Seattle 2014

The minute she gets back to the Bay Area, she’s going to have her MacBook Air’s keyboard fixed.

During one sleepless night last year, she spilled strawberry jam on her keyboard.  She was trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but the knife slipped out of the jam jar, and fell on her keyboard.  Ever since, the keyboard’s stuck.  She can just manage to get some keys to register, but only if she presses with all her might.

It is a beautiful day.  The last time self was in Seattle was 2007.  She was hosted, so she was picked up from the airport, and she was a guest in the home of Maria Batayola.

This is a completely different kind of trip.  She’s staying in a hotel.

The people on the plane were none too friendly.  Everyone was absorbed in reading the papers or reading their iPads.  They also looked very, very white.  And healthy, in that quintessential American way. Great hair, great teeth.  Neat clothing.  The woman seated next to self, who never cracked a smile in her direction, had a Bally tote.

Seattle’s edges are hard and bright.  The streets are surprisingly empty.  Puget Sound, though, is huge:  about 10x the width of San Francisco Bay.  The ferry boats are enormous, they remind her of cruise ships.  The snow-capped mountains glint in the sun.  Just looking at them makes self feel cold.  Self wonders how much a ferry ride costs.  She’d love to explore Bainbridge Island, which she heard has cute little art galleries and coffee shops.

During what was left of today, self decided to walk.  She wound up in Pioneer Square.  The streets were really, really empty, except for a park with a giant chessboard where a young woman was trying to move the chess pieces and some old men were teasing her in a lighthearted way.  Birds flew among the trees.  There were Indian totems off to the side.

She walked some more.  She found a bookstore:

The Globe, a bookstore near Pioneer Park

The Globe, a bookstore near Pioneer Square

In the bookstore loft, self found a very cozy reading nook.

In the bookstore loft, self found a very cozy reading nook.

She also found a bustling bakery near a park:

Grand Central Baking Company, next to Occidental Park

Grand Central Baking Company, next to Occidental Park

Triple-Chocolate Cookie from Grand Central Baking Company:  $1.95, and worth every penny

Triple-Chocolate Cookie from Grand Central Baking Company: $1.95, and worth every penny

That triple-chocolate cookie was just about the best cookie she’s ever tasted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Packing for AWP 2014

Self bought this luggage tag after getting back from Venice:

This had better work . . .

This had better work . . .

It is raining in Seattle.

Perfect.  If self could just sleeeep . . .

Stay tuned.

Treasure 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Let’s talk about how sweet it is to have a really, really good nail salon in the neighborhood.

Self decided to get a mani/pedi yesterday afternoon, at 5 p.m. (As parking fees don’t apply after 6 p.m., she ends up paying only 50 cents, for 1 hour)  When she walked in, the entire row of humongous massaging chairs was full, but she only had to wait a little while before they called self to a chair.

One of the women there is taking classes from a San Jose community college, and she and self began gabbing about our favorite books.  A few weeks ago, self dropped off a copy of her Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila.  Today, the woman gave her a copy of her favorite book, pictured below.  Which she will consider (Ta-ra!)

TREASURE # 3.1

Self's First Book Exchange: with a young woman from her favorite nail salon, Belle Nail Salon in her hometown Redwood City

Self’s First Book Exchange: with a young woman from her favorite nail salon, Belle Nail Salon in her hometown Redwood City

TREASURE # 3.2:  Memories of her last trip to visit son and Jennie in Claremont

Son and Jennie have a wee backyard. It was so sunny, her last day in Claremont, a week ago.

Son and Jennie have a backyard! It was so sunny, her last day in Claremont, a week ago.

TREASURE # 3.3:  Ocean Beach and The Great Highway.  No matter what the weather, there’s always something to see . . .  And the San Francisco Zoo’s right alongside.

We always take the Great Highway when we visit the Legion of Honor.

We always take the Great Highway when we visit the Legion of Honor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Claremont, Day 4: Gorgeous

Mood:  Relaxed

Weather: Gorgeous

State of Mind: Happy

Breakfast:  Some Crust Bakery

One word to describe self’s life right now:  Fulness

Claremont, Day 4

Some Crust Bakery, Claremont Village

DSCN3970 DSCN3973

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Mondays: Quote of the Day (3 February 2014)

Self just can’t get over having to type year “2014.” It feels momentous because of Philip Seymour-Hoffman.

By sheer coincidence, the story self has been reading in The New Yorker of 20 January 2014, by Akhil Sharma, begins this way:

As far back as I can remember, my parents have bothered each other.  In India, we lived in two concrete rooms on the roof of a house.  The bathroom stood separate from the living quarters.  The sink was attached to one of the exterior walls.  Each night, my father would stand before the sink, the sky above him full of stars, and brush his teeth until his gums bled.  Then he would spit the blood into the sink and turn to my mother and say, “Death, Shuba, death.”

“Yes, yes, beat drums,” my mother said once.  “Tell the newspapers, too.  Make sure everyone knows this thing you have discovered.”  Like many people of her generation, those born before Independence, my mother viewed gloom as unpatriotic.

The title of the story is “A Mistake.”

Self fervently wishes that 2014 will turn out to be a good year.  She did finally do some things she’d been wanting to do for months:  she decided to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins this coming weekend, and she signed up for yoga classes (which have been extremely fun).

And while yesterday turned out to be a terrible day for Peyton Manning, it was good for California because it rained steadily (at last! Though we’ll need lots more to get through the drought).  Self and The Man caught the Oscar-Nominated Short Films (Animation) at the Aquarius, and afterwards had coffee around the corner at La Boulange.

Of the short animation films, self’s favorite was Feral, directed by Daniel Sousa.  The Man said it was “too dark,” but self liked that it was.  The one she found the most corny was Room on the Broom, an entry from the UK which featured some very heavy hitters doing voice work: Gillian Anderson, Sally Hawkins, and Simon Pegg.

Which brings us back to Philip Seymour-Hoffman.  Self found out while perusing the web, late last night, and it was terrible.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Third Tuesday of January (2014)

DSCN3816

The father of a good friend passed away.  Self scans her FB page and realizes that her friend’s mother passed away only about a year ago.  That’s harsh.

California is experiencing a drought.  A severe drought.

At least, it was warm out.  Self took pictures of birds at the feeder.

DSCN3815

Self is racing through the rest of In the Shadow of Man. Gaaah, the way Goodall writes about a poliomyelitis breakout in her community of chimpanzees is so heartbreaking and tragic!  Self never knew that illnesses could jump between apes and man.  But why not?  Didn’t the bird flu virus start with chickens?

Anyhoo, one of the chimps has an enormous growth in his neck that looks exactly like a goiter.  Interestingly enough, that region has many people afflicted with same.

In one brilliantly written chapter, we follow the excruciating death of a grand, old chimpanzee named Mr. McGregor.  This mighty and stolid creature was felled by the loss of function of both his legs.  He crawled back to the camp, and the scientists had to do a mercy killing.  Goodall sums up the last 10 days of Mr. McGregor! Gah!  Nightmarish.  They fed him breakfast first, and while he was jubilantly examining two hard-boiled eggs, they delivered him unto oblivion.  At least he died happy.

Self’s rate of reading picked up with Goodall’s book.  Let’s just hope she can keep this up, for the next book on her reading list is — as self has remarked on before — the 1,000-page Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West’s account of her tour of the Balkans.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Seeing Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” : First Saturday of December (2013)

Bone-chilling cold.  Lows expected 30 degrees.  Self hates this:  blackened, dead salvias; blackened hydrangeas; shriveled bougainvilleas.  Does anyone from self’s island ever take this into account when they think about California?  It’s bitter here, especially when you have to cover all your plants against the frost, and even then they might not make it.  The Man doesn’t care because the plants belong to self.  She paid for them, she put them in the ground, so they are her responsibility.  Taking into account that self is only ONE person, you’d think the weather would try and be a little more accommodating!

Anyhoo, the ostensible subject of this post was Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska.”  She knew it would be bleak — one look at the wild-eyed Bruce Dern should tell ya — but it had unexpected touches of drollery and it ended on a positive note.  Has Payne ever directed a movie that ends on a not-positive note?  She doesn’t think so.

Theater (Palo Alto Square) was full!  Full, mostly, of seniors.

Will Forte charmed.  In fact, the way he was shot made him look quite handsome.  If this movie doesn’t deliver an extra charge to his career, nothing will.

Stacy Keach was in it!  Honestly!  Self thinks the last movie she saw Stacy Keach in was something about policemen.  Was it possibly “The New Centurions”?  That was ages ago.  Keach is an excellent heavy in “Nebraska.”  Self could not believe that the strongest thing Will Forte’s character ever said to him was:  “Get the hell away from us (Pause).  Move.”

So now, self reviews her Ten Best Movies of 2013 list.  Will “Nebraska” edge its way into that list?  Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm.

Self’s list (as of yesterday) had these movies:

  • Philomena
  • Hunger Games:  Catching Fire
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Warm Bodies
  • Harana
  • Josh Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Spectacular Now

OK, she’ll have to bump a film.  Either “Captain Phillips” or “The Spectacular Now.”

Captain Phillips.

Her new (revised) Ten Best Movies of 2013 goes:

  • Nebraska
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Gravity
  • Blue Jasmine
  • The Spectacular Now
  • Harana
  • Warm Bodies
  • Hunger Games:  Catching Fire
  • Josh Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing
  • Philomena

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

First Thursday of December (2013) Already!

Where does the time go?

January 2013 was just yesterday.  She remembers settling down happily on the couch, which is piled with many fluffy pillows, to lie on in case she decides to take a snooze in the middle of watching CNN.  How happy she was to imagine a whole, blank year ahead of her, a year which meant (self thought) 80 books at least.

And here it is the end of 2013, and she’s read 29 books — far, far below her yearly average.

She loves the book she is currently reading:  Gulag:  A History, which won the Pulitzer Prize several years ago.  She loves it because it gives her occasion to say, over and over:  Self, you are not being monitored.  Your mail is not being opened.  You are not confined to a warehouse for 12 hours a day.  It is winter but not cold.  You have half a ham left in your refrigerator.  Your bank account is still at a comfortable level.

Then, because it is such a beautiful day, and because self is happy, she turns to the literary journal War, Literature & the Arts.  What better time to read about war than when it is a beautiful day in December?  She begins reading a personal essay by David D. Butler called “Long Time Gone:  The Year Dirty Harry was Shot.”  Here’s how it opens:

In December of 1970, I turned twenty-five.  Seven years earlier, I could have made war fighting the Viet-Cong.  With my twenty-fifth birthday, the insurance carrier thought I was now old enough to drive for the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Day After Thanksgiving 2013

Oh, such a GLORIOUS day in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Self took The Man to see “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” She saw it on Wednesday and really liked it.  Besides which, she got to see the episode of SNL hosted by Josh Hutcherson (Nov. 23, 2013) and the guy KILLED it, OK?  Just KILLED it.

So, anyhoo, there was self today, watching it again, and the other thing she forgot to mention when she watched it the first time was that she came 10 minutes late, so she missed all the gooey stuff between Katniss and Gale, but since Liam Hemsworth is about as dull a love interest as can be, she figured she didn’t miss much, and she was right.

So, the second time around, self was not at all bored, even though she already knew the outcome.  And in fact, it was nice to relish all the performances, particularly those of: Jennifer Lawrence. Jena Malone. Stanley Tucci. Elizabeth Banks.  Philip Seymour Hoffman. The new guy, the one who plays Finnick (makes his first entrance sporting a necklace that looks like it’s made of black Philippine pearls. Self swears, she has seen necklaces exactly like that in the Philippines!)  The fragile old woman who plays his partner, Mags.  Jeremy Wright.  Amanda Plummer.  And of course, our man JOSH HUTCHERSON.

The only person whose performance was not completely on the same level as the others was Donald Sutherland’s.  That is, he acted like the same old Donald Sutherland.  But, still, his appearances did not detract from self’s enjoyment of the movie as a whole.

Since she rarely gets to watch a movie twice, and even more rarely enjoys watching a movie twice, she’ll have to add “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” to her list of Best Movies of 2013, bumping off the grotesquely hilarious “Bad Grandpa.”  That becomes Honorable Mention, together with the documentary “Blackfish.”

  1. “Philomena” (Judi Dench and Steve Coogan turn in bravura performances)
  2. “Gravity” (Sandra Bullock turns in a bravura performance, not to mention she gets away with wearing teensy boy shorts in deepest space!)
  3. “The Spectacular Now” (Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller deliver bravura performances)
  4. “Captain Phillips” (Tom Hanks and the pirates turn in bravura performances.  Self hates that Catherine Keener was given nothing to do)
  5. “Warm Bodies” (Nicholas Hoult!  Nicholas Hoult!  Nicholas Hoult!  Honestly, self had no idea who he was until she saw him play a zombie)
  6. “Hunger Games:  Catching Fire” (Yay for Jennifer Lawrence! Yay for Jena Malone! Yay for Woody Harrelson!  Yay for Elizabeth Banks! Yay for Jeremy Wright! Yay for Stanley Tucci!  Yay for Amanda Plummer!  And Triple Yay for JOSH HUTCHERSON!)
  7. “Much Ado About Nothing” (Self loooved Amy Acker in the role of the oh-so-prickly — but hilarious — Beatrice.  And Joss Whedon’s house deserves special mention)
  8. “Blue Jasmine” (There is no one who could have done this role better than Cate Blanchett.  Peter Sarsgaard was a plus)
  9. “Harana” (A Filipino documentary — directed by Benito Bautista — that had self in tears)
  10. “12 Years a Slave” (Chiwetel Ejiofor.  Benedict Cumberbatch.  Michael Fassbender.  Paul Dano.  Lupita Nyong’o.  Paul Giamatti:  They each gave their all.  Self was absolutely bowled over by Lupita Nyong’o, who was heartrending as the slave of a sadistic plantation owner, played with sinister creepiness by Michael Fassbender)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Unexpected 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self loves that Weng is so playful.  She and her sister, Gemma, run the Negros Museum Café, one of self's favorite Bacolod hangouts.

Self loves that Weng is so playful. She and her sister, Gemma, run the Negros Museum Café, one of self’s favorite Bacolod hangouts.

Self in "Awesome Mode": This was the birthday card that Jennie, Son's Fabulous Girlfriend, sent her a few months ago.

Self in “Awesome Mode”: This was the birthday card that Jennie, Son’s Fabulous Girlfriend, sent her a few months ago. Self began writing a series of stories whose main character is called Leaping Kitty.

It was so foggy,, Sunday, 23 June 2013:  That day, self and The Man had taken son and Jennie to the Legion of Honor.

It was so foggy,, Sunday, 23 June 2013: That day, self and The Man had taken son and Jennie to the Legion of Honor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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