Beneath Your Feet 5: Oh the Places Self Roams! In Her Imagination and Elsewhere

Early this year, while self was in Mendocino, she got sent an illustration by Matthew Park (son of an ex-classmate, Mavee Park). He based his illustration off self’s story, “The Freeze,” which was as yet unpublished.

About two weeks after she got sent Matthew’s illustration, the piece was picked up by Bluestem. How’s that for synchronicity? And then, at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, in April, she picked up her author copies.

The story of “The Freeze” is: The earth is slowly dying from a precipitous Ice Age that descends without warning, right after an Obama broadcast about the Russians. Self knows this is far-fetched but, hey, that is only the backstory.

She would love to see this made into an animated film, some day.

Here’s an excerpt:

My group was walking south along the coast. Why? In the cold, we became migratory birds, heading south unquestioningly, thinking: South, it will be warm. Or, anyway, warmer than here.

Can you imagine a time when . . .

Coffee. Waving good-bye to my girls every morning. Inspecting the roses. Peeling off the leaves that were mottled with blackspot and rust.

TheFreezecover_concept02-3

Self combed her archives this afternoon and found more pictures that relate to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  BENEATH YOUR FEET

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2013, just before it shut down for renovation.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2013, just before it shut down for renovation. It should be open again now?

The vaporetto stop on Ca' San Toma, Venice, early morning, May 2013

The vaporetto stop on Ca’ San Toma, Venice. Margarita Donnelly and self shared an apartment: May 2013. Margarita passed away December 2014.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beneath Your Feet: The Sea City Museum in Southampton

Self is posting this as a tie-in to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  BENEATH YOUR FEET.

The Daily Post says:

Experiment with your angle. Stand as you snap your picture, or get close to the floor.

In July, self visited the Sea City Museum in Southampton, which has a fantastic exhibit on the Titanic.

Until then, self had no idea about:

  1. Where do icebergs come from?
  2. Where are icebergs made?
  3. Which part of the Titanic sank first: the bow, or the head?
  4. Poop decks: what are they?

Here is a floor map of the city of Southampton. The red dots mark the homes of the crew who went down on the Titanic. Apparently, a majority of the Titanic’s crew of 897 were from Southampton. Of the almost 900 crew members, only 212 made it home. Which makes perfect sense when you are reminded (by the exhibit) that the crew bunked in the bowels of the ship, near the engines. They had no chance to escape once the ship hit the iceberg (It took less than an hour for the ship to become completely submerged)

Floor Map of the City of Southampton, part of the Sea City Museum's Titanic Exhibit

Floor Map of the City of Southampton, part of the Sea City Museum’s Titanic Exhibit

Further Areas of Southampton Showing Homes of the Titanic crew who drowned

Further Areas of Southampton Showing Homes of the Titanic crew who drowned

As self said earlier, it’s a floor map.

Here’s her friend Joan McGavin, who lives in Southampton, pointing out other place markers to self.

Joan McGavin pointing to (something?) on the floor map of Southampton at the Sea City Museum: July 2015

Joan McGavin pointing to (something?) on the floor map of Southampton at the Sea City Museum: July 2015

It was a fantastic exhibit. Self highly recommends it to anyone who has heard about the Titanic, watched the movie, or just wants to know about social classes in England in the early part of the 20th century.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Inspiration: London, June 2015

Self’s mind is restless, in constant need of stimulation.

And some of self’s most inspiring places are in London.

So, here are some inspiring places from London, Summer 2015. She didn’t visit any museums (except for the Wallace Collection: five stars!). For the most part, she walked. She is sorely disappointed she didn’t get to see the Serpentine.

No. 1: The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, which self visited for the first time in June 2015

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, which self visited for the first time in June 2015

No. 2: King’s Cross Station

English train stations are full of stimulating sights, such as this statue of Winston Churchill (Self thinks this is in King’s Cross. The day after arriving in London, she took the train to visit her friend Dodo in Cambridge and came upon this):

This appears to be a statue of Winston Churchill: London, June 2015

This appears to be a statue of Winston Churchill: London, June 2015

And, just next to Winston Churchill, this couple celebrating the end of World War II:

King's Cross Train Station, June 2015

King’s Cross Train Station, June 2015

Love London. Love, love, love.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Inspired in Yorkshire: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

There are so many photographs from this summer that self can use to illustrate this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: INSPIRATION.

But she’ll stick to her most recent album: photographs of Yorkshire.

Which means the Hockney gallery at the Salts Mill in Shipley.

Café in the Salts Mill, Shipley, Yorkshire

Café in the Salts Mill, Shipley, Yorkshire

An old high school chum (who self hadn’t seen since high school graduation) drove her around. Fun!

The Salts Mill is a massive place. But the man who owned it was an enlightened being who built subdivisions for his workers and kept them off the drink with strict supervision.

The Salts Mills, Shipley

The Salts Mills, Shipley

And the Hockneys! Incredible. A whole floor is devoted to the first release group of his “The Arrival of Sprint 2011” – David Hockney Editioned Works.

Close-up of one of David Hockney's editioned

Close-up of one of David Hockney’s editioned “The Arrival of Spring 2011” at the Salts Mills, Shipley, Yorkshire

Self had NO idea there was such a museum in Yorkshire. Of course, she knew Yorkshire = the Brontes. And that is reason enough to go and pay homage.

But throw in David Hockney? And a converted mill? Priceless.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”

Fragonard's

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.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Half and Half 3: London and Northern Ireland in High Summer

It is high summer in London. Streets awash with tourists. Self is walking around, trying to find pictures for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: HALF AND HALF (“This week, share an image that has two distinct halves”)

Incidentally, self was very inspired by this blog today, which has a very long name, in French.

Around Great Russell Street

In Front of the British Museum, Great Russell Street

Tea Life, Museum Street, London

Tea Life, Museum Street, London

And this is a picture she took when she was in Rostrevor:

Park Next to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Park Next to The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

DOORS 4: San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Redwood City CA, Negros Museum Bacolod

This week’s Photo Challenge is proving quite tricky, for some reason. Self has to search a long time before she finds pictures of DOORS.

Well, here’s the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers Main Entrance:

Front Entrance, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Front Entrance, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Redwood City, California:

The Humble Abode, Redwood City, California

The Humble Abode, Redwood City, California

Front Entrance of the museum of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Negros Museum, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Negros Museum, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Women in Heels

Self is short.

Short. Short. Short. Short.

Granted, short is not a disease.

Nevertheless.

On the question of heels. Last week, went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, lined up to pay 12 GBP to see exhibit on footwear called, if self remembers correctly: Shoes:  Pleasure & Pain.

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The torture aspect was, in self’s humble opinion, very de-emphasized. Self has seen more torturous shoes (including one fabulous pair with moss growing on the heels) in Greenwich Village in New York City.

And now to “Jurassic World,” which self has not seen, but which seems to have triggered some very strong audience reaction to Bryce Dallas Howard’s choice of footwear. It seems she keeps the heels on, throughout the movie.

Now, let self ponder this a moment.

Self has seen, in Italy, women running flat out for a bus in the highest, stiletto-heeled shoes imaginable. They look great. Also, super-powerful.

She has watched episodes of “Sex and the City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker, post-baby, runs flat out down a New York avenue in Jimmy Choos.

Let’s not forget Jodie Foster in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, the one where she plays an oh-so-smooth New York lawyer representing the Rich Bad Guy who profited from the theft of Jewish assets during World War II. Self thinks that if she had a lawyer who wore four-inch heels as confidently as Jodie Foster’s character does (and Jodie’s legs are the best legs self has seen on film since — since — the woman in Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill), she would rest easy in the conviction that she would win all her cases.

On the other hand, there is always an exception to the rule. Exhibit A: Paula Patton, who in the most memorable scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (one of the sequels, the one shot in Dubai), kicks off her heels, leaves on the powder-blue shift dress, and FIGHTS. Really FIGHTS. Afterwards, she sits chatting with her group, all men. She remains barefoot, but still wearing that fabulous dress. The only indication that she’s been IN a fight (because, ya know, she’s as cool as a cucumber. Or at least her character is. She has antagonists like Lea Seydoux for breakfast. Honestly) are her bare feet.

And now we arrive at Bryce Dallas Howard, who in side-note self must say is one of the most unusually interesting-looking actresses working today.  Because her character, Clare, never takes off her shoes, we are left to debate the fine points of female fashion choices. Self means: Is it rational to keep on the heels when one is being chased by a velociraptor?

Self can think of many reasons why Clare would choose to keep wearing her shoes: (1) Jungle floors are slimy; (2) She does not have hiking boots in her closet, or even in her desk drawer at work, or even under her desk in her office at work.

A guest post by Lesley Holmes on clothesonfilm makes the point: “I think the makers of Jurassic world believed that showing a woman capable of running in heels was the same as showing us a capable woman . . . ” Of course! This is a very old Hollywood trope, just about as old as the idea of the director auteur (born with Citizen Kane, which means — a long long time ago). If you want to know how powerful a woman character is, just look at what she’s wearing on her feet, for God’s sake!

Self would just like to say that while she was in line in the women’s restroom at the Gielgud Theatre, during the intermission for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, self engaged a young woman in conversation, and then expressed admiration for her shoes. They looked just like the Sam Edelmans self bought last year in California, but this woman’s shoes were flats. The young woman looked at self regretfully and said, “They’re super-painful. See?” She slipped her right foot out of her shoe and there, plain as day, was the beginning of a blister. Aaargh! The things self sees in women’s restrooms! Which is neither here nor there. But it brought home the lesson that flats are just as capable of giving a woman blisters as are Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.

Self realizes that she herself has very little to say about the wearing of high heels, but in Hollywood, the woman who wears the highest heels is usually the most powerful woman on the block. She’s just saying.

Stay tuned.

Off-Season 5: South Bank, London

OFF-SEASON is still the theme for these photographs.

OFF-SEASON is partly nostalgic. A looking back.

It’s also a phase.

Her last fulll day in London, Joan McGavin took self walking all over the South Bank. Where Shakespeare’s Globe used to be is now a modern apartment building. Signs mark the location of the old Globe, however. It’s a parking lot, around the corner from the new Globe:

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London's South End.

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London’s South End.

Signs show the layout of the old theatre complex. Self likes to muse on the contrast with the current surroundings: cars, vans, box-like buildings.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn't know about bear-baiting.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn’t know about bear-baiting.

Part of our perambulations involved a visit to the Tate Modern Gallery of Art. The building is huge. It dwarfs everything alongside. The building used to house the Bankside Power Station.

The main entrance is cavernous. The lower level was practically empty, except for this greatly ambiguous piece. It felt unfinished but perhaps that was the point?

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London's South Bank. Self doesn't know what it means.

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank. Self doesn’t know what it means.

It’s “Off-Season” because it is so isolated and random, occurring in the middle of what evokes a warehouse setting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London After Hours, Great Russell Street: Off-Season 3

Self is finding “Off-Season” to be a very interesting Photo Challenge.

She isn’t sure that these series of shots she took last night are really “off-season” — except when viewed in one sense. But she’ll post anyway.

She took these pictures last night, when she was hunting for a cheap place to have dinner.  She was on Great Russell Street. The British Museum, and all the shops along that street, were closed. So she peered in through the iron gates and the barred windows:

The British Museum After Hours

The British Museum After Hours

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

Across the street is an Antiquarian Bookseller named Jarndyce (How very Dickens). When self peered through the barred windows, this caught her attention:

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

It was a Sunday evening. She happened to be reading (in addition to the ever-present Clockwork Prince, ha ha ha!) a copy of Dionne Brand’s poetry collection, Thirsty. And here is an excerpt from Poem II:

The city was empty, except for the three,
they seemed therefore poised, as when you are alone
anywhere all movement is arrested, light, dun,
except, their hearts, scintillant as darkness

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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