Flower of the Day (FOTD), April 21: Abutilon

It is hard to take a picture of abutilon. Self should know: she’s taken dozens of pictures over the years. There’s not one that’s a keeper.

But for some reason, she’s decided to save this one. It’s nice, the contrast of pale orange and the speckled leaves. This grows in her backyard, without any shape at all. It’s just there, sprawled in the shade of a massive, old holly tree.

The host of the Flower of the Day Photo Challenge is Cee Neuner.

LEEK, p. 196

SPOILER ALERT but since it seems quite a lot of you have read Shuggie Bain then just a re-cap of the one precious call Leek makes to his sister Catherine, who moved with her husband to South Africa.

(Self almost wished he was calling the Art Academy to say, Sorry it’s taken me two years, but I accept your acceptance!)

“Catherine, it’s me, it’s Leek . . . I’m sorry. It’s Mammy’s phone. Yes. She’s here actually, she’s standing right next to me.” He looked Agnes up and down suspiciously. There was a pause. Agnes could hear Catherine raise her voice in agitation. “Don’t worry, I never. I promised you I wouldn’t. Do you like South Africa?” There was a pause. “Oh, he’s fine. Nearly died up the Pit but he’s fine. Still a bit funny. You know, funny funny.” There was laughter on the other end . . . “Right, anyway, Catherine, is Donald there? No, I wasn’t checking. It’s just, I’ve got some bad news. It’s just, well, Granny is dead.”

Leek reminds self of another stoic kid, Niall in du Maurier’s The Parasites. And that novel almost destroyed self.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Wullie Campbell, What a Prince

Wullie Campbell (Agnes’s dad) returns from the war to find a strange baby in his house, and a high-end pram.

Ah!

  • “the baby’s pink arms reached out to him, like it knew and trusted the deep well of goodness from which Wullie Campbell had sprung.”

His wife:

  • “She had never let Mr. Kilfeather kiss her, she felt she had to tell him that.”

Wullie takes the strange baby out in the pram. Neighbors hear him whistling all the way down the street!

Self rushed all her errands today (even forgave that young Asian woman in the bright blue compact who cut into her lane and gave her the most WICKED side eye — you can bet self leaned on the horn, the loudest bleeaaaeat she could manage. It’s amazing how rude some people can be) just so she could grab her book and read further about Wullie Campbell and the strange baby and the high-end pram and Mr. Kilfeather.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge (CMMC): Pick a Topic

Cee’s current Midweek Madness Challenge (CMMC) is Pick Your Topic from My Photo.

The photo is of a train.

The topic self chose is LADDER.

She took these pictures February 2020, when she was having her trellis re-painted.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Self’s Favorite Character

A boy goes scavenging for copper in the depths of an abandoned mine. He brings his younger brother along as “grass.” When he’s finally gotten as much as he can carry, he steps “back into the daylight, but it was too quiet. The grass was gone.”

Stuart’s writing is absolutely amazing.

Where has the grass gone? Where is it?

April 21 BRIGHT SQUARES: Kahlo and Calder at the de Young Museum

Want to join in the fun?

Every month, Becky at The Life of B announces a new Squares Challenge. The challenge for April is BRIGHT.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

April 22 BRIGHT SQUARES

April is proving to be quite the month.

April is Bright Squares month. The host of this photo challenge is Becky of The Life of B. And today is her birthday! So let’s all give her a big Hip Hip Hooooray!

Today, the theme of self’s Bright Squares is Bright Smiles! Just look at these people who began lining up in front of Horn Barbecue in Oakland about half an hour before opening (11 a.m.) It was rather chilly, but no one complained. Because Horn, which opened just before the pandemic, is definitely a success story. The best melt-off-the-bone spare ribs, the tenderest brisket, the BEST mac’n cheese, the BEST bread pudding.

Before you go, diet for a week. You order by the pound. Self’s friend Nikki is one of the assistant cooks (and she is a fabulous cook). There she is, standing beneath the sign. It’s a very industrial area of Oakland, with huge warehouses and also homeless encampments. But there are also cheerful corner juice stands, and other intrepid food trailblazers like June’s Pizza, just a few blocks away.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Contempt

And, doesn’t this just take the cake? The lone miner who doesn’t take to drink after the mine closes, but who continues to work industriously at any part-time job he can find, then secrets his wages in a kitty under his bed, is the object of the worst contempt. He has no family, he doesn’t drink, so what is he saving all that money for?

Life is like this, and not just in Glasgow.

pp. 86 – 87 SHUGGIE BAIN!!!! (Do Not Read Unless You Want to Know EXACTLY What Happens)

SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT

The way Agnes leaves:

She rouses her sleepy children, gets them dressed (in their Sunday best), flicks on the light in the bedroom where her husband is fast asleep. He wakes, mouth slack, and stares at the apparition of his wife and his two children staring at him from the foot of the bed. She’s wearing a mink, something he gave her in the hope it “would make her happy and hold her at peace from want, if just for a while.”

She: “Right. Thanks for everything, then. I’m away.”

This is really solid, over-the-top, a-hair-short-of-melodramatic writing.

A chapter or so ago, Agnes’s daddy gave her a solid thrashing. Self rather enjoyed how he did it, with a minimum of fuss. He waited until she was 39 and an outright lush, why couldn’t he have taken action sooner!

There have been other jaw-dropping scenes.

It may surprise dear blog readers to know that despite the rough scenes, highlighting the injustices of the world, self is finding this book enormously entertaining.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Agnes: SHUGGIE BAIN, p. 85

Toted this novel to the de Young! Cannot put it down.

It’s Joyce-an. Should have been called Agnes Bain.

  • She went to the mirror in the hall and ran her fingers through her hair; the black curls bounced and folded back on themselves tightly. She ran a line of fresh red lipstick across her mouth. Not bad for twenty-six, she thought. Twenty-six years of sleep.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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