Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout



I mostly find showering and all that looking-after-myself annoying and time-consuming. I could surely better spend that time reading or being silly (working! I mean working!) with my computer. When I was getting ready to go out and so Sequentia on Saturday night I actually touched my ancient tube of lipstick to my mouth, but looked at myself in the mirror right after and had to wipe it off as it just looked so false to me. I've never been one to spend hours putting on a face, and for years now I haven't worn any makeup at all. Even when I did wear some it was mostly just eyeshadow, blusher, mascara, and lip gloss. I'm really amazed when I see someone I actually know who does the whole foundation and many layers thing--it's so far from my ken I don't know how it can be in the mental range of anyone I know.

It didn't help reading Doris Lessing's account of creatures where the females deliberately painted their lips the colour of their exposed genitalia. Umm, yes, what a foreign creature! It's enough to put you off lipstick for life, or me at least.

I do, however, spend a fair bit of money getting Metrin (a facial cleansing and moisturizing system) so I'm not without my vanities. And I do like to buy new dresses. So it's not as though I'm totally not appearance-oriented.

But showering is partly pleasant but mostly an effort, even if I do find the time good for thinking through writing problems. That's something I taught myself to do so that I wouldn't feel as though the time is entirely wasted.

But recently I've been allowing myself the luxury of a bath. Ah, that is totally blissful, a time-out just to soak in warm scented water. Heaven.

I don't really like hot tubs so much because I don't actually like being hot but I dearly love a long, warm bath. And a book, of course. And tonight when I had one Sophia came in and curled up on my discarded cloths to keep me company (right now she's on a pillow beside my chair). A charming companion. She's really sleepy today because yesterday we had to put Advantage flea treatment on her and Zach, even though they're indoor cats.

Well, I'm rambling. I had a rambling kind of week, anyway. Helped a friend paint a couple of rooms in an apartment after work on Friday. Then another friend came over for dinner and we had Chinese food delivered and talked and visited and then watched videos, and ate pieces of a blackberry-apple pie that Jim had made. Jim used to make pies frequently and can put one together in a matter of a half-hour or so, entirely from scratch. A fine talent in a spouse.

Oh, and Wednesday was my annual gathering of the faculty and students of the programs I run, so there was a big of fuss getting that organized but I can relax now it's over. Went to a play right after that, too. And there was my poetry workshop group meeting on Monday night.

This was a busy week. I deserved my bath.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


This week I've been obsessing with Anne O'Meara Heaton's song "Spoke From the Heart" (and starting to like some of the other songs from the album of that name. Lots of other random listening. Still enjoying Hannah Fury, too. And got Kaitlyn Ni Donovan's first release, which while it isn't as good has the things that followed it is still plenty interesting.

Also went to hear Sequentia, an early music ensemble, last night. A delightful programme of very early songs, ranging from all over Europe. A charming performance which we both really enjoyed.

last week's listening § next week's listening


When I started Jo Walton's The King's Peace I felt totally disconnected with her character--the story seemed so emotionally cold, especially for a story that begins with a woman warrior, Sulien, coming home to find raiders have destroyed her home, and they capture and rape her, and are about to sacrifice her to their gods. Her brother is killed attempting to rescue her, but she manages to escape her bonds, and rides off and finds the new young high king and his people and asks them to come and repel the raiders, meanwhile pledging herself to be one of the king's warriors. Just like that. She spends a while bathing after that and getting used to the characters and the king's main fortress, and seems to have only distant anxiety about what has happened to her and her family. It felt very odd, and nothing seemed to have any emotional resonance. But I kept reading, and in the end I was glad I did, as Sulien's telling of her tale accumulates and her emotions begin to feel grounded in her story. This is a slantwise retelling of the Matter of Britain, set in a world where there are some nearly-absolute parallels to the Arthurian tale but things are just a little different. The King's power comes from a kind of land-magic which seems occasionally mystical but usually quite fundamental, and Sulien herself, who does not take the pebble of the White God (the equivalent of the cross of the Christian One God), is able to work some magics herself, drawing and purifying water, healing, and learning things that the land gods tell her. This doesn't have the immediacy, particularly the emotional immediacy, of Mary Gentle's Ash series, but is an interesting new take on the story of the High King from the point of view of a warrior who holds him and his ideals in the highest honour.

Karen Cushman's, Maltilda Bone is a children's novel: the story of a young girl brought up by an ascetic medieval priest who has left her to apprentice to a bonesetter. She struggles with her new setting and friends--only knowing the priest's world of self-deprivation and the search for a pure holiness. Like Catherine Called Birdy this is a wonderful, believable portrait of a portion of the medieval world.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I just got my copy of the Pontoon 4 anthology from Floating Bridge Press, with my poem "Kilmichael Glassary" in it.

I also managed to finish a first draft of a poem (not the long one I've been working on for a while) in time for a workshop Monday night.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January 1978

913. Such a nightmare

Such a nightmare, a cold and no sleep. A wander, a visit, a trailing of shadows over shadows.

914. A short nap would be in order

For what? I mean in order for what? After English, waiting for soshul werk, supposed to read chapter nine, friends to see, thinkings to do, no time to fill in the blanks, no blanks to fill in the time. Dream I do, dream I do [brief quote about time from Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends album omitted]. Oh Lord. [1]

915. Street life

--most of the alleys in this town don't go anywhere anyway.

916. Dream builds

A dream builds a larger dream, and I've been remembering them lately, so I said I am Ezra [reference to A. R. Ammons' poem]. (O well, I tried.) There is no Éluard in this library except in French and mine isn't so good. The one English book is a mess; it won't help. Phono chapters that grow in my mind almost never make it paper. One out of ten perhaps, perhaps less. [Quote from a now-anonymous pop song about it being a beautiful day committed.] But it's a rainy & cloudy January day. Beautiful anyway. Y'got it?

917. This is

This is supposed to be an educated poet's notebook. (Ha ha.) I don't believe it, and neither do you, i'm sure. Phono might be slowly, slowly dying, but then nothing is certain but uncertainty. Nothing is real but unreality, where unreality is its own reality and thus reality is. Listening to Gordon Lightfoot, who once thought something was there, this record's so old it's getting fuzzy. Poor ole Gordy. Chocolate chip cookies in the oven. Monday afternoon.

918. Exhumations

I can't create anymore, I only do exhumations. (Well, kid, that's just the way it is.") Dig in earth, stone and water for the words. Maybe I should try a little wood for the off chance of achieving something (highly unlikely). But they say you can build from wood, so perhaps it might be an idea to just make the attempt. [2]

919. Hardly any writing

Just don't seem to make the effort, nothing seems to give. Don't know how to wander through the words to find the meat. There is no more wandering, no wondering, no meanwhile back at the ranch. Waiting for sociology on an early Tuesday morning is a bit of a drag.

920. Fill in Phono

Time to start writing, to start filling in the spaces, though I hardly have enough time or leftover energy. My eyes aren't open, i'm just a puppy. (Ain't it the truth.) Meanwhile, were' all waiting so very impatiently for The Truth.

921. Learning about personal distances

Distance is a line turned on its end. We all have our own personal space (stay out). I don't mind, as long as people stay out of my space!!

922. Mew

O dear, I'm so bored. Why did I wade through the sleet and the snow just to get here? I could have slept in if my dog hadn't started barking. Barking dog. Ugh. O yawn, o help, I can't bear this let me out, mew.


1. Facing this page I have copied out David Gascoyne translation of Paul Éluard's poem, "Georges Braque".

2. Facing this page I have copied out the first nine lines of Ezra Pound's XXVIIIth Canto

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