Photo copyright Jon Crispin 2011.

Photo copyright Jon Crispin 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I don't do New Year's resolutions. I don't like setting myself up for failure that way. I have enough disappointments without going out looking for them. I am doing something a little different this year. I'm participating in an online challenge. This one is a snap for me. It's the Victorian Challenge. The idea is to read works by or about an individual Victorian writer for each month. Here's a link:

I downloaded a free copy of Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. I've never read anything by Anne, loathe Wuthering Heights and adore Jane Eyre. I'll find out this month where Anne falls on the continuum between her two sisters.

I get double points in September because I plan to read Gaskell's bio of Charlotte Bronte.

Do you make resolutions? Why or why not.

Either way, happy reading in 2012

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I missed the proclamation proper, but apparently word went out to the universe that the past eight days were for the purpose of being Bless Kilian Week. In the space of those eight days, I won two drawings, received an unsolicited testimonial from a client, pitched my novel to an agent who wants to see the complete manuscript, lost weight, received a beautiful beaded lanyard for my compass to wear to my next orienteering event, and received an A on editing assignment for the class I'm taking through UC Berkeley, along with some very complimentary comments from the teacher. Whew! Of course my first idea was to run out and buy lottery tickets. Oh, well, guess Bless Kilian Week is over, but it was great while it lasted.

And how was your week?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Continental Divide

The Continental Divide is the line running roughly north and south that divides the continent in two parts. Rain falling on the east side drains eventually into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico or into the Atlantic, and rain falling on the west side drains into the Colorado and the Pacific Ocean. More or less. I'm not a scientist; I'm an editor.

I have crossed this divide many times because I used to live in western New Mexico and traveled back and forth to Colorado, eastern New Mexico, Arizona and California by car. If you cross the Great Divide westbound out of Denver, there is no question that you are making a huge transition. The Rocky Mountains soar into the sky. I stopped at Leadville, Colorado, once (elevation ~10,000 ft.) to gas up. I was gasping for breath just walking to the bathroom and back. The air is so thin, there is not enough pressure to force the oxygen across the membranes of the lung. I thought I was going to faint.

I have also crossed the Great Divide driving west from Albuquerque to Gallup NM. If there hadn't been a marker by the side of the road with a notation, I would never have known that I had crossed a very important line. One side looks and feels just like the other, but I had crossed the divide just the same.

There is a Great Divide in our lives, too, that we cross. For me it happened when I was about forty-five years old, and it was more along the Albuquerque-Gallup road than the route over the Rockies. I gradually realized that I had stopped worrying about what people thought of me. Other people were starting to give consideration to what I thought of them. I had a sense of a certainty about who and what I was and stood for.

I had some successes and some failures, some accomplishments and challenges by this time. I knew that I when my integrity was severely tested, I could make the right choice under pressure. I knew that when I failed miserably, I could keep going somehow and learn from the experience. I had learned to trust myself and my own judgment. For me the transition was easy and gradual. For others the transition happens in one huge crisis - a brush with death, combat, giving birth, writing a bestselling book. It can take many forms.

People say "life begins at forty," and I think it is true, because we aren't truly living until we are free of looking over our shoulders to see what someone else thinks. For some this comes earlier, for some later, for some never. We learn from the story of the Garden of Eden that we trade innocence for knowledge. We trade youth for wisdom. But all innocence is not lost. One of my favorite writers, Marilynne Robinson writes: "There is an earned innocence, I believe, which is as much to be honored as the innocence of children." We work to gain knowledge and experience, then we work to regain innocence. If we are lucky, we are able to do so. Children and seniors are innocent in their enjoyments and accomplishments. We know who we are and what we do. We don't look to others for reassurance - we know it is all good. We've crossed the divide of life.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Impulse items

I went to the grocery store today and came out with the two items on my shopping list. Those two items and nothing more. So? you say. Well, it was a major victory for me. I hate shopping. I hate shopping because I can't control the impulse buying that goes along with shopping. I'm a simple copyeditor, and ranged against me are leagues of psychologists and marketing experts perfectly aware of how to appeal to my baser impulses. I went to Trader Joe's once to buy a pound of basmati rice, and it cost me $43 and change. I have zero control over the lure of bright colors and siren images. The only way I made out alive today was that I dashed in and dashed out and didn't look at anything but what I wanted to buy. This is why I buy online. I can find the one item I want, buy it and log off. I'm sure the time will come when the PhDs and marketing experts find a way to hypnotize me into impulse shopping online, too; for now it's my refuge.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Roadside Shrines

This is my first attempt at a blog, and I'm a bit nervous. I hope you enjoy reading the miscellaneous things that catch my attention. I think editors are a sort of magpie. We like bright, shiny things, especially words. We pick them up, turn them over and over, and take them home to keep. I'm going to share some of the shiny things that attract my attention.
 A couple of months ago, I returned from a week-long visit with my uncle (91 years old) and aunt (87 years old), who live in California. They are vital, active, and loving. They live life to the full and are an inspiration to all who know them. Both of them are nearly deaf, so conversation is a struggle. My aunt is a redheaded woman with Welsh blood, so you can imagine her temperament. My uncle is a placid, patient man. One day during my visit, I heard what I though was an argument from behind their closed door. A week is a long time for a house guest, and the patience can wear thin. Since there was no way not to hear them, I decided that a walk in the California sunshine was in order, so I strolled around their garden, basked in the sunshine for some time and came back into the house. I should have known better. After 66 years of marriage, they had pretty much worked out the kinks. What I thought was an argument was simply bath day and change-the-linen-on-the-bed day. It's hard to shout in a gentle manner, and I mistook it for arguing.

On the way back, I drove home via a route different from the usual, boring I-10. I went south on I-15 to San Diego, then east on I-8 to Tucson. It wasn't any shorter, either in time or distance, and just as boring, but boring in a different way.

As I drove along I-8 I saw many roadside shrines, crosses and flowers put up by the relatives who want to honor the memory of their loved ones killed in accidents at that spot. I saw something that would have stopped me for a closer look if I hadn't been whizzing by at 80 mph:  a white, shining Star of David. I have never seen a Jewish roadside shrine. I had assumed it was a completely Christian and Hispanic custom, but that is true no longer. I marked the location (between milepost 42 and 43 on I-8).  Next time I travel that route, I'm going to stop and take a closer look.

So that is the kind of thing I plan to post here, stuff that is on my mind or attracts my attention. Hope it amuses you as much as it does me.