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.

Moments, Florence

Self is still looking for pictures to accord with the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week, RARE.

Back in November 2015, she got a surprise invitation from her niece Irene to go on a trip to Florence.

But of course! Self has decided that she will never say NO when it comes to travel. And she’d never been to Florence.  All the pictures below are from that trip.

First, a picture taken in the Piazza Signoria. Self had spent the day at the Palazzo Vecchio, her niece had gone to the Uffizi. We met up at the square to have dinner. Self took the picture from one of the sidewalk cafés:


Piazza Signoria, Florence’s Iconic Square: November 2015

On our first morning in Florence, self and Irene were wending our way from our hotel to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore when we passed a library. And though the library was not in any of our guidebooks, self never passed a library she didn’t wish to explore.

So here’s what was inside:


Self’s ever-curious soul led her to this library, on a street close to the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.

It turned out to be a library made up entirely of opera librettos. And self thought that was the most fabulous thing.


The most rare and fabulous thing.

Stay tuned.

Narrow 2: Memories of Tuscany

When I think of a beautiful landscape, the image that usually comes to mind involves an open expanse: a mountain range, a windy meadow, the beach on a sunny (or stormy) afternoon. Every so often, though, I’m reminded of the magic of narrowness: how it forces the eye to focus on details and textures that would’ve been lost in a wide-open panorama.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Self accompanied her niece Irene on a short trip to Florence last November. Just eight days. Amazing how much you can see in eight days, especially when you’re traveling with someone as organized as Irene.

Irene found a one-day tour of Tuscan hill towns. San Gimignano, Pisa, Siena — self can’t remember the names of all the towns included in the tour.

It was great fun sorting through her picures from the trip, looking for the ones that matched this week’s photo challenge:  NARROW




MORE CHERRY ON TOP (Meaning: Hats)

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is about:

The cherry on top.

The icing on the cake

“a desirable feature perceived as the finishing touch to something that is already very good.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Here are three “cherry on top” pictures.

  •  Karina (The cherry on top is that she is so sweet. And likes wearing baseball caps. She lives in Calgary)

Karina is self’s guide to all things YA. Her latest book recommendation: Sarah J. Maas’s THRONE OF GLASS (Exciting read!)

  • The Calgary Stampede is fabulous. The “cherry on top” is that everywhere you look, you see people wearing cowboy hats:

Don’t ask self what “Beaver Balls” are. She has no idea.

Self took this picture during the Annual Redwood City Fourth of July Parade. Look at the man’s fantastic sombrero! Definitely the “cherry on top.”


2016 Annual Redwood City Fourth of July Parade

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Breathe, Self, Breathe!

Here she is, in Calgary, and she doesn’t know what she should read next: Her niece Karina’s next book recommendation (She tore through Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, like white on rice!), Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (The title is pure nonsense; the book is much much better than that. There is NO girl waiting with a gun. Don’t hold your breath), or The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Of course, she is also drinking in Everlark fan fiction like crazy. A lot of stories that languished for months and months (even, years) finally updated in the last week: it’s been a veritable bonanza of good Everlark! (Take your pick: Pride and Prejudice Everlark; ballet world Everlark; Great Expectations Everlark; or vlogging Everlark)

Today, self went to Market Mall with her niece and of course we stopped by Sephora. And there was a brand self had never seen before: Tarte. And when her niece found out self’s current mascara was over three years old, her niece told her, in no uncertain terms: Throw it out, Tita. Honestly, you should be replacing your mascara every six months. (Oh. So that’s why self’s eyes were itching like crazy yesterday)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Jack the Ripper Meets THRONE OF GLASS

It’s like Ten Little Indians, Survivor, and The Hunger Games, with a fantasy setting.

Self likes!

In Throne of Glass, by Sara J. Maas, someone is knocking off, one by one, the 24 champions who have gathered together in Adarlan’s palace for a great tournament.

Is it one of the other champions, getting a head start on eliminating the competition?

Is it our plucky heroine, the Assassin rescued from the salt mines of Endovier at the very beginning of the book?

Is it some supernatural force that has found its way through a time portal?

Is it the salacious and loathsome Duke Perrington?

Is it one of the four stone gargoyles that guard the clock tower?


The Assassin, whose name is Celaena, who is blond and beautiful, plucky like Katniss, and sort of despairing as well as depressed — though what she has to be depressed about self simply cannot imagine. Unless it’s the fact that she has to be an assassin! — is taken to the scene of the latest murder.

Celaena: Those are clean cuts around his ankles. His tendons were snapped by a knife, to keep him from running . . .  Look at his fingernails . . .  The tips are cracked and shattered.”

She used her own nail to scrape out the dirt beneath the victim’s nails, and smeared it across her palm. “See?” She held out her hand for Chaol to observe. “Dust and bits of stone.” She pulled aside the arm, revealing faint lines in the stone beneath. “Fingernail marks. He was desperate to get away . . . “

As, who can blame the victim? Self, too, would be desperate to get away, if she knew something was trying to kill her.

Anyhoo, self loves having discussions with her niece Karina over:


Karina: self’s guide to all things YA.

What is going to happen next?

Who are these two men who love Celaena?

What makes a bad-ass female assassin?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Throne of Glass: The ‘Katniss’ Affect


Karina reads! She introduced self to The Infernal Devices, by Cassandra Clare, Spring 2015.

Niece’s latest book recommendation is Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass. It’s about a female assassin who, as the book opens, is stuck working as a slave in a salt mine.

If you’d like to know how she ended up there, read the book. She gets a surprise when, one day, she is taken to meet the Crown Prince.

Assasin’s name is Calaena. She refuses to bow, naturally. Which means someone grabs her by the back of the neck and forces her face down to the floor (Don’t worry, she’s not an egg; she won’t crack)

. . .  she’d been trained to be an assassin since the age of eight, since the day the King of the Assassins found her half-dead on the banks of a frozen river and brought her to his keep. She wouldn’t be humiliated by anything, least of all being dirty.

Throne of Glass, p. 8

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Luna Moore, Met at AWP 2016 Los Angeles, at 40th Anniversary Calyx Reading


Luz Delgado and Her Daughter Luna Moore, at the Calyx Press 40th Anniversary Reading at AWP 2016, Los Angeles, April 2

Every time self meets a new young person, she always asks for a book recommendation.

Her curiosity always pays off in spades. Hello, Infernal Devices, Cassandra Clare’s steampunk trilogy, recommended by Calgary niece Karina!

So, at the recently concluded AWP  Conference, held in Los Angeles, self met a wonderful girl named Luna Moore.

And Luna recommended:

  • Jane Eyre
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
  • the Harry Potter series

Turns out Title # 2, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, is by Aimee Bender. Which means it probably isn’t YA. Luna is quite a sophisticated reader!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


One Love: Daily Post Photo Challenge

. . . the universe is constantly whispering words of love: expressions of pure joy, respect, loyalty and sacrifice for someone other than ourselves, letting go and focusing on what is most important in this world.

Below, a collection of lovely moments.


At a Chinese Take-Out in Inchicore, Dublin


Words From a Kind Soul: This note was given to self in Banff, Canada.


The Niece That Started It All: Karina introduced self to Victorian Steampunk (The Infernal Devices Trilogy): Self has never looked back.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Harmony 2: Peace Out, People

The Daily Post Photo Challenge for the week is HARMONY.

My take: “A blissful state of contentment. Only achieved when mind/body/emotions are in a state of peaceful awareness.”

First Photo: Venice, November 2015

Second and Third Photos: Tuscany, November 2015


Self and Irene, Café Florian, San Marco Square, Venice: November, 2015


View From a Vineyard in Tuscany, November 2015


More of Tuscany: November 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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