#amreading From the Book of AMAZING RARE THINGS: About An Amazing Naturalist, Maria Sibylla Merian

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How Self Reads: Everything In Front of the Couch

MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN (1647 – 1717)

Born in Frankfurt, she “married one of her stepfather’s pupils and they moved to her husband’s native city of Nuremberg in 1670.  Five years later Merian published her first book, Florum Fasciculus primus (A first bunch of flowers), which she followed with two further parts in 1677 and 1680.” These were essentially pattern books “designed to serve as a model for embroidery . . . ”

“Merian’s first scientific work . . .  was her Raupenbuch, or more fully Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumennahrung (The wondrous transformation of caterpillars and their remarkable diet of flowers) . . .  Each part comprised fifty plates showing caterpillars, chrysalises, butterflies and moths in their natural habitat, and represented the results of many years of observation.”

Her pioneering work was performed “between 1699 and 1701,” when she went “to the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America, where she studied the insects indigenous to the country,” resulting in the “magnificent work” Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (The transformation of the insects of Surinam). It was “one of the most important works of natural history of its era . . .  ninety-five” of her watercolours on vellum are in the Royal Collection.

You can see some of her art here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading, #amwriting

The book self is reading is The Ship, by Bjorn Landstrom (Doubleday).

On p. 102, there are a series of diagrams about the Santa Maria (“With the exception of Noah’s Ark, Columbus’s flagship is surely the most well-known ship in the world, and there are many, many thousands of models to be found today which are supposed to represent the Santa Maria.”)

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And now, an excerpt from self’s novel-in-progress, which is about a fighting priest, an Augustinian, sent by Spain to establish a mission on an island in the central Philippines.

The priest, whose name is Matias, arrives in Manila and is granted an audience with the Archbishop. And they somehow get off on the wrong foot:

“They only send the worst sort,” Archbishop Hontiveros grumbled. “Mutant mores. Have you heard the expression? Men change according to circumstances. One could be taken for a saint there but a devil here . . . ”

The Archbishop paused and abruptly changed his tone. “How long have you been in the priesthood? You are very young.”

“I am not young,” Matias said, struggling to keep a note of deference in his voice. “I am twenty-six.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: More of SURF CULTURE

“He went out from the shore till he was near the place where the swell begins to take its rise; and, watching its first motion very attentively, paddled before it with great quickness, till he found that it overlooked him, and acquired sufficient force to carry his canoe before it without passing underneath. He then sat motionless, and was carried along at the same swift rate as the wave, till it landed him upon the beach. Then he started out . . . and went in search of another swell. I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and smoothly by the sea . . . “

— Captain James Cook, in his Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, 1785

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Mendocino Headlands, Winter 2016

Stay tuned.

Call for Submissions: ARCHITECTURE AND THE CITY, SAN FRANCISCO Sept. 1 – 30, 2017

AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design present the 14th Annual Architecture and the City Festival, featuring community workshops, design challenges, educational lectures, tours, films, special events, and an exhibition. The month-long celebration provides opportunities for participants to engage with the local architecture community and experience design in a myriad of ways throughout the city.

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Entering the City on 101 North

Programs must address some of our most pressing urban issues, demonstrate innovation in working toward a more sustainable future, and explore how progressive design and creative problem solving improve our quality of life in the Bay Area.

FESTIVAL THEME: SECRET CITY

Questions? Contact Jaime Wong, Program Manager, at jwong@aiasf.org or 415.874.2632.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Also #amreading About Leonardo da Vinci and Dragons

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Found in the London Review Bookshop, May 2017

No matter how many times self promises never to buy another book, she always caves. This time, though, she successfully resisted buying anything from the London Review Bookshop, anything except for the above book, a publication of the Royal Collection Trust in London. Every page is a veritable feast for the eyes:

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The Frigate Pelican, by John James Audubon (The Birds of America, 1827 – 1838)

Among the sketches found in Leonardo da Vinci’s studio after his death were a series about dragons. In his mind, there was absolutely no question that the creatures existed:

  • Several kinds of dragon were thought to have possessed wings sprouting from the shoulders. Leonardo, as an experienced and extremely knowledgeable comparative anatomist, would have pondered the bodily mechanisms that such creatures must have possessed to operate such limbs. On a sheet of studies of a saint on horseback who might tackle such monsters, he does indeed give his dragon a pair of wings — and the practical comparative anatomist in him very sensibly makes them a modified version of a pair of forelegs, like the wings of a bird, rather than a more improbable extra set of limbs operated from the shoulders.

Simply fascinating.

Stay tuned.

 

Order: London Eye, an Apartment Building in the Marais, the Islamic Collection at the Louvre

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is ORDER:

Sure, it’s fun to celebrate chaos every once in a while. But it’s others’ visions of order and harmony, from colonnades to geometric patterns on tiles, that most often intrigue me . . .

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Architecture has to have a sense of order. Otherwise, things just don’t get built.

Here are three beautiful examples of architecture self recently encountered on her travels:

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The London Eye, 7 June 2017

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Apartment Windows, the Marais, Paris: 2 June 2017

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The Collection of Islamic Art at the Louvre, 1 June 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwritingfantasy: Humorous Dystopia

Self worked on this story in Paris. It’s about the end of the world, naturalement.

A pink bathosphere named Pinkie Pi (Joke, joke, joke!), navigated by a pair of squabbling men, is the last to leave the surface of the planet (A new city awaits on the Ocean Floor):

We’re going under.

When?

Today.

Just like that.

Oui. N’est-ce pas. What do you think?

You’re talking about under.

That’s what I’m saying, oui.

That down there, on the ocean floor, we can — je ne sais quoi.

Yes.

In the shift and roll of waves . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Léa Outier for AIR FRANCE Magazine

You need to turn off the road taking you to your destination, watching out for elusive signposts while hugging the white beaches, to realize that this Pacific Caledonia shares more than verdant mountains and damp spells with Scotland: a certain predilection for solitude, for creating deserts.

— Léa Outier, “Conversations from the Other Side”

Another From Rinker Buck

Somewhere a few pages ago, Rinker Buck mentions that he is part Irish.

The Sentence of the Day is from The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey (Was reading this in Cork and the irony was rich: She was reading about of all things mules while listening to mostly cello music in a fabulous Irish city).

A rumination on the memory of Buck’s Dear Departed Dad:

Buck’s Dad: You’re not quitting. You just keep going . . .

Buck, years later: The idea that I could be doing quite a lot by not doing anything at all, just by not quitting, was quite beyond me at the time, but I did feel that night that I had the pioneer spirit.

Very wise, Mr. Buck.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Rinker Buck

“I cannot enjoy my life unless I am overactive, or find a challenge that makes me ebullient.”

— Rinker Buck, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Self bought five books on this trip: five big, fat books. What was she thinking?

When she arrived in Cork, two days ago, she found that the platform exit was down a long cement ramp.

Of course, it was easy to roll two suitcases down a ramp.

What self completely failed to appreciate was that, if there is a downhill, there must be an uphill.

She decided to tackle this uphill ramp by finding the right attitude. That is, by sucking it up. About a quarter of the way, she stopped dead and had a most inconvenient thought: I will need a crane.

Then, an older woman in a black pantsuit turned and said, “Come on, give me the bags.” Self was all like, No! These are my bags! These are my punishment!

But the woman decided to pretend self was not protesting, and reached for the bigger of her suitcases.

All the way up the ramp self apologized. At the top, she reached for her big suitcase, absolutely dying with shame. The woman said, matter-of-factly, “I knew you’d never make it up that ramp.”

Meanwhile, it occurs to self that she cannot handle both these bags by herself when she needs to be off and on trains. Constantly.

But, since self has no choice, she decides that an attitude of cheerful denial is the best policy. After all, it’s always worked for her before.

The reason she knows it’s worked for her before is: she has never let go of the notion that suitcases, no matter how heavy, are no big deal. There is terrible disconnect here, but the importance of this notion, this notion of self-punishment followed by absolute self-reliance, is obviously something vital to self’s personality. Why, she has no idea. As vital notions go, this one’s pretty bruising.

Last year, she remembers being helped onto a London bus by the driver himself (No San Francisco MUNI driver would ever relinquish the steering wheel of a bus to help a batty woman. Self’s just saying) He reached down and grabbed her suitcase. After, he said: “I tell you, it must be really nice to leave home knowing you’ve brought all your books with you.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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