Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

29. I admired this friend because of the following talents.

I admired my friend Jane Thornburg because of her individuality. Jane is an artist, which always impresses me, as I am not. But, mostly she has a sense of her own style which is very individual and clear and she has as long as I've known her. I met her when I went to my second high school, in Modesto. I was a junior and Jane was a sophomore when we met; we were introduced by Michael, who was also a sophomore and in my geometry class. I was the only non-sophomore in the class, having had to drop out the previous year because after I had missed school to have my tonsils out, I had impetigo and wasn't allowed to go to school until it had cleared up (those being the days before antibiotic creams, and impetigo being highly contagious). Otherwise, I never would have met Michael, and Michael would never have introduced me to Jane and I would never have introduced them to Robert and then Jane and Robert wouldn't have had David and Michael and I wouldn't have had Julie and I wouldn't be Maya's Granny.

Anyway, Jane was, like me, living with her great-aunt, which gave us a unique thing in common, as that wasn't standard in 1958. Aunt Kay, like Auntie, was more sophisticated than the parents of most of our contemporaries, so we had a more cosmopolitan outlook than the average high school student in the small, farming community we lived in. Jane came from New England, which also gave her a distinctly different perspective for California -- Jane and I were the only two students I knew who hadn't grown up in Modesto, who were aware of how provincial it was.

When I did my term paper in American Literature on James Thurber, Jane copied a few of his cartoons to include (Thurber and Jane were both acknowledged), which delighted Mr. Marconi. He said that it was wonderful to get to the last report in the pile and find cartoons to make him smile and wake him up. I'm sure that was at least part of the reason I got such a good grade.

Jane did things that totally delighted and surprised me. One day, when we were walking in Berkeley, a man came up to Jane (who was wearing a pendant watch) and asked if she had the time. "Yes," she said, and in literal New England fashion, walked on. When I asked her why she hadn't told him what time it was, she was surprised that I thought that he had asked.

While Robert, Michael, and I went to UC Berkeley, Jane went to San Francisco State. I don't think there is much if any campus housing at SFS, since Jane rented a wonderful Victorian apartment with a bay window and high ceiling and all sorts of architectural interest. And then, which was a thing I had not known a tenant could do, she painted it to please herself. I was soooo impressed. Jane found Cost Plus and furnished her apartment in imported beauty.

When Jane and Robert were married, Jane was the first person I knew to bake her own bread and prepare recipes from unusual sources. These days she lives in Grass Valley with her second husband in a wonderful house with an open floor plan and masses of windows that they built themselves. She has had to dislodge the neighbor's peacocks from her rafters and the last time I was there, I watched a small green amphibian of some sort flit across her kitchen floor. The house is full of her art and feels just like her. Open, lovely, not overly organized or conventional.

I think that Aunt Kay may have been a bit eccentric, as well.

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