Yesterday I mentioned I hadn’t lived anyplace where fireworks were legal, and it shocked me to hear and see the neighbors’ almost incessant firework displays, especially the huge falls of sparks over my house and garage. I found out today that I still haven’t lived anyplace where fireworks are legal — all fireworks that leave the ground are illegal everywhere in Colorado. Surprisingly, no one issued citations for the firework setter-offers — it’s not as if they were hiding their crime.

But then, the one thing that I don’t like about living here is that the code enforcer only works during the day on weekdays, so the rest of the time, too many people feel free to break the laws they find inconvenient, such as leash laws and firework laws and trespassing laws.

I lucked out on the fourth because there was rain that night, so any sparks that landed would have immediately fizzled out, but I doubt the thought of rain being a safety measure played any part in the wrongdoers’ decisions to shoot off the fireworks because they would have had to stock up long before any rain was in sight. And until the rain, this whole area was so dry and desiccated that any spark could have set the whole town on fire.

People are still setting off fireworks — it’s been a nightly thing since the end of June — but eventually, they will have to run out of the blasted things, so I won’t have to worry until next year. I have no idea what I will do. Even if I spent the night in the yard, looking for fires, chances are any fire that was sparked would be slow to start and I’d miss it until the damage was done.

It makes me wonder — don’t other people think of these things? I’d blame my concern on my growing curmudgeonliness, but the truth is, fireworks are dangerous in ultra-dry climates. That’s why there are laws against them.

Oh, well, I’d be better off turning my thoughts to more important issues, such as what sort of climbing vine to plant along a portion of my fence. Climbing roses don’t do well here because of the frequent hot/cold temperature changes. (They do well as low bushes, not as climbing plants.)  I’d love some wisteria, but it needs to be pruned every year, and in more feeble times, I won’t want to deal with that. Though I might not have to — apparently, wisteria grows slowly in Colorado. And anyway, so far I haven’t done well with purchased plants, so perhaps I should try to transplant a trumpet vine or two. One of the vines I would transplant is riddled with ants, so I wonder if the ants would come with it, or if they would stay in the original area. I guess I’ll find out.

Meantime, the work on the garage is progressing — today they insulated and walled one side of the inside of the building. Yay!

As for Dune — I spent several hours online yesterday looking at books that were published around the same time trying to find one that I might have confused with Dune, but I didn’t have any luck. The lists did remind me of some I liked, such as Malevil by Robert Merle, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, and Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. I thought of rereading these books, but decided, after the Dune fiasco, that I better not.

I read a mystery yesterday that takes place in a not-so-distant future, and the book itself mystified me. The future as the author had envisioned played absolutely no part in the story. The story could have been set in any age, any place, and it wouldn’t have mattered. It seems to me that if one is making a big deal about the time frame in a story, that time frame needs to play a part. Like a gun showing up in the first chapter of a book and then never mentioned again.

I’ve been picking a tarot card every day, asking the cards what I need to know that day, and so far, all the cards are telling me is that I need to learn what the day’s card means. It doesn’t seem to have any correlation to my life. I am keeping a sort of diary about my excursions into the tarot because I’m interested in knowing if they will show a pattern for the month. I did say I wanted to learn the tarot by osmosis rather than an in-depth study, and that seems to be the case. I am learning some cards — though mostly what I’m learning is that while some decks are based on a certain tradition, others eschew that tradition and make up their own meanings. I wonder if I were to create my own deck of cards, using whatever symbols I want, and giving those symbols any meaning I want, if it would work like a tarot deck.

I think that brings me up to date. If not, I’ll be here again tomorrow with another mélange of ideas and events.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Maybe Rereading “Dune”

I’m rereading Dune. At least, I think I’m rereading it. I’m beginning to wonder if I ever read it at all until now.

I remember thinking I liking the book when I was young, and several times over the intervening years I’d end up with a copy and try to reread it, but I could never get into the story again. Admittedly, when I was young, I had a lot more patience for books that were mostly descriptions of day-to-day living, whether on this planet or another (the first 150 pages of Dune seem more like setting the scene than the beginning of a book) and I lost that patience in later years. It’s also harder to keep whole books in my head now, so that adds to my impatience with dragginess.

It’s possible the book gets better (I’m not even halfway through), and it’s possible it has a great ending that would make me feel good about the book. And it’s possible that something in the latter half will strike a chord of memory, but so far, there isn’t so much as a ding. Even if I can’t remember books I read decades ago, if they impressed me in some way, I have some sort of lingering impression of them. Most books, of course, leave no impression — there is simply no “there” there. I’m not sure where Dune would fit in the book spectrum because it is different enough that I should remember something or hear a faint echo of recognition in the back of my mind. But nope. Nothing. I can’t even figure out why I would have read it. I have never liked authors who have to create incomprehensible names for people, things, and places. The strange spellings seem to take up space in my brain that would normally be used for following the story.

Even more confusing, I see the cover in my mind’s eye — a reddish cover with a fellow trudging across a wide expanse of dunes. I spent some time looking at Dune covers today, and there is not a single one of them that looks familiar. (Except for the one I bought at a library book sale a while back and redonated unread.)

It makes me wonder what book I did read. It’s possible I read some other book and misremembered it as Dune. It’s possible I misremembered the cover. (If there even was a cover image. It could have been a rebound book from the library.) And I could have found the book completely unmemorable.

Too bad there’s no way to rewind a memory to see the truth of it.

What I am seeing is a lot of similarity to The Wheel of Time series, at least in small things — the witches, the truthsayers, the uncanny powers, the manipulation of people and events. Of course, these are all fairly common archetypes and scenarios for the hero/savior story, but people often compare The Wheel of Time world to The Lord of the Rings, and I don’t see it at all. (But then, that’s another iconic series I haven’t been able to slog through, so I could have missed any similarity.)

One thing that amused me — in a book that uses so many strange-sounding names and words, at one point, Frank Herbert describes someone as having olive skin. Couldn’t he have come up with a more interesting word? I have always hated “olive” applied to skin because it takes me out of the story and makes me wonder what color the character is. I still remember the first time I came across that descriptive word. I couldn’t figure out if the character had green skin or black. It took years before I realized the word referred to the color of the inside of a black olive.

So, I can remember being puzzled by olive skin, but I can’t remember anything about a book I thought I read and thought I liked.

The life of a reader does get bizarre at times.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator