Randomness: Saturday, 20 June 2015

Today the weather is all mixed up. Self felt cool-ish this morning so she put on a turtleneck sweater.

Sometime in the afternoon, it began to shower. Only briefly. Only the merest whisper of moisture.

Now, it is hot. So hot it is really punishing to keep the sweater on. But since she’s been traveling so diligently, most of her clothes are in need of washing. And she brought very little with her (because she knew she’d be hitting buses and trains and hauling her own luggage all over the UK). And she is also feeling somewhat lethargic. And it is too much bother to change into something else.

It occurs to self that a number of distinct words describing negative emotional states begin with the letter “D.” Such as:

distracted * distraught * distressed

It occurs also to self that it is hard to write without using the letter “E.”

She just tried doing a challenge on Jennifer’s Journal. Here it is, for those who care to try.

And it occurs to self that Word Riot, several years ago, published a piece by her that was a Dictionary of sorts:

It began thus:

A

Ask. Ask and thou shalt receive.

Assumpta est Maria, you sang every week in the auditorium.

Angels. Angelus. Angelic.

Admit, admit this was all your fault.

Against. Must you always — ?

And on it went, all the way through the alphabet, self pulling random objects from thin air.

And she did it. She got all the way to the letter “Z.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London From Tessa Gray’s Point of View

Jem, Tessa, and Will, the intrepid three of Clockwork Prince, have just boarded a train for York (Trains, in self’s humble opinion, are fabulous. Because they take one from somewhere to somewhere else. They represent movement and also stability because you can read a book and anchor yourself that way while zipping along. British trains are also excellent for eavesdropping. Now, where was self?)

“There is always something so exciting about the start of a journey, don’t you think?” Tessa went on, nose to the window, though she could see little but smoke and soot and hurtling, gray rain; London was a dim shadow in the mist.

“No,” said Will as he sat back and pulled his hat down over his eyes.

Tessa kept her face against the glass as the gray of London began to fall away behind them, and with it the rain. Soon they were rolling through green fields dotted with white sheep with here and there the point of a village steeple in the distance. The sky had turned from steel to a damp, misty blue, and small black clouds scudded overhead. Tessa watched it all with fascination.

Clockwork Prince, pp. 83-84

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride's Church

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride’s Church

As they get further from London, the countryside grows “less green, more stark,” with “long swathes of gray-green grass and outcroppings of black rock.” Self can hardly wait to get to York.

There are a number of Shadowhunter Institutes scattered around the United Kingdom: one in London, of course. One in York. One in Cornwall (“near Tintagel”), one in Cardiff, and one in Edinburgh. Great. Self plans to visit all these places. After she gets back from Ireland. For some reason, today, self was feeling very lethargic and slept in. She continued reading the miserable Third Reich at War.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Off-Season 2: Dandelions at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Self loves London. Absolutely loves, loves, loves. If she were to spend her last farthing, she’d want to do it in this city.

It’s not the most beautiful (although there’s plenty of beauty around). It’s not even the most affable. It rains a lot. But it has a hold on her heart (all the more so now because — hello, Victorian Steampunk! The London Institute of the Clave! Shadowhunters! The Infernal Devices! Will Herondale!)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is OFF-SEASON.

OFF-SEASON as in: Umbrellas in winter? Balaclavas in July?

The Hunger Games has been very much on self’s mind.

Why? Because yesterday, in Cambridge, friend Dodo told self that another former classmate had visited Cambridge, and she and Dodo had gone to the Harry Potter museum just outside London.

And self wondered when that much-ballyhooed Hunger Games theme park was ever going to open?

Anyhoo, today self went across London to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was crowded, of course, but not off-putting.

Self decided to go see the WHAT IS LUXURY exhibit.

The exhibit includes a fabulous artwork made out of real dandelion seeds, embedded with LED lights to make a chandelier.

Self associates dandelions with The Hunger Games because of Peeta Mellark (one of her all-time favorite literary characters). Katniss, for those who are completely out of the zeitgeist, ends up with Peeta in the end because he is her “dandelion in the spring.”

And, hello, it is summer. Or, anyway, past the season for dandelions.

So here’s a shot of a fabulous chandelier at the Victoria and Albert:

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into “clocks” and then were individually applied to LED lights to make this chandelier.

In keeping with the rather soggy weather, here’s the London Eye ferris wheel. Ferris wheels symbolize summer (at least they do for self), but because of London’s grey skies, the symbolism today (Self took this picture while meandering across the Waterloo Bridge) felt rather muted. So, here’s a most somber-looking ferris wheel:

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

Anyhoo, yesterday in Cambridge, it was rainy. Dodo took self on a punt ride on the river Cam. It was so wet that we had to bring umbrellas and hide under blankets. Self even had to buy a raincoat for the occasion. Here’s a shot of the inside of our punt. A great time was had by all:

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Off-Season: Cambridge, UK

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is OFF-SEASON.

“This week, we challenge you to show us what OFF-SEASON means to you.”

Here are three from today. Self was in Cambridge.

Every year, Cambridge University throws a carnival to mark the end of the school year. Today was very rainy, so there weren’t many people enjoying the outdoor booths and rides. Self thinks this is a good illustration of OFF-SEASON:

Annual Carnival, Cambridge, UK

Annual Carnival, Cambridge, UK

It's no fun being at a carnival when it's raining!

It’s no fun being at a carnival when it’s raining!

Still, the carnival will still be there tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and the day after.

Still, the carnival will still be there tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and the day after.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London Is So Vivid: First Stop on the Shadowhunters Tour of London

Yup, self is once again in a foreign clime.

It was not so bad, the change this time. London is only eight hours ahead of California.

And it is warm in the city.

Warm = good.

Self’s first stop (after arriving from the airport ) was Westminster Abbey. Because, The Infernal Devices. This is, after all, her Shadowhunters London tour.

Here’s a passage from p. 9 of Clockwork Prince:

She had known that famous kings, queens, soldiers, and poets were buried in Westminster Abbey, but she hadn’t quite expected she’d be standing on top of them.

She and Jem slowed finally at the southeastern corner of the church. Watery daylight poured through the rose window overhead. “I know we are in a hurry to get to the Council meeting,” said Jem, “but I wanted you to see this.” He gestured around them. “Poet’s corner.”

DSCN9988

And it is true, dear blog readers, that one is really standing on top of stone slabs that say:  Charles Darwin. Charles Dickens. Samuel Johnson. William Wilberforce. It feels a little disrespectful, but even though a man decked in out the bright green robe of a docent insisted that the actual bones of the famous gents were underneath the stones, she didn’t quite believe him. It is also quite strange that there are some children buried there, along with Isaac Newton and Edward the Confessor, and also some anonymous knights. Mary Queen of Scots gets her very own chapel. And why do Jane Austen and the three Bronte sisters have to be beneath a whole wall of names of MEN: Keats and Shelley topping the whole.

DSCN9987

Photographs are not allowed, so these were a few random shots self took from outside the Abbey.

She had lunch at the on-site restaurant, the Cellarium Café. Try the duck with bok choy. The waiter recommended it, and it was so much better than the roast duck she had at Fung Lum in the San Francisco Airport.

The grass is so vividly green in England. Afterwards, she made an entire circuit of St. James Park, and wished she could linger, but she was also in a hurry to take a nice, warm shower. Because it felt like she hadn’t showered in 48 hours. A terrible feeling.

DSCN9992

Another place prominently featured in The Infernal Devices is the Thames, because of course Jem and Will spend a lot of time conversing on the riverbank, the Victoria Embankment, where they can look at Cleopatra’s Needle and, to their right, Hungerford Bridge. Self might make that the next stop on her Shadowhunters tour.

Self was telling a cab driver about Cassandra Clare’s mention of Poet’s Corner and the Pyx Chamber in Westminster, and suddenly the taxi driver said, “That sounds a lot like Harry Potter.” Which surprised self exceedingly but really shouldn’t have, because she knows that Clare got her start writing Harry Potter fan fiction. So of course, that overlay of the magical with the mundane — Clare was definitely influenced by J. K. Rowling.

But self likes Victorian Steampunk so much better than plain old Harry Potter magic. Because she adores the scenes of violent demon-slaying and all that mayhem occurring on Blackfriars Bridge. She really is such a bloodthirsty soul.

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.

Vivid: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is VIVID.

The Daily Post cites the Vivid Festival of Sydney, Australia, which opened May 22 and closes June 8. This year, the festival features “over 60 light art installations, illuminations, and 3D artworks . . . a kaleidoscope of color and light art.”

Sounds fabulous.

Here are self’s takes on VIVID:

Orchids are so vivid!

Orchids are so vivid!

From April through May this year, self participated in the Banff Writing Studio. She loved Banff, and being surrounded by artists. Here’s a picture she took during her first week in Banff. The red structure is something that immediately caught her eye.

The Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada: April 2015

The Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada: April 2015

The Canadian sky was a vivid blue, that last week of April:

Banff, Alberta: late April, 2015

Banff, Alberta: late April, 2015

And that’s all she has for VIVID at the moment, dear blog readers!

Stay tuned.

On the Way 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The Trans-Canada National Highway, Banff: May 2015

The Trans-Canada National Highway, Banff: May 2015

On the Road to Banff with Mike and Pixie: late April 2015

On the Road to Banff with Mike and Pixie: late April 2015

Just Outside the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, Alberta: late April 2015

Just Outside the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, Alberta: late April 2015

CLOCKWORK PRINCESS, pp. 529 – 530

SPOILERS.

Self must have read the last chapters of Clockwork Princess about a dozen times. She loves Cassandra Clare’s descriptions:

Winter had always seemed the purest season to Will — even the smoke and dirt of London caught by the chill, frozen and hard and clean. That morning he had broken a layer of ice that had formed on his water jug, before splashing the icy fluid onto his face and shivering as he looked in the mirror, his wet hair painting his face in black stripes. First Christmas morning without Jem in six years.

Of course, that description is followed by the materialization of the ghost of Jessamine:

She raised her head, looking up at the snow. Though it fell all around her, she was as untouched by it as if she stood under glass.

LOVE that scene!

Thank you, Cassandra Clare. Thank you.

Stay tuned.

Enveloped 4: Icy Lake Louise

Lake Louise, View From a Hotel

Lake Louise, View From a Hotel

Lake Louise, Still Encased In Ice

Lake Louise, Still Encased In Ice

Stones Beneath the Ice

Stones Beneath the Ice

Canada, at least here in Banff, is still cold. When oh when will summer arrive?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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