Now Reading: 2nd Tuesday of July 2019

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RISING, DISPATCHES FROM THE NEW AMERICAN SHORE, p. 45

Lately my feeling is that I need time to just be here before I can decide whether to stay or not. My guess is that I will tap into so much gratitude for my life alongside this marsh that I may just become an old lady who drowns right here.

— Laura Sewell, resident of Small Point, Maine

Seals of New York

Pack rat self. She clipped an article from The New Yorker of 21 March 2011 and kept it tucked away in a drawer. Until today, when self found it again. She kept only one page, so she doesn’t know who the author of the piece is.

In 1993, Kevin Walsh, of the New York Aquarium, said there was a harbor seal living under the Williamsburg Bridge. In ’97, Sieswerda reported that occasional seals could be spotted on out-of-the-way beaches in Brooklyn and Queens. In 2001, kayakers said that they saw about a dozen harbor seals living on Swinburne Island, in the Lower Harbor, two and a half miles from the Verrazano Bridge.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Pacific Rim Review of Books: Self Wants to Eat/Read Everything

Issue Twenty-Three, Vol. 12 No. 1

 

 

New for the Reading List: The Economist Books, 12 May 2018

  1. The latest from Rachel Cusk: Kudos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series is mentioned in the review: self has been wanting to read Knausgaard. Hopefully, someday.
  2. Eye of the Shoal: A Fishwatcher’s Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything, by Helen Scales (Bloomsbury Sigma). Scales’s earlier book, about seashells, is Spirals in Time.
  3. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, by Zora Neale Hurston: written in 1927, finally out in print!!! (Amistad)

On the Writing Desk Today: AMAZING RARE THINGS by David Attenborough

The only hardcover self allowed herself to bring home from London last year: David Attenborough’s Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery.

She bought it from the London Review Bookshop in June 2017 and only now, almost a year later, in Mendocino, is she able to give it a focused reading.

Figure 22: The American Flamingo by John James Audubon

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Fig. 22 in the book AMAZING RARE THINGS, by David Attenborough

This is an amazing work by Audubon. Attenborough writes:

Audubon, who from the age of eighteen lived in Pennsylvania where he looked after family property, was obsessed by birds. His quest for them led him to travel ever westwards in search of new species. He hunted them with an unquenchable passion and he drew them with equal enthusiasm.

His biggest inspiration was to draw birds in motion. The next part is a little gross but anyhoo, Leonardo da Vinci did similar things to study animal anatomy. Da Vinci of course did not SHOOT animals, but he dissected as many as he could lay his hands on.

Audubon would shoot (shoot as in: kill) his subjects, then take the freshly killed bird back home, where he’d fix them on a board with a pre-drawn square grid. Then he’d manipulate “the bird’s wings and neck into what he considered life-like attitudes” and fix “them in position with skewers. The process must have been a fairly blood-spattered one . . . ”

Several years ago, self had occasion to visit Pasadena, and she dropped by the Huntington Library, where on exhibit were Audubon’s magnificent double elephant folio. Jaw-dropping. Amazing. An American National Treasure. Self knew Audubon was a painter of birds, but until she saw the elephant folio, she had no idea of the magnitude of his vision.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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