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Les Semaines

00.11.26

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

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A Quiet Weekend & Rain

Ah, this was just what I needed. A quiet loooong weekend at home, hardly going out at all, doing a little writing and reading and much hanging out on the computer making progress on various projects. Four-day weekends are such bliss. Because Thanksgiving is not a Canadian holiday this time of year (Canadian Thanksgiving is long over--placed at harvest which makes much better sense, eh?) I don't have any Thanksgiving family visit stress and feel no particular need to call in everyone I know for the meal or to go out. Jim and I usually just hole up and enjoy the time to ourselves, and roast the smallest turkey we can find. That's definitely what we did this weekend.

In the evenings we watched a couple of videos and Xena episodes and a little of the somehow despite-themselves-and-despite-us interesting VH-1 rockumentaries (I did some mending while watching these). We had a fire in the fireplace, cats on our laps, and the sound of rain on the roof and against the windows.

Last year my parents came to visit because they were going to be away over Christmas, but this year they're coming for Christmas for five days. Bringing their two dogs, which makes me a little nervous, since the cats have never met them. Too bad it won't be better weather and they could hang out in the back yard, which is fenced. Alas, it will likely be cold and rainy, as it is now. And they're little dogs. Little dogs that wear little jackets in the cold and rainjackets in the wet. At least this is a great dog-walking area. Well, I'm not going to worry about the dogs till they're here.

Just as I'm not going to worry about the holiday season until it's here. Except it is already. Almost. Yikes!

All I can say is that I have stacks of papers and unwrapped unmailed Xmas presents all around my study, and two furry gray mice right beneath my computer monitor. I really don't want to have to go back to work tomorrow. Sometimes I wish I were rich enough to retire. And I have tasks a-plenty to keep me busy for the next weeks and then the busy Clarion West time starts. Ack. Well, at least I had this four-day weekend to fortify me to what's about to follow. I almost said for what's about to hit the fan. Sigh. I'm going to finish this up so I can relapse (a family term) for the last few lovely hours of this weekend.

I thought you might enjoy this picture my sister sent me from my Mom's October trip to visit her on the farm she lives on in Lamont, Alberta.

Mother and Shuster Mom and Shuster, the sheep-guarding llama.

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

Listening

On Tuesday evening, on an impulse, I phoned a friend to tell her that Susan McKeown was starting a show in 1 minutes and did she want to come and hear with me. She did, and while we arrived a half hour after the show had started, we were still treated to a find show. She is touring right now with fiddler Johnny Cunningham and guitarist Aidan Brennan, and their vocals and instruments are a fine backing to the power of her voice.

Susan McKeown's work has continued to grow on me over time, and I can say that I loved this album from first listen. Her versions of traditional material are powerful throughout this album. It's truly amazing to me that with this album I'm appreciating her more and more and starting to make what for me is the ultimate comparison for a traditional singer and singer-songwriter--to Sandy Denny. Sandy Denny was a fine songwriter in her own right but was also an incomparable interpreter of traditional (and other neo-traditional and poprock) songs, bringing them to new life. This album shows Susan McKeown has the same power. If you get any Susan McKeown or any traditional album, get this one.

I am still listening to Terami Hirsch with embarrassing frequency.

And I spent a couple of days listening intensively to John Renbourn's various blues/folk/medieval music incarnations as I did his page on The Ectophiles' Guide. Wow I love his work, especially his early work and Ship of Fools, and well, almost everything he's ever done.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I read the fourth in Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series, Child of Flame this week (Previous books are commented on in my January 23rd, March 5th, and March 26th entries). There's no point in summarizing what happens, as also anything I said would be spoilers for the previous books and anyone who hasn't read them wouldn't be interested in a summary of the fourth in a series anyway. However, I do want to say that the story continues to absorb me utterly. Though at this point the author is switching from viewpoint to viewpoint to show different parts of her story I am caught up in them all and there were at least two particularly interesting subplots that were wholly contained in this volume, which made it seem discrete and gave the volume shape and made it more than just another installment. I continued to be impressed by this one.

The Wanderer is the first novel by young adult author Sharon Creech that I've read, and it's the first totally mainstream young adult novel I've read in a while (I usually read fantasies and historical fiction when it comes to children's books), but I really enjoyed this. It's a beautifully told story of a young adopted girl who travels across the Atlantic in a sailboat with three of her new uncles and two of her cousins. They have the expected and unexpected difficulties along the way but grow to learn more about themselves and each other along the way. I found it a very enjoyable read. It's told through the imaginative and rich journals of Sophie, the main character, and the more sparse one of her cousin, Cory--a nice technique.

The Stones are Hatching, by Geraldine McCaughrean, was a less satisfying read. It was a tale set in 1919 about a rising of the old Celtic myths. The Stoor Worm, the world eater, is waking and all the old evil is about and no one can put it back to sleep but Jack O'Green--and suddenly Phelim O'Green, oppressed by his nasty sister, is told that he's Jack O'Green, and that with the help of a Fool, a Maiden, and a Horse will be able to save the world. This is the kind of tale that should feel magical and transformative in the way that Alan Garner's novels are, but instead it feels pedestrian to me, as though it never quite got enough momentum to fly. I found it disappointing, especially as this is the kind of book that I usually adore.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Well, Blood Memory as the Editor's Pick has already disappeared from the front page of the new League of Canadian Poets website, but a quote of mine appears on their Quoting Poets page and my How to Sell Poetry page is echoed there as well as How Do I Get Published? (heh--they say it might be the world's best guide). They also echo my The Making of Poetry: Form and Free Verse essay there.

Working on wrapping up the sampler and card for Blood Memory promo.

And I have a date set for the Seattle launch of Blood Memory: Monday, January 8th 7:30 at Elliott Bay. Set your calendars now.

And yes a little work on the novel this week, and--aha--I know where I'm going again.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

March-June 1978

953. Wednesday night

Nothing is nicer than not having to do the dishes--a Reader's Digest comment if I ever heard one, but very true. O Brüne I wish I had as much time as you to sleep [1]. Or as much time as Achilles [2] has to run around in the woods. Page 223 (middle columns) of the phone book are/is very amusing. Great fun [3].

954. Deadlines still/again/always

You can't make me! I refuse to head downstairs into that slimy sea, I could never bless those slimy creatures, and thus be saved. Mah goonness, I cudden (couldn't). O hiss. O stink.

955. The A.M.

The Ancient Mariner sits by my bed and whispers all the slimy secrets of the slimy creatures. The creatures, in retaliation, leave green sludge on my carpet, and demand that I throw th Mariner into the sea with them. They clamour for him. When I look at him he is resigned, he has already tasted his fate, and will taste it a thousand more times before his death. He blesses the creatures, then me, and is swallowed by that sea. Goodbye, Ancient Marine, goodbye.

956. Basic black

Here I am, dressing Phono in basic black. Très chic, n'est-ce pas? My Mom bought me two (2) black refills, so I gotta use them up (well after all, beggars can't...). So Phono has a new gown. Or a repeat gown of a long time back. Everything looks so different. No sky in this writing. Earthier.

957. Track 9

Well, the Ancient Mariner is dead and buried (after an all-night stint o writing). A ride in an Aston Martin (nice vehicle). Now Juvenile Probation (oh life is so dull, I'm in so much pain, this is true. My jeans are in the washer and the sun's out. Essay, with rehearsal at 7:00. I don't exist. I'm going to the summer session.) (Who's home?) Gotta get going on slimy essay.

958. These rituals

When living alone at your grandmother's new apartment you learn many rituals: first the opening and closing of the curtains; then the preparing and eating of meals; at the appropriate moments going to the windows and walking down the hall, looking in the rooms and noticing nothing has changed; the bonging of the clock every fifteen minutes; half for quarter past, one for half-past, one and half for quarter to, and at the glorious hour, two with the appropriate number of bongs for identification of the hour;
the ticking in between.

959. Borrowing blue

A.R. Ammons--"Small Song"
[body of poem omitted].

960. Day

Last exam this morning, blew it but hurrah it's over so then i Went to visit Trina in the hospital and she's doing fine, running around looking at the baby, she's a real sweetheart growing all up around but all those kids at the hospital they're so sad I can't believe it and noisy but it tears you apart, it does [4].

Part XII

961. Books, books

Books, books, I love books, I love writing. Why am I reading and not writing? It is like swallowing and not digesting. What am I reading? I am reading Henry Miller, J.D. Salinger, and mostly Anaïs Nin. I am Anaïs Nin. One cannot read her journals without becoming her. I experience her desire for tasting everything, for knowing herself, for being mysterious and beautiful like June. I am neither. I am trying to know the interaction between my body and my mind. I am dieting and exercising, but need much of my will to accomplish, but I must to these things for my sake. I am now forcing myself to write. I am taking a lover whom I do not love, but whom I need [5]. I am making my mind overcome myself. I have never done it before, I have always given myself physical freedom. My desires are changing. I don't want to eat. I want to write. I want to make love with my lover, I cannot sit still for long. I will not read garbage but only that from which I will learn. Later, I will read the necessary Shakespeare. I am not who I was. I am intoxicated with words, yet I am very self-conscious, and my writing is artificial. I know the value of this.


NOTES

1. I can't remember if I've mentioned her before. She was the Best Dog Ever, a half-lab, half-springer spaniel cross who looked rather like a lab-shaped border collie.

2. My black and white (white-footed with a big black spot on his heel, hence the name) cat.

3. I don't have a clue now what I was on about here.

4. Catriona, my niece, had been born with little polyps on her ears and my sister wanted them removed before kids teased her about them. She's was two years old when she was operated on.

5. Paul still, two years on.

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