Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I started a Tumblr some time ago that lay fallow for a long while until I was recently reminded that I had it. I thought about what I would do with it that was different from this blog and my Pinterest page (which I mentioned here). I decided I would start posting the marginalia I found in my books. I have a lot of books, and while marginalia is a bit more rare than you would expect, I have found enough to at least keep the Tumblr going for a little while.

Anyway, some of what I've found has been genuinely intriguing, and worth discussing here at more length. Such as this:

Very sweet. Strangely enough, it was in this book:

I admit I'm a sentimental romantic. I find something like this, and I immediately begin to wonder how things went. Did she wait those two hours, nervously glancing at the door, only to be left alone? Or did he show up, flattered and baffled to have a secret admirer? It is, and will remain, a mystery, and that makes me a little sad. I do hope all turned out well.

Taking such chances requires its own type of courage. Our hearts are fragile things, easily injured. Maybe that's why so many rush into and stay in relationships which, even if they aren't truly bad, aren't causing sparks. The pain of opening oneself up, becoming vulnerable on a regular basis, can be a terrifying prospect, and we yearn for the security of familiar arms where we are safe away from the hunt. That's why I admire when someone does take that leap into the unknown, laying their heart out in the open, awaiting they know not what.

I'm also charmed by the "its the '90s" line. It evokes a frozen moment, a context, a glimpse into a time that, for me, seems so clear and recent, but which the calendar reminds me ended so long ago. So much has happened, so much has changed, the World has spun on in its endless whirl, countless lives have touched upon and parted from countless others...and then this bit of forgotten risk-taking surfaces to make me ponder. Not just upon this unknown person taking a chance, but upon us all, upon my life and the lives that have intersected mine, knowingly and unknowingly. But I also think about now, and the future, and the ceaseless meshing of lives that is going on and will continue on as long as people walk the Earth.

This may all sound melancholy. I can't deny it is, in a sense. Yet, it also elicits a sense of awe in me, a great enveloping sense of wonder at the endless combinations possible in life, but which are all fragile in their connections, ephemeral, and all the more precious because of that. It's the kind of contemplation appropriate for a bitterly cold night, when one is safe and warm with loved ones sleeping near and far, with Tolkien's words on my mind: "I sit beside the fire and think/of all that I have seen..."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ohio sunsets

Wherever you are, there are beautiful sunsets. I will not presume to think the sunsets I can see from where I live are any more or less lovely than the ones you can see when you step out just before the gloaming. I have lived in and traveled to many different places, and all of them have sunsets that can break your heart or heal it.

In La Jolla, many years ago now, I was part of a crowd on a Spring afternoon, gathered to watch as the Sun dipped below the horizon. To the north, hot air balloons hovered above the seaside cliffs, floating to grasp at the last golden rays. As old Sol sank, and le rayon vert vanished, the crowd erupted into spontaneous applause as the first cool breezes of evening swept in.

Even more years ago, I chased the Sun West across the New Mexican desert. The sky went from a thin blue to indigo quickly, with stars glittering into view brightly through my windshield.

When I lived in Camarillo, California, I would drive just north of Ventura to the beach and watch as the sunset would be obscured by the clouds brought in by the onshore flow, with dolphins swimming south to north and seals drifting serenely a few hundred yards from the beach. The clouds blew in from the Channel Islands, the lights of oil rigs outshining the stars that were near the meeting of sea and sky. The Milky Way would shimmer into view, and would become one of the first things that leaped to mind when I missed California.

I've always felt my heart pulled West, and the gorgeous sunsets here in Ohio, whether seen through the ubiquitous trees or rolling farmland, seem even more poignant after having lived in California. A continent stretches between these two states, with forests and rivers and plains and prairies and desert and towns and cities and people, a multitude of people, carpeting those lands, all receiving their own sunsets in turn.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Cover Bonanza!

This will be a quick post to direct anyone who has a hankering to look at a lot of book covers to the still-in-progress gallery of my personal library. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

There's much more where those came from, and I'm still adding to it.