Your Street or Neighborhood: A Photo a Week Challenge

Photo challenges are life!

Nancy Merrill hosts A Photo a Week Challenge. This week’s theme is:

  • IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO OF YOUR STREET OR NEIGHBORHOOD.

This picture is of the nearest independent bookstore to self’s house: Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park. Still going strong. Self gave her first local reading here:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Opening, Self’s Camarote de Marinero

What do you think?

  • On the last day of November, on the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the Genoese pilot of the Santa Maria found a current.  It led to a vast and peaceful ocean, an ocean whose purring sighs and amber warmth held us firmly in its liquid embrace. The weather was mild, the sea an unbroken stretch of glass. Suddenly, we forgot scurvy and exhaustion, and even the last dreadful sight of the men put ashore in Guam, the ones slain by the cannibal Chamorros.  The terrible screams from the beach had carried across the water to the black ships.  Oh, the horror!

I think this is READY.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

TransGenre: “I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years”

Another of my pieces. This one was published in Hotel Amerika, the TransGenre issue, 2010.

Copyright reverted to me after first publication. I’m not sure how many people read it the first time, which is why I’m re-publishing here. ALL THANKS TO HOTEL AMERIKA for giving this piece a home.

Ghosts

by Marianne Villanueva

I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years. It seemed she was in a place of ghosts. In my dream, I put my face up to hers and kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll always be your sister.” But she turned her face away and closed her eyes. Her cheek was cold.

I said, “Do you want me to take you away, dear? Come, come! Let us go!” But she only looked sad and didn’t speak.

My son was with me but in my dream he was a young boy. I mean, my son at seven, not the way he is now. He was impatient with my sighs and tears and wanted to get away from that place. He was bored.

I gave him a pencil and told him, “Draw!” He took the pencil obediently. He drew. But it seemed to cost him great effort.

Now and then I would peep at what he was drawing: a series of empty rectangles. I asked him, “Why don’t you put people in your drawings? See, here, and here, and here. They’re all around us!”

He looked up and slowly I saw understanding dawn on his face. He filled his drawings with the outlines of people. I understood then that he, too, could see them, these ghosts.

I told my sister: You are under a spell. You should never have gotten married. She nodded, but she didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Eventually I left, I left my sister there in that cold white house in the middle of a barren plain. The landscape looked like that of a northern country, all bare brown fields as if struck by winter. All white trees.

In the back seat of my car was a white box. It made an angry buzz. I wanted to throw it away but I couldn’t because I knew somehow that there was something in that box that belonged to my sister.

When I got to my own house, after a journey of some distance, I took the box out but now I felt it contained something evil, I wanted to get away from the box but I felt some sense of loyalty, too, because in that box, possibly, were pictures of my sister.

Eventually I forced myself to open it. Inside was a collection of photographs. My sister was in all of them, but around her were people I didn’t recognize. They were on either side of her, staring straight at the camera. My legs felt numb. There was a terrible ache in my chest and my cheeks were cold.

A leaf had turned. A leaf had fallen. It was a Thursday in September, I saw from the calendar on my desk. The 23rd of September.

Life in Colour Photo Challenge

Yippee, another photo challenge! This one’s by Travel Words, and it’s called Life in Colour.

Each month will have a new colour. This month’s is GREEN.

Prompt: Where can you find HIDDEN SHADES OF GREEN?

Here are a couple of self’s pictures of hidden shades of green:

  • Self’s avatar is a turtle, because she does everything so slooooowly. Naturally, she collects turtle objects. Here’s one with a little green on its back:
  • Here is one of her bookshelves, with one green book and one green magazine spine:
  • And, for the final picture, a walkway in the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, CA. Of course, gardens are all greenery. But the trellises, look! Don’t you love the deep green? This was from a visit in November:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Flashback Monday

Kathleen Burkhalter was a member of Dear Departed Sister’s barkada at Wharton. When Kathleen passed away a few years ago, self lost more than just a friend: she lost a member of her squad. And one of the few people self stayed regularly in touch with, over the decades. With Kathleen, self never had to explain how she was feeling at a particular time of her life, she always understood.

She wrote and self-published a series of books about her life. Her daughter, Mercedes Bell, is now a singer. Here’s a link to her FB page.

And here’s a post self wrote about Kathleen, four years ago.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Micro: Hope You Enjoy!

SPINNING

by Marianne Villanueva

On a certain night, a good woman sat spinning by candlelight, her husband and her children having gone to bed long before. Suddenly, a great tiredness came upon her. She put a hand to her brow and exclaimed “Ah, me.” Just then, the cottage door burst open and a knight came in, bringing with him the dark.

(NOTE: Self used to think this story needed more. It doesn’t. Moral of the story: Anything can happen. Drumroll, Ta-ra! She’s self-publishing her micro. On Friday the 19th of March 2021. Also, it’s copyrighted. Do not re-publish without Acknowledgment)

How Self’s Novel Began

A few minutes ago, self went to her previous MacBook Air to transfer old story files (which she should have done years ago, but anyhoo).

There was this fragment called A Myriad Wildernesses. She didn’t recognize the title but, after opening the file, she realized that this was early Camarote de Marinero.

There was no clear historical period, and the only character named is Matias, the young priest. In fact, it’s a very mysterious short story, and reads almost like fable. It begins:

An old servant woman greeted Matias at the door and led him through a tiled foyer. At the far end was a heavy door, next to which were arranged three austere-looking chairs of soot-black wood. The woman did not seem to want to engage in any kind of interaction with him, so he simply followed her and then stared at the chairs while she disappeared somewhere. Matias deliberated before finally selecting the chair furthest away from the door.

This was first draft. How this grew a novel that’s (currently) 408 pages is amazing to self.

It’s told in a really simple, straightforward voice, too, which is in contrast to the subject: Matias is reporting to the Bishop his sighting of an angel (This scene completely disappeared from the novel in its present state. Maybe she can turn it into a standalone short story.)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: Doreen G. Fernandez

Every year for the last seven years or so, I have written one piece in March or April — the beginning of its traditional season — on the mango, feeling that it is one of the best fruits in the world, and that all of the folklore, songs, sarswelas and recipes do not even begin to do it justice.

— from Fruits of Memory, the Introduction to Fruits of the Philippines, by Doreen G. Fernandez

Personal Bookshelf: Eman Lacaba

He was from my school.

A poet.

Took to the mountains, joined the rebels.

Was shot — “salvaged” is what they called it back then.

The military says they did it in self-defense.

I still remember the whispers: “Did you hear? Eman Lacaba was shot!”

His funeral mass was held in my school.

Legend.

Sentence of the Day: CAMAROTE DE MARINERO

  • If only our pilot had not found the current that led us to the shining archipelago! — p. 15, Camarote de Marinero, self’s (experimental, 16th century, mostly epistolary) novel of the Philippines

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