Sometimes it is the Simplest Things in Life that Confuse Me.

Besides my study of “apologetics” which I have described in a previous status update on my Facebook page, I have also made a life study of “fixation.”
I am of the opinion that I can fix anything—whether that is a person, the heel of a shoe, a vacuum cleaner, a washing machine, a lamp, a lawn mower, a gewgaw, or, in today’s case, an outdoor decorative fountain.
(Now let me just add in this parenthetical aside that I began the previous sentence with the words: “I am of the opinion …” Please keep that in mind. My opinions are not always correct—I am so sorry to have to cause you this dismay.)
At 9-ish a.m., I donned my slogger shoes and went out front to do the daily watering and refilling of the decorative fountain and the bird fountain, which both have amazing evaporative powers.
The decorative water fountain, which looks like a big pile of grey rocks over which water spills into a wide pool of water in the shape of a rock garden (we used to have a Koi pond out front, but in a twist of fate they all died at my hand, but that is another sordid story), was not running quite as lyrically as I felt it should. You see, it sits under the river birch trees, or beech trees, I don’t know which they are—the white kind with the peeling bark—and they are shedding leaves like it’s October in Vermont since the weather is so hot and dry. Therefore, the fountain gets clogged.
I proceeded to clean out all the floating leaves, refill the pond and then … nothing. No trickling. I checked that I had not unplugged it, made sure the timer was set right, checked the pump for obstructions again and then … nothing. I took it all apart, ran water through the hose from the pump to the top part of the fountain to clear any unseen obstruction and then … nothing.
At this point, I figured I was going to have to buy a new pump. I finished the watering; checking every so often to see if the fool fountain had started working and …wait for it … nothing.
Then it occurred to me to try something so simple, it was embarrassing.
 I moved the pump’s plug from one of the six outlets on the pole, to another one, and then … Houston, we have trickle!
My eldest daughter Sarah can attest that I have passed most of my genetic anomalies onto her. We fix and build things. However, we either MacGyver them with duct tape, a paper clip, and a sweat sock, or put them together backwards before putting them together properly or asking someone else to do it. Mostly this is stubbornness, and because the only one of my children who can read Japanese instructions is Samantha.
I share this with you, dear friends and acquaintances alike, because as Jane Austen wrote in Pride and Prejudice:
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?
A photo of the house with the fountain – taken last October.
Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 10:16 am  Comments (1)  

I Thank My Publishers for Publishing My Silly Scribblings

Frances “Fanny” Burney was among the most influential authors of her era. Living at a time when it was considered very scandalous for women to indulge in writing fiction—or reading it for that matter, she nevertheless published her groundbreaking novel Evelina or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World, (London: T. Lowndes) in 1778. The book was very highly praised by the beau monde.
Described as “the Mother of English Fiction” by Virginia Woolf in 1918[1], Fanny Burney was also acclaimed by Anna Letitia Barbauld, a prominent English poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and children’s author, a hundred years earlier:

“Scarcely any name, if any, stands higher in the list of novel-writers than that of Miss Burney.[2]

Fanny Burney helped to promote the status of women’s writing, but the introduction to her last novel, The Wanderer, reveals her lifelong ambivalence towards writing which she associated with “degradation”:

 “I struggled against the propensity which […] impelled me into its toils.”

When her first novel made her a celebrity at the age of twenty-six in 1778, she danced for joy around a mulberry tree but hid her novel from view to save herself the embarrassment of having to own up as its author.
I have recently begun reading Fanny Burney’s novels, having lately received an introduction to them through, of all places, my Amazon Suggested Reading List.
As a writer and editor, who has struggled with dedications, let alone dedications to publishers, I thought I would share with you one of the most fascinating dedications I’ve read to date—not because it was brilliant, but because it was so self-effacing.
I had to use a snipping tool in two parts to copy it from the PDF, so please forgive the huge gap right in the middle.

Do you not find this delightful? Of course, I find this so because those of you who know me, know that I am ever so fond of Jane Austen, the Bronte’s, and other so-called Regency and Victorian writers.  (Charlotte Bronte, was born the year before Jane Austen died (1817), Emily Bronte the year after, and their sister Ann Bronte was borne a few years later still. Charles Dickens was five years old when Jane died and George Eliot was born two years later.)

I suppose I can be called an anglophile as I greatly admire all things British (except for the food perhaps). 

I did mention to my mother the other day that I watch so much BBC America and Masterpiece Theater, that I am surprised when I watch a program where the characters don’t use the Queen’s English.

So there it is.

[1] The Essays of Virginia Woolf, ed. by Andrew McNeillie, 4 vols (London: Hogarth Press 1986-94), II, p.314.
[2] The British Novelists, Anna Letitia Barbauld, 50 vols (London: F.C. & J. Rivington, 1810) XXXVIII.
Published in: on June 22, 2012 at 11:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Exposing Online Dating for What It Truly Is . . . or Rather, Will Be

At some point in my later years, I am going to write a novella about my experiences with online dating services.
I figure that by the time I get around to doing so, that those particular services will be passé, having gone the way of the way of the mimeograph machine, Pong, and the Dodo bird.
However, there will be those stalwart few who through mega-vitamin therapy, cryogenics, or something new that Estee Lauder is marketing are still alive to read it.
By the time I write my expose’ and tale of woe, or knock-on-simulated-wood tale of success,  couples will be matched from birth to produce the most intelligent and beautiful offspring. Those who have slightly higher intelligence and looks will be relegated to sales and procreation only for the sake of bringing forth more salespeople. Anyone with average intelligence and looks will be servants, since no one looks at them anyway and they will be allowed procreation in order to keep up the supply of Walmart greeters (everyone knows there  are never any available cashiers at Walmart) and Steak-n-Shake waiters/waitresses.
And for all of those whose looks do not pass muster, or whose intelligence is sub-par according to the government agencies, they will be either euthanized or used in experimental procedures—like testing cosmetics or new medicines.
In the meantime, while I await all of the upcoming events, I will just say that online dating is a bit like being a cantaloupe in the fruit aisle. You are sniffed, weighed, squeezed, listened to briefly for some God knows why reason, and then may or may not be added to the cart along with the other hopeful consumables.
If, after a day or two, you are not chosen, the head of the Fruits,either chops you in half and wraps you in cellophane, or scoops you out and mixes you with other melons to make you more attractive.
It’s always about the melons.
Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 9:48 am  Comments (1)  

Those Famous Lesser-Known Editing Symbols You All Love – The Untold Story

On Monday morning, June 11, 2012, I posted a graphic I had schmooshed together in that old standby – Paint – and posted  it on my Facebook Page under the header of:

New additions to accepted copy editing/proofreading symbols. In case I ever have the privilege of working on one of your books . . .

Since then, it has been shared 6,139 times! That is only the number of legitimate shares, and not the shares from readers who saved the image and posted it without attribution – shame on you!

I am absolutely floored by this! However, I just wanted to make sure that the original authors of these updated copy editing and proofreading symbols were once again lauded and thanked, as I did in my original posting.

Thank you to Brian Klems, whose original post was read by me on Writer’s Digest page in August of 2011. Since that date, his symbols have been hanging over my desk.

And thank you to Eve Corbel, whose graphic I found on Monday morning at Angela Cothran’s Blog.

I am thrilled to have shared this schmooshy graphic with you, and really happy I can let the whole world know, or at least a few thousand writers and editors, who the original authors are.

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