Past Squares 16: Looking Back to January 2021

Where did the year go?

Self distinctly remembers it being January.

But what happened? How did February, March, April, May, June, July, August and September slip by so fast?

Inspired by Becky’s posting of a clock tower, self went to her 2021 calendar (featuring 12 of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s most iconic work), and decided to share the image for January.

On the Laying Out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries

1843: “The first — and apparently still the only — treatise on the subject, On the Laying Out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries and the Improvement of Churchyards” was published, by a man named John Claudius Loudon.

Cemeteries of London:

  • Kensal Green
  • Highgate
  • Norwood
  • Tower Hamlets

Kensal Green today: “at twilight on a winter’s evening, deserted except for the old jogger, it is still a place of peace and, nowadays, a refuge for wildlife, migrating birds, squirrels, hedgehogs, and even a weasel.” (p. 44)

Past Squares 13: Philippine History

Self is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines. Her Dear Departed Dad’s province was an island in the central Philippines called Negros (yes, really, the Spanish named the island after its inhabitants, who were dark-skinned)

For today’s Past Squares post (many, many thanks to Becky at Life of B for hosting the Squares Challenge), here are two books on Philippine History that she’s found invaluable while doing research for her current project, a novel about a 16th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines to fight demons:

Past Squares 10: Things Lost, Never Found

Today’s post for Past Squares (Thank you once again, Becky at Life of B, for hosting the Squares Challenge) is:


Shades; Red Hat

She bought both in Paris. They had great sentimental value. WAAAAH!

Past Squares 7: A Look Back at This Kickass Reading Year (2021)

This is also today’s post for Life of B’s Past Squares!

Past Squares 4: When Museums Re-Opened

For today’s Past Squares challenge, she’s posting a couple of photos from two big exhibits she saw this year: the Frida Kahlo and Judy Chicago exhibits, both in the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Self had tickets to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit last year, but the week she was supposed to go, the whole city abruptly went into pandemic lockdown mode and stayed locked down into 2021. As soon as the de Young re-opened to the public, just this past spring, self rushed over. YAY!

The Frida Kahlo exhibit was followed by the Judy Chicago retrospective (which is still on; everyone within driving distance should go: it is FANTASTIC!)

A Photo a Week Challenge: VANISHING POINT

What a great theme for this week’s Photo a Week Challenge: Vanishing Point! Thank you to host Nancy Merrill!

Self loves looking back at her travel photos, and looking for Vanishing Points was fun.

The last time she was in Ireland and England was Fall 2019. She happened to arrive in Dublin on the day of the Dublin Marathon. The route was right in front of her B & B, so she was able to catch a few stragglers:

Dublin Marathon, October 2019

She visited IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and walked from there to Dublin Castle, through a gorgeous tree-lined avenue.

Walking from IMMA to Dublin Castle, October 2019

From Dublin she flew to Manchester to stay with an old classmate from the Philippines. She introduced self to Liverpool!

Museum of Liverpool, Albert Dock, November 2019

People We Meet on Vacation, p. 317

Yes, compared to self’s reading pace on The Slaughterman’s Daughter, she is practically on fire reading this, because dammit how long does it take to get to HEA? 350 pages? Are you kidding? Her jaw is dropping from disbelief.

Don’t get her wrong, the writing is engaging, but when you’re anxious to finish so you can get started on Paul Auster, and the two main characters have been PDA’ing all over the place, to have the narrator stop dead and ask these questions IS MORE THAN A LITTLE RIDICULOUS:

  • Do I want to have kids?
  • Do I want to live in a seventies quad-level in Linfield, Ohio?
  • Do I want any of the things that Alex craves for his life?

Especially when you know, and the narrator knows, and even the narrator’s love interest knows, that the answer to all three questions is Yes Yes Yes. But, damn, there are still 60 pages to go? Because we have to know exactly what went down two years ago that had these two not speaking for two years? Is Emily Henry really going to tease us for 60 more pages about that blessed event? Can these two people really be about to fight AGAIN? Can one person be saying (only for the nth time) “No, I have to go” and and can the other person really be staring dumfounded (also for the nth time)? Will the next 60 pages be about how they get back to “I love you” when they’ve ALREADY said it. How, how, can love interest be telling narrator, “You need to figure things out. Don’t talk to me” and can she really be breaking down in tears (for the nth time)

Is this book going to get three or two stars? That would all depend on whether the Blessed Event that has been teased since page 1 is indeed worth reading 350 pages to get to. Self has a sneaking suspicion that the author had, at one time in her life, a super-duper time in Croatia and wrote this book just so she could unleash 50 pages at the end about how fabulous Croatia is.

So here we are again, last 50 pages. Here we go, yet another trip, yet another hotel, all the usual funny details (ha ha). The narrator and love interest are fighting (only for the nth time).


What happened two years ago was: they both realized they were in love with each other. Oh.

Self really wants to know how that led to NOT SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER FOR TWO YEARS.

So this is what happens (you’ll note self put SPOILER ALERT above):

They kiss, and the love interest says, “We can’t do this.” (right after a passionate kiss). The narrator scoots away from him, so embarrassed.

The love interest looks miserable and says “I just mean . . . “

And the narrator says, “I get it.”


UGH. AWFUL. These are two of the biggest blockheads in America. Funny, you would think Americans would be a lot more sophisticated. Then again, they’re from Linfield, Ohio. This keeps being brought up, throughout the novel. As if Linfield, Ohio were an awful penance.

Self cannot believe she’s on p. 328 and it is happening all over again. She checks to see how many pages are left. 30 pages. So they have to not talk for 29 pages, most likely. Narrator thinks of love interest, thinks of their kiss, blah blah blah. Do they just walk away from each other, blah blah blah. She should have thought it through blah blah blah (for the nth time)

So here we go, only 15 pages from the end. Narrator goes into a bar, sees the love interest. And SHE WANTS TO BOLT.

And then the love interest looks up and sees her. And they stare at each other without speaking, FOR TWO WHOLE PAGES. Narrator has the GALL to think: My heart is splitting in two places (You should see the inside of self’s head. That’s ALREADY split in two places. No, three). And then she is RUNNING OUT OF THE BAR (Figures, there’s eight more pages, after all. Oh, WAIT. There’s an EPILOGUE. Which seems to be de rigeur ever since The Hunger Games)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Life in Colour Challenge: September 2021

It is almost the end of September! What happened?

The Life in Colour Photo Challenge for this month is GOLD. Jude’s blog has so many striking photographs, wow.

A few days ago, the Anderson Collection on the Stanford Campus finally re-opened to the public (limited capacity: must register on-line first). I focused on pieces that had shades of GOLD:

“Approach” : Helen Frankenthaler, American (1928 – 2011)

“Burn and Glitter” : Jules Olitski, American, born Russia (1922-2007)

“Hostile Terrain 94” : a participatory art exhibition created by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP)

Quotes of the Day: The Winter’s Tale

“Go rot! Dost thou think I am so muddy?” — Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Self grew to love Shakespeare only in middle age, and that was entirely because of Cal Shakes, which is in self’s humble opinion the Bay Area’s best theater company. Of course, it didn’t hurt that her first Cal Shakes play was Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo was played by ADAM SCOTT.

Since then, Cal Shakes has become firmly fixed as a rite of summer. Last year they were forced to cancel their entire season and lay off two-thirds of their full-time staff. This year, they came back with one play, The Winter’s Tale.

As soon as it was announced, self e-mailed son. She couldn’t believe it when he said right off that he would pass. Pass? How could he? He practically grew up with Cal Shakes! She used to bring carloads of his friends here! Of course, they’re all married now, but still!

She ended up seeing it with a friend, while it was still in previews. Before seeing it Sept. 12, self had never read the play, didn’t know anything about the play, would probably have gone through the rest of her life not giving a hoot about the play. Then, she saw it. Ummm. She sat stupefieadd and amazed for three hours. How stupefied and amazed? Exactly one week later she was back, by herself. By then, she’d already begun reading a hefty novel called The Slaughterman’s Daughter. She lugged it along, and remained in her seat through intermission, reading.

What’s really good about seeing a play alone is: you can eavesdrop. The person to her left (separated by two seats) was a woman perhaps a decade older than self, who’d come alone, and was wearing the cutest gold sandals. To her right was a family with teen-age girls, who were at Bruns for the first time, probably just to see what all the fuss was all about.

The parents were sitting immediately to self’s right, the daughters several rows behind. At intermission, the mother went to check on the girls. When she came back, the girls were trailing her. The mother told her husband:

“You know what, I just realized everyone thinks the King is an idiot.”

Daughter: “That’s cause he IS.”


Self could remember so many more lines, after watching The Winter’s Tale a second time:

“Good Queen, my Lord. GOOD Queen.”

“Gross hag!”

“Oh! She is warm!”

But her favorite line is the last: Hermione tells a repentant Leontes, “Let’s from this place.” And with that, the play ends. If anyone had told self a week ago that she would end up shipping Hermione/Leontes, she would have said, Get out!

This adaptation of The Winter’s Tale was by Cal Shakes Director Eric Ting and Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly. Kudos.

Her love for Cal Shakes is undiminished.

Stay tuned.

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