Contrasts 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Today, to illustrate this week’s Photo Challenge Theme (“Contrasts”), self decided to focus on PAIRS.

Self and The Man, a Year or Two After They Were Married, a Year Before Son Was Born

Self and The Man, a Year or Two After They Were Married, a Year Before Son Was Born

Once upon a time. self had two little beagles, and their names were Bella and Gracie:  Gracie, the younger, died first, in 2011.  Bell reached the great old age of 17 dog years, and died last October.

Once upon a time. self had two little beagles, and their names were Bella and Gracie: Gracie, the younger, died first, in 2011. Bell reached the great old age of 17 dog years, and died last October.

Classic:  The Man took this picture of Self at the San Diego Zoo.  She was 22 or 23.

Classic: The Man took this picture of Self at the San Diego Zoo. She was 22 or 23.

Family 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is FAMILY.

The prompt on The Daily Post site asks:

What is family?  For some, family is defined by genetics.  For others, it is simply those with whom you share a bond of love.

Son and his best friend, Kramer. Kramer's doing a PhD in UC Davis; he used to be in Harvey Mudd.

Son and his best friend, Kramer. Kramer’s doing a PhD in UC Davis; he did his undergraduate work in Harvey Mudd. Photo was taken at Buck’s in Woodside.

Calyx Press, based in Corvallis, OR, published self's first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila. The editors are my second family.

Calyx Press, based in Corvallis, OR, published self’s first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila. The editors became self’s second family.

Gracie being chased by Scots Terrier w/ pee fetish. She passed away in April 2011.

Gracie being chased by Scots Terrier. She passed away in April 2011.

Family: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Son got his Masters diploma from Claremont Graduate University in May.  Proud moment for all of us!  Now, he just has to submit a dissertation :-)

Son got his Masters diploma from Claremont Graduate University in May.  He was also inducted into the International Honors Society.  Proud moment for all of us! Now, he just has to submit a dissertation :-)

Side View!  Bella had very gentle eyes.  She passed away on Oct. 14, 2013.  She was 18.

Side View! Bella had very gentle eyes. She passed away on Oct. 14, 2013. She was 18.

Son and Jennie Dancing in Montana's, southern California, sometime 2012

Son and Jennie Dancing in Montana’s, southern California, sometime 2012.  Both are great dancers.

 

 

While Looking at Other WordPress Blogs . . .

One of the things self really enjoys doing is looking at the posts of other WordPress bloggers on the week’s theme.

This week’s theme was BEGINNING.

Self was looking at the pictures on the blog Death as a New Beginning.  They were of a dead hawk.  The hawk was stiff; its eyes were wide open.  Never mind that self didn’t get why a dead hawk would be a new beginning, but she was just fascinated by the pictures.

There was a little bit of red matter in the dead hawk’s beak.

And it reminded her of the only time she has seen a squirrel up close:  it was in her living room.  When self first caught sight of it (right next to the sofa), she thought it was a stuffed toy.  It wasn’t moving at all.  She stepped up close and looked, and noticed that it had teeth.  Sharp teeth.  Ugh.  So this was not a stuffed toy (Never mind what a stuffed toy would be doing in her living room.  Hold that thought.  Self is a writer, so her mind does tend to make big narrative leaps).  And that’s when she noticed blood on the squirrel’s teeth.

You know, it’s funny how, when you think of squirrels, you really don’t think of them as animals.  No, you think of them as animate stuffed toys, prancing about your yard.  In reality, however, they have a smell, they have sharp claws, and they also have extremely sharp teeth.  And how this dead squirrel happened to get into self’s house was really a mystery — that is, until she belatedly noticed that Gracie, her beagle, was nearby, looking up at self with an expression that self could only describe as triumph.  Yes, it was Gracie who dragged this poor dead squirrel to the living room, as a kind of trophy.

EEEKKK!!!!!

Self’s scream was ear-splitting.  The Man had to exert himself to get a shovel from the shed and bag the poor creature.

Today, self was washing dishes at the kitchen sink when she happened to look up — it was such a beautiful day — and she saw a whole flock of birds nesting in the trees.

She heard a lot of chirps and tweets yesterday, but she couldn’t be sure the sounds weren’t coming from her neighbor’s parakeets — he keeps about a dozen of them in the shed right next to self’s fence.  But it is so nice to listen to birds, no matter what the source.

So today, self looked up, and — Holy Cow! — so many birds!  And they were all aiming for her bird feeders, it seemed like (She has 2).  She loved watching the birds swooping about, resting momentarily on a branch and then darting lower.  From the purposeful way in which the birds were congregating on the trees in her yard, self knew they had specifically come to gorge themselves on the sunflower seeds and cracked corn she fills her bird feeders with.  She couldn’t take any pictures because the tree-tops are far, far away.  But — so nice to have birds to look at.  Wouldn’t you agree, 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’ : WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ONE.

“This week, we want to see photos that focus one one thing.”

Dear Departed Dad at 46.  This picture is in the small room she calls her "Office," the one with French doors that open to her backyard.

Dear Departed Dad at 46. This picture is in the small room self calls her “Office,” the one with French doors that open to her backyard.

He was a kind and gentle father.  Most of all, he gave self roots in the soil of Negros Occidental.

In addition to self's fascination with:  a) windows, b) flowers, self is also fascinated by dogs.  This one was in Monsignor "Gigi" Gaston's house in Manapla.

In addition to self’s fascination with: a) windows and b) flowers, self is also fascinated by dogs. This one was in Monsignor “Gigi” Gaston’s house in Manapla, Negros Occidental.

And here's a picture of the Nora Aunor of her time:  Dearest Mum.  Have you read the story "Lizard"?  You should read "Lizard" (in self's first collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA)

And here’s a picture of Dearest Mum. Have you read the story “Lizard”? You should read “Lizard” (in self’s first collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA).  A student at Curtis, she was only 14 when she played at Carnegie Hall.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Garden in Fall

Missing one very important ingredient . . .

The hollowed trunk of a Philippine tree . . . had it shipped from the Philippines

The hollowed trunk of a Philippine tree . . . had it shipped from the Philippines

DSCN2839

Bella . . .

She was ready. She must have spent the whole summer preparing, her sleeps getting longer and longer and longer.  The Man said she still ate all her breakfast that morning.

She was ready. She must have spent the whole summer preparing, her sleeps getting longer and longer and longer. The Man said she still ate all her breakfast that morning.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Aspiration

Noun:  Goal; desire; something one wishes to achieve.

e.g. Marco, whose lifelong aspiration was to be the number one seat violinist in the orchestra, was left thinking only about sabotage when it was announced the young prodigy would be assuming the premiere position.

Bella the Beagle, aka “The Ancient One”, who entered our lives in 1996 at six months of age, died a few hours before self’s plane arrived from the Philippines, in the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 14. The Man found her when he got home from work, a little before five.  She was still warm.  It seemed she had died peacefully, lying in the warm sun on the deck.

Oh, woe!

Self was quite overcome to think she had missed seeing Bella alive, by just a few hours.

Self’s other beagle, Gracie, died in April 2011, so Bella had two more happy years with us.  When Gracie was alive, she was completely cowed and submissive.  When Gracie passed away, she began to get a little assertiveness back (We adopted Gracie when Bella was about four years old, and Gracie was far more rambunctious, and completely stole the show).

The Ancient One Peruses the Backyard.  A year ago, self predicted 2011 would be her last Christmas.  As it turned out, self was too much of a pessimist.

The Ancient One Peruses the Backyard.  Self predicted 2011 would be her last Christmas. As it turned out, self was too much of a pessimist.

Bella the Beagle:  Sept. 30, 1995 to Oct. 14, 2013

Self’s eyes are pretty swollen right now.  It was an exhausting trip. Started 3:50 pm in Bacolod, included a five-hour layover in Manila which stretched to 8 hours, and then a 12-hour flight.  She got in at 11 p.m.  The Man has to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to work.

But when she was reading her e-mail, she saw a letter from Waccamaw accepting her story “Bridging.”  This was a story she wrote while in Hawthornden, June 2012.  Towards the end of the month, she and the other writers decided to have an informal reading of works-in-progress.  The story self read was “Bridging.”  It was only about 8 pages at the time; in August, when she last worked on it and sent it out, it had grown to 17 pages.

Totaling the time it took from the story’s inception to its final version, June 2012 to October 2013, it took only about 16 months.  She’s had stories that she works on for six, seven years before they get picked up.  Such a one was “Silence,” which was published long ago in The Threepenny Review, and was shortlisted for the O. Henry Literature Prize.

“Bridging” will appear in Waccamaw‘s forthcoming issue (going live October 31).

It’s only her 3rd acceptance of 2013.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Mysterious Mirrors

Fearsome hot.

This morning, The Ancient One appeared wan, gave only indifferent attention to her food (over which self had generously ladled warmed up bacon grease.  At this point, she will not worry about Bella’s cholesterol!)

Self immediately text-ed son:  Prepare yourself!

He text-ed back:  Maybe you should switch her dry dog food.

Self became a little annoyed at the nonchalance.

She had a couple of errands to run, so she ran them.

Upon returning to the house, she headed straight for the backyard.  There was The Ancient One, positioned right underneath the magnolia tree (a favorite spot of hers; there’s a depression in the ground there.  An enormous black walnut tree once grew in the spot.  Five or 10 years after moving in, however, self managed to kill it, possibly from over-watering.  She knew nothing — NUTHIN’ —  about trees back then).  Self looked at the doggie dish:  All gone!  Once again, self has scared herself silly with imaginings!

Anyhoo, in a much more relaxed state, she resumes trolling the internet.  Lands on Café Irreal, a favorite site.  There’s a story up about a mysterious mirror.

Self hates mysterious mirrors almost as much as mysterious closets.  The closet thing started long, long ago, when self was in grade school.  She had a dream that a man with an axe hid in the closet in the bedroom she shared with her sister.  When her sister went to the closet and opened it, the man was staring down at her, and self kept trying to warn her sister but for some reason could not speak, or move.  As she watched, her sister began to rummage through the things in the closet.  And, and —  self doesn’t know how the dream ended.

Then, about 10 or 15 years ago, she was watching the new Twilight Zone, and there was a story about a mysterious closet.  A girl kept hearing strange sounds from the closet in her room, but every time she described the sounds to her parents, they said she was imagining things . . .

Anyhoo, back to the Café Irreal story.

First of all, self really likes that the main protagonist, a girl named Dani, buys the mirror from a vendor whose wife is “an autumnal blonde with a witchy look.” (See, self is already pro-actively thinking of Halloween!  This is not a joke.  Costco and CVS pharmacy and all the supermarkets have aisles of Halloween candy.  In fact, self bought one of these bags of candy because, she reasoned, they’re going to raise the prices the closer it gets to Halloween.)

Anyhoo — self, what is WRONG with you today?  Digressions galore!  Back to the story:  The girl brings the mirror home.  What does she see?

Of course she sees SOMETHING!

Not her face, silly.  If she saw her own face, it would be too Dorian Grey.

She sees someone else in the mirror.  A man.

Suggest going over to Café Irreal and checking out the rest of the story.  Here is the link.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Digging in the Garden and Reading More of A PASSAGE TO INDIA

The Bay Area is experiencing a tremendous heat wave.  Fires are burning in Mount Diablo.  It is hotter now, in September, than it was in July.

The Ancient One seems to be coming through it remarkably well.  Aside from drinking copious amounts of water in the afternoon, she rests on the deck, gets up when self enters the garden, and can still sniff out errant figs on the ground.  Of all times to plant moss — !  But, indeed, that is the task self has set for today.  The moss came in large flats, $4.99 @ from Home Depot.

She plucked four more large apples from the apple tree.  The rest are really much too high to reach.  She hopes she can prevail upon son to get the rest, the other day he consented to help her but picked only one apple that he thought was ripe.  To be sure, the apple was enormous.  But — one apple!

Fielding and Aziz are together.  Self can’t be sure they’re in a garden, but “the eye flies became worse than ever and danced up close to their pupils, or crawled into their ears.  Fielding hit about wildly.”

Self loved when Kyi told her that Fielding was Forster’s alter-ego.  It feels right to treat him a such.  He has little of the pretensions of his class.  As Aziz reflects:  “There goes a queer chap . . . “

“I travel light,” Fielding says.

“Travel light!  You are a most extraordinary race,” said Aziz, turning away as if he were going to sleep, and immediately turning back again.  “Is it your climate, or what?”

“Plenty of Indians travel light too — saddhus and such.  It’s one of the things I admire about your country.  Any man can travel light until he has a wife or children.  That’s part of my case against marriage.  I’m a holy man minus the holiness.  Hand that on to your three spies, and tell them to put that in their pipes.”

Aziz was charmed and interested, and turned the new idea over in his mind.  So this was why Mr. Fielding and a few others were so fearless!  They had nothing to lose.  But he himself was rooted in society and Islam.  He belonged to a tradition which bound him, and he had brought children into the world, the society of the future.  Though he lived so vaguely in this flimsy bungalow, nevertheless he was placed, placed.

And now, back to the garden.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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