OOH, SHINY! The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 16 August 2017

This week, The Daily Post Photo Challenge, asks us to focus on “diversions, distactions, and delightful detours.” The prompt: OOH, SHINY!

In the summer, distractions abound in the form of street fairs.

Below, three shots of a Sacramento Street Fair, early July:

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Sacramento — one of California’s coolest, underrated cities.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Elemental in Pasadena

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is ELEMENTAL. Erica V. on The Daily Post describes her response to experiencing the American Southwest for the first time: “I was both confused and in awe of this extreme landscape.”

Last month, self was in Pasadena. Her first visit south in three years. She Airbnb’ed in the Pasadena hills. The house was at the very top of a winding driveway. Behind it was nothing but steep, scrubby hillside.

Just inside the front door was a rock, a very heavy rock. Self should have asked her host about it, but she never did:

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There was a chameleon that kept trying to get into self’s unit. It was a beautiful thing. Every time self left the apartment, the chameleon would be clinging to the screen door. One day, self decided to photograph it:

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Finally, a slice of green matcha tiramisu from Urth Caffé, in downtown Pasadena, a block from legendary bookstore Vroman’s. It looks for all the world like moss!

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Texture: The Daily Post Photo Challenge 2 August 2017

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge (posted every Wednesday) is TEXTURE.

Photos have “a tactile element, too,” Ben Huberman says. As an example, he provides his shot of “tangles of seaweed . . .  across the wet sand at low tide.”

Here are three of self’s own examples of texture:

  • The lace on a ladies’ hat, circa 1900 – 1925, in the exhibit on Impressionism and the Milliner’s Trade at the CA Palace of the Legion of Honor:
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Maker identified only as “French, Madame Georgette”

  • Look at the wonderful texture in this salad arrangement!
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Le Pain Quotidien, Claremont, CA: July 2017

  • Discovered in the exploration of son’s room: a frog that squirts water. Self loves that the frog’s skin is so pebbled. It has a degree of realism you don’t often find in other toys.
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Plastic Frog! Found in Son’s Room in Redwood City, CA: This used to be one of his favorite toys.

 

 

 

Also Reading: Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, 8 May 2017

Many scholars believe that the most plausible bases for a Trump impeachment are corruption and abuse of power. Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in constitutional studies, argues that, even without evidence of an indictable crime, the Administration’s pattern of seemingly trivial uses of public office for private gain “can add up to an impeachable offense.” Last week, after the State Department took down an official Web page that showcased Trump’s private, for-profit club, Mar-a-Lago, Feldman told me, “A systematic pattern shown through data points would count as grounds for impeachment.”

And self is nowhere near the end of this article. It’s taken her days just to get this far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading From the Book of AMAZING RARE THINGS: About An Amazing Naturalist, Maria Sibylla Merian

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How Self Reads: Everything In Front of the Couch

MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN (1647 – 1717)

Born in Frankfurt, she “married one of her stepfather’s pupils and they moved to her husband’s native city of Nuremberg in 1670.  Five years later Merian published her first book, Florum Fasciculus primus (A first bunch of flowers), which she followed with two further parts in 1677 and 1680.” These were essentially pattern books “designed to serve as a model for embroidery . . . ”

“Merian’s first scientific work . . .  was her Raupenbuch, or more fully Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumennahrung (The wondrous transformation of caterpillars and their remarkable diet of flowers) . . .  Each part comprised fifty plates showing caterpillars, chrysalises, butterflies and moths in their natural habitat, and represented the results of many years of observation.”

Her pioneering work was performed “between 1699 and 1701,” when she went “to the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America, where she studied the insects indigenous to the country,” resulting in the “magnificent work” Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (The transformation of the insects of Surinam). It was “one of the most important works of natural history of its era . . .  ninety-five” of her watercolours on vellum are in the Royal Collection.

You can see some of her art here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: SURF CULTURE, THE ART HISTORY OF SURFING

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Surfing is . . . what? An act of cultural and religious significance for extinct societies that left us no written records? They were surfing in Africa before the Euros arrived. Spanish explorers commented on the plank canoes of the Chumash of Califas, and how they maneuvered in and out of the waves at places like Malibu Point and Rincon Point. Aboriginals all over the planet were being propelled by waves long before Tommy Tana came from the Solomon Islands to teach the convicts’ offspring the art of body whomping. Hand-hewn boards were sliding in the Maldives prior to the Euro intrusion.

— from the Introduction to Surf Culture, by C. R. Steyck

#amreading Evan Osnos’s New Yorker Article, “Endgame: What would it take to cut short Trump’s Presidency?”

Self hopes dear blog readers appreciate that she is giving up precious time she could have spent writing her most kick-ass story to date (pagophilics, a Captain, a woman, an alien invasion launched from the Bering Sea) to continue reading the Evan Osnos article (in the 8 May 2017 issue of The New Yorker):

Trump has embraced strategies that normally boost popularity, such as military action. In April, some pundits were quick to applaud him for launching a cruise-missile attack on a Syrian airbase, and for threatening to attack North Korea. In interviews, Trump marvelled at the forces at his disposal, like a man wandering into undiscovered rooms of his house. (“It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant.”)

and:

The White House recently stopped releasing visitors’ logs, limiting the public’s ability to know who is meeting with the President and his staff.

This is indeed a very enthralling piece, dear blog readers. Self can’t wait to read how it ends.

Stay tuned.

Also #amreading About Leonardo da Vinci and Dragons

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Found in the London Review Bookshop, May 2017

No matter how many times self promises never to buy another book, she always caves. This time, though, she successfully resisted buying anything from the London Review Bookshop, anything except for the above book, a publication of the Royal Collection Trust in London. Every page is a veritable feast for the eyes:

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The Frigate Pelican, by John James Audubon (The Birds of America, 1827 – 1838)

Among the sketches found in Leonardo da Vinci’s studio after his death were a series about dragons. In his mind, there was absolutely no question that the creatures existed:

  • Several kinds of dragon were thought to have possessed wings sprouting from the shoulders. Leonardo, as an experienced and extremely knowledgeable comparative anatomist, would have pondered the bodily mechanisms that such creatures must have possessed to operate such limbs. On a sheet of studies of a saint on horseback who might tackle such monsters, he does indeed give his dragon a pair of wings — and the practical comparative anatomist in him very sensibly makes them a modified version of a pair of forelegs, like the wings of a bird, rather than a more improbable extra set of limbs operated from the shoulders.

Simply fascinating.

Stay tuned.

 

Poetry About the Bloomsbury Hotel, London

They give poetry books to each guest, which is how self happened upon this poem by Jo Shapcott:

New commission

It’s a hot night. We walk our wheelies from the tube.
The brick walls seep warmth. On the way we smell shop-
flowers through the traffic, hear church bells, loiter
in the odd sweet spot until we’re here, looking up
at a paradox of double steps. Still curbside, we sense
that if there’s a muse of stairways, she lives here,
inside these buildings made of red brick and rain.
Through the doors and we’re inhabiting a chandelier
or library or a chapel or a cave, and our minds flash and glow
with noises, words and tastes until our hearts have softened
inside our bodies and when we leave, the street is silk under
the lamps.

 

Matthew Hopkins, Witch-Hunter

In the 1640s, a self-designated witch-finder named Matthew Hopkins “toured the counties of Norfolk, Essex, Hants, and Sussex, in quest of witches.”

In one year he brought no fewer than sixty to the stake.

Method of detection: “swimming”

  • The right thumb of the suspected person was tied to the toe of the left foot, and vice versa. She was then wrapped in a blanket and placed on her back in a pond. If she floated — which we are told was generally the case when placed carefully upon the water — she was guilty, and was burned forthwith; if she sank, she was innocent.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

Only the preposition “she” is used, throughout this section. Self can only assume this means: No male witches, ever.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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