Lens-Artists Challenge # 57: TAKING A BREAK

Self’s current book, Mihaly Czsikszentmihalyi’s FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE is a very, very interesting book.

Her son and daughter-in-law were Psychology majors at Claremont, the school where the author taught. In fact, she read about him in the Claremont Graduate University alumni magazine, The Flame.

She is trying to practice Flow thinking (see graph below). She is trying to achieve “complexity” in her consciousness. This will be her project for the rest of the summer.

She thinks this goal is very much tied in with the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: TAKING A BREAK.

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Today, she walked downtown, which she hadn’t done in two weeks. Courthouse Square was empty. Nevertheless, the trip was not in vain, for she saw a movie: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Is this a ‘Flow’ experience? Self thinks it is. Watching movies is one of self’s most enjoyable activities.

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Mid-Afternoon, Courthouse Square, Redwood City, CA

And, she spends A LOT of time in her garden, where her efforts are repaid with gorgeous blooms like this one, on her Sheila’s Perfume rose:

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Sheila’s Perfume, last week of July 2019

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Book Greed”: James P. Blaylock in POETS & WRITERS July/August 2019

  • A writer’s library is more than just a collection of books. It is also a piecemeal biography of that writer’s life, and measurably so, as most have writers have spent countless hours reading the books that they now own or have borrowed, hours that add up to years, perhaps decades, given a long enough life.

— James P. Blaylock, My Life in Books

Love this essay, which echoes so many of self’s feelings about her own library. Just recently, self decided to start reading some of her collection. Books she’s picked up from author’s readings, and then stashed away on a shelf, in the fond hope she’d get to them “someday.”

Someday is here!

Two of the books she’s owned for years but never got around to reading:

  • Carlos Bulosan’s story collection, The Laughter of My Father
  • Kelly Link’s short story collection, Get In Trouble (She read a couple of stories, not the whole collection)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“the man she likes”: Northanger Abbey, p. 231

Self flopped into bed at 2 and did not wake up until almost six. Sooo tired! Nevertheless, at some point, she WILL go downstairs, she WILL take the tram, she WILL inquire of passersby regarding restaurants serving “traditional” Czech food. Either that or she will go to the grocery store next door which sells the most amazing, huge, sweet cherries she has ever tasted in her whole life and buy more cherries!

Now to Northanger Abbey: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney and Henry Tilney are in the drawing room, discussing Isabella Thorpe.

“But perhaps,” observed Catherine, “though she has behaved so ill by our family, she may behave better by yours. Now she has finally got the man she likes, she may be constant.”

How candid Catherine Morland is! How artless. Henry Tilney listens without once giving away his true opinion of Ms. Thorpe. For the nth time, self really loves Henry Tilney, because his manners are so exquisite.

Stay tuned.

Lovely London

Self was supposed to go on an Old Parish Maps walk of Clerkenwall but she bailed because she wanted to take things slow today, after that loooong train journey from Cornwall yesterday.

She had an early breakfast, then set off walking. Soon, she found herself in front of the British Library, but instead of going in, she went next door, to St. Pancras/Renaissance Hotel, and inquired at reception if they could ring her son’s room.

He did not pick up, probably because he’s just arrived in London. She told the receptionist to let son know that his mother had stopped by. Then, she twirled and waltzed out without waiting for a response from the receptionist.

She wandered on Leigh Street and found North Sea Fish was closed. She walked down Marchmont Street and stopped at a cafĂ© for very yummy hot banana bread with yogurt. Topped that off with red bean gelato. Picked up a couple of flyers from LSE (London School of Economics, Dear Departed Sister’s alma mater), returned to Russell Square (one side of which was sprouting police cars, she wonders why) and resumed reading Northanger Abbey.

UGH, the horrible stress inflicted on poor Catherine Morland (so far, self’s favorite Jane Austen heroine — yes, a better heroine than Emma or Anne Elliot) by manipulative Thorpe sibs Isabella and John! In the latest situation, they have conveniently dismissed Miss Eleanor Tilney (sister of that elusive love interest Henry Tilney) without checking first with Catherine whether she intended to keep her appointment with Eleanor. Catherine, on learning of the Thorpes’s horrible presumptuousness, goes running full tilt after Eleanor (and why should she not? Henry Tilney is quite a fetching man! Self too would go running if someone told her that Timothy Olyphant or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were just around the corner!).

p. 111:

Thorpe would have darted after her, but Morland withheld him. “Let her go, let her go, if she will go.”

“She is as obstinate as — “

Thorpe never finished the simile, for it could hardly have been a proper one.

lol

Morland refers to Catherine’s older brother, James. And a wonderful older brother he is, too. He’s in love with Isabella Thorpe, who’s a ninny. If not for that, he would be self’s third-favorite Jane Austen suitor, after Mr. Knightley and Henry Tilney. He most certainly is self’s favorite Jane Austen brother.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Books/ The Economist, 9 February 2019

As dear blog readers can tell from the date, self has a whole pile of Economists to catch up on.

Today is Sunday and the sun is shining and she’s made good on her goal to spend most, if not all, of today reading.

She’s on the 9 February 2019 Books section, and there’s a review of a really interesting book:

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Another book reviewed in this issue (though not positively, lol) is Let Me Not Be Mad, by A. K. Benjamin. Sadly, The Economist does not warm up to its unreliable narrator, but self confesses to being intrigued by this excerpt, quoted in the review:

  • I walked over London Bridge in rush hour, faces thronging around me, and diagnosed each one in an instant: Psychosis . . . Depression . . . Lewy Bodies . . . Panic . . . Depression . . . Sociopathy . . . OCD . . . Cynophobia . . . Panic . . . Guam’s. Everybody has something, and now there’s a name for it, even if it’s fear of having something, of going insane, aka dementophobia.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Favorite Characters (So Far) 2019

In self’s reading, it’s all about the characters. Here are her favorites from her most recent reads (doesn’t look like she’s going to make her Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, she’s been so poky — hanging on to her translations, her intricate classic novels, her favorite book companions).

From Current Read, The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry:

CORA SEABORNE. Joanna Ransome. Luke Garrett. Naomi Banks.

Swann’s Way and Anna Karenina are books she’s read before, but her focus shifted surprisingly on second reading.

From Swann’s Way (the Lydia Davis translation), by Marcel Proust:

The narrator. Swann, always and forever.

From Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy:

DOLLY. Karenin. Kitty. Kitty’s father, Prince Alexander Dmitrievich. Seryozha. Vronsky.

It’s strange, self feels no sympathy whatsoever for Anna Karenina. Not on this re-read. Anna seems less like a real woman and more like a construct used by Tolstoy to make a point. Self hated her from the moment she advised Dolly to stick with her faithless, profligate husband. Was crowing for her fall. Wished Dolly were given a more redemptive story arc.

The character who exhibits the most growth in Anna Karenina is, in self’s humble opinion, Karenin. Because he falls in love with his wife’s child with another man. That’s quite an arc! When he shows up regularly at the baby’s nursery, and the governesses don’t know what to make of it? WAAAAH!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Preparing, OSSW Day One

Drove up to Mendocino, which as the crow flies is only 200 miles from Redwood City, but always takes self at least FIVE HOURS.

On the way, she stopped by Yorkville Market and had lunch:

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And then she mulled over the writing exercises she should start tomorrow with.

Should she have the students practice writing one very, very, very long, run-on sentence? With points to whoever can come up with the most run-on sentence?

Or, for fun, should she have them write a piece that’s all bad grammar and deliberately wrong spelling? Hamberder, anyone? Smocking guns?

Should she have them write a piece that’s all dialogue?

Should she ask them to capture every nuance of a piece of reality . . . in one sentence?

Should she have them practice writing a conversation that grows from an association of ideas (like a Harold Pinter play?)

Should she have them practice delaying the outcome for as long as possible?

She can’t decide. She’ll have to sleep on it.

BTW, this is one of the plays being presented by the Mendocino Theatre Company in 2019:

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Mendocino Theatre Company, 2019 Season

Stay tuned.

Black and White 2

Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is BLACK AND WHITE.

Self did an earlier post for this challenge, but today she was cleaning closets. And she pulled out these two lovely objects, which are feather dusters. And she thought huh and what if — ?

So she brought the feather dusters to the light and started taking pictures.

Voila! Black and White 2! Even though the feathers are more Black and Grey!

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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

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Since she is preparing to teach a class at the Mendocino Art Center called One Story, Six Ways, she might ask her students to look at this set of photos for one of the exercises.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading List 2019: Adding Travel Books

Excited to be adding these wonderful books to self’s 2019 Reading List. Self loves travel books. It’s been a year since she devoted a reading year to them:

Alan Booth

  • The Road to Sata

Alexandra David Neel

  • My Journey to Lhasa

Alison Wearing

  • Honeymoon in Purdah

Ann Jones

  • Lovedu

Anthony Doerr

  • Four Seasons in Rome

Best Women’s Travel Writing series

Bill Bryson

  • The Lost Continent
  • Walk in the Woods

Blair Braverman

  • Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

Bruce Chatwin

  • In Patagonia

Dervla Murphy

  • Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

Ellen Meloy

  • Raven’s Exile: A Season on the Green River

Gabrielle Hamilton

  • Blood, Bones and Butter

Gretchen Legler

  • On the Ice: An Intimate Portrait of Life at McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Isabella L. Bird

  • Six Months in the Sandwich Islands: Among Hawai’i’s Palm Groves, Coral Reefs and Volcanoes

Isabelle Eberhardt

  • The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

Jamaica Kincaid

  • A Small Place

Jan Morris

  • Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere

Julia Child

  • My Life in France

Katrina Kittle

  • The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

Kira Salak

  • Four Corners: A Journey Into the Heart of Papua New Guinea

Mary Henrietta Kingsley

  • Travels in West Africa

Melanie Bowden Simon

  • La Americana: A Memoir

Peter Mayle

  • A Year in Provence

Rebecca Solnit

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Robyn Davidson

  • Desert Places

Stanley Stewart

  • In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A Journey Among Nomads

Suzanne Roberts

  • Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail

 

 

 

 

 

Deconstructing Swann’s Way

Self has to resort to all sorts of mental tricks to keep reading Swann’s Way.

She makes the decision, after reading to p. 44, that she’ll consider Combray and Swann In Love as two separate works — two novellas, if you will. And thus, she’s reading them simultaneously. Because if she follows the sequence in the book — she’s finished Chapter 1, and finished reading the part about the madeleine — Chapter 2 is a very long reminiscence about the town. While Swann In Love is about socializing, with all sorts of fascinating words to consider: for instance, the word “bourgeois.” Self, who is so easily exasperated these days (which is just another way of saying she is stressed), may get exasperated enough to stop reading Swann’s Way. And she would consider that a regrettable moral failure.

So, to forestall any such feelings of exasperation, she skips ahead to Swann In Love, resolving to return to Ch. 2 of Combray (and using two bookmarks) after she’s finished Part II.

Maybe she’ll even read Part III, Place Names: The Name before returning to Combray.

What a disgustingly eccentric way to read Swann’s Way, but there you have it. Self would love to extract maximum pleasure and understanding from this book, and this is the only way she thinks she can do it.

Stay tuned.

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