More Trios in Florence

Lovely, lovely Florence.

Self encountered the city for the first time, early this month.

Today, self is browsing through her photo archives to find pictures that fit this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: TRIO.

The first picture is the display window of a bakery that faces out onto Piazza della Repubblica. Look at the piles of pastry on the three plates! In Florence, self was able to indulge her sweet tooth to the max!


Florentine Bakery Near the Piazza della Repubblica

According to the tourist brochures, Florence has 62 museums. Niece got the idea of purchasing a 3-day Firenze card, which lets you into any of the museums, free of charge, for 72 hours (Be advised: They calculate down to the very last minute: say, you purchase the card at 10:56 a.m., it will expire at exactly 10:56 a.m., three days later.)


Three columns in some museum or other (Self will add the name as soon as she has a little more time to browse through her notes from the trip)


Approaching the Uffizi Gallery on the Piazza della Signoria: The front loggia boasts three arches!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day, MIDDLEMARCH, p. 595

It is certainly trying to a man’s dignity to reappear when he is not expected to do so; a first farewell has pathos in it, but to come back for a second lends an opening to comedy . . .

MIDDLEMARCH: Dorothea, Heartbreak


Dorothea married Causabon, a man much older than herself. A tiresome man, who she thought she loved. And then — dear blog readers, you should know that such things never end well. Because, after two years, she met someone.

She was never anything but the proper wife. This is not Madame Bovary. George Eliot is a sort of anti-Flaubert.

She was English. That is the most basic and most fundamental difference. Don’t ever expect an English author to in any way resemble a French author! In self’s humble opinion, most of the tension in an English novel comes from a character not giving in to the demands of the heart.

This is what Dorothea tells that young someone on p. 517 of Middlemarch:

Sorrow comes in many ways. Two years ago I had no notion of that — I mean, of the unexpected way in which trouble comes, and ties our hands, and makes us silent when we long to speak. I used to despise women a little for not shaping their lives more, and doing better things. I was very fond of doing as I liked, but I have almost given it up.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Trio: WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is TRIO.

The image posted by Cheri Lucas Rowlands on The Daily Post is a picture of three buttes jutting out of the arid landscape of Monument Valley. Magnificent!

Here are some of self’s takes on TRIO:


New York City MOMA Sculpture Garden: There are three painted figures in this art installation. (Possibly, there are more, but from this angle, only three were visible. Which is great because she could then include the photograph in this post!)

Regular readers of this blog know that, in early November, self went to Florence with her niece. The weather was amazing, barely any rain.


View of Florence from the Palazzo Vecchio’s Arnulfo Tower: See the three structures towering over the city’s rooftops?


One morning, while self and her niece were walking towards the Uffizi Gallery, we passed a Biblioteca and decided to explore. The Biblioteca turned out to house hundreds and hundreds of opera librettos.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

C. P. Cavafy: “Amilianos Monai, Alexandrian, A.D. 628 – 655”

Still searching for closure, comfort, clarity, after the horrible events of the past week.

Turning to the poet C. P. Cavafy.

Specifically, his poem “Amilianos Monai, Alexandrian, A.D. 628 – 655.” Here’s how the poem begins:

Out of talk, appearance and manners
I will make an excellent suit of armor;
and in this way I will face malicious people
without feeling the slightest fear or weakness.

They will try to injure me but of those
who come near me none will know
where to find my wounds, my vulnerable places,
under the deceptions that will cover me.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Thoughts

WordPress changed their editing Dashboard (and self didn’t know about it until she tried to stick a post to the front of a page)

Moreover, she still has to figure out how to attach thumbnails.

But, as Humphrey Bogart’s character says in the immortal Casablanca, “the problems of . . . little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Paris happened.

Here is self, back to reading Master Shih Cheng-Yen’s Still Thoughts.

Still Thought # 36: Even though reason is on one’s side, one must be forgiving; even though justice is on one’s side, one must be well-spoken and humble.

BTW, self loved Spectre very much. Daniel Craig’s age is showing, but he still looks mighty fine.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge: Sylvain Landry Week 20 Photo Challenge

Since Nov. 13, self has been thinking of Sylvain Landry. Today, she read the prompt on his site for Week 20 of his photo challenge, and it was the colors of the French flag: white, blue, red.

His post for the week describes his first reaction to the news of the terrorist attacks: “You are traversed by a visceral anger . . . Then, slowly, you realize that it is the play of terrorism, the great disturbance of stupidity that inflicts extreme pain to trigger the urge to violence, hatred of the other, xenophobia . . . ”

Fear is “invasive, winding, and icy, but it is this fear that makes us living beings. Fear keeps us alive. And because we really fear, we find in ourselves the courage . . . ”

Here is self’s picture for the Sylvain Landry Week 20 Photo Challenge: Bleu, Blanc, Rouge: a picture she took of a double-decker tourist bus in New York City:


New York City, Late Summer 2015

In solidarity with the people of France.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Victory Can Only Come After Struggle

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, VICTORY, posted on Friday morning. Right after that came news (from Twitter; self’s news always come from Twitter) about the Paris attacks.

It seemed very ironic, that the photo challenge urged us to think of the positive. The terrorists made that all seem like such a travesty.

Nevertheless. Nevertheless.

Here are some pictures that self needed to look at today. Reminders of the positive.

The inaugural issue of Irish lit mag Banshee was celebrated at the most recent Cork International Short Story Festival, in September. Self was so glad she attended the launch:

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

One of the most life-affirming and redemptive characters of recent fiction is, in self’s humble opinion, the baker of The Hunger Games. She only caught the symbolism today: Hunting doesn’t feed the belly, doesn’t sate it, to the degree that bread does. In the purported love triangle of the trilogy, there was never really any other choice for Katniss: Peeta Mellark rocks.

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Finally, one of self’s favorite reads in 2015 was Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond issue, which included a haunting short story by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. Self brought the issue with her to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, this past summer. Whenever her writing energy flagged, reading a bit from the Crab Orchard Review never failed to revive her inspiration:

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Our Dear Miss Dorothea Brooke: “Surely I am in a Strangely Weak Selfish State of Mind” (MIDDLEMARCH, p. 81)

The visit to her betrothed’s estate brings up a strange restlessness in Miss Dorothea Brooke. While dressing for her first public engagement as the fiancĂ©e of the pompous (ass) Mr. Casaubon, Dorothea asks herself the million-dollar question:

How can I have a husband who is so much above me without knowing that he needs me less than I need him?

This intelligent, passionate woman then proceeds to tie her thinking up in knots, thus:

Having convinced herself that Mr. Casaubon was altogether right, she recovered her equanimity, and was an agreeable image of serene dignity when she came into the drawing-room in her silver-gray dress — the simple lines of her dark-brown hair parted over her brow and coiled massively behind, in keeping with the entire absence from her manner and expression of all search after mere effect. Sometimes when Dorothea was in company, there seemed to be as complete an air of repose about her as if she had been a picture of Santa Barbara looking out from her tower into the clear air; but these intervals of quietude made the energy of her speech and emotion the more remarked when some outward appeal had touched her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

That Fateful Moment When It All Comes Crashing Down: MIDDLEMARCH, p. 72

The old dotard Casaubon (HOW, self asks, how does one pronounce that simply ridiculous name?) has taken his future bride, Dorothea, to his rather meager estate (Remember Dorothea turned down a proposal from a young and attractive baronet, Sir James Chattam, in order to assert her preference for the much older and much sillier Casaubon). In the distance, they espy a figure, that of a young man lost in thought, wandering around with a sketchbook.

Dear blog readers, when a young man appears, attached to the estate of the much older man, and this older man is a silly and benighted person, who is bringing his young future bride for a first glimpse of his new home, there is only one way this can go down: Think Tennessee Williams. Faster than self can say “Desire Under the Elms,” Dorothea and her betrothed approach (What really clinches the deal is that the young man is toting around a sketchbook. Artists are crrrrazy. Crrrrazy attractive. Just ask the Bronte sisters)

Here is what transpires:

The young man had laid down his sketch-book and risen. His bushy light-brown curls (Think of Samson in the Old Testament! The appeal of the hair!), as well as his youthfulness, identified him at once . . .

“Dorothea, let me introduce to you my cousin, Mr. Ladislaw. Will, this is Miss Brooke.” (And what person can withstand a young man named Will? Certainly not self, who just this year fell in love with Will Herondale from Cassandra Clare’s Victorian Steampunk trilogy, The Infernal Devices!)

The cousin was so close now that, when he lifted his hat, Dorothea could see a pair of gray eyes rather near together, a delicate irregular nose (like Tom Hiddleston’s? The guy who plays Loki in those Thor movies?) with a little ripple in it (like Owen Wilson’s?), and hair falling backward . . . Young Ladislaw did not think it necessary to smile, as if he were charmed to this introduction to his future second cousin and her relatives, but wore rather a pouting air of discontent. (Heathcliff! Oh where art thou, Heathcliff!)

“You are an artist, I see . . . “

And self will pause here. Right here. So she can drive dear blog readers crazy with anticipation.

Stay tuned.

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