Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 55: DREAMY

Thanks once again to viveka for inspiring self to try posting to the current Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: DREAMY.

Self is a short story writer (though some of her stories are over 50 pages!).

  • This Red Riding Hood Lamp followed her from one childhood home to another; self’s parents gave it to her when she was about five.

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She brought it to the States with her, when she left for grad school. And here it is now, in self’s home in Redwood City, California.

It was the perfect gift — one that nurtured her imagination and encouraged her to dream.

  • Here’s an image from the cover of Hotel Amerika, a literary magazine (based in Chicago) which published self’s flash, Ghosts. She loves the surreal, and so she loves the image.
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Hotel Amerika, Vol. 8 No. 2 (Spring 2010)

  • Finally, a landscape absolutely made for dreaming: Mendocino.
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Mendocino Headlands: April 21, 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The AB-180, 1997 Prototype

From reading Sheryl Recinos’s harrowing memoir of surviving on the streets as an under-age runaway, to Stephen Westaby’s memoir of his most wrenching heart cases.

Sheryl Recinos ended up a doctor (amazing), but that part is not in her memoir, Hindsight: Coming of Age on the Streets of Hollywood. (Maybe there will be a sequel? Self hopes so)

Stephen Westaby’s memoir, on the other hand, describes his work as a member of the team that produces the first artificial heart.

Ch. 7, Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

It took the team five years to produce a spinning blood pump the size of a bicycle bell, weighing just half a pound . . . First called the AB-180, it was intended to support the circulation for up to six months . . . It was so simple that one of the technicians attached a prototype pump to his garden hose and drained his fish pond with it.

The first English “guinea pig” for the AB-180 was a 21-year-old woman who had contracted “viral myocarditis, a viral illness like a cold, but when it involves the heart, it can be fatal . . . a desperate situation for a vivacious young woman who had been normal the week before.”

As self told Dearest Mum many years ago: Dying has nothing to do with age.

Look at self’s older sister, dead of streptococcal pneumonia at 34.

Look at Dearly Departed Sister-in-Law Ying, who died at 38 of leukemia which had been diagnosed less than a year before.

In Westaby’s memoir, Julie’s “leg was already blue — pouring out lactic acid.”

Self was the person who received her sister’s autopsy from Lenox Hill Hospital. Her parents couldn’t bear to read it, so self did. It listed her sister’s cause of death as sepsis. Blood poisoning. 11 days earlier she had presented at Lenox Hill’s emergency room, complaining of a bad cough.

As Westaby writes, “most patients with viral myocarditis get over it.”

As most patients with streptococcal pneumonia, what self’s sister contracted, probably do.

Self can tell you she never, ever expected her sister to die that year. That it happened so close to Christmas made all subsequent Christmases into depressing occasions. In fact, a Christmas present her sister had mailed from New York arrived in California three days after she had passed.

11 days. That’s all it took to move a healthy young woman, a mother of three, to illness and then death. That was time enough, though, for self to fly to New York. Time enough for her parents to fly in from the Philippines.

In Westaby’s book, “the doctors scrubbed with haste. What was more important now? Survival or sterility?” He grabs a scalpel and runs the blade “straight through, hard onto the bone.” He runs “the saw up the sternum.” As Julie’s “heart was stopping, I kept moving . . . ” He gathers Julie’s “flickering little ventricles” into his fist and hand-pumps.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Back to Work

Below, page 1 of a very, very old work-in-progress. Self was clearing her closets when she stumbled across the hard copy yesterday.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DEAR DEPARTED DAD.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50: TREES

Self is joining a new Photo Challenge: Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50 : TREES.

Thanks to viveka of My Guilty Pleasures for making self aware of this photo challenge.

The pictures below are from a trip to Prague that she took in late May with her niece, Irene.

1.  Trees, Prague, May 2019 (next to the Spanish Synagogue)

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2.  Last Sunday in May 2019: Walking by the National Theatre, Prague

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3. Afternoon Cruise Along the Vltava River

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

13 and a Runaway

Self is absolutely riveted by this story about a 13-year-old runaway. She has a bipolar mother, an abusive father (who’s already gotten her committed once and keeps threatening to do it again), and an indifferent stepmother. Plus, her only other sibling at home has gradually withdrawn.

She catches a bus from her home in North Carolina to LA. As the bus winds its way through her hometown, she spots her mother’s car, heading in the opposite direction. Her mother, her frail, bi-polar mother, is looking for her. The narrator can’t get the look on her mother’s face out of her head.

Hindsight, p. 52:

“I needed to forget the look . . . I needed never to find out that my mom baked a plate of cookies and left them on the table, window open, so that I might smell them and come inside.”

This mother story makes self tear up.

And then, on p. 54, the 13-year-old is in Los Angeles.

“An older African-American woman walked up to me, perhaps seeing me in a way that no one else had ever truly seen me.”

That African American woman’s kindness saved the narrator’s life. She directed the narrator to a youth shelter.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Dysfunction

Hindsight, Ch. 4 (Married Again)

I was winning. We could stop this.

My father looked at us both, disappointment heavy in his eyes. “What would people think?” he asked.

“I don’t care,” I told him.

We argued for the rest of the day. I didn’t want this woman moving into our house. Something about her was unkind, cruel. I sensed her disdain towards me.

The day of the wedding came.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: London Smiles

Self just got back from a trip to Ireland and England.

The last week of May, she met up with Amy Toland of Miami University Press and took her to her favorite London restaurant, Chez Nous, 22 Hanway Street. Self has been coming here since 2014, Julie is an amazing cook!

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Julie, chef of Chez Nous on Hanway Street in London; Amy Toland, Managing Editor of Miami University Press

This cheeky picture of Harry and Meghan was hanging on the wall of a wee cheesecake shop on Drury Street:

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Son was in London for work. Self spent time with her daughter-in-law, Jennie. Here’s Jennie in a London cab:

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Love the prompt from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

Stay tuned.

Lovely London

Self was supposed to go on an Old Parish Maps walk of Clerkenwall but she bailed because she wanted to take things slow today, after that loooong train journey from Cornwall yesterday.

She had an early breakfast, then set off walking. Soon, she found herself in front of the British Library, but instead of going in, she went next door, to St. Pancras/Renaissance Hotel, and inquired at reception if they could ring her son’s room.

He did not pick up, probably because he’s just arrived in London. She told the receptionist to let son know that his mother had stopped by. Then, she twirled and waltzed out without waiting for a response from the receptionist.

She wandered on Leigh Street and found North Sea Fish was closed. She walked down Marchmont Street and stopped at a café for very yummy hot banana bread with yogurt. Topped that off with red bean gelato. Picked up a couple of flyers from LSE (London School of Economics, Dear Departed Sister’s alma mater), returned to Russell Square (one side of which was sprouting police cars, she wonders why) and resumed reading Northanger Abbey.

UGH, the horrible stress inflicted on poor Catherine Morland (so far, self’s favorite Jane Austen heroine — yes, a better heroine than Emma or Anne Elliot) by manipulative Thorpe sibs Isabella and John! In the latest situation, they have conveniently dismissed Miss Eleanor Tilney (sister of that elusive love interest Henry Tilney) without checking first with Catherine whether she intended to keep her appointment with Eleanor. Catherine, on learning of the Thorpes’s horrible presumptuousness, goes running full tilt after Eleanor (and why should she not? Henry Tilney is quite a fetching man! Self too would go running if someone told her that Timothy Olyphant or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were just around the corner!).

p. 111:

Thorpe would have darted after her, but Morland withheld him. “Let her go, let her go, if she will go.”

“She is as obstinate as — “

Thorpe never finished the simile, for it could hardly have been a proper one.

lol

Morland refers to Catherine’s older brother, James. And a wonderful older brother he is, too. He’s in love with Isabella Thorpe, who’s a ninny. If not for that, he would be self’s third-favorite Jane Austen suitor, after Mr. Knightley and Henry Tilney. He most certainly is self’s favorite Jane Austen brother.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

John Thorpe, Villain: NORTHANGER ABBEY, pp. 48 – 49

Self might as well tell you who the villain is; you will enjoy this novel so much more as you read: That is, you will be so much more aware of the dangers posed by hypocrisy, and insincere flattery, carelessness and a sense of entitlement. Self advises all blog readers to take notes, in case any of your acquaintance or any members of your immediate family exhibit similar behavior (Every family has its own villains, don’t deny it):

“Ah, mother! How do you do?” said he, giving her a hearty shake of the hand: “where did you get that quiz of a hat, it makes you look like an old witch. Here is Morland and I come to stay a few days with you, so you must look out for a couple of good beds some where near.”

This address seemed to satisfy all the fondest wishes of the mother’s heart, for she received him with the most delighting and exulting affection. On his two younger sisters he then bestowed an equal portion of his fraternal tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both looked very ugly.

You can always tell who the shallowest men are in a Jane Austen novel because they pass the silliest judgments on women’s appearance.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Laughter of My Father, by Carlos Bulosan

One of our foremost Filipino writers was a migrant worker who died at 40 of tuberculosis, in a Seattle boarding house.

His name was Carlos Bulosan, and The Laughter of My Father was one of Dear Departed Dad’s favorite books (Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino found this copy for me, previously used naturally!)

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Reading it now, self can understand why. She’s reading the Bantam edition, published August 1946.

p. 2:

Laughter was our only wealth. Father was a laughing man. He would go into the living room and stand in front of the tall mirror, stretching his mouth into grotesque shapes with his fingers and making faces at himself; then he would rush into the kitchen, roaring with laughter.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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