Certain Favorites: ONCE UPON A RIVER

Trying hard to keep this post spoiler-free. Don’t worry, she’s only a third of the way through this novel. She’s not giving away any big secrets or anything.

We are at a Vaughan chapter. Self has to admit, this character is one of her favorites. (How lucky is she that she just finished Northanger Abbey and then stumbled into another great novel. This doesn’t happen often. That is why she appreciated discovering Phillip Pullman and reading His Dark Materials all in one go.)

Setterfield is really good at describing sows, pet pigs, etc First there was Maud the Sow, who was kidnapped (Who kidnaps a sow? a character asks. Yeah, WHO?). Martha, a pig, Maud’s daughter, becomes a replacement confidant for one of the characters (There are so many pigs on farms in the Philippines and no one’s ever written about them. Or turned them into characters. Why not give it a try, self?)

Vaughan had a disorienting encounter several chapters ago with Mrs. Constantine. He lost his daughter — “taken” — when she was four. He’s just been going through the motions ever since. Then someone rescues a man and a four-year-old girl from the river. A servant tells his wife the news before Vaughan gets a chance to tell her himself, and then his wife takes off, just like that, to the inn where the drowned/rescued girl has been taken.

These actions, while thrilling, are so perfectly in character. Self finds herself nodding over the pages, saying “Yes, yes. Go on.”

As for Vaughan, he couldn’t go on. He went on.

As for the man who was rescued with the little girl, he has remained unconscious for all these pages. He made a big, dramatic entrance in Chapter 1, lost consciousness, and has been lying flat on his back on a table at an inn since forever. All self knows about him is that a nurse practitioner (or whatever you called healers in that time, in England) came and examined his entire naked body very thoroughly, and deduced that his injuries were survivable, and also that he was a photographer.

She only heard of Diane Setterfield at the Fowey Festival of the Arts. She went to Bookends of Fowey and asked if they could recommend a book by Setterfield “to start with.” Once Upon a River was out of the question because it was hardcover and very thick, and self had still weeks of travel to go. She bought it, though, just before leaving London.

In another piece of luck, self has been back from London for two whole days, and her weirdo neighbor has not made a peep (until this afternoon, when she heard muffled stirrings from the other side of the fence. UGH. She’s confident he’ll never discover this blog, because he doesn’t seem to do anything all day, and has no friends. He has stuffed animals lined up in his living room window, and seems to think self has a crush on him. She’ll be really distressed if he shows himself, frankly. It will ruin her plans for the summer, which are: to remain entirely, unreservedly, stress-free. One day when she was running out of conversational topics with Dearest Mum, resident of Manila, she told Dearest Mum about this neighbor. True to form, Dearest Mum giggled and said she was so happy to know that self had an admirer!!!)

Something is going to happen. Stay tuned.

Sunday Read: Philippine Religious Imagery in Ivory (Exhibit Catalogue, Intramuros, Manila, 1982)

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Self’s childhood home in Manila was crammed with santoses (religious statues). Dearest Mum collected them.

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L: San Vicente Ferrer R: San Pedro Martir

The santos carvers were unknown. It was an industry, like making furniture. The head and hands of the figures were usually ivory.

The caption for San Pedro Martir reads, in entirety:

  • Ivory head and hands on batikuling body. A bolo (machete), now missing, the instrument of his martyrdom, was originally embedded in his cranium. He is usually depicted holding a palm of martyrdom, also missing. 19th century.

Batikuling is a Philippine tree, presently listed as endangered.

Stay tuned.

 

Samson and the Piano: MY ANTONIA, Book II, Ch. VII

Self’s mother attended Curtis as an 11-year-old who had never, ever left the Philippines before.

So when she reads the below passage in My Antonia, she is practically in tears:

They found he had absolute pitch, and a remarkable memory. As a very young child he could repeat, after a fashion, any composition that was played for him. No matter how many wrong notes he struck, he never lost the intention of a passage, he brought the substance of it across by irregular and astonishing means. He wore his teachers out. He could never learn like other people, never acquired any finish.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading about 16 March 1521: Magellan in the Visayan Sea

On the Feast of St. Lazarus, Ferdinand Magellan spotted the coast of Samar in an archipelago which had not been named by Europeans.

Because it was the feast of the saint who Jesus brought back to life, Lazarus the brother of Martha and Mary, Magellan named the island in honor of the saint. He had “discovered” the Philippines (The name was given to the archipelago 50 years later, during the reign of Philip II, Hapsburg monarch of Spain)

When Magellan made landfall, it was barely 30 years after the fall of Granada, the last outpost of the Nasrid Empire. In 1492, Boabdil, last Muslim King of Granada, surrendered to the Catholic forces of Ferdinand and Isabella. When Granada capitulated, it had become a swollen knot of refugees from all over the Iberian peninsula.

The island in the Visayan Sea where self’s father was born is called Negros (That name was given to the island by the Spanish because islanders were dark-skinned). She doesn’t think Magellan or any of the explorers who followed actually set foot on the island. But there is a Barangay Granada, which is part of a cluster of land self inherited from her Dear Departed Dad.

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She gleans all this fascinating information from a book which Dearest Mum gave to her a few years ago: La Casa de Dios (The House of God) by Father René B. Javellana, SJ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Bourdain: Ugly Crying

Not real. Not real. Not real.

In celebration of food, community, and life, all the food pictures self can pull from her archives in 15 minutes:

  1. Cherries, Belmont Farmers Market, May 2018
  2. Leeks, Palo Alto Farmers Market, April 2018
  3. Giant Tomato, Mendocino Art Center, March 2018
  4. Buko Pie, Philippine Airlines, January 2018
  5. Dearest Mum’s Lunch, Manila, January 2018
  6. UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City, January 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Mood, the Sea: THE SUMMER BOOK, p. 67

  • The sea is always subject to unusual events; things drift in or run aground or shift in the night when the wind changes, and keeping track of all this takes experience, imagination, and unflagging watchfulness. It takes a good nose, to put it simply. The big events always take place far out in the skerries, and time is often of the essence. Only small things happen in among the islands, but these, too — the odd jobs that arise from the whims of the summer people — have to be dealt with. One of them wants a ship’s mast mounted on his roof, and another one needs a rock weighing half a ton, and it has to be round. A person can find anything if he takes the time, that is, if he can afford to look.

Such beautiful language. Thank you to Thomas Teal for his limpid translation.

In other news: self saw the documentary RBG today. A few things struck her:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg has the greatest sense of style. Love her fishnet gloves. And the intricate judge’s collars.
  • She was so pretty.
  • Her foundation was a rock-solid marriage, which freed her up to focus on doing the law.
  • Her friendship with fellow Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was the best.
  • When she was nominated for the Supreme Court, it was whispered about that she was too old (She was in her early 60s).
  • Some of her most ground-breaking dissenting opinions were written after she turned 70.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Sentence of the Day: J. D. Vance

Self has decided to tackle Hillbilly Elegy. Even though she’s not sure she can relate. Makati being as far as one can imagine from the Appalachias.

p. 15: Even knowing what a pistol-packing lunatic Mamaw was, I find this story hard to believe.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SWEET: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 14 February 2018

  • This week, show us something (or someone) sweet. — Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

Self thinks this picture of Dearest Mum and Dear Departed Dad qualifies. She found it today when she was browsing through some old photo albums.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Philippine Splendor in Makati

Whenever the breeze shivers the trees outside the window, self gets such a thrill:

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With Dearest Mum in Ecology Village, Makati

Dearest Mum’s writing desk is a collection of disparate objects:

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Love these old reliquarios that Dearest Mum has scattered about:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Weathered: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 10 January 2018

This week, show us the effect of time and the elements.

— Krista Stevens, The Daily Post

The desk in Niece Georgina’s quarters in Dearest Mum’s house in Makati, the Philippines. Old photos of Dear Departed Dad and sundry folk:

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Pictures of the Passed On and the Very Much Alive: Dearest Mum’s House, Makati, the Philippines

The bed in Dearest Mum’s spare bedroom, with kulambo (mosquito net) and handbag tree, conveniently right next to the four-poster:

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Four-Poster Bed, Makati, the Philippines: January, 2018

Niece’s pocketbook collection. She has great taste in reading matter!

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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