing only to allow such an obvious glitch?  How do I know their research was done correctly?  Can I trust their thought process?  This is why you have someone else read it for you before publication.  Or at the very least, put it on the back burner for a day or so.  Reading it later helps you spot things you might otherwise miss.  Experienced writers usually know this, but not everyone does.  Or they trust themselves.  Nothing wrong with that; I don’t have anyone read my stuff except me.  If there’s a mistake I am fully responsible.  But then I’m just writing for me; I’m not trying to persuade, or teach or enlighten.

Okay, off the soapbox Janey!

The other thing I’m snooty about is baking.  I like to use REAL ingredients.  You will NEVER find imitation vanilla in my kitchen!  Or margarine.  Or carob.  Or … well let’s just not go there.

Fellow nitpickers:  If you spot an error here please let me know.  I’ll be happy to share the tomatoes with you!  😀

Howl at the Moon – Daily Prompt

Trigger Alert … Trigger Alert … Trigger Alert

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” – Allen Ginsberg

“Don’t hide the madness.”  Even considering that this is only part of a larger quote (see Rideo, Ergo Supero’s response to this prompt), it touches something deep inside me.

As a teenager I was part of the untouchables in our school.  There was a whole cadre of us – we didn’t fit in any of the other groups so we sort of melded together as a result.  We were intelligent, if unmotivated; not quite the nerds of our time.  Existing on the periphery of the class, we excelled at very little.  I’m not sure where I’m going with this or how this prompt got me here of all places but bear with me, maybe there will eventually be a point.

Even with my posse (is that still a thing?) I remember feeling lost and alone.  My mother was on stepfather number five or six, and between working full time and giving him the attention he craved she had little time for mothering and less inclination.  My brothers were six and 12 years younger than I so we had very little in common socially.  Being the eldest, I had a lot of responsibility at home when the ‘rents were at work.  That made it difficult to do anything beyond going to school, coming back and keeping up with homework and chores.

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I tried to end my life, probably around 16.  It was quite humiliating; not only did it fail, but no one even realized I’d tried.  I did get a great night’s sleep though!

It was around this time that Cody came into my life.  I’d gone so far off the deep end in my loneliness that I created this imaginary friend based on a character in a book I’d read.  I don’t even remember what book it was.  Looking back, I think Cody became more than a friend to me; he was my constant companion, my partner in crime (so to speak; I was too afraid of my own shadow to even think about stepping over the line); my phantom boyfriend.  I hid the madness then, even from myself.

I don’t know what it was that snapped me out of it.  Perhaps it was the next suicide attempt where I tried to bleed out in my own bathtub.  Again, it was an embarrassing failure accompanied by heartbreaking guilt that my little brother was the one who found me.  Hospitalization didn’t heal anything but the body.  Mandated group therapy was worthless to a reclusive teenager with no communication skills.

And yet, I survived.  Here I am approximately 40 years later, mostly-happily married with six children, nine grandchildren and a few very real, very loving and deeply loved friends.  I still feel mad at times, who doesn’t?  Often I still hide it.  Except here.  Here I’m safe.  Here I can unleash the crazy and let her run a little wild.  Appropriately, my best friend’s avatar quotes the Cheshire Cat, “We’re all mad here.”

Some of us just admit it.  😀

Storyteller’s Toolbox – Blogging 101 assignment

As my regular readers know, I’m determined to remain anonymous.  But today’s prompt inspired me to step outside of Janey for a bit and post something I originally wrote about a dozen years ago.  Then a couple of years back I posted this on my other blog. That blog is still available online, though I haven’t posted there in forever.  I went there this morning fully intending to delete it completely.  That didn’t happen; there’s a lot of good stuff there.  Happy memories; rants; wonderful comments from the friends and followers I found.  I just couldn’t do it.  So in order to maintain my anonymity, I deleted only the post this was in from the other blog.  As far as I know, it isn’t posted anywhere else on the Internets; but if you should stumble on it elsewhere just know it’s mine and keep it on the down low please.  Thanks.

G ~ you’ll remember this.  🙂

Fall is not my favorite season.
At least that’s what I tell myself as
I dig out sweaters, scarves, mittens and caps,
making ready for the wild weather to come.
But as the air cools and the days grow short,
I know I’m a liar.

Fall is when I walk instead of ride to the store:
crunchy leaves of topaz and ruby carpet my path.
Crisp, tart apples fill my shopping bag,
along with sweet and sticky caramel cubes.
Tonight the apples will swirl in melted candy,
then march in formation across waxed paper.

And I will linger near dancing flames,
cupping a mug of hot cider and
sinking into my latest mystery novel.
As content as a baby newly fed, or
my ancient, tubby cat, curled in my lap.