What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 19 March 2017

It is Sunday.

A very peaceful, beautiful Sunday.

Birds are singing, the sun is shining. Self has taken to sleeping in her studio on the second floor of her unit. Because it’s so sunny there, with the skylight.

This is what she happened to be reading today, in addition to writing (and starting a new Everlark):

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Self is keeping up with her “Word of the Day” from the Oxford English Dictionary. Today’s word is dislocate. She actually used it in a story she’s working on. YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Pleasure and Guilt: p. 221, THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Pleasure and guilt are synonymous terms in the language of the monks . . .  they had discovered, by experience, that rigid fasts and abstemious diet are the most effectual preservatives against the impure desire of the flesh. The rules of abstinence . . .  were not uniform or perpetual: the cheerful festival of the Pentecost was balanced by the extraordinary mortification of Lent; the fervour of new monasteries was . . .  relaxed, and the voracious appetite of the Gauls could not imitate the patient and temperate virtue of the Egyptians . . . with their daily pittance of twelve ounces of bread . . .  divided into two frugal repasts, of the afternoon and of the evening.

— p. 221, Chapter VII (“The Rise of Monasticism”)

#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.

 

March 2008

Nine years ago, this month, self was in Tel Aviv.

It is painful to read her blog posts from that time because her sister-in-law, Ying, eventually died there. September 11, 2008.

She got back from Tel Aviv, and self believes it was that same month when she got called in to the Dean’s office at Foothill and he asked her why she flunked two particular men — whose grade she had to change to a C. Even though they did not turn in a single assignment. They actually told the Dean that self threw something at them. And he believed them. Cause self is so YUUUUGE! She’s so fiery!!!

And, only months after, self’s stint as the only Asian American teacher (adjunct) in the English Dept. at Foothill was over. Because she got charged with discriminating against those two men.

Can you imagine the irony? The minority woman being accused of discriminating? Against two men?

Way to go, Dean! Enter slow clap emoji here.

If you can believe that self would do that (throw something) at two men who are obviously bullies, you would have to be nuts!

Nobody, absolutely nobody, believed self when she denied throwing anything. So then began endless years of wondering whether she had forgotten this incident?

And then came to the conclusion that, since she’s never thrown anything at anyone in her entire life, she couldn’t actually have thrown anything.

Case went up the complaint lines, until — after months of terror and stress — self changed the students’ grade.

Sucks to be an adjunct. Self’s just saying.

She wishes she could remember those two students’ names. Because they will forever know that if they bully a female teacher, all they have to do is accuse her of blah-blah-blah. Raise that ugly word. And voila! Done! Teacher’s toast!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Impregnable Quebec: MONTCALM AND WOLFE, pp 531 – 532

At this point, with less than a hundred pages to go, the Battle for Quebec is finally, apparently going to happen.

Quebec’s location requires the British forces to storm uphill. It’s bad enough they have to storm at all, but — uphill?

To make things worse, Wolfe, the British commander, is taken ill (almost on the eve of the attack, of all the bloody ##@@!!) and has to stay in bed for five days.

Meanwhile, the French have planted small detachments (with cannon. And guns) on each declivity. So that once the British get through one line of fire, they’re met by another. All coming from above.

But the British have to attack because: 1) winter is approaching; 2) months in the Canadian wilderness have significantly weakened the British Army. Wolfe, the British commander, knows it’s now or never (Self is so impressed with this commander that she gave his name to one of the characters in The Rorqual, her horror story-in-progress.)

At this critical juncture, the British are able to send a small detachment of soldiers to a hill overlooking the city. So now this small British detachment (very wee: something like only 150 men) is able to see directly into the town, behind the ramparts, from above. The British are able to reinforce this detachment by sending ships, ships that go undetected by the French. (The French fully expected the challenge to come from the front because they believed that the hills behind the city were impregnable.)

But, let’s not underestimate British determination! Not to mention Parkman’s eye for the droll anecdote!

The 22 ships are joined by “a diminutive schooner, armed with a few swivels and jocosely named The Terror of France.” She sails by the city “in broad daylight.” The French, “incensed at her impudence . . .  begin blazing at her from all their batteries.” Still, the schooner is able to “pass unharmed” whereupon the schooner salutes the British commander “triumphantly with her swivels.”

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.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 12 March 2017

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Self’s horror story, The Rorqual, now up to 15 pp. YAY!

Stay tuned.

Book #3: Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Mary Oliver’s Swan

Self has never read Mary Oliver before.

How I Go to the Woods

Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unbearable sound of the roses singing.

* * *

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Andrew O’Hehir on Salon.com

Thought-provoking piece in Saturday’s Salon.com by Andrew O’Hehir in which he tries to parse how much of the blame for the Trump debacle rests on the media themselves, or on the distortion created by reliance on social media.

Since self is sure she is the only person in the world dealing with her excoriating disappointment over the U.S. political process while reading a book about a 1755 U.S. political crisis, let’s just say her opinions are probably based on comparisons between 1755 America and now.

And what self has concluded is that Trump reminds her of the English Prime Minister in 1755, the Duke of ______ (It was several hundred pages back; self will look up the name in a bit), who was endlessly campaigning, even when he had already won, and who was so quickly bored with the responsibilities of his position that he went to war and cared not a whit about sending suitable men and material with which to execute this war, and thus many people died on the American frontier, without gaining the English any political advantage (that English officer class, though — “Ours but to do or die” to the last!) — not that the Duke/Prime Minister cared all that much. After all, it’s not as if anyone expected him to pick up a musket! What a horrible, disagreeable, rude idea!

On to O’Hehir’s piece:

Quoting Samuel Greene of King’s College London by way of Thomas B. Edsall of The New York Times: “Our information landscape is open and fluid . . . voters’ perceptions have become untethered from reality. Thus, the news we consume has become as much about emotion and identity as about facts.”

Can you blame us? We’re stuck reading POTUS tweets every single day. Every single one of those tweets comes at us from an emotional angle. Granted, they all have the same emotional tone: that of a needy five-year-old. We’re so fascinated we can’t look away. Come on, media: even you must admit you’ve been hypnotized by posts that say SAD and BIGLY and YUUUGE. And if you professional journalists can’t resist this tsunami of unfettered emotion coming from POTUS, how do you expect us to?

O’Hehir on Fake News and how we got here: “In a universe shaped by the blatant untruths and racist fantasies of right-wing media, where Barack Obama’s birthplace was a mystery, the Sandy Hook shootings might have been staged and millions of people who were not obviously suffering from severe mental illness took the Pizzagate scandal seriously, the difference between news and fake news comes to seem like a matter of taste or opinion.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Road Taken: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 1 March 2017

Show us something that delighted or surprised you on “the road taken.”

— Krista, The Daily Post

  • Tree-house, Backyard of Doris Duterte Stutely in Driffield, East Riding
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Tree-houses are fabulous. Self would like to live in one.

  • Before the Daly City Council Meeting, Monday 13 February 2017: Nikki S. Victoria, Filipina activist, greets fellow members of the community who volunteered to speak on behalf of making Daly City a Sanctuary City:
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If ever there was a time to speak up, it is now: City Hall, Daly City, February 2017

  • It is always exciting to discover a new museum. The below was one block away from self’s hotel in Washington DC, where she had flown to read for Quarterly West at downtown bar-restaurant Sixth Engine:
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Lobby of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC: Tour Guide, lower left

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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