Obssessed with Origins

Domingo Salazar, who built the Manila Cathedral, received his assignment (from the Pope Himself) in 1579. He was from Salamanca.

Self has been to Spain only once. She went to Mojacar. Then, Dearest Mum got herself invited to give a concert in Madrid (at the Philippine Embassy), while self was in the middle of an artists residency, and like a dutiful daughter, she left her residency early, took a nine-hour bus trip to Madrid, stayed with Dearest Mum a week, and left Spain, never to return. She remembers the artists in residence with her: there were some amazing painters. She never forgot. They accompanied her to the bus stop. She must have said something about returning to complete the rest of her residency, but she never did. Like an endless foghorn, this pattern repeats. She was supposed to go to Belfast, several years ago, was about 60 miles away, when she got urgently called to Manila, for . . . umm. It’s hard to explain, it seemed like a terribly urgent thing.

Madrid was 1996. You think you have all this time, and then you have no time (Amazingly, it was then that she started being very interested in writing about 16th century Spain!)

What does she remember of that week? The Museo del Prado. El Greco. The broad, leafy avenues. Uh. Dearest Mum’s concert. Of course.

She cannot believe how much time has elapsed, but she feels like exactly the same person. Only, if she were to go back to Spain (like next year, or whenever COVID disappears, maybe never), she would definitely, given what she’s just read, make it a point to go to Salamanca.

Domingo Salazar, First Bishop of Manila.

P.S. One of the painters she met at Mojacar was Eizo Sakata. He gave her two of his sketches (one of the flat-topped mountain across the plains from their artists residence). Had them both framed and they are hanging now in her little house.

Stay tuned.

“Spores” Again

In P-1, the teachers tell, Heaven is up a winding stair. Hell is like falling off the Whitecliffs — down and down and down and down. Limbo is — somewhere between. Those lessons always give me the frights.

Self’s first Tyrone Guthrie Centre story. Written 2014, Annaghmakerrig and Dublin.

“Spores” (decomP magazinE)

Thank you, decomP! Self’s first Tyrone Guthrie story. All voice.

  • Humans are a small and fragile species. But we have the distinction of breeding almost as quickly as microbes. Sex is soporific and palliative. No one would attach a pejorative such as “meaningless” to any form of sexual activity. We’re all encouraged to do it as much as possible, as late as possible. Grandmothers in their sixties do it, as well as children as young as eleven or twelve. It’s considered a patriotic activity.

Where Self Dreams

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week: WINDOWS AND DOORS

Self-explanatory.

  • The house in California. Oh, her garden is wild.
  • Skylight, Oxford, UK: She wakes beneath this every morning that she is in Oxford. In November, the skies were astonishingly clear.
  • Cottage # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland: She does all her writing at this table.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

SPORES

This story was published by decomP Magazine. Self began writing it during a residency at Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. Weeks later, she found the ending in Dublin.

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

In this story of the future, there are Earthstars. Earthstars are permitted to mate with either Silverleafs or Shags. Any other pairing is out of the question.

K is a Common.

The inspiration for this story was a book about mushrooms. Morgan Cooke, who she met at TGC, made an audio recording. Must say, self got a big kick out of hearing her story read with an Irish accent. Many, many, many thanks to Morgan.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 102: A QUIET MOMENT

  • All around the world people are noticing that their cities and towns are quieter during the pandemic. They say that they can hear the birds in the morning instead of traffic and are more aware of nature’s presence. In quiet moments during the day, I can hear neighbors chatting as they walk past. Children’s voices mingle with the sounds of water sprinklers. It feels like we stepped back to a less hectic time when people stayed at home more.

A Quiet Moment, Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 102, P. A. Moed

Last fall, self was in Ireland. What a different place the world was then!

During her visits to Ireland, she always finds calm and inspiration. These pictures reflect that mood.

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from a cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

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Just Outside IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art), Dublin

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This beautiful avenue leads from IMMA straight to . . . the Dublin Castle? It is a wonderful walk.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Poetry Thursday: Csilla Toldy

Self met Csilla at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, which has introduced her to so many wonderful voices.

From the collection Red Roots — Orange Sky (Belfast: Lapwing Publications, 2013)

A FRAGMENT

In Parc de Luxembourg,
hiding under fallen leaves —
A fountain — messenger
from a sea of amber — Verdigris.

Its well-stone, formerly
Neptune’s set of teeth, now
water-pouring standstill
tossing threat for dragons.

In its far angle a more
Humanoid structure,
a spun-into-form world-element.
It longs, broods and hovers —

above all that is left.


Csilla Toldy was born in Hungary. She escaped from the socialist bloc through the green borders at the age of eighteen in 1981. She now lives in northern Ireland.

Hedgebrook to Self: There’s Always Centrum

Years ago, when Calyx Publisher Margarita Donnelly was still alive, she told self about Hedgebrook. She said, It’s the most magical place. But you can only go once. So don’t waste it.

Self had Hedgebrook, that tantalizing lure, in the back of her mind, for decades. Eventually, she started writing a novel. Then she thought: This could be finally be the project I can apply to Hedgebrook for.

She did not hear back on her application, for almost a year.

Wow, they must have tons of applications, self thought.

Finally, because her landlady was pressuring her to extend her lease, and self didn’t want to do that if she was going to Hedgebrook, she decided to call Hedgebrook.

“Umm, hello,” self said. “Have the results of next year’s residencies already been released?”

Impactful (maybe also painful) silence.

Who is this?

“Marianne Villanueva.”

Another long silence. “The results were announced six months ago. We’ll have someone call you.”

And that’s when self’s gut fell all the way to the bottom of her shoes.

Sure enough, someone did call to tell self she’d been rejected. Not wait-listed. Just flat-out rejected. “There’s Centrum, if you like the area,” said the caller.

“Oh,” self said. “Thanks so much for the recommendation.”

Stay tuned.

The Training in Miracles: p. 158 of Self’s Historical (Well, Maybe NOT So Historical After All) Novel

From 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., this group was kept constantly occupied with reading and rigorous forms of self-affliction: lying face-down on the stone floor of the chapel, or bathing from a pump in the chilly pre-dawn. This was calculated to prepare them for the rigors of an overseas mission. They dedicated themselves to the study of languages, such as Dutch, English, French, and German. They received medical instruction, for they would be required to run hospitals. Last, they received guidance in the writing of their own sermons, and in the performance of miracles.

(If indeed this turns out to be an ACTUAL HISTORICAL NOVEL, then self will have to cut out all the parts about miracles)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #67: LAYERED

Layered landscape.

“You can include images of buildings, landscapes, seascapes, clouds . . . ”

The prompt was so interesting!

Here are self’s takes on LAYERED.

  • Worktable in her writing studio at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre: layered in books and papers

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  • Layered plantings at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre:

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  • Layers of purple, her daughter-in-law’s favorite color. Bought her this bouquet on her birthday in September.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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