Treat 4: Still More Florence!

It was another beautiful day. Self explored the church of San Lorenzo, Florence’s first cathedral (consecrated in 393 by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan) and the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio, on the Piazza della Signoria.

The Monument to Cosimo de Medici in the Piazza della Signoria

The Monument to Cosimo de Medici in the Piazza della Signoria

The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Self took this picture from the second floor of the Palazzo Vecchio.

The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Self took this picture from the second floor of the Palazzo Vecchio.

View from the Arnolfo Tower in the Palazzo Vecchio

View from the Arnolfo Tower in the Palazzo Vecchio

The weather forecast was for rain, but not a drop fell.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Treat 3: Still Florence

Florence is a beautiful city. It is beautiful, and yet worldly, and the people are so warm.

Today, Irene directed our steps to two museums. The first one was a kind of natural history museum, with dinosaur bones and the like. But since self has already seen the Mother of All Dinosaur Exhibits, in the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, she was not much interested in the ones on display in Florence. We moved on quickly to the second museum, which happened to have an amazing exhibit: Works of the Twelfth China National Exhibition of Fine Arts, Italy.

These featured large-scale oil paintings by Chinese painters, the likes of which self had never seen. Thank goodness there was no Ai Wei-Wei. Because he is trotted out at every major exhibit of Chinese painters, and his work doesn’t speak to self at all. After two decades of hearing nothing but praise about him, she is frankly bored by his ubiquitous presence.

Irene and self decided to stop for pastries and coffee at a café called Gilli (founded 1733), which has outdoor seating facing a lively piazza:

Café Gilli, a Florentine landmark

Café Gilli, a Florentine landmark

The Piazza next to Café Gilli, Florence: Self loves the carousel (which strangely had no riders)

The Piazza next to Café Gilli, Florence: Self loves the carousel (which strangely had no riders)

Self had to try the meringues. This one was light and airy and absolutely delicious:

Never had self tasted an airier meringue!

Never had self tasted an airier meringue!

It was wonderful to stroll along the streets by the café, as evening fell.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Speculative Fiction: Short on Science, Long on Speculation

Self’s science fiction may be a little short on the science, but it has everything to do with story-telling.

She is thinking about her stories today because last week she was in San Francisco and popped into Borderlands, the Science Fiction Bookstore on Valencia. So wonderful to browse! Self saw many, many books she wanted to read. There were new books from China Mieville, Joe Hill, and Jo Walton, to name a few.

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

This is the problem with going to a bookstore: self ends up leaving with loads of books that she then has to pack into a suitcase and then haul that suitcase around on her travels and the experience is just painful.

Anyhoo, self had been thinking for quite a while of starting to put together a new collection, and is leaning more towards having it all be science fiction. She might lead off with “Spores,” which her friend Morgan Cook turned into an MP3 Audio File, early this year.

This excerpt is from “Spores” (Trigger warning: profanity)

“Me mum’s a thick,” K said once. “A fecking thick. A root rotter.”

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“12 pints one go, honest,” K said. She silent the rest of the day.

I grew weary of K.

Self’s story “First Life,” published by Juked in July, is again “nothing but strange,” to quote from FictionFeed.net. The first sentence:

Ever since they moved our colony from Tonle Sap to the Philippines, my mind hasn’t been the same.

And then there’s “Thing,” which came out in the New Orleans Review in 2012, about Animal Rehabilitation Center, Sector 6, where the results of heinous lab experiments are tended to by a rag-tag group who are barely human themselves.

And “Magellan’s Mirror,” which J Journal published and nominated for a Pushcart (The Philippines populated by a race of giants)

And “Vanquisher,” which self wrote as a sequel to “Magellan’s Mirror,” in which Juan de Salcedo turns into a kind of vampire.

And there’s “The Forest,” about a man whose wife has just let him, and whose sister offers, out of the kindness of her heart, to turn him into a spotted deer or an eagle.

And there’s “Ice,” which is set in a future Earth whose surface is covered with ice:

Out there, ice caps, cold as knives.

Steam from her mouth, his mouth, none from the boy who lay between them. She knowing what but not able to bear it.

And of course, “The Freeze,” in Bluestem Magazine early this year, in which a woman loses her entire family when a catastrophic freeze descends on the planet (The rumor is that the Russians started it) and decides to walk to Mexico.

And “The Departure” (2011 Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s annual Best of Horror list), in which a woman looks up at the sky just in time to see a giant hand appear and go left to right, the gesture of a teacher erasing a blackboard. Next thing she knows, her face has sprouted glass.

And her short short “The Ark,” in which Noah is unbelievably cruel to the animals under his care.

And “Sofia,” in which a woman is visited by her great-great-grandfather, to tell her she is . . . (No spoilers here)

And her piece in Witness, about a man who is the last living person on Earth to have actually tasted a mango.

And she has other stories: stories about “breeder” sweaters (Women wear the sweaters to help them conceive) and lonely Cyclops (“I Am Cyclops,” published in Lillian Howan’s Nimbus Cat)

And another about the lost city of Atlantis, discovered 1715 (“Residents of the Deep”)

And another story called “The Great Emptying of the Three Triangles” which is a Power Point presentation on desertification.

And another called “Harvest” in which a young girl’s mother walks around all day dressed in nothing but a mink coat and her best friend vanishes from a field during an insect harvest.

And another called “Eating” in which a girl’s mother forces her to eat and eat and eat until the girl feels she is about to die.

And another called “Appetites” in which a girl sends her nanny off into the wide, wide world to search for a particular delicacy the girl wants to taste (This one’s published on Café Irreal)

And “Isa,” which is about the last two remaining islands on Earth (published by Rogue Magazine in their Bacolod issue).

And one in which a Fetch appears to a father mourning the loss of his daughter.

And one about a dictator’s Special Research Project (This one’s included in her first collection, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila)

Phew! Too many stories to list.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Happy Places!

Have you ever felt that the world was being too rowdy? Where things and people were pushing in, crowding out your quiet thoughts — the ones that need space and time to surface? For me, there is no better place to unwind than under the warm sun . . .

—  Krista, The Daily Post Photo Challenge “Happy Place”

Here are more of self’s Happy Places: Café Paradiso in Cork. Ger is a fabulous chef as well as a fabulous person. Self is so glad she got to go back there last month:

Ger in Front of Café Paradiso, Self's Go-To Restaurant in Cork

Ger in Front of Café Paradiso, Self’s Go-To Restaurant in Cork

The Red Room above Café Paradiso. Self stayed there last year. This year, she stayed in The Blue Room because the roof over  the Red Room was being repaired:

The Red Room, Above Café Paradiso

The Red Room, Above Café Paradiso. Self can never get enough of the color red.

And of course the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, because she does her best writing there:

The Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig

The Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Happy Places: Grafton Street, Dublin and the Lake at Annaghmakerrig

The Daily Post’s Photo Challenge this week is HAPPY PLACE:

Show us where to go to get your groove back.

For self, there is only one candidate: Ireland.

Grafton Street, Dublin, Summer 2015: The street musicians are great.

Grafton Street, Dublin, Summer 2015: The street musicians are great.

The Lake at Annaghamkerrig, Ireland

The Lake at Annaghamkerrig, Ireland. There may be a ghost wandering around at night. Self much prefers ghosts to banshees.

The lake is only a short walk from the main house of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. She's been back twice.

The lake is only a short walk from the main house of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. She’s been back twice.

Boundaries 5: Mendocino and Elk

Self has always been fascinated by windows. She thinks it is because windows impose a kind of order on a landscape, reducing it to manageable chunks (what is viewed within the window frame).

Early this year, self was in Mendocino. She was teaching a travel writing workshop for the Mendocino Art Center. Self took this shot from the window of the laundry room at the Center:

View From the Laundry Room of the Mendocino Art Center

View From the Laundry Room of the Mendocino Art Center

Here’s another example of BOUNDARY, the railing around the deck of a B & B in Elk, CA (about 17 miles down the coast from Mendocino):

Thanks to Joel Tan, who told self about the spectacular views from the back of the cottages in -- blanking on the name of the inn but she thinks it might be the Greenwood Inn.

Thanks to Joel Tan, who told self about the spectacular views from the back of the cottages in — blanking on the name of the inn but she thinks it might be the Greenwood Inn.

The cottage is very WEE. Therefore, when you step through the cottage door, it feels like you're being pitched straight into the ocean (with only a bed in between).

The cottage is very WEE. Therefore, when you step through the cottage door, it feels like you’re being pitched straight into the ocean (with only a bed in between).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Change 5: New Landscapes in London and Dublin

Self absolutely loves the way the modern sits cheek-by-jowl with the historic in cities like London and Dublin.

Here’s an example in London: The Pod, soaring above the streets where Jack-the-Ripper once roamed.

The Pod, Viewed From Somewhere Near Whitechapel

The Pod, Viewed From Somewhere Near Whitechapel

And one more shot from Whitechapel:

Self's jaw dropped: Whitechapel, July 2015

Self’s jaw dropped: Whitechapel, July 2015

And an example from Dublin:

Quayside, Dublin

Quayside, Dublin

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Change 3: The Millenium Bridge, The Tate Modern, and Fleet Street

Different worlds in London, Summer 2015:

Self adores London bridges.

No, scratch that. She adores London, period. The old architecture blends so well with the startling modern and new:

Pedestrian Walkway, London, Summer 2015

Millenium Bridge, London, Summer 2015

She adores the Tate Modern, on London’s South Bank. It’s cavernous and huge. Its previous incarnation was as the Battersea Power Station. One day, she walked there with poet Joan McGavin:

The Tate Modern, South Bank, London

The Tate Modern, South Bank, London

London’s Fleet Street used to be the site of all the major English newspapers. Today, many of those papers are no more. Fleet Street has a very contemporary vibe:

Fleet Street, London

Fleet Street, London

She stumbled across this area while on a hunt for St. Bride’s, which author Cassandra Clare said was the site for the London Institute of Shadowhunters in her fan-TAS-tic Infernal Devices trilogy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Grid 5: Inchicore, Dublin; City of Cork

There is a massive stone church in Inchicore, Dublin that people simply refer to as “the Oblates’ Church.” She has quite an attachment to this area of Dublin, for dear good friend Fr. Haslam, retired many years, lives in the priest’s house right beside.

There is a lovely garden right behind the church. Self took a picture of the iron gate leading to the garden. She would never have thought of snapping a picture of the gate if it hadn’t been for the WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge this week:  GRID.

The Gate Leading to the Garden Behind the Oblates' Church in Inchicore, Dublin

The Gate Leading to the Garden Behind the Oblates’ Church in Inchicore, Dublin

This afternoon, self took yet another train, this time to Cork.

Oh, beauteous city. There is the River Lee, there is the quay, and there is self’s B & B.

How self loves this city, she knows not why.

Across a little bridge is a university (University of Cork? An art school?) and the area is always full of students. Last year, Ger took her to an exhibit of illuminated light boxes in a gallery inside the art school. We wandered around, swiping glasses of wine. Fuuuun!

In Cork: Throw Pillow

Throw Pillow, Cork

And here’s a red lamp throwing a grid of shadows on the walls of self’s room:

Lamp: Cork B & B

Lamp, Cork

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Grid 4: Yorkminster Cathedral, July 2015

Last summer, self visited York. She’d been there only once before, when she was a wee lass of 11.  An old high school classmate (who she hadn’t seen since high school graduation, many many years ago) invited her to visit, and self never turns down an invitation to see a new place. Besides which, York is the setting for a very crucial turn of events in Cassandra Clare’s Victorian steampunk trilogy, The Infernal Devices.

The cathedral is amazingly beautiful.

Yorkminster Cathedral, July 2015

Yorkminster Cathedral, July 2015

The ceiling is an intricate fretwork of grids:

The ceiling of Yorkminster Cathedral is pretty amazing.

The ceiling of Yorkminster Cathedral is pretty amazing.

The cathedral was once burned to the ground by a madman who stoked the fire with deliberate glee.

It was hit by lightning, which started another fire.

During World War II, all of the stained glass windows were taken down and painstakingly stored. The cathedral was spared during the bombings. Then the windows had to be put up again.

Here is a wider view of the long central nave:

Such a beautiful cathedral! Self thought it was much more beautiful than Westminster Abbey.

Such a beautiful cathedral! Self thought it was much more beautiful than Westminster Abbey.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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