George Washington: First POTUS

This spring, self began reading a series of histories, starting with Francis Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America.

She really enjoyed that book, which gave reader’s glimpses of the very young George Washington (21 years old) in his first combat experience. Throughout the book, there were other glimpses. Finally, by the end of the book, self could not believe how much this young man had grown and flourished. Even though he wasn’t the main subject of the book, and was still only in his 20s by the time the events the book narrated were over, he showed himself to be a natural leader.

Now, months later, self has just begun reading The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, by Rinker Buck. On p. 30, she reads Buck’s opinion of Parkman: “a notoriously snobbish Boston Brahmin.” Okaaaay. He also says George Washington “worked the same day job as Donald Trump” — he was a “land developer . . .  described as the richest of his generation.” (p. 32)

But, one interesting fact about Washington was that he was so practical, he saw right away the usefulness of mules as farm and/or pack animals, and he immediately began to breed them, and he even “advertised in the Pennsylvania and Virginia newspapers . . . the services of his jacks, who made long breeding tours throughout the . . .  colonies and the new frontier states every year . . . The early descendants of the Mount Vernon stock — tall, drafty, and weighing between a thousand and 1,200 pounds . . . ” (which is 10 x what self weighs, and she can’t imagine having to deal with anything that weighs 10 x as much as her — it would be so devastating an encounter, probably as bad as an encounter with a grizzly) were initially called American Mammoth mules . . .

So there’s our first President for you — a natural leader, a practical man, one who propagated the west with American mammoth mules, and self would never have known if she hadn’t read Rinker Buck.

That is why reading is so important, etc etc

Wonder what SCROTUS reads? Sorry, but self cannot help comparing # 1 and # 45 and feeling that there is a yawning gulf . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee Neuner Flower of the Day: 30 April 2017

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Forget the name of these flowers, but self had a wee bush back home in Redwood City, California. These are at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.

Here’s the link to the flowers that grew in her garden in northern California. The official name is Alstroemeria “Third Harmonic.”

One day, self will write a story called “Third Harmonic.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mules and How They Saved America

Did dear blog readers know that George Washington was a mule breeder? No? He sired out his mules (especially one very prolific mule named Royal Jack, a gift of the King of Spain to America, in 1785)

from Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, p. 36:

  • Mules have a slightly larger cranial cavity than horses, and thus larger brains, and are more intelligent and judgmental. Mules also possess, from their donkey side, a more feral, self-preservationist nature, and intensely dislike putting themselves in danger . . .  Two related feral traits of mules — a keen sense of smell and acute hearing — made them legendary on frontier farms and the overland trails, at least to men sensitive enough to understand them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Oh, the Places Self Will Go

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is

WANDERLUST

  • Have you traveled anywhere exciting lately? This week, let’s see where you’ve been. — David W., The Daily Post

Self is still in Ireland! Which is a long way from her home in northern California. Here’s a wee artwork that artist Bernadette Burns (who lives on Sherkin Island, West Cork — self met her at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre) left behind in her studio. Self taped to it to her MacBook Air as an emblem of what she is: a wanderer.

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On Self’s MacBook Air: A Memento From Another Artist

Here’s a shot of Annaghmakerrig Lake in early March. The wind was blowing hard that day. Self was fascinated by the ripples on the lake’s surface and by the outline of trees on the far shore. She would never have known this lake if she weren’t seized by such wanderlust:

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Annagmakerrig Lake: Cold Day in Early March

And here’s a picture of the view from Albion River Inn, California, where she spent New Year’s. And began writing a new story, called The Rorqual, which is about a sea invasion of Earth (by creatures called Longnecks). It was the first New Year’s she spent completely by herself, and she made the most of it.

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Albion, California: January 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: More Poetry

Vona Groarke, from her poem Maize, in the Annaghmakerrig book:

(Self will copy this poem into her journal, so that a year or five years or 10 years from now, she will remember she read it today, Friday, the 28th of April 2017):

The Faber Castells ripen in your hand.
You’ve been drawing since breakfast:
sky after sky, face after face, but something
in yours says they’re not quite right.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Paraphrasing From Mark Doty

Landscape, With Sudden Rain, Wet Blooms, and a Van Eyck Painting (an excerpt)

— by Luisa A. Igloria

Who else loves his own decorum as I do? The names
of trees are lovely in Latinate. I can’t recite those,

can only name their changing colors: flush
and canary, stripped and rose; or moan like the voice

of a cello in the leaves, imitating human speech.

That artful bit of landscape description we encountered in the first couplet? Now we can understand that was an act of avoidance, of self-distraction. I can name the colors, the speaker tells us, or I can merely moan. Naming “the changing colors” becomes a means both of revealing pain and containing it, just as these decorous couplets provide kind of orderly structure in which to organize this poem’s song of lament. There is the lovely paradox: the poem is a moan, but it is a song too.

To paraphrase: the written piece is a moan, but it is a song too.

Music is not an outcry, or an only one.

A piece of writing is not an outcry, or an only one; it is a made thing that testifies to our persistence, and to a faith in the power and necessity of art. Which sometimes does nothing but make an outcry bearable — but that gesture, in itself, can be quite enough.

— Mark Doty, from the Foreword to Luisa A. Igloria’s collection, Ode to the Heart Small as a Pencil Eraser (Winner of the 2014 May Swenson Award)

#amreading: A Friend’s Memoir

The friend is Kathleen J. Burkhalter, and her memoir is called The Greatest of These Is Love: Selections From Kathleen’s Celebration of Daily Life, edited by David Bell

  • It takes courage to begin writing because to write is to reveal. When you live in a critical environment, it is hard to write authentically. Even to begin writing is an act of bravery. But on the other hand, writing is a form of liberation. Like singers who sing, or composers who make music, or artists who paint, the use of one’s talent is an essential element of being happy.

— p. 116, The Greatest of These Is Love, vol. III

Kathleen Joaquin Burkhalter was born in Augusta, Georgia and grew up in Baguio, Mountain Province, in the Philippines. Her mother was from plantation families in Pampanga and Marinduque, and her father was from a colonial Georgia family. Kathleen would proudly say, “I am 100% Filipino and 100% American.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Favorite Images So Far 2017

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Morning Fog, Mendocino: January 2017

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Sunday Evening, Trafalgar Square, London: March 2017

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Annaghmakerrig Lake, Early Morning: March 2017

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The Main House, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig: Under a Crescent Moon: March 2017

#amreading “Cinderella”: A Re-telling by Philip Pullman

“This is my bride!” the Prince said, and took Cinderella in his arms.

The stepmother and sisters turned ghastly pale, and nearly bit their own fingers off with rage and mortification.

. . . . . . .

At the wedding, the two stepsisters were keen to toady to the royal couple, hoping to share in Cinderella’s good luck. When the prince and his bride walked into the church, the older sister walked on their right and the younger sister on their left, and the doves flew down and pecked out one eye from each of them.

— from Fairty Tales from the Brothers Grimm, Re-told by Philip Pullman

#amreading: Zoe Williams in The Guardian, 20 April 2017 (So déja vu)

  • As awful as this is, your despair will make it worse. — Zoe Williams, The Guardian

After watching (on Twitter) a broken-hearted spouse say good-bye to his partner, the policeman killed on the Champs Elysée (was it a week or two weeks ago, who can remember), and feeling like I am about to crack up (dispensing with “self” again — who knows, this may become a thing), I remember what grief I and probably 85% of the citizens of San Francisco felt after the Donald became SCROTUS.

What a bizarre situation to find ourselves in: when Theresa May called a snap election the question wasn’t even whether or not to despair. Obviously I’m in despair, and so are you. Just admit it. Rather, it was in the nature and extent of the despair. We have an unelected Conservative prime minister enjoying a lead in the polls that is higher for an incumbent than at any time since some younger voters have been alive.

Theresa May, the vicar’s daughter, was meant to be the George Washington of probity; her straightforwardness was putatively her redeeming feature, and here she is, doing the thing she has expressly been saying she wouldn’t do, ever since she’s been in post. The Tories have steered us straight into oncoming traffic, to the certain destruction of our international standing, the probable destruction of our prosperity, the possible destruction of our kingdom.

To cement which outrageous victory, they now want a rematch, only this time against an opposition with radical bearing and retail policies, the most unelectable combination imaginable. How can the Conservatives lose? Yet what breadth and depth of damage can they do if they win? Part of me wants to reconcile now to their victory, just so I don’t wake up on 9 June feeling 100 times worse than I did last 24 June after the EU referendum, 1,000 times worse than 9 November after Donald Trump’s victory, and a million times worse than I did after the 2015 general election, which now looks like an election picnic.

To all of which, I can simply say: I feel ya, Zoe Williams.

Stay tuned.

 

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