WIT’S END: A Novel About a Novelist and Her At-Loose-Ends Niece

Self is on pp. 172 – 173 of Karen Joy Fowler’s Wit’s End.

She has been enjoying it, not least because the characters are Democrats (They wear their political affiliations on their sleeve. But of course they do: they live in Santa Cruz, CA).

A character owns a pair of dogs named Stanford and Berkeley. Self almost dropped the book because of that but she’s so glad she didn’t.

Anyhoo, the book makes her all sorts of nostalgic for Santa Cruz, CA. For its wooden roller coaster and its Boardwalk and its blue and pink cotton candy and the Ripley Believe It Or Not hall of funhouse mirrors.

Sample dinner conversation between a famous mystery writer and her niece, Rima:

“I remember once when you were about four years old. We went out to eat and you told the waitress you wanted a petite filet mignon. She just about dropped her pencil.”

“I was always saying something cute after you left. Hardly a day went by.”

“This puts the Democrats in very good shape for 2008.”

“There’s even corn in the toothpaste now. Did I mention that?”

Something wet landed on Rima’s ankle. Stanford was drooling; it brought her back to the moment.

Regarding that petite filet mignon: when self still lived in Manila, Dearest Mum’s youngest brother married a nineteen-year-old. The first time self met the prospective bride was at dinner in San Mig Pub in Greenbelt Park. And the teen-ager ordered — steak tartare. Dearest Mum was so impressed she couldn’t stop talking about it.

Until that moment, self had never laid eyes on a steak tartare. And she’s never had a yen to order it, either. That means self will probably end her days without ever tasting this singular delight, boo.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Sweet Affair, in the Depot Building, Fort Bragg

The first three months of this year, self spent in Mendocino and Fort Bragg.

Below, a window display in the Fort Bragg bakery A Sweet Affair, in the Depot Building. Their cakes and pastries are exquisite, real works of art. Plus, not to mention, yummmy!

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Self wishes she were there. Right now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Karen Joy Fowler: WIT’S END

This novel was published seven years ago, but it’s about a 2006 mid-term election.

That shows you how long self hangs on to reviews of books she’s adding to her reading list. She will go to a bookstore, armed with her file of New York Times Book Review clippings, she will first search the shelves and then end up asking for help from a bookstore staff person, and that person will look at self’s clipping, then his/her eyes will wander down to the date at the bottom of the page, and they will say (which has happened on at least three separate occasions), in a very offended tone: “Ma’am, this review is dated 2010.” Subtext: Are you freaking nuts?

The last novel she inquired about was Sara Gruen’s Ape House.

What can she say? She’s been living la vida loca for a very, very long time. So long that hyperactivity seems to be the norm.

In an incredible stroke of luck, self is reading Fowler’s Wit’s End the week after the elections. It would seem that, in 2009, there was the same kind of zeitgeist roiling around northern California. Because while reading Wit’s End, it could be 2016. She doesn’t even have to change a single word in a few passages, it reads like 2016:

  • Well, Ohio hadn’t delivered the complete Democratic rout that had been predicted.

A few pages later:

  • “How about that election,” the sushi chef said.

It’s been really hot in San Francisco (Ha, ha, ha — she’ll never complain about San Francisco coolness again! It’s sweltering hot. Like Global Warming with a capital G. W.) Self went to the Ferry Building to cool off. And overheard a woman say: “I’m still traumatized over those election results.”

And then, a few steps further, a vendor was calling out “Sea Salt! Sea Salt!” He beckoned to a young couple passing by and said: “Young lovers, this might be your last shot at happiness! Have a taste!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SHINE: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 21 October 2016

  • Has something bright or reflective caught your eye in the moment? Share a photo of something you were able to explore a bit!

— Nancy Thanki, The Daily Post

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Behind San Francisco’s Ferry Building, A Few Days Ago

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Bush Street, San Francisco, After Light Rain

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In Situ, Ground Floor, San Francisco MOMA

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay

Local 3: Favorites, San Francisco Bay Area

” . . . who is local — the people and places we know by heart.”

— Jen H., The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 13 October 2016

The people and places we return to, again and again, cannot be dislodged from the heart!

Below, three of self’s favorite local places:

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Señor Sisig: A Filipino Fusion Food Truck. Today’s sighting was in the Financial District.

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Patrons at the Legion of Honor, Looking at a Vintage Poster of Sutro Baths

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Half Moon Bay, CA

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

LOCAL: 14 October 2016 Daily Post Photo Challenge

. . . show us where your heart is.

— Jen H., The Daily Post

Dragon Papa!

Order your own hot (delicious) candy fillings.

752 Grant Street, Chinatown, San Francisco

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Lillian’s son Tien is filling out college applications. To help him through the stress, self took him to Dragon Papa.

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They make the candy, hot and fresh, just for you!

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Only place in the San Francisco Bay Area where you can get your candy fresh! The original Dragon Papa is in Hong Kong.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Nostalgia of Others

Of course, nostalgia is something that affects everyone differently. We’d love to know what kinds of experiences you’ve had that stir these emotions for the past in you.

— Jeff Golenski, The Daily Post

Here are some WordPress blogs whose takes on this week’s photo challenge, NOSTALGIA, intrigued self:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Pleasures of Sourness

Does our taste for asim come from our sour green landscape? From the proliferation of sour-towards-sweet tastes in our fruits and vegetables? Certainly we Filipinos have a tongue, a taste, a temper for sour notes, which is one of our chief flavor principles. We not only sour our soups (sinigang) and cook sundry dishes in vinegar (paksiw, adobo); we also use vinegars (nipa, coconut) and citrus (calamansi, dayap) as dips and marinades.

—  Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot, by Doreen Fernandez

P.S. Señor Sigig, a Filipino food truck, was just featured on Bay Area food program Check, Please! Owner says everything is marinated for at least 48 hours. But the lines!

It’s Filipino/Mexican — there are burritos and nachos. Open every day for lunch and dinner. Average price of a meal: $12.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Appetites” (The Café Irreal, Issue 31)

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Bakery, Kanlaon City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

  • When she was a toddler, cook cut everything into tiny morsels so that the girl’s mouth would not stretch and become wide and ugly. The girl ate only the sweetest pastries, only the smallest and most tender eggplants. Cook herself grew these in a corner of the garden, which every summer sprouted with little trees with purple-tinged leaves.

— “Appetites,” published in The Café Irreal, Issue 31

Quote of the Day: BRAZILLIONAIRES

Anyone with a little bit of money can buy a Louis Vuitton handbag, of which thousands are manufactured each year. Very few people can buy the new Jeff Koons, even if they do have the tens of millions of dollars required.

Brazillionaires, p. 29

Self’s question is: Why would anyone want to buy a Jeff Koons? A Koons was in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence when self was there with her niece, Irene, last November. It was placed right next to a Michelangelo and it was ugly. Hope it was only a temporary installation.

(Side note: In Florence, on the road to the Santa Maria del Fiori, you will pass a McDonald’s. Which was always packed. Self just could not understand it. When all around were great, really great local restaurants. It must be the convenience.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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