More Progress on the Stanley Book, Dear Blog Readers!

Self is ALMOST at the halfway point of How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.  Oh happy happy joy joy.  (She actually read to a little farther, late last night, but decided to double back and re-read a few pages).  If she continues at this rate, she can anticipate finishing in about two weeks (Naturally, she’s already at the maximum number of renewals for this library book.  The sooner she finishes, the sooner she can stop those late fees of 25 cents per day)

It is September 14, 18xx (Don’t make self go backwards to search for the exact year!  It’s about the 1800s, that’s all self can tell you)

The Arab boy Selim is delirious from constant fever.  Shaw is sick again.  These two occupy most of my time.  I am turned into a regular nurse, for I have no one to assist me in attending upon them.  If I try to instruct Abdul Kader in the art of being useful, his head is so befogged with the villainous fumes of Unyamwezi tobacco that he wanders bewildered about, breaking dishes and upsetting cooked dainties, until I get so exasperated that my peace of mind is broken completely for a full hour.  If I ask Ferajji, my now formally constituted cook, to assist, his thick wooden head fails to receive an idea, and I am thus obliged to play the part of chef de cuisine.

Bear in mind, dear blog readers, that when Henry M. Stanley was given the task of finding Livingstone, he was already 53 years old.  And the last 200 pages have found him contracting malaria not once, but twice.  Yet he never, ever entertained the idea of abandoning his mission.

Am pretty sure, also, that he did not speak any African languages and was entirely dependent on the good faith of his servants.  A majority of whom ended up abandoning him.  But — Onward!


Stanley’s journal entry for Aug. 29, 18xx, reads:

Advice is plentiful, and words are as numerous as the blades of grass in our valley; all that is wanting is decision.

Self is now on p. 227, which means:  PROGRESS!

Stay tuned.

Henry M. Stanley: Steadfastness

Self is now almost halfway into Henry M. Stanley’s How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.  My, it is such a great book, gripping and true.  Self hopes she can finish reading before the end of time, but the book is so absorbing that she just doesn’t think she’ll be able to.  A year from now, she might possibly still be reading it.

Excerpt, p. 232:

All last night, until nine a.m. this morning, my soldiers danced and sang to the manes of their dead comrades, whose bones now bleach in the forests of Wilyankuru.  Two or three huge pots of pombe failed to satisfy the raging thirst which the vigorous exercise they were engaged in created.  So, early this morning, I was called upon to create a shukka for another potful of the potent liquor.

Excerpt, p. 233:

September 17th — The banquet is ended.  I slaughtered two bullocks, and had a barbecue; three sheep, two goats, and fifteen chickens, 120 lbs. of rice, twenty large loaves of bread made of Indian corn-flour, one hundred eggs, 10 lbs. of butter, and five gallons of sweet-milk were the contents of which the banquet was formed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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.


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.

Pairings Battles: Who Will Win?

This is total fluff, but anyhoo, since self seems to be on a roll, she will just keep on posting (that is, until The Man gets home and imposes some order on self’s abysmally dis-ordered mental state):

Hypable’s Battleships Pairings Tournament is down to the semi-finals, so if you feel inclined to pitch your hat in favor of either of the following pairings:

  • Bella/Edward
  • Brienne/Jaime


(An early round had Nick/Gatsby and Frodo/Sam.  At some point, did any blog readers wonder if Haymitch and Effie could possibly have some outside-of-the-games romance?  Honestly, the way Haymitch rolls his eyes at Effie leads self to think the man has got to be in love — BWAH. HA. HAAA!)

Apologies, dear blog readers.  Once again, self has gotten side-tracked from the original impulse which caused her to think of posting.  Which is that:  After much slogging, self has clawed her way to PAGE 214 of Henry M. Stanley’s 536-page How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.  YEEESSS!  In between p. 1 and p. 214, self:

  • Ate a whole lemon meringue pie.
  • Watched her Netflix movie rental, Boy A, and developed admiration for Andrew Garfield.
  • Found out her short story “Sofia” will be in Philippine Speculative Fiction, vol. 9.
  • Got very, very sick.
  • Attended a New Year’s Eve lunch in Menlo Park.
  • Watched Stanford lose in the Rose Bowl.
  • Went to town on take-out from Sam’s Chowder House in downtown Palo Alto.
  • Saw “Frozen.”
  • Read five back issues of The Economist.
  • Discontinued her subscription to The New York Times Book Review.

There were also relaxing activities like:  watering, watching birds in the backyard, watching Dr. Oz, and watching Saturday Night Live re-runs.  Self just realized:  things are so much clearer when one is sick.  Self had no idea how beneficial forced home incarceration/rest can be for the mental faculties.  For one thing, she got to read everything about Mockingjay.  Now she knows that Katniss first mentions Peeta’s name on p. 5.  P. 5!  Holy cow, girl!  Can’cha get with the program already!

On p. 214 of How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa, Henry M. Stanley develops a severe case of malaria.  While he is feverish and thus incapacitated, his porters take the opportunity to abandon him.  All except for one, an “Arab” named Selim.

I asked Selim, “Why did you not also run away, and leave your master to die?”

“Oh, sir,” said the Arab boy, naively, “I was afraid you would whip me.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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