Refraction 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is REFRACTION.

Self really likes the way this blogger (Matt von P) and this blogger (Enjoying Life Wherever We Are) interpreted the theme.

And here are some of her own takes.

Capiz Shell Ceiling Light, Café Uma, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

Capiz Shell Ceiling Light, Café Uma, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

Street Corner, Venice: April 2013

Street Corner, Venice: April 2013

Taken from a vaporetto crossing the Venetian Lagoon:  April 2013

Heading across the Venetian Lagoon on a vaporetto: April 2013

Murakami: p. 89 of THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE

Whenever she ran out of money, she would do something like fortune-telling.  People would reward her for helping them find lost things or missing persons.  She would have preferred not to take the money. Powers bestowed by heaven should not be exchanged for worldly goods.

–  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, p. 89

Sigh. Self adores Murakami.

This book. Self has no words.

Stay tuned.

First NYTBR Post in Forever: 15 December 2013

Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.  It’s been nearly a year since this issue came into self’s hands. She has since suspended her New York Times Book Review subscription (in case dear blog readers were wondering. It was just too depressing seeing the book review in her mailbox every week, and not being able to read for months and months and months.)

It just so happens that the By the Book interview is with Michael Connelly, and he has many, many interesting book recommendations, which include the following:

  • Act of War:  Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo, by Jack Cheevers
  • The Public Burning, by Robert Coover
  • The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler

This issue also has the list of Ten Best Books of 2013, and since self is well aware that time is a river, and self is disappearing quick, she has to be choosy about which of the Ten she really really wants to read, and it is these:

In Fiction

  • Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner
  • Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
  • Tenth of December: Stories, by George Saunders

In Nonfiction

  • Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink
  • Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala

One of the highlights of this issue is a review (by Anthony Doerr) of Brown Dog: Novellas, by Jim Harrison.  Self doesn’t know why exactly but she’s loved Jim Harrison for a long long time. His books are violent, they are pungent, they are precise, and they are very, very funny.

And here’s a round-up of a burgeoning sub-genre, the cookbook as memoir:

  • Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau
  • Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, by Abigail Carroll
  • Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers and Food, by Peggy Wolff

And here’s a sub of a sub-genre, the fate of elephants in America:

  • Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard Thomas Edison, by Michael Daly
  • Behemoth:  The History of the Elephant in America, by Ronald B. Tobias

And one about elephants in Africa:

  • Silent Thunder, by Katy Payne

Finally, much thanks to Rivka Galchen and Pankaj Mishra for recommending (in the end-paper, Bookends) two books by authors self hasn’t yet read:

  • My Struggle, by Norwegian writer Ove Knausgaard
  • Zibaldone, by Giacomo Leopardi

Whew! Finally self has arrived at the end of a monster post. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Mission: Lit Crawl 2014

Tonight was Lit Crawl in San Francisco’s Mission. Self attended a reading of Saint Mary’s College alumna, one of whom was the fabulous Rashaan Alexis Meneses.

Rashaan read the story that was recently in New Letters, a story that happened to be set in Bonnyrigg, near Hawthornden!  (Rashaan should send a copy to Hamish).

But, before the reading, we met up at local fave Puerto Allegre (546 Valencia St) for some yummy sopes and guacamole, where self met poet Raina J. Leon and got her to sign a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn:

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

This picture of Rashaan reading was unfortunately a little blurred, but you can still get a sense of her energy:

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

She happened to take a seat facing the sidewalk, so that as the reading progressed, she found herself watching a building directly across the street. There was a FOR LEASE sign on the front. The ground floor had this rather fabulous home furnishings store (with real-looking white sheep), very “chi-chi” for the Mission.

As it grew dark, the rooms of each floor of the building lighted up. And self has always, always been fascinated by windows.

She remembers staring out the kitchen window of her brother-in-law’s apartment in New York City, just staring at parallel rows of windows, and seeing people doing different things: talking on the phone, reading the newspaper. Each little square a story.

Mission Street, Across from Bay Coffee & Tea

Mission Street, Across from Bay Blend Coffee & Tea

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Foolish Things

  • As a result of dropping by the Robert Frank exhibit at the Cantor Art Center on the Stanford Campus yesterday, self got it into her head that she would very much like to own a Leica.
  • After leaving the Robert Frank exhibit, self fully intended to go to Aquarius in Palo Alto and watch Rory Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam.” But she did not.  Instead, after filling up with gas, she went home.  And today — alas! — that film is no longer showing.
  • Self hasn’t looked at her story “The Peacock.”  Not once.  Not since it was workshopped at Squaw. She has no idea what to do with that story. It just sits there, like a lump on a log. Taking up space in her computer. In her store of unfulfilled projects. She wanted it to be a memoir about her and Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying. She wanted it to be desperate and lonely, the voice of a soul lost in the Cambodian wilderness after failing to connect with the splendor that is Angkor Wat (Dear blog readers, do you know that there’s a RAFFLES HOTEL IN SIEM REAP???)
  • Self has wanted to replace the desert of the front lawn with trees — perhaps olive trees — to screen her house from the busy street. But she’s remained staring at that patch of bare, weed-choked dirt for 10 years. It sounds really lame to keep bringing up the drought.

Ugh, ugh, girl. Why can’t you just do? Why must you always be re-hashing the old, or rehearsing for the future? To what end?

How quickly you forget: just yesterday, you got word from Witness that a piece you sent them eight months ago is going to be in their Translation issue.

As for somehow missing “Last Days in Vietnam,” “Gone, Girl” is showing in the Redwood City Century 20 and she heard from a friend who read the book that it’s actually pretty good. Self is not a Ben Affleck fan — seems he is pretty much a control freak with his wife, and no doubt he took care to present himself in the best possible light in this new role — but what the heck? Maybe she just wasn’t in the mood for another hard-hitting documentary yesterday, maybe she should just try and ignite a new respect for Ben Affleck? She did like “Argo” a lot. He’s not a bad director.

And if she’d managed to watch “Last Days in Vietnam” yesterday, she would have missed seeing the San Francisco Giants’ nail-biting victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. She would have missed seeing the way the two teams went head to head all the way to the 9th inning. She would have missed that sweet, game-ending homer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Fan Fiction of the Day: Mr. Mellark Visits Seamfirth

Hunger Games Fan Fiction of the Day:  If self had to guess, she would say that the writer was channeling Pride & Prejudice.  It’s actually pretty clever.

A week had passed since Mr. Mellark’s visit to Seamfirth, leaving behind not only the unexpected cactus flower but the note that now lay open on a page from her favorite book.  She had positioned his sketch opposite the note and found herself smiling, admiring the elegance of his signature.  Whenever blessed with a moment to herself and away from the prospect of prying eyes, she would revisit his words, along with the other notes she kept tucked away safely amongst the worn pages of her book.

*     *     *

Her response had been short but to the point, which is not to say she hadn’t agonized over her every choice of word, hopeful that she did not come across as too cold or too eager.  It began with the confirmation that her favorite color was indeed green . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Further Dreaminess: Abe’s Farm in Magalang, Pampanga

Abe's Farm in Magalang, Pampanga is a working farm, but also a resort. Self took this picture in the resort's restaurant.

Abe’s Farm in Magalang, Pampanga is a working farm, but also a resort. Self took this picture in the resort’s restaurant.

Breakfast (Philippine mangoes are the BEST in the entire world)

Breakfast (Philippine mangoes are the BEST in the entire world)

Suman/Ibus for Breakfast: The sauce consists of melted brown sugar.

Suman/Ibus for Breakfast: The sauce consists of melted brown sugar.

More and More Dreamy in Magalang, Pampanga

The Main Guest House on Abe's Farm

The Main Guest House on Abe’s Farm

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Capiz Shell Lamp Overlooking the Sala (Living Room) of the Main Guest House

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A View of the House Belonging to E. Aguilar “Abe” Cruz

Still More Dreamy in Magalang, Pampanga

Self spent the weekend poring over her pictures from last year’s sojourn to Magalang, Pampanga, where she was invited to address students of Pampanga Agricultural College.

She wouldn’t have looked back if it hadn’t been for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, posted Friday: DREAMY.

Words from The Daily Post prompt:

real but not-real; silent, peaceful, perfect

House of E. Aguilar "Abe" Cruz in Magalang, Pampanga

House of E. Aguilar “Abe” Cruz in Magalang, Pampanga

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The house of “Abe” Cruz is clearly a house that was designed by an artist. Each door, window, and screen has its own unique pattern of metal fretwork. LOVE.

The first floor of the house has been turned into a kind of museum, filled with family memorabilia and art. Self has no clue who the model was for this bust, but if she were to take a guess, she'd say it was Abe Cruz's wife.

The first floor of the house has been turned into a kind of museum, filled with family memorabilia and art. Self has no clue who the model was for this bust, but if she were to take a guess, she’d say it was Abe Cruz’s wife. Interesting, the woman’s face isn’t exactly beautiful but it’s a very strong face. The cheekbones!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Dreamy in Magalang, Pampanga: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Last year, self went on two major trips: one to Venice, the other to the Philippines.

When she was in the Philippines, she visited Pampanga Agricultural College in Magalang, Pampanga. Her friend Alawi Canlas suggested she stay in a place called Abe’s Farm.

Self never wanted to leave.

Which is why, in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge — DREAMY — self decided to post three photographs she took while she was at Abe’s Farm.

Abe's Farm, Magalang, Pampanga:  September 2013

Abe’s Farm, Magalang, Pampanga: October 2013

Behind Self's Unit in Abe's Farm

Behind Self’s Unit in Abe’s Farm

Reading, Dreaming in Her Room in Abe's Farm

Reading, Dreaming in Her Room in Abe’s Farm

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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