“I’m writing an unauthorized autobiography.”
– Steven Wright
Janis wanted to go to medical school, but wound up earning a living as a corporate lawyer in an office in Manhattan.
“Don’t grieve. Everything you lose comes around in another form.”
Vacation travel fed her lifelong passion for history at, among other places, sites associated with William the Conqueror. A sympathetic guide at Falaise Castle, on a chilly day when nobody else was around, let her clamber up to alarming heights and into precarious parts not normally accessible to tourists. That nice guide, by the way, explained that his red hair and blue eyes reflected the Viking part of his Norman heritage.
The castle seen at Falaise today, though often described as the Conqueror’s birthplace, was actually built later (and, about eight hundred years after that, occupied by German troops as a lookout tower during World War II)––but William was born in the neighborhood, the illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy and a local girl, Herleva.
Reading everything she could find on the Conqueror, Janis has walked over his battlefields in both Normandy and England, explored his castles––most notably the Tower of London; Windsor awaits a future visit––and retraced his footsteps at places such as Abbaye le Bec-Hellouin and the beautiful ruins of Abbaye Jumièges, which was consecrated in his presence in 1067. With insights drawn from Wall Street and warfare, she wrote a historical novel based on the Conqueror’s life.
After being widowed for the second time, Janis went to trucking school in Lebanon, Tennessee, a move she only understood in retrospect as fulfilling a need to “get away from it all.” The truck in the picture is “Old Number Nine,” the busted-up truck on which she did most of her training.
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
To say that Janis––already of a certain age and then some––never expected to be treated like the belle of the ball by male truckers is putting it mildly. This astounding phenomenon began in trucking school and continued as she drove cross-country for half a year. In other ways as well the experience for her was an enlightening, stimulating, exhausting visit within another world, and she’s using it in writing an adventure novel on the theme best expressed by Monty Python:
“And now it’s time for something completely different.”
– Monty Python
Janis’s interests other than travel and history include music, art, animals, rocks & minerals, politics (her undergraduate degree is in political science) and hiking, “the athletic endeavor in which there’s no right or wrong and no score: the goal is to do it.” She has done Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon many times, as well as hiking other southwestern National Parks, and she went on a Sierra Club hiking tour of Italy’s Apennine Mountains in 2013.
She lives with her husband in the Arizona desert with their five dogs, six cats (“Because everywhere I go, animals stick to me”) and two horses.
“I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”
― Abraham Lincoln