Half and Half 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, HALF AND HALF, is about “splitting” your canvas “into two.”

The prompt is about composition. Oh how self loves those kinds of prompts.

From The Daily Post:

This week, share an image that has two clear halves, literally or figuratively.

So, here’s what self came up with today:

2nd Floor, The Plough, off Great Russell Street, London

2nd Floor, The Plough, off Great Russell Street, London

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

So, this last picture, self wasn’t sure what she was trying to do here, but she definitely sees two sight lines, two visual planes: foreground and trees. She’ll just go ahead and post it:

Near the Start of The Narnia Trail in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland (C. S. Lewis loved Rostrevor!)

Near the Start of The Narnia Trail in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland (C. S. Lewis loved Rostrevor!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Symbol 2: Irish Green

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is SYMBOL.

Today, self is taking a page from Susan Rushton, whose post shows a sweet little garden surrounded by a white picket fence in Colonial Williamsburg.

Gardens are little oases of serenity. A garden represents peace, calm, sanctuary. Here’s one:

This garden overlooks a canal: Dublin, July 2015

This garden overlooks a canal: Dublin, July 2015

And here’s another symbol: the green green green of an Irish summer in Annaghmakerrig:

The Lake at Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

The Lake at Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

And because self is so in love with the green here, here’s a shot of the woods in Annaghmakerrig:

Woods, Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

Woods, Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Door 2: Annaghmakerrig, Ireland & Cambridge, England

Here are a couple more significant doors! (She’d better stop doing these Photo Challenges, at least while she’s in Ireland. Took much time to find that last one. She had to scour her archives for about an hour!)

The first two are from today, in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland. The last is from May 2014, when she visited her friend Dodo in Cambridge, England.

Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Entrance to One of the Artist Studios, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Entrance to One of the Artist Studios, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

Last, a picture self took in Cambridge in May 2014, when she was visiting her friend Dodo:

Cambridge, England (During a Visit Last Year, May 2014)

Cambridge, England (During a Visit Last Year, May 2014)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Muse 3: More From Annaghmakerrig

Another from last night’s walk around the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (This place is absolute balm for self’s spirit):


What is it, exactly, about this place? The light? The surroundings? Knowing other artists are just a shout away? Ireland? She is exceedingly grateful for every day that she wakes up here.

It’s a gorgeous time of year. Flowers are blooming:

Flowers growing from atop a low stone wall . . .

Flowers growing from atop a low stone wall . . .

More of the Same (Just From Another Angle)

More of the Same (Just From Another Angle)

Today is #AgentsDay on Twitter. So many authors are grateful to their agents, which is nice.

This is not a pursuit self feels she can successfully engage in. (Optimism does not come naturally to self!)

It is also, interestingly enough, #askELJames Day on Twitter. And the questions! The questions!

When self was in London, a few weeks ago, she saw a huge Fifty Shades of Grey poster (a still from the movie) that covered an entire building. How’s that for making a statement? Jaw-drop time.

Jamie Dornan has quite a good back. Self’s just saying.

(Now, how did self get from Annaghmakerrig to Fifty Shades? No idea)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Goebbels’ Speech at the Berlin Sports Palace: 18 February 1943

And self is back to reading The Third Reich at War!

At first glance, the below text might seem like something out of a play. Mebbe Tamburlaine the Great, or Richard II.

Oh no, on second thought, the writing is just too bad. It’s just one long, hysterical shriek of racial hatred. It may be considered an example of exhortation, a rhetorical device. Delivered with a very blunt instrument.

Self will reproduce it here, minus editorial comment:

  • Behind the onrushing Soviet divisions we can already see the Jewish liquidation squads, which loom behind terror, the spectre of millions going hungry and total anarchy in Europe. Here international Jewry is once more proving itself to be the devilish element of decomposition . . .  We have never been afraid of Jewry and we are less afraid today than ever! The aim of Bolshevism is the world revolution of the Jews . . .  Germany at least does not intend to quail before this Jewish threat; rather, to meet it with the timely, if necessary total and most radical exclusion of Jewry!

— p. 280, The Third Reich at War, Part 3 (“The Final Solution”)

Muse 2: Tryone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is MUSE.

This is self’s second time at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. She came back because she did so much good work when she was here last year, in May.

This year, she has a novel to finish. It’s very slow going, but she’s lucky she can get to work on it here.

Last night, self decided to take a walk. The sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. or thereabouts, which is quite a thrill: more daylight hours, yes!!!

Last year, she remembers there was a little flock of swans that used to hang out by the lake. But she hasn’t seen one, not one, since she got here. Perhaps it’s the season.

No More Swans

No More Swans

Anyhoo, self loves being underneath the giant trees. You don’t understand green — all the varying shades of it — until you’ve been to Ireland.

Trees, Summer Evening

Trees, Summer Evening

And there are woods out here, so many woods. So far, she’s had very little time to explore. Hopefully, later, she will.

The woods last night. Such spindly tree trunks! Nothing at all like the woods up by Mendocino.

The woods last night. Such spindly tree trunks! Nothing at all like the woods up by Mendocino.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Monday: “There for six months”

A student wrote this years ago, shortly after the first Gulf War (You know, the “shock and awe” war). The class was Composition & Rhetoric. The assignment was for students to write an autobiographical essay. But self didn’t have the heart to grade the student down for thinking outside the box, especially after he told her it was the first poem he ever wrote.

She really liked the piece. Dear blog readers, the fact that this piece got written at all is something of a miracle.

She was reminded of it by a poem in J Journal’s current issue.

After The Hurt Locker, after Zero Dark Thirty, after American Sniper, self finds the perspective of the poem very refreshing:

There For Six Months

Underneath Pink Floyd’s alluring rhapsody
the phone was ringing,
Hey you, out there on your own,
sitting naked by the phone, would you touch me
and my older brother is telling me that
come January, he’ll be in Iraq,
serving his time of duty for six months
in the war
see also: abuse of power, see also: corpses

Meanwhile, people all around are nestled away in their cozy,
unobtrusive shells: human anti-socialism,
one thousand and one bloody bodies, our own an afterthought.
Warming cups of soup, chicken-noodle flavor,
and stacks of crackers on a folded napkin, for dipping.

Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light,
don’t give in without a fight
And my brother is telling me that if he makes it back
there’s a good chance he’ll be based in the west coast,
see also: home, see also: happiness
There’s shake and shiver undertones in his voice
when he keeps saying, Don’t worry,
they trained me how to live, but all I can wonder is
if they trained him how to die.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vengeance Is Sweet: More From Part 2, Chapter 1 of THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

14 June 1940

The German soldiers enter Paris, which has become a surprisingly vacant city: “Instead of the usual cacophony of car horns, all that could be heard was the lowing of a herd of cattle, abandoned in the city center by refugees passing through from the countryside farther north.”

Then the ranscaking begins.

“On Hitler’s personal orders, the private railway carriage of the French commander in the First World War, Marshall Foch, in which the Armistice of 11 November 1918 had been signed, was tracked down to a museum and, after the museum walls had been been broken down by a German demolition team, it was moved out and towed back to the spot it had occupied in the forest of Compiegne on the signing of the Armistice . . .  Taking the very same seat occupied by Foch in 1918, Hitler posed for photographs, then departed, contemptuously leaving the rest of the delegation, including Hess, Goring, Ribbentrop and the military leaders, to read out the terms and receive the signatures of the dejected French.”

Self truly appreciates Evans’s wide range of vocabulary. Take that word “dejected.” It is perfect.

Which brings to mind other types of emotional states, all beginning with the letter “d”:

  • disconsolate
  • depressed
  • distraught
  • disappointed
  • distracted
  • discombobulated
  • desperate
  • dissembling
  • damaged
  • desultory
  • diffident

Why, any and all of the above could be applied to the French at the moment of the signing of the Armistice, June 1940.

The relative ease with which Germany accomplished “the greatest military encirclement in history” led the Reich to attempt the invasion of the Soviet Union, the following year.

Hitler was so gleeful that he confided to Albert Speer, his architect, “that he had often thought of having the city razed to the ground.”

And now it is another June, 75 years later, and self is in Ireland, and it’s a beautiful summer day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

June 1940: Richard J. Evans’s THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

About a fourth of the way through The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans

Part 2, Chapter 1:  The Work of Providence

6 June 1940

German forces cross the Somme.

16 June 1940

French Prime Minister Reynaud resigns, the only person in the French government not in favor of an armistice. He is replaced by the elderly Marshall Pétain.

“Half of the 1.5 million French troops taken prisoner by the Germans surrendered after this point. Soldiers who wanted to fight on were often physically attacked by civilians.”

The French had lost 120,000 soldiers, while the Dutch and Belgians lost 10,500 and the British 5,000. Furthermore, since French troops formed the rearguard of the retreating British, Belgian and Dutch army, 40,000 French soldiers were taken prisoner at Dunkirk.

Understandably, it would take British and French foreign relations a very long time to recover.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

St. Bride’s on a Monday Afternoon: Off-Season 4

It’s a quiet little church just off the hustle and bustle of Fleet Street.


The church is mentioned in an appendix to Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince.

Clare used the church as the setting for the Shadowhunters’ London Institute.

Since self has decreed that this London sojourn will be devoted to examining places that appear in The Infernal Devices trilogy, she couldn’t possibly have skipped the headquarters of the London Institute, now could she?

She was hoping to get to Blackfriars Bridge as well, but couldn’t make it that far. It was a cool day, and self was wearing a sleeveless cotton blouse. Plus she’s going to be watching a play tonight, so rest is required.

The Crypt Beneath St. Bride's -- It's a very interesting exhibit space.

The Crypt Beneath St. Bride’s — It’s a very interesting exhibit space.

In a small chapel off to the side, self found the most amazing altar, and etched glass hanging art.

St. Bride’s is also known as the “journalists’ church”: hence the quill and ink etched on this green glass panel, another of which flanks the altar’s other side.

Two Etched Pieces of Glass flank an altar in a side chapel of St. Bride's.

Two Etched Pieces of Glass flank an altar in a side chapel of St. Bride’s.

The church was practically empty today, so self was free to explore to her heart’s content.

There were photographs all around, and also a memorial plaque to Marie Colvin. Self recognized the name instantly, but for the benefit of dear blog readers, Marie Colvin was a foreign correspondent who was killed in 2012, while reporting from the Syrian city of Homs. On the plaque is a quote: “It has always been a hard calling, but the need for front-line, effective reporting has never been stronger.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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