Favorite Place 3: A Book

Self added Utopia to her reading list, just today.

She figures, any book that manages to remain in continuous print for 500 years is surely worth reading.

She took this picture in another favorite place: the Philosophy section of Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. She’s sure Thomas More would have been tickled pink to know that a young writer named China Miéville, in the 21st century, would be introducing his book by writing about how much he influenced her.


Her reading list for spring and summer goes something like this:

  • Every Philip Pullman book written in the Dark Materials universe, starting with Volume One of his new trilogy The Book of Dust: La Belle Savauge
  • Homer’s Odyssey
  • Utopia

Yes, she is forsaking the contemporary, at least for now. Apologies about the heavy concentration on male writers. She’s on a quest to find books about islands, and she’s only just started her hunt. Women writers will appear, of course they will.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tweaking the Reading List, Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Spent the day trying to stay warm and dry. It’s very cold here in Mendocino. A few minutes ago, rain started to come down.

Self tried to get into Empress of the East, had high hopes, but the first chapter, Abduction, isn’t really about how Roxelana, Slave-Girl-Turned-Empress-of-the-Ottoman-Empire, was abducted. Instead, it consists of page after page of speculation about the exact spot from where she was taken. Then, a few pages of how hard it was on captives. DUH. This is dull stuff.

Luckily, self brought the next book on her reading list to Mendocino. It’s The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman. Opening sentence:

Three miles up the river Thames from the center of Oxford, some distance from where the great colleges of Jordan, Gabriel, Balliol, and two dozen others contended for mastery in the boat races, out where the city was only a collection of towers and spires in the distance over the misty levels of Port Meadow, there stood the Priory of Godstow, where the gentle nuns went about their holy business; and on the opposite bank from the priory there was an inn called the Trout.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Art Speaks: Mary Rose Kaczorowski


“Redwood Mary” by Mary Rose Kaczorowski, Fort Bragg, CA

Self bought this card from one of her favorite bookshops: Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino.

The art is by Fort Bragg artist Mary Rose Kaczorowski.

The sentiment speaks to the current political climate, so self wanted to share.

Remember, #NeverAgainIsNow and #MarchForOurLives #March24


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Sunset to Sunrise

Cee’s current Fun Foto Challenge is: Sunset to Sunrise (including any nighttime photography)

Here’s a picture I took at sunset on Main Street, Mendocino, California, February 2018:


Twilight, Mendocino: February 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Tour Guide: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 7 February 2018

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge asks us to show “what we love” about where we live. Self lives in Redwood City, California but is spending the next few months in Mendocino, as the 2018 Writer in Residence at the Mendocino Art Center.

Her unit faces a forge/woodsmithing shop, and a local high school. At the end of the day, she can walk to the street and always manage to catch a spectacular sunset.

Today, the sunset was so alluring that self got into her car and chased it down as far as the Mendocino Headlands. She kept her car headlights on while taking this shot.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Self arrived back in the US on Jan. 19. She saw three movies in three days. Her pace has slowed somewhat. The Shape of Water is her 6th movie since getting back.

Self doesn’t like Sally Hawkins. She never has. Though, of all the movies she’s seen that star Sally Hawkins, this is the one she likes best. Hawkins is really good in this. And moreover, her signing is so beautiful: so elegant and precise. Her tub scenes were great.

Self still doesn’t like Sally Hawkins. She finds her movies predictable: they always follow the same trajectory. Which is not to say they’re bad — they always get heaps of critical praise. But they’re always about an eccentric or misunderstood woman who, despite it all, triumphs. And not just triumphs in an ordinary way: no, when a Hawkins woman triumphs, it’s always in a quirky way. Because she looks quirky. Get it? GAAAH.

The fact that this movie is Sally Hawkins being directed by Guillermo del Toro means that it’s more obviously a “message” movie. But del Toro does inject enough moments of strangeness to still make this a satisfying Guillermo del Toro movie.

There were parts that dragged, parts where she actually found herself nodding off (it’s been a long day; she drove to Mendocino from Redwood City, then had to move all her stuff into a new apartment). She felt the creature was a bit too anthropomorphized. Why did it have to have two legs, two eyes, two arms, etc? Why, if you forget the fish scales for a moment, it could practically be A MAN!

She sometimes loves Michael Shannon and she sometimes finds his performances “meh,” but he is perfect here. Per-fect.

And boy does Octavia Spencer ever ground this movie.

Two more supporting actors deserve kudos: Richard Jenkins (magnificent) and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Self would also like to say that Michael Shannon’s two fingers were real scene-stealers.


They were in a paper bag, can you imagine. Then they somehow magically got re-attached to Shannon’s hand. But the color was off. And darn if the first thing self looked at whenever Shannon was in a scene was: the hand with the two greyish fingers. The scene where Shannon explains how they came to be re-attached to his hand: priceless.

Also, the awful level of violence that Shannon’s character inflicts — not just on the creature, but on a fellow scientist. His scenes are what make this movie so much more than a fairy tale. Sometimes, self even laughed. Wait, she asked herself, why is she laughing in a scene where a clearly deranged character is acting out? Yes, Michael Shannon’s acting is just that good.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Variations on a Theme 4: More Mendocino





Variations on a Theme 3: Mendocino

Self has arrived. She even managed to secure rock star parking right in front of the Mendocino Art Center! She’s teaching a weekend workshop on Landscapes of the Mind.

Just south of Mendocino are the giant redwoods. Self pulled over to take a couple of shots for this year’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: VARIATIONS ON A THEME.

And there was this vine-draped house, just south of the Village of Mendocino. Greenery and redwoods, that’s what Mendocino is all about.


Private residence, just south of Mendocino, CA


Mid-Afternoon in the Redwood Forest near Mendocino, CA


It’s been a while since self has experienced the majesty of a redwood forest. Thankful these made it through the Northern California Wildfires, last October.

There was hardly any traffic, until the last 10 miles or so. That’s where you get the heartstopping views, but the narrow twists and turns demand maximum concentration (plus she is annoyed by the tailgaters, SUVs and jeeps mostly).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

LANDSCAPES OF THE MIND: Mendocino Art Center, 27 & 28 January 2018

“You said on the phone the other day that you’re a teacher?”


“What subject do you teach?”

“Everything, pretty much.”

Exotics, by Callan Wink (Granta 128, Summer 2014)

This coming weekend, self is teaching.

A two-day writing workshop on just one subject: Landscapes.

Students will try their hand at writing only one thing: landscapes, both real and invented.

You do not need to be a tested writer, only a writer who is willing to be tested.

Thank you, Mendocino Art Center, for allowing self this opportunity.


  • A journey is more than just a movement through physical space. It is also movement through an emotional landscape. This writing workshop will be about journeys, both real and imagined: journeys of retrieval and nostalgia, as well as journeys of discovery. We’ll map emotions, moods, as well as physical space. We’ll do it all by sitting in one physical space. I’ll share my process with you. I’ll show you how.

Albion, California: January 2017

Stay tuned.

Mendocino Art Center, Winter 2018: LANDSCAPES OF THE MIND

Self is teaching a class in Mendocino. First time since Winter 2016. Excited and happy to be back.

Here’s the link.

Registration’s open.

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