Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 199: Mechanical/Industrial Past

Railroads opened up the American west. They were built by cheap labor, imported from China.

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, hosted by Journeys with Johnbo, self is sharing photos of a memorial to these laborers, at the train station in San Luis Obispo, a small town on California’s central coast. The memorial is by artist Elizabeth MacQueen.

Self knows San Luis Obispo, as son attended Cal Poly there. Last summer, when California opened up again after over a year of lockdown, she drove there to see if it had changed. It hadn’t.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC): Garden Ornaments

Cee Neuner: This week our topic is celebrating Metal of any type.

Since it is such a beautiful day, more like summer, self went around her backyard, taking pictures of metal garden ornaments. Without further ado:

Her newest garden ornament: Tibetan wind chimes, purchased last summer from Growing Grounds in downtown San Luis Obispo, right across from the San Luis Obispo mission.

Her oldest: the pig watering can, which has seen better days.

In her hanging planter, a bird built a nest.

The metal crocodile on the wall of the shed reminds her of Bacolod, Dear Departed Dad’s hometown. Her grandfather opened the first zoo in the Visayas, and one of the zoo animals was a crocodile that lived to a very great age. When it finally died, her cousins had it stuffed. Don’t know which cousin kept the stuffed crocodile. She should find out.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

citysonnet’s March Colors and Letters: ‘K’

March 12 is a Letter, the Letter K.

Here’s the full list of March Colors and Letters.

Self’s letter K is KRAKEN.

Specifically, KRAKEN COFFEE COMPANY, which has a store on Avila Beach, in Central California.

Avila Beach, which she remembers from when son was in college in San Luis Obispo. She visited again last summer, her first stop when California’s mandatory lockdown ended. (And already, last summer feels sooooo long ago)

Avila Beach was a little more crowded, a little more commercial than she remembered from 15 years ago. But she went early, and found parking right in front of the beach. She entered the coffeeshop and asked the young woman behind the counter, “Is it too early for ice cream?” The young woman responded, “It’s never too early for ice cream.”

Poetry Monday: Xuan Quynh

Xuan Quynh (1942 – 1988) was born in Vietnam’s northern province of Ha Tay. She wrote “My Son’s Childhood” in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War.

MY SON’S CHILDHOOD

Translation by Phan Thanh Hao with Lady Borton

What do you have for a childhood
That you still smile in the bomb shelter?
The morning wind comes to visit you
The full moon follows you
The long river, the immense sea, a round pond
The enemies’ bomb smoke, the evening star.
At three months you turn your head, at seven you crawl!
I long for peace every day, every month for a year.
For a year, you toddle around the shelter.
The sky is blue, but way over there
The grass is green far away on the ancient tombs.
My heart is a pendulum
Pounding in my chest, keeping time for the march.
The small cricket knows to dig a shelter
The crab doesn’t sleep: it, too, fears the bombs.
In the moonlight, even the hare hides.
The black clouds hinder the enemy’s sight.
Flowers and trees join the march
Concealing troops crossing streams, valleys, villages.
My son, trenches crisscross everywhere.
They’re as long as the roads you’ll someday take.
Our deep shelter is more precious than a house.
The gun is close by, the bullets ready
If I must shoot.
When you grow up, you’ll hold your life in your own hands.
Whatever I think at present
I note down to remind you of your childhood days.
In the future, when our dreams come true,
You’ll love our history all the more.

Law #19 of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: Know Who You Are Dealing With

This book came highly recommended by her relatives in Bacolod. The author is/was a Harvard prof, the publisher is Penguin, and it’s been out quite a long time (Copyright: 1998).

She hasn’t read it cover to cover, she just picks it up at random moments. Tonight, the law she is reading about is Law # 19: KNOW WHO YOU ARE DEALING WITH. DO NOT OFFEND THE WRONG PERSON.

Interpretation of the Law:

  • Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some men are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor or their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger. If you want to turn people down, it is best to do so politely and respectfully, even if you feel their request is impudent or their offer ridiculous. Never reject them with an insult unless you know them better; you may be dealing with a GENGHIS KHAN.

DUN DUN DUN

Stay tuned.

SquareOdds #10: Prague Castle

Self has been on three trips with her niece, Irene, each one organized by her niece. Self is so grateful. She’s not the best at organizing. With Irene, self has visited Florence, Paris, and Prague.

Prague was our last trip together, in May 2019. Irene found a guide to take us around Prague Castle. As usual, self was drawn to details such as these small carvings on the gates guarding the entrance to a cathedral: from the super-realistic to the mythic, all on the same gate!

Thank you to Becky at Life of B for hosting SquareOdds! The Squares Challenge is always a lot of fun.

John M’Cullough, Raised by the Delawares

In July 1756, a Delaware war party abducted John M’Cullough from western Pennsylvania “to replace a dead kinsman.” He was ritually “dunked” in the Allegheny River (he said he was “nearly drowned”) by way of purification, and was told he was “then an Indian.” He was eight.

Seven years later, when his birth father tracked him down, he “wept bitterly.”

M’Cullough’s father tied him atop a horse and headed for Pittsburgh, but that night the boy slipped his cords and escaped back to the Delawares.

Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution, p. 48

Sentence of the Day, 2nd Friday of 2022

  • “The policeman wanted to throw my three-year-old daughter out the window but I held her tight.” — Simon Ackerman

It is Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass.

The violence was so chaotic, it was hard to believe it was planned. But it was.

“Goebbels holds a press conference to castigate Lochner, Schultz, and other foreign correspondents for writing what he insists are false stories. No stores were looted. No Jews were killed.”

More than ever I’m convinced, we are going down this dangerous road. Right now we have Joe, but can he pass the baton? He should pass the baton because we need a strong AFTER.

Hitler didn’t even need a Supreme Court to justify him. WE DO.

After Kristallnacht, something breaks in the Americans. Ambassador Hugh Wilson is recalled to Washington “for consultation.” He never returns to Berlin. The US Embassy is left in the hands of junior diplomats. Consul Prentiss Gilbert is given a hasty promotion to chargé d’affaires. He dies of a heart attack, five months later.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What It Was Like in Berlin, 1932

New book, started just today. It’s by a woman named Rebecca Donner, and the subject is her great-grandaunt, Mildred Harnack, who was married to a German, Arvid, whose fate is a family secret, because it was very bad: it seems she was imprisoned by Hitler and executed, and what family would want to talk about something like that?

Self only heard about Mildred Harnack from a book review in The Economist (August 2021). Self saved the review and now, finally, she holds in her hands All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler.

Mildred was from Wisconsin. She met Arvid when they were both students at the University of Wisconsin. In 1932, she was a part-time instructor at the University of Berlin, where she taught American Literary History.

It’s a good thing her great grandniece knows how to tell a story. She uses present tense, which hints that at least one of her goals is to make this story immersive: it’s not going to be a “Mildred did this, then Mildred did that” kind of thing. No, Rebecca’s actually going to put us in Berlin, which so happens to be a place self has visited, long ago, when she was invited to read from her book Mayor of the Roses by the House of World Culture. Just a few weeks ago, she was in Berlin again, this time April 1945 Berlin, through the eyes of Anonymous in A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City.

1932 Berlin is very different from 1945 Berlin (of course). Mildred would be two years dead by the time Anonymous began writing her diary (Self wonders if Anonymous would have heard of Mildred Harnack? Anonymous was a journalist, so in all probability she would have heard of Mildred’s arrest and execution). Here is Mildred walking through Berlin in 1932:

She reaches a wide boulevard: Unter den Linden. She turns right.

The boulevard takes its name from the profusion of linden trees flanking it, trees that are in full bloom now, cascades of tiny white blossoms perfuming the air she breathes. But all this beauty can’t mask the ugliness here. Swastikas are cropping up like daisies everywhere: on posters pasted to the walls of U-Bahn stations, on flags and banners and pamphlets. A white-haired, walrus-mustached man is leading the country right now, but just barely. President Paul von Hindenburg is eighty-four, tottering into senility. A politician half his age is growing in popularity, a high-school dropout named Adolf Hitler who, Mildred predicts, will bring “a great increase of misery and oppression.”

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, p. 16

Back to Reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the verse translation by Simon Armitage

Self is reading three books at the moment: My Heart, by Semzedin Mehmehdinovic (which she is hugely enjoying — it’s her first ever book by a Bosnian writer); Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner (about Donner’s great-great-aunt, Mildred Harnack)

She reads according to her mood. This morning, the mood is verse:

The Green Knight:

I’m clothed for peace, not kitted out for conflict.
But if you’re half as honorable as I’ve heard folk say
you’ll gracefully grant me this game which I ask for
by right.

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