Atop It All

If you’re physically on top of a thing or place — a mountain, a skyscraper — what type of scene do you want to share in your frame?

— Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

For this week’s photo challenge, ATOP, self pulled from her Archive:

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Fall 2016: Main Lobby of the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park: View from the 2nd Floor

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Summer 2016: The Tate Modern is housed in what used to be the Battersea Power Station. In keeping with its industrial spirit, everything in the Tate Modern has that utilitarian feel. Even the restaurant, on the 6th floor. It’s called The Kitchen. The Harry Potter Bridge (Formal Name: the Millenium Bridge) is to the right.

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Spring 2015: The Portrait Café, British National Portrait Gallery

Note to dear blog readers: The Portrait Cafe hosts an afternoon tea, which is booked weeks in advance. The day self showed up, early March, she could not get a seat. So if you would like to see this fabulous view while having tea, book in advance.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading about Monastic Ireland in THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The reading matter became more absorbing last night, when Gibbon stated that it only took eighty years for Christianity to move from being a persecuted religion to becoming the main religion of the Roman Empire. This latter development happened when Constantine, a Christian, became Emperor and swore to rule according to the dictates of his Christian faith.

Gibbon (whose faith is obviously important to him) then starts enumerating early monasteries around the Roman Empire, and these include not only monasteries in Syria, Egypt, etc but also monasteries in Ireland. Which leads self to look up names on the internet, and she stumbles on:

  • Glendalough: Monks built the Church of the Rock.
  • Iona, in the Inner Hebrides: Work on the Book of Kells was begun here, but when Viking raids became frequent, the work was transported to a monastery in Kells, hence the name Book of Kells.
  • Kildare: There is Cill Dara, the Cell of the Oak, which was founded by Saint Brigid and became a convent.

Self would love to visit some of these places, if she has time.

She remembers that one of the most exciting things about visiting Venice, a few years ago, wasn’t Venice itself, but her exploration of outlying islands, especially Torcello.

Torcello has a very old stone church, with a very high tower. When you ascend to the very top, you can see all over the Venetian lagoon. This was a watchtower. As Torcello is farther out from the mainland, small bands of Christians took shelter here, away from the barbarian hordes. Gradually, as Italy became more stable, settlement moved inwards, closer and closer to Venice. The culmination of the growing power of the Venetian state was the building of Saint Mark’s.

Self has always loved history.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

ATOP: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 15 March 2017

For this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, ATOP, self goes back to the pictures she took of a London church she visited in 2015. She’s not sure if she’s interpreting the theme correctly (“a view from the top”) but she’ll post this anyway.

Two years ago, self was on a Shadowhunters reading binge. She took The Infernal Devices trilogy with her to the UK, and decided to plan her days around places cited in the books.

In her website, author Cassandra Clare says she used St. Bride’s near Fleet Street as the titular setting for the Shadowhunters Academy. And self did get to see this church. And it was one of the most beautiful churches she had ever seen.

You can see an exhibit on the history of St. Bride’s in the crypt. The spire was designed by Christopher Wren. Building began in 1671 and was completed in 1703:

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Rendering of the Steeple of St. Bride’s (aka “The Church of Journalists”) Just Off Fleet Street

The steeple was destroyed during the Blitz (see newspaper headline below).

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World War II London Newspaper

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A Modern Rendering of the Christopher Wren Steeple

The steeple has been rebuilt; you can see it from the top floor of the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a long, slim needle that feels surprisingly at home with the modernistic buildings surrounding it.

Self returned to St. Bride’s last year, with poet Joan McGavin. The main space was closed for refurbishing, but the crypt was still open to the public. While Joan went down to look at the exhibit, self chatted with a clergyman, who asked what brought her to St. Bride’s. And she said, Shadowhunters. He was highly amused.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Chapters, Dublin

Sometimes it might feel like we’re living in a bleak, alternate reality from the burned-out brain of a paranoid science fiction writer, but there’s always a world worse off than us.

Check out our favorite dystopian fiction in store.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

8 February 2017: Self Read at Sixth Engine, Washington DC

Self’s dystopian “First Causes” appears in the latest issue of Quarterly West.

Self very much enjoyed the reading for the launch of the issue because: 1) it was in Washington DC, and she got to see some old friends again; 2) she re-connected with a few people she hasn’t seen in years. Such as Letitia. Who was a student at Old Dominion University in Virginia when self read there for a literary festival (2007?) Now, Letitia is an Editor/Linguist/Poet (see business card below).

Self is tempted to ask Letitia if she’d like to help edit a collection of her speculative fiction she is getting ready to send out:

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The reading was co-hosted by two other literary magazines: 32 Poems and Smartish Pace.

And oh boy it was packed. To the point where the audience was all standing like a can of sardines.

A man threw copies of his poetry collection at the audience. “That is so cool!” a young man remarked. Since self was reading next, she was hard-pressed to think of something attention-getting.

She moved front, started babbling about how fan fiction got her there. And — received enthusiastic applause from somewhere on the right!

Forever grateful to the listeners, and of course to Quarterly West. Here’s a shot she took that night of the (very crowded) venue:

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The bar-restaurant Sixth Engine, downtown Washington DC, night of 8 February 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wish 2: Spring, Don’t Come Too Fast!

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is WISH:

THIS WEEK, SHOW US A WISH

It was cold and windy today: fine, brisk, walking weather.

Self was captivated by these daffodils, springing up in bunches in front of the Main House in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (The wind was blowing: you can see from the angle of the stems)

Spring can’t be far away. Which means warmer weather, longer days. Fabulous!

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Daffodils on the Slope In Front of the Main House, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

And yet, look at this picture she took in the early morning, two days ago: it’s only now she notices the filigree of the tree branches, silhouetted against the sky. So beautiful and delicate. When the leaves come back, this scene will be very different. So self feels conflicted: keeping winter’s bones might not be a bad thing! Especially when looking at trees!

If you look at this photograph with some detachment, doesn’t it look like an echocardiogram? Like the lines spit out of a defibrillator? Self means, the sharp up-and-down squiggles?

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The Lake at Annaghmakerrig, Early Morning

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Benjamin Britten’s Libretto for PETER GRIMES

MRS. SEDLEY
(whispering to Ned)
Have you my pills?

NED
I’m sorry, Ma’am.

MRS. SEDLEY
My sleeping draught?

NED
The laudanum
Is out of stock, and being brought
By Mr. Carrier Hobson’s cart.
He’s back tonight.

MRS. SEDLEY
Good Lord, good Lord —

NED
Meet us both at this pub, The Boar
Auntie’s we call it. It’s quite safe.

MRS. SEDLEY
I’ve never been in a pub in my life.

NED
You’ll come?

MRS. SEDLEY
All right.

NED
Tonight?

MRS. SEDLEY
All right.

Self is really, really loving this libretto. So beautiful. Absolute poetry.

BALSTRODE/NED:

The tide that floods will ebb, the tide, the tide will turn.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Make a Wish

Self wishes every day could be as peaceful and beautiful as it was today in Annaghmakerrig.

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Hard at Work: the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

Book # 1: Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Am just freshly arrived in Annaghmakerrig.

The first task is to catalogue all the books this Unit holds.

Self was in this same unit last year. But she was not very organized. Not like she is now.

The first book she settles on is Thames Way (Alba Publishing, 2015), by Diarmuid Fitzgerald. There’s a dedication: To the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, February 2017

The man was literally just here.

He elected to walk the length of the Thames from the city of London to its source, a distance of about 170 miles. (Reminds self of one of her favorite books, read 2016: Matsuo Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, about a journey Basho took in the 17th century, on the old Edo circular road. He also wrote it in haiku.)

The book is divided into three sections: Lower, Middle, and Upper.

From Lower:

no one wishes me
well on my long way
except for one old man

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More of the Road Taken: London, March 2017

Today’s edition of The Road Taken is London.

Oh what a glorious morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping. Self enjoys looking out at the garden:

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Bedford Place, London

Last night, self attended Evensong at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The celebrant asked the congregation to pray for the United States, so that its leaders may have “consideration.” Afterwards, self headed toward Trafalgar Square:

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Sunday Evening, Trafalgar Square

A few days ago, self met up with old friends Dodo and Helene (who grew up in the Philippines with her). They took her to see the minster at Beverley. We got to the town just before twilight, and the old stone of Beverley Minster seemed to glow:

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Beverley Minster at Twilight

Travel lately has become extremely arduous, but it still gives self the purest joy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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