It’s the Thanksgiving Edition of Ask Jana! I can tell you are all thinking about food. I am thinking about you all thinking about food. I am also super thankful that you all keep asking me things. On to it…

Green chile red chile
Hot hot hot!

Sandy: Do you think the Hostess mediation will be successful?

I say yes because it HAS to be because…Susan and I have this deal as co-workers. The deal is kind of our version of The Red Button that the President can use to launch a nuclear weapon, except it involves a bag of Hostess Doughnuts, spelled “Donettes” by Hostess (a spelling fact which may or may not have anything to do with why they can’t seem to manage cash or employees). We have agreed that if we ever have a day where everything completely goes to absolute hell, we will pull into a truck stop and buy a bag (not a roll of five, but a BAG) of Hostess Donettes and eat them all. We are super proud that this day has not come in 5 years of working together, but we always want the option to be there. Meditate on, Donette Bakettes.

Jimmie Bell: Is it wrong to hoard fall mix candy corn? Even if one eats it all before Christmas?

No, solely because you’re not hoarding if you are eating them. If I came over next August and you had bags of fall candy corn in your closet, you would be a jerk and a hoarder and the candy corn would be very hard and possibly break teeth. Right now, however, is prime candy cornin’ time. Eat up.

Dina: cranberry sauce ~ yay or nay? If yay, then jellied or whole berries?

You know what? I’m going for the nostalgia call here and admitting I am a canned jellied cranberry consumer all the way. I LIKE seeing the ridges from the grooved metal on the sides of my gelatinous, quivering cranberries, because I know they came from a simple can, just like the Pilgrims intended. I was raised on that stuff, and I eat it in slivers with a butter knife. Now you know too much.

Brid: Stuffing … Inside or outside the bird?

This might be un-American, but I feel like shoving absorbent material up the carcass of a bird and then removing it and then eating it is a tad much. I do eat turkey quite willingly, but I like my stuffing on the outside and seasoned with non-poultry-bodily juices.

Marsha: White meat or dark? Cornbread or bread crumb dressing?

I have to go with a little of both on the white versus dark…and the best way to eat turkey is the day after Thanksgiving on a sandwich with mayonnaise. There is nothing better. I come from a bread crumb family. Corn bread stuffing is foreign to us.

Heather: How many Thanksgiving foods will have chile of some sort added to them?

Every single one, I say. Even pumpkin pie could use a red chile kick. Ooo. Nobody steal that idea for next year before I can capitalize on it.

Sherry: Do messiest cooks really make the best cooks…or are they just messier?

I think they might be perfectly capable of turning out some delicious foods, but I know some pretty non-messy cooks who do really well. I am a clean as I go person because I am that OCD sometimes.

Laurie: In-laws or Outlaws? Monkeys or Honey Badgers? Indecision: May or May Not be a problem?

I have cool in-laws, honey badgers because they don’t give a…and indecision is ok unless we’re talking about cranberries.

Amy: What do you think is behind the return to pop-culture prominence of both bacon and owls?? Can we harness this power to boost our careers as independent artists? I like owls. Well, bacon too.

I think it has to do with a rise in popularity of things from the 70’s, thanks mostly to hipsters. Owls of course being resurrected from the macrame decorative style of the 1970’s and bacon being derivative of the traditional “fatback” of the 1870’s that I am so familiar with because of the game “Oregon Trail.” It’s quite clear. As for harnessing the next big thing career-wise, I suggest that thing called “Revolution” that was so popular in the 1770’s in these parts.

Lisa: Shampoo or nopoo?

Today it’s nopoo and my hair is showing it, but I am a shampoo fan. My friend Amy taught me to pour some peppermint essential oil in your normal conditioner and it makes your scalp tingle and definitely wakes you up. Try it in the summer.

Corey: How do you write songs, lyrics first or a melody?

It’s different every time. Bill Monroe used to say he didn’t write songs, he plucked them out of the air. Taylor Swift dates people, dumps them, and writes songs. I tend to wrestle mine into submission.

Stephanie: How does discord play a part in modern discourse?

It seems as if all we have is discord in our modern discourse, but it has been pointed out lately that at least while we’re all bellowing at each other and not listening nor trying to really work anything out in our political landscape (a generalization, I know), our transitions of power are peaceful and for that, I am thankful for our modern ways of discourse.

Michael: “Story-truth is sometimes truer than happening truth.” Yes? No? Why?

Perhaps not truer, but story-truth is always more interesting than happening truth. That’s the truth.

Teresa: What do you like best about me?

Your willingness to ask me questions so I might blog the answers.

Jon: In your opinion, what is/are the worst song(s) ever recorded?

Man, I don’t know. There are some tunes out there I’d rather not ever hear again. Tiptoe Through the Tulips comes to mind…but someone likes that stuff. I can’t even make that call.

Ellee: What is your stance on drinking while grading? There seems to be a lot of it in my near future.

I think drinking while grading might benefit both the teacher and the student as long as you are careful not to spill any on the papers. Driving while grading? That’s a no no.

Deborah: What’s your favorite kind of pie and who makes it best?

My Mom rocks a strawberry pie that was my Dad’s favorite; he requested it for his birthday every year. Now I want strawberry pie and it’s pumpkin season. Thanks, Deb. Rhubarb (without strawberry to corrupt it’s tartness) is probably my most favorite, though…also made by Mom. (I also just had a delicious Coconut Cream Pie for my birthday from the Flying Saucer Pie Company in Houston thanks to my friend Nancy Jane. It was amazing).

Tammy: So… I am curious why in 90%+ of the motion pictures streets/ pavements appear to to wet? Or did it just rain in all scenes?

I am pretty sure it’s because the pavement is stained with the fallen tears of brokenhearted former child actors in Hollywood who never actually climbed the ladder to “attractive leading role player” and went straight to roles such as “Unreliable 20-something nutcase” and “Odd looking indie film actor who is too skinny.” I’d cry, too.

That’s all folks…but one more thing. These questions get asked of me on Facebook (where you can ask, too!), and this answer in comment form came from Susan, who apparently had a long stopover at a truck stop on the way to Wyoming for the holiday:

Hey- since it’s thankgsgivingandimsothankfulforjanaimgoingtoanswersomeoftheseqiestionstogiveherabreak

She’s right, too. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Lots of good music stuffs going on this month…both spectating and participating. First up: HOBRO…an all girl band named HOBRO because we can.

Elizabeth Wills, Christa Hillhouse, Susan Gibson, and moi formed a girl band to play our friend Anna’s benefit out in Wimberley, TX. We played only Susan Gibson songs, so it was kind of like a Susan Gibson cover band featuring Susan Gibson. I got to bring my newish electric guitar out for a spin. Aaaannd…I also Photoshopped us a promo shot:


We didn’t do our hair quite the same…I am standing creepily in the dark.


I played a very fun show with the illustrious Emily Shirley and Katie Lessley at Flipnotics in Austin…we always have fun together.


As a spectator…I had a 90’s nostalgia fit watching Alanis Morissette throw down at Stubb’s. Her new album is great, and her old stuff really holds up. I still remember all the words to Ironic, which impressed me.

Alanis Morissette - Stubb's

Susan played a great show in Fort Smith, Arkansas with Wendy Colonna and Shelley King. They take a good photo, too!

Wendy, Susan, Shelley

Last weekend it was The Rice Festival in Fischer, TX with Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines!

Terri and Lloyd at Rice Fest

Keepin’ it real…go see some music.


For my birthday this year my friends Nancy Jane and Susan kidnapped me and we ended up in Port Aransas on the Gulf, hanging out, eating good things, and enjoying the maritime life. They are the best!

Nancy Jane has a cool tradition for birthdays and other occasions – wish balloons! Everyone writes their wish for birthday folk on a balloon and everyone launches it into the ether. We of course used biodegradable balloons, which I did not know existed up until last week. There we go. I bet they taste good?

Wish Balloon
Translations: Peace, love, money, happiness, and Apple products.

Captain Tom
Captain Tom


The big surprise was a sailing trip with Captain Tom…who let us drive and help raise the sails. Before we met the boat Nancy Jane told me to bring a change of clothes just in case and she said the panic in my face was quite apparent…but no one fell overboard and no one needed new pants, so I call that a successful outing…and a successful birthday!

I am starting this post a month in advance in hopes that my foresight will allow a well-thought out treatise on my entrance into my next decade of living.  What will probably happen is that I’ll put this off until the night before, but regardless…here we go.

…and immediately I stalled and wandered away from this post. Now it’s…the day before my birthday, and I decided that I need to frame this as a “What Do I Want My Nieces and Nephews To Know?” post.

Time to look smart, put on your glasses!

You see, I was what they term a “Surprise! Baby.” I am not that much older than my nieces and nephews, and I am quite a bit younger than my siblings. We all get along. I call this a fortuitous circumstance. Some of them are in high school, some in college, some are on the beginning stages of their work and family lives. What do I want to tell them? Oh, some of them read this blog. WHAT DO I WANT TO TELL YOU GUYS?

In no order:

Read all the time. When I got out of college I was so DONE with reading, because I had so much to read for class. It took me a few years, but I discovered there were plenty of interesting reads out there that I would not be tested on. Read fiction, read non-fiction, read current events, read magazines, read blogs…everything. Every interview I have read with a successful businessperson or politician has stated that absorbing information is a key source of success. I believe this applies to all facets of life.

If you have a passion to do something, do it.
You’ll figure it out. Do it on the side of your day job or make it into your day job, either one. Whatever makes sense. Don’t let the nagging desire to do/be something sit there for too long, or it starts eating away at you. I told my 7th grade teacher I wanted to be a guitarist and he said guitarists don’t make any money. Last week I made $100 for playing guitar and I got paid for traveling and working with musicians I love. Sorry, Mr. V…wrong answer.

The way to get a job is to network and connect. There are postings for 1000’s of jobs online and tens of thousands of people apply for them. You might get hired that way, for sure. The odds are higher, though, that someone you meet will hook you up with something good if you announce what you want to everyone you know. Make it a practice to introduce people to each other, too…this keeps the wheel going around.

Eat well. At some point you’ll start to be curious about where your food comes from and how its source affects your body. I’m no vegan, but I tried it for a while and I’m glad. Experiment a lot with new foods from different cultures. Learn to cook. Read about what it means to eat meat, dairy, organic, non-organic, etc. I don’t have a Food Path for you to follow, but just be educated on all aspects of the fuel you put in your body, even if it’s a Twinkie (ack).

Boxes Schmoxes. Fitting into some sort of box…how I *think* I should be, has been the cause of a great deal of stress and worry in my 20’s, as with most people I imagine. Nothing terrible but perhaps a lot of time wasted worrying about unchangeable things or insignificant things.  I have heard this might let up in my 30’s, and perhaps that suggestion has brought about a sense of relief. Bring it on, and stop worrying so much.

Have fun for goodness’ sake! Sometimes a Puritan value and work ethic set in, and we get into the groove that “work” and “responsibility” are separate from “fun,” which is just a happy bonus that happens sometimes. I call bull. There’s too much to enjoy around this planet to not have fun, and if you work hard (there is space for that work ethic thing for sure), you will find that place where “ability to feed yourself” meets your calling, and that is a fun thing to know. Do it.

I’m sure this list will grow, but simple is good. Feel free to add your additions in the comments!

Jana and the Nieces at Pike Place Market
Some of the amazing nieces I have…y’all better read this.