Reading Rules

My first grade teacher, Miss G., provided our class with rules for reading. At that time I had no idea that those “rules” applied only a portion of the time.

Along with other rules, we learned that:
  • When two vowels go walking, the first one usually does the talking.
  • When "c" is followed by "e, i, or y," it usually has the soft sound of "s." 
The key word in these rules is "usually."

As an adult, I’ve developed some “Reading Rules” that apply to the books I read in my spare time. As with the first grade rules, sometimes these rules do not apply, as when I foolishly take only one book along on a trip.

This week the reading for my trip was a book released by a major publishing company. Initially, I thought it would be a good choice. As it turned out, in order to complete it, I had to break most of my rules.

Rules broken this week:

  • Rule #1: If the book has a pattern of grammar and spelling errors, find another read. After only a limited number of pages, I decided the editor was ”out to lunch” (so to speak) while this book was in the pre-publishing process. Since I had no red pen with which to make corrections, I resorted to talking out loud to both the editor and the author.
  • Rule #2: If an author uses repetitive descriptions, back away from the book. The protagonist in my current travel read often has chills, even though it is warm, while the hair stands up on the back of her neck. I get it! She is frightened. What I don’t get is why a writer does not know any other way to indicate fear.
  • Rule #3: The first time dialog is followed by “And she (he) meant it,” stop reading.  Seriously? Am I to assume that, if dialogue is not so marked, the speaker did not mean what was said?
  • Rule #4: As soon as a give-away plot emerges, assume the fun has been spoiled and pass the book along to a reader who reads the ending of a book prior to reading the beginning. Weekend read was 500 pages in length and divided into 28 chapters. Before Chapter 5, I knew that the woman the protagonist was out to prove was her murdered ancestor was, indeed, her ancestor, and that she was murdered.  Somewhere around Chapter 12 I had guessed the story’s ending and knew who was out to get the protagonist. Soon thereafter, I also knew why.
  • Rule #5: If every character does things “suddenly,” head for the library to find a new read.
  • Rule #6: After reading the first line that indicates the story is becoming racy, take a deep breath and close the book, even though in love with the plot and characters. During the current read I had to “yada, yada” my way through about six pages of trash. These seamy scenes seemed an afterthought, and I’m guessing they were written by someone other than the author. I had to wonder if the editor maybe attended to her job just long enough to advise that something was needed to spice things up a little so the book would sell.
  • Rule #7: If the writing causes the reader to feel that he/she is a dumb commoner (as opposed to a titled/rich person), don’t go there. Although I can identify fabrics and recognize well-made clothing, I can not identify the designer of an outfit being worn by the person entering a room. And once I read that the Lamborghini “roars to life,” I’m not so dense that I will forget that, even though I have never had an up close and personal relationship with such a car.

I’m still on the road, so I need to get my Kindle charged and purchase a book that might actually be a good read.


Dear Mr. President

On the 26th of June, you visited Colorado Springs after a wildfire ravaged our community.
     You expressed your concern.
     You met with the families who had suffered loss.
     You provided words of encouragement.
     You offered a message of hope.
     You assured everyone that you, and the people of our nation, care.

Not even a month has passed since that visit and, once again, you were back in our state. This time you were in Aurora where people who planned an evening of enjoyment at a theater were traumatized, injured, and killed. While there:
     You expressed your concern.
     You met with families who had lost loved ones.
     You went to seven hospitals to visit the wounded.
     You quoted Revelation 21:4: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
     You provided words of encouragement.
     You offered a message of hope.
     You assured everyone that you, and the people of our nation, care.

Mr. President, thank you for responding to the tragedies that have brought heartbreak to so many people in the state of Colorado. But the next time you come to our state, I hope it will be for a campaign speech, or to present your new positive advertising blitz, or maybe even for a family vacation.


Tragedy Weary Citizen
(The one longing for a more positive and unified America. The America we see when life brings calamity.)


Do They Still Sell Mirrors?

(Or maybe I’m just out of touch!)

We recently went to an event sponsored by our local merchants. It was an enjoyable happening that offered food, fun, and bargains. However, as I looked around, I could not help but wonder if many people no longer have access to mirrors. Then, maybe I’m just too old to get it.

I’m thinking that this event could serve as the setting for my next novel. Who knows?

The pictures below make my, probably very old-fashioned, point about the mirrors.

There were activities for the kids. They were having great fun.

There was country/western entertainment for the adults.

All-in-all, it was a great afternoon, made even more special because granddaughter, Katy Powers, was visiting and went to the event with us. She looked beautiful in the cowgirl hat she purchased.


Because It’s Home

When disaster strikes an area, people often ask those who live there, “Why do you stay?”

During the past week, I have seen Colorado Springs television crews filming residents as they sifted through the ashes and rubble of their burned-out homes in an attempt to find something that might have survived the disaster of the Waldo Canyon fire. One lady cried as her husband hugged her after she found the bracelet he gave to her for their twentieth wedding anniversary. This charred memento is now a precious treasure to them.

Each resident returning to a burned-out home in the Mountain Shadows subdivision was searching for something, anything that might be recognizable, but, when questioned, they all stated that they would rebuild in the exact same place. Why? I think the answer is, “Because it is home.”

The beauty we experience here in Colorado Springs is illustrated in the pictures below. (Just a sampling of the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken during our seven years here.)

Pikes Peak from our South Deck

Hummingbird Visits Feeder on Deck

Alert Buck beside Neighbor's Condo

Rainbow over the Mountains

Beautiful January Snowfall

Front Yard Tree in Autumn


Fear and Faith

During the past nine days, a situation I felt I would be prepared to face threatened close to our doorstep. We have always carried insurance on our property, but we have never before come face-to-face with the threat of catastrophic loss.

When the wind began to increase in intensity at our condo complex last Tuesday, I went to our front deck with my camera to take more pictures of the Waldo Canyon fire. Immediately, I knew the fire was out of control. With ash swirling around my face like snowflakes, I took pictures only a short time before the fire raged over the mountain ridge and entered the Mountain Shadows subdivision to the north of us.

Picture taken from front deck at 2:54 p.m. on June 26, 2012.

Picture taken from front deck at 6:45 p.m. on June 26, 2012, shortly before our evacuation.

  • Yes, I felt fear. Fear is a natural response, but not an indication that I do not trust and rely on God’s love and goodness.
  • Yes, I prayed. I prayed for the safety of the firefighters; for our police force; for our Emergency Management Team; for our city and county officers; for the successful evacuation of residents.
  • No, I do not understand the forces of nature. I just respect them.
  • No, I do not understand the columnist for our local newspaper, The Gazette, who, in the midst of hurt and loss, mocked and belittled those of us who were praying and trusting God during this time of tragedy.

We returned to our home on Friday and remain on pre-evacuation status. Ten thousand people are still unable to return home. As of this morning, the fire was 55% contained, and our hope is that it will be fully contained soon.

Our city will grieve the loss of two lives. We will support the 346 families whose homes were destroyed and the hundreds of families who will return to severely damaged homes. We have demonstrated during the past nine days that we are a strong, compassionate, and united community. We will continue to trust God. We will recover. We will be okay.