Monday, October 31, 2016

I LIKE THE PROLOGUE BUT HATE THE FIRST CHAPTER, EVERY DAMN WORD OF IT (MAYBE)

Prologue

You've heard people say their lives changed overnight, right? They woke up and heard the lottery numbers and knew they were millionaires. They fell in love at first sight. 

More often, the change is bad because one day everything is fine, and the next? 

It is all fucked up. 

I read once that Marie Antoinette's hair turned white overnight in jail while she awaited the loss of her head. 

What people don't think about is that the overnight device is a saying. Nothing but a cliché. It hardly ever takes that long: eight hours, twelve hours, or however you define overnight, for a life to be transformed. Most of the time, it happens in one or two seconds.

I bet Marie's hair betrayed her during a few seconds of a nightmare when she saw the guillotine's blade slice through her own milky neck.

How many seconds does it take to purchase that lottery ticket or to decide to stop someplace for ice cream? These decisions may be part of a change that's a long time in the making, but when the hair whitening attacks, it happens in a flash. 

And the flash of the blade in the sunlight can be so bright it nearly blinds you. 

Chapter One

Clue

The yellow piece of paper on the windshield of Aggie's black minivan stood out like a beacon in the dusky evening light as she left the urgent care center. She waddled along with a purse and diaper bag slung behind her right shoulder, Ruth Ann perched on her right hip, and a still sobbing Elliot hanging on for dear life to her left hand.

She shook free of El's sweaty grasp so she could pull the paper out from under the wiper and unfold it. "ASSHOLE" it said, printed neatly in red letters on a scrap torn from a legal pad.

"Mom!" Elliot pawed at her, as Ruth Ann's head drooped onto Aggie's shoulder. Aggie stood rooted to the asphalt next to the car so she could check out the area. What had she done now?

White painted lines of parking spaces, empty now, spread out across the parking lot like whitecaps on the ocean. White, white, white, except around her car, where she now saw yellow lines. Two yellow lines on each side of the van and an arrow underneath it that marked the route to exit the lot. The only route between the parking spaces.

Drivers must have woven around her van for hours before the lot cleared out. Tire tracks in the mud provided evidence that they ran her blockade by driving off the asphalt and into the landscaped border along the sidewalk. Flowers and juvenile trees had been flattened.

Aggie pictured the line of vehicles and hated herself. The waiting cars stretched for miles. An imaginary driver, his face contorted in righteous indignation, jumped out of his expensive car with a legal pad in his left hand and a red pen in his right. Angry lawyer. Furious lawyer. Late for an appointment and it was her fault. He held the pen in the air, a sword that dripped bloody ink, chose the perfect word, wrote it, and jammed the note in place.

Then sedans, sports cars, and pickup trucks careened around the sidewalk as pedestrians dragged their children out of the way. Jam-packed cars held drivers and passengers drawn as cartoons. "ASSHOLE" filled every balloon above their mouths because they all knew what she was.

"I am an asshole."

The words played as though they were a stuck record in her mind and fixed themselves to the tune of a children's song about being a pizza.

IIIIIIIII am an assss-hoooole.

She wanted to laugh at her song, but she forgot her pleasure as soon as it struck because being an asshole wasn't funny at all. Then she wished she could bawl along with El, but someone had to be in charge, and that someone was Aggie. Aggie alone.

She had rushed to the urgent care center to have a cut on Elliot's chin seen to and parked in a hurry. She thought the yellow lines marked a parking spot. They sat in a dingy waiting room most of the afternoon and into suppertime before an arrogant doctor looked at El for two seconds and informed a nurse, who then told Aggie, that the cut didn't need stitches. A butterfly bandage would do. She could have put that on herself and never left home, but if she'd been wrong, there would have been hell to pay. She'd never hear the end of it from John.

When her husband did see the cut, he would probably complain that the doctor had been wrong, the cut needed stitches. Nobody, especially Aggie, did anything right in John's hallowed opinion. The sound of his voice criticizing her for going to the wrong doctor replaced the "asshole" song playing in her mind.

But then her own angry voice took over. Dr. High-and-Mighty was never around to take care of his own kids. He'd throw a fit if Aggie bothered him at work, so she had to go to the nearest urgent care center and wait for hours until somebody looked at this damn kid who fell off his bike every two seconds.

She guessed that had been her license plate announced over the loudspeaker. The whining voice had demanded over and over, "Vehicle number hrrm-hrrm-hrrm must be moved immediately."

She hadn't been able to hear anything over Elliot whining that his chin hurt and Ruth Ann begging to have a story read to her.

"Don't touch those books. They've covered in filth from sick people," she'd told Ruth Ann.

By the time Elliot gave up complaining and Ruth Ann fell asleep, the announcements had stopped. All the patients had been treated and gone home, the center was about to close, and it no longer mattered where her mini-van was parked.

Elliot grabbed Aggie's arm and pulled on it so she remembered she stood in a parking lot staring at an ugly word. She crumpled the yellow paper and flung it toward the arrow under her car.

"Mom, you're littering," Elliot accused her in a whine.

"Just get in the damn car," she barked back. "A storm's coming. We need to go home before it gets any darker. I don't know how I'll find my way as it is."

Thunder boomed as the children crawled into the mini-van. "Sop it! Sop it!" Ruth Ann screamed as Elliot (her toddlerese for "stop it") when he stuck his butt in her face as he slid past her on the seat.

At eight years old, Elliot already knew how to torture Ruth Ann––and Aggie. He sneered, satisfied with Ruth Ann's screams. Aggie wanted to lean over to smack him as she buckled Ruth Ann into her car seat, but she didn't dare. John didn't allow her to spank the children, or punish them in any other way, because he claimed it would destroy their spirits. Elliot's wonderfully free spirit was a punishment for Ruth Ann and for Aggie. She had no options for dealing with his obnoxious behavior.

And there would be hell to pay when Elliot told his dad that she'd said to get in the damn car. Cursing wasn't allowed, either.

She also knew Elliot moved as slowly as he could, the way he always did because it irritated her and she couldn't do anything about it, couldn't give him a time out or take away his TV privileges the way other moms did with their children.

She used the back of her hand to wipe the sweat from her forehead and turned away so she could say what she pleased. "I hate this fucking town. Maryland is hotter than hell."

Here she was in a strange town after years in cool, green Seattle because John had a new job, Big Chief Medical Director, at a hospital in Western Maryland. The hospital was about forty miles from the Central Maryland suburb of Columbia where John had bought a house. He had a long commute, but he refused to lived in Haven with the "local yokels."

In fact, John rarely visited the home he had selected without consulting Aggie. Six weeks after their move, John already spent most nights at the hospital because he claimed he was overworked and too tired to drive home. Aggie wondered why the locals didn't bother him enough to make him come home at night. And funny, he never sounded tired when he called to say he wouldn't be home. Sometimes Aggie heard a woman laugh in the background. He claimed it was the nurses fooling around at their station, but the sound––the same laugh, one laugh from the same person, every time––frightened Aggie.

No time to think about it now. With Elliot seat belted in at last, Aggie started the car and headed for the street. At least I'm already in the exit lane, she thought wryly. She had called for directions before they left home and had found the center without too much trouble, but getting home would be another story. She could never retrace her steps. It infuriated John, but it just didn't work out in her mind.

Friday, October 28, 2016

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: HEEEEEEEERE'S FRANKLIN

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Although Flashback Friday no longer has a host, I intend to flashback when I'm in the mood to do so, whether it's the last Friday of the month or every other day. After all, my current blog is the culmination of every post I've written in the past.


Can you believe it's been six years since Franklin came to live with me? He has become an indispensable part of our lives.

This post is the first one I wrote about him. I published it on October 28, 2010. It's had sixteen page views and two comments.




Here’s the story
Of a dog named Franklin
Who was living with some very lovely folks
But Franklin was too much for these older people
And he felt all alone.

Then on Sunday Franklin’s daddy met a doggy mommy
And Mommy knew that it was much more than a hunch
That Franklin should join her doggy family
And that’s the way we all became The Franklin Bunch!

The Franklin Bunch
The Franklin Bunch
That’s the way we became The Franklin Bunch!


And now together again for the first time on any blog, we present the stars of 
The Doggy Show

Our Cast




Lola (now Janie Junebug) as 




Mama






Scout as 






Scout






Harper Lee as






Harper



And Introducing





                           FRANKLIN

Back Story: Someone breaks into a woman's home. She has seen two stray dogs hanging out in a field, so she takes them home. She keeps one to be her watch dog and gives the other, a border collie mix, to her parents. They name him Franklin Jr. But Franklin Jr., who is only two years old, proves too much for this older couple to handle. Franklin Jr.'s dad announces at church that he's looking for a home for the dog. Mama raises her hand and says, "I"ve always wanted a border collie." And here's where our story begins.

Pilot Episode: Mama and her Favorite Young Man arrive at the home of Franklin Jr.'s parents. They go to the backyard to meet Franklin, who is so frightened that he flies over the fence. His dad has to go after him and bring him home, where Mama approaches him slowly and cautiously. Soon she and Franklin are acquainted, and he agrees to go home with her. F.Y.M., who serves as the show's Dog Wrangler, gets a nervous Franklin into the car, drives him to Mama's house, and carries him to the backyard. Franklin takes off faster than a speeding bullet to find a place where he can leap the tall fence in a single bound, but returns quickly when he discovers that Mama's entire fence is seven feet tall. Franklin is afraid to go up the steps to the deck, so Mama lets Scout and Harper outside. They encourage Franklin to join them on the deck and then in the house.

That evening, Franklin and Harper become fast friends as they run in and out of the house together. Soon, a Bromance develops between them.





Scout, who is a little jealous but accepting of the new guy in town, lets loose with an occasional growl (Scout secretly believes he is a grizzly bear cub).




Franklin is afraid of Mama. He starts every time she moves. Mama knows that Franklin had a hard life as a stray, so she speaks to him in a soft voice and moves slowly. She tells him how much she admires his rather large paws.




Before long, Franklin begins to relax. By the end of the evening, he has reciprocated by licking Mama's toes. Franklin goes to bed in his own comfortable crate on a soft bed with a bowl of kibble and a bowl of water. His new life has begun.





Good night, Franklin. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A GIVEAWAY THAT WILL MAKE A GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The Chubby Chatterbox would like to have three hundred followers, but he's stuck at two hundred sixty-eight. To that end, he's having a giveaway.

Follow The Chubby Chatterbox, or if you already follow him, then leave a comment on his blog to have a chance to win a beautiful painting. It's The Chubby Chatterbox's (Stephen Hayes') own work, an oil painting based on a work by Phillip Wilson Steer.

Stephen, I hope you don't mind that I lifted this image from your blog. I think seeing its beauty will help you get more followers.


Isn't it gorgeous? The giveaway ends on December 3, so the winner can have it in time for Christmas. You can give it to someone you love, or keep it for yourself.

I would not mind having this beauty and her kitty hanging on my wall.

Even if you don't win the painting, you'll love following The Chubby Chatterbox. He's an excellent writer whose stories about his life and his travels have enthralled me for quite some time now.

Please tell Stephen that Janie Junebug sent you his way.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

THALIDOMIDE BABIES: A SAD FOCUS ON CALL THE MIDWIFE

Warning: This post includes information about babies born with severe defects because of thalidomide. I've also included photos of thalidomide victims. If this information and/or the photographs will upset you, then I encourage you not to read my blog today.





Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

During the most recent season of Call the Midwife (Season Five), the healthcare workers of Poplar face a series of traumatic events during 1961. Some babies are born with "flippers" instead of limbs, and some have even more serious birth defects.



Sister Julienne is appalled when she's sent to work in a hospital for a short time. A doctor delivers a baby only to exclaim in disgust that it's another "monster." In spite of Sister Julienne's attempts to save the child, he––or she, the genitalia does not provide a clear indication of gender––is placed naked, next to an open window during cold weather. Sister Julienne is informed that it would be for the best if the infant simply slipped away. The parents are then told that their child died.

Dr. Turner finds a link between the birth defects and the thalidomide given to pregnant women to ease their morning sickness.



I had heard of "thalidomide babies" before, so I set out to do some research. A documentary on Netflix Streaming provided me with the information I needed. It's called Attacking The Devil: Harold Evans and The Last Nazi War Crime (2014, Available on DVD, and Available Online at https://goo.gl/A9NioB).

I don't want to go into all the details I learned from the documentary, especially the association with Nazis, because you might want to watch it yourself. It's very well made. But here are a few facts about "thalidomide babies":

  • By 1960, sales of thalidomide were on par with aspirin in some European countries. 
  • The babies' "flippers" were often amputated so the children could be fitted with prosthetic devices.
  • About ten thousand cases of deformities were reported around the world. Of these, approximately fifty percent of the children survived.
  • The FDA refused to grant approval for the drug, but it was distributed for testing and caused deformities in some babies in the U.S.
  • Most countries banned thalidomide by 1962.
  • Survivors have brought lawsuits against the company that created and marketed the drug. The cost of raising a disabled child is substantial, as is the cost of living as a disabled adult.
Thalidomide: The Fifty Year Fight tells us that "the severity and location of the deformities depended on how many days into the pregnancy the mother was; thalidomide taken on the 20th day of pregnancy caused central brain damage, day 21 would damage the eyes, day 22 the ears and face, day 24 the arms, and leg damage would occur if taken up to day 28. Thalidomide did not damage the fetus if taken after 42 days gestation."

The sad story of thalidomide makes for worthwhile learning. Perhaps it will lead us to question the side effects of the medications we receive, and to recognize that pharmaceutical companies don't exist to serve us.  

They are companies that seek to make billions of dollars.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug




Update: I apologize for using photos of thalidomide survivors without permission. I did a Google images search of "thalidomide" and found photos that didn't appear to be copyrighted or have any attribution. I should have done more research. A thalidomide survivor tweeted me that I should not have used the photos. I appreciate her kindness for approaching me without anger.




Tuesday, October 25, 2016

TIP TUESDAY WOW: A GUEST POST BY AUTHOR LINDA KAY

Linda Kay (Christensen) is the author of three books in a series addressing the five stages of love. The fourth book is now in process. The themes of the books address a series of prints given to Linda’s grandmother in 1916, and bring these vintage prints into life in the current generation.

Women of Words (W.O.W)

Are you a writer or wanna-be writer? Are you looking for an encouraging group where you can share your writing and listen to others’ creations? You might be surprised at how beneficial this input can be. Thanks to Janie for allowing me to share my writers’ group with you in this guest post.

“I think that sentence would be more powerful, if you reversed the order,” said Sally, noting the paragraph in my short story. (Our fearless leader, Sally Clark is a prolific poetry writer, published in many magazines and anthologies, and the creator of a board book for children called “Where’s My Hug?” Her website: http://sallyclark.info.)

“Can you somehow clarify where your characters are in this story, so we have a better picture of their surroundings?” asked Barbara. (Barbara Loyd is a writer and an artist; her blog is “Color in Our World” on Blogger, http://colorfilled.blogspot.com.)

“It might be better to break that sentence down in paragraph three into two separate sentences,” mentioned Lynn. (Lynn has been hand writing a story in several separate spiral notebooks, reading new entries to us each week.)

“I just love this,” said Sheila. “I think you should enter it in the contest, for sure.” (Sheila Kale owned a Christian Book Store in our town for many years, and she is an avid reader and writer. She is also a life coach, helping folks find direction in their future.) Sheila’s website is http://sheilaspeakshope.com.)

We are a group of women who love to write, and are willing to hear critiques of our writings. On the second Tuesday of each month, a special meeting of the WOW group meets in a conference room at a local bank, with six to twelve women, depending on our busy schedules. At this particular meeting, we start out with a sentence challenge. Sally or someone provides the sentence, and we have ten minutes to create our story using the sentence. At the end of the time, we read these to the group, and it is usually very entertaining. Some stories lend themselves to longer ones for publishing. Our website: http://hcwomenofwords.org

After we finish this exercise, various folks who have brought something creative have a chance to share with the group for critique. These critiques are never threatening to the writer. The suggestions rather encourage the writer to think about how to improve the piece, especially for publishing. Our meetings last about two hours, beginning at one in the afternoon.

On each of the other Tuesdays in the month, a smaller group called Tuesday Writers’ Inspiration Group (TWIG) meets at the same place to share our work. The discussions range from what is going on in the community, any upcoming writing-related events coming up on the calendar, and finally the creations we have brought. Some have never yet published an article or a book, but have come to learn.

I am now working on my fourth book, all published during my years of meeting with my writer friends. Not much can interfere with my commitment to these two-hour sessions, as I have found the input from others reading my work to be very valuable. In each case, the writer reads aloud, which in itself is revealing, providing copies for others to follow along to see sentence structure and punctuation.

Sally regularly sends emails of special note. There are magazines looking for articles, special events for writers held by various Texas writers’ groups, and reminders of the meeting times and dates. When magazines are looking for specific articles, these can stimulate those words looking for a page for others to read. Find a group or create one, be diligent in attendance, and offer your own encouragement and experience to others.

You can find Linda Kay on her blog at http://senioradventureswithlindakay.blogspot.com



Women of Words meet.
Photo provided by Linda Kay.

A note from your Junebug: Thank you, Linda Kay, for sharing the story of your writing group with us. It sounds as though it's a great way to share works in progress.







Monday, October 24, 2016

I HAVEN'T ADDED TO AGGIE'S STORY IN SUCH A LONG TIME

Prologue

You've heard people say their lives changed overnight, right? They woke up and heard the lottery numbers and knew they were millionaires. They fell in love at first sight. 

More often, the change is bad because one day everything is fine, and the next? 

It is all fucked up. 

I read once that Marie Antoinette's hair turned white overnight in jail while she awaited the loss of her head. 

What people don't think about is that the overnight device is a saying. Nothing but a cliché. It hardly ever takes that long: eight hours, twelve hours, or however you define overnight, for a life to be transformed. Most of the time, it happens in one or two seconds.

I bet Marie's hair betrayed her during a few seconds of a nightmare when she saw the guillotine's blade slice through her own milky neck.

How many seconds does it take to purchase that lottery ticket or to decide to stop someplace for ice cream? These decisions may be part of a change that's a long time in the making, but when the hair whitening attacks, it happens in a flash. 

And the flash of the blade in the sunlight can be so bright it nearly blinds you. 

Chapter One

Clue

The yellow piece of paper on the windshield of Aggie's black minivan stood out like a beacon in the dusky evening light as she left the urgent care center. She waddled along with a purse and diaper bag slung behind her right shoulder, Ruth Ann perched on her right hip, and a still sobbing Elliot hanging on for dear life to her left hand.

She shook free of El's sweaty grasp so she could pull the paper out from under the wiper and unfold it. "ASSHOLE" it said, printed neatly in red letters on a scrap torn from a legal pad.

"Mom!" Elliot pawed at her, as Ruth Ann's head drooped onto Aggie's shoulder. Aggie stood rooted to the asphalt next to the car so she could check out the area. What had she done this time?

White painted lines of parking spaces, empty now, spread out across the parking lot like whitecaps on the ocean. White, white, white, except around her car, where she now saw yellow lines. Two yellow lines on each side of the van and an arrow underneath it that marked the route to exit the lot. The only route between the parking spaces.

Drivers must have woven around her van for hours before the lot cleared out. Tire tracks in the mud provided evidence that they ran her blockade by driving off the asphalt and into the landscaped border along the sidewalk. Flowers and juvenile trees had been flattened.

Aggie pictured the line of vehicles and hated herself. The waiting cars stretched for miles. An imaginary driver, his face contorted in righteous indignation, jumped out of his expensive car with a legal pad in his left hand and a red pen in his right. Angry lawyer. Furious lawyer. Late for an appointment and it was her fault. He held the pen in the air, a sword that dripped bloody ink, chose the perfect word, wrote it, and jammed the note in place.

Then sedans, sports cars, and pickup trucks careened around the sidewalk as pedestrians dragged their children out of the way. Jam-packed cars held drivers and passengers drawn as cartoons. "ASSHOLE" filled every balloon above their mouths because they all knew what she was.

"I am an asshole."

The words played as though they were a stuck record in her mind and fixed themselves to the tune of a children's song about being a pizza.

IIIIIIIII am an assss-hoooole.

She wanted to laugh at her song, but she forgot her pleasure as soon as it struck because being an asshole wasn't funny at all. Then she wished she could bawl along with El, but someone had to be in charge.

She had rushed to the urgent care center to have a cut on Elliot's chin seen to and parked in a hurry. She thought the yellow lines marked a parking spot. They sat in a dingy waiting room most of the afternoon and into suppertime before an arrogant doctor looked at El for two seconds and informed a nurse, who then told Aggie, that the cut didn't need stitches. A butterfly bandage would do. She could have put that on herself and never left home, but if she'd been wrong, there would have been hell to pay. She'd never hear the end of it from John.

When her husband did see the cut, he would probably complain that the doctor had been wrong, the cut needed stitches. Nobody, especially Aggie, did anything right in John's hallowed opinion. The sound of his voice criticizing her for going to the wrong doctor replaced the "asshole" song playing in her mind.

But then her own angry voice took over. Dr. High-and-Mighty was never around to take care of his own kids. He'd throw a fit if Aggie bothered him at work, so she had to go to the nearest urgent care center and wait for hours until somebody looked at this damn kid who fell off his bike every two seconds.

She guessed that had been her license plate announced over the loudspeaker. The whining voice had demanded over and over, "Vehicle number hrrm-hrrm-hrrm must be moved immediately."

She hadn't been able to hear anything over Elliot whining that his chin hurt and Ruth Ann begging to have a story read to her.

"Don't touch those books. They've covered in filth from sick people," she'd told Ruth Ann.

By the time Elliot gave up complaining and Ruth Ann fell asleep, the announcements had stopped. All the patients had been treated and gone home, the center was about to close, and it no longer mattered where her mini-van was parked.

Elliot grabbed Aggie's arm and pulled on it so she remember she stood in a parking lot staring at an ugly word. She crumpled the yellow paper and flung it toward the arrow under her car.







Friday, October 21, 2016

BOTB RESULTS: I THOUGHT NAT WOULD RUN AWAY WITH IT

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The song for the October 15 Battle of the Bands was The Ipanemic Girl (I made that up; I think it sounds like a freaky disease), and the contenders were Amy Winehouse and Nat King Cole.

I thought Nat would run away with the battle, as did Favorite Young Man and some of you who said so in your comments. Nat did indeed win, but it was close.


Amy Winehouse   11
Nat King Cole      13

Amy's count includes my own vote because I wanted to bring her a wee bit closer to Mr. Smooth. I love Nat King Cole. He was such a stylist.

But sad Amy has my heart.

Thanks to all of you who voted. I love your comments.

Amy, you may have lost this battle, but will you please sing us out?


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug





Wednesday, October 19, 2016

DO YOU THINK AMANDA KNOX IS GUILTY?

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

In 2007, American student Amanda Knox was accused of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, while the two participated in a college study abroad program in Perugia, Italy.

I didn't know all the details of the crime, but I heard that while Knox and her Italian boyfriend of one week, Raffaele Sollecito, waited outside as the police examined the house that she displayed strange and inappropriate behavior. The police said Knox laughed, talked, jumped around, kissed Sollecito . . . Who acts that way when a roommate's corpse lies nearby?

Some kind of sexual activity was supposed to be part of the murder, too, and allegedly Sollecito joined Knox in a sex "game" that resulted in Kercher's death.

Knox and Sollecito were arrested, tried, and convicted in 2009, with twenty-two- year-old Knox sentenced to twenty-six years, while Sollecito received twenty-five years.

Amanda Knox on trial.

I didn't hear about Knox again until several years passed. She had been released, but accusations lingered. I didn't understand the case.

I learned much more when I watched the documentary Amanda Knox (2016) on Netflix Streaming.



The documentary features Knox herself talking about the case, backed up by evidence used to exonerate her. And all that talk about her being a she-devil? It came from the police and was blown up by tabloid reporters who learned that Knox's Facebook name was "Foxy Knoxy"––which they didn't hesitate to use. Later they called her "Knoxy."

I also learned about alleged abuse by the Italian police. The laboratory that tested items for DNA mishandled them. The list goes on and on. Sollecito and Amanda Knox were acquitted by Italy's highest court, but not until prison time and media accusations––she feels, and understandably so––destroyed her life.

And Foxy Knoxy? It's a name she probably used in jest. Knox is attractive, but at least in this film, not charismatic. Even after a murder conviction and prison time, she seems young and naive.

Now what about you? Do you remember this case? Did you think Amanda Knox was guilty?

If you want to learn more about Amanda Knox and her unfortunate run-in with the Italian Police, Amanda Knox is an excellent documentary, but we mustn't forget Meredith Kercher. Her family has suffered. They lost a family member. Later, they lost what they believed to be justice because they remain certain that Knox is the murderer.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TIP TUESDAY: PANTS OR TROUSERS, SHOUT OR BARK, VACUUM OR HOOVER

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Last week we discussed differences between British spelling and American spelling, and the fact that The Chicago Manual of Style wants those of you who publish books in the U.S. to use American spelling.

Now we turn our attention to vocabulary. Wilma of South Englishtown Gazette shared this information in her comment: Regarding pants and trousers - pants means underpants in British English and I believe trousers work the same in Britain or the US, but stay away from grey underpants in either nation!

Thank you, Wilma. Right you are. We need to know the correct vocabulary for our audiences. If you're British and you're not J.K. Rowling but you hope to publish your book in the U.S., or if you're American and you're not J.K. Rowling but you hope to publish your book in the U.K., know appropriate usage.

This Web site has a list of differences between U.S. and U.K. words. 

As the outstanding student Hermione can tell you,




the American editor of the Harry Potter series asked author J.K. Rowling to make some vocabulary changes in the books because Americans would have been confused by certain words and phrases. In fact, in the U.K. the first book is called Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, whereas in the U.S., we read Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

But as the series progressed, changes became minimal, which, as I recall, led to some American parents protesting that the students in the books had started snogging. Horrors! 

They were making out, not shagging.

As the parent of a Hurricane who went to school in England, I know that Brits study maths, not math, and a fanny is not what you think it is if you're an American.

So, Dearly Beloved, write appropriately for your audience because I am not J.K. Rowling and neither are you––unless J.K. Rowling reads my blog in secret because she swears by TIP TUESDAY. 

Not likely, eh? (That's a little shout out to our Canadian friends.)

Next week's TIP TUESDAY will feature a guest post by Linda Kay, the author of three published books, who is at work on Book #4. She blogs at Senior Adventures.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Hey, you. Yes, YOU! If you haven't voted in my current Battle of the Bands, vote now or forever eat your peas. It's Amy Winehouse v. Nat King Cole. The song is The Girl From Ipanema, and I have The Actual, Factual Ipanemic Girl (I made up Ipanemic) in a nice video of an interview with her.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for the October 15, 2016, Battle of the Bands.

Our host, Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy, provides us with this information about the bloghop:

The whole thing is really quite simple: You select two different versions of the same song (versions  you feel might give each other some competition in the voting) and you post them on the 1st and the 15th of each month. On the 7th and 21st of each month, you add your own personal vote to the mix, total up all the votes and announce the winner on your blog.

Beyond that, just try to have fun with it and let your readers/voters have fun with it.




All right! Let's have fun!

I think some Band-Aids have used The Girl From Ipanema in the past, but I hope they didn't use either one of these versions.

Friday afternoon I sat in my girl Sam's chair as she improved upon my golden tresses (although it's difficult to make them even better). Sam Sam introduced me to Amy Winehouse, and when I requested more on Friday, this is the song Sam played. Thus, our first contender is the late, great Amy Winehouse:




Now we have Mr. Smooth, a singer whose records my parents played, records I loved to hear while I played with my dolls and put puzzles together. Our second contender is the late, great Nat King Cole:




Now it's your turn. Do you prefer The Girl From Ipanema by Amy Winehouse or by Nat King Cole? Please vote in your comment and tell us the reason for your choice.

I hope you'll visit our fearless leader, Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy, to get the entire list of Battle of the Bands participants. Maybe you'll even sign up to join us.

I'll be back on October 21 to count the votes and announce the winner.

Now, would you like to meet the real girl from Ipanema?





Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, October 14, 2016

FRANKLIN FRIDAY: MOM YELLS AT ME IF I DRINK OUT OF THE BIG DOGGY BOWL

HI! Hi hi hi hi hi hihihihihihihihihiiiiiiiiiii! Hi, Every Buddy! It's me it's me it's me it's me it's me me me me meeeeeeeeeeee, Franklin the Bordernese. I'm the bee's knees. I don't know what that means, but some buddy said it to me.


I haven't gotten to write to you for a long time because Mom and Penlapee are always hogging the light-up thing that you live inside. I can't see you, but I know you can see me.

Do you know what this is?


I can't hear your answer, but I bet you know that IT'S A BIG DOGGY BOWL.

I like to drink out of it. Sure, we have doggy bowls in the kitchen. They have nice water in them. But why should I go all the way to the kitchen when this doggy bowl lives right next door to Mom's office, which is where I like to hang out?

The thing I don't get is that when I drink out of the big doggy bowl, Mom gets all pissy and says, Franklin, that is not for you.

Well, if it's not for me, then why is it there? Huh?

I bet Miss Smarty-Pants Mom doesn't have any answer to that.

After she has one of her pissy fits, here's what Mom does to the big doggy bowl:


I betcha I can open that up with my nose––if I feel like it.

And if Mom goes outside or something.

Heh. Heh heh. Heheheheheheheheheheheh. HEH!

Look at me, all innocent:


I'm not doing anything, Mom. Just gonna take a little nap.

Till you're not looking.

Okay I love you bye-bye.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

DO YOU REMEMBER THE NAME KITTY GENOVESE?

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Kitty Genovese: It's a name that's become synonymous with apathy and a refusal to help others since twenty-eight-year-old Genovese was murdered in 1964. New York Times metropolitan editor A.M. Rosenthal wrote a well-known article that alleged thirty-eight of her neighbors watched the attack and did nothing to help Kitty Genovese because they didn't want to get involved.



But what if it's not true? What if "Genovese Syndrome" (a.k.a. "The Bystander Effect") is a misnomer?

If you don't want to watch the video, my summary of Genovese Syndrome is that if a number of people are aware of an emergency, they tend to ignore it, while one witness is more likely to take action.

I think I learned about Kitty Genovese when I was in sixth grade. It was horrific! All these people watched while she was stabbed over and over and did nothing. Bill Clinton brought it up when he was president and recited the story as an example . . . of something. That we don't care about each other?

Earlier this week on Netflix Streaming I watched the documentary The Witness (2015), in which Kitty Genovese's youngest brother, Bill Genovese––who was sixteen when Kitty was murdered in New York––examines her case in detail to try to find out what really happened to Kitty.

I don't want to tell you everything that Bill Genovese learns because the documentary is great, so I hope you'll watch it. It's available on DVD, in addition to Netflix Streaming. If you can't get the movie, you can Google it to read a summary online.

What I will tell you is that the story of Kitty Genovese's neighbors is more urban legend than fact. She was attacked in the middle of the night during the month of March, a cold March, while her neighbors slept with their windows closed. They heard screams, but eyewitnesses? One, who shouted at the attacker to "leave that girl alone."

When the others didn't see anything, most went back to bed because they thought it was a drunken brawl.

However, more than one person called the police, who took their time about responding, reportedly because they thought it was a domestic dispute.

When someone realized that Kitty was in the foyer of her apartment building, bleeding, a neighbor who was a particularly close friend of Kitty's rushed to her aid and held her as she died.

Kitty Genovese was not alone in the world. People cared about her. Her family loved her. Her neighbors did not ignore her during her last moments of life.

The Witness is a well-made documentary with evidence to back up its claims. If you've never heard of Kitty Genovese, this is your opportunity to learn her story––and the story of her neighbors.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Kitty Genovese in 1961.
Her murderer died in prison earlier this year.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TIP TUESDAY: THOSE PANTS ARE GRAY OR THOSE TROUSERS ARE GREY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

If you're publishing a book in the United States, then you need to use American English spellings and conventions. The bible of U.S. book publication, The Chicago Manual of Style, states that American publishers change British usage to American usage, unless the word is in quoted material or you're J.K. Rowling about halfway through writing the Harry Potter series.

Let's talk about spelling today.

I think most of us know the difference between color and colour. Our British--and Canadian--friends use neighbour, flavour, litre, meagre. In the U.S., we've dropped that "U" and changed the "-re" to "-er." A British spelling we often co-opt is theatre. Maybe some theaters think it makes them fancy-schmancy to be called theatres. A former friend in Illinois once told me that theatre is the correct spelling, and no, that's not why she's my former friend.

But some spellings are not as well known. When I edit, I see many errors in books with gray spelled as grey. We're gray. They're grey. The next one might be more of a usage issue, but it also falls under spelling. We go toward the chocolate bar in the kitchen. They go towards the tea kettle in the kitchen. Toward written as towards is another common mistake.


Now here's a spelling many Americans use––and you might disagree with me about it––but both the Associated Press and Chicago insist on adviser, not advisor. But hey, if you're not writing a book for publication, then go ahead and consult with your advisor. It's no skin off my . . . teeth.

Here's a Web site you might find handy: https://goo.gl/vEUba9 has a list of American v. British spellings along with some rules and other resources.

Happy Writing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

I'm touched––and not by Donald Trump––that so many of you expressed concern for our welfare during Hurricane Matthew. Thank you.

Fishducky sent me this link and told me that everyone should read this blog post:


http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/2016/10/we-have-power-use-it.html

If you're a committed unto death Trump supporter, then you can read it if you want to get even more angry. However, if you want some affirmation for your support of Secretary Clinton, then you'll find it here. More important, if you're undecided or think that you won't bother to vote because you don't like any of the choices, then please read the post. It might help you understand the importance of voting for Hillary Clinton.

And for God's sake, don't vote for Gary "What's Aleppo?" Johnson.

Please.

Monday, October 10, 2016

HURRICANE SHMURRICANE, OR MATTHEW BASH YOU

Gentle Readers . . . and Matthew,

We did not receive a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew, but he came too close for comfort.

We lost power for twelve hours. As I write this post on Sunday evening, some residents of our city remain without electricity. I'll exercise by playing pick-up-sticks in the yard.

How about some Matthew photos?

Favorite Young Man's dog, Stella, needed a nap after chasing the frogs that swam in the backyard:



This is what I did until the electricity went off. That's John Cusack in High Fidelity:



Franklin said, Please don't make me go out there, Mom. 



How can I go in the yard to pee when it's so wet? Franklin wondered when Favorite Young Man picked up Franklin and deposited him on the deck:




It was difficult to see through the living room window because it was raining so hard:



Can you see that Royal River runs down the driveway?



Penelope weathered the storm behind the theater seats:


Favorite Young Man wouldn't let me take his picture. This is where he sat to read, first with the lamp on and then by flashlight:




The tree branches are a bit blurry in this shot because the wind blew them about with great force:


A soaked Franklin sneers in Mom's bathroom, where he received a massage with  a warm towel:



Hallelujah! The storm ended. For the first time in months, Lake Junebug is full:


Now accepting reservations for an autumn vacation at the lake. I shall be wealthy. My Grammatical Theme Park is funner than anything Orlando offers.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, October 7, 2016

BOTB RESULTS: BLACK KICKS BOYZ' BUTTS

Gentle Readers . . . and Matthew,

As we awaited your arrival, Matthew, I counted the votes in my October 1, 2016, Battle of the Bands.

Boyz II Men   5
Jack Black    14

That's such a decisive win for Jack that I won't bother to vote. No, wait. Yes, I will, dammit all to nell. I give my vote to Jack Black!

Boyz II Men   5
Jack Black    1415

Suck it, Boyz. You are the musical equivalent of watching grass grow. I thought you'd never shut up.

Pardon me. I feel a bit feisty today as Matthew fills Lake Junebug and the frogs sing. Matthew has proven himself to be quite the rude guest everywhere he has gone. Now he expects to enjoy The Lake Junebug Resort. 

Bite my little pink butt, Matthew!

We are fortunate because Matthew is now predicted to keep a bit of a distance from us, but I applaud my city and its environs for the evacuation of the beaches and the many shelters that opened, some of which are dog, cat, ferret, and other-small-animals friendly (no snakes or other exotic pets allowed, but I did see that stalls were available for horses at some shelters). Buses went to a number of schools to take those in need to shelters.

Most businesses are closed so the workers can stay at home where they belong. No one should be on the road today except emergency workers. 

But what about the homeless? Favorite Young Man and I got out of the house yesterday while the gettin' was good. We needed dog food and a few other non-perishable foods, a.k.a. cookies. A man stood at the entrance to the grocery store as he held the ubiquitous sign stating he was hungry. Another thin man wandered down the road, wrapped in a gray blanket. Others walked through the wind and rain to reach a bus stop.

Favorite Young Man assured me that the police would seek out the homeless to offer them rides to shelters. The National Guard is on duty, too, with their big trucks. May God bless and keep all who are affected by this storm.

The electricity has flickered on and off twice in the last five minutes. We expected we would lose power. Our gadgets are powered up, and we have plenty of books to read. We will be fine, but you might not see me for a few days.

I'll certainly be back by October 15 for the next Battle of the Bands. While the electricity stays on, I think I might watch my close personal friend Jack Black in High Fidelity.

But I ask Marvin to sing us out.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug




Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"A THIRD OF THE HOMELESS PEOPLE IN AMERICA ARE OVER 50. I'M ONE OF THEM."

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Several days ago I read an important article on Vox about the increase in older people who are homeless. You can find it here: https://goo.gl/w94bEM


In case you don't have time to read the article, although I recommend making time, I'll sum it up for you: CeciliaSue Hecht experienced a series of losses and economic setbacks that led her to live in her car with her dog, Cici. They've been homeless for two years. Cecilia Sue is 66, has a college education, gets writing gigs and PR work when she can, but the economic hardships in the United States have had a severe effect on her ability to earn a living. She has also developed health problems.

CeciliaSue blogs at Have dog blog will travel, where you can see a photo of her boon companion, Cici.

CeciliaSue's story made its way to my heart and soul where it grabbed me and asked, What are you going to do about this?

My concern wouldn't let go, probably because homelessness is one of my greatest fears. Before my then husband served me with divorce papers, he sent me an email that said he fully expected to support me for one year.

One year? I'd be on the street in one year because I can't earn enough money to support myself. I was terrified to the point that I broke down and could barely function. I saw my doctor, who told me, No, Janie. Your husband will have to support you for the rest of your life.

So far, between maintenance (the new word for alimony), editing, and careful use of my funds, I'm okay. I have a small, comfortable house. I pray to God that I never lose my home.

After I read the Vox article, I became a follower of Have dog blog will travel, where I learned that a "YOUCARING" fund has been set up in an attempt to raise $10,000 for CeciliaSue and Cici. As of Tuesday, October 4, at 9 p.m., $2,385 has been donated at  https://www.youcaring.com/celiasue-hecht-594952.

How could I help? How much could I give? I go on a fun outing about once a year. During September, I saw Brian Wilson in concert. I took the amount I spent on the tickets added to the cost of gas and parking and eating dinner before the concert. That gave me the amount I could and should donate.

I have done so.

I won't ask you to make a donation. Perhaps you don't have money to spare. You probably support charities in your own communities.

But I've made you aware of CeciliaSue and Cici. Their situation provides us all with the opportunity to decide to make a difference.

If you can't donate money, then perhaps you have something else you can give, such as a job, your prayers, your good wishes, and publicizing the fundraising effort.

I hope you'll hold CeciliaSue and Cici in your hearts.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug