CLOCKWORK PRINCE Quote of the Day, p. 110 (Trigger Warning: Mr. Starkweather’s Grisly Trophy Collection)

Ah, this world: witchlight and warlocks, silver bullets and werewolves, vampire fangs and faerie wings.

These are fairy tales for grown-ups. Small wonder self loves Cassandra Clare.

Anyhoo, it works out really well since self has been sick in bed with a terrible cold, these past few days. Last night she actually broke down and ordered room service. Room service! What an absolutely great idea! Maybe she’ll do that again today. She might even order the exact same things she ordered last night: salad w/ trout, and lentil and bacon soup. Mama mia, that was the best salad she’s ever had. Probably the best salad in the history of salads.

She wrote, too, a wee little bit. Quite happy with her progress on the novel.

Now, where was self?

Oh right. Our three redoubtables took the train from King’s Cross (Self has been there! Last year! That’s when she heard about the death of poet Maya Angelou, because it was projected on a giant screen over the main hall). Will was sent because he’s so pretty and the Shadowhunter they’re dealing with has a weakness for a pretty face (Checked the fan fiction charts: yup, just as self  suspected, there are many dozens of fan fiction involving Will and — some other guy. He just has that much cross-over appeal). Jem went along because he’s Will’s parabatai (And many of those fan fiction homo-erotic pairings are Jem and Will. Of course). And Tessa Gray went along because she wants to make herself useful to the Enclave. Useful! My eye! She just wants to hang out some more with Will and make him wildly jealous by showing how nice Jem is being to her!

Starkweather shows his three visitors around his museum of “spoils”, which include such grisly souvenirs as:

the remains of warlocks: mummified talon hands; a stripped skull, utterly de-fleshed, human-looking save that it had tusks instead of teeth; vials of sludgy-looking blood.

Had enough? Just so you know, Tessa faints, Jem catches her, she has a terrible nightmare, in which her dastardly brother has imprisoned her in a cage and . . . she’s awoken by Will Herondale! And Will is saying: “Tess . . . that must have been quite a nightmare, to have taken the spirit out of you so. Usually you are not afraid of much.”

And self just wants to scream at Tessa: Enough of these cow eyes — go ahead and kiss him already, damn you!

Back to the book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mark Twain: Disquisition on Railroad Coffee

At 62, Mark Twain undertook a journey to follow the equator. He called his book — what else?– Following the Equator.

At this point in his narrative, he’s been to Fiji, Molokai, Australia, etc (Wonder why he skipped the Asian countries?) got very very sick, then resumed his journey by train through Australia. He got a tall tale from a fellow traveler (Of course — what is travel if not a series of encounters with tall tales told by strangers one meets in the course of a trip?)

Last weekend, self was in Lake Louise, and it was almost completely iced over. As soon as she got back to Banff, she started reading Robert Falcon Scott’s diary of his disastrous South Pole expedition. The poor man led a team to the Pole, but days away they already saw signs that they had been beaten to it by another team: there were sledge marks in the snow, small cairns, and far off, the Norwegian flag. 1 and 1/2 miles from the Pole they came across a compact tent with a note inside listing the names of five Norwegians and the date: 16 December 1911.

On the way back, all of Scott’s party perished in a blizzard.

Having now gotten completely off-tangent, self has to pull herself back by the nose to Mark Twain’s disquisition on coffee:

Twain experiences his own frustrations during his Australian train journey:  “We saw birds, but not a kangaroo, not an emu, not an ornithorhyncus, not a lecturer, not a native.”

He did, however, encounter something called “sheep-dip,” which he describes as follows:

It is a stuff like tar, and is dabbed onto places where a shearer clips a piece out of the sheep. It bars out the flies, and has healing properties, and a nip to it which makes the sheep skip like the cattle on a thousand hills. It is not good to eat. That is, it is not good to eat except when mixed with railroad coffee. It improves railroad coffee. Without it railroad coffee is too vague. But with it, it is quite assertive and enthusiastic. By itself, railroad coffee is too passive; but sheep-dip makes it wake up and get down to business. I wonder where they get railroad coffee?

Just for fun, self looked up “sheep dip” on Urban Dictionary and got this.

The next chapter, Chapter XV, begins with this quote from Twain’s novel Pudd’nhead Wilson:

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Enveloped in Snow, Trees and Stillness in Banff, Alberta

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ENVELOPED.

What does “enveloped” mean to self? The weather, definitely. It is so different from what she’s used to in California.

These pictures are from last week. It was super-cold then. This first picture was near the Hoodoo Trail, which was closed for a few days because an elk carcass was attracting Grizzlies. Shivers!

Somewhere near the Hoodoo Trail

Somewhere Near the Hoodoo Trail

Sorry if this picture isn’t that clear. But she was taking the picture on the fly, from inside a van. It was snowing, as you can see.

First Elk Sighting -- EVER!

First Elk Sighting — EVER!

Sorry if this is a repeat of last week's elk sighting. Something about the snow adds immeasurably to the viewing experience, in self's humble opinion.

Sorry if this is a repeat of last week’s elk sighting. Something about the snow adds immeasurably to the viewing experience, in self’s humble opinion.

Forces of Nature 2: Around Banff

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is FORCE OF NATURE. Since arriving in Calgary several weeks ago, self has been truly awed by, to borrow a phrase from The Daily Post prompt, “the sheer scale and power” of the physical surroundings. And even more since getting to Banff, which is in the Canadian Rockies.

Self had signed up for a one-day tour to Lake Louise, today. But she got the meeting place wrong, and by the time she found the Eric Harvie Theatre, the tour was long gone. Anyhoo, self was all right with that, because she ended up doing more work on her novel-in-progress (Working Title: That Wilderness).

Apologies for her photographs being smaller in scale than she was expecting to post today. But the human imprint is also a “force of nature,” isn’t it?

A path leading to the Eric Harvie Theatre

A path leading to the Eric Harvie Theatre in The Banff Centre. Well-traveled. Clearly.

Bridge Over a Gully -- Stumbled Across During A Walk This Morning

Bridge Over a Gully — Stumbled Across During A Walk This Morning. Puts new meaning into the phrase “river of stones.”

And this was the view yesterday, from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. One of the other writers, Sheila Stevenson, asked if she’d like to go there for a fancy drink. We were joined by writer Jill Frayn. And self had her first Canadian beer. The three of us shared a huge appetizer of Nachos with Flatiron Steak. The beef here in Alberta is really good.

from the Rundle Lounge of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

from the Rundle Lounge of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The hotel was crowded yesterday: full of families and wedding parties. There was live music. And many Asian tourists.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Intricate 5: The Landscape of Trees, Rivers, Mountains

Banff was chilly today.

Here are some shots of the river. Actually, tour guide and geologist Jim Oliver took the shot for her (of the Hoodoo Trail), as self was freezing and it was raining and she elected to stay inside the van. Jim leads all the tours around The Banff Centre and knows everyone and everything.

She thinks the fretwork of trees can be suitably regarded as INTRICATE:

DSCN9611

This second shot, self did take herself. From the van. She rolled down her window, and the elk was very obliging. Lifted its head and stared straight at her. The fretwork of snow (it alternated rain and snow, all afternoon) makes this shot INTRICATE.

This young male elk is just starting to grow its horns.

This young male elk is just starting to grow its horns.

DSCN9605

Self just heard on the weather report that it’s going to be freezing tonight: Banff and environs are expecting temperatures below zero. There’s a reading tonight of Writing Studio faculty and participants, so self will just have to bundle up.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Intricate 3: Memories of Ireland

Self spent most of the day wandering around by herself. It was a glorious day in Banff.

None of the photos she took today seem to fit with this week’s photo challenge, INTRICATE, so she scanned her photo archives and came up with these, taken when she was in Ireland, May-June 2014.

In the Dublin park next to the Chester Beatty Museum

In the Dublin park next to the Chester Beatty Museum

For some reason, self is very interested in birds and other animal life.

For some reason, self is very interested in birds and other animal life.

Illuminated Lightbox, Part of an Exhibit in the School of Fine Arts in Cork

Illuminated Lightbox, Part of an Exhibit in the Crawford School of Art and Design in Cork, Ireland (June 2014) — Self regrets she didn’t note the name of the artist.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Intricate 2: Balboa Park, San Diego

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is INTRICATE.

Krista explains:

Visiting the Alhambra is something I’ll never forget. To this day, when I think of the beauty and majesty of that massive palace, I wonder about the people who inhabited this stone fortress high on a hill above Granada, so many centuries ago. I think of the craftsmen who worked magic in stone, in metal, and in tile, in intricate color and texture.

So far, self has been posting mostly about buildings. The San Diego Museum of Man, self thinks, is very rococco. She visited last year, with one of her former classmates from Assumption Convent in Manila. The museum and the California Tower next to it are in Balboa Park.

The California Tower is Next to the San Diego Museum of Man.

The California Tower is Next to the San Diego Museum of Man.

Here’s another view of the California Tower. It is open for public tours.

The tower can be reached through a climb of seven floors. It is open to public tours.

The tower can be reached through a climb of seven floors.

The California Tower's Spanish Colonial Facade was the design of Bertram Goodhue, who was inspired by Spanish churches in Mexico. It was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

The California Tower’s Spanish Colonial Facade was the design of Bertram Goodhue, who was inspired by Spanish churches in Mexico. It was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

Dear blog readers can find out more about artchitect Bertram Goodhue here.

“Art pre-existing in Nature, and Nature Is Reproduced in Art.”

(Written above a dormer in Goodhue’s attic room)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.”

Intricate: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is INTRICATE.

The prompt is from Krista, who gave as her inspiration the Palace of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Here are a few of self’s pictures of intricacy:

Llorona, a print by Alicia Reyes McNamara

Llorona, a print by former Mendocino Art Center Artist-in-Residence Alicia Reyes McNamara

Ceiling of the cathedral of Christ Church, in Oxford, England, May 2014

Ceiling of the cathedral of Christ Church, in Oxford, England, which self saw for the first time in May 2014

More of Christ Church in Oxford, England

The stained glass windows in Christ Church are a wonder to behold.

Each of the subjects is a work of art. As for the pictures of Christ Church, they bring back a host of memories. Self had gone to Oxford to attend the 2014 Saboteur Awards announcement of their literary award winners. Self was able to meet up with poet Jenny Lewis, who self first met during an artists residency in Hawthornden in 2012, and who teaches at Oxford. It was great to see her!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Things Self Is Learning About In Canada 2: BEARS

There are two kinds of bears: grizzly bears and black bears.

Self has been told there are grizzlies in the area around Banff, so she decides to do some research on the animals.

There is tons of useful information in the National Wildlife Federation website.

  • Grizzly bears can stay in their dens for up to seven months.
  • Grizzly bears begin to look for mates in the spring and early summer.
  • When a female grizzly becomes pregnant, the development of the embryo temporarily stops for several months, a process called “delayed implantation.” If a female bear is unable to gain enough weight during the summer and fall, her body will tell her not to proceed with the pregnancy and the embryo will re-absorb.
  • Grizzlies are known to congregate at rivers with many fish and at improperly fenced garbage dumps.

The garbage bins in The Banff Centre all have lids and are somewhat tricky to open — that’s for the precise purpose of discouraging bears.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Things Self Is Learning About in Canada 1: Wolves

Self should have begun this series of posts with Dinosaurs but she didn’t have time until today to think this through. Hence, Post # 1 will be about WOLVES.

Like humans, wolves display a variety of temperaments and psychological quirks. Their family structure more closely resembles ours than those of many primate societies. Loyalty and affection towards kin are two of a wolf’s most observable characteristics.

— Doug Chadwick, National Geographic, May 1988 (Quoted in a pamphlet produced by the Northern Lights Wolf Centre in Golden, British Columbia)

Sponsor a wolf! Help wild wolves:  northernlightswildlife.com

You can also, believe it or not, schedule a 1.5 hour HIKE WITH WOLVES. Contact Blackwolf Photography for prices. They recommend calling ahead for availability. (Information: 250.344.6798; info@northernlightswildlife.com)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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