|Jamie Chavez, Editor|
Hello there, Harriet here in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I’m here to visit my new friend Jamie Chavez. You can find her on the internet thingy at http://jamiechavez.com/
She is just the sweetest person. I had a wonderful time.
Jamie and I met at the Goodness Gracious Café, just off the Square. It’s in a beautiful hundred-year-old home. We sat on the front porch—it’s a beautiful late spring day. And we’re ladies who lunch!
Where we had a delightful lunch of Jamie had the grilled pimento cheese sandwich—very Southern! I opted for the chef salad.
I’ve been meeting so many spectacular people on my way across the country and Jamie is one of my favorites. We had a delightful talk about all sorts of things.
Harriet: So this is Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I have never ever been this far South. Max, he’s my dead husband, never took me anywhere except the Jersey Shore.
Tell me what’s so nice about Murfreesboro.
Murfreesboro is a delightful antebellum town that still wears its history gracefully. It was established around 1800 and we still have a traditional town Square, in the middle of which sits the county courthouse (built 1859). Murfreesboro is one of only six towns in the South in which the original county courthouse still functions as a courthouse—many of them have been torn down or converted to other uses. During the Civil War, Murfreesboro was occupied by Union troops until Forrest’s Raid in July 1862 restored it to the Confederacy. There was fighting right on the Square! (For years we took visitors to put their fingers in the bullet holes in the courthouse brick. A restoration ten years ago removed all sign of them, sadly.) Five months later there was a major battle here (the Battle of Stones River—look it up!); based on the percentage of casualties, it was the bloodiest battle of the war. When I take visitors out to the battlefield we walk through the cemetery and they always ask where the
southern boys are. I tell them that is a United States National Cemetery; only Yankees
are buried there. Since the South was in rebellion, our boys are buried in the
town cemetery, or in their family plots. That was a sad time. We don’t sit
around reliving the war, of course; but it’s the sesquicentennial of the year
when Tennessee was a major theater of war, and those times weigh on our hearts.
Murfreesboro is quintessentially Southern—people are friendly and polite. They get to know you and call you by name; the guy at the dry cleaners I patronize has called me “Miss Jamie” for twenty years. Folks here are neighborly too. We had a tornado here on Good Friday in 2009 (it was scary, I don’t mind saying) and a flood the next year (more notable in Nashville)—and the community really pulled together to help rebuild. They know what neighbor means here.
But there’s so much more I love—our hundred-year-old university (MTSU) that brings so many significant cultural and historic events to town; the farmers market that happens on the Square every Saturday (and the free concerts that happen on Thursday nights there too); our jazz festival the first weekend in May; the sheer diversity of our community; the fact that we still have two bookstores … :)
Sorry to go on and on! Maybe they should hire me up at the Chamber of Commerce!
Harriet: Well, it is just a sweet place and I would love to come back for a longer visit sometime, longer than it takes to wait for the next bus. Now tell me a bit about yourself, dear. I understand you are an editor? Did you know my son Henry is a writer? He writes Westerns with cowboys and cattle and such.
|In Jamie's Backyard|
I love to hear about folks who are earning a living as authors—because there’s not much I enjoy more than curling up with a good book. I’ll probably be buried with a book. I learned to read when I was three and then to write, and I’ve been doing both voraciously ever since. I started asking for books for Christmas when I was a kid, and I still have most of them. So it’s really no wonder I grew up to be an editor. I worked for a publishing house for more than a decade, but I’ve been freelancing since 2004. There’s a lot more about what I do on my website. I’ve been so fortunate to work with talented authors and wonderful publishers! (You can see the whole list here; I add to it regularly, of course, so come back anytime.)
Harriet: I sometimes wonder how people like yourself have any time to read books for the sheer joy of reading. Who are some of your favorite authors?
You may regret asking that! I love Kaye Gibbons (A Virtuous Woman), always. There are other authors whose books I’ll buy “simply because,” like James Lee Burke, Frances Mayes, Nick Hornby, Richard Russo, Nicholson Baker, Iain McEwan, Thomas Cahill, Reynolds Price, and Margaret Atwood … But I also have favorite books. These are a few faves from recent years:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery)
Year of Wonder (Geraldine Brooks)
The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)
One Day (David Nicholls)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)
Seriously, I could go on and on. I’m very opinionated about books! In fact, I talk about books a lot on my blog. I also blog about writing, editing and publishing, words and language—you should stop by sometime!
Harriet: Oh well you sound terribly busy. How do you find time for friends and family? You want to tell the world about your fam? I have a dog, a Bassett Hound named Humphrey. Do you have pets?
|Bean on Jamie's Desk. Such a cute kitty.|
I do have pets—three friendly felines named Bean, Laddie, and Spot. Bean likes to lie on my desk while I work. I’m also blessed with a wonderful son (he’s a professional musician who also teaches music) and the lovely Irishman to whom I’m engaged to be married. Someday. I’m becoming an expert in immigration law. Ha.
Harriet: I collect salt and pepper shakers. I have quite a few in my collection, which I sent ahead to Grass Valley. Do you have any hobbies? Do you like to keep a garden? I must admit that I love the idea of gardening and having a fabulous one someday but to tell the truth, I have a black thumb. Every time I brought home a house plant, Max would say, “Bringing home another plant to die?”
There are many things I enjoy doing—it’s just finding the time to do them. Right now I satisfy myself with a little gardening. I like growing herbs and various perennials, and I create what I call “foraged bouquets”—I walk around the yard and pick things that bloom or smell good. A typical May bouquet might have rosemary, tarragon, chive blooms, parsley, astilbes, lavender, and iris. Later there’ll be roses, coneflowers, daisies, lemon verbena, lemongrass, and more herbs. I also love travel (I’m planning a trip to Ireland in the fall), live music, and cooking. I’m even in a foodie book club!
Harriet: One of the things I’ve been doing on my trip across this great land of ours is keeping my senses peeled for moments when I feel God’s pleasure. What does it mean to you to feel God’s pleasure?
When I work. Crazy, huh? I feel like—for the first time in my life, maybe—I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. When I look back on my life and note my interests and talents and previous jobs, it looks as if the path was being laid for this, although I didn’t see it at the time. Nor did I see it when I got caught up in a corporate downsize back in 2004. I assure you, I am not a risk taker and would never have gotten up that morning and thought, Hmmm, I think today I’ll quit my job and go home and phone all my friends and ask them to send me work. But that’s what happened. I continued to look for a corporate gig for months but then I realized God was standing there with a big ol’ door standing wide open, beckoning me through with, you know, those flashlights like the guys use on the aircraft carriers. Duh. I’m paying better attention now.
Harriet: Oh dear, will you look at the time? Would you mind giving me a lift down to the bus station? I’m off to Gatlinburg to visit the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. I can hardly wait.
Thanks for stopping by, Harriet! I wish you could stay longer. :)
Harriet: Thank you for spending part of your day with me. Happy trails!