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When all else fails… there’s my readers!
THESE BEAUTIFUL LILIES are just one of the man captivating surprises Jane finds in her meanderings around her native world. Little surprises like this keep Jane out and moving, healthy and strong, and always on a quest to dis-cover the next surprise.

VIOLA - Many Mother’s Days ago, Dane came home from the co-op and showed me a card he’d purchased for his mom. I admired the card and agreed it was beautiful, then looked back at Dane and said, “If you got me lavender oil as a surprise when you were there, can I have it now?”

Dane’s face fell, then lifted again as he claimed he hadn’t gotten me the lavender oil that I love to sprinkle on my pillow each evening before bed.

I didn’t flinch, only held out my hand and stared into his brown eyes. He reached into his pocket, pulled out the tiny brown bottle of oil, dropped it into my palm, and called me a name as I squealed my delight. The name wasn’t nice, but it was said affectionately.

When we told this story to my daughter, she merely nodded and said, “Yep, that’s my mom.”

I love surprises, even if it’s hard to surprise me. Happily, I sometimes get them from a place I didn’t expect: my readers!


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Some Christmases ago, when I was both writing my column and volunteering as a DJ every Wednesday at WDRT, the local radio station, I pulled out of the mailbox a suspicious, flat, square package addressed to ‘Jane’s World.’ I skipped through the snow, into the house, and began to unwrap it.

Inside was a small note saying, “Happy Holidays! I liked your crow poems. Joe.” It was accompanied by a CD filled with lively music, which I was later able to use on my show. 

I was surprised, and continue to be each holiday when I find another small, square package from Joe tucked in my mailbox. 


* * * *


Recently, while packing for a trip, I took a break to sort through a mound of mail I’d been neglecting. Imagine my surprise when I found tucked in the mess a belated birthday card from reader Patricia, saying how she’d laughed out loud when reading about my painting experience in a recent column. She also stated that she appreciates my stories about my sister Jill and her journey with Alzheimer’s.

This wasn’t the first card Patricia has sent. She writes that she feels like she knows me through reading my weekly column. Funny thing is, I feel like I know her through the generous letters she includes in my birthday cards. It turns out I worked with her husband when I was employed at the Heart Center years ago. I hope someday we get to meet face to face!


* * * *


It was almost a year ago, when reader Charlie turned the tables by sending me a story she had written about my rat terrier mix, Finnegan, who is the main character in two children’s books I’ve written. The story is called ‘Finn’s Stalker’:


My name is Finnegan, but you can call me Finn. I live in southwest Wisconsin and I'm a big deal around here—a real star, if you know what I mean.

My Grandma Riley wrote a couple of books about the adventures she and I go on. When we go hiking, she also takes lots of pictures of me. I'm so photogenic–I could be a model! I’ve heard some younger folks call me ‘totes adorbs.’

Grandma Riley and I have gigs all over the place where we meet people and read to them from our books. You'd be impressed with how well I do with the young children who come to meet us. Sometimes, I get scared, but for the most part it's a good experience. I’m used to it by now—a real pro!

But with all this celebrity comes problems—actually, just one, but it’s big. I think I have a stalker. Every day around 1:30 in the afternoon the same car stops right in front of our house and just sits there for a minute or two.

This gets me and my big sister Téte in a huff and we bark like crazy and chase them off. When we do that, Grandma Riley gets scared too. I guess she wants us to get rid of them.

I don't know what this person wants from me. They could just come to the door and ask for an autograph or ask Grandma Riley if they can pet me. Maybe they want a lock of my fur. That would be creepy. Do you think I should get a restraining order?

It's 1:40 now and Téte and I just chased them off again. Good for us. There goes Grandma Riley to get the mail. Maybe there's something for me from BarkBox!


* * * *


After writing a weekly column for six years, it’s a nice surprise to learn that if I ever run out of things to write about, I can always turn to my readers for ideas!

Today, Thursday, July 18 marks the sixth year of ‘Jane’s World’ in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout.


Editor’s note: Congratulations Jane from the staff of the Independent-Scout. It’s been a blast reading your unique contributions over all those years–of course it seems like only yesterday that we ran our first ‘Jane’s World.’ For those reader’s that don’t already know ‘Jane’s World’ has won multiple awards for column writing from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.