Stonehenge/Pacifica

In 2014, self went to see Stonehenge.

She signed up for a small-group tour, the only one allowed on the site towards sunset. All the big tour buses had left. The guide, a retired military officer, led the group across a sheep meadow.

This is unquestionably the best approach. It allows the view to unfold gradually. You are reminded that this was how people, in time immemorial, must have approached the monument: in procession. Self could hardly contain her excitement at her first glimpse of the pillars of stone.

The mystery of the site has stayed with her. The fact that no human habitations were ever built around it. What was it used for?

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From this vantage point, we could clearly see the jagged outline of the stones, just above the rise.

Well before she saw Stonehenge, she’d written about it in a piece called Stonehenge/Pacifica, published in Wigleaf, 2012.

It was a dream I had, some restless night. One of those weeks or months or years when we were worried about money.

But when were we ever not worried?

First there was the mortgage, and then the two.

And then your mother got sick, and your father died.

And my mother I think developed Alzheimer’s, but we never mentioned it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Things People Play With

It’s been several weeks since self participated in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, so she’s more than happy to participate today.

The prompt is: THINGS PEOPLE PLAY WITH

  • The London Eye seen from Waterloo Bridge, 7 October 2018:

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  • The Leland Stanford, Jr. University Marching Band in the Annual 4th of July Parade, Downtown Redwood City: The band’s known for its goofiness.

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  • The Stanford Tree Leading the Leland Stanford, Jr. University Marching Band in the Annual 4th of July Parade in Downtown Redwood City. The Tree is an enduring emblem:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

High Comedy

EMMA: Volume II Chapter XV

Far be it for self to attempt to sum up the Immortal Jane, but time is short and self has a book (nay, many books!) to complete. If only self could keep up this arch language for a moment longer — so that she could finish her work-in-progress set in, naturally, Regency England!

But, she digresses.

A chapter or two ago, Mrs. Weston confided to Emma that she believes Mr. Knightley is in love with Jane Fairfax. This suggestion puts Emma in high dudgeon (even though she has never, hitherto, thought of Mr. Knightley in any way other than a brother)

So, Emma decides to probe about the nature of his feelings for Jane Fairfax (Among other things, Jane was the recipient of a piano from a mysterious benefactor. And, pianos being expensive, suspicion on the possible donor centers on Mr. Knightley). She asks him a direct question about Jane. What follows is a most delightful episode of “foot pressing.” Self never encountered the like in any of the Jane Austen novels she has read to date. You know, when someone is about to put her/his foot in her/his mouth and someone gives you a kick under the table? As a kind of warning?

Here’s the scene:

Mr. Knightley was hard at work upon the lower buttons of his thick leather gaiters, and either the exertion of getting them together, or some other cause, brought the colour into his face, as he answered,

“Oh, are you there? — But you are miserably behind-hand. Mr. Cole gave me a hint of it six weeks ago.”

He stopped. Emma felt her foot pressed by Mrs. Weston, and did not know herself what to think. In a moment he went on —

“That will never be, however, I can assure you. Miss Fairfax, I dare say, would not have me if I were to ask her — and I am very sure I shall never ask her.”

He becomes annoyed with Emma’s questions, and then thoughtful. Jane Fairfax, Mr. Knightley says, “has a fault. She has not the open temper which a man would wish for in a wife.”

!!!!! Emma, open your eyes! Open your eyes!

Stay tuned.

Trees, Fall, Annaghmakerrig

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10 October 2018

Work-in-Progress: “Residents of the Deep”

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Map of Oceania

Self began this story on her very first visit to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig and has added to it, bit by bit, over the years. She was in Unit # 4 and there was an old maritime book in one of the cupboards.

She doesn’t worry about finishing this story. It will always be “in progress” — it will always exist in middle time, like her visits to this part of Ireland and beautiful Annaghmakerrig.

Here are the opening sentences:

There is something singularly impressive and affecting to the imagination when, in a perfectly calm tropical sea, under a vertical sun, one is able to look down through a depth of thousands of fathoms of clear water and see on the ocean bottom glimpses of the City and all its strange and wonderful objects. The discovery of a populous City existing under fathoms of ocean is an occurrence with no precedent in the annals of exploration, one that overshadows even the discovery of the Americas by Columbus.

Self’s stories are always birthed this way: with the opening sentences. No matter how many drafts her stories go through, the opening sentences never change. If the sentence is strong, it is like a fine, big engine that can power her through — even 20 or 25 pages later — all the way to the end. See the interview she gave to Bellingham Review, the Contributor Spotlight that accompanied their publication of self’s story, Ice. (The first four or five paragraphs of Ice were unchanged from first draft)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Anton Jelinek: MY ANTONIA, Book I, Chapter XV

Self is reading My Antonia in Philadelphia.

A very warm, muggy Philadelphia.

And she’s in a section of My Antonia that takes place in the middle of a hard Nebraska winter.

lol

In Chapter XV we meet a new character, Anton Jelinek, who the narrator, Jim Burden, cannot help admiring for his “frank, manly faith.” Jelinek’s business is to make coffins.

  • “The last time I made one of these, Mrs. Burden,” he said, as he sorted and tried his chisels, “was for a fellow in the Black Tiger mine, up above Silverton, Colorado. The mouth of that mine goes right into the face of the cliff, and they used to put us in a bucket and run us over on a trolley and shoot us into the shaft. The bucket traveled across a box cañon three hundred feet deep, and about a third full of water. Two Swedes had fell out of that bucket once, and hit the water, feet down. If you’ll believe it, they went to work the next day. You can’t kill a Swede. But in my time a little Eyetalian tried the high dive, and it turned out different with him. We was snowed in then, like we are now, and I happened to be the only man in camp that could make a coffin for him. It’s a handy thing to know, when you knock about like I’ve done.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Work-in-Progress: Inspired by a Solo Trip to Dharamsala, India, January 2012

The music comes on and she recognizes Edith Piaf. Of all things to play! Is it because she is sitting by herself in this restaurant and someone feels compelled to provide her with some distraction, some light background tune, or because they do not want her to be lonely (she is, though: loneliness is always seeping out of her skin), or perhaps they worry she is getting bored, sitting by herself at a small table, eating a vegetable chapati and sipping sweetened Masala tea at 9 in the morning when it is 32 degrees Fahrenheit outside?

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En route to Dharamsala, self stopped by a small temple. She dredged up the courage to ring the bell, too (though she couldn’t ask anyone to take her picture while doing it)

My Cousin Rachel, Ch. IV

The callow young nephew is off to Florence (his first trip to Italy) and this sentence perfectly captures his confusion:

  • Used to the silence of a well-nigh empty house — for the servants slept away in their own quarters beneath the clock tower — where I heard no sound at night but the wind in the trees and the lash of rain when it blew from the southwest, the ceaseless clatter and turmoil of foreign cities came near to stupefying me.

Beautiful sentence, where it starts and where it ends is a complete arc. It is so balanced.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2018 is SO 1461

  • In Renaissance Florence, a number of designated boxes placed throughout the city allowed citizens to make anonymous denunciations of various moral crimes — in 1461, for example, the artist-monk Filippo Lipi was accused of fathering a child with a nun.

— Claudia Roth Pierpoint, “Angels and Men” in The New Yorker (16 October 2017)

The article is a review of the Walter Isaacson biography of Leonardo da Vinci, called Leonardo da Vinci. One of the biggest surprises in the piece is the discovery that “one of the last remaining complete notebooks, the Codex Leicester,” is in the possession of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Also: “Leonardo was illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted . . . ”

Dear blog readers, last year self saw the Mona Lisa. It was May or June. A Spanish woman asked self whether she knew where the famous painting was located. Then she asked a museum guard, and the two of us went looking together. And we found it. And she asked self to take pictures of her standing in front of it. And insisted on taking a few of self.

And here’s a wide-angle shot of the gallery housing the Mona Lisa and then self making a horrible face because, honestly, she dislikes having her picture taken (not when the humidity has done things to her hair) and the crowded gallery full of people aiming their cell phones in one direction was so disorienting.

 

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Manderley Forever, p. 85

The next day, a walk in the Tiergarten pales beside Daphne’s memories of the Bois de Bolougne: the passersby all look so dour and plain, and while the Kaiser’s former palace in Potsdam is undeniably impressive, as is Frederick the Great’s Sanssouci Palace, it still isn’t Paris.

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