April 16 BRIGHT SQUARES

This is today’s BRIGHT SQUARE. Thanks to Becky at The Life of B for the challenge!

A few days ago, self met her friend Caroline at the de Young in Golden Gate Park. What a BRIGHT BRIGHT DAY. Museums are open again!

Lots of squares in the lines of the building, and on the pavement. The ferris wheel is a new thing. Wasn’t here last year! She likes it.

So HAPPYYYYYY!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The System

The system is broken. When you have adult children hustling parents off into “assisted living,” and giving up the home they’ve lived in for four and a half decades.

The parents give in because, at the end of life, we all become children again. We become helpless. It makes me angry.

3/4 of I’ll Be Seeing You is about what is past. The past is very pretty. The present isn’t. And the future doesn’t even bear contemplating.

Me thinking as I read: Why would anyone want to look at a bunch of total strangers and do crafts? What is so damn delightful about living in a place where you have the crafts option? Who cares about keeping busy? Why doesn’t “assisted living” have a library?

At the same time, the parents are such a burden to the author. She has meals with them, every gesture delicately described.

To me, the parents are functional. Childish, but functional. In the home, they become truly lost, not themselves. They have to adhere to meals at set times, and talking to people. Isn’t the fun of growing old the fact that you can do whatever you like? Because you’ve earned it, right?

And then the big end-of-life talk. Which comes, deadeningly, at the end. It’s so predictable, and really sad.

This is the third week that my mother has been in hospital in Manila. She got COVID. No one in the family has seen her. No one can visit because COVID is raging through the Philippines. She has a trach.

But she is a fighter to the very core. She is somehow hanging on, and a few days ago they transferred her out of the “critical” section of COVID patients. What I think I am trying to say is: Don’t count the very old out. Never, ever count them out. Give them that last shred of dignity, and don’t count them out.

I am nearly through with this book. On p. 171, author states she hopes her 90-year-old father “will find a friend.” His “assisted living” place offers the author a partial schedule of the father’s daily activities:

  • current events
  • exercise
  • lunch

The children auction off of all their parents’ precious things: “the auctioneer arrives promptly” and offers them five hundred dollars.

I am outraged by the author’s nostalgia for all the events that happened in her parents’ house. How dare she indulge in touchy-feely emotions while her parents aren’t allowed to have them. She expects them to be “objective,” to accept that what is happening is inevitable.

REALLY?????

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

I’LL BE SEEING YOU: A Memoir

The author persuades her aged parents to go into assisted living. She tells them to try it, they can always move back home if they don’t like it.

Self will never. Ever. Especially after the past year.

You set foot in a certain kind of river and you know that as soon as you do, the current will have you.

I’ll Be Seeing You, p. 30

Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction, UCLA Extension Writers Program

I have been teaching this course a long time, almost 20 years. It was, and still is, my favorite course to teach. And, because of a lot of pandemic chaotic stuff and fixing my 1939 cottage, I am only teaching it ONCE in 2021. (Promise I’ll be back early 2022)

What happens during the course? YOU happen.

Don’t ask me to explain why I am a better teacher of nonfiction than I am a teacher of fiction. I know, I’m a fiction writer. Maybe I’m too close to the process, I’m not as good as explaining how it happens for me. Nonfiction, though, is a whole other story.

Trust me. I have kept this course as streamlined as possible to allow plenty of time for discussion and interaction with each student.

My hope is to get everyone to the happy place where they see writing as a verdant field of dreams.

There is one text, a classic.

There are my “lectures,” which are much less classic but okay, they’re useful.

There are THE WRITING EXERCISES EACH WEEK which will fill you with so much tension and joy, you can’t even explain it. Because that’s how writing, the act of sitting down and writing, actually feels (If standing on your head writing works for you, hey . . . )

Registration is open NOW. Class begins May 5 and ends June 15.

Since this class is ON-LINE, you can take it from anywhere in the world. I usually have, in one class, students from at least three continents: North America, South America, Asia, and the UK and Europe.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Just One Person From Around the World: Redwood City, California

This Photo Challenge is courtesy of ThatTravelLadyInHerShoes:

I have stopped watching the news….I have dropped all social media, except for my blog, which I try to keep to positive vibes…. there are a lot of folks in the world, who are everyday folks, just trying to provide food and shelter and love……….they are trying to make a living…….keep their kids educated and basically just take care of their families, without an agenda.  Me too. I think there is more of us…. Just trying to live our lives….. So, I would like to take the time to focus on one person a week to bring us together, to celebrate ordinary folks.

Feel free to join Just One Person From Around the World  by creating your own post and then share your link in the comments! Also, add the tag JUST ONE PERSON FROM AROUND THE WORLD to your post so it is easier for me to find! Thank You!

Lens-Artists Challenge #141: GEOMETRY

Thank you, P. A. Moed, for this very interesting challenge, and for the great quote from Johannes Kepler:

  • Geometry is the archetype of the beauty of the world.

P. A. Moed:

The world is full of shapes. Circles, squares, ovals, triangles, and even some of your favorites from geometry class like parallelograms. For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, we are focusing on geometry—shapes that are visually interesting and form a pattern or rhythm.

Hanging on the back wall in the first picture is a print by Eizo Sakata, a gift. Self met him at the Fundacion Valparaiso in Mojåcar, Spain, over 20 years ago!

The figs are from self’s backyard. She took the picture last year (Right now, the fig trees are just beginning to leaf.) Self can hardly wait until she can start picking the ripe figs!

The last image are three prints, part of a series called Variations on a Field, by Irish artist Pam de Brie. When self purchased them, years ago, she had nowhere to hang them. So she asked Pam to hang on to them; when she was ready, she would let her know. That time came three years ago. Four prints arrived by US mail! The last print, self will put in its own frame. It’s the brightest of the four prints.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Opening, Self’s Camarote de Marinero

What do you think?

  • On the last day of November, on the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the Genoese pilot of the Santa Maria found a current.  It led to a vast and peaceful ocean, an ocean whose purring sighs and amber warmth held us firmly in its liquid embrace. The weather was mild, the sea an unbroken stretch of glass. Suddenly, we forgot scurvy and exhaustion, and even the last dreadful sight of the men put ashore in Guam, the ones slain by the cannibal Chamorros.  The terrible screams from the beach had carried across the water to the black ships.  Oh, the horror!

I think this is READY.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Flower of the Day (FOTD) 13 March 2021: Clematis montana

Self is following another Cee Neuner Photo Challenge, Flower of the Day. Fun!

She was lucky to find a wee Clematis montana ‘White Surprise’ in Wegman’s last week. To tell you the truth, she is a bit obsessed with clematis. Ever since her aunt in Montauk sent her, through the mail, a sprig of white clematis henryii. It was so beautiful, with big white, dinner-plate size flowers that eventually covered one entire fence. Then our neighbor decided to replace the fence. He cut all the clematis twigs, and it never grew back. Self mourns the loss even now, 20 years later.

Last year, self decided to experiment with a mail-order service. She ordered a ‘native’ variety called Saucy Alice from a nursery on the east coast. Never grew, eventually died.

This year, self was in her local nursery when she saw a white clematis montana, which reminded her of the clematis montana rubens that every spring bursts into glorious flower on her front porch trellis. It was in a wee pot, and she snagged it.

The clematis montana don’t have flowers as big as henryii, but self doesn’t care. It will be lovely.

Since arriving on self’s porch, it’s been behaving really well:

The white blooms should be ready for another close-up in a few days!

Here’s what my clematis montana rubens looked like, March 2020:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Getting Through It

It’s been almost a year since the world stopped, plans got thrown out the window, and nothing will ever be the same.

Self thought she’d take a moment to celebrate the things that got her through the past year:

Of course, gardening. Her garden has never looked so great. Every day she watches the oxalis in her backyard get higher and higher. And she just loves it.

Second, books, and her fantastic local library and their curbside pick-up system. She’s been using it since June (Before that, she ordered many books from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, which is equally fantastic). Also, self would like to thank the AUTHORS of these wonderful books. When self needed to be transported to another place and time, these authors delivered:

Self would also like to thank FREE CONCERTS. The week after everything shut down, St. Bride’s in London began streaming everything. And so did St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, which used to hold free noontime concerts every Tuesday.

She would also like to thank Cal Shakes, whose summertime Shakespeare was a high point of her summer, as long as she was home in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Her first Cal Shakes was Romeo and Juliet. ADAM SCOTT PLAYED ROMEO. Sold!!!) A few days ago, she got a message that they would mount ONE live production this summer (Dates to be announced), with appropriate social distancing, of course: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Also, FaceTime. Self has actually learned to FaceTime with Dearest Mum. It’s been so great.

And The Economist, which managed to come every week (every two weeks lately, since DeJoy destroyed the USPS)

Finally, she’d like to thank her favorite TV shows, because she’d never have gotten through without them: The Expanse (closing with Season 6), Peaky Blinders (closing with Season 6), The Crown.

A big hand also for Trader Joe’s, for being most sanitary of all the different supermarkets she’s shopped in.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Moving On

The days will grow longer. Then the front yard will die, as it does every summer. Self has never mowed her yard, not once in three years. The grass is a bright green, and all the different things she’s planted are green and lush and it’s beginning to look like an ecosystem. Like a balanced ecosystem. Which is what she wanted to do in the first place, though a year and a half ago, she had only a vague idea.

Onward.

She has briskly dispatched The Butterfly Effect. She skimmed the later chapters, which had a lot to do with industry and man’s ingenuity and how man depends on insects for manufacturing product, yada yada yada. She also skipped the chapter on eating bugs because, while surely fascinating, she doesn’t feel the slightest inclination to experiment in that direction.

She has three library books currently. Two of the books begin in high summer, and the third is about a polar bear in the Arctic. So she’s reading Ice Walker, because it’s cold here in her house. It’s probably best to read about polar bears when it is actually cold.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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