#amreading MONTCALM and WOLFE Ch. 5 (1753 – 1754)

Among the many pleasures of getting to Chapter 5 is seeing a 21-year-old George Washington making his first appearance in the public sphere.

He is tall and slender but not otherwise prepossessing but then during a dangerous mission, he prevents one of his men from killing an enemy combatant, and later they fall into a frozen river and everyone spends a miserable cold night huddled on a riverbank but even back then, even at just 21, Washington already seemed to have that special something. Somehow the mission is successful. And that is a pretty remarkable thing for a 21-year-old tasked with his first assignment.

(Not two pages later, the 21-year-old is placed in command of 200 men, and he does not flinch)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading MONTCALM AND WOLFE, p. 79

Self is loving this book (she began it three days ago) so much. It’s about a battle that took place in French Canada, in 1759, a battle which culminated in a British victory.

The author, Francis Parkman, brings to life all the conflicting allegiances of that area. When he says “the Miami” and self realizes he’s referring to a tribe (not a city; not a university) — awesome.

An important ally of the British is an Indian chief called Old Britain, also referred to as the Demoiselle.

“. . . a fleet of canoes manned by two-hundred and fifty Ottawa and Ojibwa warriors” attacked an English fort, Pickawilanny, “about nine o’clock on the morning of the twenty-first.” The battle was one-sided: at the fort were eight British traders and fourteen Miamis, including the Demoiselle. Three of the British were caught outside the fort (no mention of what happened to them; self can only imagine) The other five managed to close the gate. The fort’s defenders held out manfully, “till the afternoon.”

Then, Parkman writes: “Seventy years of missionaries had not weaned them from cannibalism, and they boiled and ate the Demoiselle.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: AMERICAN GODS

Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.

— p. 47, American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Just starting to read American Gods, which she was drawn to because it seemed to be about hitchhiking. A kind of On the Road, with a twist of horror.

Finished Ape House a few minutes ago. Good job, Sara Gruen! The book succeeded in making self very curious about bonobos. She wonders if San Francisco Zoo has any?

A quick Google search revealed that:

  • Bonobos is the name of a men’s clothing chain based in San Francisco.
  • Bonobos is the name of a rock group.
  • They are endangered, they are found in only one country in the world: the Congo (Why only that one country?) According to the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, “they inhabit the heart of the Congo basin, the second largest rainforest on earth.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Repurpose: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 27 January 2017

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is REPURPOSE.

“I’m fascinated by birds and their nests. Imagine being able to craft the perfect home for your family with just a beak and twiggy feet?” — Krista, The Daily Post

Self’s friend Mary Ellen Campbell used twigs to represent a forest in a book about wild swans (The book’s language is either Finnish or Icelandic):

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Wild Swans: A Book by Artist Mary-Ellen Campbell

Self saw the artwork below while walking New York City’s High Line, December 2016. Every time she looks at this photo, she thinks of the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland.

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3-D Graffiti made of iron re-bar by Artist Damien Ortega: High Line, New York City

Finally, just for fun:

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Christmas Party, Queens, December 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: SKELETON HILL, by Peter Lovesey

Self is reading her first Peter Lovesey: Skeleton Hill (#10 in the Inspector Diamond series)

So far (p. 133), she’s loving it.

The Inspector has a wicked boss named Georgina. He runs into trouble with expired license plate tags and has to leave his car at home and get to the office by bus. Then he has a talk with Boss Georgina and she is surprisingly generous and offers him her Mercedes to drive (!!!)

As Inspector Diamoond heads off to investigate a case in Bristol, the car starts behaving strangely, and he pulls over only to discover that he’s run over a nail. Then he has to change the tire, but doesn’t know how. Not only that, his back is killing him. In the meantime, there are one — possibly two — murder cases that need to be resolved.

He has to call a Mercedes Benz dealership to have the car towed and finds that the towing plus replacing the tire and a few other things will come out to almost a thousand GBP (over a thousand US). But:

You have to be positive. As his mother had been fond of saying in times of trouble, the sharper the storm, the sooner it’s over.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Liao Yiwu About the Poet Liu Xia (Whose Collection EMPTY CHAIRS Self Is Currently Reading)

From “The Story of a Bird,” Liao Yiwu’s introduction to Liu Xia’s collection Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015):

When we first met, we were very young, and knew nothing but writing poetry. The bird called Liu Xia lived in a large, cage-like room on the twenty-second floor of a building on West Double Elm Tree Lane in Beijing. I traveled from Sichuan to meet her and climbed up the stairs as the elevator was broken. From the moment I knocked on the cage door, Liu Xia never stopped giggling. Her chin became pointy when she smiled, and she laughed like a bird, unrestrained. No wonder she wrote this:

Then, we started to hate winter,
the long slumber.
We’d put a red lamp
outside overnight
so its light would tell our bird
we were waiting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Magellan Without Elcano

Ferdinand Magellan set out from Seville with five ships in 1519.

Two years later, he was dead on a Philippine island.

Why does he get credit for the “first circumnavigation of the globe”?

If it weren’t for Juan Sebastian Elcano, who completed the circle, there would be no circumnavigation.

Self thinks the return leg was just as important — no, more — than the first leg.

Magellan set out with five ships and 270 men. Stocked to the gills, supported by experienced crew. Two years later, it was left to Elcano to return a demoralized crew back to Spain. He did it in one year, with one ship, the Victoria, which sailed from the Philippines to Borneo, across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, north along the west coast of Africa, finally reaching Spain on 6 September 1522, with 18 of the original 270 men.

Now, that’s a journey. That’s epic.

Three years later, Elcano went on another expedition, but this time he was not so lucky. According to Wikipedia, Elcano died while on the Loaisa expedition to claim the East Indies on behalf of Charles I of Spain.  The cause of death was malnutrition.

Stay tuned.

Names: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 6 January 2017

  • Humans love naming things — look around you, and I bet you’ll see dozens of names. This week, take a photo of one!

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

Well, this is an interesting prompt.

Last Thanksgiving, self was in Capitola. There’s a small ice cream parlor selling local ice cream, Marianne’s, which just so happens to be self’s name:

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Ice Cream, Locally Made, in Capitola


The lines in front of this bubble tea place in Stockton are ridiculous:

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There are two Boba Guys in the City. Self took the picture from the Stockton site.


And here’s the name of a beautiful bookstore in Cork:

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One Other Reason to Love the City of Cork in Ireland

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Liu Xia: “Days”

from her collection Empty Chairs: Selected Poems, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Days

Our life, like the calendar
on the wall,
presents a stale picture.

Friends come at night
and I cook enough dishes to cover the table —
remembering to put salt in each.
You get chatty
without even drinking wine.
Everyone is happy and eats chicken feet
until the bones are sucked white.

At dawn, our friends are suddenly gone
like a breeze.
The sunflowers on the window curtain
are crazily bright
against the light.
Cigarette ashes and beautiful fish bones
are jammed down our throats.
Without looking at each other
we climb into bed.

Liu Xia is a Chinese poet and artist who has lived under strict house arrest since her husband, poet and activist Liu Xiaobo, was imprisoned in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” and received the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The New York Times Magazine, 1 January 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Comfort the mind with this wonderful excerpt from Jonathan Mahler’s “Search Party,” in the 1 January 2017 New York Times Magazine.

Our most famous self-investigator is, of course, our incoming president, Donald J. Trump; perhaps no one is more committed to embracing and trumpeting unproven claims from the internet. Six years ago, as he flirted with the idea of running for president, he became especially preoccupied with a theory being advanced by a right-wing extremist named Joseph Farah. A self’described ex-Communist, Farah presided over a nonprofit organization, the Western Center for Journalism, which was dedicated to promoting “philosophical diversity” in the news media, and now runs a popular website, WorldNetDaily, which bills itself as “America’s Independent News Network.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors U.S. hate groups, has a different point of view, calling Farah “the internet king of the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement.

Farah had floated plenty of specious arguments in the past, among them the claim that gay men orchestrated the Holocaust, and that Muslims have a 20-point plan for conquering the United States by 2020. But the Farah campaign that captured Trump’s imagination held that America’s first black president, Barack Obama, might have been born outside the United States.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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