“The Hydrangea”

Self loves gardens.  Ergo, she loves reading about gardens.

And when she isn’t reading a gardening magazine, she’s reading literary journals.

Today self is reading a back issue of the New Orleans Review.  They published a piece of hers, “Thing.”  Which was science fiction.  It was the start of her new experiments in genre.  Thank you, New Orleans Review.

And here is a flower poem by L. S. Klatt.  It’s called “The Hydrangea.”

In a hospital bed, the hydrangea
lies sedated. A gown covers it,
stem to neck, but neglect sunburned ankles
that seem to have walked a mile through dune grass.
And what a day that must have been, the head
of the flower, in a bathing cap, out
searching for wavy blue. June, the blooming
season, hothouse of panicles & Starstreaks.
Then August, rainwater dripping through a
French horn of tubes; the hydrangea
dishevels on a pillow, wilted giant.

Oh dear! The poor hydrangea! Well, hopefully the hydrangea in the poem will recover soon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Twist 3: The Stone Lintel’s Close-Up

The stone lintel self passes almost every day, in the garden between the farmyard cottages and the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, is now ready for its close-up:

What is this mysterious thing?  And what is it doing on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Center?  Who made it?  And why?

What is this mysterious thing? And what is it doing on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Center? Who made it? And why?  Her musings about it remind her of her musings on the mysteries of Stonehenge.

Self thinks it is a very good thing to do an artists residency in a rainy place — such as a boggy island like Ireland — because one is given so much incentive to stay indoors.  And since everything else is so far away (like movie theatres, like newspapers, like television), one perforce has to exercise the utmost resourcefulness to keep oneself entertained.  And, in self’s particular case, that means concocting convoluted (yet entertaining) narratives involving ships and voyages and science and spores and changeables and hedgehogs and Commons and bongs and elephants and imaginary cities.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Twist 2: Walking Around (Still in Annaghmakerrig)

An old stone lintel next to a very big fern: on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

An old stone lintel next to a very big fern: on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

There’s a stone lintel that self passes whenever she goes to the Main House.  She finally decided to take a closer look at it today.  She was going to post a close-up of the carving, it looked like a piece of Mayan art to tell you the truth.

But her internet connection has been wisping in and out.

Instead, she’ll post an excerpt from a piece called “Shaft,” by Anne Enright.  It was in a hard-bound book she found in the dining room of the Main House (a compilation of writings by all the various residents who had been at the Centre, over the decades):

I always look people in the eye, you know?  This is just the way I am.  Even if they have a disability or a strangeness about them.  I look them straight in the eye.  And if one of their eyes is damaged, then I look at the good eye, because this is where they are, somehow.  I think it’s only polite.  But I am not always right.  Some people want you to look at their ‘thing’ and not at them.  Some people need you to.

There was that young transvestite I met in the street once: I used to know his mother, and there were his lovely eyes, still hazel under all that mascara and the kohl.  Well, I didn’t know where else to look at him, except in the eye, but also, I think, I wanted to say hello to him.  Himself.  The boy I used to know.  And of course this was not what he wanted at all.  He wanted me to admire his dress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.





Spring 5: Roses and Other Blooming Things

It’s Friday morning, raining again.  “Ireland’s a bog,” someone told her yesterday.

Two years ago, when she was preparing to do an artists residency at Hawthornden, someone told her, “Scotland is rainy and wet.”  No one said the slightest thing to her about Ireland.  And guess what.  It’s even colder and wetter in Ireland than it is in Scotland!

Self has been dutifully posting pictures of flowers for the current WordPress Photo Challenge, SPRING.

She’s also been browsing other WordPress blogs and the flower pictures have been simply breathtaking.

This is self’s very own floribunda, a Fourth of July:

Fourth of July, the 2nd Rose that self ever bought, over 10 years ago.

Fourth of July, the 2nd Rose that self ever bought, over 10 years ago.

Because of all the rain, the Irish countryside is lush and lovely.

Gingko Tree, by the Main House at the Tyrone Guthrie Center, Annamakherrig

Tree, by the Main House at the Tyrone Guthrie Center, Annamakherrig:  Is this a Horse Chestnut?

Near the farmyard at the Centre

Near the Farmyard at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Is it or is it not coincidence that this morning, self is reading John Millington Synge?

Mary:  (Lying back sleepily)  Don’t mind him, Sarah Casey.  Sit down now, and I’ll be telling you a story would be fit to tell a woman the like of you in the springtime of the year.

–  from “The Tinker’s Wedding”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Spring 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Dubliners are amazingly kind.  The taxi drivers refuse a too-large tip.  When has this ever happened to self?  They actually hand her back her change, and when she explains it’s all right, she really meant to tip that much, they say:  No.

The people at the tram stop (next to the Black Horse Saloon — bwah ha haaa!) worry about self getting lost, so they pass her along.  The first person self spoke to this morning (other than the person who tidied up the dining room after breakfast) was a woman jogging by with a frisky German Shepherd.  She didn’t know for sure how to direct self to where self needed to go, so she handed self over to a young man pushing a toddler in a stroller.  Bless his heart:  the young man, whose name was Bruno, got on the tram, went off at self’s stop, and actually walked with her all the way to Bewley’s on Grafton Street.  In the meantime, his curly-headed child kept staring at self, thoroughly bemused/confused.  Self wanted to buy something for the man and his child, but he waved her off and walked casually on.

Here’s a picture that hints at the week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  spring.

Spring as motion, or jumping, as this sculpture of a little girl depicts.  She took the photo last April. She and Margarita D were in Venice, and self decided to make the day trip to Vicenza because she had read somewhere that Vicenza was the birthplace of Antonio de Pigafetta, the man who chronicled Magellan’s journey and who self used as the narrator of her short story, Magellan’s Mirror (published in J Journal)

Vicenza, April 2013

Vicenza, April 2013

Here’s a more conventional take on SPRING.  As in:  spring flowers.

Abutilon and Irises, Self's Side Yard

Abutilon and Irises, Self’s Side Yard

Miniature Rose, Front Porch

Miniature Rose, Front Porch

These flower pictures are from last year.  But they are the same flowers that were in full and glorious bloom, just before she left last week.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Spring! WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Apologizing in advance for this post, because self used pictures from last year.

She’s in Dublin, which is rather gloomy, and what with the hectic arrival, she still hasn’t had the chance to snap a single picture here.

Poppies!  These were in front of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, last month.

Poppies! These were in front of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, last month.

Hydrangea "Nikko" Blue, grows in a pot in self's backyard.

Hydrangea “Nikko” Blue, grows in a pot in self’s backyard.

Mums.  Self planted them from a florists' bouquet that someone gave her a long time ago.

Mums. Self planted them from a florists’ bouquet that someone gave her a long time ago.

3rd Thursday of April 2014: Tired (But Not Overly So)

Hey, hey, people, it’s been a long day, and self is sitting in front of her computer, tired.

One thing she is so happy about, this year, is that her garden is so — fecund.  That’s the only way she can think to describe it.  Plants that haven’t thrown off a bloom in years — like her Sheila’s Perfume — suddenly have big, fat flowers.  Her oldest clematis, a montana rubens, suddenly has growth lower down on its gnarled, woody stem.  And the wisteria she thought she’d killed is luscious, winding over the falling-down trellis, almost choking off the old wood.

Self checked out a site called Grey Magazine, and loves it.  It seems to be a magazine about Italy, which is probably why she bookmarked it.  But as she scrolls to the bottom of the page, she sees other things, like an article about the Reykjavik Fashion Festival (There’s one country — Iceland — she’d love to visit one day) and a review of a production of Bohéme.  And there’s a fabulous, absolutely fabulous picture of the actress Charlotte Rampling (still a knockout).

Well, all this musing started because she sat down at her desk, read a new piece on fanfiction.net, thought of something, wrote it down, finished it — bam, bam, bam.  It’s just one page, but self thinks it is fabulous.

Self thinks all her pieces are fabulous.  That is, she thinks they are fabulous right after she finishes, or thinks she has finished.  The feeling doesn’t last long, so she might as well enjoy the right now.

This new one-page flash fiction takes place in a future universe.  It’s called “Memories of Trees” and is so angst-y and self loves it.

She remembered that when she spoke to Zack’s class last Monday, one of the students remarked that her story “Mayor of the Roses” and her story “Thing” — one set in a small town in Laguna and the other set in a dystopian future universe (Self swore she would never use the word dystopian again, especially after gazillions of reviewers used it when reviewing Hunger Games:  Catching Fire, but she is forced to admit that it certainly is a very effective word, and anyway her fiction really is DYSTOPIAN, she’s not trying to be clever or anything, just really really honest) — seemed to have similar themes.  Self’s first reaction was to go:  Oh no!  Because she hates thinking of herself as being so transparent and predictable.  Which was not a useful line of thought:  no one who’s predictable can be fabulous.

After much perusing of the newly re-designed Daily Post,self finally realized that it still has the links to other people’s blogs, a feature she thought had been lost.  With the old layout, she would click on “Post a Comment,” and all the people who had posted on the week’s photo challenge would then appear on a list of links.  Self would methodically move down this list, looking at each blog.

With the re-design, self couldn’t find a button for “Post a Comment.”  Only today did she realize that the links still exist, although in a very different form.  All self had to do was scroll down to the very bottom of the page, where there is a gallery of squares.  Clicking on one of these squares immediately brings one to a blog post on the week’s photo challenge.  In other words, the links are so much more visual now.

OK, so here’s what self has lined up for next week:  She will board a plane for London.  She will arrive in London.  She signed up for a tour of Stonehenge, which takes place the day after her arrival.  Jennie Lewis’s new poetry collection, Taking Mesopotamia, is having a reading at the British Museum on April 27, and self has tickets for that.  Then, she’s the guest of Joan McGavin for a few days.  Then she flies to Dublin.  Then she sees FATHER HASLAM, who she hasn’t seen in 20 years.  Father Haslam has asked a fellow priest, Father McCabe, to drive her to the Tyrone Guthrie Center.  She will then be in a self-catering cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Center.  There is wi-fi, so she will really have to wean herself off Facebook.  Then Penny arrives in Dublin.  Then self clears out of her self-catering cottage and takes a long train trip to Cork, where she’s booked into a magnificent Irish country home that serves four-course dinners every night. Then she loses her passport so she can’t go home and will have to stay another couple of weeks until she gets a new passport.  She’ll live off Irish ale and get fat.  She won’t be able to squeeze into an Economy airplane seat, so she’ll just have to be bumped up to First Class.  She will live happily ever after.


Reflections 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Reflection: to lose oneself in thought.

Self has lost herself in thought in a couple of different places. Here are three:

Holocaust Memorial, South Beach, Miami

Holocaust Memorial, South Beach, Miami

Self's Garden in Fall

Self’s Garden in Fall

The Café at the de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park

The Café at the de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park

Inside 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The San Mateo County Historical Museum is located in Courthouse Square, downtown Redwood City.

San Mateo County Historical Museum, Courthouse Square, Redwood City

San Mateo County Historical Museum, Courthouse Square, Redwood City

This gallery was just off the main lobby of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

This gallery was just off the main lobby of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

The Inside of Self's Helleborus "Courage."

The Inside of Self’s Helleborus “Courage.” For some reason, the plant didn’t bloom at all this year.  The picture above was taken last year.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Reading List Goes a Wee Bit Bonkers

Self has been reading The Hunger Games trilogy at night — an hour before bedtime, she selects a section of about 50 pages or so. She’s read each book about 10 times since the Catching Fire movie.

She made a wee bit of headway in Divergent.

She also trotted around with her, to coffee bars, the issue of One Story with B. J. Novak’s story (Yes, it’s that B. J. Novak, the one who co-wrote The Office with Mindy Kaling)

This morning, she began reading a new One Story story, Laura Spence-Ash’s “The Remains.”

She had minimal contact with the neighbors.  She waved once to John.  One of his boys — they’ve gotten so tall! — was pushing a lawn mower around their front yard.

She saw that all her clematis were still alive.  The one that used to be against John’s fence, until he replaced the fence and hacked it down, is still alive.  But struggling.  It probably won’t survive the year.  Now, it’s nothing but a clump of dead brown twigs, with small green shoots at the bottom.  It used to cover almost half the fence, and every spring for a dozen years it put forth the most magnificent, white flowers.  If it dies, self doesn’t think she’ll have either the time or the patience to grow another clematis to that size.

Let’s see, what else did she do this weekend?  She returned Black Lamb and Grey Falcon to the library (took nearly a month of her life) and began a new book, The Hemingses of Monticello:  An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed.

She scanned one of her bookshelves and pulled out a wee pocketbook called Envy.  It’s a dictionary.  Inside are definitions for:

  • acidity (Noun): The measure of bite or acidity in one’s tone
  • acidulous (Adjective):  A way of speaking that sounds bitter or sharp
  • adulation (Noun):  Extreme praise, admiration, or flattery, especially of a servile nature
  • allege (Verb):  To accuse someone of something — usually wrongdoing — without proof.

There’s a quote from Bertrand Russell:

Envy consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations.  If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, but Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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