Claremont, Day 2: Plan for the Day

The plan for today is to visit the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.  Self is so glad that son and Jennie were down for that, as she’s been wanting to visit the museum for a while, ever since she read a write-up about it in the Wall Street Journal.  The article focused on a new exhibit called “Becoming Los Angeles.”

The exhibit, which covers “14,000 square feet of gallery space . . . tells the city’s history primarily through a display of 250 objects and images, from canoe carvings of the Gabreleño-Tongya people to a Stratocaster guitar (As the first museum in the city, this one became the repository for family heirlooms, keepsakes and homely artifacts that might otherwise have been lost to history — and in that catch-all function alone broadened, from the outset, the definition of a natural history museum.”

There are “six major sections” that comprise “key moments in the Los Angeles story.”  There are “artifacts from the Indians who cruised the islands off Los Angeles in sewn boats and first greeted Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542,” and “a series of paintings” of the first “Spanish missions in California . . . by the British landscape artist Edwin Deakin.”

There’s more, lots more, but self has to check on her on-line writing class students.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

BLGF, Skopjle II: These Are Albanians!

Self is taking off to see Sole Fruit of Her Loins This Weekend. Jennie said to bring BLGF, but honestly, it weighs around 5 lbs. And she’s not planning to check in any luggage.  So, that means . . . . .

Anyhoo, here’s probably her last BLGF post until Sunday.  It’s just as well.  She hates to read without full concentration, and RW’s prose is so lush, it’d be a crime to read in snatches.  Self allots herself about two hours at a stretch.  That means no getting up for coffee or tea or TV or even to answer the phone.  She just reads.  That’s been her regimen for about two weeks now.

(She did dash to Barnes & Noble yesterday, just for a few moments, to look for Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters.  She also looked up Owen Wister’s 1902 novel, The Virginian, and found it!  Sandy said she remembers a television adaptation from way back when she was a little girl)

Right now, she’s on p. 646, in the chapter Skoplje II.

There are about 75,000 inhabitants of the town, of whom over 10,000 are Turks who gave the town its colour in the first place.  There are fewer minarets than there are in Sarajevo, but they are potent.  And because there is so strong a Christian element in the town, there are constant dramatic disclosures of the essences of Christianity and Islam, each being shown up by its opposite.  Soon there came past the window some Albanians, to begin the revelation.  Though I had my back to them I knew they were on their way, for a look of fatherly concern on my husband’s face told me that he had just caught sight of his first Albanian.  “They are not really coming down,” I said.  No Westerner ever sees an Albanian for the first time without thinking that the poor man’s trousers are just about to drop off.  They are cut in a straight line across the loins, well below the hip-bone, and have no visible means of support; and to make matters psychologically worse they are of white or biscuit homespun heavily embroidered with black wool in designs that make a stately reference to the essential points of male anatomy.  The occasion could not seem more grave, especially as there is often a bunch of uncontrolled shirt bulging between the waistcoat and these trousers.  Nothing, however, happens.

Oh, that RW, she cracks me up, she really does!

Stay tuned.

Southern Vivid

In a few days, self is hopping on a plane and heading south to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins.  It’s been an age, almost a year, since she’s been down there.

Which is a pity because self hugely enjoys the southern part of her home state.  Movie nut that she is, how could she not?

The southern part of California is like the northern part, only everything is bigger and the weather is always warmer.   South means huge palmettos, gardens as lush and colorful as a Rousseau painting, Vroman’s, and The Huntington Botanic Gardens.  It means Claremont and driving and malls that feel shiny and new and women with great tans and poodles.

It means cavernous movie theaters where you get to pick a seat based on a seating chart (Just like in the movie theaters in that mall in Magalang, Pampanga!)

Anyhoo, travel energizes self.  Always.

And, son and Jennie are there.  Which means self will not be alone, as she usually is during her hectic peregrinations.

Now, she will have dinners to share and people to talk to.  She will discover new restaurants (though the milk shakes down south are humongous.  Those could keep you going two full days, at least)

And you know what else is down south?  Her Villanueva relatives from Bacolod –  woot hoot!  For some reason, they all settled down there.  All except for niece Ri Na, who’s in Sacramento (Must visit her soon!)

Yesterday, self received both good news and bad news.

The good was that she got an e-mail from the editors of the Crab Orchard Review that her short story “Crackers” had been accepted for their special issue on writing from The West and Beyond, which is planned for publication in September this year.

Right after that, she got two contest results, and naturally she did not win or even place.

Back to the good.

Ever since self got that e-mail from Crab Orchard Review, she’s been checking her “in” box almost every two hours, just to make sure she didn’t dream the whole thing.  Because, folks, she’s been sending her stories to this particular magazine for decades.  She sometimes panics and thinks:  It’s a mistake!  They didn’t mean to put self’s name on the acceptance letter!  Someone will apologize and say, That letter wasn’t meant for you!  It was meant for someone else!

Anyhoo, self still hasn’t gotten the retraction, so she still feels pretty great.

Deciding which books to bring along is harder than the decision about what to wear.  First of all, BLGF is 1000-plus pages and is, moreover, hardcover, so if self decides to bring it she will have to check in her luggage.  Must. Discuss. With. Jennie.

Self happened to glance at her text messages just a minute ago, and there’s another message from Jennie to dress “business casual” for an event she’s taking self to.  Oooh, fun!  Self asks Jennie whether that means a suit, or can she just wear a skirt and sweater?  Does she need to bring along pumps?

Self had almost decided to leave BLGF behind, in favor of some less prodigious paperback, when she gets yet another Jennie Text:  Bring your books!


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.

Beginning 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

What does the word BEGINNING mean to self?

The first sentence of the prompt on the WordPress Daily Post says it all:

HELLO 2014.

It means discovery and inspiration, whether that means a fresh take on dressing (White on white looks so good in the summer!), or a monument in the town of Vicenza, to a man who set out with Magellan on “the first voyage around the world,” and memories of New Year’s Day (2012).

White on white is fabulous. I'll try this look soon as the weather warms.

White on white is fabulous. Self snapped this picture in Stafford Park, during the Wednesday evening summer concert series.  She can’t wait to try this look soon as the weather warms.

Statue of Antonio de Pigafetta, chronicler of Magellan's voyage around the world, only one of 33 survivors.  The statue is in Vicenza, Pigafetta's hometown.

Statue of Antonio de Pigafetta, chronicler of Magellan’s voyage around the world.  Pigafetta was only one of 33 survivors who made the voyage home. Magellan died in the Philippines.  The statue is in Vicenza, Pigafetta’s hometown.

Dutch Goose, Menlo Park:  Watching last year's Rose Bowl.  Stanford won, ending many years of drought.  That was a lot of fun.

Dutch Goose, Menlo Park: Watching last year’s Rose Bowl. Stanford won, ending many years of drought. That was a lot of fun.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Beginning: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self chose to post about beginnings by listing New Year’s resolutions:

1)  Never forget:  This is a picture of the flowers she left on her Dear Departed Dad’s grave in Bacolod, in October. The flowers she left are a promise she made, to honor his memory in person, every year, in the city where he was born.

Self bought these flowers for the flower arrangement she left in the Bacolod cemetery where her Dear Departed Dad is buried.

2)  Self is posting this second picture to remind herself:  It is good to feel GOOD.

Life is good, especially when one starts the day with a free breakfast and fresh mango juice:  Self took this picture in her beloved Bacolod.

Life is good, especially when one starts the day with a free breakfast and fresh mango juice: Self took this picture in Bacolod.

3)  Before last summer, she hadn’t seen a Cal Shakes play in four or five years.  From now on, she will go every year.  This is a promise.

Cal Shakes in Orinda.  The play was Oscar Wilde's

Cal Shakes in Orinda. The play was Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan.”  Jessika R accompanied her, and we had much wine.  It was August.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Plan for Today (2nd Saturday of December 2013)

Self is going to Bindlestiff in the City.

She is going to watch four Filipino movies back-to-back.  And self knows it sounds a little bit like overkill, but she already paid, so she is fully committed to this course of action.

She asked The Man if he was interested in coming along, but he stoically refused and went off to watch “The Hobbit:  the Desolation of Smaug,” in 3D.

The first movie self is lined up to see is at 3 p.m. : LOVE, ILOCOS AND OTHER TALES (84 min., in Tagalog and Ilocano with English subtitles) –  Directed and written by Jhezel Finones, the film focuses on “local television programs of national import, like Biag Ko (My Life), Journal List and Love, Ilocos.

Followed, at 5 p.m. by PUREZA, THE STORY OF NEGROS SUGAR (110 min., in English, Tagalog, and Ilonggo with English subtitles) — Directed by Jay Abello, the documentary takes “an unflinching, exhaustive look at the rise and fall of the Negros sugar industry from different points of view — the landowners, the workers, government officials, the academics, the social workers.”

Followed, at 7 p.m.  by DINIG SANA KITA / If I Knew What You Said (88 min., in Tagalog with English subtitles) — Directed and written by Mike E. Sandejas, about two polar opposites — a deaf boy and a troubled girl rocker — who cross paths in a mountain camp.

And then (hopefully, self’s neck will be able to hold out) she will watch her final film of the day:  Peque Gallaga’s Bacolod-set SONATA.  Since the film starts at 9, and self remembers how long Gallaga’s other Bacolod movie, ORO, PLATA, MATA was, she figures she won’t be home until well past midnight.  She reminded The Man to leave the porch light on, because she hates having to stand around, fumbling for her house keys, in complete darkness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Day Before Thanksgiving 2013

Self is reading her UCLA Extension students’ work (This is not work; it is fun).

They had to hand in their final assignments yesterday, and self has to send feedback over the next few days.

Since it is just herself and The Man at home (Sole Fruit of Her Loins is attending a swing dance contest in Palm Springs, and Jennie is driving home to Las Cruces New Mexico), self does not feel any pressure at all to have a Thanksgiving table laid out.  She did, however, buy a prime rib roast; The Man says he will barbecue it in the backyard.

She has looked at the movies currently showing and is very excited to see that Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” has arrived at Palo Alto Square.  Moreover, “All is Lost” is still showing, as is James Gandolfini’s last movie (whose name self is blanking on at the moment; it’s a romantic comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

She looks over her reading list and adds a couple more books:  Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello:  An American Family; a novel about Guatemala by Sylvia Sellers-Garcia, When the Ground Turns In Its Sleep; Alix Kates Shulman’s 1972 autobiographical novel, Memoirs Read the rest of this entry »

Miami, FL: Noir-ish

Traveling again.  Now, self is in Miami.  There was a brief stop-over in Atlanta, which was warm.

Pale blue scarf, bought it two years ago, in San Luis Obispo.

Pale blue scarf, bought two years ago, in San Luis Obispo.  Took it off in Atlanta — the airport was WARM.

About Atlanta:  From the air, the sight of trees in all their fall riot of color was heart-stopping.  The light slanted a certain way (It was mid-afternoon).  The land looked lovely, reminding her of some areas of Virginia.  Manassas?  Alexandria?

Self saw her first “Sean Jean” shop, in the Delta concourse.  The clothes were like Gap meets Levis.

She tried the bacon and cheese fries from Nathan’s.  It was bigger than a triple decker and was so goo-ey.  But the large glass of lemonade (95 cents) was DIVINE.

Now, ensconced in the Doubletree behind the Hilton in downtown Miami, self confesses to wee disappointment:  the lobby and restaurants are very swank, but the rooms themselves — well, the corridors run here and there, like a warren, and the carpeting is tacky and old.  The color theme is BROWN.  Self grabbed a bottle of water, opened it, and then saw (too late, as usual) the sign:  Each small bottle of water is $2.95.  The wi-fi has to be paid for.

The Man insisted on renting a car, and the hotel charges a parking fee of $29.  “Do we REALLY need a car?” self asked the man.  “Can’t we just WALK AROUND?” “Well,” The Man said, “We can’t WALK to South Beach, can we?” Self wonders why he always seems to have an arsenal of these quips, which leave her tongue-tied.  Of course!  South Beach!  It would be CRAZY to be in Miami and not experience South Beach!

To add insult to injury, The Man demanded that self trundle along the GPS navigator that brother-in-law gave us in 2008.  When he logged the hotel address into the device, it could never “lock on”:  It kept trying to give directions to the hotel starting from REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA.  Also, he engaged the clerk at Budget Car Rental TOO LONG in conversation, wondering aloud whether he should or should not get insurance.

Also, he went by himself to have dinner and found an Argentinian restaurant somewhere in the hotel that served huge steaks and good Malbeq (Self doesn’t even know how to spell Malbeq.  She never even heard of Malbeq until this evening.  She doesn’t know how The Man was able to figure out there was an excellent Argentinian restaurant on the premises.  She’s getting EXTREMELY hungry just typing this)

Self has just started reading Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer, and suddenly it strikes her that this is the PERFECT book to be reading in this hotel, in Miami.  The place (what she’s seen of it so far) is so noir.  Excellent convergence!  Maybe self will even be inspired to write a noir-ish story while she is here.

Isn’t Carl Hiaasen from these parts?  Maybe she will bump into Mr. Hiaasen at the Miami Book Fair!  Self hurriedly googles the Miami Book Fair Schedule of Author Events.  Apparently, highlights occur on Saturday.  There are some authors self loves, like Nathaniel Philbrick.  Like Sharon Olds.  Like Dave Barry.  But there is no Carl Hiaasen, boo.

Here’s a picture of the hotel room.  She wonders who did the large painting, somewhat reminiscent of an Olazo:

Doubletree Hotel, 1717 N. Bayshore Drive, Miami

Doubletree Hotel, 1717 N. Bayshore Drive, Miami

She was feeling resigned to the room until she started heating some water in a coffee cup and (too late, again!) saw a black spot at the bottom of the cup.  Something like a bug.  Hopefully not a spider.  Eeeeek!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Reading List Morphs

Self has decided to forgo the pleasure of reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, in favor of Gulag: A History, by Anne Applebaum.  Both are — gadzooks! — super-heavy books, and since self knowns nada about the gulag, she feels she’ll be better off tackling a straightforward history.

In the meantime, self finished David “Game of Thrones” Benioff’s novel, City of Thieves.  It was a very entertaining read.  Self knows that is a weird thing to say about a book written about the siege of Leningrad, but indeed it alternated scenes of horrific brutality with scenes of levity — sort of like the TV series “Game of Thrones”!  What a coincidence!

Over the weekend, she began reading a book called Remarkable Creatures:  Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of the Species, by Sean B. Carroll, a professor of molecular biology and genetics at the University of Wisconsin.

The book starts, naturally, with Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle.  In a notebook Darwin labeled “Zoonomia,” he wrote this:

Organized beings represent a tree irregularly branched some branches far more branched — Hence Genera. — As many terminal buds dying as new ones generated . . .

Wonderful, the way the notebooks show Darwin’s mind grasping for explanations of what he saw in the Galapagos!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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