ATFTOOD, pp. 155 – 156

When Donner gives us the ages of Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, and Hermann Goring — self’s jaw drops to the floor. Heinrich Himmler, “leader of the SS and architect of the concentration camp system” is thirty-three. THIRTY-THREE! Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Gestapo, is thirty.

The oldest, Goring, is forty-one.

omg. Rank amateurs, all three. The Night of the Long Knives was their rehearsal.

  • In Munich, a man is playing cello in the study of his apartment while his wife prepares dinner and their three children, ages nine, eight, and two, play a game. The doorbell rings. Four SS officers march in and arrest him. Later, they shoot him and deliver his casket to his wife with an apology. The man wasn’t who they thought he was. They’d confused Willi Schmid, a music critic, with Willi Schmidt, a Storm Trooper.

Stay tuned.

The Writer Hans Fallada

His novel, called in English Little Man, What Now? was a huge bestseller, sold 42,000 copies in Germany alone. And THIS was before social media!

He followed that up in three months with another book, whose title in English was Once He had a Child. The “frenetic pace left him breathless with exhaustion. Abscesses on his gums sent him into surgery three times, and both his children got whooping cough.”

That is indeed awful. But I have never been able to write a novel in three months. So there’s that.

Joseph Goebbels and the War on Women

“Women during the Weimar era were granted too many rights, Goebbels tells” people. Women shouldn’t hold public office or compete with men in the workplace. “The feminization of men always leads to the masculinization of women,” he says . . . A fundamental change is necessary!”

The first, best, and most suitable place for the woman is in the family, and her most glorious duty is to give children to her people and nation, children who can continue the line of generations and who guarantee the immortality of the nation!

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, p. 82

When they start incursing on women’s rights, that’s when you should really start to worry!

Women’s rights are human rights. Lose the first and it won’t be long before you lose the second.

That is all.

First Monday Windows of 2022

YAY YAY YAY

So much to celebrate.

First Monday Window of 2022!

Here’s a shop window in Mendocino, on Albion Street. Self stumbled across it while having a morning walk around the Village. She peeked inside: looks fascinating! She went back a few more times, but never managed to come when it was open. BONUS: There’s a reflection of one of Mendocino’s ubiquitous water towers in the glass.

Loot & Lore, 611 Albion St., Mendocino, California

AWIB, pp. 10 – 11

Saturday, April 21, 1945, 2 a.m.

Bombs that made the walls shake. My fingers are still trembling as I hold my pen. I’m covered in sweat as if from heavy labor. Before my building was hit I used to go down to the shelter and eat thick slices of bread with butter. But since the night I helped dig out people who’d been buried in the rubble, I’ve been preoccupied, forced to cope with my fear of death. The symptoms are always the same. First the sweat beads up around my hairline, then I feel something boring into my spine, my throat gets scratchy, my mouth goes dry, my heart starts to skip. I’ve fixed my eyes on the chair leg opposite, and am memorizing every turned bulge and curve. It would be nice to be able to pray. The brain clings to set phrases, fragments of sentences: “Pass lightly through this world, for it is nothing . . . and each one falls as God desires . . .

Note to Anonymous: My dear, you write so well. Don’t let the troglodytes destroy your spirit. You can’t possibly know what’s coming, but my gut twists with dread. Just don’t let them destroy your spirit. That is all.

Stay tuned.

Joyce, TMWDT

Although perhaps he isn’t really boring, if everything you hear is true? Killings and gold and helicopters and whatnot? Though if you need killings and gold and helicopters to make you interesting then I suppose you are still boring at heart. Gerry never needed a helicopter.

The Man Who Died Twice, p. 160

Reading this book ever so much faster than she read The Birthday Boys (That book took two damn weeks!) but not trying to rush through because she enjoys the Fearless Four so much.

Next year, she will again join the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but will up her reading goal by 1 or 2. Mustn’t get too ambitious, but this year she almost doubled her reading goals, who would have thought?

Stay tuned.

The Last Act of These Men’s Lives

Still on Birdie’s section. It has been a hard, unrelenting slog: nothing but ice, and trying to keep going, and the sunless dark, for sixteen days straight. What’s amazing is how Beryl Bainbridge recreates it all. The human spirit is simply unfathomable, the way it just keeps going. All gratitude to Bainbridge for writing such a brutal, honest, and unflinching narrative!

  • We rose at three the next morning, into moonlight misty with fog. It’s at Cape Evans that the barrier, that great wall of ice which extends 400 miles south and east, meets the land, and we could just make out the tumultuous shapes of the pressure fields jostling the smudged edge of the frozen sea. On Bill’s reckoning it was four miles to the cliffs, and he wanted to get there by midday so as to have the benefit of the twilight hour. Blubber for the stove was now a more urgent priority than Emperor eggs; we were a quarter of the way through the fifth of those six precious tins of oil the Owner had so begrudged our taking.

So yes, dear blog readers, it looks like this is going to be a dreadful slog through to the bitter end, we are going to have to struggle along with these men until they take their last breaths. Self did not much care for Robert Falcon Scott’s section, but Birdie’s, now! There’s a point of view to get lost in.

The horror is unrelenting: they come across a colony of Emperor penguins and start slaughtering like mad! For the penguins’ blubber. And those penguins are too stupid to try and evade the knife. They just stand there, waiting. The men save five eggs to take back to camp, and drop two on the way. God, this is super-depressing. If they ever make a movie about this expedition, self will not watch it.

What makes an author absolutely want to push the reader’s face in it, self wonders. Is it the feeling of being almost god-like, manipulating the reader’s emotions at will? Does she want to show that a woman is just as capable of imagining horror as a man? Ugh, will Bainbridge just HURRY UP AND GET IT OVER WITH.

The last part of Birdie’s section is dreams, dreams, dreams. Snow keeps falling on them, ugh ugh ugh. Self describes it all for dear blog readers so that they can decide for themselves if the beauty of Bainbridge’s prose is worth suffering through such pointless dying. It’s like Joyce Carol Oates, only historical.

The last section is Oates’s. Of course we have to see every inch of his gangrenous foot.

Today’s weather was vastly different from yesterday’s. Yesterday was glorious! Today was cold. Thank goodness self discovered the chocolate shop next to Dick’s Place (bar). What does chocolate have to do with anything? She got three truffles this afternoon and they were really yum, and the weather seemed far less cold after.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Water, Water Everywhere (WWE) Challenge: Avila Beach, June 2021

It is cold today in Mendocino.

For the WWE Challenge, hosted by Jez, self picked an image from this past summer. California was slowly opening up after more than a year of lockdown. Self drove to the central coast for a change of scene.

Long ago, son was a student at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, so self headed there and spent a blissful few days visiting old haunts.

Headlands Coffeehouse, Fort Bragg

Well, hellooooo, old friend. There’s another coffeeshop just around the corner from Mendocino Hotel, but as she was headed there, a car pulled up and a woman stuck her head out and said, “Do you know any place that you can get breakfast in, around here?” Self told her, “Lansing Street” and she said, “We’ve just been, and all they have is outdoor seating, and it’s too cold!” So self said, “Fort Bragg,” and then self decided that she would head to Fort Bragg, herself.

Whoa, the drive there. This is what she remembers: IMPATIENT TRUCKS. And it was spitting rain. She passed the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, and Nit’s Café, and the Depot, but everything seemed closed. Then she made a right on Laurel and saw: YAY! People going in and out of Headlands Coffeehouse! She found a parking spot and went in and ordered a cappucino.

Not 10 minutes later, she heard someone saying, “Oh, hi!” and she looked up. It was the same woman who had spoken to her in Mendocino! And she said, “We just followed you here!” The woman and her husband had driven up from Santa Rosa and were staying at Little River Inn. For some reason, the woman thought self was a local, but self told her she was just visiting. “I used to teach at Mendocino Art Center,” though, self said. The woman asked if self was an artist, and rather than get into it, self said yes.

Anyhoo, that is not the real point of this post. The real point is: as she sat in Headlands, sipping her cappucino, she got to a part of The Birthday Boys (p. 138) that made her say: Holy Cow, I am so glad I persevered through all the earlier chapters. Because it’s Lt. Bowers’s chapter (Birdie) and here’s where the real suffering unfolds.

It’s all very well for Robert Falcon Scott to lament his sad fate (being beaten to the South Pole by Amundsen), but he is not the one hauling ass. He is not the one getting frostbite. It is Birdie and Dr. Wilson and the young whippersnapper Cherry-Garard who have to trek the frozen, sunless wasteland, to perform an experiment on DIET that Robert Falcon Scott ordered them to execute. This Robert Falcon Scott was definitely crazes, while the three men have spent six nights in a howling desert of ice.

Finally, the three debate whether or not to continue.

Birdie (p. 139):

“I happen to believe we can stick it.” I was speaking no more than the truth, having always found that willpower overcomes all adversities. One just has to believe that it’s within one’s spiritual domain to conquer difficulties. That is not to say that I don’t recognise there has to be a time to submit, possibly a time to die, merely that I’ve never yet been taken to the brink.

Bill (Wilson) cheered up after this and waxed on about the penguins. I must say they lead terrible lives, in that their undoubted maternal instinct leads more to infanticide than nurturing.

Self ordered squash soup for take-out, so she could enjoy it in the privacy of her room. Holy Smokes, the car was filled with such a delicious smell, she literally floored it from Fort Bragg to Mendocino, she just couldn’t wait to have this soup!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Epitaph for an Explorer

“I’ve been five times round the world, and Bill quite as far in his mind, yet we still thought this an awfully big adventure.”

  • Lt. Henry Robertson (Birdie) Bowers, The Birthday Boys, p. 135. Bowers died with the other members of Robert Scott Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, 1911

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