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Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Ghandi's Seven Sins


Today’s blog post is short on words but long on clear, rational thinking. What a wonderful world this would be if every citizen of every country believed Ghandi’s Seven Sins were truly sins.

        Wealth without work

        Pleasure without conscience

        Knowledge without character

        Commerce without morality

        Science without humanity

        Religion without sacrifice

        Politics without principle

Friday, March 10, 2023

San Miguel International Writer's Conference

Last month (February 13-18) I visited a friend in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The San Miguel International Writer’s Conference was being held that week, so I decided to participate in a small way by attending one of the guest speaker presentations and signing up for a workshop.


                                      San Miguel street with parish church in the distance. 

My friend and I kept busy that week. Another friend, Leslie, who is a patron of the San Miguel Writers Conference, shared tickets with us to hear Benjamin Lorr speak while I was there. Brooklynite Benjamin Lorr, high school teacher and writer of non-fiction books, embarked on his writing career with Hell Bent, a wild exploration of the world of yoga. His second book, The Secret Life of Groceries, delves into the inner workings of supermarkets and grocery stores. I haven’t read either book, but I understand he makes what sound like dull subjects into something close to magical.

Lorr’s presentation focused on the importance of becoming intimate with your subject matter before you write about it. “You can be much more honest,” he said, yet keep your readers immersed in what you have to say, partly due to your credibility, partly with the level of detail, interrelationships, and nuances you include.


The workshop I chose to attend was led by Laura Juliet Wood. Ms. Wood lives in San Miguel where she teaches English and writing to children. She earned a B.A. in creative writing from Hollins University and an M.F.A. from Columbia. Her poetry has been widely published.

She presented us with a number of examples of prose poetry, some of which, like a couple of poems by Amy Lowell, I found surprising. While analyzing the structure of numerous examples, I learned prose poetry is well-constructed prose that uses typical poetic devices such as alliteration, rhythmic phrasing, metaphor, etc. with limited rhyming and punctuation. I came away realizing much of the poetry favored by contemporary journals and anthologies is prose poetry, possibly because readers find it more accessible. I also came away happy to know that most of the poems I write are prose poems.

Quick-change Artist
                         by Ginger Dehlinger

Cirrus ceiling,
artist's dream canvas
stippled with flicks of flame
scarlets glowing hotter
corals burning brighter
at the horizon
where a fat, black, lizard of a cloud
basks in the incandescent orange
skin on fire, nose to tail.

Stunned by its own masterpiece
the sun lets go of the day
snuffs out the lizard's fiery halo
and pinkwashes the skyline,
turning once-passionate cloudlets
into daubs of mauve and lilac
that cool and coalesce
in the pearl-gray hush of twilight.

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Visual Impact of Books

 I had never considered the visual impact of books until I came across this photograph of the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Maybe it’s not the books themselves, but the gilded arches and pillars that frame them or the intricately carved railings protecting the library's landings. On the other hand, remove the hundreds of colorful spines decorating the shelves and the visual impact is greatly diminished.


This book store in Chengdu, Sichuan China raises the book buyer’s expectations to lofty heights. The display is so dazzling I might forget what I came there to buy.

I had my novel Brute Heart framed as a book carving.

Someone loved books so much they created a library cake.

Here’s a bookmark decorated with books.

If you love books, especially those bound in fabric or leather, the variety of colors and sizes shelved in any book store or library has visual appeal.

During the Covid pandemic, I ran across a collection of books that aren’t as visually appealing as those above, yet display a different type of artfulness.

Even a book's interior can be crafted into a form of art.

And every pundit worth a grain of salt, even beloved Andy Rooney, is photographed in front of a colorful wall of books.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Hard or Soft G

Last week I happened upon a newspaper article about techniques for teaching phonetics to children. I hadn’t planned to read the article until my name, in italics, caught my eye.  

The article focused on how “g” is pronounced when it is the first letter in a word. According to the writer, the “juh” sound for the letter “g” is most often used when it precedes e, i, or y. The example cited was Gentle Ginger goes to the gym.

I grew up with the mnemonic rule of thumb for ei and ie: I before e when it comes after c, but never learned Gentle Ginger goes to the gym. Believe me, I would have remembered that little ditty. The article went on to explain that a hard “g” is used when it precedes a, o and u.

I learned these “g” distinctions by ear, as one might say, by listening to reliable English speakers. Since this article was my first encounter with the mnemonic rule of thumb for “g”, I decided to see how reliable it was. I diligently walked my index finger through Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the edition that weighs three pounds, and found many exceptions for soft “g;” whereas the rule for hard “g” was hard and fast. I excluded proper names when checking both rules.

A few, but not all, of the exceptions I found for “juh” being used before e, i, or y were gear, geek, gestalt, get, gewgaw, geyser, gibbon, giddy, giggle, gild, gimmick, girl, give, gynecologist.

My intention was not to criticize. I am delighted this rule is being taught to children because when gesture is pronounced with a hard "g" it is (for me) like fingernails on a chalkboard. The ge in gesture follows the “juh” rule.

Mnemonic devices are fun. The rule of thumb containing Ginger is fine. It's probably easy for young people to remember. I wish they would use  one I came up with, however, because it includes gesture. 

When my gesture made the giant gyrate, I gave him some gum.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Retracing a Few Family Footsteps in Colorado


Writing my historical novel Never Done familiarized me with my father’s side of the family. It also piqued my curiosity about the many places in Colorado my great-grandmother lived. In 2018, I decided to visit some of those towns. My sisters wanted to go with me, so the three of us met in Durango, rented a car, and drove all the way to Naturita, making stops in Silverton, Telluride and Ophir.

I  made reservations for us to stay at the historic Strater Hotel in Durango. Built in 1887, it is the same hotel Clara admires in Never Done when she and Vincent are living there. In chapter 52, Clara is a guest there for a couple of nights. Staying in the hotel was, for me and my sisters, like staying in a museum. All of the walls were wallpapered in old-fashioned prints. Most of the trim was real wood and hand carved. Beautiful antique furniture decorated the lobby as well as the guest rooms.

Inside the hotel is the famous or infamous Diamond Belle Saloon. In my story, Vincent spent some time there. My sisters and I had a dish of ice cream and took pictures of one another outside.

Day two we drove to Silverton. This is a hair-raising drive most people make this trip by train, but the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad had been shut down due to a wild fire. We stayed at Alma House, built in 1898 and converted into a boarding house for miners in 1902. With its carefully restored interior, antique furniture, and quaint touches like coffee and pastries outside our door first thing in the morning, staying there gave the impression of stepping back in time. Betty and Albert also served us an amazing miner’s breakfast that was delicious.

                                                          one of the sinks in Alma House

Our grandmother, Anna Colmer Grimes, was born and raised in Silverton. We visited the court house to see if we could find where she lived. We looked through many records, found several with her parent’s names on them, but no home address. In Never Done, Anna is the character Emma, married to Charley.

We also visited the San Juan County Historical Society’s Mining Heritage Center. The exhibits, realistic underground tunnel, and mining equipment gave us a good look at what it took to extract silver ore.

We spent two nights in Telluride. Once just another mining town, this one is now an upscale tourist mecca. Staying there didn’t give us the same historic feel we experienced in Durango and Silverton, but we had fun shopping and riding the gondola.

While we were in Telluride, we drove to what was once the small mining community of Ophir Loop. Not much remains of this grubby little place where, in Never Done, Clara manages a hotel.

Near the abandoned site once called Ophir Loop, we saw the scars that remain on Silver Mountain, deforestation created when the Silver Bell Mine dumped tons of crushed rock and other tailings down its sides. Mining was eventually halted because of it.

Finally, we reached Naturita where our father was born. We hadn’t been to the small town since we were too young to remember We were hoping to find the house our father was born in, but didn’t have enough information. However, with the help of the local librarian, we did find the hotel our father’s parents (Charley and Emma in Never Done) managed.

Here is a picture taken in 1918 of the hotel as it looked then.

This was how the renovated hotel looked when we saw it. The false front’s arched cutouts hide the original rectangular window frames. Though we brought a picture of the original hotel with us, we never would have connected it to this one if we hadn't had help.

Naturita has a small museum. The entire collection is housed in one room, and it was in that room we found something even more exciting than the hotel. There, in a glass case, was displayed a letter written in 1895 by our great-great grandfather, Jonathan Wainwright Tripler (Albert in Never Done). J.W. Tripler was in the cattle business in Naturita. This amazing find gave me goosebumps, made me wish I had done more as a history major than just write about it.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

The History Major

I was a history major at the University of Oregon. When I graduated, applicable careers for a history major were limited unless you taught the subject, which I did at the high school level for six years. Then, after divorcing my first husband, I moved to the East Coast and spent the rest of my Jill-of-all-trades career hopping from job to job, looking for, but never finding, work that held my interest longer than six or seven years. None of the positions I held were remoted related to my major.

Then, I retired. Suddenly I had time to write something other than business letters, reports, or training manuals. I could set my own deadlines, choose topics limited solely by my imagination, and though I had abandoned my major for 35 years, it crept into much of what I wrote.

The story in my first novel, Brute Heart, takes place in the 1970’s and 80’s. In it, I expose the challenges of a young woman trying to gain acceptance as a veterinarian in agrarian communities unaccustomed to females in that profession. I also describe the highly complicated regimen imposed on people during the early years of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.

Never Done, my second novel, is set in Colorado from 1885 to 1919. Based on the life of my great-grandmother, the story is about a woman's perseverance as she raises a family and moves from cattle country to mining towns, witnessing industrialization, World War I, and the Spanish flu epidemic.

“A nation that forgets its past has no future,” said Winston Churchill. I believe this blindness to the lessons of history is taking place in the United States right now. Call me a paranoid geezer, but I would describe most Americans as complacent, almost as ignorant of the real world as they were prior to World War I, especially when it comes to Russia, North Korea and China. Not having a strong President adds to the danger of being drawn into another large-scale war.

American parents are also betraying an entire generation by turning their backs on even the mildest version of “spare the rod, spoil the child,” mollycoddling too many of today’s children, failing to prepare them for the realities of life. I blame this on the alarming increase our country is experiencing in drug use and suicides among young people.

I can’t pin a rose on me, however, since I rarely tackle contemporary issues in my writing. Instead, I hunker down in my comfort zone which is writing about my own history or that which preceded me. Those years definitely weren’t problem-free, but at least most people who lived them were better prepared to deal with poverty, disease, war, and natural disasters.


Friday, September 9, 2022

I Before E

Remember learning “I before E except after C” in grade school? I recently came across a longer version of this little ditty that includes other exceptions. The poet bug in my veins fiddled with it some to make it rhyme better.

I before E

except after C

or when sounding like EYE

as in HEIDI and STEIN

or spoken like SAY


Most Americans were taught to memorize the first part of this poem. Our teachers probably thought  getting us to spell a few I-E words correctly was at least a start given the vagaries of English. Now, of course, students can just ask Siri or Alexa.

There are tons of exceptions to the I-E "rule", partly because English is so wonky, partly because our language is sprinkled with words from many other tongues. Here's an example to illustrate some of these exceptions, one that would totally frustrate ESL students.

The heinous foreigners cried heigh-ho as they seized their meister’s sleigh and eight feisty reindeer.

Want a little refresher spelling test? Insert the letters E and I in the correct order in the following words. Have fun! 😊 

1.    s - - z e

2.    n - - t h e r

3.    r e c - - v e

4.    h - - g h t

5.    f r - - n d

6.    b r - - f

7.    d e c - - v e

8.    l - - s u r e

9.    m I s c h - - f

10.  w - - g h t

11.  - - g h t

12.  r e c - - p t

13.  s l - - g h t

14.  f r - - g h t

15. t h - - r

16.  n - - g h b o r

17.  c - - l I n g

18.  s h r - - k

19.  r - - g n

20.  p - - c e