What does getting older have in store for you?  What are the secrets to living a long beautiful life? Being younger than the majority of my patients it felt silly to hand out advice on aging, so I went on a mission to ask my podcast listeners what they or someone they knew were up to when it came to defying aging.  When Marjorie Burn’s story ended up in my inbox I knew she and I had to chat.  Marjorie is an author, retired professor and lover of words.  She sat down with me to talk about her book, The New Cadets and what it’s like to get older. In this episode of The Health Fix Podcast Marjorie and I talk about life, literature, connecting to others and her love of exploring, especially with her dog.

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What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • You’re never too old to start rock climbing or kayaking
  • The magical powers of dogs to keep you young
  • Using fiction to ignite your imagination and sharpen your senses
  • The secret to learning languages at any age

Resources From The Show:

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Podcast Transcript

2:05 – What it was like growing up in Portland, OR in the 1940’s

8:20 – Why Marjorie wrote the book, “The New Cadets”

18:13 – Some of the sports Marjorie enjoys

21:52 – Marjorie’s favorite river to whitewater kayak

29:37 – Favorite chore

36:23 – Thoughts on modern literature

38:32 – Norway

39:31 – Learning a new language

42:48 – Where to find Marjorie’s book “The New Cadets”

[Intro] Welcome to the Health Fix Podcast, where health junkies get their weekly

fix of tips, tools, and techniques to have limitless energy, sharp minds, and fit

physiques for life. On this episode of the Health Fix Podcast, I’m interviewing

Marjorie Burns, a woman who’s truly defying aging. She’s an author, retired

Portland State University literature professor, lover of words, and dogs. She

enjoys riding her bike and cross-country skiing in the Cascade Mountains, where

she now lives and she just released a book called The New Cadets. She started

this book when she was in her 60s and completed it in her 80s. In this episode,

I’m talking all about her inspiration for her book, why she believes in living

in the country and how it keeps her young, her connection to JRR Tolkien, what it

is like for her to grow up in Portland in the 40s and what she’s learned about

getting older. Marjorie has a beautiful outlook on life and a great story about

about learning new things after 40.

Let’s introduce you to Marjorie Burns.

JANNINE: Hey, Health Junkies, I have Marjorie Burns on

and today we’re going to be talking

about lots of things in fact,

and we’ll get to her book.

We’ll talk about that a little bit later,

but first and foremost, we wanna talk about

what it’s like to keep up on your health

and moving into our 80s, of course.

So Marjorie, welcome to the Health Fix podcast.

MARJORIE: Thank you, thank you for having me.

JANNINE: Now, one of the notes that I had on our podcast notes is that no one is born wanting to be

an 80-year-old woman.

No one’s born thinking about what it’s going to be like when we get older because we’re

only in the moment, especially as kiddos, we’re thinking about what it’s going to be like

as kids.

So tell us this.

You grew up in, you were born in Portland, correct?


In the 40s.

So you’ve seen a lot of change in Portland because I think a lot of people see Portland

now and they think about breweries, they think about, you know, food and what it’s there with that.

Tell us a little bit what it was like to grow up in Portland in the 40s.

MARJORIE: Oh, well, restaurants were of such interest and my family did not go out to eat very, very rarely.

Maybe if we were on vacation and going to the beach,

Hannah Beach, you might know it yourself. We go to a restaurant, but nobody thought much about that.

It was a different world. You went to school, girls could not wear pants to school, and

there you were. People were more obedient children today, so I hear

are more outspoken and less likely to behave. I don’t think that would be true where I live in

Trout Lake, things are quite different. You see children going around in the back of pickup trucks

in the summer and dumping off bridges into water and bicycling and all sorts of places. So

I would say that Trout Lake is still in the 50s or 60s. They’re healthy, competent kids. They

get a lot of scholarships around the country. It’s quite a school. 

JANNINE: I did not know that about

about trout lake. I did not know that, but I like that the kids are riding in the back

of the trucks and jumping off bridges and playing, you know, and not having the phone

connected in front of them. That’s, I like to see that. Adults too. I think I like to

see them too.

MARJORIE: Adults too. Well, I don’t know if I fully answered your first question in Portland. It

was a place where you trusted your policemen and nowadays their suspicion. Maybe people

still trust their policemen, some people in Portland, not all of them because we’ve had

our riots and and and such there. But when I was growing up, we really were free during

the day. I mean, we’d check in at home and I’d go to the neighbors. One house down, they

had a huge block. We lived on a double size block, as it was, but they had a great chunk

of that and the other houses had only small backyards. They had huge cherry tree, huge

beech tree that was taller than their three-story house and it climbed it all the time. Just

go up to it and be there and then dinner would come, you’d go home and then you could

go out in the summer and play and it isn’t so today I understand. You want to be there

when your children are off, but we were fairly free. Even I as a girl, though I

resented my brother had a little more freedom going off on his bicycle. No one

explained to me why it was hard for girls. I kind of wish they would have, but that

wasn’t some topic that they could bring up easily. Sure. But it was a free and a

and a happy basically, not without its sorrows. Every life has. Sure. But it’s a

Good upbringing and a lot of freedom. My mother said what’s that freedom and fairness were the words that defined me. I

Didn’t like things that were unfair to not just myself but to others and and and being being free


Freedom and fairness interest– interesting word choices and and thinking about yeah, huh

Tell us a little bit more about you know the fairness. Did you how many brothers and sisters did you have?

MARJORIE: One brother five and my joy

Phillip lies to see five and a half because when I was a child that half was essential and a sister who was three and a half years older

My brother disappeared about 47 years ago in Thailand. He’d been living there and you the language and

had started in nature conservancy

He was a medical doctor as was my father and

one of my sons and

He took a trek through the jungles in Malaysia and never came back

My youngest son was conceived about the time he disappeared which is

Gives one a little magical feeling you know. 


MARJORIE: so he’s gone. He was about 40 at that time and

though my sister lives in Berkeley and

She was the one that

taught herself to read. She was the really bright one and they took her off at school for other tests

But my brother and I did fine. We’ve all written we’ve all published

The book that I have coming out now is not my first book, but it but it is my first book affection

JANNINE: Let’s go into your book because it’s it’s written for middle grade readers. So middle middle school readers is what I’m gathering. Yeah

MARJORIE: Yes, I know

I was also on up for adults and I look at my PhD is in 19th century British literature

where you get a lot of writers who wrote people maybe don’t know the name now George McDonald

and the writing is definitely for children but for adults too.

As you would say the Hobbit is and Harry Potter is and the Golden Compass books like

that it’s not intended only for children. But that’s where you would start. And I have a

friend who’s wonderful, wonderful little ten year old Nutty grandson read it and said,

“It’s the best book I’ve ever read.” And he could get all the words. I use the occasional big word

if it fits. 

JANNINE: Wow. And in the book, you know, I kind of took a quick look at things. And I was

seeing how, you know, we’re kind of using imagination, we’re using, you know, kind of bringing the child

out in us. And so I can see how having a book like this would be great for adults to kind of tune in

to their child within them. So tell us a little bit about the book in terms of The New Cadets and

where, what was speaking to you in terms of writing it? What, what, what came across? What were you

thinking about in in creating it? 

MARJORIE: Well I was excuse me thinking about my oldest

grandchild. I was in my 60s when I started so this magical she wrote this

book at 80 isn’t really quite true because I would write it. Summers go on

and I’m kind of a fussy writer. Do a lot of rewriting. Sebastian was five or six

years old and he started having night terrors. Those extreme nightmares which

apparently can even come back and haunt you in the day. And I bought him an almost full-sized

tough toy, Yellow Lab, and said that this dog had been trained to work in dreams. It

was a service dog. He named it Oliver after a Boston Terrier dog they’d had that died.

So Oliver came in to being, and then began to write him little newsletter, some snooze

news about these dogs and then that didn’t get incorporated into the book but

that set things going. I started writing about these dogs starting with Oliver

who’s recruited off a shelf in a toy store, taken off to Academy where they’re

trained and is this a spoiler? No, the dogs in going to this partially magical

place, take on flesh. I wish I had a better word to put it. They become alive, but it’s more than

that. They become real dogs. Mind you, it’s not a Pinocchio story. They’re not wanting to be a real

boy, a real dog. They very much like being a personal toy. And when they go back, they are

personal toys trained then to work with children. But when they go to the place where they learn

things and learn about how to handle dreams. They’re able to run around. They are full dogs,

but they can talk and do all of those things. It’s a world that has magic in it, but I purposely

did not want it to be wand waving, spell casting, easy things. It’s more like the world we have with

with some things you wouldn’t expect in a sense.

There’s a sea called the variable sea.

It switches every 12 hours and 25 minutes.

Might be a pond.

Usually it’s a sea or a lake.

And you have to be on the shore when that happens,

or most of the time.

So you have to deal with it.

But you can’t compel it.

People can’t stand on a bluff and wave a wand

and make it do this or that.

And there are other places that they go there’s a valley below where the academy is that has

moods in it and these same moods appear in dreams and influence dreams.

Now and then you’ll get a mood storm emerging from the valley and that people will find themselves

inexplicably angry or mottlin and you know loving feeling how much I’ve always loved

my friends are ridiculous or sad and they’re overwhelmed by these moods. So it’s that kind of

magic. It’s magic they’re living with and having to accommodate to the dogs and the people there.

Fun to write about. One of the greatest fun moments was writing them taking on flesh.

you know, when the all of a sudden find their breathing, yeah, had to learn to walk,

they have to learn to eat, some of the older dogs teach them the mysteries of the toilet,

because these, so that was fun to write to and delicately enough, it’s not crude, but

it was great fun to write about those things. 

JANNINE: Hmm, you know, I think about this and I’m going,

okay, you were writing this in your sixties and and I think a lot of us have have somewhat lost our

our magical thinking, let’s put it that way,

or imagination in terms of being able to use it.

I don’t think we’ve lost it in terms of it being there,

but I think we’ve lost the art of being able to use that.

Do you feel like in working in literature

and being a professor, did you find that one of your

special tricks was to kind of help students

really bring this out for themselves?

MARJORIE: I never had that intention, but I maybe get,

you know what I mean? I’m not saying I’m going to see that these people get back to their days

of imagining. I’ve found since I wrote this book that all of a sudden I’m an expert on

aging and I think, oh wait a minute, I just went on. You know, I didn’t do anything. I don’t have a

fitness program. I’m just living in the country. It’s easy. It stays with you and I’ve always

always sort of imagine things or like a friend of mine says they have their toaster has a name and

they talk to their toaster. I do that sort of thing in some ways too. I just feel the world is alive

in lots of ways and there’s the imagination. We don’t lose it. Well, I want to say since I’ve

I’ve been asked to be an expert on aging.

I wasn’t born an octogenarian, octogenarian.

And life isn’t like a bus where you go along

and you get let off at a stop and stay there a while.

And then childhood, adolescence,

another bus stop, early adulthood, another bus stop.

It’s more like a train where everything you were

is pulling along with you.

I have such strong memories of childhood

climbing the beach tree and doing all those things. It’s so much with me. And people tend to think,

ooh, you become old. You are an old person. There you are. That’s it. 

JANNINE: Yeah. MARJORIE: Not true. You are

and you aren’t. You’re all of the things, all of the things in my experience.

JANNINE: Well, I think, you know, in my, you know, I’m 46 years old at the moment, but talking to my

My father who’s 88, he says, “I look at myself in the mirror, and my 20-year-old self is trying

to figure out who the heck’s looking back at me because I think of all of these different


I think of all these different things.”

So it’s fascinating for me to hear kind of what people think about, you know, and how

society kind of portrays certain things.

But yet we’re not talking as much about the thoughts that we have, the feelings that we

have the, you know, not so much, you know, memories, but also what we’re thinking about

going forward, things we want to do, things we want to, you know, adventure with, let’s

put it that way.

MARJORIE: Absolutely.

I’m a member of my mother’s saying in her 80s, she’d wake up some mornings and feel

just great and she’d pass a mirror and go, “My heaven is I’m an old woman.”

This is what your dad is saying too.

You don’t lose that other person.



And I think that for a lot of folks, you know, let’s, when I was in my 20s, I thought my

age now was older, you know, and so you think to yourself, what’s it going to be like when

I get older, what’s going to happen?

And you know, I would agree that even myself, I look in the mirror and I still think I’m

like 18, you know, 22.

It’s like my dad, how can we help people to, to realize that using that child within us

can keep us young, can keep us playful?

What are some of the different techniques that you’ve used with kind of the thoughts

you have going through your mind of maybe the tree, maybe different things?

What does it lead you to kind of think about doing when you’re out in the country?

Let’s put it that way since you’re living in the country.

MARJORIE: I’m not sure that I think about it much.

As I said, I don’t have a fitness routine.

I was asked that and I got thinking, “Well, when I brush my teeth, not every time, but

a lot of the time I stand on one leg or the other.

maybe my routine or I’ll drop down now and then and do a downward dog. But mostly when

you’re in the country you’re doing things. I have dogs. Dogs. I just read that Jane Goodall

said yes she worked with Jim Panzies but dogs are her favorite animal. Can’t imagine a world

without dogs. If I’m going to give advice and you’re in a situation where you can do it,

a dog because I’m here typing in my computer and the one or two dog will come and bought

my hand up.

Time to go out and so we’re out when we bicycle.

Well they don’t bicycle but I do and they run along or we ski.

I’m on skis there on foot and around here I’m just I’ve gone lazy and my old age I just

go out the door to ski.

I don’t bother driving somewhere but it’s cross country skiing.

I twice lived in Norway and that’s what they, that’s how you get around, you know, if you’re

not in the city and riding buses and things do you, you’re out in the country at all.

You put on skis, you go pushy, which means walk on skis.

And there’s that and around here there are caves, as you know, the lava two caves.


MARJORIE: They don’t know if they’ve got them around Tacoma, but you certainly are near to where

they are and they’re fun to explore. They’re swimming. It’s pretty cold most of the time

you have to get mid-summer really before I enjoy it much anymore but there’s all sorts of things

to do and you have to work. The land makes you work. If I lived in the city, which I’ve done,

what would I do? I think I’d find a place to swim and I think I’d do yoga but I’m not much one for

gyms other than climbing gyms. I rock climb. I love rock climbing.

JANNINE: Really?

MARJORIE: The sports I’ve most loved are white water kayaking and rock climbing and

white water kayaking. I started in my 40s and rock climbing in my 50s.

JANNINE: Wow. Wow. And

MARJORIE: Wonderful. 

JANNINE: Oh my goodness. Being a rock climber, I’ve only, wow, that’s not entirely true.

I did a couple outdoor rock climbs, but I like the gym.

It seemed a little safer.

Have you been going on rock climbing adventures?

Have you done anything outdoors

or are mostly staying in the rock climbing gym?

MARJORIE: I’ve done it in Joshua Tree.

And I’ve done it north of Leavenworth.

There was some areas.

I’ve done it in Bishop, California,

where we, a good friend of mine,

who was a graduate student of mine,

and she’s like a daughter.

Someone set us up to do a really high climb,

really kind of terrifying.

He says, oh, you’ll love this.

And we were kind of ah.

It was way, way after forgotten how many hundreds of feet.

But it’s so high up that I’m shouting down to Elizabeth,

“Take,” which means you want to rest.

They pulled you and you can sit in the harness for a while

and kind of get yourself back together.

And I’m going, “Hey,” and she’s going, “What?”

She couldn’t hear me.

Then she figured if she’s calling down,

she probably wants me to give her a rest and we did.

So yes, I’ve been outside mostly gym

because in the days I was climbing most,

I was in Portland, so I go to a place.

I have a 27 foot climbing wall in this house

from the middle floor to the roof.

JANNINE: Whoa, that’s really cool.

Oh my goodness, now, do you climb with your grandchildren?

Do they come?

Does your son come?

Does the family climb too?

MARJORIE: They do, I started it and they got into it.

And my youngest son was on the US climbing team and went to Russia when he was 19.

So he climbs a lot and he has his 9 year old son climbing.

He’s a very good climber, just one child there.

I have 4 kids and I only have 2 grandchildren, one going at 24 and 9.

But that’s okay.

So they’re all good climbers.

My daughter is, my oldest son, who is more the kayaker.

He was on the US kayaking team when he was a young man and he just, let me brag.


MARJORIE: He got 63 because I was 20 when he was born.

He just won a regional slalom race against contestants of all ages.

He was the number one person.

And he doesn’t tell me these things.

He just mentioned he’d been off.

He lives in the next door to me now.

He and his wife mentioned he had been off at a slalem race.

And I said, well, did you win?

And he said, yes.

And I said, in your age group?

And he said, well, no, it was anybody.

People in their 20s on up.

And he was the number one.


But none of us have been team sport people.

We’ve always, for me, I like exploring.

I like, you know, in the woods where there are these entrances to lava tubes, I go off

the roads because then you find really interesting things.

Usually the dogs are with me.

And I realize I like bicycling.

I like kayaking.

Rock climbing is probably the only thing that’s not an exploration sport that I really love.

JANNINE: What’s your favorite river to explore?

MARJORIE: The Rogue river in Southern Oregon,

haven’t tested whether I can still roll up

when you flop over.

I haven’t done that for a couple of three years,

but we’ll have to see.

I’ll make myself do it this summer

so I can report back to you.

JANNINE: Yes, you’ll have to.

I, that’s one thing I did not master very well.

I could do a great in the pool,

but if we got out somewhere,

I just was not very good at it.

I don’t know if the running water freaked me out or what.

MARJORIE: I get it.

I know the first time I went over in a rapid,

we always tell you yourself,

okay, line your paddle up, you know how you do.

Bring your head up last of all,

the body sweep the paddle.

I just went, what?

I didn’t even have thought, I just came up

’cause it was approaching a waterfall,

not a death one, but I didn’t wanna be upside down

going through that.

I was on the Deschutes River, I think,

that in Oregon where that happened.

I just, I don’t know if I panicked, but I did it.

I got up.

No memory, just doing it.

But I know what you mean, it’s hard in white water.

JANNINE: It is, it is.

That’s a, I mean kayaking, my husband loves to kayak.

I prefer the paddle boarding so I can stay.

I can bail easily.

That’s probably why.

MARJORIE: Got you, exactly.

I’ve never tried paddle boarding.

I have done once in Norway some sail.

What do we call it?

A sail blet in Norwegian means like a tray,

sailing tray.

What a sale board is that we call it?

JANNINE: Maybe that one.

MARJORIE:  I’m losing my English.

JANNINE: Oh, well, I’m trying to figure,

well, do you think it’s wind surfing?

MARJORIE: Wind surfing, thank you.

I knew I was wrong.

JANNINE: Well, it makes sense for a sale board.

I mean, it’s like the board and the big– 

MARJORIE: [Inaudible]

JANNINE: Did you ever go out to Hood River

with the windsurfing or something?

MARJORIE: No, I only did it far away,

though I’m very close to Hood River,

I’m only 20 miles away.

That’s the big city if you live where I live.

When people at Trout Lake say they’re going to town,

they don’t mean going to Trout Lake,

they mean going to the river.

JANNINE: Yeah, yeah. Hood River is an impressive place.

Have you thought about maybe trying to do some kayaking

on the river down there,

or do you still kayak right now?

MARJORIE: I do, nothing is much,

but I mostly do flat water to what?

Class one, maybe class two.

I’m not doing class four,

definitely never did class five that I know of.

There were a couple of rumors in Norway that were pretty wild.

At any rate, I was not doing downhill skiing.

It’s not only my age, but I don’t like to pay for things.

I’ve lived in Norway where the cross-country skiing was the main bit.

It’s just right there.

It’s handy.

You don’t have to travel.

JANNINE: Yeah, yeah, I like the, I like where I live in Wisconsin when we have, so I like to go

out the back door and just go through the farm country and like you said, explore.

MARJORIE: Exactly, exactly.

And the days when there’s just enough of a crust the dogs can run along without wallowing

because sometimes it’s no good for dogs.

And the whole world is just smooth.

You can just like almost skate any direction.

You don’t need two tracks that you’ve made to go back to.

When the snow is really high, the fences are gone,

the world isn’t divided anymore.

I love that.

You know what I mean?

JANNINE: Oh yeah, yep.

MARJORIE: All one world, nobody’s sort of chopping it up

and owning it.

JANNINE: It’s coming back to your freedom

that your mom was talking about with.

MARJORIE: Coming back to the freedom my mother talked about.

Right, I can only speak from my life experience.

I don’t have a certification in the material you’ve got,

but that’s beside the point.

Advice, if you can, keep doing the things you enjoyed.

Bicycling, I’m afraid to say that

because if you get on and crash, you can sue me, but.


MARJORIE: It does come back.

And it feels so good.

One of my friends says,

he’s slightly younger than I am,

or he’s a retired judge.

He says that when he’s not a bicycle,

he feels like a 10 year old child.

It’s exactly right.

You don’t feel 83 like I am or whatever age I’d been when I was biking.

Again, you just, you feel, you move so quickly and so freely.

You’re kind of flying in such a good feeling.

JANNINE: I think I wouldn’t even worry about advice, Marjorie, thinking like you’re saying right

now the feeling.

And I think for a lot of people hearing that there’s still that childlike feeling we get

when we get on a bike or even just watching you light up talking about cross-country skiing.

And when the snow’s deep enough, yes, the world is wide open. Then we don’t have borders. We have

the freedom to go. And I think for a lot of people, if we look into thoughts that we might have on

getting older and why some people give up, they’re different hobbies or they switch to something

different, it sounds like adaptation adapting is what happens over time. You stay with the things

that you feel good with and other things you kind of just adapt.

MARJORIE: Precisely, I think this whole publishing a book and being asked about being my age just made me

have to think about it. Friends who moved from Trout Lake a couple to a retirement community near

Salem or Oregon and I think about retirement communities. I know people have gone there

and then that’s sort of it. Maybe they do an exercise class and sounds wonderful not

to have to do the cooking. No, my second son lives with me and we bought split at half

and half but still, how nice to have a meal there in some community place not to have

to always every day. Why don’t we do it tonight? Why don’t we have that we can cook?

They did it well, my friends.

He taught high school choir for Ions and did it here in our probably community.

He now has a choir in the community and he and his wife, she’s an excellent pianist.

She is singing in the choir too, so they made the best of it.

They were wearing out keeping track.

They’re maybe a year older than I am, but doing the property was wearing them out.

And now they’re free to keep doing the things they like doing.

So nothing is a simple answer.

Avoid retirement homes.

That’s not the answer.

Go to retirement home.

Because you’re taking yourself with you wherever you go,

as they say.

I have my second son is living here.

And he’s doing a lot of taking over of the property

and doing all sorts of things I never had done before.

made more trails down to our river.

And it’s very nice, pass some of it on,

but I try to pitch into, I don’t want to leave it all with him.

JANNINE: What’s your favorite chore outside?

Where you pitch in, what do you like to do?


Well, it’s really like gardening.

Often is the chore I’m in the middle of.


We took down three pine trees that were dead

and cut into rounds.

And now we still have some that we haven’t split

and used a splitter.

That was great fun.

We’re working, all of us working hard,

taking the split pieces wood and heaving them over.

And I thought, I can still do this.

I feel great at the end of the day.

It doesn’t bother me.

Or I would run the machine

that would go back and forth and split the rounds.

Yeah, I think I like that best

when you’re kind of using your muscles

and getting something done.

See, if you go to a gym, you’re doing, you know,

if I find them dull, I would go to one,

if that’s all there were, I have nothing against them,

but my joy comes from getting things done at the same time

and not thinking, “Bye, Ollie, here I am, exercising,

you’re just living.”


JANNINE: I think my dad would agree with you on that one.

Just having the satisfaction, you know,

even he still chops his own wood,

having the wood pile and being like,

I have that, you go to the gym, there’s no wood pile

that comes out of that.

It’s still waiting there for you as what he tells me.

He makes fun of me for going to the gym.

MARJORIE: No, you shouldn’t feel that way.

It’s fine, it’s just,

it’s the way I have nothing against team sports

and my husband who represented the nature of athlete,

college. He played tennis. I think tennis is great, but it doesn’t really interest me.

I used to tease him and say it’s coloring within the lines. You have to get the ball,

you know, within the… I like escaping. I like going over walls and climbing walls more than that,

but he was quite good at tennis. 

JANNINE: I get the theme here. You like to adventure. You like to live,

of one day at a time with these adventurers.

And if we bring it back to your book

and we’re looking at your being a teacher,

I was, I just keep saying teacher, I’m a professor.

I apologize.

MARJORIE: That’s alright, you teach when your [inaudible] .

JANNINE: And looking at you had your dissertation

on children’s literature in 19th century in England.

And so I’m going, okay, you have had,

from history I’m seeing like this fascination

with literature, child, you know, and it brings it full circle in terms of you’re still exploring your


[ Silence ]


[ Silence ]

[ Silence ]

[ Silence ]

JANNINE: When you were working on your dissertation, what kind of works of literature, what kind of works were you drawn to?

MARJORIE: Well, I like big fat novels.

I thought I might have done a lot of work in Dickens, but didn’t.

Where I taught at Portland State, there was a man from Yugoslavia whose education was Oxford, and he kind of owned Dickens.

It’s only when he went on sabbatical, I got the Teach Dickens.

This is maybe not worth saying.

My great-grandmother went to church with Dickens.

JANNINE: Interesting.

MARJORIE: Doesn’t give me any special insight.

But nobody bothered to tell me that till I was well into my degree.

Oh, by the way, your great-grandmother went to church with Dickens.

I like big fat novels.

I like George Eliot, if you know her books, Middle March, and such.

And I also liked children’s literature.

And so, and those books can be very long,

the Victorian books for children and adults.

It seemed a natural place to go.

Of course, when you get a PhD in English,

you’re doing everything from Old English,

18th century Shakespeare, the whole works.

And so it’s not just one item.

My final chapter, look forward to CS Lewis and J.R. Tolkien.

They were both born Victorians, but they did their writing in the 20th century.

And because of that, I got sort of tapped on the shoulder by someone who wanted me

to join a group working with Tolkien.

So I get together once a month on Zoom.

And so I have a book with the University of Toronto Press on Kelken or Smithology

with Tolkien. And so I’ve got a lot of Tolkien in my pocket as well. I met his son who’s

now deceased and who sent me some things that hadn’t been published. And it’s like a family,

this group that now is meeting by Zoom. We’ve been together 25, 27 years or something meeting.

That’s a side part.

So with Tolkien there, that probably,

that came after I wrote my dissertation,

but it all bound together, it all fit together.

JANNINE: Wow, wow.

You know, I think about reading.

I think about literature.

You’ve got your crew.

You know, we’re thinking about some of the things

that keep us going, right?

And give us our purpose for life.

You’ve got your group on Zoom.

You’ve got your fascination with the literature,

but also your athletics too.

Now, what do you think of writing this day

in age modern literature?

Is it, do you enjoy certain folks now

or are you kind of gravitating still back

towards the 19th and 20th centuries?

MARJORIE: I think probably back that way,

influence a lot by Winnie the Willows

and even wonderful.

He’s a book that greatly influenced Tolkien too.

Of the modern writers, I greatly admire the

Harry Potter books, Harry Potter books,

but they’re not quite my kind of thing.

But there’s so to be admired.

She did so much to make his read.

Now there is wand-waving and spell-casting

and great fun it is.

Also, Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass.”

He made a wonderful movie of it, only one movie.

I think it was offensive to conservative Christians.

I never saw the conflict.

I never saw the worry.

I just thought it beautifully written.

So that’s modern.

And so I do appreciate that as well.

But much comes from what I read in the 19th century,

sort of a simpler time.

People have their ideas,

like they have the idea what an old person is

and it’s not always quite true.

JANNINE: Your last statement is really good.

in terms of kind of bringing everything together

is that we have our ideas of what getting older is like.

We have an idea of what and it quote,

and I say quote old person because I,

at the older I get, the younger everybody else older

than me gets.

And I don’t know if you had this experience as well

in your life.

MARJORIE: Absolutely.


You said it just perfectly.

Years later, I learned Norwegian in my 40s

and Dutch after that.

So don’t let people tell you you can’t learn language.

You learn it differently, but you learn it.

If you’ve ever learned a foreign language,

one of the things you’ve learned

is how to learn a foreign language.

If you see what I mean, your brain is receptive

to other ways of looking at things.

So, but the love of words is so much with me.

And that probably childhood.

JANNINE: I can see that, I can see that.

So what brought you to Norway?

I am curious.

MARJORIE: I went the first time with the husband and sabbatical.

And I went the second time on a Fulbright,

one of the Fulbright’s where you go as a professor

and you teach.

And I learned Norwegian and taught in English,

but I could certainly get around in Norwegian.

No means I am not bilingual in either French or Norwegian,

but competent.

I can do what I need to do.

JANNINE: It’s interesting you say the love of words.

I love the words and connection with that, the words mean, you know, that you bring with

someone and being able to communicate in a different language as well.

It seems that your words are so much more meaningful now when you have different words

you can use, right?

The more words, the more you can communicate.

Did you find that as you were learning more languages and starting to learn more about

Dutch and bringing that on too. Did it have you feeling exhilarated that you have more

words now to use? 

MARJORIE: Right. And you, if you’re working in another language, even not very

well, you, at least my experience, and I’ve had someone else tell me the same thing, you

feel like you’re living another life. You’re another person, sort of, not, you haven’t

dumped your previous person, but it’s as though you’ve expanded. So you’re living

as a bigger, broader, slightly different individual for that, the time you’re in that language,

you’re understanding it. And the first time you understand a joke in a foreign language,

it’s hilarious because you understood it. It may not be a very good joke, particularly. And

reading when you first read, I had a friend in Norway who said when she was in England,

she was reading ladies romances. I’d never touched one in Norwegian, but I could understand

them and so they felt good. I was reading Agatha Christie, I’ve done that in two or three other

languages. She’s pretty simple and she’s entertaining in English, but I wouldn’t adore her, but it’s

so satisfied when you can get it that you’ve got a lesser brain in that language and that

lesser brain is happier with simpler things. That makes sense. 

JANNINE: Oh, absolutely. I’m thinking

of Visabella Yende and some of the works I’ve read in Spanish because English wasn’t the same for me,

it’s just felt more fun to read in Spanish. So yeah, yeah, it makes perfect sense. And it’s a brain

teaser, which of course we can bring back to, you know, the whole keeping the brain sharp

and keeping the brain going using words and using this concept.

MARJORIE: Or my one addiction is probably doing solitaire on the computer and I will jump from one type

of game to another.

You have to think in different ways.

Not as an exercise particularly but because I enjoy it.

When I’m tired, I can…

My brain is kind of thinking sometimes when I’m trying to get a word in writing, I’ll

go play a game and while I’m playing the game, the word will pop in.

But there are all sorts of ways you have to think differently in solitary.


I’ve never thought about that.

I’ve not, I mean, that’s one game I haven’t got into.

I need to think about it because I do see a lot of people that really kind of say the

same thing.

You get to, you’re challenging your brain in different ways and thinking differently.


Here’s an, what would you call it?

You can go on your computer,

the world of solitaire, it’s free,

and the individual who’s put it together

gives you all sorts of different ones to try.

I like it.

JANNINE: I’m gonna have to check it out.

I’m gonna have to check it out.

MARJORIE:  Okay, is that a promise?

You’re raising your right hand?

JANNINE:  I’m gonna check it out.

I will check it out.

And it’ll be in the podcast notes too

for everybody else to check it out as well

at doctorjkrausend.com, guys.

We’ll put it over there.

So Marjorie, let’s tell folks a little bit

about how they can find your book

and where they can get ahold of it.

And how, I really wanna express that

it’s not just for kids, right?

I want folks to understand.

MARJORIE:  Definitely not.

JANNINE: So I’m gonna let you take over there

so folks can talk about where to find your book

and things of that nature.

MARJORIE:  I feel like a salesman,

which is the last thing I want to be.

But my publisher said, who’s a friend?

He said, show the book.

JANNINE: There it is.

MARJORIE: It’s in a series.

I have several more books, well, three more written

than I’m going on.

He had me divide what was a long book into two.

So this is half of the first volume I did.

And then he said, when I please show–

here we are.

That’s the press, his press.

JANNINE:  And how do we say that?

MARJORIE: It’s in the Midwest.

JANNINE: Ah, okay, okay.

MARJORIE:  I’ve done it, seeing it.

I do feel, I still feel like not snake oil pushing,

but I’m not going to push things.

JANNINE: Oh, I hear ya, I hear ya.

It’s not easy, it’s not easy.

But definitely folks are gonna be interested

because let’s put it this way.

I can’t tell you how many of my patients

talked about, you know, the different series, right?

Especially the whole, you know, whether it’s Lord of the Rings, whether it’s, you

know, all of the, the series that were meant to be for, you know, children, but

adults as well.

And, and, and I like it because twofold, one, we’re getting people away from playing

games on, on their phones all day long or texting.

We’re actually expanding the mind a little bit, but also working on, yes, word,

playing with words in our heads, but also creativity in the mind and opening our minds

up to new possibilities, which is what I love about your book and how the dogs are coming

to life as you’re reading.

And it just seems that, you know, as we get older, one of the things of coming to life

again, maybe reinventing ourselves again is coming back to who we are as a person and

really embracing the childlike desires inside of us.

MARJORIE: Very good.

I entirely agree.

JANNINE: I appreciate you giving us the insight and letting us know about how all these things

kind of have manifested for you because I think for a lot of us, we do wonder what it’s

like to lose a husband, what it’s like to lose friends, what it’s like as you get older,

and this is a great insight.

MARJORIE: It’s hard.

JANNINE: Mm-hmm.



MARJORIE: But it’s the best it is and maybe as it should be. There you are.

JANNINE: It’s beautiful that way. You know, real. It’s life. Marjorie, thank you so much for chatting with me

today and giving us all of these insights. I look forward to sharing your book with everyone.

And guys, The New Cadets, it’s published by Gabbrohead Press. We’ll have that. doctorjkrausend.com

We are not going to forget about that. We want everybody to know that.

Oh my goodness. Thanks again, Marjorie. I appreciate it.

MARJORIE: Thank you very much, Jannine.

Jannine Krause

Get back to your wild, active, vibrant self

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