Good morning and welcome to another installment of “Meet My Neighbor.” People I’ve met via blogging on WordPress. Let me know if you’d like to make a cameo appearance. If you are reading, this, I would love to have you. This morning I’d like to introduce you to one of my regular “reads” via my wordpress reader. Her name is “MJ. Here is a transcript of a recent conversation:
DM: Alrighty then… here we go…I think what hooked me in terms of following along on your blog was two things…your account of how Hubb’s won your heart way back in the day, down in Texas (I think?) and secondly, that conversation you had with him later, when you and he were debating on whether to take another job promotion, or follow your heart…simplify your lives, find that home with the white screen door (or was it a picket fence?) and move to Michigan. Those were the first two “hooks” that got me, then finding out you are a farm girl from Canada who dearly loves the US of A….yep, salt of the earth, call it like you see it lady who knows how to hold her own in the work-a-day world…that is what I know about you… :-)
So, then tell me some additional stories about growing up on the farm..describe your dad for me…
My Dad was a wonderful man, quiet, gentle, wise and caring. He was a lifelong farmer, caretaker of the land and local Municipality Representative. I still feel his presence around me, and I am comforted by that. I have heard his voice a few times in the years since he died. It always brings me peace.
He taught me many things and he was a person who led by example, more here http://emjayandthem.com/2012/06/17/its-in-the-watching/
Spirituality –Dad was not an active church-goer but he was a man of faith. Some of my most significant spiritual moments happened with him present –http://emjayandthem.com/2010/12/23/one-christmas-night/
DM :You’ve written about your mom a time or two, she still comes to visit..but take me back in time to when you were growing up…where did you fall in line in the family tree?
Youngest of 5!! http://emjayandthem.com/2013/02/21/work-it-out/
DM : Pretty sure you didn’t have any brothers…what was that like growing up?
2 brothers AND 2 sisters!!
DM: How are you like your mom/ how are you like your dad?
Like Mom – love of politics, a good conversation, voracious reader, interested in people and the world. Like Dad – love of politics, a good conversation, voracious reader, interested in people and the world. She was more outspoken than he but they both were/are interesting and interested. I like to think I have some of that in me, too. And – both are/were fearless. There was nothing either one couldn’t do once they set their mind to it.
DM: Did you have to help out on the farm?What were your chores?
MJ: Oh yes, I helped in the house of course but my favorite chores were outside, feeding the chickens, horses, cows and pigs – bringing in the horses to their stalls in winter, helping get mama cows into the barns and waiting up with horses as the foaled.
DM :How has growing up on a farm shaped you as a person.
In a good way?
MJ :Growing up on the farm gave me a deep appreciation for the land and all it gives us; I still feel a strong affinity to the prairie and being in the woods makes me claustrophobic, I still have a huge need to see the horizon at all times …
Anything you didn’t (still don’t) like about that whole experience? Being a teenager was hard b/c living 30 miles from town meant most after-school activities were off-limits. However – I had a horse and land and cousins and sky and the freedom to explore it all without judgment. Perfection!
DM” What were your interests in high school?
MJ: Politics, reading, choir and theater.
DM :Did you have any sense of what you wanted to do once you graduated high school?
Options for girls were limited to nursing, teaching, being a secretary and being a farmer’s wife. As much as I loved my farm upbringing I knew there was more for me out there than the life I’d lived thus far. My parents exposed me to many things and were not surprised when I embraced them.
DM :I remember reading something about you interviewing musicians? Any highlights of that time in your life?
MJ:I worked in radio throughout my college years and did some interviews but mostly I did grunt work – behind the scenes – and learned that life is far more appealing-sounding than it is appealing
DM: Tell me the condensed version of your courtship with hubbs (or a link to that chapter in your life) :-)
DM :Same thing, about moving to Michigan (either a condensed version or a link)
DM :Blogging..what got you started blogging? Why do you blog?
MJ: Apparently I have a need to be heard.
DM: Are there certain themes you seem to come back to?
Relationships, life lessons and joy.
DM :What are some of the high lights of blogging/ any low lights?
MJ: The highlights have been the people I’ve “met” along the way – the blogging community is a very supportive group and has offered me a community I didn’t know I longed for.
DM: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends in person yet?
MJ :Not yet
DM: You know how to handle yourself in the kitchen..any family favorite recipe’s or meals you’d care to share?
Here is one of my own that is always a hit http://emjayandthem.com/2012/12/07/look-no-further-cheese-ball/ and whenever I visit a grieving family or new parents I bring these 2 items:
http://emjayandthem.com/2011/02/06/game-day-brownies/ and http://emjayandthem.com/2012/02/12/tlc-chicken-spaghetti/
DM ” How do you like your coffee?
MJ : Strong with lots of cream!!
DM: You have a day (or week) off..describe how you would want to spend it, if there were no job or family pressures dictating what you had to do.
MJ: I would most likely spend it at home – in my kitchen – with my Mp3 player shuffling between Gospel, Classical, Classic Rock and Dance tunes – and as I cooked or putzed I’d sing and dance and enjoy the moment – I work hard to have a nice home and I love to be home in it
DM: You like to read. Do you have any “must read” books on your shelf you’d like to share..if so, why? Tell me about the book.
Oh boy, too many to count – favorites of late include:
• Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen – far exceeds the movie),
• The Kite Runner (gripping and life changing),
• Everyday a Friday by Joel Osteen (this is one I have not yet fully read, I just read snippets from time to time – it’s wonderful),
• The Shack by Wm Paul Young (haunting, deeply moving),
• The Help by Kathryn Stockett (fantastic),
• The hour I first believed (Wally Lamb) – incredible,
• Marley & Me by John Grogan (bawled my face off and Frankie was still with us then),
• The art of racing in the rain (Garth Stein ) – beautiful,
• Princess Sultana’s Daughter by Jean Sasson (about feminine mutilation … searing),
• anything by Jodi Picoult by recently I read “Lone Wolf” and loved it.
• Learned a lot in “the 5 love languages” by Gary Chapman – fantastic guide to understanding how we communicate and who needs what, and
• “the 5 people you meet in heaven” by Mitch Albom made me cry rivers but laugh with delight, too.
• In my younger days I read some Stephen King but I’m too sensitive to handle anything with gore since I’ve had kids and grand kids
And finally, I’ve asked this to the other people I’ve interviewed as well, if you had the opportunity to stand before your state or national leaders and have 1 hour of their uninterrupted time, and you knew they were going to listen carefully to what you said, what would you tell them ?
MJ: I would be most respectful of the opportunity to address our national leaders and what I’d ask for – not tell them –is that they 1) listen – truly listen to what the citizens have to say and 2) find a way to take action. I think most of us want the squabbling to stop and the work to begin … find some middle ground, get the lobbyists out of the way and do the job they were elected to do.
DM :Well, that’s a wrap, MJ, thank you for taking the time to do this! Please feel free to check out MJ’s blog at: http://emjayandthem.com/