Doreen Fernandez: When the World Was New

In 1953 Albert Herre listed 2,175 marine and freshwater species inhabiting Philippine waters, the first extensive checklist. Twenty-seven additional species were added later, bringing the total to 2,202. Some of these are ornamental, some not edible, some not attractive as food fish, but usable as fish meal or fish balls or for fermentation into patis and bagoong. Most of them have regional names, and may be difficult to pin to their scientific and other names.

Doreen Fernandez, from an unpublished manuscript, When the World Was New

Self thought she had every book Doreen had written, until last year, when she went to Silay, Doreen’s childhood home. There was a book she didn’t have: Fruits of the Philippines. A few months ago, self found a copy by going on Amazon, and ordering from a third-party vendor in New Jersey. It arrived several weeks ago. Joy!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

3rd Monday in June 2020: Still Reading The Uninhabitable Earth

Self is reading fast as none of the arguments are new.

  • “We think of climate change as slow, but it is unnervingly fast.” — p. 198

There is a big, big elephant in the room, which is the impact of Greta Thunberg, who is never mentioned. (She shows up, finally, on p. 257)

  • “Any number of dead is a tragedy, but more than 10,000 die each day, globally, from the small–particulate pollution produced by burning carbon.” — p. 203

Never in a million years, at the time this book was published (2019) could anyone have imagined that a pandemic and the need to find a vaccine would soon eclipse climate change in urgency.


Back from picking up prescriptions (which always require a doctor’s visit: $162). She catches a Gavin Newsom presser. He’s addressing the ongoing need for masks. This morning, self asked the doctor if he had a test. He did, but it cost $150. He reassured her that all of the patients he’d tested had tested negative.

“Do they all live in the area?” she asked.

“Some of them,” he said.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH: LIFE AFTER WARMING, by David Wallace-Wells

p. 12

. . . if we take action on emissions soon, instituting immediately all of the commitments made in the Paris accords but nowhere yet actually implemented, we are likely to get about 3.2 degrees of warming, or about three times as much warming as the planet has seen since the beginning of industrialization — bringing the unthinkable collapse of the planet’s ice sheets not just into the realm of the real but into the present. That would eventually flood not just Miami and Dhaka but Shanghai and Hong Kong and a hundred other cities around the world. The tipping point for that collapse is two degrees . . .


p. 16

The upper end of the probability curve put forward by the U.N. to estimate the end-of-the-century, high-emissions scenario — the worst-case outcome of a worst-case path — puts us at eight degrees. At that temperature, humans at the equator and in the tropics would not be able to move around outside without dying.

Reading Manuel D. Duldulao’s THE FILIPINOS: PORTRAIT OF A PEOPLE

20200113_104006

In ancient times this was a land-track to Indonesia and even now one can see at night the quivering lights of Borneo towns from some of the Sulu islands. The Batanes Islands, off the northern coast of Luzon, sprinkle 18 tidbits to within 65 miles of Taiwan.

To this close proximity must be added evidence of early linkage with the “chain of fire” that once ringed the vast unbroken continent. One chain of volcanoes leads north from Borneo through Palawan and Mindoro to western and northern Luzon. Another line simmers from the same start but this time through the Sulu Archipelago and western Mindanao into Negros where Mount Canlaon still stands in turmoil after having poured out tons of lava that were to become fertile layers for the growing of sugar.

The eruption of Taal Volcano in 1965, after being quiet for 50 years, showed once more the hold of nature’s wrath on life in the Islands. The volcano, rising on an island in the middle of Lake Bonbon, 40 miles south of Manila, roared for three days, and blasted out untold tons of ash, mud, and glowing pumice. Steam shot 1000 feet aloft, spreading debris so thick that it buried houses and killed 200 out of the 3000 people who lived on the island.


The late Manuel D. Duldulao was a well-known Filipino journalist and art commentator.

Recommended Reading: Kate Evans in Hakai Magazine, 6 January 2020

Six men set out from Iceland in a small rowboat. Their destination: Eldey, the nesting ground for the rare great auks.

Jumping ashore, they spotted a pair of the birds guarding an egg. In the ensuing chase, the two auks were killed and their egg was accidentally crushed. The men didn’t know it, but they had just killed the last great auks ever seen alive.

Read the article here.

 

The World This Year: The Economist, 21 December 2019

The Economist sent a reporter to traverse the length of the southern border, from El Paso to San Diego. The result below:

p. 39:

El Paso to San Diego: Donald Trump’s wall will irrevocably change America’s southern border

. . . a new wall is rising, and it will not be so easily sliced through. America’s new border wall is made of 30-foot-tall (18 in some places) steel bollards filled with concrete, sunk six feet deep into a concrete foundation and topped with five-foot slabs of solid steel designed to impede climbing . . .

Some Democrats argue that Mr. Trump is merely replacing walls that already exist. That is not true. When a 30-foot wall, impenetrable to wildlife and surrounded by a network of roads and lights, replaces a low fence, it really is a new structure, in much the same way that replacing a garden shed with a ten-storey office block would be. A journey from El Paso to San Diego makes clear just how deeply the wall will change the character of America’s southwestern border. Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statue of Liberty welcomes to America the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Mr. Trump’s wall sends the opposite message.

In Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an environmental atrocity occurs:

. . . along the new sections of wall . . . lie massive, fallen saguaro cactuses in sections — bulldozed for the barrier. They can live for centuries. Some of those cut down were probably standing before Arizona was a state.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Overstory, p. 288

Hopefully, self will finish reading this book here, in Oxford. Then, she can lug it home to Redwood City, where it belongs. Even though Redwood City has NO actual redwoods any more.

Loggers to Nick Hoel and Olivia Vandergriff, into their second week of sitting on the crest of an ancient redwood:

  • “These trees are going to die and fall over. They should be harvested while they’re ripe, not wasted.”

Nick (or Olivia, it’s not all that clear in this passage):

  • “Great, let’s grind up your grandfather for dinner, while he still has some meat on him.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Patricia Westerford’s Father Explains Trees: The Overstory, p. 118

Her father explains how the trick is done. “Think about it! They’ve figured out how to live trapped in place, with no other protection, whipped by winds at thirty below zero.”

These magnificent Monterey pines were planted by the original owner of Fowey Hall, in Cornwall. Self encountered them for the first time in May 2019.

She had always thought Monterey pines were found in only two places in the world: California, and Kilkenny Park in Northern Ireland (She contributed a piece about Northern Ireland’s Monterey Pine for a book on Trees of Kilkenny, edited by poet Csilla Toldy and published last year)

DSCN0253

Breaking Down Self’s 2019 Reading List

Most of Self’s favorite reads so far 2019 were novels (six out of 10).

Three of her favorite reads of 2019 were memoirs written by doctors.

One of her favorite reads of 2019 was a book about the environment.

Five of her six favorite novels were written by women.

This year she attended the Fowey Festival of the Arts (in honor of Daphne du Maurier) and during the festival, she bought a copy of Jane Austen‘s Northanger Abbey from Bookends of Fowey. She loved loved loved it.

None of the books she read in January and April ended up making much of an impression.

One of her six favorite novels has been optioned for the movies by Lawrence Kasdan.

One of her six favorite novels won a prize.

One of her six favorite novels is a finalist for a Kirkus Prize.

Her 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge was to read 34 books.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Still Summer, Still Reading

from p. 118 of Landfill: Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene, “Needs”:

I’d read my Henry Mayhew on London’s waste workers and had been out at night on the Thames with the body-salvagers of Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. I stayed away from Milton. My telescope wouldn’t have been welcomed by anyone and I don’t think I could have used it. The hunt for the body resumed in the late autumn of 2017 in a part of the landfill adjacent to the area already examined. After seven fruitless weeks the search was called off.

DSCN0155

Redwood City, July 2019

Love Dee’s book. So much.

Stay tuned.

 

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