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)

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