London Walks: Hyde Park

The first time self read The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber, was over a decade ago. She hadn’t much experience of London. Now, however, she knows London, knows its general geography, and enjoys passages like the following:

  • Since moving to the West End, Sugar has taken to crossing Hyde Park, over the Serpentine into Knightsbridge, and paying frequent visits to the two Georgian houses in Trevor Square, which may look like high-class brothels, but are in fact a public library.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 35

  • Follow Sugar now into the great open space, the grandiose vacancy of Regent Street — admire those overtowering honeycombs of palatial buildings stretching into the fog of artificial infinity, those thousands of identically shaped windows tier upon tier; the glassy expanse of roadway swept clear of snow; all of it is a statement of intent: a declaration that in the bright future to come, places like St. Giles and Soho, with their narrow labyrinths and tilting hovels and clammy, crumbling nooks infested with human flotsam, will be swept away, to be replaced by a new London that looks entirely like Regent Street, airy, regular and clean.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 43

Her last trip to London was at the tail-end of October 2017. She dropped by Hyde Park and saw:

1) the Serpentine

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2) a fabulous Pavilion

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The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion designed by architect Francis Kéré

and 3) the Prince Albert Memorial:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Blair & Robertson’s THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 1493 – 1803

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1000 sets were printed of this massive series.

Self has Copy No. 179 on her MacBook Air.

60 volumes.

She does all her writing in son’s room, where daily she looks at the map of the Philippines that’s been hanging there for over two decades. She doubts if son even knows the names of the two main islands, Luzon and Mindanao. This is self’s failing.

No woman is mentioned in the first nine volumes.

Later, there is a decree about educating the sons of Spanish civil officials. And in volume 10, a mention of nuns.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Traffic: St. Paul/Minneapolis

The more melancholy John Steinbeck becomes in Travels with Charley — the more he realizes that he is missing certain sights, and perhaps that means missing them forever — the more captivated self becomes with his narrative. (Self has been there! There meaning: emotionally)

He hates traffic. Self completely understands his reluctance to enter cities. Like Steinbeck, self tends to panic and get lost. She feels every beat of the following section, p. 100:

Like a weakening swimmer I edged to the right into a pleasant street only to be stopped by a policeman, who informed me that trucks and such vermin were not permitted there. He thrust me back into the ravening stream.

I drove for hours, never able to take my eyes from the surrounding mammoths. I must have crossed the river but I couldn’t see it. I never saw St. Paul or Minneapolis. All I saw was a river of trucks; all I heard was a roar of motors. The air saturated with Diesel fumes burned in my lungs.

Steinbeck flees. He heads for US 10 and ends up in — of all places — “a German restaurant complete with sausages, sauerkraut, and beer steins hanging in rows over the bar, shining but unused.”

The ensuing scene is A+

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Travels with Charley: Deer Isle, Maine

Steinbeck has very interesting things to say about Deer Isle.

Digression: Self always wanted to visit Maine, because there is a teacher there — in Bates College — who has taught her story “Lenox Hill, December 1991” in self’s collection Mayor of the Roses, for decades.

pp. 41 – 42:

  • Maine speech is very like that in West Country England, the double vowels pronounced as they are in Anglo-Saxon, but the resemblance is doubly strong in Deer Isle. And the coastal people below the Bristol Channel are secret people, and perhaps magic people. There’s aught behind their eyes, hidden away so deep that perhaps even they do not know they have it. To put it plainly, this Isle is like Avalon; it must disappear when you are not there.

It sounds a little like California’s northern coast. Self always begins writing fables when she’s in Mendocino. Must be the craggy cliffs, the deep forests, the crashing ocean. During her latest trip to Mendocino, early this year, this sentence occurred to her as she was driving through redwoods: They chased daylight into a gloomy forest.

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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, April 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Explorers of the North

Self has always been fascinated by explorers, which is why she’s writing her novel about 18th century missionaries. She also has a very long story (32 pages currently, and nowhere near done) about an alien invasion in the Bering Sea. That story is all about Ice, but every day she reads various scientific reports about the disappearing glaciers so she feels mild concern that if she takes too long to finish this story, the context of the physical setting will cease to make any sense.

Today, she reads about the Penny and Barnes ice caps on Baffin Island, and about the Laurentide ice sheet that once covered much of North America. She learns that Baffin Island was known to the 11th century Norse of Greenland and Iceland, and that Baffin Island is postulated to be the Helluland of Viking sagas.

She also reads up on Sir John Franklin. The two ships that were lost during his fourth and final Arctic expedition were named the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus. The HMS Erebus was a 372-ton Heclaclass bomb vessel, built in Wales in 1826. The wreck has been located, in Queen Maud Gulf. The wreck of the HMS Terror lies under the water of Terror Bay. (Who names ships Erebus and Terror? Isn’t that like asking for trouble?)

She reads that Georgian Bay has 30,000 islands. Fresh in her mind is the fate of Kat, in the novel she just finished reading, Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods. Who sets off alone in a small boat and becomes lost and lost and more lost.

She learns about the Jesuit mission of Saint-Marie, founded on Lake Huron in the 17th century.

She reads about Lewis and Clark and about rivers like the Columbia and the Hood, which she has seen, long ago, on a driving trip north that started out in San Francisco and hugged the coast of Oregon and Washington.

And she also reads about Celtic and Norse mythology, in a book she found in son’s room.

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So many books, so little time!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Horizontal Line(s)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is: Horizontal Line(s). Self browsed through her photos and found these from Saturday, 16 June.

Went to the City to see the Rube Goldberg exhibit.

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Lobby, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco

Afterwards, self chilled in the backyard. It was a beautiful day!

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Backyard, Redwood City

Sentence of the Day: “Speaking of Courage”

The lake lay flat and silvery against the sun.

Sentence of the Day: “On the Rainy River” by Tim O’Brien

At some point in mid-July I began thinking seriously about Canada.

#amwritinghistoricalfiction about the Philippines

Letter of Father Pedro Sanz to the Bishop of Manila

Octubre, 1752

Your Reverence,

I am already old, weary, and in poor health. When you first granted this position to me, and ordered me to serve you in this Island, I complied with your wishes, with not a word of complaint. I had already been many years in Nueva España, and exerted myself in every way. I arrived in Isla del Fuego and built a church, just as you commanded, and put in order the lives of the indios. By the grace of God, all turned out well. God has willed that Your Reverence’s wishes be fulfilled.

Now, I am exhausted. The need to recover my health and the declining health of my widowed mother force me to beg Your Reverence to allow me to return home.

May the Lord keep you.

Fr. Pedro Sanz

Isla del Fuego, Filipinas

NOTE: There is no island named Isla del Fuego in the Philippines. Self just made up the name.

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A Side Door of the Church of St. John Lasi on Siquijor, in the central Philippines: Such Stillness Outside! Also: Great Heat

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Columns

Cee’s current Fun Foto Challenge is COLUMNS and VERTICAL LINE(S). Cee’s own photos are fantastic.

Here are two of self’s:

  • The Magritte exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the best exhibits she’s seen in recent years. It ends with an interactive gallery where viewers can insert themselves into a Magritte landscape. Here’s a forest:

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  • Across the street from the museum is Yerba Buena Park which has this beautiful fountain. So relaxing to watch the COLUMNS of water.
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Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Thank you to Cee Neuner for the wonderful Foto Challenge!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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