Admiration 3: Fort Bragg, CA

Self discovered Fort Bragg, California this year.

She stayed for a few weeks, and discovered:

  1. An excellent bakery, in the Depot Building. Just look at that sweet, blue nest confection!
  2. An excellent used bookstore called, in typical Fort Bragg self-deprecating manner, The Bookstore. The second floor had a wonderful seating area. And the day self visited, there was a hardbound copy of Cyrano de Bergerac, which she has fond memories of her Dear Departed Dad reciting to her at mealtimes (He was a frustrated actor. Played Hamlet in high school at the Ateneo)
  3. Writers, writers, writers abound in Fort Bragg. Self began reading Norma Watkins, whose beautiful memoir, The Last Resort: Taking the Mississippi Cure, was just published by University of Mississippi Press.

Dinnertime # 1

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is DINNERTIME:

Share a meal with us.

Here are three memorable meals (Sorry, the shutter on self’s camera doesn’t open all the way, hence the dark bars across all the pictures she takes now).

The first is the reunion of Emily and self, at Chez Mamie on 22 Hanway Street in London. We had been longing for a dinner at our favorite place for almost a year. Self went back to the States, Emily stayed behind to help her daughter, who was filming a big studio picture. (Self’s lips are sealed). She couldn’t believe it when, a few months ago, she got an e-mail from Emily asking if she had any plans of returning to London. She thought Emily had gone home months ago, since she knows the movie wrapped. But, what joy when self sat at a back table of Chéz Mamie, and heard the young woman say: “Your friend’s in the back.” Self went forward to Emily and we hugged, such was our joy at seeing each other again, in the same place where we had met last year.

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Eating with Emily at Fabulous Chéz Mamie, 22 Hanway Place, London. We waited for this meal: it was a promise we made to each other when self left London last July.

Next, a picture self took at La Traviata in the Mission, where she and a member of her Squaw Valley Workshop 6 (We were so tight, people! Many of us are still e-mailng each other, almost two years later) met for dinner last December (Her camera wasn’t yet on the blink, hence the picture was normal)

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La Traviata in the Mission: The walls are lined with photos of famous opera singers.

Finally, from a visit to Mendocino by Joel Tan and his partner Bunny. We ate at The Mendocino Café on Lansing Street. Food was divine:

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Salad with Hummus and Radishes: YUMM

New York: Highline and Chelsea

Still looking for landscapes.

Here are pictures self took during a memorable walk on New York City’s Highline, December 2015:

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Near the Start of the Highline, on a cold December Day

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Still Near the Start of the Highline

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Near the Start of the Highline, on a cold December Day

And here are things she loved about New York during her Fall 2015 sojourn:

  • The Asian American Writers Workshop
  • The Whitney
  • The Highline
  • Therese Raquin with Keira Knightley
  • Seeing Penny
  • Seeing Luis and Midori
  • Seeing the Picasso exhibit in the MOMA
  • Catching a concert of Trio Solisti at Carnegie Hall
  • Watching Mamie Gummer’s scorching performan in Ugly to the Bone
  • Seeing nephew Chris Blackett and watching movies with him and reading his novel-in-progress
  • Eating Cuban in Hoboken, New Jersey
  • Walking around Central Park
  • Mockingjay 2 in the Lincoln Center Cinema
  • Losing self’s wallet twice and having it returned to her twice — nothing missing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Luna Moore, Met at AWP 2016 Los Angeles, at 40th Anniversary Calyx Reading

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Luz Delgado and Her Daughter Luna Moore, at the Calyx Press 40th Anniversary Reading at AWP 2016, Los Angeles, April 2

Every time self meets a new young person, she always asks for a book recommendation.

Her curiosity always pays off in spades. Hello, Infernal Devices, Cassandra Clare’s steampunk trilogy, recommended by Calgary niece Karina!

So, at the recently concluded AWP  Conference, held in Los Angeles, self met a wonderful girl named Luna Moore.

And Luna recommended:

  • Jane Eyre
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
  • the Harry Potter series

Turns out Title # 2, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, is by Aimee Bender. Which means it probably isn’t YA. Luna is quite a sophisticated reader!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Bureaucrat Ivan Ilyich Learns He Must Die

Ivan Ilyich was a man who derived the greatest pleasure in life from routine: the routine of work, mostly.

He didn’t know he was dying until his colleagues began to have strange expressions on their faces as they interacted with him. Some of them looked shocked, some of them looked pitying.

One day, he closeted himself in his bathroom, looked at himself in the mirror, and could deny it no longer: he did indeed have the look of a man who was suffering from a grave illness. In fact, he was dying.

p. 71 of the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Vintage)

  • Lately Ivan Ilyich had spent most of his time in these attempts to restore the former ways of feeling that had screened him from death. He would say to himself: “I’ll busy myself with work — why, I used to live by it.” And he would go to court, driving away all doubts; he would get into conversation with colleagues and sit down, by old habit absentmindedly, pensively glancing around at the crowd and placing his two emaciated arms on the armrests of the oaken chair, leaning over as usual to a colleague, drawing a brief towards him, exchanging whispers, and then, suddenly raising his eyes and sitting up straight, would pronounce certain words and begin the proceedings. But suddenly in the midst of it the pain in his side, paying no attention to the stage the proceedings, would begin its own gnawing work.

And reading this reminds self all over again about Ying, who died in 2008, less than a year after she was diagnosed with leukemia.

She was worried because one of her maids — the nursemaid of Ying’s newborn daughter, Anita — had a persistent cough. Ying decided to have her tested for tuberculosis. Since her maid was being tested, Ying thought she might as well have herself tested, too. And that’s how they found she had leukemia.

Ying died in Tel Aviv on her 37th birthday. And never ever did self hear a word of complaint from her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

One Love: Daily Post Photo Challenge

. . . the universe is constantly whispering words of love: expressions of pure joy, respect, loyalty and sacrifice for someone other than ourselves, letting go and focusing on what is most important in this world.

Below, a collection of lovely moments.

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At a Chinese Take-Out in Inchicore, Dublin

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Words From a Kind Soul: This note was given to self in Banff, Canada.

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The Niece That Started It All: Karina introduced self to Victorian Steampunk (The Infernal Devices Trilogy): Self has never looked back.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Today, Pondering Joan Didion

Mulling over a list of attitudes that can be considered “magical thinking.”

Remember the book that Joan Didion wrote, several years back, called The Year of Magical Thinking? Ying was reading it in the apartment in Tel Aviv when self visited her, just a few months before she succumbed, at 37, to leukemia. Ying told self it was a very good book.

Honestly, self does not know how Ying managed to read a book like that when she herself was struggling for her life. But that’s how Ying was. She was compassionate and loving, but also remarkably clear-eyed and unsentimental. She was brave. The last thing Ying told self, shortly before she left Tel Aviv was, “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

Today, self flipped open one of her journals and the first thing her eyes landed on was this list:

EXAMPLES OF MAGICAL THINKING:

  • My “stuff” will save me.
  • My writing will save me.
  • Being good will save me.
  • My degrees will save me.
  • My 260-thread-count bed linens will save me.
  • Other people will save me.

Denial is the most dangerous form of coping mechanism.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Harmony 2: Peace Out, People

The Daily Post Photo Challenge for the week is HARMONY.

My take: “A blissful state of contentment. Only achieved when mind/body/emotions are in a state of peaceful awareness.”

First Photo: Venice, November 2015

Second and Third Photos: Tuscany, November 2015

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Self and Irene, Café Florian, San Marco Square, Venice: November, 2015

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View From a Vineyard in Tuscany, November 2015

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More of Tuscany: November 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Harmony: 2016 Daily Post Photo Challenge, Week 10

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is HARMONY: “the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole.” So here are three attempts to illustrate the quality: the first two are examples of harmonies of color. The last is an example of harmony of shape.

First, an illustration from a child’s picture book: Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans,” illustrated by Susan Jeffers. The subject is Elise, lying in the forest. Her gown is green, and other shades of green are all around her:

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A Susan Jeffers Illustration for Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans”

Next, a handmade book by an Artist-in-Residence at the Mendocino Art Center, Mary-Ellen Campbell. Self loves the delicate (tonal) harmonies and shadings:

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One of Mary-Ellen Campbell’s Handmade Books. She is having her own solo exhibit at the Mendocino Art Center, April 1 – 30, 2016.

Finally, from a quickie trip to Italy that self and her niece Irene took last November, the immortal La Serenisima, Venice:

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San Marco Square, Venice, November 2015: The curves are repeated in the windows the lampposts, the round tables, the aluminum chairs, and the bowl of ice cream in the foreground.

 

Vonnegut: PLAYER PIANO

Self has no idea why she decided to get started on Vonnegut at this late stage in her reading life.

Oh, she knows why! It’s because her New York nephew, Chris, wants to be a writer, and when she asked him who his favorite writers were, one of the first names that popped out of his mouth was Kurt Vonnegut.

REALLY? self gaped.

Since it’s been decades and decades since self read Vonnegut, she decided to try Player Piano. Not only because she’s on a piano binge lately, reading everything piano-related, but because it’s supposed to be science fiction. Though it reads like the present. Even the dialogue is very present. In fact, let’s just say if this is science fiction, self will eat her hat. Not that she has any hats to eat. She’s just saying.

The other improbable thing is that the main characters are engineers. They manage something called the Ilium Works (a petrol plant?). Oh, if only this petrol-fueled story had the antic depravity of Mad Max! But there isn’t a wild man in the whole bunch. In fact, they go to clubs and cocktails so much, it’s beginning to remind her of the 50s. Not that she knows anything about the 50s. She had read John Cheever, though. Her Dear Departed Dad had two favorite authors: John Cheever and John Updike. Therefore, when self was growing up in Manila, she had at her elbow the entire collection of Rabbit Angstrom books to read. And, Holy Cow, did Dearest Dad know that self was reading about wife-swapping when she was barely in her teens? After all, she worshiped her Dad. So any book HE was reading was fair game. Self still remembers some really racy scene where —

But, she digresses.

Anyhoo, husbands and wives, a cocktail party, here is what transpires:

Kroner, in fact, had a poor record as an engineer and had surprised Paul from time to time with his ignorance or misunderstanding of technical matters; but he had the priceless quality of believing in the system, and of making others believe in it, too, and do as they were told.

The two were inseparable, though their personalities met at almost no point. Together, they made an approximately whole man.

And, in another section that strikes self as so 50s (so Cheever, in other words): “Doctor Shepherd, his neck blazing red above his stiff collar, moved quietly away from the bar toward the French doors that opened onto the golf course.”

They play golf in the future?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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