Reward: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is REWARD.

When one has spent a hard couple of days writing, applying to grants, and commenting on student writing, one needs to reward oneself with . . .

Gelato!

Since self’s favorite gelato place is all the way in Palo Alto, however, self has to be content with walking around the Mendocino business district, which has all kinds of quaint businesses, like this one:

Lansing Street, Mendocino

Lansing Street, Mendocino

Her first week here, self heard a woman calling out: “Wif-Fi! No! Wi-Fi!” Turned out Wi-Fi was the name of her pooch. But at first self thought she was bewailing the state of the wi-fi connections here. Then, self had no complaints.

Now, it’s self’s turn to cry, “Wi-Fi! No Wi-Fi! No!” It took her 10 minutes just to upload one picture.

 

Stay tuned.

Eunoia Review: Last Wednesday of February 2015

By the time we fled our house
and the jackals
we’d become expert thieves,
really wonderful liars.
We smiled and told people how happy we were
while picking their pockets.

– excerpt from “Muscle Memory,” by Len Kuntz

*     *     *     *     *

For special occasions we ate
Glorified Rice,
white rice slathered with whipped cream and pineapple chunks.
Before that was German food,
hamburger baked inside dough,
fried dough and potatoes

– excerpt from “Glorified Rice,” by Len Kuntz

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and the author of the story collection Dark Sunshine (Connotation Press).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Rule of Thirds: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Rule of Thirds.

“The Rule of Thirds is a photography concept that puts the subject of the photograph off-center, which usually results in blank space in the rest of the image.”

Wow! Self loves off-center photographs!

She hasn’t been taking too many pictures lately, so these pictures are from a few weeks ago.

Hopefully, they successfully illustrate the Rule of Thirds.

Port of Richmond: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015

Port of Richmond: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015

The laundry room at the Mendocino Art Center has proven to be a great source of inspiration for self!

Another shot of the laundry room at the Mendocino Art Center: Who knew that a room with such a utilitarian purpose would prove to be such a great source of inspiration!

There's a path that follows the bluffs of the Mendocino Headlands. One morning, self walked there with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and it was just heaven to find this bench.

There’s a path that follows the bluffs of the Mendocino Headlands. One morning, self walked there with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and it was just heaven to find this bench.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Place, Memoir, Journey” Workshop, This Saturday & Sunday

Self’s primary purpose in coming here to Mendocino is to teach a workshop. A travel writing workshop. A workshop on writing about place. About a physical location. Something that exists. And damn self is going to make the students write as hard as they can. Write write write write write write, dear students. The funny thing about travel writing is: you’re writing about place, but you’re also writing about memory. And damn we will mine those memories to the max, dear students! Especially those of you who arrive in Mendocino from far away. From, say, Louisville! So, in order to prepare the students for this wonderful two-day hard writing weekend, self has been immersing herself in manuscripts. She’s looked at Zack Linmark’s Leche, which is tremendously inspiring for voice work. And she’s reading Tony Robles’s about-to-be-published manuscript Cool Don’t Live Here No More, which is amazing for being about a specific place that he loves so much: San Francisco, South of Market (which may be disappearing under the onslaught of construction and high-tech companies moving in)

She’s also reading the absolutely heartbreaking memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave. Deraniyagala lost her entire family in the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. She lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons. And everyone told her: You’re so lucky you survived! Which just goes to show, people are stupid when it comes to pain. They either don’t feel it, or they feel it but they don’t want to feel it so they fight it and end up doing things like telling a woman whose entire life has been wiped out in one day: Thank the Lord you survived!

She’s also reading Thomas Lynch, who’s a poet but also an undertaker and also a memoir writer. She’s reading Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies are Barbed Nations. She wishes she had something by Atul Gawande and Abraham Verghese but after all, she could not bring her whole personal book collection to Mendocino. She’s still reading Roberto Bolaño and on the basis of the individual sentence, he is amazing. She thinks he has one sentence that goes on for two pages (Translator Natasha Wimmer, self salutes you) She will include the first page of her story “Rufino,” because it’s so far the only one of her short stories that mentions Neil Young. And Luisa Igloria’s poem “Oir” from her collection The Saints of Streets. And that’s as far as she’s taken her reading list at the moment. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Masters of Style: A List

Self is teaching a two-day class on travel writing this weekend.

The great thing about teaching is, it makes you ponder your own predilections.

Because unless you yourself are very clear about the kind of writing you favor, you will never, in self’s humble opinion, be able to communicate anything worthwhile to your students.

These are the writers whose books have stayed longest in self’s head and heart. Some have only written one book. Doesn’t matter. The point is, their names have become part of self’s font of inspiration.

Debra Ginsberg * Kyoko Mori * Chang-rae Lee * Annie Ernaux * Tim Parks * Ron Carlson * Alison Moore * Mo Yan * Thomas Lynch * V. S. Naipaul * Gish Jen * Deborah Digges * Paul Theroux * Kathryn Harrison * Jason Elliott * W. G. Sebald * Nina Berberova * Peter Hessler * Michael Herr * Ruth Reichl * Tony Horwitz * Elmore Leonard * Brian Hall * Nicholson Baker

(Aaargh, list is getting long! Perhaps she’ll do a Part 2 later)

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Symmetry 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Symmetry.

So, here are some examples of symmetry (which, for the purposes of this post, will include repetition):

Is this not a very very fine lunch? Yesterday, on the way back to Mendocino.

Is this not a very very fine lunch? Yesterday, on the way back to Mendocino.

The symmetrical hills! This is from Navarro Winery on Route 128.

The symmetrical hills! This is from Navarro Winery on Route 128.

The Navarro Winery's most famous product is its Gewurztraminer.

The Navarro Winery’s most famous product is its Gewurztraminer. Someone told her that.

Sorry for the third picture being a tad repetitious, but believe it or not it was snapped at a different moment, so it has its own unique identity.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Scale 3: Bird, Deck, Sunflower

A baby in a King Cake inspired this week’s WordPress Daily Photo Challenge: SCALE. Self finds the pictures that accompany the prompt so amusing!

Not sure whether self’s own pictures project SCALE exactly. But anyhoo.

Below: the bird is larger than the silhouette of San Francisco

The Seagull: Port of Richmond, 12 February 2015

The Seagull: Port of Richmond, 12 February 2015

Below: a deck jutting into the bay dwarfs the buildings across the bay.

Port of Richmond: Wednesday (Feb. 11, 2015)

Port of Richmond: Wednesday (Feb. 11, 2015)

And finally, this is a bit of a visual joke: the sunflower is easily the largest plant in the garden in front of the Mendocino Art Center.

Giant Sunflower (made out of metal): Mendocino Art Center

Giant Sunflower (made out of metal): Mendocino Art Center

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

2666: “Dream-Like, Epic, Worldly” Says a Reader on Amazon

p. 11 of 2666 by Roberto Bolaño:  “The three met again at a German-language literature colloquium . . . ”

Self is feeling restless. At first she wasn’t sure if she’d wandered into the right novel. Why oh why are we following a bunch of academics as they attend one conference after another and expound on their love of the artist Archimboldi?

Hurry up! She doesn’t have all day!

At first she was rather intrigued by the fact that post-humously famous Bolaño chose to open a 900-page novel with a minute dissection of academics who keep bumping into each other at conferences. Way to go, Bolaño! Self found the tone sly, rather dryly humorous.

But after 11 pages, the novel’s action hasn’t moved forward an inch. We are still in the same milieu: the academic conference (handled very well, but still. There is a reason people refer to universities as ivory towers) And there are 890 more pages to go.

The next book on her reading list is Denis Johnson’s Read the rest of this entry »

Scale: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self finds this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge — SCALE — very interesting.

She thinks the theme has a lot to do with surprise and contrast. She finds the photograph accompanying the prompt (by Michelle W.) very amusing.

The instructions are to “share a photograph that highlights a size relationship.”

Here are her takes on the theme:

A miniature lamp enlarged self’s childhood imagination (and probably went a long way in determining what she would eventually become: a writer)

Self has had this lamp since she was three or four: a present from her parents. She has it with her in Mendocino, a little talisman. Also, an indication of what work she hoped to do here: an exploration of myth and legends and first life.

Self has had this lamp since she was three or four: a present from her parents. She has it with her in Mendocino, a little talisman. Also, an indication of what work she hopes to do here: an exploration of myth and legends and first life.

Her second trip to Elk was when she finally got to appreciate the view (On her first trip, she was too nervous trying to get out of the way of trucks, buses, etc that all seemed to be crawling up her bumper). Self took this photo from Cottage # 3 behind The Griffin House Inn. A view isn’t a view without something to lend it a sense of scale, and here self used the deck.

Elk, California: View from the Back of The Griffin House Inn

Elk, California: View from the Back of The Griffin House Inn

En route to Chicago, last fall

En route to Chicago, last fall

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What Is Myth?

According to Maria Tatar in her Preface to The Annotated Brothers Grimm (Once again dear blog readers may very well wonder why self is still on the Preface, when she started it weeks and weeks ago — in fact, when she first arrived in Mendocino), “. . . myths are especially valuable to those investigating the origins of a culture.”

Here’s what Wilhelm Grimm (1/2 of the Brothers Grimm) has to say on the subject:

The mythic element consists of small pieces from a shattered jewel which lie on ground that is overgrown by grass and flowers, only to be found by the most discerning eye.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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