Inspirations 2: Yorkshire Landscapes

More for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: INSPIRATION

From The Daily Post:

What is your inspiration? What moves you? What is it that never fails to motivate you, to get you going, or make you happy?

Self will focus on inspirational landscapes. Such as these from Yorkshire:

Yorkshire, July 2015

Yorkshire, July 2015

And more of the same:

DSCN0899

And still more of the same:

DSCN0891

Honestly, the landscape of Yorkshire is so amazing. Green and hilly and full of eccentric rock placements. Sort of like the towns of Yorkshire themselves, with abbeys and cathedrals and Haworth coffee shops and Shipley punks and Bronte parsonages and cemeteries and Salts Mills and David Hockneys and Yorkshire teas and Victorian Steampunk and 1940s Festivals.

Self hates that they won’t let you take any pictures in the Bronte Museum in Haworth. Inside as well as outside, according to the young woman who was the first tour guide she encountered, standing by the front entrance. The guide had watched self taking a picture of a yellow flower by the front steps.

But self felt she really had to get to Yorkshire, not just because of the Brontes, but because of Will Herondale and the events in Clockwork Prince, book 2 of The Infernal Devices.

There is a very crucial plot twist that takes place in Yorkshire but, in the meantime, we have:  Balcony scene, Demons Ball, Chiswick. Herondale, what else can self say. Tessa being all encouraging (p. 292): “Will, you need not be so careful. I will not break.” And then, you know, Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff, Tessa saying Will is like her Heathcliff, the moors, whatever.

So brooding and romantic, Yorkshire is!

So brooding and romantic, Yorkshire is! July 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Marius: p. 195, Howard Jacobson’s THE ACT OF LOVE

What is happening to self? For almost 200 pages of Howard Jacobson’s novel, she has been feeling revulsion for a character called Marius, who is introduced by the narrator as a lech, a womanizer, a shallow, vapid stealer of women.

SPOILERS OF THE MOST DAMNABLE SORT

In fact, this is the person who the narrator deems most likely for his wife to fall in love with. This is an Othello fable where Othello hopes his Desdemona is unfaithful, because he pines to be a voyeur. (This is a very British tale. Can’t imagine such a plot device going down well in her home country. But maybe a blog reader can enlighten self about this?)

On p. 194 of THE ACT OF LOVE, the narrator gets fed up with Marius’s dilly-dallying. He decides to provoke him. He’s been following Marius around for days, and Marius doesn’t seem to have a clue how to seduce the narrator’s wife. So he follows Marius to a coffee shop on High Street.

Marius: Why are you stalking me?

Narrator: Who said I was stalking you? I mentioned I’d seen you with a beautiful woman, that’s all.

Marius: And what’s that to you? Are you a private investigator?

Narrator: No. I’m more what you’d call a pervert if you really want to know what I do.

Marius: And you think telling me this will make me feel better about talking to you? What would you do if I told you to get lost?

Narrator: If I thought you meant it, I’d get lost.

Marius: If you thought I meant it! Is this what a pervert does? Hangs around people who tell him to get lost while he decides whether or not they mean it? Why don’t you just call yourself a glutton for punishment and have done.

Self really, really loves this conversation.

It’s so interesting that self is beginning to feel quite a lot of empathy for Marius! Who would have thought, this late in the book?

Jacobson, you’re so sly!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”

Fragonard's

Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Power Outage, Dharamsala, January 2012

Never mind the reasons why.

A hired car and driver were available, right that very minute. Before self could over-think, she heard herself say, “Take me to Dharamsala.”

About halfway there, self looked around and saw that they seemed to be approaching a huge mountain. The mountain just kept getting bigger and bigger. In fact, by the time self had actually arrived IN Dharamsala, the mountain had lost its identity as mountain and was just this huge representation. An all-encompassing I-am-in-India-having-an-out-of-body experience type of representation. (Just think: two weeks earlier, self could never have imagined that she would be in Dharamsala. In fact, she almost never used to think about Dharamsala. In fact, she knew next to nothing about Dharamsala. Until she got stuck in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, she was having a super-sized ADVENTURE with a capital A!)

“Where is your hotel, madame?”

Funny, those are probably the only words of English self ever heard the driver utter. He was from Tibet. Which is how she knew she could trust him.

“Um . . . ummm”

Self casts her mind back to the previous night. She’d stayed up, scanning tripadvisor.

She managed to dredge up a name. The driver took self to the name. It was inside a military cantonment. Oh thank God, self thought, I AM SAFE! (How did she know it was a military cantonment? Because the hired car was stopped by soldiers, a security check before entering said military cantonment)

Self was so exhausted by this whole first-time-in-India thing that she stayed in Dharamsala almost a week.

At one point, there was a power outage.

No no no noooo!

Self had been crouched in front of a portable space heater, praying it didn’t short-circuit in the middle of the night and burn her to a crisp.

But — power outage! Why had she never considered the possibility?

Self’s first thought: I AM GOING TO DIE!!!!

Teeth making loud chattering (involuntary) noises.

At some point, a knock on the door.

Geez! What next? Go away, self yelled.

Then she recognized the voice of one of the inn-keepers. “Madame,” he kept repeating, almost frantic. “Madame, are you all right?”

At which point, self decided to speak:  “M-m-more c-c-comforters!”

Man returns with four.

Next morning, having survived the night, self makes chit-chat with front desk. “Does that happen often?” She means: Power Outage.

Man nods convincingly. “Oh yes, Madame. Last year, we had no power for two weeks.”

!!!###@@@

Holy Cow! self exclaimed. Two weeks! How did you get through it?

At which point, the man just shrugs.

What must be endured, must be endured.

Of course! Because, no one has any choice. Self asks the stupidest questions sometimes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Miss Warby’s Ghost Lives!

The Lake at Annaghmakerrig, 10:30 p.m.

On the Way to the Lake, 10:30 p.m.

Today, self got to chatting with a few of the other artists at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

She told them she’d gone down to the lake, one night after dinner, and heard a kind of humming.

The lake was soooo still.

In the distance, on the far side of the lake, were a flock of swans.

Above her, swallows circled.

She tweeted about it a few days ago, and someone named Miss Warby’s Ghost tweeted back: That humming you heard was me!

HA HA HA HA.

Today, though, self was telling the other artists about the lake humming and Miss Warby’s ghost, and one of the artists said, “There really IS a Miss Warby’s Ghost.”

Whaaaat?

There’s a room called Miss Warby’s in the main house, and yeah, there really is a ghost there.

Again:  Whaaaat?

Then another artist said that once, at night, she saw a cloaked figure by the lake, of all things playing a flute. The music was really beautiful.

Later, the artist asked around if there were any flute players at the Centre.

The answer: Nada y nada y nada.

DUN DUN DUN!

Humming in the sky, ghosts, mysterious flute players. Self can’t even.

Stay tuned.

June 1940: Richard J. Evans’s THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

About a fourth of the way through The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans

Part 2, Chapter 1:  The Work of Providence

6 June 1940

German forces cross the Somme.

16 June 1940

French Prime Minister Reynaud resigns, the only person in the French government not in favor of an armistice. He is replaced by the elderly Marshall Pétain.

“Half of the 1.5 million French troops taken prisoner by the Germans surrendered after this point. Soldiers who wanted to fight on were often physically attacked by civilians.”

The French had lost 120,000 soldiers, while the Dutch and Belgians lost 10,500 and the British 5,000. Furthermore, since French troops formed the rearguard of the retreating British, Belgian and Dutch army, 40,000 French soldiers were taken prisoner at Dunkirk.

Understandably, it would take British and French foreign relations a very long time to recover.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Off-Season 5: South Bank, London

OFF-SEASON is still the theme for these photographs.

OFF-SEASON is partly nostalgic. A looking back.

It’s also a phase.

Her last fulll day in London, Joan McGavin took self walking all over the South Bank. Where Shakespeare’s Globe used to be is now a modern apartment building. Signs mark the location of the old Globe, however. It’s a parking lot, around the corner from the new Globe:

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London's South End.

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London’s South End.

Signs show the layout of the old theatre complex. Self likes to muse on the contrast with the current surroundings: cars, vans, box-like buildings.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn't know about bear-baiting.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn’t know about bear-baiting.

Part of our perambulations involved a visit to the Tate Modern Gallery of Art. The building is huge. It dwarfs everything alongside. The building used to house the Bankside Power Station.

The main entrance is cavernous. The lower level was practically empty, except for this greatly ambiguous piece. It felt unfinished but perhaps that was the point?

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London's South Bank. Self doesn't know what it means.

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank. Self doesn’t know what it means.

It’s “Off-Season” because it is so isolated and random, occurring in the middle of what evokes a warehouse setting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vivid 3: A Day’s Peregrinations, Which Include Reading a Short Story in THE BANE CHRONICLES

Today, self re-visited some of her favorite haunts, the locus for some of her most vivid memories.

One was a small shopping center at the intersection of Marsh and Bay Road.

Here they have a great potsticker place and also a very nice breakfast place called Squeezed In which, for some reason, has adopted the motif of aliens. Green aliens. There was this at the entrance, and more hanging inside, on the restaurant walls:

The Aliens Have Landed! On Bay Road!

The Aliens Have Landed! On Bay Road!

Self was so impressed that Sandy has this little thing, made by one of her sons when they were in grade school (St. Raymond’s, where self’s Andrew also went to school. In fact, that’s how Sandy and self met, many many years ago. Now, Sandy’s older boy works in Palo Alto, and her younger boy is in the Navy, stationed in Oahu):

Hanging Above Sandy's desk in her home office!

Hanging Above Sandy’s desk in her home office!

Self’s last stop was Kepler’s Books. Self has read in Kepler’s a couple of times, most memorably when her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila, was published by Calyx. Today, self stopped by in the hottest part of the afternoon, and wanted to just curl up in a corner and read.

DSCN9950

She began reading The Bane Chronicles (so tempted to buy a copy, but it’s hardcover and quite hefty), the fourth story, called “The Midnight Heir,” which she knows from Goodreads is the story about the Herondales.

Magnus Bane, Warlock, returns to London for the first time in 25 years, and at a party he meets a beautiful 17-year-old boy who reminds him so much of his old friend, Will Herondale. He almost thinks it is Will himself in the flesh, but the boy does not have Will’s blue eyes. When Magnus approaches the boy, he is surprised when the boy addresses him thus:

“You are Magnus Bane.”

Magnus hesitated, then inclined his head. “And you are?”

“I,” the boy announced, “am James Herondale.”

At this point, self wanted to charge the check-out desk, whip out her credit card and exclaim, Put it there! I’m good!

But no, she restrained herself and continued to read:

James: I would not set any great store in it. My father trusts a great many people.

Magnus:  I see that a flair for the dramatic runs in the blood.

So, since young Herondale is so visibly drunk, Magnus undertakes to bring him home and restore him to the loving arms of his parents, who are none other than — Will Herondale and Tessa Gray! Who Magnus has not seen in 25 years! Holy Heavens to Mergatroid!

James Herondale has passed out, and Magnus has to carry him in his arms (the better to scrutinize that darling Will-like face, of course), and the anxious parents come to receive their son, whereby Magnus recounts the events of the evening, which included James riding a bicycle (without using his hands) to Trafalgar Square, climbing to the top of the Nelson Monument and attempting to do battle with Lord Nelson, then trying to drown himself in the Serpentine.

Magnus:  Then he abruptly collapsed, naturally in the path of an oncoming train from Dover, and I decided it was well past time to take him home and place him in the bosom of his family. If you had rather I put him in an orphanage, I fully understand.

Strangely, Tessa has not aged at all in 25 years, but Will has. Yet, to Magnus he is still handsome.

And then Brother Zachariah (Damn him! Self is all WESSA) makes an appearance. And the love between Jem/ aka Brother Zachariah and Will is even more palpable than the love between Jem and Tessa. Holy Mackerel! No wonder 95.6% of all fan fiction about The Infernal Devices is M/M.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beg Pardon, Yet Another CLOCKWORK PRINCESS Quote

SPOILERS, NATURALLY

Dearest blog readers, self finished reading Clockwork Princess days ago, but now it is time for the RE-READING of her favorite scenes. One of which happens to be the cave-in-Wales scene because that’s where Will goes to rescue Tessa from the evil clutches of Mortmain (Self definitely needs to do some exploring of Wales!).

Incidentally, self discovered that although there really is very slim pickings in Wessa fan fiction, there is ONE very good one she found just a few minutes ago, on fanfiction.net

Since the writer summarizes the kinks in the plot, self feels it is okay to share:

In Chapter 1, Shadowhunters at the London Institute are still trying to find a way to stop Mortmain and protect Tessa. But that conniving Mortmain gets a demon to help him make a clockwork Tessa. So they grab the real Tessa, and leave behind the clockwork Tessa, and it fools Will Herondale for, like, one day? But that’s enough time to abduct Tessa and elude the Shadowhunters.

Oh heavens to mergatroid, can there be anything more exciting than the moment when Will discovers his Tessa is actually an automaton???

Anyhoo, in yet another aside (Self is well aware that she has yet to post the quote mentioned in her title), self read a post on Goodreads that complained about how long each of the novels in The Infernal Devices series was — each about 600 pages. Admittedly, they’re each fat novels, but self refuses to complain. After all, longer novels just mean MORE WILL HERONDALE.

The same reader also said that if Cassandra Clare had cut down on those long passages of description about Victorian London, the books would have been much improved.

##@@!!!

Self strenuously disagrees. She thinks that it is the meticulous detail in Clare’s scene setting that elevates her writing far far above the field of fantasy writers.

For example, in the cave scene:

Tessa and Will are resting together on the bed (Wonder why Mortmain left Tessa alone for so long — don’t get self wrong, she is glad that Tessa and Will got to have their moment, but Mortmain seems so paranoid and grasping, it’s sort of hard to believe that he wouldn’t be checking up on Tessa very frequently. Anyhoo, they’ve had at least six hours alone. Plenty of time! Thank you, Mortmain). The fire has burnt down (This cave/prison came equipped with a fireplace)

p. 419:

Late in the night or early in the morning, Tessa woke. The fire had burned down entirely, but the room was lit by the peculiar torchlight that seemed to go on and off without rhyme or reason.

And the only thing self can think of after reading that passage is:

HOLY AMBIENT LIGHTING!

IN A CAVE!

IN WALES!

In the nineteenth century!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK PRINCESS: THE END (SELF’S EYES SWOLLEN TO THE SIZE OF GOLFBALLS)

WAAAAAH!  Self tried to put off reading to the end of Clockwork Princess, but she couldn’t, she just couldn’t.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! CAN’T SAY SELF DIDN’T WARN YOU!

She wanted to begin Clockwork Angel all over again, the scene where Will first stumbles across Tessa, in the house of the Dark Sisters. He looked like an ordinary boy, only beautiful. And he had gear strapped to his chest, and threw knives like nobody’s business. Tessa was scared and, to distract her, he told her about hedgehogs. Hedgehogs! Will Herondale, self absolutely loves you.

She ended up PM-ing with her niece on FB: Karina, see what you’ve done? Self is a MESS! SUCH A MESS! SHE CAN’T EVEN! BECAUSE — WILL HERONDALE!

Calm down, self!

Anyhoo, self has made no secret of the fact that one of her favorite secondary characters was Jessamine. And somewhere in Clockwork Princess, she expires. In Will’s arms. But not before she has a very touching conversation with him, and ends up revealing that she always liked him better than Jem (You said it, girl! Jem is such a — such a — never mind!), and self cried BUCKETS. She does mean BUCKETS.

And just as she was wringing out her last set of clean handkerchiefs because Will was taking the loss of his parabatai so badly (Not to mention, he had sex with his parabatai’s fiancée but he only did it to comfort her because she was so torn up over the loss of Jem; he did ask her about three times if she was sure, and each time she told him that yes, she was sure, and she wouldn’t hold it against him if they did it, and that whole scene was just so — AAARGH!), along comes . . .

the ghost of Jessamine!

Cassandra Clare, thank you thank you thank you for making the reader’s last encounter with Jessamine not a bloody corpse in a white gown on the steps of the London Institute!

Jessamine: I always said you’d be a dreadful suitor, Will, and you are nigh on proving it.

Will:  Truly? You have come back from death like the ghost of Old Marley . . . to nag me about my romantic prospects?

Jessamine: What prospects? You’ve taken Tessa on so many carriage rides, I’d wager she could draw a map of London from memory . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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