Law #19 of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: Know Who You Are Dealing With

This book came highly recommended by her relatives in Bacolod. The author is/was a Harvard prof, the publisher is Penguin, and it’s been out quite a long time (Copyright: 1998).

She hasn’t read it cover to cover, she just picks it up at random moments. Tonight, the law she is reading about is Law # 19: KNOW WHO YOU ARE DEALING WITH. DO NOT OFFEND THE WRONG PERSON.

Interpretation of the Law:

  • Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some men are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor or their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger. If you want to turn people down, it is best to do so politely and respectfully, even if you feel their request is impudent or their offer ridiculous. Never reject them with an insult unless you know them better; you may be dealing with a GENGHIS KHAN.

DUN DUN DUN

Stay tuned.

What It Was Like in Berlin, 1932

New book, started just today. It’s by a woman named Rebecca Donner, and the subject is her great-grandaunt, Mildred Harnack, who was married to a German, Arvid, whose fate is a family secret, because it was very bad: it seems she was imprisoned by Hitler and executed, and what family would want to talk about something like that?

Self only heard about Mildred Harnack from a book review in The Economist (August 2021). Self saved the review and now, finally, she holds in her hands All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler.

Mildred was from Wisconsin. She met Arvid when they were both students at the University of Wisconsin. In 1932, she was a part-time instructor at the University of Berlin, where she taught American Literary History.

It’s a good thing her great grandniece knows how to tell a story. She uses present tense, which hints that at least one of her goals is to make this story immersive: it’s not going to be a “Mildred did this, then Mildred did that” kind of thing. No, Rebecca’s actually going to put us in Berlin, which so happens to be a place self has visited, long ago, when she was invited to read from her book Mayor of the Roses by the House of World Culture. Just a few weeks ago, she was in Berlin again, this time April 1945 Berlin, through the eyes of Anonymous in A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City.

1932 Berlin is very different from 1945 Berlin (of course). Mildred would be two years dead by the time Anonymous began writing her diary (Self wonders if Anonymous would have heard of Mildred Harnack? Anonymous was a journalist, so in all probability she would have heard of Mildred’s arrest and execution). Here is Mildred walking through Berlin in 1932:

She reaches a wide boulevard: Unter den Linden. She turns right.

The boulevard takes its name from the profusion of linden trees flanking it, trees that are in full bloom now, cascades of tiny white blossoms perfuming the air she breathes. But all this beauty can’t mask the ugliness here. Swastikas are cropping up like daisies everywhere: on posters pasted to the walls of U-Bahn stations, on flags and banners and pamphlets. A white-haired, walrus-mustached man is leading the country right now, but just barely. President Paul von Hindenburg is eighty-four, tottering into senility. A politician half his age is growing in popularity, a high-school dropout named Adolf Hitler who, Mildred predicts, will bring “a great increase of misery and oppression.”

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, p. 16

Flower of the Day (FOTD) 13 March 2021: Clematis montana

Self is following another Cee Neuner Photo Challenge, Flower of the Day. Fun!

She was lucky to find a wee Clematis montana ‘White Surprise’ in Wegman’s last week. To tell you the truth, she is a bit obsessed with clematis. Ever since her aunt in Montauk sent her, through the mail, a sprig of white clematis henryii. It was so beautiful, with big white, dinner-plate size flowers that eventually covered one entire fence. Then our neighbor decided to replace the fence. He cut all the clematis twigs, and it never grew back. Self mourns the loss even now, 20 years later.

Last year, self decided to experiment with a mail-order service. She ordered a ‘native’ variety called Saucy Alice from a nursery on the east coast. Never grew, eventually died.

This year, self was in her local nursery when she saw a white clematis montana, which reminded her of the clematis montana rubens that every spring bursts into glorious flower on her front porch trellis. It was in a wee pot, and she snagged it.

The clematis montana don’t have flowers as big as henryii, but self doesn’t care. It will be lovely.

Since arriving on self’s porch, it’s been behaving really well:

The white blooms should be ready for another close-up in a few days!

Here’s what my clematis montana rubens looked like, March 2020:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Anna Karenina As She Was, P. 68 of ANNA KARENINA

Anna Karenina goes to the Oblonskys to play peacekeeper between Stiva and his wife Dolly. Which, in light of what happens later, is extremely ironic. Her message to Dolly: Forgive him! Because he loves you!

After dinner, when Dolly retires to her bedroom, Anna goes to her brother, “who was lighting a cigar.”

“Stiva . . . go and may God help you.”

When Stepan Arkadyevich (Stiva) left, she returned to the sofa, where she sat surrounded by the children. Whether it was because the children saw that their mother loved this aunt, or because they themselves sensed the special charm in her, the older two, and the younger ones in their wake, as often happens with children, had latched onto their new aunt before dinner and would not be separated from her, and between them something like a game was invented that consisted in sitting as close to their aunt as possible, touching her, holding her little hand, kissing it, and playing with her ring, or at least touching the flounce on her dress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SMILE 3: Palo Alto Farmers Market, 8 April 2018

Such a gorgeous day! Sun is shining, everything’s beautiful.

Went to the Palo Alto Farmers Market. Smiles everywhere. The dimsum at this market is just heavenly:

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Sunday, 8 April 2018: Haven’t been to the Palo Alto Farmers Market in at least a year. It was a great day for it.

Bought a hanging basket of pink ivy geraniums from this vendor:

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You can see the basket of pink geraniums in the center of the picture below:

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She hung the basket on the porch, soon as she got home.

Here are other WordPress SMILES:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

9/11: Chelsea District, New York City

This city holds a special place in self’s memories:

  • Dearest Mum began her piano career here, at Carnegie Hall.
  • Self worked here for a year, before entering the Stanford Creative Writing Program.
  • Her sister was married here, 1982.
  • Her sister gave birth to three children here, one of whom was married here, two days ago.
  • Her sister died here, December 19, 1991.

Because self is at the moment staying in Chelsea, here’s a view of this amazing city, on 9/11:

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New York City: 9/11/2017

Here are pictures of the children who were, respectively, six, five and six months old when self’s sister passed away:

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William and Christopher Blackett, 9 September 2017

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Georgina Isabella: 9 September 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

#amreading: Kristin Dimitrova

Self has read this collection before: it’s in the Blue Room of Café Pardiso.

An Old Mesopotamian Legend About Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, Who Wanted to Become Immortal

— by Kristin Dimitrova

Wanted to;
could not.

— from Dimitrova’s collection A Visit to the Clockmaker (Southward Editions, 2005), translated from the Bulgarian by Gregory O’Donoghue

Tonight: “1000 Ways to Die”

Self, it’s taken you so long, so many decades of your life, but you have finally discovered the way to get on the good side of Dearest Mum:

Never, ever say no.

Last night, self and niece G and Dearest Mum and all the relatives within 50 miles were in Lobster Shack.  Self splurged on a $30 bottle of Wild Horse Central Coast Chardonnay recommended by the waitress.  Considering that self and niece had already had two beers apiece before dinner, by the end of the night we were both flyyying high!  Telling stories about McCain, Tea Parties, niece’s dad, her roommates, you name it!

Today, self wondered whether she should give Dearest Mum a call.  But no!  She decided instead she would go to the Stanford Shopping Center and buy herself some Estee Lauder night cream!  Then she decided to get an extra jar for Dearest Mum.  Then, she just had time to drive home, and wrap up the cream in loads of gold tissue paper, before one of self’s aunts called (Dearest Mum has her own cell phone but she never, of course, deigns to use it, so it is always one of self’s aunts who calls and then passes on the phone to Dearest Mum)

Whacha doing, aunt inquires.

Self:  Nothing.

Aunt:  Oh, ’cause your Mom wants to see you.

Self:  Fine!  I am doing absolutely nothing.

Aunt:  So it’s OK for us to drop by?

Self:  Of course!  Anytime!  I am absolutely available!

After aunt hung up, self went flap-flap-flap all over the house, sweeping, washing counter-tops, dumping buckets of water on plants, feeding li’l crits, combing her hair, changing into decent clothing, hiding the ugly sneakers she uses around the house, spritzing air freshener into all the bathrooms, etc etc etc

Self was just wrapping up watering the front lawn when aunt pulled up with Dearest Mum.  Then we went inside.

“Want water?” self inquired.  Turns out Dearest Mum had just treated all to the most humongous lunch of:  grilled pompano; lumpia; fried rice; pinakbet; and so many other dishes that self could not remember them all.  Where oh where was this fabulous repast?  Self could not get an answer out of her aunt, her uncle, or Dearest Mum.

Anyhoo, Dearest Mum had bought self about 20 blouses from Nordstrom’s Rack, in the most fabulous colors:  lime green, orange, yellow etc etc  (Oh Dearest Mum, if you had dressed self before her reading last February, that blogger would not have said self looked like a “grandma”!!!).  Normally, self would have resisted such clothing.  Today, she finally applied her hard-won wisdom:  Yes!  Yes!  More lime green!  More orange!  More yellow!  More!

After Dearest Mum left, self tried to get back to her usual routine, but after a whirlwind like that (Self also just learned that on their first night in New York, she and Dearest Mum are attending a wedding reception —  in Grand Central Station.  What?  Self never heard of a wedding reception in Grand Central before!  Dearest Mum inquired:  Do you have anything to wear?  Self mumbled, Ah, a dress?  Dearest Mum thought for a minute:  “I seem to remember you have a pantsuit,” she remarked.  “Yes … ” self replied.  “In black?”  Dearest Mum asked.  “Yeeees,” self replied.  “Good.  Wear that.”  Okey-dokey!)

Good thing, after hubby gets home, he starts watching something on the History Channel about snipers.  Self watches while the Marines send two men to hunt and kill a vicous Viet Cong squad leader (a woman, it turns out), with code name “Apache.”  Okay, after watching how the Marines hunt and kill this woman, hubby next turns to that edifice of tasteful programming, Spike TV.  And here we are on a show called “1000 Ways to Die.”

Want to know what a Spanish Donkey is?  It’s a method of torture devised in the Inquisition, which involves putting cannonballs on the victim’s feet (up to 400 lbs. worth of cannonball), and positioning the victim over a sharp wooden platform.

Ever heard of anyone being killed by a pigeon?  After watching the show, you will say yes.

Ever known what happens when you drink denture cleaner?

Ever known what happens when you give mouth-to-mouth to a dead raccoon?

Dear blog readers, it has been such an entertaining day.  Self believes she will land in New York bananas, absolutely bananas.

Stay tuned.

More Irrelevant Thoughts

There was only one possible way for “Lost” the series to end, Letterman said.  And that was with someone tapping Matthew Fox on the shoulder and saying, “Sir, we’ve arrived.  Wake up.”  But–  the producers found another way!  Which actually made sense!  Self confesses that she never had the patience to sit through a whole episode (except, she liked the fact that a lot of nerd-y looking guys had parts on the show:  the guys who were not Sawyer or the doctor or the Indian hunk or the Korean hunk), but last night she watched intermittently and hubby watched till the end and then self found the ending rather sad.

“MacGruber” is not a bad movie, dear blog readers.  At least, it kept self chuckling (And Ryan Philippe:  who knew he had the makings of such a stellar straight man?  And when did Val Kilmer get so faaat?)

Self has the best house-cleaner in the world.  And his name is Mauricio.  Yes, you guessed right:  he was here again today.

Son is planning a fab four-night vacation in Las  Vegas with seven or eight other friends.  They are staying at Caesar’s.  On some other parents’ dime.  How self Read the rest of this entry »

Ah, Home, Sweet Home

Ah, home at last. Home to the lovely smell of a house fairly reeking with cigarette smoke. Dearest Mum pulled away so quickly from the curb after dumping self on the sidewalk that she missed self’s toes by inches. Last self heard from Dearest Mum was this hurried admonition: “Call your Tita and tell her I’m coming! I’m cooooming!”

Tita called Dearest Mum at least 10 times today, simply aching with longing for Dearest Mum’s return. Dearest Mum abruptly declared that she had to return forthwith to the Bay Area. Son must have heaved a huge sigh of relief at the news. The last 50 or 60 miles, Dearest Mum was simply beside herself, constantly urging self: “Can’t you step on it?”

“Why, where are you going?” self asked.

“Tita can’t have dinner until I get there. Can’t you step on it?”

Anyhoo, after self dragged herself in her front door, Gracie was in absolute paroxysms of delight. Hubby was shocked, shocked, at self’s too-sudden return. He was on the internet, and was also watching a football game on TV. Self dumped everything by the front door and collapsed in the bedroom. On second thought, she’s glad she went to San Luis Obispo. Thank you, hubby, for reminding self that if she hadn’t gone away with Dearest Mum, even though it was only for one night, that’s one night less that she had to inhale the stale odor of your cigarettes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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