Explorer Monday: National Geographic, April 1987

Robert Falcon Scott to his wife, last instructions (found on his body eight months later):

Make the boy interested in natural history, if you can; it is better than games; they encourage it at some schools. I know you will keep him in the open air.

Above all, he must guard and you must guard him against indolence. Make him a strenuous man. I had to force myself into being strenuous, as you know — had always an inclination to be idle.

Robert Falcon Scott “and two companions made it to within 11 miles of safety — a depot of supplies known as One Tom Camp some 150 miles from their base camp. They had walked more than 1,600 miles, to the Pole and almost back.”

— Sir Peter Scott, The Antarctic Challenge, National Geographic, April 1987

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Heat Is Back!

Self is soooo glad this little thingamajig from Manila still works. She found it in a desk drawer (she’s doing massive excavations of every single closet in her house). She has no air-conditioning so it is really handy. Amazing! All she needs to do is lift that thing right against her face. Heaven!

DSCN0201

Cool!

She also JUST noticed that the thingamajig is shaped like a penguin. Must sell like hotcakes in Manila. Or other hot places.

Stay tuned.

CALYX and the Nineteenth Amendment: Call for Submissions (Ends 31 July)

from Brenna Crotty, Senior Editor, Calyx:

Next year, in 2020, the United States will celebrate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, and CALYX Press will turn forty-four years old. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that Calyx has existed for nearly half the number of years that women have had the right to vote in this country, but “astonishing” seems like the right word for it either way.

In anticipation of the centennial, and in celebration of the labor and persistence that went into women’s suffrage, CALYX is open for a special extended submission period now through July 31, 2019. We are accepting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction on women’s participation in the political process, the myriad means through which women engage with and experience socio-political movements, and the ways full citizenship and access have been denied to different communities. Equal rights forwomen have had a long and fraught road, and our celebration of that first monumental victory in 1920 is tempered by the awareness that there is still so much progress to be made.

Still Reading Stephen Westaby

Summer continues. The days are long. Self’s favorite time of day is after dinner, when the heat is dissipating. Around 8 p.m. It’s still light.

Self’s reading has slowed with the warm weather. Today she’s on Chapter Nine of Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table: Westaby is doing a heart transplant on a 10-year-old boy named Stefan. The doctors begin surgery when they get word that “the donor heart had left Harefield” and “would arrive in Oxford in thirty minutes.”

It arrives. The assisting doctor, Marc, “started to trim the donor heart,” which was “from a live person with a normal brain.”

(In parts, this book reads like a horror story — Westaby seems to have a taste for the gruesome detail)

It was time to cut out Stefan’s own sad heart and make ready for the new one. Out it came. The empty pericardium was a curious sight. No heart. It must have been scary when Barnard did it for the first time. Like a car without an engine under the hood.

Then, the implantation:

Any donor heart is slippery and wet. Not easy to hold in position.

My treacherous imagination takes over.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Back to Work

Below, page 1 of a very, very old work-in-progress. Self was clearing her closets when she stumbled across the hard copy yesterday.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DEAR DEPARTED DAD.

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Committed.2: HINDSIGHT, p. 29

An 11-year-old who was relishing the start of summer vacation and long hours of freedom instead finds herself committed to a psych ward by her father and stepmother. She lives in two rooms the entire summer: a bedroom (with barred windows) and a dining room.

Her first conversation is with a boy in the dining room, a day after she’s been committed:

The boy next to me whispered: “You should eat that.”

I looked up at him. He was older than me. In fact, everyone was older than me. I would soon learn that I was the youngest kid on the ward. Eleven-year-olds don’t usually get admitted to the adolescent psych unit. Adolescent was a big new word for me, but it meant twelve and older. I carefully surveyed the room, noticing the nurse watching me closely. I nodded and obediently ate the soggy flakes.

Group time came soon after breakfast. Keith, I learned, was fifteen. He was waiting for placement at a nearby group home, and he had anger issues.

Stay tuned.

Committed: HINDSIGHT, p. 28

Hindsight, Ch. 5 (Hospital)

I stood up, staring out the window. I was on the dreaded Seventh Floor. The place where they locked my mom away whenever she lost it. When she tore out windows and painted the walls with ketchup and mustard. When she marched her kids into the mountains and left them. Where my stepson went, when she was so depressed that her naughty step-kids wouldn’t eat her nasty bloody chicken.

The window was reinforced, and there were strategically placed screws and nails in the framework. Even if I managed to open it, I would have to travel seven floors down. My bed only had two sheets. I wouldn’t make it.

Dysfunction

Hindsight, Ch. 4 (Married Again)

I was winning. We could stop this.

My father looked at us both, disappointment heavy in his eyes. “What would people think?” he asked.

“I don’t care,” I told him.

We argued for the rest of the day. I didn’t want this woman moving into our house. Something about her was unkind, cruel. I sensed her disdain towards me.

The day of the wedding came.

 

Older Sister: HINDSIGHT, p. 13

She wanted to stay to protect us, but she wanted to get away, to protect herself.

Certain Favorites: ONCE UPON A RIVER

Trying hard to keep this post spoiler-free. Don’t worry, she’s only a third of the way through this novel. She’s not giving away any big secrets or anything.

We are at a Vaughan chapter. Self has to admit, this character is one of her favorites. (How lucky is she that she just finished Northanger Abbey and then stumbled into another great novel. This doesn’t happen often. That is why she appreciated discovering Phillip Pullman and reading His Dark Materials all in one go.)

Setterfield is really good at describing sows, pet pigs, etc First there was Maud the Sow, who was kidnapped (Who kidnaps a sow? a character asks. Yeah, WHO?). Martha, a pig, Maud’s daughter, becomes a replacement confidant for one of the characters (There are so many pigs on farms in the Philippines and no one’s ever written about them. Or turned them into characters. Why not give it a try, self?)

Vaughan had a disorienting encounter several chapters ago with Mrs. Constantine. He lost his daughter — “taken” — when she was four. He’s just been going through the motions ever since. Then someone rescues a man and a four-year-old girl from the river. A servant tells his wife the news before Vaughan gets a chance to tell her himself, and then his wife takes off, just like that, to the inn where the drowned/rescued girl has been taken.

These actions, while thrilling, are so perfectly in character. Self finds herself nodding over the pages, saying “Yes, yes. Go on.”

As for Vaughan, he couldn’t go on. He went on.

As for the man who was rescued with the little girl, he has remained unconscious for all these pages. He made a big, dramatic entrance in Chapter 1, lost consciousness, and has been lying flat on his back on a table at an inn since forever. All self knows about him is that a nurse practitioner (or whatever you called healers in that time, in England) came and examined his entire naked body very thoroughly, and deduced that his injuries were survivable, and also that he was a photographer.

She only heard of Diane Setterfield at the Fowey Festival of the Arts. She went to Bookends of Fowey and asked if they could recommend a book by Setterfield “to start with.” Once Upon a River was out of the question because it was hardcover and very thick, and self had still weeks of travel to go. She bought it, though, just before leaving London.

In another piece of luck, self has been back from London for two whole days, and her weirdo neighbor has not made a peep (until this afternoon, when she heard muffled stirrings from the other side of the fence. UGH. She’s confident he’ll never discover this blog, because he doesn’t seem to do anything all day, and has no friends. He has stuffed animals lined up in his living room window, and seems to think self has a crush on him. She’ll be really distressed if he shows himself, frankly. It will ruin her plans for the summer, which are: to remain entirely, unreservedly, stress-free. One day when she was running out of conversational topics with Dearest Mum, resident of Manila, she told Dearest Mum about this neighbor. True to form, Dearest Mum giggled and said she was so happy to know that self had an admirer!!!)

Something is going to happen. Stay tuned.

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