Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I love to brag about the cool people I meet online and the great things they make. Today I want to introduce you to


Donna very kindly gave me
permission to use photos from her blog.

who lives and blogs at The Poor Farm.

Once a month, Donna features Saponification Saturday on her blog, when she has her soap for sale, and let me tell you, it is the God-blessingest-best soap ever (if you don't remember "saponification," think about that darn chemistry class you had to take).

These are not some namby-pamby, teeny-tiny bars of soap that cost a fortune and are gone in a week. No, these are serious bars of soap that will last you a good long while and are a steal at $5 a bar, plus shipping and handling.

In fact, I hope that people who receive Christmas gifts from me are not reading this post, but if you are reading, now you know that you will open your gift on Christmas morning to find soap made with all-natural ingredients.

Currently, Donna has these soaps available (she'll sell out fast, so hurry up and order while you can by emailing her at opies99@gmail.com): peppermint, lavender/Geranium Rose, eucalyptus, and coffee.

When I ordered some peppermint soap, the mail carrier left the box on my front steps. As soon as I opened the door, I could smell the peppermint. It is luscious.

This soap makes a great, unique gift.

I wish you Happy Soap Shopping at The Poor Farm.

And if you receive a Christmas box from me, please forget that you read this post and act surprised when you open your gift!

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. I didn't receive anything in return for writing this post. I wrote it because Donna makes way cool soap.


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Instead of giving you a tip today, I request your assistance.

My story about Aggie, which some of you have been reading a bit at a time as I add to it, says

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.

A few of you have commented that you think waddled is out of place, that it seems kind of comical in a sad story.

Robyn suggested trudged as a replacement. I like trudged, but the reason I chose waddled is that I want to convey that Aggie is overweight.

The Super Thesaurus has these synonyms for waddle:

walk like a duck

I don't think any of these are right.

Synonyms for trudge:

drag's one feet

What do you think about replacing waddled with slogged? Not comical, but still conveys that she's loaded down with kids and she's overweight?

I always seek the perfect word. Which word is perfect in this case?

And am I too wordy? Should I make cuts? For example,

Elliot hanging on for dear life to her left hand

Is hanging on for dear life trite? Instead it could read hanging onto her left hand. Is hanging by itself enough?

I always warn my clients to avoid wordiness. I need to listen to my own advice.

I long to read your opinions.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

A new possibility:

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Dear Hearts and Gentle People,

Today is my last post––for a while, not forever––and I want to use it to recommend a new book for children. It's Dirt by Jamie W. Mitchum, and it's illustrated by our friend, blogger Brandon Ax of Writer's Storm.

Dirt is a boy who happens to be a worm, but his experiences are universal to those of children. He has a crush on a girl. He gets embarrassed in front of her. For a while, Dirt can't be with his family, so he has to learn to make decisions on his own. He meets all sorts of creative characters on his journey through young wormhood.

It just so happens that this book was edited by your very own Junebug, and I enjoyed the experience very much. You can purchase Dirt on Amazon at https://goo.gl/cmliV4

Dirt makes a good chapter book for young readers, or you can read it aloud to children, your dog, or yourself.

Dirt has The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest and Happiest Approval. A visit to Amazon to purchase Dirt will make your Christmas shopping easier, and you'll make a child and a new author smile.

Congratulations, Jamie!

And if you haven't already done so, it's time to 

Infinities of love and see you soon,

Janie Junebug

Monday, November 7, 2016


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The song was Faith. The contenders were George Michael and Limp Dicksit.

I thought it would be a shut-out, but the pretty much hated Wimp Bisquick managed to get a few votes.

George Michael  18
Limp Bizkit         3

Jeffrey Scott asked in his comment if I'd heard Weird Al's version of Faith. I hadn't, and sadly, I couldn't find it. But I did find Marcus J. Freed, so let's ask him to sing us out.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Michael D'Agostino has decided to continue The Question of the Month, although he won't participate himself. He's a busy, busy guy.

"When was your first kiss?" is Michael's question for November.

Ah, Michael, I think I was thirteen or fourteen. I liked a boy who had kind of long blonde hair and blue eyes. What a shock when I learned he liked me, too.

I invited him over to my house. Of course, my parents were at home. When we had a moment alone, he leaned over to kiss me. But he stuck his tongue in my mouth!

I didn't know what to do. It was my first kiss, and this boy's tongue explored my tonsils.

I think I gagged a bit before I bit his tongue. You bit me, he said.

Ahhrmuhbah, I replied.

We talked on the phone almost every evening for a few weeks. I went to his house once. The parents were not at home. His sister, older by only one or two years, sat in a circle with her group of much-older friends. They passed around a joint. Ash fell on my shirt and burned a hole in it.

I don't know how it happened, I told my eagle-eyed mother when she noticed.

Our romance was brief. He liked me more than I liked him. Besides, I still didn't know what to do with someone's tongue down my throat.

I broke up with him. We never spoke again, but I had plenty of tongues enter my mouth over the years, and I learned what to do with them.

Our class had a reunion several years ago. The list of the deceased included the boy with the long blonde hair who gave me my first kiss.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, November 4, 2016


On Monday I'll have a Question of the Month post for you along with the results of my Battle of the Bands (obviously, the winner will be George Michael, in case I don't get around to it).

Then I need to take a blogging break.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Yesterday I reviewed Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder and edited by Pamela Smith Hill.

Pioneer Girl was to be a story for adults, but no publisher picked it up. Later, it became the basis for the Little House series of children's books.

One of the stories told in Pioneer Girl that was too adult for the Little House books––although supposedly I'm an adult and it scares the crap out of me––is that of the Bender family.

You must keep in mind that not all of Wilder's recollections about her childhood can be traced as fact, but she remembered that as a little girl living with her family on the prairie in Kansas, Pa had to make the long trip to Independence more than once. On his way home from such a trip, he considered staying at the Benders. Kate Bender asked him to have supper there and spend the night. He felt it was better to hurry home.

Wilder writes: One night just about sundown a strange man came riding his horse up to the door on a run. Pa hurried out and they talked a few minutes. Then the man went away as fast as he had come, and Pa came into the house in a hurry. He would not wait for supper, but asked Ma to give him a bite to eat right away, saying he must go. Something horrible had happened at Benders.

It seems the Benders welcomed travelers loaded down with goods to eat with them and stay the night. The travelers sat with their backs to a curtain. The "guests" were attacked from behind the curtain, killed, and buried. Of course, the Benders kept their possessions.

Then Pa said, "They found a little girl, no bigger than Laura. They'd thrown her in on top of her father and mother and tramped the ground down on them, while the little girl was still alive."

It was easy for the Benders to carry on their grisly business because settlers who came to Kansas were out of the reach of their families. It was difficult to so much as send a letter.

Wilder also wrote that when she was older, she spoke to Pa about the Benders because he had been one of the vigilantes who had ridden after them. Pa assured her that the Benders would never be found.

As frightening as this story is, according to the annotations, it's not likely that Charles Ingalls would have stopped at the Benders. It wasn't close enough to the route he took. Wilder stated in a Book Fair speech that her family stopped at the Benders for water, and she saw Kate Bender in the doorway. But the Benders did not yet live in Indian Territory when the Ingalls family arrived.

Moreover, Wilder was two years old when they arrived in Kansas and four when they left. The terrifying stories of the Benders may have confused her, or perhaps she wanted to associate her family with a notorious name in order to excite interest in her work.

At any rate, the Benders existed; they had an inn and grocery store; and eight to eleven bodies, including a young girl, were found buried in the orchard behind the Benders' cabin––although some newspaper accounts placed the number of bodies higher.

The name Bender becomes a very frightening one because of the realistic way in which Wilder tells the story.

Kate Bender
The Bender family consisted of an older couple and
a younger one, who were thought to be brother and sister
but might have been married.

For another account of the Bloody Benders, see https://goo.gl/A9CPv2.

I don't know how much of this information is correct, but it will give you a post-Halloween fright. Pretty obvious why the story didn't make it into the Little House books.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Whether you're a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books or interested in the evolution of a manuscript into a series of autobiographical novels, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a beautifully conceived and carefully researched book.

As the book states, "The Pioneer Girl Project is a research and publishing program of the South Dakota State Historical Society, working since 2010 to create a comprehensive edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl." The editor of the book is Pamela Smith Hill, but it involves the contributions of an untold number of people.

When I was growing up, my favorite books were those in the Little House series. I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's books over and over. I admired Laura's strength and sympathized with her fears. I cried when Jack the brindle bulldog died. I was shocked when Laura's sister Mary became ill and lost her sight. I sighed with joy when she became engaged to Almanzo Wilder and allowed him to kiss her goodnight. Every episode, every moment in the books, was a treasure to me.

When I was twenty-two years old, I visited the home the Wilders built in Mansfield, Missouri. I'm not sure when I learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a manuscript titled Pioneer Girl. It was intended for adults, and in spite of a great deal of work on it by Wilder and her daughter––Rose Wilder Lane, who was already a successful author––Pioneer Girl was never accepted for publication.

However, Pioneer Girl led Wilder to write her famous series of children's books, and perhaps it was twenty years ago when I learned that I could purchase a copy of Pioneer Girl from The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, which houses a collection of Rose Wilder Lane's papers. I had to have that manuscript.

When it arrived in the mail, I read it with fascination. It included so much information that Laura Ingalls Wilder [LIW] did not use in her books because the stories were not appropriate for young readers or because facts were eliminated to further promote the books' overarching theme of independence.

Now we have this annotated version of the autobiography. It is a work of art––a large hardcover book with a beautiful illustration on the cover, illustrations from the Little House books throughout, and best of all, the scholarly annotations that illuminate the choices LIW made when she wrote her books.

One of the most interesting examples to me is that the Ingalls family did not live alone during The Long Winter. A young couple and their baby lived with the family. The man of this family was quite unpleasant. Rose Wilder Lane argued that they should be included in the book to provide a greater variety of characters. LIW decided they would be eliminated because it was important for the family to face the elements alone, even though they moved from their claim shanty into town. Living in town served little purpose. It was the Ingalls family against the blizzards, the howling winds, and the need for food.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Greatest and Highest and Amazingest Approval.

I must warn you that the annotations are in sidebars and they are numerous. It took me many hours to read this book, but they were hours filled with delight.

Happy reading!

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. Tomorrow I'll tell you about a frightening incident from Pioneer Girl that was excluded from LIW's children's books.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Please forgive me if it takes me a couple of days to visit your blogs and especially you Band-Aids who participate in the Battle of the Bands.

I have a problem to solve and it requires a lot of attention.


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for the November 1, 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 righty, then. Let's have fun!

Do you remember this guy?

It's George Michael before he got into a
wee-wee bit of trouble.

Faith, from George Michael's debut album, was 1988's top selling single in the U.S. George Michael wrote the song, so he is our first contender: 

And now for something completely different, it's Limp Bizkit (my son told me to use this version so if you don't like it please blame it on him):

Limp Bizkit's version of Faith, with heavier drumming and guitar playing, was popular in their live performances, so they decided to include it on their 1998 debut album because they like to "cover cheesy pop songs."

Now it's your turn. Please tell us in your comment if you prefer George Michael's or Limp Bizkit's Faith, and why. I'll return on November 7 to add up the votes and announce the winner.

Please visit Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy to get a complete list of the participants in this bloghop so you can visit everyone. Perhaps you'll even decide to join us.

Now, do you know who this guy is?

Righty-roo, it's George!
He's younger than I am, but I'm
quite certain I look better.
He needs to get my Sam Sam to do
something to his hair.

Infinities of love and joy,

Janie Junebug