Twist 6: King’s Cross Station, London

Self is in London again.  She was here just a month ago, watching Titus Andronicus at the Globe and having leisurely lunches in Russell Square.  Now she’s on her way to Oxford, for the Saboteur Awards.  It’s great because she’ll see Jenny Lewis again, whose collection, Taking Mesopotamia, self just adores.

From a giant video screen in King’s Cross, earlier in the evening, self learned that Maya Angelou had passed away.  She was 86.

Mourn, mourn, mourn.

She took these pictures of the King’s Cross ceiling.  It’s pretty fabulous.  And meshes beautifully with this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, TWIST.  But, seriously, the whole city of London is pretty fabulous.  Though she has yet to take a really good picture of the London Eye:

King's Cross Station in London:  Fabulous

King’s Cross Station in London: Fabulous

DSCN5524 DSCN5525Stay 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.

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.

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.

Reading Variety’s IN MEMORIAM, 2013

Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories, died in San Francisco in September.  He was 80.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, screenwriter and novelist, who collaborated with filmmakers James Ivory and Ismail Merchant on A Room With a View and Howard’s End, died in April.  She was 85.

Van Cliburn, Imelda Marcos’s frequent guest in Manila, died in February.  He was 78.

Actress Karen Black died in August.  She was in Five Easy Pieces and Nashville.  She was 74.

Actress Eileen Brennan died in July.  She was 80.

David Frost (most famous for interviewing Nixon), died in August. Age not stated.

Ray Harryhausen, who pioneered special effects for such movies as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, died in May.  He was 92.

Esther Williams, a statue of whom is still in Santa Fe Resort in Bacolod, and who starred in MGM “aquatic spectaculars” like Bathing Beauty and Million-Dollar Mermaid, died in June.  She was 91.

Elmore Leonard, bestselling author of Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight, whose most recent collaboration was on the F/X series Justified, died in August.  He was 87.

Dennis Farina, former Chicago cop who became famous for playing cops, most recently in Law & Order, died in July.  He was 69.

Jean Stapleton, whose iconic role was as Edith Bunker in All in the Family, died in May.  She was 90.

Annette Funicello, former Mouseketeer, died in April.  Self knows not why her name sticks in self’s mind.  She was 70.

Roger Ebert, film critic, died in April.  He was 70.

Peter O’Toole, one of self’s favorite actors, a true genius, died earlier this month.  He was 81.

Corey Monteith, of Glee, died in July.  He was 31.

James Gandolfini died in June.  He was 51.

Lou Reed, singer-songwriter, died in October.  He was 71.

Paul Walker died in November.  He was 40.

The World As It Appears in December 2013

The post office is a sad place now.  Only a year or two ago, lines, especially at this time of year, would be snaking out the door.  People would be coming to blows over parking spaces.  Self hated the feeling of being entrapped in a confined space, along with someone loudly sniffling or coughing.  Now, she breezes in and out in five minutes.  Five minutes!  Who knew?

The other thing about now is that, only after experiencing Hunger Games mania “for reals” (as opposed to just reading the books because Niece G said they were good, so much better than the Twilight series), self has finally come to an appreciation of what the literature of YA means:  it means, specifically, no sex scenes (In the Mockingjay epilogue, Peeta and Katniss do things that evoke “hunger” — years later, they gambol in a field of dandelions with their two children).  It also means, no four-letter cuss words (How Jena Malone got away with her piece in Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a story in itself).  And for the first time, self does not think of YA as a sub-category of literature.  Suzanne Collins, you are genius!

Self is back to reading the Wall Street Journal.  She started reading it regularly several years ago, because she liked Joe Morgenstern’s movie reviews.  She also liked the book reviews.

In the Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 issue, there is a fascinating review of a book called Skull in the Ashes, by Peter Kaufman.  It is the story of an actual crime that occurred “on a freezing February night in Iowa in 1897.”  Iowa!  Well, let’s have at it, WSJ book reviewer!

On the night in question, “a fire razed the general store in the small settlement of Walford.”  It is about a murder that would never have been solved if it were not for “the county attorney, a sharp young Irishman named M. J. Tobin,” who “used the latest forensic techniques to establish that the skull belonged to a local farm laborer,” and not to the ostensible victim:  widely thought to be the store owner, Frank Novak.  It turned out that just before the fire, Novak “had recently taken out the huge sum of $27,000 in life insurance.”  Novak, it turned out, “was massively in debt, with a serious gambling habit.”

The insurance companies hired a detective, “its most hardened tracker . . .  a veteran of the Apache Wars,” to pick up Novak’s trail.  The detective traced Novak (who had been traveling under a series of assumed names) all the way to Juneau, Alaska, and down the Yukon River.  Finally, in Dawson City, “an anarchic settlement dominated by saloons, brothels and gambling dens where wealth and debauchery rubbed shoulders with treachery and despair,” he got his man.

The next part of the book is about Novak’s trial.  Since “there were no witnesses to the alleged murder and no traces of his presence at the crime scene,” it was left to the county attorney “to create a chain of facts so robust that only a deliberate homicide by Novak could account for them.”  His opponent was Thomas Milner, “a brash, attention-seeking character . . .  who advertised himself in the local newspapers as ‘seldom licked, never surrender.’ “

Sounds like a very fascinating book!  You’ll have to read it to find out how the trial turns out!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Oh, Fall

The reddest of berries: front yard

The reddest of berries: front yard

Maple trees: front yard

Maple trees: front yard

Tableaux, Backyard.  Goodbye for a while, Garden.

Tableaux, Backyard. Goodbye for a while, Garden.  The taller lantern is made in India.  Self found it in World Market, corner Jefferson and Middlefield, downtown Redwood City.

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.

The Hue of You 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is about color:  “The Hue of You.”  The idea is to “share a photograph with a prominent color (or assortment of colors) that reveals more about you.  It could be a symbolic, meaningful shade; a color that expresses how you currently feel; or a combination of colors that excites you and tells a visual story.”

Color is about emotions, too.  Since all the ones in this set of photographs are bright, self knows she is feeling pretty good right now.

In the first picture, self was attracted to the pop of magenta among the welter of fliers on this kiosk on the Stanford campus.

Stanford Kiosk, this evening: Walked around after attending a Valerie Miner reading

Stanford Kiosk, this evening: Walked around after attending a Valerie Miner reading

When self returned from Bacolod, the garden was dry.  It was a sad place.  Bella’s water and food dish were still on the deck, as were all her pillows.  Then, suddenly, two days ago, the alstroemeria began to bloom.

Backyard:  Alstroemeria "Third Harmonic"

Backyard: Alstroemeria “Third Harmonic”

Self had never seen grass so green as the grass she saw on the campus of Pampanga Agricultural College, which she visited at the end of September.

The Main Quadrangle of Pampanga Agricultural College

The Main Quadrangle of Pampanga Agricultural College

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

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