Flower of the Day: Ali Wall Shift Dress

Self had a fantastic time in East London, where she discovered her new favorite London store, Wall and Jones, on Hackney Road.

For today’s Flower of the Day (hosted by Cee Neuner), self is sharing a picture of one of her finds, a sleeveless shift dress with hoodie, by English designer Ali Wall. Hey, the print has white roses! Love it so much. When she wears it, she feels like she’s wearing an impressionist painting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Young Writer Angst

  • Yes, I had recently won a fiction contest that netted me all of two thousand dollars, but it was a laughable amount of money by business standards. To abandon the family firm and eke out a living as a writer seemed treasonous.K: A Novel, p. 126

Let’s Take Thoreau Down a Notch!

  • She was taken by Thoreau and seemed offended when I told her that Henry was not all he made himself out to be, that he had strolled into town most days to feast on his mother’s cookies. — K: A Novel, p. 83

Dean Chong Liu Chong of the CPC

While many of the foreign professors dressed like students and probably wanted to be students, if not sleep with them, I occasionally wore silk vests and tie clips. Every night I polished the incessant Beijing dust off my shoes. Perhaps I was overcompensating for my thin frame and boyish face. That afternoon, lowering my haunches to the blue couch, I felt like a freshman in big trouble.

“We are terminating your contract,” he said. “Your resident status will be revoked. You have one week to leave the country.”

I said nothing.

Why did I have such a hard egg in my throat? I had nothing to lose. This was not my country. I sometimes hated the place, I missed my sister and my mother, my best friend Mac, and yet I didn’t want to leave China.

K: A Novel, p.38

Self’s Third Ruth Galloway

Self loves these books. She brought the first two with her to Northern Ireland (from a stack she’d ordered during the pandemic and never had the time to read). She bought two more when she got to Belfast. Now she’s reading The House at Sea’s End.

Ruth Galloway is now a mother. Her daughter, Kate, is a few months old. She is still juggling work (as a forensic archaeologist and university professor) and motherhood, not to mention fending off the fawning Baby Daddy. This scene is very droll. An acquaintance, Tatjana, drops by unexpectedly for a two-week stay:

. . . the baby, not content to remain snoozing picturesquely in the background, is making a bid for centre stage, cooing and emitting high-pitched yelps like a miniature cheerleader. Ruth thinks she is being rather sweet but she is scared to take her attention off Tatjana for too long. So she sits on the floor with Kate, who is propped up by cushions, occasionally handing her a brightly coloured toy which Kate ignores in favour of chewing the TV remote control. Tatjana has, so far, not looked in Kate’s direction once.

Nelson had stayed only a few minutes, long enough for Tatjana to pronounce him ‘interesting,’ which, Ruth discovers, is her highest term of praise.

“How come you are entertaining a policeman in the afternoon, she asked, raising her eyebrows slightly.

The House at the End of the Sea, p. 137

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Light and Shadow

When you see the shadows, you will also see the light.

Rick Ohnsman

More from P. A. Moed about Prompt # 198: Light and Shadow:

  • This week, we’re exploring the interplay of light and shadow–at different times of the day, in different seasons, under natural light, in artificial light. Choose whatever conditions you like. It’s totally up to you. You may also want to process your images in black and white to highlight the light and shadows.

Self is traveling. Her “light and shadow” photos were all taken in Bloomsbury, where she stayed last week:

Self’s Room, The Bloomsbury Hotel

The British Museum

The Coral Room of The Bloomsbury Hotel

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: Rossglass Beach Again

Self just found out about the Wordless Wednesday challenge. Not sure if it’s supposed to follow a particular theme.

Anyhoo, here’s a picture that is beyond all words. Birds, birds, birds flying overhead as she tried to capture them in mid-flight. She took many pictures, this one was the only one that wasn’t blurred.

Rossglass Beach, Co. Down, Northern Ireland

The Janus Stone: Spoiler Alert!

This book is every bit as good as The Crossing Places. No, it’s actually better. So much funnier! Though the parts told from the murderer’s point of view (thankfully, brief) are gut-churning. Do not read any further if you do not want to know the identity of the murderer! The dialogue is A++.

Ruth screams, so loudly that it startles both of them. Roderick stops and looks at her quizzically.

“Why are you frightened?” he asks.

“What do you think?” shouts Ruth. “I’m stuck here on a boat with a madman. A madman with a knife.”

Roderick looks quite hurt. “I’m not mad,” he says. “I’ve got a first in classics from Cambridge.”

From what Ruth has seen of Oxbridge graduates, the two are not mutually exclusive.

The Janus Stone, p. 287

This conversation follows immediately after a scene where we see DCI Harry Nelson running around like a chicken without a head. Eventually, he figures out (through the timely appearance of Cathbad) that he’s been worried about the wrong daughter. Self wanted to pull her hair out.

Stay tuned.

The Janus Stone: Tanya

Going at a snail’s pace through Book 2 of the Ruth Galloway series, self is enjoying it so much. The last book series she was into was The Expanse (nine books and a TV series), and that was two years ago.

Anyhoo, she is within closing distance of the end, and there’s an annoying policewoman named Tanya who is everything Dr. Ruth Galloway isn’t — young, fit, eager, callow — and she might be having a wee crush on her boss, DCI Harry Nelson, who also happens to be the object of Ruth Galloway’s (unrequited) affection. This series does have angst. Of course, Ruth Galloway doesn’t see her as a threat, and DCI Nelson is too obtuse to recognize Tanya as flirting.


Tanya’s head appears around his office door. He tries to discourage the rest of her from joining it.

“What is it?”

“I’ve found Annabelle Spens’ dental records.”

This is different. His tiredness vanishes and he rearranges his face into something more welcoming.

“Good work, Tanya. Show me.”

Praise makes Tanya expansive. “Well, it was really you saying about there being some fancy dental work done. I thought, maybe they didn’t get it done locally. So I contacted the London School of Dentistry. They’ve been around since 1911, used to be at the London Hospital but it’s now part of St. Bartholomew’s. Anyway, they had her records. They faxed them over a few minutes ago.”

The Janus Stone, pp. 259 – 260

The Janus Stone: While on a Romantic Date, Ruth . . .


Ruth’s date for the evening is a fellow archaeologist named Max. For a woman who weighs 14 stone (at least), Ruth Galloway does get around.

Now, Max has invited Ruth onto his boat. It’s a very cozy space, with a bed and a loo and everything.

“Do you have a boyfriend now?”

“No.” Ruth knows that now is the time to tell Max that while she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she does have another, rather permanent, commitment. She hesitates, trying to find the words.

“Ruth,” Max reaches out to touch her hand.

“I’m pregnant,” Ruth blurts out.

“What?” Max sits back. It is dark now and Ruth can’t see the expression on his face.

The Janus Stone, p. 149

Self liked the first book in the series, The Crossing Places, but The Janus Stone is even better.

Stay tuned.

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