Flower of the Day (FOTD): Matilija Poppy

The poppy on self’s front porch has started blooming again!

Took a picture for Cee Neuner’s FOTD Challenge.

Moon Palace: Feelings

The narrator’s only known living relative, an uncle, decides to form a singing band when the narrator enters Columbia. He tells his nephew, So long, we’ll meet again, I’m sure of it, here are 1493 books and my suits.

So the narrator wears that suit “every day, from the beginning of the year to the end . . . I realize what a curious figure I must have cut: gaunt, disheveled, intense, a young man clearly out of step with the rest of the world.”

(He’s supposedly saved later on by someone named Kathy Wu, and if that turns out to be some stereotypical Asian female, self will immediately stop reading.)

MILD SPOILER

When his uncle dies . . . Oh you didn’t know his uncle dies? Well, his uncle dies.

When his uncle dies, he arranges the funeral, cries for four-hours straight, sleeps with a gray-eyed prostitute, then heads back to Columbia.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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!

TSD Quote of the Day

Reading The Slaughterman’s Daughter at a snail’s pace. At this rate, should finish by the end of the month. Self loves all the action scenes. She doesn’t think she’s read action scenes like this since The Age of Madness, Joe Abercrombie’a Grimdark series.

  • The grandmother replies, “Not everyone is miserable, Mrs. Speismann, not everyone! There are shades and grades in these matters!” — TSD, p. 171

Gates and Fences: A Photo a Week Challenge

Self is fascinated by gates and fences. All kinds of gates and fences.

For this week’s Photo a Week Challenge, she went browsing through her archives and selected three: two from a friend’s garden in Menlo Park, one from the Gamble Garden Center in Palo Alto:

Menlo Park, California

Menlo Park, California

Gamble Garden, Palo Alto, California

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, p. 6

Yes, dear blog readers, self finished The Gallery of Miracles and Madness last night. She picked up the pace after the halfway point, because it is depressing to read about how a failed artist like Young Adolf Hitler, only minimally educated (He could read and write, obv, but not much. HA! Sounds like another demagogue self knows), could build one idea (cultural degeneracy) into a political platform, which he then used to wield absolute control over, first, his party, then his country, and, ultimately, Europe.

Now she is reading a novel about one of those people Young Adolf hated so much: Mende Speismann, a young woman in a Russian shtetl.

. . .a man tells his wife he is going into town to learn a trade, only to be swept up in the intellectual circles of Odessa; a father swears to his daughters that he will come back with a hefty dowry and, all of a sudden, one hears that he is “kissing the mezuzahs” of Kiev bordellos. Mende knows that only fools find consolation in the knowledge that others suffer the same woes as they, and yet contentment steals over her as she reads, overcoming any sentiment of feminine solidarity that she might have felt with these women. She is not like them, she will never be like them. She has not rushed off to publish advertisements, she has not complained to the leaders of the community, and she has not circulated descriptions of Zvi-Meir Speismann, the man who tore her life to pieces.

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, by Yaniv Iczkovits

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Do You Think It Will Happen Again?”

The two main characters of The End of Men meet on p. 261!

Catherine: “Do you think it will happen again?”

Amanda: “Just because your husband left you doesn’t mean your house can’t catch on fire. In other words, tragedy doesn’t immunize you against further tragedy . . . The vaccine we have should be effective, yes, and we can use it to adjust to new strains. But in theory the Plague could mutate, allowing the vaccine to be ineffective.”

43 at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 11 Septemer 2021

As a nation, our adjustments have been profound.

In the weeks after 9/11, I was proud to lead a united, resilient people. So much of our politics has become an . . . appeal to worry, anger, and resentment. I can only tell you that on our day of trial and grief, I saw people reach for their neighbor’s hands and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.

I saw people reject prejudice, and accept people of the Muslim faith. That is the America I know.

This is not mere nostalgia. this is the truest version of ourselves. This is what we have been, and what we can be again.

On 9/11, the terrorists discovered that a random group of Americans is a remarkable group of people . . . They shocked the terrorists. This is the America I know.

Self found it significant that in his speech, 43 mentioned that we “have seen evidence that” we continue to see terrorism today, but on a new front, at home: “In their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and they must be confronted.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

How Iceland Changed the World: Introduction

Self has finished reading the Amanda Lindhout memoir (written with Sara Corbett), A House in the Sky. She decided she would just have to get it over with. She wasn’t even sure she’d have the stomach to read it all the way through, but the writing is amazing. That’s what amazing writing can do: it holds you hostage. Self spent the whole of this beautiful day (sun was shining, and it was NOT HOT) just racing to finish A House in the Sky.

There are some parts that, okay, made self laugh, like the part where Amanda and Nigel are being taken to yet another “safe” house. They were being held in separate rooms and when she sees Nigel, she notices Nigel is shirtless and wonders if . . . okay, never mind. Nigel was unmolested. Lucky for him, he was a man. They sort of respected him. There is a lot about her feelings for Nigel in this book, which adds to the sadness because . . . Amanda was clinging to him so hard, just to make it through, and Nigel was essentially helpless, and made a lot of promises he didn’t mean, because — hey, there were hostages!

Anyhoo, she’s alive, he’s alive, it’s all good.

Onward!

Self’s next book might seem like a strange choice, except that her son has gone there. To Iceland. All by himself. She found out recently.

And also, once, self spent Christmas in Paris, and the only other guests at her tiny hotel in the 17th arrondissement were a Filipino family who were on their way to Iceland for a family vacation, and came with tons of luggage.

Imagine the odds of two different Filipino entities meeting in a Paris hotel on Christmas day! And we didn’t even know each other from Adam! The three kids of the family ranged in age from — if self were to guess — five to 10. WHO GOES TO ICELAND FOR FAMILY VACATION. For that matter, who spends Christmas alone in Paris! But self wasn’t alone! She was with Francine and Francoise, who were so circumspect they never greeted her a Merry Christmas and acted like it was just an ordinary day! All they said to her that day was: “Madame, you must go to the Louvre. NO LINES TODAY.” Which turned out to be very good advice.

This is a very digressive post! Finally, the Iceland book:

Introduction:

The town of Selfoss is a rare find. Nearly all of the sixty-three towns and cities in Iceland were first established out of nautical convenience, in sight of approaching ships, but Selfoss sits inland, away from the stony coast. I grew up there, landlocked.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

World Food Programme, Mogadishu

Since everyone already knows what happens to Amanda and Nigel, the calmness of the prose is creating a very tight knot of tension in self’s stomach. She’s almost to the halfway point, and the pair are still gallivanting around Mogadishu.

pp. 120 -121 describes the World Food Programme in Mogadishu. Guess it would be too much to hope for this book to contain photographs; it doesn’t. Because self is intensely curious, she looked up Amanda and Nigel’s photos in news articles from the time: She finds a handful taken right after their rescue. Nigel went full-bore Muslim (did he have a choice?) and sported a long beard, mullah-style. Amanda’s covered from head to toe in dark, shapeless clothing, but her eyes are alert. Self also decided to check if the US still has an embassy in Mogadishu. It does!

A humanitarian organization named the World Food Programme is giving out food:

Because of the fighting, because of the pirates on the ocean and the bandits on the roads, food shipments came sporadically. There were days when people turned up only to be sent away.

When the gates opened, those who’d been waiting rushed forward. The noise amplified. Government soldiers used batons and tree switches to hold back the crowd. Children wailed. The men pushed and brawled their way toward the front, while the women in line remained poised in single file.

Once they reached the feeding vats, the men were given three ladlefuls of food; the women got two; the children one.

Night after night, Amanda types up her stories for a Canadian publication called the Red Deer Advocate. The idea of risking all and going to Somalia for the sake of a byline in Red Deer Advocate makes self want to cry. Did she tell the National Geographic team who she was writing for? Or would she have been too embarrassed?

The next chapter’s title is Taken, so self figures that’s when she finally returns how the operation went down. Amanda learns afterward that the kidnappers were watching the hotel, because they knew foreigners were there. They didn’t know who they would take, they didn’t know about the National Geographic team (National Geographic has to be thanking their lucky stars: if not for Amanda and Nigel, their team might have been the ones kidnapped)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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