Door: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is DOOR.

The Daily Post prompt: “publish a new post with a photo of a door.”

To which self says, QED!

Because doors fascinate her almost as much as windows do.

The First Door:  Mendocino Village, California

Sweetwater Gardens is a Bed & Breakfast with a fancy restaurant and spa. One of the rooms (someone told her) is in a water tower.

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The Second Door: Entrance to the Ceramics Studio at the Mendocino Art Center. Self took the picture during Second Saturday (January 2015): Every second Saturday of the month, Mendocino’s galleries hold little wine-and-cheese receptions and people can stroll in and out of various art galleries.

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The Third Door: AMC Ontario Mills Shopping Center, Southern California

Well, technically that’s not a door. Just a representation of one. Apologies!

Actually, that’s not even a representation of a door. Whatever. It’s a portal.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s “The House on the Coast” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19, No. 2: THE WEST COAST & BEYOND)

Crab Orchard Review: In its 20th year of publication, an Icon of Literary Publishing

Crab Orchard Review: In its 20th year of publication, an Icon of Literary Publishing

Self is starting with the first short story, by Lucy Jane Bledsoe, “The House on the Coast.”

SPOILER ALERT!

Backstory: Narrator breaks into a nice house on the coast, decides to raid the wine supply. While she’s resting, a visitor comes by, who turns out to be the estranged daughter of the house’s owners. The daughter, whose name is Henrietta, tells the narrator about the recent death of her three-year-old.

“I’m a perfect candidate for a crystal meth habit. I’ll do anything to interrupt the — ”

“Pain,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said.

She did that hand-waving gesture of hers. “What do you think is the next step? Call my parents?”

I didn’t have a clue how to answer.

“They never met her,” she said. “They did ask. I just never thought they asked genuinely enough. I have to live with that, that I kept her from them. I’m sorry.” She looked up at me, her eyes flashing and her thin-lipped mouth open with grief. “The two most stupid words in the language.”

The next short story in this issue of the Crab Orchard Review is Alex Colin-Shotwell’s “Strike-Slip.” It begins:

You’re up on the roof of a house in the Hollywood Hills and you’re surrounded by a darkness so palpable you can almost wear it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Why Self Loves Warlocks and Werewolves and What Not: CLOCKWORK PRINCE, Chapter 11 (“Wild Unrest”)

First of all, self didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.

Second, writing is hard work. VERY VERY hard work.

Third, just see how you’d like reading 600 pages of The Third Reich of War (The chapter self is on describes how rich Hermann Goring was: he owned 10 villas, all of which were crammed with expensive artwork, and all of which were subsidized at German taxpayers’ expense. Just a few pages before, self read how a Jewish nurse at Auschwitz accompanied her son voluntarily to the gas chamber, during one of the last waves of gassings at the camp: October 1944)

So self hardly needs to explain why she goes for a little fantasy now and then. (How very forward-thinking of her to bring along her copies of Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess to the UK! She usually isn’t that pro-active!)

Anyhoo, Clockwork Prince, which most readers seem to think is “Jem’s book.” NOT!

While our boy Will Herondale is dreadfully discomposed, or disoriented, or whatevers, by the events therein, he is most decidedly NOT out of the picture entirely!

From the Oxford Dictionary of English in Cottage # 2 at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

From the Oxford Dictionary of English in Cottage # 2 at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

In a side-story, a Downworlder named Ragnor Fell is sniffing around Yorkshire to dig up information for the Clave on what exactly the Herondale family is doing in Ravenscar Manor, which is owned by the Magister (aka Mortmain aka Evil Person Who Has Been Trying to Abduct Tessa Gray Since FOREVER). Ragnor reports his findings to Charlotte in a very circumlocutious (but charming) letter which reads, in part, thus:

Ravenscar itself is near a small village. I set myself up at the local inn, the Black Swan, and posed as a gentleman interested in buying property in the area. The locals have been most forthcoming with information, and when they were not, a persuasion spell or two helped them to see the matter from my point of view.

It seems the Herondales mix very little with local society.

It’s now raining! OMG, it was hot as all get-out all day. Thank you for the rain!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Muse 4: Swans! At the Lake in Annaghmakerrig!

Today, after a hard day of writing, self walked down to the lake:

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

And saw her first swans! (Actually, that’s not quite right. She was down at the lake yesterday evening, and saw swans then, too)

Self will share with dear blog readers that it was because of the swans she saw in Ireland that she wrote a story called “The Ark.” And, earlier this year, it was published by Local Nomad. Which, self just wants to say, is a really beautiful on-line journal. And it is all done by one woman: Jean Vengua.

Her story begins thus:

There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time. The hull began to groan with the weight, intensifying his anxiety.

Two Swans!

Two Swans!

And here are swans, diving for food:

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And now, back to the writing desk!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Jessamine, CLOCKWORK PRINCE

Self has been absolutely crushing the writing. Crushing it.

She added pirate raids, defensive maneuvers, gun battles, bonfires and other exceedingly dramatic mayhem to her WIP.

Finally, at 5 p.m., she settles in for a refreshing dip into The Infernal Devices. Which happens to be p. 261 of Clockwork Prince. Which happens to feature dialogue with Jessamine at the dinner table of the London Institute (Jessamine is one of self’s all-time favorite TID characters!)

Will regarded Henry from beneath half-lidded eyes. “Nothing ever disturbs your circles, does it, Henry?”

Henry blinked. “What do you mean?”

“Archimedes,” Jem said, as usual knowing what Will meant, though not looking at him. “He was drawing a mathematical diagram in the sand when his city was attacked by Romans. He was so intent on what he was doing that he didn’t see the soldier coming up behind him. His last words were, ‘Do not disturb my circles.’ Of course, he was an old man by then.”

“And he was probably never married,” said Will, and he grinned at Jem across the table.

Jem didn’t return his grin. Without looking at Will, or Tessa — without looking at any of them — he got to his feet and went out of the room after Charlotte.

“Oh, bother,” said Jessamine “Is this one of those days where we all stalk out in a fury? Because I simply haven’t got the energy for it.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

And Now, Another From CLOCKWORK PRINCE

If self had been able to get to blogging a little earlier, she would have written a fine analysis of the chapter in The Third Reich at War which focuses on Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich, the man who the SS called the “Blonde Beast.” Less affectionately known by the Czechs as the “Butcher of Prague.”

Not a gullible believer in Nazi ideology, Heydrich nevertheless crushed the heart of the Czech resistance movement. Also, was passionate about music and played the violin.

Stop right there, self. You intimated this post was going to be about CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Luckily for dear blog readers, she’s going to make good on her introduction and turn to the CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Because just imagine how quickly your fine Sundays would be ruined if you read about Reich Protector Heydrich’s many successes in eliminating the Jewish population of Prague!

Okey-dokey, self will backtrack.

Cassandra Clare has a great sense of humor and Will Herondale is soooo entertaining a character.

FOR THE 5% OF THE POPULATION WHO HAVE NOT READ THE INFERNAL DEVICES: SPOILER ALERT!

His death anniversary passed a week or so ago (Stop! Can it really be? Forsooth, Cassie Clare called attention to it on her author website: Will Herondale died on June 19, 1937. Self was so addled that she actually heaved a sigh of relief that he was not around to witness World War II. Until she remembered that of course he wouldn’t be around to witness World War II:  because Will Herondale is a fictional character!!! DUH!!!)

Here’s the scene where Jem and Tessa find Will in an opium den. All these years of procuring the drug for beloved Jem (Sissy!) and Will never tried it once. Not once. Until, distraught over the discovery that his family in Wales has been moved by Mortmain to a house in of all places Yorkshire, and unable to tell Tessa Gray that he loves her while watching Jem’s flirtations intensify right before his very eyes (i.e. the train back to London. See also: the carriage ride to London’s East End, where Jem’s hot breath stays in Tessa’s ear. That is, until she lays sight of Will Herondale’s “six feet of bone and muscle” lying supine in a yin fen den run by warlocks — DUN DUN DUN!), he succumbs.

No one at the London Institute, not even Jem (What’s that parabatai rune over your heart doing, Jem? Hasn’t it been bothering you greatly during Will’s disappearance?), bother to go looking for him. Until Tessa Gray receives a confidential note from Warlock Magnus Bane (Methinks the warlock doth care for that whelp Herondale, despite his protestations!) that Will is in trouble, and she waits six hours to tell Jem, and then Jem finally decides that why, yes, as the parabatai he must go and search for Will, and they ride in a carriage and hot breath on Tessa’s ear and all that, and arrive at scummy London’s East End, which is absolutely crawling with Shivering Jemmies and infants whose skin is the color of curdled milk, and they find Will in a den of iniquity, and Tessa knows they have to get him out of there, but Jem is frozen, unable to move (As if thinking: Oh no! Why did we have to find him? I was looking forward to having Tessa Gray all to myself!). And then Tessa Gray says:

If you do not help me, I swear, I will Change into you, and I will lift him myself. And then everyone here will see what you look like in a dress. Do you understand?

God, JEM CARSTAIRS WILL YOU JUST GET A MOVE ON???

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading Dionne Brand

from her poetry collection, Thirsty (McClelland & Stewart):

would I have had a different life
failing this embrace with broken things,
iridescent veins, ecstatic bullets, small cracks
in the brain, would I know these particular facts,
how a phrase scars a cheek, how water
dries love out, this, a thought as casual
as any second eviscerates a breath

and this, we meet in careless intervals,
in coffee bars, gas stations, in prosthetic
conversations, lotteries, untranslatable
mouths, in versions of what we may be,
a tremor of the hand in the realization
of endings, a glancing blow of tears
on skin, the keen dismissal in speed

Self met Dionne Brand in Banff, just this past April.

Life-changing encounter. Forevermore.

Writing can change people.

Another excerpt from Thirsty. By the way, it’s Sunday in Ireland:

There was a Sunday morning scent,
an early morning air, then the unarranged light
that hovers on a street before a city wakes
unrelieved to the war fumes of fuel exhaust

Stay tuned.

Victor Klemperer, Dresden, 1942

On 14 February 1942, Klemperer, aged 60 and in less than perfect health, was ordered to report for work clearing snow off the streets. He was married to a non-Jew; his wife was called a “Jew’s whore.”

They ransacked his house, taking away everything of value. Except for — the diaries.

“Desperately worried that the Gestapo would find his diaries (one is murdered for lessser misdemeanors), Klemperer started to get his wife to take them” to a “non-Jewish friend” for safekeeping.

“But,” he wrote, “I shall go on writing . . . This is my heroism. I intend to bear witness, precise witness!”

— from The Third Reich at War, Part 3 (“The Final Solution”), p. 252

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

How DARE You, Mr. Ragnor Fell!

Self may be getting ahead of herself, but life is short.

There are two choices open to her when she leaves Ireland:  Yorkshire or Wales.

Yorkshire because a crucial scene in Clockwork Prince takes place there. P. 169:

Ragnor Fell, High Warlock of London: “What’s on the carpet, then, Charlotte? Did you really call me out here to discuss dark doings on the Yorkshire moors? I was under the impression that nothing of great interest happened in Yorkshire. In fact, I was under the impression that there was nothing in Yorkshire except sheep and mining.”

Oh la-di-dah, Mr. Fell. Yorkshire isn’t that boring. She was there when she was 11. She was sent to summer camp, somewhere in Yorkshire Dales. She saw the magnificent cathedral.

And Wales?

Something so alluring and romantic about Wales. Aside from the fact that Wales is where Will Herondale was born and lived until he was 12.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Kosygin, Savior, Russian Front 1941

Self hopping all over the place in her reading. But that’s the beauty of being in an artists residency. You can read anything! Free of guilt!

As self was saying, she is hopping all over the place in her reading. And now she is back to reading The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans. And Operation Barbarossa has just culminated in a vast German triumph. And there are many many pages about ordinary German soldiers wondering how the Russian peasantry can live in such filth.

Stalin has effectively recovered from the shock of being made a fool of by Hitler. And has decided, quite rightly, to shift the focus of his government from persecuting Russian ideologues to fighting Germans. In this he has the wholehearted support of the Russian people. And there is a man who pops up, seemingly from nowhere, whose name is Andrej Kosygin. His first appearance is p. 196.

Implementing a “scorched earth policy,” Kosygin decides to shift everything moveable in Russia east.

For example, using “8,000 freight cars,” he succeeded in removing the “metallurgical facilities” from Donbas to Magnitogorsk in the Urals. “Altogether,” Evans writes, “1,360 arms and munitions factories were transferred eastwards between July and November 1941, using one and a half million railway wagons . . .  What could not be taken, such as coalmines, power stations, railway locomotive repair shops, and even a hydro-electric dam on the Dnieper river, was sabotaged and destroyed. This . . . deprived the Germans of resources on which they had been counting.” German “reconnaisance aircraft reported” the massings of railway freight cars but, in an absolute failure of imagination, declared the movement “inexplicable.”

There was a corresponding forced deportation of 390,000 ethnic Germans in the Ukraine eastwards, to remove them from the theatre of war. “By the end of 1942, more than 1,200,000 ethnic Germans had been deported to Siberia and other remote areas . . .  Many of them spoke no German and were German only by virtue of remote ancestry.”

In Smolensk, to the east of the Dnieper river, Russian forces under commanders Zhukov and Timoshenko led robust counter-attacks, proving to the Germans that the Russians were “unexpectedly tough.” General Gotthard Heinrici wrote to his wife: “For the moment one has the impression that the war will go on, even if Moscow is taken, somewhere in the depths of this endless land.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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