Doors, Entrances: Thresholds 4, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

One more door beyond this is the door to the backyard.

One more door beyond this is the door to the backyard.

Filoli, early December 2013.

Entering Filoli, early December 2013.

Invitation to Enter Self's Humble Abode

Invitation to Enter Self’s Humble Abode

For those dear blog readers who’ve never heard of Filoli before, here’s a link to the historic estate and gardens (just a mile or so from self’s humble abode).  Every December, the place gets decorated to the nines for the Holiday Bazaar, and it is just glorious.

Stay tuned.

Fun Facts About Americans’ Love of Fresh-Cut Christmas Trees, Courtesy of The Economist (14 December 2013)

Is self barreling along, or what?  She only has about six week’s worth of back issues of The Economist left to read.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to read a post about Christmas trees BEFORE Christmas?  Yup.

Now she’s on the Dec. 14, 2013 issue of The Economist.

p. 71 has an article on Americans’ apparently insatiable love for fresh-cut Christmas trees.

  • Every December, a man named Francoise brings 500 fresh-cut trees from Quebec to New York’s Upper West Side.
  • The trees sell for anything from $20 to $300.
  • The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA)  — Ever heard of it before?  Neither had self! — reports that “Americans spent more than $1 billion on 25m trees in 2012.”  The average price of a tree?  $40.
  • People on the East Coast prefer Fraser firs because of their “typical evergreen fragrance.”  Californians prefer Oregon’s Grand Fir, “which has an orange-like scent.”
  • Home Depot expected “to sell 2.8 million” fresh-cut trees in 2013.
  • Easton is “the Christmas-tree capital of Connecticut.  “Every second car leaving the area has a tree or two strapped to its roof.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Pairings Battles: Who Will Win?

This is total fluff, but anyhoo, since self seems to be on a roll, she will just keep on posting (that is, until The Man gets home and imposes some order on self’s abysmally dis-ordered mental state):

Hypable’s Battleships Pairings Tournament is down to the semi-finals, so if you feel inclined to pitch your hat in favor of either of the following pairings:

  • Bella/Edward
  • Brienne/Jaime

Go HERE!

(An early round had Nick/Gatsby and Frodo/Sam.  At some point, did any blog readers wonder if Haymitch and Effie could possibly have some outside-of-the-games romance?  Honestly, the way Haymitch rolls his eyes at Effie leads self to think the man has got to be in love — BWAH. HA. HAAA!)

Apologies, dear blog readers.  Once again, self has gotten side-tracked from the original impulse which caused her to think of posting.  Which is that:  After much slogging, self has clawed her way to PAGE 214 of Henry M. Stanley’s 536-page How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.  YEEESSS!  In between p. 1 and p. 214, self:

  • Ate a whole lemon meringue pie.
  • Watched her Netflix movie rental, Boy A, and developed admiration for Andrew Garfield.
  • Found out her short story “Sofia” will be in Philippine Speculative Fiction, vol. 9.
  • Got very, very sick.
  • Attended a New Year’s Eve lunch in Menlo Park.
  • Watched Stanford lose in the Rose Bowl.
  • Went to town on take-out from Sam’s Chowder House in downtown Palo Alto.
  • Saw “Frozen.”
  • Read five back issues of The Economist.
  • Discontinued her subscription to The New York Times Book Review.

There were also relaxing activities like:  watering, watching birds in the backyard, watching Dr. Oz, and watching Saturday Night Live re-runs.  Self just realized:  things are so much clearer when one is sick.  Self had no idea how beneficial forced home incarceration/rest can be for the mental faculties.  For one thing, she got to read everything about Mockingjay.  Now she knows that Katniss first mentions Peeta’s name on p. 5.  P. 5!  Holy cow, girl!  Can’cha get with the program already!

On p. 214 of How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa, Henry M. Stanley develops a severe case of malaria.  While he is feverish and thus incapacitated, his porters take the opportunity to abandon him.  All except for one, an “Arab” named Selim.

I asked Selim, “Why did you not also run away, and leave your master to die?”

“Oh, sir,” said the Arab boy, naively, “I was afraid you would whip me.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

What She’s Reading, New Year’s Eve (2013)

Henry M. Stanley:

“The ascent of the ridge was rugged and steep, thorns of the prickliest nature punished us severely, the acacia horrida was here more horrid than usual, the gums stretched out their branches, and entangled the loads, the mimosa with its umbrella-like top served to shade us from the sun, but impeded a rapid advance.  Steep outcrops of syenite and granite, worn smooth by many feet, had to be climbed over, rugged terraces of earth and rock had to be ascended, and distant shots resounding through the forest added to the alarm and general discontent, and had I not been immediately behind my caravan, watchful of every maneuver, my Wanyamwezi had deserted to a man.”

–  How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa, Chapter VII (“Through Marenga Mkali, Ugogo, and Uyanzi, to Unyanyembe”)

Why does self keep thinking of THE ARENA?  Is it Stanley or Peeta/Katniss traversing those rocks and . . .

Self, get a grip!

Ding Dong!  When is that Times Square ball really going to start coming down?  And is Miley part of the show?  And why did Britney Spears almost fall out of her dress during a concert in Vegas?  And what is this new animated show that uses the voices of Armie Hammer and Teri Hatcher?  And why is Jessica Lange so funny when she sings Banana Fana in that American Horror Story episode?  And how come self only seems to watch The Good Wife when she is in Bacolod? And why can The Man never manage to help self find a single episode of Sherlock Holmes, the one with Benedict Cumberbatch?  And will Peter Jackson ever find a new project that doesn’t involve dwarves, hobbits, elves, or orcs (not that self minds, really)?  And will Charlie Hunnam have cause to regret that he backed out of Fifty Shades of Grey because it interfered with the schedule, he said, of Sons of Anarchy?  And what will J-Law look like in 20 years?  And will self still be alive then?  And won’t it be depressing to see J-Law middle-aged? (It most definitely will).

Self never made it to the post office today, but she did make it to Costco (for that most important sleep aid, Benadryl).  There were many unruly carts going this way and that.  People, self felt like saying, what good does it do to rush about like that, when in the end you will still have to wait in line at the checkout?  But, the holidays seem to bring out the most aggressive Costco shoppers, self knows not why.  Well, at least self managed to replenish her supply of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

New Year’s Eve Quote of the Day: Alyssa Milano

She’s the Project Runway All Stars season 3 host.

I only knew her as the actress on Charmed.

Gee, I should really get caught up on Project Runway. (That’ll be my New Year’s Resolution # xxx)

The quote is courtesy of the December 2013 issue of Marie Claire (Since self dis-continued The New York Times Book Review, and has all this money left in her checking account, she decided to sign up for a 2-year subscription to Marie Claire, which she’s been reading forever. So, for readers of this blog, expect more fluff in 2014!):

Marie Claire:  Now that you’ve done both reality and regular television, which one do you prefer?

Milano:  Project Runway All Stars was about being present in the moment.  Reality TV is not about acting, it’s about reacting.  I found that very liberating.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

ONE # 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This is an excerpt from the photo challenge prompt on The Daily Post:

Maybe you’ve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as waves crash.  Perhaps you’ve caught your mother sitting by herself in a moment of quiet contemplation.  Maybe you saw a basket of wriggling puppies, and got a photo with a single fuzzy face in focus.  (Please, someone, take that photo!)

Here are self’s interpretations of the Photo Challenge theme, ONE.

The Christmas Tree in Filoli was smothered by Christmas ornaments, but for some reason self zoomed in on this owl.

The Christmas Tree in Filoli was smothered by Christmas ornaments, but for some reason self zoomed in on this owl.

The Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach is full of powerful sculpture.  But this one statue affected self more than any of the others.

The Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach is full of powerful sculpture. But this one statue affected self more than any of the others.

The final image is of Bella’s bed.  Bella, aka The Ancient One, was 18 years old.  She passed away on October 14.  The Man found her when he got home from work.  Self flew home from the Philippines that night.  The Man told her about Bella at the airport.

Pets are family.  Of all the pictures of Bella that self could post, this one is the one that best captures how she feels:

Bella's bed

Bella’s bed

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

ONE # 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

“This week,” the WordPress Daily Post says, “we want to see photos that focus on one thing. Maybe you’ve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as the waves crash.”

Here are my three encounters with the concept of ONE.

The first is a large tree in a plaza off Main Street, in downtown Half Moon Bay.

Main Street, Downtown Half Moon Bay:  The plaza had a large Christmas tree.

Main Street, Downtown Half Moon Bay: The plaza had a large Christmas tree.

The second is of a lighted Santa in someone’s front yard.

Jolly Old St. Nick in Someone's Front Yard in Half Moon Bay

Jolly Old St. Nick in Someone’s Front Yard in Half Moon Bay

The third “ONE” is a gigantic snow man, in a large room next to the Rain Forest exhibit.

This gigantic snow man was in the auditorium of the California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park

This gigantic snow man was in the auditorium of the California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park

Well, it was fun. The Man treated to breakfast at our usual coffee shop, so self treated to the scallops, and bought a 20-lb. bag of sunflower seeds for the birds.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Community 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Christmas is only a week away!

Self cannot believe how fast 2013 flew by!

Thinking about “Community” a bit more.  It’s a perfect theme for the week before Christmas.

Still in connection with this theme, self will add more pictures from the last Filipino American book event she attended:  the Filipino International Book Festival, held in the San Francisco Main Library in October.

Linda Nietes, owner of Philippine Expressions, the quintessential bookstore, with Angela Narciso Torres, whose collection, BLOOD ORANGE, was this year's winner of the Willow Book Prize

Linda Nietes, owner of Philippine Expressions, the quintessential Filipino bookstore (L.A. based, but they do mail order), with Angela Narciso Torres, whose collection, BLOOD ORANGE, was this year’s winner of the Willow Book Prize

DSCN2574 DSCN2578

Photo # 2 is a solo shot of Linda Nietes standing next to a bulul!  A bulul is an Igorot fertility carving.  There was an exhibit of bululs at the Palo Alto Cultrual Center on Newell Road, several years ago.  Nine months later, a number of women who had attended the exhibit delivered babies.  It was an unusual enough occurrence that the event got written up in the local papers.

Photo # 3 is one of my All-Time Favorites:  Florante Aguilar and Fides Enriquez, the husband-and-wife team that brought us one of self’s favorite movies of the year: a documentary about “the lost art of serenade,” Harana.

Self’s Nightmare and “Mockingjay” Movie Spoilers

Good Grief!  The dream self had in the wee hours today:  She had re-enrolled at Stanford (Her Dream Self was apparently one of those people who believe that one can never have too many advanced degrees).  But this time, she completely forgot that there was such a thing as attending class.  And by the time she realized this, it was already the final week of the quarter.  And she had never submitted a single assignment.  It all just slipped by her, honestly.  This qualifies as an honest-to-goodness “panic dream.”  It was horrible.  Really sweat-inducing.  Mebbe she shouldn’t have watched “Sleepy Hollow.”  The golem was extremely convincing, though.

And, since self awoke, about 2:30 a.m., and didn’t have any good story ideas, she began to do the next best thing, which was to read every single post on Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and she discovered on Buzzfeed a very interesting list, and she could not stop laughing when she read:

“. . .  good grief, after spending two full movies watching Katniss gaze longingly into Gale’s crazy-handsome face, it is just a numbing downer to spend two full movies watching them bicker without ever bothering to talk things out.  Possible solution:  Perhaps Katniss could seek out Gale for some comfort, especially if Gale happened to be shirtless.  For once.”

Self wholeheartedly agrees with this one.  There is in fact a shirtless-Gale Moment in Catching Fire, but it’s a bit distracting because he is being whipped and there’s a lot of blood splaying all over the place.  Hopefully, by Mockingjay, his scars will have healed, and maybe he could be shot from just the front, which is the unblemished part of his torso.

Another spoiler:  Katniss ends up with you-know-who, and this is truly a case of her wanting to be needed, because there’s little point in getting together with someone who has been brainwashed so thoroughly that he thinks you are an evil person who needs to be done away with.  This because the point has to be made that “choosing to violently overthrow a totalitarian regime is itself a destructive act from which there is little hope of fully healing.”  EEEEKKK!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Grand: Favorite WordPress Posts on the Theme

Widya’s World posted pictures of the temples at Borobudur.

Amanda Renee posted a beautiful picture of a sailboat on a lake.

Geophilia Photography posted a mosaic of landscape photographs.

On the Streets of San Francisco posted a series of pictures of the lighted outdoor Christmas trees on her street.

Soul Additions posted a picture from a 2003 trip to Spain: a cathedral in Seville, all lit up, though it was barely dusk.

girltuesdayspeaks posted haunting pictures of the former U.S. Naval Base in Subic, Pampanga.

Summerfield84′s English blog posted a view of Mount Fuji across Tokyo Bay.

Reveries of Forevers posted pictures of a journey through “the deep southwest of New Zealand.”

And here are two photographs of self’s own, which she thinks might be relevant to the theme “Grand”:

Bob and Diane Varner have been friends of Self and The Man for decades.  This Chardonnay (2011) is hard to find, but self snagged a bottle yesterday at K&L Liquors in Redwood City

Bob and Diane Varner have been friends of Self and The Man for decades. This Chardonnay (2011) is hard to find, but self snagged a bottle yesterday at K&L Liquors in Redwood City.

Self loves Christmas.  The reason is because it's the one time of year when there is no such thing as "over-decorating."

Self loves Christmas. It is GRAND.  The reason is because it’s the one time of year when there is no such thing as “over-decorating.”

She still hasn’t gotten a tree.  If only she could get one that she could stuff into her car unaided.  The Man simply will not lift a finger.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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