September 2008

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I am a pretty voracious reader who is not terribly concerned about genre.  I will read about any topic, fiction or non, as long as it is well crafted and holds my interest.  With a few exceptions, I do not tend to read multiple books from one author.

Today’s post illustrates one of these exceptions.  Two of my favorite books of all time are from the Scottish author Rosamunde Pilcher.  The Shell Seekers, which I posted about early in my blogging days, and September, the subject of today’s Spotlight.  Though it is not a sequel to The Shell Seekers, they are rather good read one after the other, having one character in common.

September actually begins in May in various places around the world, painting a detailed portrait of very diverse characters and their inward and outward journeys to one rather lavish dance in the Scottish countryside. The story centers around the widowed Vi, and radiates to include her friends, family, neighbors, current and former servants, and mere acquaintances.

It is a modern tale, steeped with fun, the remnants of old wounds, family secrets, and the everyday goings on of a diverse cast of characters.  It’s the kind of book that will entertain, give a little education (from Scottish Reels to the IRA) and keep you guessing until the end.

Much like the Shell Seekers, though not quite as good, in my opinion, September is a realistic portrait of imperfect people as they move through life – loving, learning, and making mistakes.


So, it’s been a bit hectic around our casa this past week.  We got some new windows and started repainting the guest room walls and chest of drawers, which doesn’t really sound like much, except for the fact that none of these jobs is entirely complete (for many reasons), and my house is a wreck – piles of junk everywhere, no window treatments on the windows, no screens on the windows either, so the house is muy caliente (no screens = closed window = hot), messy, and a general source of stress for this aspiring author.

Long story short, I had every intention of posting some glorious photos of our hard work, but since it is not done (soon!), and the lighting is too poor at the moment to show a work in progress, I started searching my photos for blog inspiration.

This is what I found – our first apartment.  For those big fans I’m going to have after my novel is finished – you can drive by the next time you are visiting Denver.  11th and Lafayette, two blocks west of Cheesman Park, two blocks east of Downing, walking distance Peter’s Chinese, downtown, Cherry Creek, and King Soopers – the home of the long john.   For those who don’t know, a long john is a bar doughnut that is filled with either a pudding, a white cream, or chocolate cream.  So delicious!  Why is there nothing like this in Portland?!  Mysteries abound.  It’s probably better that way – I’d just eat them, and what good would that be to my thighs?

Anyhoo, we were the top corner unit.  It was a great apartment for us to start our life together – two bedrooms, neat French doors, great light, a cool faux fireplace, very nice.  Much, much better than the first building Gregory and I saw.   It was a horrible, serial killer-esque place on Washington – a Spanish style building, complete with creepy metalwork,  dingy white brick with excess blobs of mortar oozing out, hideous.  Gregory smiled at me and said, “I can see us living there.”  Horrified (and seriously concerned about the sanity of my hubby), I burst into tears, and blubbered something pitiful, letting him know in no uncertain terms that this would NOT be our first home together.  Now, whenever we see a scary looking abode, we laugh and say, “I can see us living there.”  Time really does heal all wounds.

We spent just over four years there, making friends, enjoying the neighborhood, going from having a card table, computer (come on – the G-man is a software guy), television, and bed, to owning an apartment full of stuff (these things are like bunnies) including a real wood dining table and chairs, a sofa, and of course, art!  It was a very happy time.

Keep Going

I must continue to follow the path I take now. If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it — keep going, keep going come what may.  But what is your final goal, you may ask. That goal will become clearer, will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough draught turns into a sketch, and the sketch into a painting through the serious work done on it, through the elaboration of the original vague idea and through the consolidation of the first fleeting and passing thought.

Vincent Van Gogh


This past week, I had the honor of serving my community as a juror.  It’s kind of a funny thing, both nerve wracking and fascinating. Tough on the nerves because there are so many unknowns.  Will I actually serve on a trial?  Is it going to be a creepy one?  How long will it last?

Fascinating because of the people involved and the judicial process.  Our jury of six was composed of men and women (three of each) from vastly different occupations and backgrounds – a writer, machinist, software engineer, construction manager, administrative assistant, and a scientist.  I learned a lot about the manufacture of airplane engines, selling tin cans, and windows.

As for the process, there are a lot of rules – a lot.  The most important, for me, anyway, was how jurors are not allowed to discuss the case until all the evidence is presented.  So, even though the only connection we had was the trial, we couldn’t talk about it – kind of funny.  Next, the attorneys and judge keep very strict control over what the jury hears, and if there was a chance that forthcoming information was off limits, we were sent to the jury room.  Also very interesting is that every time we returned, the court would rise.   Some other interesting facts:  Witnesses can’t just read from notes (it has to be from memory); the prosecutor can present a rebuttal to the defense’s closing arguments, but not vice-versa;  and questions must be asked in a particular order.  Break one of the rules and the judge (who, amazingly remembers them all) turns into something akin to a referee in the NFL.  “Improper order of questions, five yard penalty.”

Quite thankfully, what struck me most was the deep reverence the judge, attorneys, clerks, and my fellow jurors had for both the law and people involved in the case.  There was no cruelty, angry words, or character bashing.  Everyone was kind, respectful, and eager to perform their job well.

It made me proud and grateful to have a system where we can come together to work for the greater good of society, where voices can be heard, and decisions made upon the evidence presented.

Which brings me to our verdict.  Sadly, the facts led us to believe that the defendant, was, in fact, guilty.   I think this is what threw me off kilter last week.  This man, this stranger, seemed like a kind person who had overcome a lot of obstacles in his life.  I, as a juror and peer, forever connected to him, aided in the process of adding one more, and felt the weight of it.  I wept for him and prayed that this obstacle would be his last.

Be Back Soon…

I’m feeling a bit out of sorts but promise to be back Monday.

Wishing you well…

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