Holland Days Sauce – Interview with a fellow blogger

One day I got a comment on my blog with an URL to another blog attached. So I followed that URL and came to this blog written by a woman in Holland. My first thought was, “Wow! How did someone in Holland find me?”, but upon further and furtive investigation I discovered this blogger to be someone with whom I had a medium-sized pile of mutual friends on Facebook.

Funny, those Facebook mutual friends; just today I discovered that I share a mutual friend – a gadabout with a zillion friends or some such thing – with a woman on the Harold and Clay FB page who was angrily suggesting a boycott of all of Sonoma County for the manner in which a handful of officials very wrongly treated Clay Greene and Harold Scull, and who somewhat viciously attacked and insulted those of us who were trying to suggest a more peaceful protest rather than cause fiscal harm to all residents of Sonoma County, and wine growers of the county, simply for the crime of living where the incident transpired, but that’s another story. Sigh. I was called out pretty well for asking why the wineries and residents were responsible for this incident, and also called out for my words and grammar by a guy shouting in all caps and other more obvious grammatical transgressions. That is one angry group. No wonder people won’t sign petitions. Though I wish they would.


And now to the interview, a far lovelier topic. :-)

Name- Janice Eileen Sorensen

Blog- www.magpiefarm.wordpress.com

Where are you from and how did you come to live there?

At the moment, I am on an extended stay in the Netherlands and am currently funemployed.  I am here with my partner Michael, son, Langston (15 yrs old) and daughter, Della (18).  We came because Michael, who normally teaches English and American Studies at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts got a Fulbright Scholarship to teach here in Holland for a semester.

We LOVE it here but are also excited to return at the end of June, to our three dogs, three cats and fluctuating number of goats and chickens at our home in Buckland MA.

When did you start blogging?

At one of my pre-departure goodbye parties, someone said, “Hey, you should do a blog while you’re gone.”  Blame them.

Are you one of those people who studied english or journalism? If so, do you know how to properly punctuate and/or use a style guide or any of that? Because I totally do not know any of those things, and am curious about the world of officially knowing what you are doing.

I LOVE proper punctuation and grammar because I ADORE clarity.  It is hard enough to communicate in person with the one who knows and loves you and who thinks the best of you.  The diametric opposite of this is what takes up the greater part of how we most of us communicate today, all day, every day: email, FB, twitter, what-have-you.  It is sooo easy to be misunderstood and the less attention you pay to grammar, diction and punctuation the more you increase the likelihood of miscommunication. There is a book out there the title and cover of which I love because it says it all:

Here is what Wiki has to say about the book:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation is a non-fiction book written by Lynne Truss, the former host of the BBC Radio 4’s Cutting a Dash programme. In the book, published in 2003, Truss bemoans the state of punctuation in the United Kingdom and the United States, and describes how rules are being relaxed in today’s society. Her goal is to remind readers of the importance of punctuation in the English language by mixing humour and instruction.

Do you edit? Like, do you go back and re-read what you have written and fix up sentences?

Always.  I sort of love to edit.  Well, love and hate.  It is kind of where my possible leanings toward OCD lurk.  In fact, I am in a creative writing class here (I do my best work when I have a deadline or obligation, so consequently, love to take classes as a way of creating that for myself.  Hey, whatever works, right?).  As a part of the class we do peer editing.  I am telling you, the first week or two I spent so much time editing my peers’ papers  it was unbelievable.  But by the third week, I created an alternative for myself  because I was a bit out of control, and I arranged to peer edit with just one woman who was extremely productive and not so very good with English, it being one of several languages that she speaks and not her first.

Do you ever actually decide to write and sit down with a topic?

Often, I will find themes popping up in my life. Like everyone, I go through my day collecting random data.  I am a person who loves metaphor so when different aspects of the data line up to make metaphor I work it into my writing.  For example, one of the first topics of my blog, Holland Days’ Sauce ( http://magpiefarm.wordpress.com/ )had to do with loss and appreciation.  I had been losing things all week, just shortly after the earthquake in Haiti.  As I pondered the losses of the Haitian people, I gained perspective and shared that perspective in my post.

Do you ever not decide and it just happens?

Sometimes I will just start to write and blab things out on paper until something interesting emerges.  If and (usually) when it happens, I go back and edit out all the nonsense.  Though it may have been a necessary part of the end product, I dont want to subject my readers to too much “blah, blah, blah.”

How would your writing be different if you were anonymous?

Goodness, that is a great question.  It is certainly a tricky aspect of writing for a wide audience all/most of whom know me personally.  In most areas of my life, I make a real effort to be honest and authentic.  In general, I am a person who tends to give too much information anyway, so for my blog, I guess I assume a “Buyer Beware” policy.  If I tried to account for every type of person when I wrote I think my blogs would end up being about vanilla ice cream and kittens only (and even then perhaps I’d offend people with diabeties and my many many kitten hating friends.

What do you do?

I am an artist, parent, partner and before I left to come to Holland for this shortish stint,  I worked in social services for an organization called the Recovery Learning Community (RLC).  The RLC is a peer-run organization for people with lived experience in mental health recovery.  We try to create the conditions by which folks can find their own avenue to recovery.  This looks different for every individual.  They way I move toward being my best self is through exercise, diet, yoga, writing, creating artwork and being with likeminded people.  As it happens, these are all things we offer through the RLC as well.

What is it like to live in a different culture than the one to which you are most accustomed?

I find it incredibly refreshing to be here in Holland.  But that is partly because I am…here in Holland.  I am sure it would be different if I were in a repressive culture.  Here, the landscape is lush, the culture is tolerant, the social services are comprehensive and the lifestyle, healthy (everyone bicylces everywhere).  As far as diet goes, It is hard to put my finger on what it is that is so different here but for some reason there are almost no fat people.  Yes, the bicycling contributes, I am sure, but there is something else.  People don’t seem obsessed with food.  In the four months we have been here we have been to only one event where food was served.  And, to be honest, I haven’t felt denied.  At home, every event I go to seems to be centered around food; as if you have to bribe people with chips, cupcakes or pizza to come to your workshop, opening, or talk.  Personally, I tend to overeat when at functions where food is served and have lost about ten pounds being here.  (But a lot of running, bicycling, yoga and restraint is primarily responsible for this.)


Do you get nervous about hitting the publish button? Have you ever deleted posts? Have you ever gotten a negative comment?  If so, and if you have comments set to need approval before posting, have you let it through?

Whoa there, Nellie; one at a time.  Yes, I read and reread and edit before hitting the publish button.  I learned the hard way.  My first two posts I published before properly editing and went back to find numerous goofy errors that affected the meaning of what it was I had wished to say.  I have not deleted posts but I have gone back into published posts and made changes.  I confess, I did edit one post, it was from my mother-in-law where she said something like, “All those fatty foods, Janice, Darling, and I thought you were on a diet.”  I just wasn’t ready to announce to the world that I was on a diet in case  I was unsuccessful.  I have a bit of a rebellious nature and if I knew that if world was aware that I was trying to improve my health, I might feel the pressure of that audience.  What can I say.


Do you ever think you will write a book one day?

Part of the reason I took the creative writing class was to help me generate more short stories for what I hope will in fact one day be a book.  I was in a writing group for eight or nine years and, If I am not mistaken, every single one of my friends from that group has published (including my husband, who I met there!).  I have challenged myself to set the publication rate for “The Splinter Group” at 100%.

Do you look at your stats and wonder who these people reading your blog might be?

Yeah, Ok, especially at first I was obsessing on the stats graph (this is a little graph that the blog site provides to show how many people have visited your site on a daily weekly and monthly basis).  I am grateful for a mother-in-law who I am sure checks and rechecks my blog everyday.  She keeps my stats to an acceptable level.  If I could see who was visiting my site I might actually find my theory to be true and be quite disappointed.


Do you ever look at your stats in regards to most popular post or search engine term most used to result in your blog? Ever since I made a post and put in a picture of an amoeba, I have gotten zillions of hits for people googling ‘amoeba’ so once in a while I just throw an amoeba in my posts.

Ha!  That’s funny.  No, I think that I have only added “tags” in one or two posts.  Not even sure if it does what I think it is supposed to do.  I am not actually crazy about my blog site because I cant really figure it out.  If you google  or search wordpress for “Holland Days’ Sauce,” the name of my blog, you will not find me.

Did you ever think you would have a blog before you had one? Mine was an accident, like most of my life, so i am always curious about purposefulness.

I confess, I have always (and I suppose I still do) think of blogging as self-indulgent.  Like people really want to read about what I had for lunch??  But that is my springboard, my challenge: can I make my observations interesting enough for others to want to read.  I recently wrote a short story about…blemishes, i.e. zits, pimples, boils, what have you.  It was actually a personal challenge to see if I could write about something mundane and, let’s face it, gross and make the writing interesting and even beautiful.  I believe that a good writer can create a compelling piece on just about any topic.

Have you met people through your blog?

Hmmm, you, maybe?  I think I found you through my blog.  Or I found you through your blog.  I don’t actually remember.  It was some kind of cyber stalking.  But that’s all so far.


I ask this bc i am off to Geneva in 2 weeks to stay with a woman i met through my website.

That is amazing.  Yes, you are back now and I got to follow your trip via FB and your blog. I did not know you met her through your website.  Totally awesome!

One Response to “Holland Days Sauce – Interview with a fellow blogger”

  1. Thanks, Mo! Fyi, here is the link to my blog:


    Ciao! -janice

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