Whatsoever Is Lovely Challenge: Bookshelves

XingfuMama hosts the Whatsoever Is Lovely Photo Challenge. Thinking back over the past week, self thought of the last time she was in one of her favorite places: Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino.

Books are a special thing of self’s.

Someone was commenting on the bookshop’s newest book display stand:

Self got the name of the people who did the bookshelf: Wood Joint Studio, Fort Bragg.

She doesn’t know why, but wood of all kinds really appeals to self. One afternoon, she called Taimi Barty and asked if it would be okay for her to drop by (because self is such a nosy, nosy writer). And Taimi was the soul of graciousness. Self sped over and met Taimi and Bob, her other half, and self was completely in awe of the space (which was huge. Canoes were hanging from the ceiling).

“Do you build treehouses?” self asked. Which was probably the weirdest question Taimi was ever asked.

And guess what. After self and Taimi had been talking for at least a half hour, self found out that Taimi was a Harvard grad. And she also remembered reading an article on the front page of the Mendocino Beacon in December: the wood shop program at Mendocino High School had just received a grant. The head of the wood shop program was a Harvard grad. Suddenly, the scales fell from self’s eyes and she blurted out: “I read about you on the front page of the Mendocino Beacon! Oh, wow! You’re a rock star!”

And Taimi looked very amused and said, “STOP.”

No, seriously. She is a rock star! Self wishes she could sit in on a wood shop class in Mendocino High School!

So this is her “whatsoever is lovely” share: meeting an unlikely hero, in person, in Fort Bragg.

Stay tuned.

On Writing: Michael Connelly’s Introduction to Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

One of my most enjoyable reads of 2021 were bookends: The Butcher’s Boy, published 1982 and, forty years later, Eddie’s Boy.

Michael Connolly wrote the Introduction to the 2003 trade paperback edition of The Butcher’s Boy:

It used to be that the quickest way for me to descend into a creative depression would be for someone to approach me and identify him — or herself — as a fan of my work, but to then add the dreadful line “But your first one is still my favorite.”

It didn’t matter if the approach was in person at a bookstore or on the street, or through the U.S. mail or the Internet. I always took it very badly, and the compliment would serve to make me question what I was doing . . . There was a time when I would actually respond, hoping to dissuade the reader of his or her own words, saying things like, “That’s impossible!” or “You don’t really mean that!” But I soon realized it wasn’t impossible and they did really mean it.

And that is the source of the depression; that’s the rub. Writing, whether you consider it a craft or an art or both, is something that should get better with practice. It stands to reason. Writing comes from experience, curiosity, and knowledge. In short, it comes from life. The writer must improve with age and experience and life.

And that, too, is the reason there are so many creative writing programs, all over the world. This belief that writing should get better, that it’s a process.

Self wishes she could reproduce the entire Introduction here, but alas! It might be online somewhere? It’s really worth reading.

Stay tuned.

Water, Water Everywhere (WWE) Challenge: The Mighty Pacific

Still reading Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery, by Andrés Reséndez.

p. 174:

  • On the morning of May 1, the San Jeronimo cleared the capacious bay of Acapulco and entered “the true sea that makes all others appear like rivers and puddles.” — Juan Martinez, soldier, 1 May 1566

For the WWE Challenge, a view of that same ocean, viewed several hundred miles north of Acapulco. Self took this picture last month on the Mendocino Headlands. It was a very cold day. A storm was approaching.

Still cannot get over the fact that leagues and leagues east, on the other side of that ocean, is self’s home country, the Philippines. There is nothing between self and the Philippines except WATER. Imagine crossing that expanse in the 16th century, at the mercy of currents and the vagaries of wind.

Many attempts were made to reach the Philippines after Magellan. Villalobos reached it but left immediately after. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in 1565 and stayed to become the Philippines’ first governor (Legazpi was pretty old, for an explorer: he was in his 50s. His nickname was El Adelantado)

Legazpi had his two grandsons with him, both teenagers. One, Felipe de Salcedo, 18, became captain of Legazpi’s flagship, the San Pedro, on the vuelta.

What an incredible feat. Truly. And such courage for an 18-year-old. They almost didn’t make it.

His younger brother, Juan de Salcedo, 17, stayed and made a home for himself in what is now the province of Vigan. His grandfather died a year after arrival in the Philippines, but Juan de Salcedo spent the rest of his life there, even bringing his widowed mother and his sister to the islands! (These Salcedo women must have been made of very stern stuff: the trans-Pacific crossing, in the sixteenth century, was no walk in the park)

What Tree Are You?

Self found this Buzzfeed Quiz via Cee Neuner who found it on Jake Kuyser’s blog.

Very interesting, self is an OAK.

According to the quiz, she is an oak because (see below)

  • You are the mighty oak tree! You are a symbol of strength, resilience, and knowledge.

Jake is also an OAK.

Cee is a BIRCH.

Poetry Sunday: Louise Gluck

It is true there is not enough beauty in the world.
It is also true that I am not competent to restore it.
Neither is there candor, and here I may be of some use.

— Louise Gluck

Legazpi’s Flagship, the San Pedro

Of course the San Lucas made it to Navidad, in Nueva España, or we wouldn’t be reading a book about it today.

The second ship from the Legazpi expedition to make it back to Navidad was the commander’s flagship, the San Pedro. Legazpi himself had stayed behind in the Philippines. The San Pedro’s captain on the return voyage was Legazpi’s 18-year-old grandson, Felipe de Salcedo (Legazpi had another grandson, also a teenager, Juan de Salcedo, who remained behind in the Philippines. This boy ranged all over the Philippine archipelago, even leading a “starving” Spanish company of 40 into the mountain provinces. The boy was forced back by the Igorots).

Self cannot imagine an 18-year-old commanding a ship all the way across the Pacific! But command it he did, and it made its way back to Nueva España. He was lucky his pilot was Andres de Urdaneta, 57, probably the most renowned navigator of his day.

Stay tuned.

The Vuelta of the San Lucas

The voyage of the San Lucas is turning out to be epic in so many ways. Not only was this 40-ton vessel (with a skeleton crew of 20) a mere dispatch vessel, not built for trans-oceanic crossings, but the crew were navigating at the very edge of their maps, which reached only as far as 43 degrees of northern latitude. The pilot, Lope Martin, steered straight north. Soon, the San Lucas encountered the frigid waters of the Bering Sea. They had left most of their clothing back in the Philippines, so the men were freezing. (Not sure if they knew of the existence of the Bering Strait, which would have brought them to the Atlantic. Probably not, because at 43 degrees latitude north, they struck out across the Pacific, hoping to find a current to bring them home)

Trigger Warning: Rats! Literal Rats!

The most dangerous enemy was not the wind or the sea but the rats. After two months at sea, the large rodent population became thirsty, aggressive, and ready to do anything. “We had to chase after them with sticks,” Don Alonso recalled, “because so many had been breeding abroad.” During the string of storms, the rats must have been able to drink rainwater. After the weather cleared, however, the only available water aboard the San Lucas was sealed in the eight casks, “and in desperation they turned to gnawing on the barrels.” The thirsty creatures perforated two barrels in as many hours, spilling their contents. Disaster had struck. There were only three casks of water left, “and they were not full but missing four or five arrobas.” In other words, by then the San Lucas was carrying a maximum of 294 gallons of water — less than fifteen gallons per person. Such an amount would be appropriate for an extended camping trip but surely not for crossing the largest ocean in the world. To defend what little water they still had, the expeditionaries kept a four-man guard by the casks below decks day and night, “and this gave us so much work, that it could not have been any worse.” The guardsmen lit fires to keep the rodents at bay, especially at night, a necessary but extremely dangerous precaution that threatened to burn down the entire ship. Yet the rodents kept attacking, “and we killed between twenty and thirty every night.”

Conquering the Pacific, p. 155

Weekend Sky: 7 a.m., Mendocino Headlands

Thanks to Hammad Rais for hosting the Weekend Sky Challenge!

I believe I read somewhere that it’s also his birthday? Happy Birthday, Hammad!

Took this picture yesterday morning, standing on Main Street.

A Revolt on the San Lucas

When word about re-crossing the Pacific spread through the San Lucas, however, several crew members revolted. The San Lucas was a dispatch boat meant to explore coves and inlets in shallow waters, not a vessel intended for the vuelta. The plan all along had been to attempt the return aboard one of the two largest ships in the fleet, the San Pedro and the San Pablo, weighing four or five hundred tons and built at an outrageous cost for this very purpose.

Conquering the Pacific, p. 145

The Return, Vuelta

Are dear blog readers suffering from whiplash, yet? Self is back to reading Conquering the Pacific.

It is not enough to get to one’s destination, the more important leg is the return.

The San Lucas arrived first in the Philippines; it was also the first to leave, in late April. The commander of the San Lucas is quoted as saying, “I would rather die at sea in the service of His Majesty than among these Filipinos . . . and my determination was to complete the voyage or die in the attempt.”

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