Adventure 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Detail of wall carving, Angkor Wat: Self was there in 2004.

Detail of wall carving, Angkor Wat: Self was there in 2004.

The Tyrone Guthrie Centre for Artists in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland: Self was there in May 2014.

The Tyrone Guthrie Centre for Artists in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland: Self was there in May 2014.

Girlfriends! Met these two girls from Beijing in a restaurant in Burano, April 2013.

Girlfriends! Met these two girls from Beijing in a restaurant in Burano, April 2013. They were rooming together in Paris while learning — what else? — French. They both spoke perfect English. They took time off from French classes to see Venice. One cannot dine anywhere in Italy without having wine, hence self’s rather flushed demeanor.

Adventure 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self saw a production of “Titus Andronicus” in the Globe during a week in London, en route to Ireland and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in late April 2014. When she told her friend Joan McGavin that she was going to see it, Joan said: “Bring a bucket. Loads of gore.”

And indeed, Joan was right. There was indeed loads of gore. The production was a bit Quentin Tarantino-ish. But it was still bloody great.

Titus Andronicus at the Globe:  Wild, Bloody, Great

Titus Andronicus at the Globe: Wild, Bloody, Great

Then self proceeded to Ireland, where she had many more adventures. Including, her first actual acquaintance-ship with real swans (as opposed to the swans in Hans Christian Andersen or the Grimm brothers’ fairytales). Here is a picture of a loan swan, powering across a blustery lake, early May 2014:

Sighted Yesterday, on the Way to Annaghmakerrig: A determined swan powers its way across a wide lake, in blustery winds.

Sighted on the Way to Annaghmakerrig: A determined swan powers its way across a wide lake, in blustery winds.

She was so impressed with this swan that she started to write a story about swans which evolved into a story about Noah’s ark, after she saw the Darren Aronofsky movie “The Ark.” The last rejection letter she received for her ark story was just last week:  “Sorry,” quoth the young man, “Revisionist Bible stories aren’t really my thing.”

Self’s most recent adventure was attending the Squaw Valley Writers Conference, this past July.  She’d been hearing about it forever. Last year, she finally bit the bullet and applied. And she got in! And they offered her partial aid.  She is so glad she went soon after getting back from Ireland. For by the time she got to Squaw Valley, in early July, she was fit, mentally and physically, from six weeks of traveling all over Ireland and England. And she made so many new friends.

The Olympic House at Squaw Valley: July, 2014

The Olympic House at Squaw Valley: July, 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Adventure 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

On the way to the Grand Canal

On the way to the Grand Canal:  Self took a trip to Venice with Margarita Donnelly, retired managing editor of Calyx, in April 2013

Pat Shelley, who led the tour to Stonehenge self took in April 2014

Pat Shelley, who led the tour to Stonehenge self took in April 2014

Holy Mother of All Monuments!  Our little band of walkers approached the monument in early evening.

Holy Mother of All Monuments! Our little band of walkers approached the monument in early evening. We had to walk across a sheep meadow. That time of day, the tour buses were finally beginning to thin out.  Our group had the monument almost all to ourselves. It was CHILLY.

Adventure: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The WordPress Photo Challenge for the week would seem rather self-explanatory:

ADVENTURE

Last year, self decided to accept Margarita Donnelly’s invitation to share an apartment in Venice. She stayed almost three weeks. That trip certainly qualifies in her book as an adventure.

The apartment was in Ca’ San Toma. Only a 5-minute walk to the Frari church.

She had seen Venice when she was 11. Of course, it had changed. For one thing, everyone on the vaporetto kept vacating their seats and indicating that self should sit. In the spot marked for “Senior Citizens.” (Self, when will you ever learn to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth?) Although self is not quite a senior citizen, and it stung her pride mightily, she never refused a seat.

On the Vaporetto to Murano, April 2013

On the Vaporetto to Murano, April 2013

Just in front of the Naval History Museum, Venice

Just in front of the Naval History Museum, Venice, April 2013

Also last year, self visited, for the first time, the town of Magalang in Pampanga (Philippines). She visited at the invitation of Alawi Canlas, an English professor at Pampanga Agricultural College.  Self really enjoyed meeting all the students, and discussing her work with them. That trip, too, was an adventure.

Magalang Public Market:  It's huge.

Magalang Public Market in the Philippines, province of Pampanga: It’s huge.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia: “The Heart of the World”

The cover of Colin Poole's TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia's Natural Heritage (Thailand:  River Books, 2005)

The cover of Colin Poole’s TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia’s Natural Heritage (Thailand: River Books, 2005)

In 2004, self and her sister-in-law, Ying, took a trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. We stayed in a house ($10/day for a room, including meals) and hired a driver.

The monument was crawling with tourists. One morning, desperate, self and Ying awoke at 4 a.m. and had the driver bring us to the temples. Across the giant causeway, which was barely light, we saw at least a hundred photographers, cameras pointed at the horizon, waiting for the first rays of the sun to appear. It was very dispiriting.

The thing self remembers most from the trip is not the temples. It was Tonle Sap Lake. Self and Ying hired a boat and threaded our way through the floating villages.

In 2008, Ying passed away in Tel Aviv. Self saw her for the last time a couple of months before. Her eyes were so sad.

Self’s story, “The Peacock,” is about that trip to Cambodia. She’s never been able to get it published, but she keeps trying.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Dialogue 4: Stairs

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is DIALOGUE: We’re to consider our photos’ subject matter and graphic attributes and choose those that resonate with each other.

Today’s dialogue will be with stairs (But then, that makes “dialogue” just seem like a fancy way to say “theme.” Oh well)

Cottage # 4, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland:  May 2014

One month in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland:  May 2014. Self wrote an amazing amount.

Montmartre, July 2014: Steps to Sacre Couer

One week in Paris, staying at a friend’s place in Montmartre, July 2012:  It was self’s first time in Paris. She’d wanted to go for so many years.

Bella goes slowly, painfully up the steps to the kitchen.  The blur in the photograph is her.

Bella goes slowly, painfully up the steps to the kitchen. The blur in the photograph is her. She passed away October 13, 2013. She was 17 years old.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Fray 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Met a Daly City high-schooler touring Dublin with her Mom, on the top floor of the Hop-On Hop-Off bus on the sunniest day in Dublin:

Met Francesca and her Mom when she was on the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus around Dublin. They're from Daly City, CA. (Their ponytails are FRAYED)

Met Francesca and her Mom when she was on the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus around Dublin. They’re from Daly City, CA. (Their ponytails are slightly FRAYED)

Was reading a newspaper one lunchtime in Lincoln’s Inn, close to the National Gallery of Ireland.

Reading a Frayed Newspaper: Lincoln Bar, Dublin, June 2014

Reading a Frayed Newspaper: Lincoln’s Inn, Dublin, June 2014

And spent two nights in Cork in June:

Found this slim poetry collection in her room in Café Paradiso, Cork, Ireland. The cover is slightly FRAYED.

Self found this slim poetry collection in her room in Café Paradiso, Cork, Ireland. The cover is slightly FRAYED.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Silhouette: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The Golden Temple, Amritsar, February 2012

The Golden Temple, Amritsar, February 2012

Young Monks Taking a Break, Palpung Sherabling Buddhist Monastery in Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh: February 2012

Young Monks Taking a Break, Palpung Sherabling Buddhist Monastery in Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh: February 2012

Entrance to Main Prayer Hall of a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery near Bir, Himachal Pradesh: January 2012

Entrance to Main Prayer Hall of a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery near Bir, Himachal Pradesh: January 2012

Because self visited so many monasteries in northern India, some people assumed self was “sick.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Texture: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is TEXTURE. It’s about “the designs created by the water and sand,” about “layers,” and “strata.”

Here’s self’s first take:  Ripples on the sea (Amsterdam);  feathery ferns (Scotland); a designer hat (by Jean-Paul Gaultier)

The Sea, on a Cloudy Day (Amsterdam, July 2012)

The Sea, on a Cloudy Day (Amsterdam, July 2012)

Ferns and Grass:  Hawthornden, June 2012

Ferns and Grass: Hawthornden, June 2012

Textured Hat, Jean-Paul Gaultier (de Young Museum, April 2012)

Textured Hat, Jean-Paul Gaultier (de Young Museum, April 2012)

California Highway 1: The Lure

Self is headed back to southern California pretty soon.  She loves, loves, loves it.  Just the feeling of driving, never mind that the freeways feel bigger and everything’s so much farther apart than in the San Francisco Bay Area. (No, self likes that places are farther apart!  She can take longer to get there!)

Condé Nast Traveler’s July 2014 issue has a letter from the editor about what California’s Highway 1 means to her.

Well, it means something to self as well.  When self was 13 and her Dear Departed Sis 14, our parents took the whole family for a driving vacation in the States.  We lived in Manila, but Dearest Mum’s parents and younger brother and sister lived in San Francisco. Dear Departed Dad always had this dream of taking us on a cross-country road trip — in an RV. This was a sort of specious dream, since self’s Dear Departed Dad had no idea how to change a flat tire or how to hook an RV into one of those things that drains waste. And he’d also never driven anything bigger than a club wagon, and we all know that an RV is a completely different animal from a club wagon.

Anyhoo, we did make that driving trip, borrowing a car from self’s maternal grandparents, and we snaked down Highway 1 all the way from San Francisco to San Diego, then snaked east towards Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. And Dear Departed Dad allowed self to choose the stations we listened to, and self fell in love with America’s “Horse With No Name.”

Son attended Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo, but only once did we ever venture farther north than San Simeon on Highway 1. And oh man. We got stuck in a humongous traffic jam, that took hours to sort itself out.  And son swore that would be the last time — ever — he would take Highway 1 to the Bay Area. Self felt rather demoralized by the incident, to tell you the truth.

The last time self was on Highway 1 was just recently.  She was lost.  She was coming from Skyline College, took a wrong turn somewhere, found herself on Highway 1, then just kept driving south.  The views got more and more spectacular, and self was all excited, wondering if she’d actually make it as far as Big Sur.  But she didn’t.  Anxiety began to creep in, and self doubled back and went home.

Here’s what Pilar Guzman, Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast Traveler, has to say about her memories of Highway 1:

There is something about a road trip in one’s home state with a sibling or childhood friend that makes you feel like you’re 17 again.  We packed a cooler, sang along to Adele’s “Someone Like You” over and over, and analyzed our parents for the umpteenth time, telling the defining stories of our childhood to each other as though for the first time.  It always strikes me that no matter how many digital memory-keeping advances we make, a family’s mythology only really evolves in an oral tradition.

After the Squaw Valley Writers Conference, self was on an absolute high.  The last day of the conference was on her birthday. She drove down with another conference participant, Heather Lee.  Heather just sent self a CD where she put all the songs we listened to on the drive from Squaw Valley.  It includes songs by Pherrell Williams, Johnny Legend, Coldplay.  Self likes to think of that CD as her “Happy” CD. She’s just decided she’ll bring it along with her to southern California this time.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

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