Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 103: SURPRISE

Whew, where would self’s head be right now if she weren’t doing a Photo Challenge? These Photo Challenges are really helping self stay positive during the pandemic.

The latest Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is: SURPRISE.

Would you like to know your future? If your answer is yes, think again. Not knowing is the greatest life motivator. So enjoy, endure, survive each moment as it comes to you in its proper sequence, a surprise.     

– Vera Nazarian

Do joing the fun!

Here are self’s recent surprises:

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These cherries from a tree in self’s backyard were so unexpectedly sweet!

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Picking more cherries!

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Her friend Jacinta O’Reilly, a painter in Ireland, sent her this beautiful card that she made herself. What a beautiful surprise to get in the mail!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

 

“Beyond the Waters of Death,” Joan Acocella’s New Yorker piece on the making of GILGAMESH (14 October 2019)

  • “A young Londoner, George Smith, who had left school at the age of fourteen and was employed as an engraver of bank notes,” was fascinated by artifacts. He spent lunch breaks at the British Museum and “studied the shards for around ten years . . . it was he who found the most famous passage inscribed on them, an account of a great flood wiping out almost all of humanity, with one man’s family surviving. When he read this, we are told, he became so excited that he jumped out of his chair and ran around the room, tearing off his clothes.”

George Smith died of dysentery in Aleppo, where he’d gone to do research, age 36. But not before he discovered the oldest long poem in the world, Gilgamesh.

Everywhere in the world has an ancient flood story. Even Mexico. Even the Philippines. Self thinks this means there must have been an actual climactic event whose effects were felt worldwide.

Stay safe dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Anna Volodovna: Abaddon’s Gate, p. 404

PATIENCE, dear blog readers — Only 200 more pages to go!

(Self remembers someone telling her, years ago, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET OVER THIS NOVEL. She’d been reading Banana Yoshimoto, who writes very slim books, but she would parse every page. Thank your lucky stars she’s not doing that with Abaddon’s Gate!)

Here comes social commentary, you knew it would come, of course it’s Anna Volodovna’s point of view:

  • You have allied yourself with stupid, violent men, and you are trying to convince yourself that being stupid and violent will work. That makes you stupid too. I will never help you. I’ll fight you now.

Woman! YES YES YES!!!

The characters she likes best in Abaddon’s Gate (apart from Holden, goes without saying) are Bull and Clarissa Mao. These are the two most violent people in the novel; what does it say about self that she identifies? Self is so NON-VIOLENT!

Nevertheless, she loves these flawed, mistaken, and yet courageous characters.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Sentence of the Day: Abaddon’s Gate, p. 316

Help! Emergency! James Holden’s been captured by the Martians! And they are taking him to —

pp. 316 – 317:

  • The luminescent surface irised closed behind them . . . The marine flipped him into a wall-mounted holding bar and strapped him in. “I’m out of air!” Holden screamed. “Please!”

They put HOLDEN into a wall-mounted holding bar???

Why does Holden keep getting into these situations? It’s pretty funny how things keep happening to him, book after book.

But then, he wouldn’t be James Holden if he didn’t keep getting into these scrapes. So, carry on, sir.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Current Reading, First Friday in May 2020

The things self learns! Her house is a mess. Stacks of books piled everywhere.

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Mama’s Last Hug, p. 41:

  • People who have just fallen in love have more oxytocin in their blood than do singles, and their high concentration lasts if their relationship lasts. But oxytocin also shields pair-bonds from sexual adventures with outsiders. When married men are given this hormone in a nasal spray, they feel uncomfortable around attractive women and prefer to keep their distance.

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: SEEING

Self loves joining these foto challenges. Since Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is SEEING, self took her camera to the backyard to check on how her flowers are doing:

Exciting: Her Winsome Rose is finally blooming!

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More blooms are opening on her Fourth of July Rose:

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Stay tuned.

 

World War II Memoirs, Hoover Archives

When Stanford libraries were still open, self used to go there just to read. Her favorite thing was to read World War II memoirs. There were also transcripts from the war trials conducted by the Americans in Los Baños. These memoirs are all in the bowels of Hoover Archives. She once bumped into the writer Karen Tei Yamashita there! We were surprised, to say the least. She was leaving the archives and self was just entering.

General Yamashita was tried, convicted, and hung within three days. Self remembers reading that his young American lawyer was very green and CRIED when the verdict was announced. He apologized to Yamashita for not defending him better. The lawyer attended the hanging, as a sign of respect. That must have been hard.

Self did photocopy a handful of memoirs, from the single copy machine in the Hoover Archive reading room. She stashed them in her closet and had so many adventures, so many travels, that she did not read them again until today.

First memoir: “Sometimes it seems that you just can’t be doing the things that you find yourself continuing to do.”

This from a memoir written by the wife of an American mine executive. Her husband chose to stay with the mine, but he sent his wife away, and she caught passage on a boat headed up the Agusan River, a boat packed with fleeing Filipino families. Never once does she bring up the fear and sadness she must have felt at leaving her husband. But she describes seeing the dawn break, day after day after day, so her insomnia must have been terrible. “Someone else made the coffee . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Henry Kamen, in his Preface to Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492 – 1763

Self has had this book for a very long time. Probably she bought it when she first started wanting to write about the early Spanish explorers: Magellan, Vasco de Gama, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, Juan de Salcedo.

She didn’t even think to look up the author’s biography until now: She is absolutely shocked to read: Henry Kamen is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London . . .

From the Preface:

This book was born, in a way, on the battlefield of St. Quentin, a small French town close to the border with Belgium, where in the year 1557 the king of Spain, Philip II, scored a notable victory over the army of the King of France.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro: SNARK

A direct quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Diamond As Big as the Ritz appears below. Poor Julian indeed! Hemingway’s contempt is code. The ‘someone’ is probably Hemingway.

  • The rich were dull and they drank too much, or they played too much backgammon. They were dull and they were repetitious. He remembered poor Julian and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, “The very rich are different from you and me.” And how someone had said to Julian, Yes, they have more money.

 

BR Sentence of the Day, p. 194

I made my way through a crowd of diseased Moors to the Doctor’s room.

SPOILER

It seems Sebastian is now the companion of a disabled German, who makes him go and fetch and treats him like a servant.

And he looks terrible.

Stay tuned.

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