SWIMMING STUDIES: About Pools

Maybe because self is reading Swimming Studies, she starts looking up information on Land’s End and the Sutro Baths.

The magnate who developed Sutro Baths was named Sutro (Duh, but of course!).

Sutro Baths was the centerpiece of a resort bordering the Pacific. San Franciscans could get there by paying 5 cents for a trolley ride.

In a way, self understands what Sutro was aiming for, because her very own grandfather built a resort, right in the middle of sugar cane fields in Barangay Granada in Negros Occidental in the Philippines.

Self’s grandfather, like Sutro, was a populist. The most loyal patrons of Santa Fe Resort are workers. The entrance fee is still ridiculously low because self’s family understands the demographic: the patrons come from the surrounding fields, workers wanting a break. It was called Santa Fe because her grandfather loved American westerns. In addition, he had a huge crush on the American swimmer/film star Esther Williams, so there’s a statue of her in Santa Fe, in Barangay Granada.

Self’s grandfather built an Olympic-size pool which remains a major draw to this day: It was the first, and possibly still the only, Olympic-size pool in the Philippines.

Who does that? Who has such a crush on Esther Williams that he builds an Olympic-size pool in the middle of an island. Not only in the middle of an island, in the middle of sugar cane fields.

When journalists come to write about self’s island, they never mention Santa Fe Resort. It’s such an eccentric thing, the location. The fact is, it’s nowhere near a beach. Consequently, there is no tourist traffic. There are no Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, American or Europeans. In Santa Fe Resort, you will encounter Filipinos. Just Filipinos.

It is a resort built by a man who only got a high school education. A resort for the people who live within a few kilometers, who are from that place.

Self spent every summer of her childhood there.

Sometimes she wonders if those summers were the reason she is a writer now. Because, her grandfather showed her: you can do anything, if you use your imagination.

It is a terrible thing is to have no imagination, to have your dreams stay small.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Moments, Florence

Self is still looking for pictures to accord with the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week, RARE.

Back in November 2015, she got a surprise invitation from her niece Irene to go on a trip to Florence.

But of course! Self has decided that she will never say NO when it comes to travel. And she’d never been to Florence.  All the pictures below are from that trip.

First, a picture taken in the Piazza Signoria. Self had spent the day at the Palazzo Vecchio, her niece had gone to the Uffizi. We met up at the square to have dinner. Self took the picture from one of the sidewalk cafés:

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Piazza Signoria, Florence’s Iconic Square: November 2015

On our first morning in Florence, self and Irene were wending our way from our hotel to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore when we passed a library. And though the library was not in any of our guidebooks, self never passed a library she didn’t wish to explore.

So here’s what was inside:

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Self’s ever-curious soul led her to this library, on a street close to the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.

It turned out to be a library made up entirely of opera librettos. And self thought that was the most fabulous thing.

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The most rare and fabulous thing.

Stay tuned.

Once Upon a Time in Manila

At the wedding of a good friend in Manila, ages and ages ago, self was seated at a table next to the table of the newlyweds, and found herself being introduced to members of the groom’s family. The younger sister of the groom was a lively, sparkling, intelligent and pretty girl, studying in either Harvard or MIT or any way one of the more prestigious schools in Boston, definitely not a nerd, and she was absolutely great. Self’s first thought was: “This girl would make an excellent date for one of my brothers. I’m going to set them up.”

After many, many back-and-forth messages, which took a huge chunk out of self’s limited time, the blind date was arranged. While this monumental event was being staged, self had a vague thought that the process was complicated. But she was valiant in her resolve to get her brother to go out with this wonderful girl. She would show how self-sacrificing she was! She would show what a benevolent older sister she was! She would never give up! Never!

After the date, self’s brother returned home in a terrible mood. Self means A REALLY REALLY TERRIBLE MOOD. He growled: I thought you said she was pretty.

She was! The only word self can think of to describe her is “spabilada.”

Self’s brother said: “She wore glasses. She was wearing a jumpsuit.”

The image of a jump-suited girl with glasses was truly horrible. Self thought she would die of embarrassment. Plus: All that work — for nothing! The whole situation was like Cinderella in reverse.

As Jamie Dornan’s character the serial killer in the police procedural “The Fall” would go: What? What? What?

Self can’t even.

Speaking of “The Fall” (Self knows: this is a terrible digression), Jamie Dornan makes such a good serial killer. His day job is working as a grief counselor, and it’s absolutely perfect because he can scope out the most vulnerable women, meet with them, and during the guise of counseling, get them to reveal things about themselves that he wouldn’t otherwise get to know. He also does this most outrageous thing, which self has never seen any other serial killer in movies or television do, and that is: when he is chastised for going to a woman’s home, he just mimics everything his superintendent says to him. For instance:

Superintendent: What do you think you are doing?

Serial K: What do you think you are doing?

Superintendent: Do you realize the seriousness?

Serial K: Do you realize the seriousness?

Superintendent: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Serial K: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Almost the whole way through, Serial Killer Jamie does this, and his boss can do nothing but stare. Self knows what the boss is thinking: Has this man gone absolutely bonkers?

Well, of course he has! Don’t just sit there! Do something!

But of course the boss does nothing. Because he is so confused.

Who wrote this screenplay? Self would like to shake her/his hand!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Narrow 2: Memories of Tuscany

When I think of a beautiful landscape, the image that usually comes to mind involves an open expanse: a mountain range, a windy meadow, the beach on a sunny (or stormy) afternoon. Every so often, though, I’m reminded of the magic of narrowness: how it forces the eye to focus on details and textures that would’ve been lost in a wide-open panorama.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Self accompanied her niece Irene on a short trip to Florence last November. Just eight days. Amazing how much you can see in eight days, especially when you’re traveling with someone as organized as Irene.

Irene found a one-day tour of Tuscan hill towns. San Gimignano, Pisa, Siena — self can’t remember the names of all the towns included in the tour.

It was great fun sorting through her picures from the trip, looking for the ones that matched this week’s photo challenge:  NARROW

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MORE CHERRY ON TOP (Meaning: Hats)

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is about:

The cherry on top.

The icing on the cake

“a desirable feature perceived as the finishing touch to something that is already very good.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Here are three “cherry on top” pictures.

  •  Karina (The cherry on top is that she is so sweet. And likes wearing baseball caps. She lives in Calgary)
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Karina is self’s guide to all things YA. Her latest book recommendation: Sarah J. Maas’s THRONE OF GLASS (Exciting read!)

  • The Calgary Stampede is fabulous. The “cherry on top” is that everywhere you look, you see people wearing cowboy hats:
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Don’t ask self what “Beaver Balls” are. She has no idea.

Self took this picture during the Annual Redwood City Fourth of July Parade. Look at the man’s fantastic sombrero! Definitely the “cherry on top.”

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2016 Annual Redwood City Fourth of July Parade

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Really Delightful: Hanna in Anne Enright’s THE GREEN ROAD

The following excerpt could be either funny or sad, depending on your mood. Hanna is an aspiring actress with a drinking problem:

. . .  that evening, somehow, the baby got hold of her little Innocent bottle and spat the stuff out, spilling it all down his front and, never mind the hole in the fucking universe, when Hugh smelt the alcohol off the baby’s Breton striped Petit Bateau, the world as Hanna knew it came to an end.

. . .  The thing was through the washing machine on the instant, so Hugh had no hard evidence. But he had the baby. He was sleeping in the baby’s room. He would not fight with Hanna, he said, but he would not leave her alone with the baby. And when it came to Christmas he would take the baby home.

Hanna said, “That’s a relief. No, really. Childcare at last. Fucking fantastic.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Too Funny! More Anne Enright

  • It was very ageing — fat. It made her daughter look like an old woman, which was a kind of insult, after all the care that was put into the rearing of her. The coat didn’t help. It was like an anorak, almost.

The Green Road, p. 160

CHERRY ON TOP: MORE OF THE 2016 CALGARY STAMPEDE

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is: CHERRY ON TOP.

This week, share a photo of a detail that makes a good thing even better.

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

Self goes searching back over her photos. She takes her time about it because she has thousands.

She decides to post more from the 2016 Calgary Stampede.

That event is great fun. From the carnival prizes to the everyone-in-cowboy-boots-and-hats affect to the way-too-many food booths selling everything from Colossal Onions to Deep-Fried Cheesecake (Please, do not ever go to Calgary if you are attempting to lose weight). The weather cooperated, too: it was slightly overcast. Sometimes it rained. Nice walking weather.

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Prizes, Calgary Stampede, July 2016: Aren’t these adorable?

Self loves shortcake. But Deep Fried Shortcake? BLISS!

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Calgary Stampede: Sheer Bliss For Anyone Who Likes Deep Fried Anything

Calgary, what a fabulous city. The Cherry on Top is:

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Do you really think self wouldn’t post a picture of herself during the 2016 Calgary Stampede? This was taken towards the end of a very exciting day! Cherry on Top was the wearing of a cowboy hat! YEEEES YEEEEES YEEEEES !!! (Pixie, boo, where’s YOUR cowboy hat???)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Look Up 5: Nando’s Flame-Grilled Chicken, Calgary

Really love The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week: LOOK UP.

It’s all about “taking a moment to check out what’s above you.”

Last night, self’s cousins took her to a restaurant called Nando’s, in NE Calgary. It’s famous for its chicken inasal (barbecue). And she has to say: this is the best chicken inasal she’s ever tasted outside of Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, Dear Departed Dad’s hometown.

The owner is, interestingly enough, not Filipino. She thinks her cousins said the owner is from Australia.

One wall is entirely covered with little squares, each one telling a kind of story. She wouldn’t have bothered focusing on the squares if she hadn’t been thinking of LOOK UP:

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Nando’s, in Northeast Calgary: Barbecue Chicken Almost as Good as Bacolod’s Inasal.

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Those tiles do tell a fascinating story. Wouldn’t you agree, dear blog readers?

Stay tuned.

Breathe, Self, Breathe!

Here she is, in Calgary, and she doesn’t know what she should read next: Her niece Karina’s next book recommendation (She tore through Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, like white on rice!), Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (The title is pure nonsense; the book is much much better than that. There is NO girl waiting with a gun. Don’t hold your breath), or The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Of course, she is also drinking in Everlark fan fiction like crazy. A lot of stories that languished for months and months (even, years) finally updated in the last week: it’s been a veritable bonanza of good Everlark! (Take your pick: Pride and Prejudice Everlark; ballet world Everlark; Great Expectations Everlark; or vlogging Everlark)

Today, self went to Market Mall with her niece and of course we stopped by Sephora. And there was a brand self had never seen before: Tarte. And when her niece found out self’s current mascara was over three years old, her niece told her, in no uncertain terms: Throw it out, Tita. Honestly, you should be replacing your mascara every six months. (Oh. So that’s why self’s eyes were itching like crazy yesterday)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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