Door 2: Annaghmakerrig, Ireland & Cambridge, England

Here are a couple more significant doors! (She’d better stop doing these Photo Challenges, at least while she’s in Ireland. Took much time to find that last one. She had to scour her archives for about an hour!)

The first two are from today, in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland. The last is from May 2014, when she visited her friend Dodo in Cambridge, England.

Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Entrance to One of the Artist Studios, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Entrance to One of the Artist Studios, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Last, a picture self took in Cambridge in May 2014, when she was visiting her friend Dodo:

Cambridge, England (During a Visit Last Year, May 2014)

Cambridge, England (During a Visit Last Year, May 2014)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Muse 4: Swans! At the Lake in Annaghmakerrig!

Today, after a hard day of writing, self walked down to the lake:

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

And saw her first swans! (Actually, that’s not quite right. She was down at the lake yesterday evening, and saw swans then, too)

Self will share with dear blog readers that it was because of the swans she saw in Ireland that she wrote a story called “The Ark.” And, earlier this year, it was published by Local Nomad. Which, self just wants to say, is a really beautiful on-line journal. And it is all done by one woman: Jean Vengua.

Her story begins thus:

There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time. The hull began to groan with the weight, intensifying his anxiety.

Two Swans!

Two Swans!

And here are swans, diving for food:

DSCN0430

And now, back to the writing desk!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Muse 2: Tryone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is MUSE.

This is self’s second time at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. She came back because she did so much good work when she was here last year, in May.

This year, she has a novel to finish. It’s very slow going, but she’s lucky she can get to work on it here.

Last night, self decided to take a walk. The sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. or thereabouts, which is quite a thrill: more daylight hours, yes!!!

Last year, she remembers there was a little flock of swans that used to hang out by the lake. But she hasn’t seen one, not one, since she got here. Perhaps it’s the season.

No More Swans

No More Swans

Anyhoo, self loves being underneath the giant trees. You don’t understand green — all the varying shades of it — until you’ve been to Ireland.

Trees, Summer Evening

Trees, Summer Evening

And there are woods out here, so many woods. So far, she’s had very little time to explore. Hopefully, later, she will.

The woods last night. Such spindly tree trunks! Nothing at all like the woods up by Mendocino.

The woods last night. Such spindly tree trunks! Nothing at all like the woods up by Mendocino.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ROY G. BIV 2: London & Annaghmakerrig & Banff (And The Year Is Only Half Over!)

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is really interesting.

Self had no idea what ROY G. BIV stood for, but now she does. Each letter stands for a color: Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.

The Daily Post prompt says:

You can attack this challenge in one of two ways: share an image that contains all the colors of the rainbow (or an actual rainbow . . . or share a multi-photo gallery, one image for each color.

Today, self is going for the multi-photo gallery. First, the color BLUE (She should have begun with RED, her apologies!)

This is Blackfriars Bridge in London. The sky was amazingly blue that day.

Blackfriars Bridge, London. Self particularly wanted to see Blackfriars because it plays such a prominent role in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. The sky was amazingly blue that day.

Next, the color ORANGE:

It was Wednesday. Self's friend Joan McGavin invited self to come along and participate in a demonstration near Lambeth Bridge, asking the government for greater measures to address climate change.

It was Wednesday. Self’s friend Joan McGavin invited self to come along and participate in a demonstration near Lambeth Bridge, asking the government for greater measures to address climate change.

Next, the color YELLOW:

This teapot is yellow (duh). It's in her cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.

This teapot is yellow (duh). It’s in her cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.

The next color is GREEN:

This beautiful etched glass panel is in the Church of St. Bride's, near Fleet Street (Also known as the Church of Journalists).

This beautiful etched glass panel is in the Church of St. Bride’s, near Fleet Street (Also known as the Church of Journalists).

Next, the color RED:

An Armchair in Self's Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

An Armchair in Self’s Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

Next, the color INDIGO:

Twilight, London: Somewhere Off Great Russell Street, Near the British Museum

Twilight, London: Somewhere Off Great Russell Street, Near the British Museum

Finally, VIOLET:

The Books Self Checked Out of the Library in Banff

The Books Self Checked Out of the Library in Banff

It took self FOREVER to decide on the last photo. She had no idea how little violet there was in the world. Honestly. This entire post probably took her an hour, and finding the last picture probably took her 15 minutes. And now, the book spines don’t really look violet!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Richard J. Evans’s THE THIRD REICH AT WAR: History Repeating Itself (Forevermore)

Part 2 (“The Fortunes of War”), Chapter 1, Section IV:  The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans

French intelligence altogether failed to predict how the German invasion would take place. Some preparations were noticed, but nobody put all the information together into a coherent picture, and the generals still assumed that the now obsolete captured plans were the operative ones.

As for German tactical advantages at the time of the German invasion of Belgium and France:

Altogether, 93 French and and 10 British divisions faced a total of 93 German divisions. The French had 647 fighters, 242 bombers and 60 reconnaisance planes, making a total of nearly 2,000 combat aircraft altogether; the German air force had around 3,578 combat planes operational at this time, but when the Belgian and Dutch air forces were thrown into the balance this was not enough in itself to overwhelm its opponents.

Finally:

Since the stalemate of French warfare in 1914-1918, the arrival of air power and tanks had shifted the advantage in warfare from defence to attack, a development which few on the Allied side had followed to its logical conclusion.

Here’s a link to a review of Evans’s newest book, a collection of essays on the Third Reich.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Women in Heels

Self is short.

Short. Short. Short. Short.

Granted, short is not a disease.

Nevertheless.

On the question of heels. Last week, went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, lined up to pay 12 GBP to see exhibit on footwear called, if self remembers correctly: Shoes:  Pleasure & Pain.

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The torture aspect was, in self’s humble opinion, very de-emphasized. Self has seen more torturous shoes (including one fabulous pair with moss growing on the heels) in Greenwich Village in New York City.

And now to “Jurassic World,” which self has not seen, but which seems to have triggered some very strong audience reaction to Bryce Dallas Howard’s choice of footwear. It seems she keeps the heels on, throughout the movie.

Now, let self ponder this a moment.

Self has seen, in Italy, women running flat out for a bus in the highest, stiletto-heeled shoes imaginable. They look great. Also, super-powerful.

She has watched episodes of “Sex and the City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker, post-baby, runs flat out down a New York avenue in Jimmy Choos.

Let’s not forget Jodie Foster in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, the one where she plays an oh-so-smooth New York lawyer representing the Rich Bad Guy who profited from the theft of Jewish assets during World War II. Self thinks that if she had a lawyer who wore four-inch heels as confidently as Jodie Foster’s character does (and Jodie’s legs are the best legs self has seen on film since — since — the woman in Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill), she would rest easy in the conviction that she would win all her cases.

On the other hand, there is always an exception to the rule. Exhibit A: Paula Patton, who in the most memorable scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (one of the sequels, the one shot in Dubai), kicks off her heels, leaves on the powder-blue shift dress, and FIGHTS. Really FIGHTS. Afterwards, she sits chatting with her group, all men. She remains barefoot, but still wearing that fabulous dress. The only indication that she’s been IN a fight (because, ya know, she’s as cool as a cucumber. Or at least her character is. She has antagonists like Lea Seydoux for breakfast. Honestly) are her bare feet.

And now we arrive at Bryce Dallas Howard, who in side-note self must say is one of the most unusually interesting-looking actresses working today.  Because her character, Clare, never takes off her shoes, we are left to debate the fine points of female fashion choices. Self means: Is it rational to keep on the heels when one is being chased by a velociraptor?

Self can think of many reasons why Clare would choose to keep wearing her shoes: (1) Jungle floors are slimy; (2) She does not have hiking boots in her closet, or even in her desk drawer at work, or even under her desk in her office at work.

A guest post by Lesley Holmes on clothesonfilm makes the point: “I think the makers of Jurassic world believed that showing a woman capable of running in heels was the same as showing us a capable woman . . . ” Of course! This is a very old Hollywood trope, just about as old as the idea of the director auteur (born with Citizen Kane, which means — a long long time ago). If you want to know how powerful a woman character is, just look at what she’s wearing on her feet, for God’s sake!

Self would just like to say that while she was in line in the women’s restroom at the Gielgud Theatre, during the intermission for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, self engaged a young woman in conversation, and then expressed admiration for her shoes. They looked just like the Sam Edelmans self bought last year in California, but this woman’s shoes were flats. The young woman looked at self regretfully and said, “They’re super-painful. See?” She slipped her right foot out of her shoe and there, plain as day, was the beginning of a blister. Aaargh! The things self sees in women’s restrooms! Which is neither here nor there. But it brought home the lesson that flats are just as capable of giving a woman blisters as are Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.

Self realizes that she herself has very little to say about the wearing of high heels, but in Hollywood, the woman who wears the highest heels is usually the most powerful woman on the block. She’s just saying.

Stay tuned.

Randomness: Saturday, 20 June 2015

Today the weather is all mixed up. Self felt cool-ish this morning so she put on a turtleneck sweater.

Sometime in the afternoon, it began to shower. Only briefly. Only the merest whisper of moisture.

Now, it is hot. So hot it is really punishing to keep the sweater on. But since she’s been traveling so diligently, most of her clothes are in need of washing. And she brought very little with her (because she knew she’d be hitting buses and trains and hauling her own luggage all over the UK). And she is also feeling somewhat lethargic. And it is too much bother to change into something else.

It occurs to self that a number of distinct words describing negative emotional states begin with the letter “D.” Such as:

distracted * distraught * distressed

It occurs also to self that it is hard to write without using the letter “E.”

She just tried doing a challenge on Jennifer’s Journal. Here it is, for those who care to try.

And it occurs to self that Word Riot, several years ago, published a piece by her that was a Dictionary of sorts:

It began thus:

A

Ask. Ask and thou shalt receive.

Assumpta est Maria, you sang every week in the auditorium.

Angels. Angelus. Angelic.

Admit, admit this was all your fault.

Against. Must you always — ?

And on it went, all the way through the alphabet, self pulling random objects from thin air.

And she did it. She got all the way to the letter “Z.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Monday: Dionne Brand

One of the dearest people self met at the Banff Writing Studio was Canadian poet Dionne Brand. For not only was she brilliant, she would go out of her way to talk to self about her WIP, the one that got her accepted to the program. Dionne is one classy, classy lady.

Dionne is up for a Trillium Award this week. Naturally, self hopes she wins.

Here’s an excerpt from her poetry collection, Thirsty:

XI

i

you can’t satisfy people; we long for everything,
but sleep, sleep is the gift of the city
the breath of others, their mewling, their disorder,
I could hear languages in the lush smog,
runes to mercy and failure and something tender
a fragile light, no, not light, yes light,
something you can put your hand in, relinquishing

Today, self is off to Saint Bride’s, which Cassandra Clare used as the setting for the London Institute of the Shadowhunters in her trilogy The Infernal Devices. A copy of Clockwork Prince has been in self’s tote since she arrived in London. She researched how to get to St. Bride’s on the Underground, and found that the closest stop would be Blackfriars.

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER FOR THE INFERNAL DEVICES

Be still, self’s beating heart! Blackfriars Bridge was where Jem Carstairs and Tessa Gray met each year for one hour, a ritual they fainthfully maintained for the next (500+?) years.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Second (Or Third) Re-Read of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

Self had quite a busy Sunday.

She went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then she walked around, taking lots of pictures.

She finally, finally did a little work on her WIP, A Myriad Wildernesses.

She spoke to Joan McGavin.

She heard from Zack.

She began re-reading Clockwork Princess.

(Dear blog readers sigh)

She loves, loves, loves the angst.

Clockwork Princess opens with Tessa Gray in a gold wedding dress.

And Cicely Herondale trying to goad her brother, Will, into writing a letter to their parents, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in five years.

Cecily:  Would you consider a wager, Will?

Cecily was both pleased and a little disappointed to see Will’s eyes spark, just the way her father’s always did when a gentleman’s bet was suggested. Men were so easy to predict.

Self likes Cecily! Got a lot of spunk, that girl does. Sort of reminds her of Arya Stark.

Let’s see, what else did self do today? She got herself a ticket to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is showing at the Gielgud. She hopes it’s as good as the Broadway production, which just won a bunch of Tonys, including one for Alex Sharp, who plays the male lead. Well, it should be just as good, since the play originated here, in London.

On Wednesday, self is seeing King John at the Globe (Hurrah!) Self loves the Globe. And this time, she won’t be alone: Joan will be watching it with her.

Self’s first time to experience the wonder of the Globe was last year; she caught a production of Titus Andronicus (which was properly billed as “theatre without mercy”). It was brutal, it was shades of Quentin Tarantino, it had people walking out before half-time. Self nearly barfed at the chopping-off of hands scene.

While walking around today, self saw a huge sign plastering a building: Fifty Shades of Grey, now out on video. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. London is like some futuristic, anachronistic, fantastical Victorian Steampunk city.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Off-Season 2: Dandelions at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Self loves London. Absolutely loves, loves, loves. If she were to spend her last farthing, she’d want to do it in this city.

It’s not the most beautiful (although there’s plenty of beauty around). It’s not even the most affable. It rains a lot. But it has a hold on her heart (all the more so now because — hello, Victorian Steampunk! The London Institute of the Clave! Shadowhunters! The Infernal Devices! Will Herondale!)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is OFF-SEASON.

OFF-SEASON as in: Umbrellas in winter? Balaclavas in July?

The Hunger Games has been very much on self’s mind.

Why? Because yesterday, in Cambridge, friend Dodo told self that another former classmate had visited Cambridge, and she and Dodo had gone to the Harry Potter museum just outside London.

And self wondered when that much-ballyhooed Hunger Games theme park was ever going to open?

Anyhoo, today self went across London to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was crowded, of course, but not off-putting.

Self decided to go see the WHAT IS LUXURY exhibit.

The exhibit includes a fabulous artwork made out of real dandelion seeds, embedded with LED lights to make a chandelier.

Self associates dandelions with The Hunger Games because of Peeta Mellark (one of her all-time favorite literary characters). Katniss, for those who are completely out of the zeitgeist, ends up with Peeta in the end because he is her “dandelion in the spring.”

And, hello, it is summer. Or, anyway, past the season for dandelions.

So here’s a shot of a fabulous chandelier at the Victoria and Albert:

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into “clocks” and then were individually applied to LED lights to make this chandelier.

In keeping with the rather soggy weather, here’s the London Eye ferris wheel. Ferris wheels symbolize summer (at least they do for self), but because of London’s grey skies, the symbolism today (Self took this picture while meandering across the Waterloo Bridge) felt rather muted. So, here’s a most somber-looking ferris wheel:

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

Anyhoo, yesterday in Cambridge, it was rainy. Dodo took self on a punt ride on the river Cam. It was so wet that we had to bring umbrellas and hide under blankets. Self even had to buy a raincoat for the occasion. Here’s a shot of the inside of our punt. A great time was had by all:

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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