“Life is like a butcher counter.”

That’s what they told her at the pub. “You can have whatever you want. Just ring the bell.”

But suppose you don’t know what to order when you step up to the butcher counter of life? What then?

Chances are, the universe will hand over what you need instead.

About Janet Parmely

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“We Have Sixty Million Sheep but We’re Short on Audiologists.”

 

She answered the ad, got the job in New Zealand, and landed in a spot so dear that its name may as well be tattooed over her heart. Janet Parmely was fifty-one years old. It took her a long time to find a place that felt like home.

Her family moved around when she was growing up. Her parents bickered. They bickered in Massachusetts, Tennessee, California, New York State, and even in France. All the bickering and relocating did not make for a robust sense of belonging.

She eventually carved a niche as a working single mother, a writer with a day job in Kansas City. When fifty hit, that became obsolete at lightning speed. Ever a seeker, she answered the call to adventure. Her one-year contract evolved into the best and worst decade of her life.

Janet now lives with one foot in each hemisphere, the inevitable ache of a spirit divided between two countries, and a greater respect for the horsepower of hope—which, she advises, you’d best not forget to pack for the trek from ignorance to illumination, a birth-to-grave endeavor.

 At the Butcher Counter of Life

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Whether you want a wry take on navigating midlife or an intimate look at New Zealand, you have come to the sweet spot: At the Butcher Counter of Life.

At a certain age, we start looking to each other to get this growing-older thing right—or at least have a bit of fun watching someone else do it wrong. Janet Parmely had used up all her bad choices, almost. On a last-ditch quest, she ended up selling hearing aids in a nation with sixteen times more sheep than people: the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand. She was fifty-one-years old.

The best and worst decade of Janet’s life was about to unfold. She was buoyed by the men at God’s Holding Paddock, a table of regulars at the local pub and finest bunch of fellows ever assembled from a disappearing generation of Kiwi men. The antics of her spry if aged parents back in the States bedeviled her. She entrusted herself to a man she barely knew—at sea. She fell for a country despite the incessant rain and perplexing fondness for beets, and she earned a healthy respect for the horsepower of hope.

Part quest, essay, travelogue, At the Butcher Counter of Life: Adventure, Chaos, and Illumination in New Zealand is ultimately a love letter to New Zealand, to a man with a yacht and a mind of his own—to life.