PERSONAL HEROES: FIREFIGHTERS OF CALIFORNIA

Trump is rather disinterested in the raging wildfires that have wrought havoc on Northern California.

Fires started over a week ago.

Self’s flight to Albuquerque on Thursday, 12 October, was cancelled due to “weather.”

Self’s flight to Albuquerque on Friday, 13 October, was cancelled again due to “weather.”

Self learned from another passenger in the SFO United terminal that the cancellations began on Wednesday.

Son’s wedding was on Saturday, 14 October.

The only thing that saved her was: another of son’s friends, Alex Case, was in the United terminal, scheduled for the same 11 a.m. flight to Albuquerque. Somehow, we found each other (first sighting since son’s high school graduation and Alex had grown at least two feet), found an American Airlines flight to LAX, and then got another flight from there to Albuquerque, finally arriving 8:30 p.m., missing the rehearsal dinner.

But: she made her son’s wedding! She made her son’s wedding! She made her son’s wedding!

Last night, she flew back to the San Francisco Bay Area. Her seatmate said, “There’s still smoke.” We looked out at the darkness. Above the twinkling lights of the city was an area that was a different pall. And self thought: the firemen have been fighting since the fires started, over a week ago now. And the fires have only just started being contained.

Each fireman deserves a medal. A big fat gold medal.

Stay tuned.

Spotlight on: CAFE IRREAL

With nods to Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.

Café Irreal is an online zine, edited by G. S. Evans and Alice Whittenburg, that has been in continuous publication since 1998 (Oh, kudos. Major kudos). Its focus is on writing about The Irreal.

They published self’s Appetites and The Secret Room.

The opening of Appetites:

  • When she was a girl, she ate crab, bitter melon, rice soup. She loved milkfish, which at that time was still abundant. The cook, who was as dear to her as her own mother, served her glutinous rice cakes, salmon cured with tamarind salt, grilled squid stuffed with chorizo, the meat of young coconuts.

Food is life. Yes.

Stay tuned.

 

Flower of the Day 2: 15 October 2017

Self has been enjoying participating in Cee Neuner’s Photo Challenges.

The Flower of the Day is happening through October.

For her second post on this Photo Challenge, here’s a close-up of one of the fading hydrangeas on her front porch:

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Hydrangeas, Front Porch: October 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: HIS FINAL BATTLE, THE LAST MONTHS OF FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, by Joseph Lelyveld

Skimmed the last 50 or so pages of Submission. Fascinating, densely written. After the President of France is elected, there’s endless amounts of conjecture about Sharia Law. The last paragraph of the novel was brilliant.

And then she began the next book on her reading list, His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt. Self loves World War II history books.  A really good World War II history book can light up her life in a myriad ways. This one had her completely hooked, from page 1.

Self doesn’t know why, but she was completely ready for this book. Against the panoply of war is a sick man who just happens to be the President of the United States. The curtain came “down abruptly” on Franklin Roosevelt in the twelfth week of his fourth term, “on a balmy April afternoon in Warm Springs, Georgia.”

Roosevelt’s fourth term was “the third shortest presidential term” in U.S. history. Shortest was William Henry Harrison’s 32 days, and then the six weeks of Abraham Lincoln’s second term. Roosevelt was, to borrow a term from author Joseph Lelyveld, “plaintive” in his last months.

p. 12:

Mortality is the ultimate reason for feeling plaintive. In our waning hours, we get on with our tasks. Roosevelt was racing, as we all are, against time. If we want to take him in his full measure, we need to see him in his full context, in the round, not just as a dying man in what we may glibly call “denial,” but as an actor playing out his role, simply because he found no alternative; in that sense, a man touched by the heroic. Of all his responsibilities as the war headed into its climactic last year, calculating the date of his own terminus was not necessarily, in that clamorous time, the most pressing.

In other words, people, it’s not always about you. What a contrast to 45, who manages to make even hurricanes seem like personal affronts. 45 addressing the people of Puerto Rico: “Personally, I’m having a horrible day.” Not sure if he said this before or after he threw Brawny paper towels at a roomful of people. Self still doesn’t understand the significance of throwing paper towels to people who are recovering from what @RealRBHJr calls “Big Water”. (A joke, maybe?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Michel Houellebecq: Sentence of the Day

You’ll notice from the above post heading that self has moved on from The Elephant Vanishes. She’s currently reading Submission, a Michel Houellebecq novel, translated from the French by Lorin Stein.

She’s read two books by Houellebecq, but that was years ago: Platform and The Elementary Particles. Submission features a more restrained Houellebecq (Platform on the other hand was — WOW!)

The protagonist of Submission is a middle-aged academic who knows a lot of things:

  • p. 25: “He laid out these ideas in a short article for the Journal of Nineteenth Century Studies, which, for the several days it took to write it, was much more engaging than the political campaign, but did nothing to keep me from thinking about Myriam.”

Self loves long sentences when done well.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: St. John of the Cross

Everything about me
sends word of your myriad graces.
And yet everything hurts,
everything leaves me dying,
stammering on about I don’t know
what’s what.

— St. John of the Cross, translated from the Spanish by Paul Mariani

Still More Waiting

Share a snapshot that shows a sense of waiting.

— Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

First, self’s Philippine passport. She is a dual citizen of the Philippines and the United States. This passport dates from the time when she first entered the U.S., to begin grad studies at Stanford:

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Final picture: Last week, self was in New York for her nephew’s wedding. On September 11, she decided to go to the Whitney on Gansevoort Street, her favorite Manhattan museum. She started at the top floor (the Calders) and worked her way down.

On the top floor, there’s a restaurant with stunning views. She saw the Statue of Liberty:

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Sept. 11, 2017: “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . . “

Immigrants. Self was an immigrant once.

Stay tuned.

 

James Dickey on Forests: the Foreword to Talvikki Ansel’s Poetry Collection, MY SHINING ARCHIPELAGO (Yale Series of Younger Poets, 1997)

  • Talvikki Ansel grew up in Mystic, Connecticut. She received an A.B. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.F.A. from Indiana University. Self met her at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, many years ago.

Without further ado, the opening of James Dickey’s Foreword to My Shining Archipelago:

When Mallarmé, according to Symbolist doctrine, says that the poet should not describe trees but convey “the horror of the forest,” we might also remember that, though poetry has dealt with a great many forests, it has ventured into only a few jungles. Considering the surplus of plant and animal life offered, the sheer exotica, this may at first seem curious, but when considered at more length it is not as odd as it may seem. Though poets, especially romantic poets, like to be overwhelmed by nature, true jungles, such as those through which the Amazon and Orinoco run, are so overwhelming as to dumbfound, or almost. Step from a temperate zone into the endless greenhouse of a rain forest, and consciousness founders, groping to find ways to speak that may be adequate. The horror of the forest is not to be delivered by Symbolist implication but by present and proliferating Fact. All is intensity, as though in such hothouse breathlessness things exist for the express purpose of being intense. All colors are collision colors: a single stripe on the wing of a butterfly is painful; one turns away.

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Walking Around the Lake Annaghmakerrig, Morning (Before the Hailstorm)

#amwritingshortstory: Manchester Square

Setting, The Wallace Collection, London:

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Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

  • She walked past the Flemish Masters in the East Drawing Room, strode past Titian’s Madonna and David Teniers the Younger’s the Deliverance of Saint Peter.

Later, self took her notes and added this sentence (while having lunch at Chez Nous, 22 Hanway Street):

  • She was more of a café person than her friend Maxine, who’d set the bar pretty high, whose idea of dinner was to go to the Ottolenghi in Islington, who had impressed her parents into gifting her a trip to London (she couldn’t be bothered to learn French, so London it was) by getting an A on a paper about the Thirty Years War (“1618 to 1648,” she told her mother, Cici, who blushed with maternal pride).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dystopia: Tyrone Guthrie Centre, 2014

Self is trying to put together a collection. Which involves a laboriously slow process of selection. It is nice, though, re-reading stuff.

from Spores:

(Set in the far future. Very, very, very far. Society’s divided into classes:  Earthstar, Silverleaf, Shag, and Common. The main characters are a pair of lab workers named K and R. K is a girl, R is a boy. The story’s told from R’s point of view)

“We be needing foxes,” I said once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss said, giving me a good one. My right eye swelled up almost immediately.

“You not be asking me to fetch, you lousy Common!” He gave me another good one on the way out.

K trembling there in the corner.

The voice was birthed while eavesdropping at the dinner table in Annaghmakerrig.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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