Suzanne Jauchius and Jeanne Boylan, collaborators and friends, have both been asked,"Why can't you just be normal?"

Both Suzanne Jauchius, a modern day psychic, who sees things about people, and Jeanne, who works with crime victims to draw pictures of assailants, have written books about their search for authenticity.

Suzanne was only eight when her mother declared,"You can only go to the party if you promise not to bring home all the prizes…It's not normal."

But even with a blindfold, Suzanne could see where to pin the tail on the donkey or who had the thimble. She thought she was just clever and smart. Shamed for who she was, Suzanne began the lifelong quest to find her place - to find where she fit in - to find her way home. It took eight years of intense therapy, supportive friends and constant work to gain a new awareness of who she is and how she can use her gift.

Suzanne read excerpts from her new book, You Know Your Way Home, at a recent Brown Bag Lunch and Learn at the Central Library. She detailed how she overcame a lifetime of criticism and skepticism from those closest to her to follow her passion.

Now an intuitive consultant with an office in West Linn, Suzanne uses her ability to help others discover some truths about their lives. She and Jeanne Boylan first became acquainted when working together on a case in England. Jeanne was able to produce a sketch that is the precise face of the last person seen with the victim. Over the years, the two women became friends and have worked on many cases together including the PollyKlaas kidnapping.

Early in her career when Jeanne was still trying to leave the business of interviewing victims and drawing police sketches in order to have a normal life, Suzanne sees Jeanne "doing a lot of work for the FBI, writing a script or manuscript and working with a man named Ron or Rod… this work will never let you go..." All of this comes true.

Jeanne did work with the FBI, wrote a script and continues to work with police. She worked with law enforcement on the Susan Smith case and the Oklahoma City bombing and was the one to produce an accurate sketch of the Unabomber. Read about her interview techniques and details of the cases (as well as Suzanne's predictions) in Portraits of Guilt: The Woman Who Profiles the Faces of America's Deadliest Criminals.

My brother has a copy of the Rembrandt painting of The Return of the Prodigal Son outside his office. During a conversation about the painting, he mentioned that one of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, had written a book about that very painting.

Henri himself had been drawn to a copy of the painting. The original painting was acquired by Catherine the Great in 1766 and installed in The Hermitage, a museum that she founded in St. Petersburg, Russia. Through the courtesy of some friends, Henri was privileged to be allowed to spend many hours contemplating the painting. He relates how he studied the "light-enveloped embrace of the father, the son kneeling before him and the ... mysterious bystanders." He tells how he just looked and watched the interplay of light from the Hermitage window. "I was held spellbound by this gracious dance of nature and art."

Inspired by the painting and having faced a crisis in his own life's journey, Henri turned this experience into a wonderful book, The Return of the Prodigal Son.  
Henri observes how Rembrandt painted the two hands of blessing: one is a mother's tender loving hand, the other is a father's strong, firm hand of welcome and support. From his observations and examination of  his own life, Henri draws lessons for all of us. 

In looking at the painting, then into our own hearts, we see that we are sometimes like the prodigal son - we've run away, too. We are sometimes racked by resentment like the elder brother. And sometimes, with grace, we become the welcoming, forgiving, eager father. I've read the book twice and have only begun to scratch the surface of meaning.

And now, I've discovered Home Tonight: Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Edited by Sue Moesteller after Henri Nouwen's death, this book is based on his teaching and writing and every bit as inspiring. 

Joe Pickett, game warden in the Big Horn Mountain region of Wyoming, has now been featured in 10 novels beginning with Open Season

Nowhere to Run is the newest Pickett mystery by C.J. Box.
    
    Wyoming setting
    Camps looted
    Tents slashed
    Elk butchered
Do the right thing
    
    Runner missing
    Brothers hiding
    Suspense building
    Pickett searching
    Shootout ending
    Storm coming

Is this the harbinger of things to come in the next Joe Pickett novel?
 

A friend introduced me to Penguin's Great Journeys series of short travelogues. 
I began with Jaguars & Electric Eels by Alexander Von Humboldt. Containing excerpts from the last three volumes of the thirty volume set of Von Humboldt's account of his journey around the New World in 1799, this book is full of sights, sounds and adventures of this thinker and traveler.

Another fun series of travel tales is Crown Journeys by Crown Publishing. This series of literary travel books tries to match interesting writers with interesting places. The writers are all known for their work in other genres: Christopher Buckley on WashingtonTim Cahill on Yellowstone and Chuck Palahniuk on Portland, among others. The only rule of the format is that the writers take their journeys on foot, hence the books tend to be personal and often quirky. 
 

 

In preparation for a visit to the East Coast, I read Frank Conroy's Time and Tide: a Walk Through Nantucket and Land's End and Land's End: A Walk Through Provincetown by Michael Cunningham. Both are in the Crown Journeys series.


Traveller's History is another good series, particularly for the armchair traveler looking for a nutshell history. The library owns many titles in the series - from Canada to Athens to Turkey to New Zealand and the South Sea Islands. Take a look at the variety.

If you are traveling in the United States, look for the Art of the State series. These nifty little books have state symbols, cultural arts, roadside attractions and lists of tourist destinations to enhance enjoyment of the state.

Happy trails!

 

 

Sometimes I think that I am drawn to books of sorrow. Rather, maybe, I am more attracted to how people survive and work out their grief. 

Perhaps it was too soon for the author to write of his daughter Amy's untimely death from heart failure at age 38.  Making Toast: a Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt is so filled with raw sorrow, a touch of bitterness and tender stories of helping to raise three young grandchildren. The children call him, Boppo, and his wife, Ginny becomes Mimi as their lives are forever changed.

Roger Rosenblatt may be familiar from his columns in The Washington Post or Time Magazine. He is also a Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University and the author of the hilarious novel, Lapham Rising

Facing this terrible loss is torture, but caring for the children becomes a joy. 

Always the teacher, Boppo gives the children a new word each morning to mull and savor. These 'Word of the Morning' stories sprinkled throughout the book and the quiet way that the Rosenblatts instill a love of reading are some of my favorite parts of this memoir. Bubbies, the youngest child, is just under two. One evening just before bedtime, Bubbies points to one of the books in the den and says, "book." It is a copy of The Letters of James Joyce, but Boppo takes the book down and instead reads a story of Bubbies' adventure on the playground. 

    "I try to put back the book, but he detects an implicit announcement of his bedtime, and he protests. "Joyce!" he says. Eventually, he resigns himself to the end of his day. He puts the book back himself, and quietly says, "Joyce."

Ginny puts her feelings into the startling poem "Arch of Shade" as she grapples with leading her daughter's life by caring for the children. 

    Arch of Shade

    Rachmaninoff and Mozart
    Sift through the haze
    On River Road.
    Two hatted women wait 
    In the heat for the Ride-on-Bus.
    The Wii is the summer wish
    Come true.
    Your babies' crib is disassembled
    And taken away 
    Accepted
    With gratitude
    To be the bed for a new life.

    I am turning 
    To the camp carpool line
    Only thinking of you.
    The arch of shade hovers
    The hot July sun rays
    Dapple the leaf arch
    To highlight the darkness. 

    I am here.

Roger astutely comments on his wife and her poetry; "Her graciousness distracts people from noticing that she is alert to life's dark places. She prefers it that way. Her poems hit their mark, but gently. They crack the egg without breaking it."  

Making Toast will both break your heart and show you what is possible in dealing with grief.

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