April is proving to be quite the month.

April is Bright Squares month. The host of this photo challenge is Becky of The Life of B. And today is her birthday! So let’s all give her a big Hip Hip Hooooray!

Today, the theme of self’s Bright Squares is Bright Smiles! Just look at these people who began lining up in front of Horn Barbecue in Oakland about half an hour before opening (11 a.m.) It was rather chilly, but no one complained. Because Horn, which opened just before the pandemic, is definitely a success story. The best melt-off-the-bone spare ribs, the tenderest brisket, the BEST mac’n cheese, the BEST bread pudding.

Before you go, diet for a week. You order by the pound. Self’s friend Nikki is one of the assistant cooks (and she is a fabulous cook). There she is, standing beneath the sign. It’s a very industrial area of Oakland, with huge warehouses and also homeless encampments. But there are also cheerful corner juice stands, and other intrepid food trailblazers like June’s Pizza, just a few blocks away.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Poetry Saturday: Carlos Bernardo Gonzalez Pecotche

from Bases for Your Conduct, a compilation of teachings the author passed on to his son, Carlos Federico Gonzalez, and published posthumously by the author’s widow. This is from the 3rd edition, published 2012.


Every day this April, a BRIGHT SQUARE.

Learn more about the challenge here.

Self took the pictures below in Afterwards, a vintage clothing and furniture store in Menlo Park. She was on her way to the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford, but her attention was caught by the big globe hanging in the window. So she decided to investigate.

The store is huge! And full of one-of-a-kind pieces. So much more fun than shopping in a department store.

Self and the woman there had a nice conversation about Louise Penny.

Squares in Picture # 1: the McDonald’s awning? The shape of the building?

Squares in Picture # 2: The chair back is sort of — squar-ish?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

p. 111, The Trouble with Peace

Rikke meets Caurib.

Self loooves Caurib. What a character: head split by an axe, stitched together with golden wire, but somehow wrong (one side of her face is higher than the other).

Ah, this is the point where self knows she’ll be in this to the end.

Also, Shankas are zombies. She didn’t know this book would have zombies.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Learning New Things Every Day: Ice Walker, p. 45

A mother who has not eaten since leaving the ice, now nearly six months ago, is able to nourish her cubs in utero and yet still keep her metabolism quiet enough to conserve energy for at least three more months of fasting to come. Because, in addition to her own considerable insulation — two inches of thick downy underfur combined with a full mantle of long hollow guard hairs — every bear has her coating of fat just below the skin. The well-insulated snow cave that is the den can be warmed to just below freezing with nothing more than the presence of a warm bear.

Self Learns New Things Every Day!

from the Introduction to The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World:

  • The father of chaos theory — “small causes can have large, wide-ranging effects” — was “Edward N. Lorenz, who addressed the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Dec. 29, 1972. Lorenz’s talk: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas.”
  • “In 2017, scientists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for using Drosophila to understand the molecular gene responsible for controlling circadian rhythm, the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle.” (Drosophila is the humble fruit fly)

Quote of the Day: High as the Waters Rise, p . 179

Oh, this elegiac and mournful and very absorbing book.

She’s going to finish tomorrow or the day after. Amazing that she read with such speed today.

You never know beforehand what the price is. And above all, you don’t know what you’re ready to pay.

Don’t let Waclav die. Please!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: HIGH AS THE WATERS RISE, p. 13

Setting a novel on an oil rig in the middle of the Atlantic is pretty audacious for a first-time novelist. If Anja Kampmann can pull this off, really make that setting work, from first to last, I’ll take my hat off to her.

  • The Ocean Monarch had spent years in the North Sea before it had been towed down south, a semisubmersible, a colossus that was getting on in years, the wall above Waclav’s bed shone with the greasy handprints of other workers.


Translated from the German by Anne Posten

A love affair of sorts on an oil rig!

Self forgets how she came to hear about this novel, it must have been a literary award list. It’s her first novel by a German writer in aaaaaages. And it is Kampmann’s first novel.

Chapter One, Westerly:

  • He sat erect, ignoring the jibes that the crane operator was bellowing from the next table like a fat pig. Shane showed off for the new guys, barking at the floorhands to put more chemicals in the drilling fluid, to bring him water, or to hose down the deck again and again. Only when they sat weak and exhausted next to him, enduring his crude jokes, did his face take on the air of absence that for him signaled satisfaction. Then he could sit there as if his eyes were made of glass.

So far 2021, she’s read three books and loved one: The Relentless Moon, Book # 3 of the Lady Astronaut Series, by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Hopetown, Harris County, Texas

Heaven, My Home, p. 90:

  • There were no streets in this part of Hopetown, at least none that hadn’t been overgrown by time and wild grass, so there was nothing separating neighbor from neighbor back here; it was as if they all shared the same plot of land, were all one big family. In fact, Ray’s grandmother, a short, compact woman with a face bronzed and freckled with moles, came out on her front porch to receive the bag of pecans and hollered out to Mr. Page, “Eggs is gone, Leroy, Lou and her girls got ’em first, but I got a tray of redcorn pudding in the oven. We serving at six-thirty if you want to eat with us tonight.”

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