Les Semaines


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


All Will Be Well

This week I had all kinds of little snippets of things I was going to put in here--things that crossed my mind during the course of this week, but I never wrote them down and so now they're all lost forever. I can't remember a one of them. Alas.

This was a busy busy week, and it was also the change to daylight savings, so as I type this it's still light and 7:30. I love this, but getting up an hour early gives me jetlag. Still, it's not so bad now that I don't get up to be at work every day of the week at 7:30. Tuesday and Thursdays I go in at 9:30 and stay until 2:30 instead of 12:30. I don't know if I've ever said this here. I do it so that I can exercise Tuesday and Thursday mornings before work (even though I haven't been since it still aggravates the swelling in my ankle). I dislike having two fewer hours before Jim gets home, but I do certainly like being able to sleep in for almost an hour.

And I like the longer evenings. I love spring. I love how the buds on our pear tree turn pink-topped just as they burst into flower. I love the daffodils and the that right now the tulips in our garden are little green nearly tulip-shaped buds.

I love how the weather changes every hour.

All this is getting me through this very very busy time as we wrap up the last details of choosing the students for Clarion.

But we have been having some fun. Some good fun.

On Thursday afternoon we skipped out of work early, threw some things in the car, and drove up to Vancouver. First we drove to our friends' house in Coquitlam, where they fed us wonderful ribs that they'd smoked themselves (yum!) with Kansas City barbecue sauce they brought back from Kansas City, and then we drove to The Vancouver East Cultural Centre for the first of a series of disc-launching concerts for Veda Hille's new disc (see www.vedahille.com and her Ectophile's Guide entry for more about her). We had to choose one show because we just have too much to do right now for more, so we choose this one.

The show opened with Christine Fellows) whose work I really like, and it was great to hear her live. Her cellist is amazing, and I like Christine's easy performance style and personality, and I love her overall sound and tone. She was a wonderful opener for Veda--I've called her a cross between Veda and Cat Power before, and it still works as a description for me.

Veda basically did the same concert we heard last December when she was recording it for the album (see my December 17th entry for comments about that show). This was just as wonderful, and again she asked us to hold applause until the end of the sequence. Again--the sequence, the movement it takes, Veda's sustained performance--it all blew me away. So much so that when I finally listened to the disc I was a little disappointed that she'd added sounds to it, which just shows that I really need to listen and get used to the disc as a thing in itself, and not in comparisons with these two wonderful concerts).

So listening to her, was, as always, revelatory. And after the sequence she ended with an encore of "26 Years", my favourite Veda song ever. And then a cover of David Bowie's "Life on Mars". What a wonderful evening, and with wonderful friends listening to wonderful Veda. I can't gush enough. Really.

So on Friday morning we drove back down through driving rain and a little sun. Went to the Clarion office to tidy things up there, had lunch together at one of our favourite Thai restaurants (Jamjuree for those Seattlites listening in), and then went home to work on stuff and clean the house for Saturday's events.

And Tamar came over and we got take out gyros and sat around talking and listening to music. Heavenly. So peaceful and happy-making.

Saturday was the great house tour: a bunch of us on the UWBB have all bought houses in the last ten years, and share our home owning woes and triumphs. For years we've been talking about having a tour so we could actually see all or some of the houses, and we finally did it. It was so much fun seeing all the work everyone has done and talk about what we all plan and hope to do, and there was lots of good camaraderie and food and drink as well. But all that racing around was tiring.

And now it's today. And now it's dark. And there are cats scattered asleep on the daybed behind me, and it's nearly time for me to join them.

Sophia just sneezed. Bless her.

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


I forgot something that both Jim and I have been obsessing on for the last few weeks: Bonfire Madigan. We have her most recent disc, Saddle The Bridge, and really love it. It's hard to describe--kinda experimental, the sound is shaped by vocals playing off a mournful cello and the total effect is a kind of experimental unusually instrumented indierock, if that makes any sense. We've really been enjoying it.

Do read my comments about going to Veda Hille's concerts above if you haven't already. Wow.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Gradually over the course of this week I read Sean Russell's The One Kingdom, that several people have recommended as being rather like Patricia McKillip, at least in the writing style. I didn't see that--his style seemed much more sparse than hers--but I still liked this. It's the story of an already-divided kingdom--the long, destructive war between two feuding families has temporarily paused--that is about to be torn to pieces by forces deeper than even the war between the two families, though that will be reignited. Caught up in it are three young men from an isolation part of the kingdom called the Vale, who are daring to leave their protected place to see a little of the world. Their adventure starts with a bang, as when a stranger comes to share their fire they find themselves being attacked by a group of guards, and their adventure becomes more than they counted on. The story also skips occasionally (though more often as it continues) to a conspiracy in one of the feuding families and a forced marriage planned in another. These skippings around I thought were not very well-handled until later in the book when they became more natural. This is the first of a series, and it shows. Lots of build up and not quite enough payoff, and a little more confusion than I would like. Still, I'll probably read the next volume when it appears.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Revising Chapter Two of Bryony's Needle even though our writing group won't be looking at it for a while. The way things are going, I need to do what I can when I can. Life gets in the way of writing far far too often. So my task is to learn not to let that happen. It's something I've been working on since the days of The Phonosnout below. You'd think in over 20 years I'd have learned more than I have. But I haven't.

Revising is a much better thing for me to do when I'm so busy that trying to writing something new.

I really ought to be working on that darn poem about Auchindrain, that I recently realized I have been working on since August. Is that embarrassing or what? I guess I have been in much of a mood for working on poetry, and besides, this particularly poem feels too big and awkward to handle. Breaking it down into portions helped for a while. Maybe I'll do more of that. Yes, I think I will.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

November 1979

1044. Where is my sestina
November 4, 1979

It is 10:30 pm and I don't know. (O know.) Only two more days to write it then. Where are my words? I do have one rather fake and contrived mess called "Time & Distance." Rather anemic for a sestina. Lacking a lot, needing help, prayer, succour, and sustenance. It was my attempt at a short line (well, relatively) sestina.
     It is a night of wind. People arrive having travelled forever to reach this place on the mountain. People are asleep, and long to sleep. The wind washes the night with rain. I do nothing and have done all night. I am not sleepy, but listless, dreamless, and I would like to say, witless. People arrive in the night, and I direct them to beds, tell them to sleep. Morning will come too soon otherwise. A man comes in shaking rain. We are warm & surviving here.

1045. Remembrance Day
November 11, 1979

I thought I should at least mention it, seeing as how no one else around here did. It's Remembrance Day [1]--there, I've said it twice. Quite a day this is--sunny for november, but cold, quite Novemberish. I'm liking this month, it's a good month, despite the unlimited complications. I have good hopes for today--that all will be well, that the sun will stay semi-out, and that I will see Christina this evening. Last night was feverish madness, and little concentration but 6 am comes early.
Point--a sestina later [2].

1046. Seven-fifteen
November 12, 1979

The question--can I write at this hour of the day? The answer being unknown, and as yet, unknowable. The sky is that strange blue-gray before the sun comes up in November. Walking the dog, the frost so bright in the moon-and-street-light. O, I'm so tired (again, she says it) my brain and feet hurt. I am a the pre-lucidity stage of existence, yet if the phone rang I would be all, my job would be done, and life would exist on this planet. Messy thinking, mess..seven-twenty.

1047. Work again
November 19, 1979

At work again, but pleasantly listening to Bruce Cockburn. The TV's on, I can't see it from where I am, but I surely can hear it. This cheers me--I'm suffering from what everyone appears to be suffering form--November. Everyone I know has the blues--depression et al. That sentence doesn't make sense (et al.). O well. just phoned randy, don't know why. Guess I was hoping to hear that things weren't going well, but they are and he's a stranger. My ear aches from having the phone to it for so long. The planes buzz by overhead, but they aren't brining us any more patients. Hope they do soon. I have done too much time here recently. It is too much. Too much work to do, too. Essays. Updike thing.

[rest of book consists of pages of notes]

parody & imitation
sometimes find can't get far enough away to mock them
affectation or mindless rhetoric
some people hard to do
Dwight McDonald
really only learn what they do wrong
doesn't return you to language

Several exercises:
which you think will be of most use to you.

Nov. 28th   Tues. afternoon best
          reading 5 minutes [3]
1. Michael Kenyon
2. Dayv James-French       Phone Robin

Nov. 20th Tues. 1:30 - 2:30

3. Paul [can't remember his last name]
4. Ann [York Lessingham]
5. Lala [Heine-Koehn]
6. John [Barton]
7. Harold [Rhenisch]
8. Me

[and so on--transcribed here for anyone interested and for my own records.]


1. Veteran's Day for those of you who are American Readers.

2. "November Arrives on the Coast" in Seven Robins

3. My first public reading!

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