Thursday Doors Challenge: Downtown Palo Alto

Posting this for the Thursday Doors Challenge hosted by No Facilities. It’s a lot of fun to participate.

A few days ago, self went strolling around downtown Palo Alto. This used to be one of her favorite places to while away the time. There were two downtown movie theaters: one on Emerson, another on University Avenue. There was a gelato place, and even a smoke shop. But, sadly, the movie theaters, even the gelato place, were closed.

Stanford Theatre has been closed since March 2020. It’s supposedly owned by a Silicon Valley billionaire who loves old movies. They used to have periodic film festivals: Hitchcock films, Satyajit Ray films, Truffaut films. The price of entry: $7. Fresh popcorn: $1.

It was very disheartening to see, a few days ago, that it was STILL closed. She had to content herself with walking around the ticket area, taking a picture of the old movie posters on display.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Past Squares 6: St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin

Self misses travel soooo much.

Grateful to Becky at Life of B for coming up with the theme of Past Squares. Self is really having fun going through pictures of her past trips.

These are from May 2017.

Self loves parks, all parks. She loves green, and she loves people-watching.

Past Squares 3: Sepia-Toned

If you’ve never heard of The Squares Challenge, you are missing something! The Challenge is hosted by Becky at Life of B, and the theme for this month is Past Squares.

Past Squares can be either your selection from a past round of squares, or something old, historical, etc

For the month, self decided she would focus on the “historical.” In the immortal words of William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”

For today’s Past Squares post, self is going back. WAAAAAY back. Back to the time when she and Dear Departed Sister were four and five-and-a-half years old, respectively (She and her sister were only 18 months apart).

Dearest Mum dressed us alike, all the time. We had the same haircuts, the same dresses, the same shoes. Everything the same. Except for our personalities. When self frowned, her sister smiled. When her sister frowned, self smiled. This was some weird form of sibling rivalry. Nevertheless.

In one picture, self and her sister are sitting in front of a memorial to her grandfather. (Yes, there are colonnades, yes there was a bust of her grandfather. We were in the family resort, in an island in the central Philippines)

The second picture, self and her sister are with her parents. In the exact center of the picture is her grandmother, her mother’s mother. She was a force! A piano teacher from Jaro, Iloilo, her grandmother propelled Dearest Mum all the way to Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher. Self has no recordings of those days, since Dearest Mum stubbornly refused to have ANY recordings made of her music. Self doesn’t even have the countless magazine covers that her mother appeared in.

October Squares Challenge: Past-Squares

There are many ways to interpret this month’s Squares Challenge, Past-Squares. Self will confine herself to just one interpretation, this whole month of October:

  • Have fun with the word ‘past’ by sharing squares of history and heritage, and that includes past holidays!

Summer is over, but Cal Shakes came back with a vengeance, staging an adaptation of The Winter’s Tale that quite took self’s breath away. She went to see it three separate times in September: two Sunday matinees, and one Saturday night performance. The final performance is tomorrow night. WAAAAH! September moved by too quickly.

See you next year, Bruns Amphitheatre!

Quote of the Day: University Art Center

Today, self accomplished one of the things on her bucket list:

To have a painting she made for art class in Grade 6 (convent school, Manila) FRAMED.

The fact that she lugged it to grad school, and through every move thereafter, is deserving of the most fulsome praise!

Her go-to place is University Art Center on El Camino. The framer stretches it out flat: “It’s very wrinkled.”

Self: “Umm, yeah. I made it in grade school.”

Framer: “So how many years are we talking about here?”

Self: “Fifty years?”

Framer: “FIFTY YEARS!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???”

Self: “Uh, okay. Maybe not fifty. Forty?”

In the space on the form for “estimated value of the art” she writes, in big block letters: SENTIMENTAL VALUE. And underlines it twice.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Life in Colour: Pink

Another photo challenge!

Life in Colour: a different color for every month of the year. Hosted by Travel Words.

April’s color is PINK.

Here’s a night light self has had since she was a little girl. Inside the cottage (you can’t really see, sorry), a wolf in a bonnet lies under the bedcovers, waiting for little Red Riding Hood to approach. The roof is a bright, cheerful pink.

She brought this lamp with her to the States. The light broke and for many years it stayed broken. Then, a few years ago, in Mendocino, self met a wonderful woman named Jewel — an artist AND an electrician! — who fixed it for her.

Now it shines every night on what used to be son’s old desk.

“Oh, Grandmother, what big ears you have!”
“The better to hear you with.”
“Oh, Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”
“The better to see you with.”
“Oh, Grandmother, what big hands you have!”
“The better to grab you with!”

“Little Red Riding Hood,” from the Brothers Grimm

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

TransGenre: “I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years”

Another of my pieces. This one was published in Hotel Amerika, the TransGenre issue, 2010.

Copyright reverted to me after first publication. I’m not sure how many people read it the first time, which is why I’m re-publishing here. ALL THANKS TO HOTEL AMERIKA for giving this piece a home.

Ghosts

by Marianne Villanueva

I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years. It seemed she was in a place of ghosts. In my dream, I put my face up to hers and kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll always be your sister.” But she turned her face away and closed her eyes. Her cheek was cold.

I said, “Do you want me to take you away, dear? Come, come! Let us go!” But she only looked sad and didn’t speak.

My son was with me but in my dream he was a young boy. I mean, my son at seven, not the way he is now. He was impatient with my sighs and tears and wanted to get away from that place. He was bored.

I gave him a pencil and told him, “Draw!” He took the pencil obediently. He drew. But it seemed to cost him great effort.

Now and then I would peep at what he was drawing: a series of empty rectangles. I asked him, “Why don’t you put people in your drawings? See, here, and here, and here. They’re all around us!”

He looked up and slowly I saw understanding dawn on his face. He filled his drawings with the outlines of people. I understood then that he, too, could see them, these ghosts.

I told my sister: You are under a spell. You should never have gotten married. She nodded, but she didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Eventually I left, I left my sister there in that cold white house in the middle of a barren plain. The landscape looked like that of a northern country, all bare brown fields as if struck by winter. All white trees.

In the back seat of my car was a white box. It made an angry buzz. I wanted to throw it away but I couldn’t because I knew somehow that there was something in that box that belonged to my sister.

When I got to my own house, after a journey of some distance, I took the box out but now I felt it contained something evil, I wanted to get away from the box but I felt some sense of loyalty, too, because in that box, possibly, were pictures of my sister.

Eventually I forced myself to open it. Inside was a collection of photographs. My sister was in all of them, but around her were people I didn’t recognize. They were on either side of her, staring straight at the camera. My legs felt numb. There was a terrible ache in my chest and my cheeks were cold.

A leaf had turned. A leaf had fallen. It was a Thursday in September, I saw from the calendar on my desk. The 23rd of September.

The X-Files: Squeezed, 3/1/94

On the eve of the last weekend before the momentous election of 2020 (when we either all stay Americans or become something worse, according to Thomas Friedman of The New York Times), self is giddy with excitement.

Cleaning out son’s room, a very laborious process, which so far has occupied her for months, she finds — WHOA! — a marked-up script from the set of The X-Files. She remembers that a friend of a friend was the Props Manager and sent this from Vancouver.

Yes, this is a real watershed moment: the moment when self holds, in her hot little hands, a copy of the script for the episode Squeezed.

We all remember that episode, do we not?

p. 54: INT. ESCALATOR SHAFT – NIGHT

Mulder crawls further, sweating, covered with dust and grease. He pauses, aims his flashlight at the end of the shaft.

MULDER’S POV – END OF SHAFT

A mound of papers and rags large enough for a human to be curled up inside. It is covered with a yellowish bile.

OOOH!!!!!!!

Friday Morning: Reading Luisa A. Igloria’s New Collection

Luisa A. Igloria, dear friend, is this year’s Virginia Poet Laureate. Her newest collection, Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Crab Orchard Review & Southern Illinois University Press), is such a beauty.

Excerpt from Moving, Changing, Not Moving


In the brick-lined interior of a coffee shop, a man at the communal table closes his eyes, a pair of earphones plugged into his cell. Fanning themselves, people come in from the street; it’s the hottest summer & everyone wants iced coffees & teas, water & ice; & parents with little children fall in line outside

people come in from the street; it’s the hottest summer& everyone wants iced coffees & teas, water &

btw: Has anyone EVER tried to contact WordPress about their new Block Editors, and has one EVER received a response? This poem format is ALL OFF, and the code editor does not allow self to switch between single space (within a stanza) and double space (between stanzas). Literally, self has been trying to format since 10 a.m., an hour and a half ago. Even their Customer Service doesn’t work. That is all.


Take 2, Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 116: SYMMETRY

Saw Infidel at the Century 20. If you don’t take it too seriously (Christian blogger goes to Egypt — to try and convert Muslims? — guess what happens to him), it is entertaining. It was her first Jim Caveziel movie in forever, and at first she didn’t recognize him. His hair’s gone light, and he’s heavier. She thinks the last movie she saw him in was the one where he played the son of Dennis Quaid. Frequency, she thinks it was.

Self has loved movies since she was a little girl, she and her Dear Departed Dad shared this passion and would go often. Even here, when he had to have part of a foot amputated (He had very advanced diabetes and a small wound on his foot developed gangrene) at UCSF Medical Center on Parnassus, self would take him to movies. He needed to keep his foot elevated; she’d put his foot on her lap (it had a cast).

Century 20 shut down in March, but finally opened again last week. Her first post-opening movie was Tenet. Whoa! Mind-blowing.

No telling how long Century 20 will remain open, she noticed there aren’t any first-run movies on the schedule for the entire month of October. So, wanting to commemorate maybe her last movie in a theater for a while, she took along her camera and took these pictures.

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge was SYMMETRY. She thinks her pictures are a good example of Horizontal Symmetry.

There were only four other people in the entire theater with her, more than adequate social distancing!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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