Paris, December 2017

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: PAIRS

Self is always happy when she can participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

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Rose Bowl Parade, 1 January 2019

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Straw Angels, December 2018

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Reading, December 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Last Sunday in London

Self is in her room, reading a copy of The Guardian.

The trial of the “man who drove his car into a crowd of activists who  had been protesting against a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead and several injured,” has begun in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This morning, self returned to the Royal Academy of Art for a repeat viewing of the Oceania Exhibit.

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Royal Academy of Art: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She liked it even more, the second time around. She stayed watching the video for nearly an hour.

The little handout that accompanies the exhibit starts with:

Two-hundred and fifty years ago, in August 1768, four months before George III founded the Royal Academy of Arts, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook left Plymouth in command of the HMS Endeavour.

She remembers reading a book by Tony Horwitz: Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and, well, that book must have made quite an impression because it fixed Captain Cook’s voyage forever in her memory and now, 15 years later, here she is, in London, having seen the Oceania exhibit twice!

As she left the Royal Academy (still in a daze of cultural overload), she happened to notice that there was a store across the street called FORTNUM & MASON. And the display windows were so Christmas-y! She decided to check it out:

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Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

Self entered through a revolving door and promptly found herself in the middle of a mob scene the like of which she has never experienced in London. What she means: people were grabbing blue boxes of chocolates off shelves directly in front of her, and pushing them into shopping carts. Yes, dear blog readers. English people were pushing shopping carts around a store, the contents consisting entirely of chocolate. There were boxes of dark chocolate, boxes of milk chocolate, boxes of assorted chocolate, boxes of chocolate with nuts, boxes of chocolate with creamy centers — you name it.

Self decided then and there that she would not leave the store without sampling some of this delightful chocolate. A shopgirl told her to take a number. She was # 19. She then asked the shopgirl what were the most popular chocolate purchases, and the girl replied, without any hesitation: TRUFFLES. Caramel Salt.

OMGGGGGGG

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Chocolate Counter, Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She wanted to buy a box of chocolates for son and daughter-in-law, but didn’t know what kind they liked: milk chocolate or not? And this is when self bitterly regretted that her Verizon phone does not work. Has not worked for two months. In fact, Verizon just e-mailed self that she would not be able to avail of their international services. Thank you, Verizon, FOR TELLING SELF WHAT SHE ALREADY KNOWS.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

STORY: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 7 March 2018

“Be a visual storyteller.” — Jen H., The Daily Post

  • Self’s seatmate on the plane from Manila to San Francisco hailed from San Pablo, Laguna. He was bringing back to the States five of a Laguna specialty: coconut pies.

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  • On her most recent trip to Manila, in January, self dropped by the oldest university in the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, founded 1611. She dropped by the Creative Writing Department, and the faculty asked her to pose with them for a group shot. YAY!

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  • Christmas 2016 was a devastatingly lonely experience, one self vowed never to repeat. Christmas 2017, self was in Paris. A woman from China agreed to take her picture standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

A FACE IN THE CROWD: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 21 February 2018

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is “a face in the crowd.”

Self has a lot of pictures of anonymous people, because she travels a lot by herself.

In December 2017, self visited London’s Barbican for the first time. She went to see the Basquiat: Boom for Real exhibit. Life-changing.

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Before that, she was in Paris:

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Cinema Mac Mahon, on the Avenue of the same name in Paris, December 2017

Christmas Day 2017  in the Tuileries, Paris:

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Paris, December 25, 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading THE TRESPASSER

When, a year or so ago, The New Yorker published a review of The Trespasser, by Tana French, self knew she had to read it.

Because of many, many distractions in the almost two years since, self is only getting around to reading The Trespasser now. In Paris.

Not that self thinks this is necessarily a bad choice of reading matter for Paris. It’s really cold outside, and the skies are grey. And the bathroom is enormous. The bathtub could sink a body. An entire body. The building opposite has a harp store, a beauty salon, and a wee grocery (open until 2 a.m.). To the right there is a five-star restaurant. To the left is a four-star restaurant. On one corner is a brasserie (packed to the gills with young Asian customers; self makes a note never to eat there. The only authentic brasserie, in self’s humble opinion, is one where most of the patrons look like they are locals), a block away is a pharmacy.

The last book she read before The Trespasser was also by Tana French: Broken Harbor.

Ms. French’s mysteries feature a constantly changing main narrator, but all are set in Dublin. Broken Harbor’s main protagonist was Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy. The Trespasser’s main protagonist is a woman whose name self can’t even remember, even though she’s on p. 154.

So far, one murder: a 26-year-old woman who “lived a boring life.” Nevertheless, she had “a true-crime library” and “read a lot of fan fiction. The sappy kind, not the sexy kind; my guy was sort of disappointed by that.” She didn’t even do “dating sites,” my God what is wrong with this murder victim? With a life so boring, self doesn’t know why she’s still reading. But reading she is. It’s p. 154, and all we’ve uncovered is a boring life.

Self misses the puck-ish irony of Muriel Spark, the twisted point-of-view of a Ruth Rendell.

Ms. French’s novels are dense with procedural detail. But, please. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

Yesterday (Christmas Day, lest one forget), self did absolutely nothing except watch CNN all day. The ticker tape at the bottom told of various Philippine disasters (It’s almost as if CNN knows the person watching is Filipino): flooding, a bus crash in northern Luzon, a fire in a call center that killed 38 people. Trump was at Mar-a-Lago (of course), posing for happy family pics with Melania, and trying to recover from the stress of holding public office (while being paid peanuts) by playing yet another round of golf.

On a more positive note, self was able to update one of her Gendrya. And today, she learned her story earned her six kudos. Not bad for one day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Merry, Merry

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4th Floor, near Charles de Gaulle. The first floor of this building is a store that sells harps. The window stays lighted at night, and she loves to look at the harps on display.

Self was planning to walk along the Champs Elysée. She’s had a big breakfast and is now back in her room, writing her novel-in-progress.

Last night, she walked a few blocks to the Arc de Triomphe and got off this moody night-time shot:

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Christmas Eve, 2017

This morning, she went down for breakfast, and eavesdropped on the other guests: they talked of reading books, falling asleep at midnight, taking a leisurely stroll.

She will spend Christmas Day writing.

(Oops, not quite. She remembers the artists in Tyrone Guthrie telling her that things do not all close down on Christmas. She looked up the Louvre. It is open today. The hotel has been asking her to let them clean her room because she’s been inside most of the last two days. So that’s what she’ll do: she’ll take the metro to the Louvre)

Stay tuned.

MERRY, MERRY!

Self is in the City of Light. Just a block from the Arc de Triomphe, which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON IT: No wreaths, no technicolor strobe lights, nothing.

YAY!

She took a long walk this morning, in light rain. No umbrella because it would be just one more thing weighing her down.

She took the metro to the Tuileries. Then, crossed the Seine on a bridge near the Musée d’Orsay. Big Bus Tour buses and Day Tour buses stopped every couple of minutes in front of the museum. They seemed to be almost empty. But, whenever she was within steps of getting on, the buses would pull away from the curb. She decided to turn it into a little game: Let’s see if they’ll  pull away if I actually have my hand on the door handle. But those bus drivers were too suave to play. They’d see her lumbering slowly across the sidewalk, pupose in her gaze. She’d even raise a hand, catch the glance of the driver, but stoically — even, scornfully — they’d pull away, maintaining eye contact with her the whole time. A guide on a passing river barge says, over loudspeaker: “And here to your right is the famous Musée d’Orsay, which was a former railroad station.”

She was walking down the entire length of the building to get to the entrance (The French never make it easy) when she saw a taxi rank with one cab. Like it was waiting just for her. In less than 10 minutes, the taxi dropped her off at her hotel.

PEACE AND LOVE, ALL!!!

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The Tuileries, 24 December 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More 2017 Favorites: Big Year

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Evening, Trafalgar Square, First Sunday of March 2017

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Steep Hillside, One Cow: Albion, California, New Year’s 2017

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Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, CA: January 2017

 

Ambience: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 13 January 2017

  • Ambience has the power to lift your mood. What have you photographed with exceptional ambience? — Jeff Golenski, The Daily Post Photo Challenge

Self presents two contrasting scenes of ambience:

First, the anonymity of the train, the pre-occupation of the passengers:

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Caltrain, Southbound, 2nd Friday in January, 2017

Next, the expansiveness of a California beach town, extraordinarily peaceful in winter:

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Capitola-by-the-Sea

Self chose to spend Christmas here: she had a hunch that she wouldn’t feel as lonely, even though she was alone. She was right. It was such a beautiful experience:

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There is a little inn with units facing the beach: she last visited 20 years ago. Magical.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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