Back to Reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the verse translation by Simon Armitage

Self is reading three books at the moment: My Heart, by Semzedin Mehmehdinovic (which she is hugely enjoying — it’s her first ever book by a Bosnian writer); Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner (about Donner’s great-great-aunt, Mildred Harnack)

She reads according to her mood. This morning, the mood is verse:

The Green Knight:

I’m clothed for peace, not kitted out for conflict.
But if you’re half as honorable as I’ve heard folk say
you’ll gracefully grant me this game which I ask for
by right.

The Birthday Boys, p. 49

Beryl Bainbridge chooses to tell the story of Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed expedition to the south pole in first person, and places each chapter in the mind of a different crew member. Self thinks/remembers that the whole lot die, so this is quite a depressing book to be reading right now. She read it for the first time about 20 years ago, and it’s only now that bits and pieces are coming back to her. Such as: the farewell letters written by the men as they were dying on the ice. The diary of Robert Falcon Scott.

Chapter One (June 1910) is narrated by Petty Officer Edgar (Taff) Evans, whose voice has a certain air of stoicism. Evans describes things like how low the boat, the Terra Nova, sits in the water. How the boat was procured (on the cheap). How the expedition received extravagant attention from the press (Oh the irony). How the voyage is projected to take three years. How the Petty Officer knows not all the crew will make it.

The general impression left by Chapter One is that Scott cut corners. Most of Chapter One is engaged with Scott’s fundraising efforts, and how the amount raised didn’t seem to be quite enough. All these details will no doubt have tragic consequences. Scott was charismatic, but he was talking through his arse, the boat was pretty rickety, etc He’d already made one expedition to the Antarctic, which only made him more ambitious.

Chapter Two is related by Dr. Edward (Uncle Bill) Wilson, who is given to detached observation. For example:

  • The scenery was magnificent; abrupt precipices, wooded hills and crags, tumbling waters and a paradise of mosses, ferns and pink belladonna lilies. One moment the air was polluted with the odour of the black til (Oreodaphne foetens), so named because of its awful smell, and the next filled with the delicious scent of the beautiful lilly of the valley tree (Clethra arborea).

citysonnet colors and letters photo challenge: 28 November 2021

The color for 28 November is ORCHID.

Self does not have an orchid (or anything blooming that’s close to the color that’s on citysonnet’s November Challenge page.

Nevertheless, she does have a cousin who wore an orchid-colored top on a drive to Big Sur two weeks ago! Her shades even match her top!

Backstory: Best When Introduced Slowly

Here it comes in Chapter 3 of The Killing Hills:

  • Before gathering walnuts, his grandfather raked through the brush with a long stick to frighten away the snakes. Most bites were on the hand and foot. It was the same with people, Papaw had said. Mick didn’t understand this until clearing rooms in Iraq and three comrades were shot in the hand by the enemy.

The Million-Dollar Question

Manny Bloch’s cross-examination of David Greenglass, Ethel’s younger brother (bear in mind Bloch’s experience in court was settling small bakery contract disputes, and he was up against a very wily and very slippery Roy Cohn, David’s lawyer)

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy, pp. 141 – 142

“You realize the possible death penalty in the event that Ethel is convicted by this jury, do you not?”

Repeating the question, Bloch asked: “And you bear affection for her?”

“I do.”

“This moment?”

“At this moment.”

“And yesterday?”

“And yesterday.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Past Squares 2: Prague, May 2019

This is only self’s third round of participation in Life of B’s Squares Challenge, so instead of choosing favorites from her previous rounds, in April and July 2021, she’ll focus on past trips. She used to be quite the traveler! Everything came to a screeching halt in 2020.

May 2019: Self’s niece was going to Prague and asked if she wanted to come along. Self had never been to Prague. Of course she wanted to come along!

Dinner the first night was in the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. All the surrounding buildings were lit. The view was stunning! The next day, at Prague Castle, we stumbled on a wedding photo shoot. Self was able to squeeze off a quick candid photo.

Last on the Card, September 2021

Thanks, bushboys world, for hosting the Last Photo on the Card photo challenge.

I’ve been taking more pics with my cell these days. The last pic I took with my Nikon coolpix on September 23, 2021:

“Pink Over Red”: Mark Rothko, American, born Latvia (1903 – 1970), Stanford’s Anderson Collection

Stanford’s Anderson Collection had re-opened to the public, the day before. It so happened that Sept. 22 was also Dear Departed Mum’s birthday; she would have been 86. So, I was full of FEELZ when I stumbled across this Rothko.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Question of the Day

How do the pensioners in The Thursday Murder Club know about the Dark Web when self only heard about it a month ago?

She’s on p. 181.

Also, it turns out, the DCI likes Oasis. OASIS.

Normally, she would just barrel through to the end (especially as it’s getting pretty exciting), but today has had all sorts of appointments, and she’s meeting someone for dinner — DINNER! — at the Beach Chalet. Her cousin from Manila, who’s only here for a few days.

Stay cool (it’s hard, that sun’s like a laser), dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Introduction, FAULT LINES: FRACTURED FAMILIES AND HOW TO MEND THEM

Self feels more engaged by Fault Lines than she was about Rules of Engagement. Karl Pillemer’s methods are research-based. He used “snowball sampling” techniques: “a large group of people are contacted and then asked to contact others in turn to help find interviewees.” His aim was to find subjects who had “reconciled,” who had moved “from anger and despair to acceptance . . . This book is built on their experiences, stories, and advice.”

He is not prescriptive: His aim is to present readers “with a range of ideas that they can apply to their own situations.” He followed up with “some of the estranged respondents over time to determine whether their own situations had changed and interviewing more than one person in a number of families.” Estrangement, Pillemer writes, “can be best understood as a form of chronic stress.” But he is quick to say he doesn’t intend to offer “clinical or psychological advice”: “I am a research sociologist and have no clinical credentials of any kind.”

He is quiet about whether he himself has any experience of estrangement, but of course he does. He just doesn’t share it, but he does. No one decides to write a book like this without that experience.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Quote of the Day: RULES OF ESTRANGEMENT

Self cannot believe she found this book as a result of an article in The Economist — which, as some readers might know, is not into New Age Psychology or anything so CALIFORNIA.

The author, Joshua Coleman (Ph.D. is after his name, so there’s that), is a psychologist with a private practice in Oakland, California.

p. 13:

  • My mission is to help you find healthy ways to reconcile. In general — and there are exceptions — I believe reconciliation is better than staying apart. Better for you and better for our society. And if a reconciliation isn’t possible, I want to help you have a happy, healthy life with or without your kid in it.

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