‘One’ : WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ONE.

“This week, we want to see photos that focus one one thing.”

Dear Departed Dad at 46.  This picture is in the small room she calls her "Office," the one with French doors that open to her backyard.

Dear Departed Dad at 46. This picture is in the small room self calls her “Office,” the one with French doors that open to her backyard.

He was a kind and gentle father.  Most of all, he gave self roots in the soil of Negros Occidental.

In addition to self's fascination with:  a) windows, b) flowers, self is also fascinated by dogs.  This one was in Monsignor "Gigi" Gaston's house in Manapla.

In addition to self’s fascination with: a) windows and b) flowers, self is also fascinated by dogs. This one was in Monsignor “Gigi” Gaston’s house in Manapla, Negros Occidental.

And here's a picture of the Nora Aunor of her time:  Dearest Mum.  Have you read the story "Lizard"?  You should read "Lizard" (in self's first collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA)

And here’s a picture of Dearest Mum. Have you read the story “Lizard”? You should read “Lizard” (in self’s first collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA).  A student at Curtis, she was only 14 when she played at Carnegie Hall.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Garden in Fall

Missing one very important ingredient . . .

The hollowed trunk of a Philippine tree . . . had it shipped from the Philippines

The hollowed trunk of a Philippine tree . . . had it shipped from the Philippines


Bella . . .

She was ready. She must have spent the whole summer preparing, her sleeps getting longer and longer and longer.  The Man said she still ate all her breakfast that morning.

She was ready. She must have spent the whole summer preparing, her sleeps getting longer and longer and longer. The Man said she still ate all her breakfast that morning.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Noun:  Goal; desire; something one wishes to achieve.

e.g. Marco, whose lifelong aspiration was to be the number one seat violinist in the orchestra, was left thinking only about sabotage when it was announced the young prodigy would be assuming the premiere position.

Bella the Beagle, aka “The Ancient One”, who entered our lives in 1996 at six months of age, died a few hours before self’s plane arrived from the Philippines, in the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 14. The Man found her when he got home from work, a little before five.  She was still warm.  It seemed she had died peacefully, lying in the warm sun on the deck.

Oh, woe!

Self was quite overcome to think she had missed seeing Bella alive, by just a few hours.

Self’s other beagle, Gracie, died in April 2011, so Bella had two more happy years with us.  When Gracie was alive, she was completely cowed and submissive.  When Gracie passed away, she began to get a little assertiveness back (We adopted Gracie when Bella was about four years old, and Gracie was far more rambunctious, and completely stole the show).

The Ancient One Peruses the Backyard.  A year ago, self predicted 2011 would be her last Christmas.  As it turned out, self was too much of a pessimist.

The Ancient One Peruses the Backyard.  Self predicted 2011 would be her last Christmas. As it turned out, self was too much of a pessimist.

Bella the Beagle:  Sept. 30, 1995 to Oct. 14, 2013

Self’s eyes are pretty swollen right now.  It was an exhausting trip. Started 3:50 pm in Bacolod, included a five-hour layover in Manila which stretched to 8 hours, and then a 12-hour flight.  She got in at 11 p.m.  The Man has to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to work.

But when she was reading her e-mail, she saw a letter from Waccamaw accepting her story “Bridging.”  This was a story she wrote while in Hawthornden, June 2012.  Towards the end of the month, she and the other writers decided to have an informal reading of works-in-progress.  The story self read was “Bridging.”  It was only about 8 pages at the time; in August, when she last worked on it and sent it out, it had grown to 17 pages.

Totaling the time it took from the story’s inception to its final version, June 2012 to October 2013, it took only about 16 months.  She’s had stories that she works on for six, seven years before they get picked up.  Such a one was “Silence,” which was published long ago in The Threepenny Review, and was shortlisted for the O. Henry Literature Prize.

“Bridging” will appear in Waccamaw‘s forthcoming issue (going live October 31).

It’s only her 3rd acceptance of 2013.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Mysterious Mirrors

Fearsome hot.

This morning, The Ancient One appeared wan, gave only indifferent attention to her food (over which self had generously ladled warmed up bacon grease.  At this point, she will not worry about Bella’s cholesterol!)

Self immediately text-ed son:  Prepare yourself!

He text-ed back:  Maybe you should switch her dry dog food.

Self became a little annoyed at the nonchalance.

She had a couple of errands to run, so she ran them.

Upon returning to the house, she headed straight for the backyard.  There was The Ancient One, positioned right underneath the magnolia tree (a favorite spot of hers; there’s a depression in the ground there.  An enormous black walnut tree once grew in the spot.  Five or 10 years after moving in, however, self managed to kill it, possibly from over-watering.  She knew nothing — NUTHIN’ —  about trees back then).  Self looked at the doggie dish:  All gone!  Once again, self has scared herself silly with imaginings!

Anyhoo, in a much more relaxed state, she resumes trolling the internet.  Lands on Café Irreal, a favorite site.  There’s a story up about a mysterious mirror.

Self hates mysterious mirrors almost as much as mysterious closets.  The closet thing started long, long ago, when self was in grade school.  She had a dream that a man with an axe hid in the closet in the bedroom she shared with her sister.  When her sister went to the closet and opened it, the man was staring down at her, and self kept trying to warn her sister but for some reason could not speak, or move.  As she watched, her sister began to rummage through the things in the closet.  And, and —  self doesn’t know how the dream ended.

Then, about 10 or 15 years ago, she was watching the new Twilight Zone, and there was a story about a mysterious closet.  A girl kept hearing strange sounds from the closet in her room, but every time she described the sounds to her parents, they said she was imagining things . . .

Anyhoo, back to the Café Irreal story.

First of all, self really likes that the main protagonist, a girl named Dani, buys the mirror from a vendor whose wife is “an autumnal blonde with a witchy look.” (See, self is already pro-actively thinking of Halloween!  This is not a joke.  Costco and CVS pharmacy and all the supermarkets have aisles of Halloween candy.  In fact, self bought one of these bags of candy because, she reasoned, they’re going to raise the prices the closer it gets to Halloween.)

Anyhoo — self, what is WRONG with you today?  Digressions galore!  Back to the story:  The girl brings the mirror home.  What does she see?

Of course she sees SOMETHING!

Not her face, silly.  If she saw her own face, it would be too Dorian Grey.

She sees someone else in the mirror.  A man.

Suggest going over to Café Irreal and checking out the rest of the story.  Here is the link.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Digging in the Garden and Reading More of A PASSAGE TO INDIA

The Bay Area is experiencing a tremendous heat wave.  Fires are burning in Mount Diablo.  It is hotter now, in September, than it was in July.

The Ancient One seems to be coming through it remarkably well.  Aside from drinking copious amounts of water in the afternoon, she rests on the deck, gets up when self enters the garden, and can still sniff out errant figs on the ground.  Of all times to plant moss — !  But, indeed, that is the task self has set for today.  The moss came in large flats, $4.99 @ from Home Depot.

She plucked four more large apples from the apple tree.  The rest are really much too high to reach.  She hopes she can prevail upon son to get the rest, the other day he consented to help her but picked only one apple that he thought was ripe.  To be sure, the apple was enormous.  But — one apple!

Fielding and Aziz are together.  Self can’t be sure they’re in a garden, but “the eye flies became worse than ever and danced up close to their pupils, or crawled into their ears.  Fielding hit about wildly.”

Self loved when Kyi told her that Fielding was Forster’s alter-ego.  It feels right to treat him a such.  He has little of the pretensions of his class.  As Aziz reflects:  “There goes a queer chap . . . ”

“I travel light,” Fielding says.

“Travel light!  You are a most extraordinary race,” said Aziz, turning away as if he were going to sleep, and immediately turning back again.  “Is it your climate, or what?”

“Plenty of Indians travel light too — saddhus and such.  It’s one of the things I admire about your country.  Any man can travel light until he has a wife or children.  That’s part of my case against marriage.  I’m a holy man minus the holiness.  Hand that on to your three spies, and tell them to put that in their pipes.”

Aziz was charmed and interested, and turned the new idea over in his mind.  So this was why Mr. Fielding and a few others were so fearless!  They had nothing to lose.  But he himself was rooted in society and Islam.  He belonged to a tradition which bound him, and he had brought children into the world, the society of the future.  Though he lived so vaguely in this flimsy bungalow, nevertheless he was placed, placed.

And now, back to the garden.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Jose “Butch” Dalisay in MANILA NOIR

It is hawwwttt!  Hawwwttt as all get out!

Today was self’s day to meet Joanne H downtown.  Joanne H is the mother of Tom H, who has been friends with son since elementary school in St. Raymond’s.  There is a very funny story connected with today’s meet-up, which self will share with dear blog readers when she is a little less pressed for time.  Anyhoo, it is so hot today, unbelievable.  But The Ancient One has somehow survived the entire bristling afternoon on the deck, not moving.  Self thinks to herself:  She’s bought it!  But the minute The Ancient One hears the creak of the wood floors inside the house, self hears the rhythmic thump of her tail against the deck: Thump thump thump thump thump.  Tears spring to self’s eyes.  The Ancient One is the most enduring, most loyal pet — no, GIFT — ever.  To reward her for her unparalleled loyalty and spunk, self unwraps one of the rib-eye bones from last night’s dinner and heaves it onto Bella’s doggie dish.

The Ancient One

The Ancient One

Then, she resumes her reading.  Which, this afternoon, is Manila Noir.

The further self gets, the more riveted she is by the material.  She just finished F. H. Batacan’s marvelous “Comforter of the Afflicted” and has begun Jose “Butch” Dalisay’s “The Professor’s Wife.”  The setting of Dalisay’s story is Diliman, where the University of the Philippines is situated.  Self wanted to attend this university, she would have chosen Anthropology as her major.  It’s hard to get in, but she did make it.  She eventually opted to attend Dear Departed Dad’s alma mater, Ateneo de Manila, instead.

Back to the Butch Dalisay story.  It is excellent.  In addition, it is one of the drollest stories she has ever read.  Considering it’s in a book called Manila Noir, one would hardly expect that level of wit and drollery, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth, dear readers!


Here’s the Backstory:  A professor in Diliman is fondly remembered by a witty narrator.  The narrator is very interested in analyzing how the professor ended up with his young and luscious wife, Lalaine.  The couple are fodder for salacious gossip all over the campus.

I can imagine Professor Sanvictores coming to UP as a young instructor, eager to make his mark in history.  Or was it economics that he first signed up for?  This was years before his stint as a teaching assistant and doctoral candidate in Minnesota, where he picked up and cultivated the American accent that many coeds found charming, if not irresistible.  Now, every two-bit club and radio deejay and call center agent has one, but none of them can come up with and use a word like “contumacious” the way the professor did to describe certain tribal chieftains in old New Zealand.

I was dying to ask either the professor or Lalaine herself how the two of them met, and more than that, how they ended up being man and wife.  I mean, what ever did they see in each other?  But of course, silly, I knew what he saw in her, I could see that even with my eyes shut.  But what about Lalaine?  I could understand her developing a schoolgirl crush on him, especially if he put on that Minnesota affect and gave his sophomore-class version of his lecture on Rizal’s women and free love in the nineteenth century.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus 4

Fun times with Andrew, Jennie and Finissey in the backyard, last year

Fun times with Andrew, Jennie and Finnesey in the backyard, last year

More fun times, but now Bella wants to get some of the action

More fun times, but now Bella wants to get in on the action

P.S.  Finnesey is one of son’s most durable friends.  They met freshman year at Sacred Heart in Atherton.  He loves to sing and once even tried out for American Idol.

Is this a good example of the week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  Focus?

Darn, why was this week’s theme so hard to think about?

Self’s style of photography is purely “point and shoot.”  Today, she is trying to work off this prompt from The Daily Post website:

Take multiple shots of the same scene or subject using different aperture settings and publishing the result.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Garden: One Shot, Two Ways 5

These are the last weeks of summer.

Self’s Iceberg Rose has been blooming, almost non-stop, for months.

Her Iceberg Rose: Petals Soft as Pillows

Iceberg Rose: Petals Soft as Pillows

Ready for Her Close-up:  Iceberg Rose 2

Ready for Her Close-up: Iceberg Rose 2

Come to think of it, self thinks the two shots are almost identical.  The sun might have moved in a second.  Is that possible?

In the backyard, Bella lies sleeping.  She is almost completely hidden in the long grass next to the magnolia tree.  Do dogs dream?  If they do, what do they dream about?  Bones?

Son leaves late tonight for Puerto Rico, where Jennie waits.  Self hopes he has enjoyed these last few months at home, though it is hard for a young man to be surrounded by childish things.

This evening is the last concert in Stafford Park.


Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Foreshadow 3

The prompt for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge definitely needed some reflection:

In a post created specifically for this challenge, post a photograph that evokes FORESHADOW to you.

This challenge offers some fun opportunities to play — not only with the subject of your photo, but with light, color, and contrast to evoke foreshadow.

Crossing the San Mateo Bridge, at sun-up

Crossing the San Mateo Bridge, at sun-up

The Ancient One (almost 18 years old) struggles gamely on!

The Ancient One (almost 18 years old) struggles gamely on!

Self lives in these almost all summer!

Self lives in these almost all summer!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable 4

In the dining room of the Colonel's Resort, with Frisky, a wonderful Labrador Retriever

In the dining room of the Colonel’s Resort, with Frisky, a wonderful Labrador Retriever

There are friends and there are friends.

There are friends you only know from the internet.  And then you meet them, and you think:  Why did I ever friend this person?

On the other hand, you could be lost in Himachal Pradesh, on your first trip to India, and in a small village called Bir, you can bump into the Colonel, the man everyone refers to as “JP.”

In the preference for nicknames, India reminds self so much of the Philippines.

Also, in the fact that there’s a before-breakfast tea, and there’s a mid-afternoon “tea” which is more like a snack.  And then there’s dinner, and then sitting around sipping more tea or, if you prefer, coffee.

The Colonel promised that next time self is in India, he would pick her up at the airport and plan an itinerary that included all the places she’d missed:  Udaipur, in fact Read the rest of this entry »

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