The lens of the writer turns the whole world into material, and the index cards are Lamott’s way of keeping track of it all. But there are other connections in the world that can jog old tales. Lamott tells the story of how a woman’s perfume reminded her of the time her aunt made lemonade without sugar (a mistake, to be fair). The family did not want to disappoint her, so they drank the sour mix happily, so they could have a precious moment to recall. Another example is when Lamott wondered what the wire covering a champagne cork was called because a character she was writing would know this. In calling around to find this information out, she discovered many interesting things.
Again, this relates back to Shen because he needed to take the world around him in and learn a new way of writing. By calling around, Lamott expands her scope of experience as Shen did when adapted to writing in the American culture This new, wider range of thought, changes her way of writing, as Shen was made to adapt in his new setting.