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Les Semaines

01.08.26

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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No contest

Amazing! A week of rain. Dark and autumnal. Jim was home this week hanging out, writing, repairing the front concrete step to our house, which necessitated much standing in the pouring rain in his ancient yellow rain slicker with a bucket of concrete. Sigh. Of course, now that he's done the sun is out and it has been gorgeous for the last two days.

Another task accomplished this week was carrying a carload of ancient, non-working computer components (a few ours, mostly Clarion's) to a computer recycling place in an area of Seattle I've never imagined wedged between the Duwamish and West Seattle. Millions of monitors, shrink-wrapped on pallets, waiting to be dismantled. In the pouring rain, of course. It was sad to say goodbye to the old scanner, better known and more frequently used as a catbed (hey, it was right in front of a window and is heated!). Now the cats have to make do with a towel, which at least is washable when Zach urps on it. I wonder if that's why the scanner stopped working? Probably the indignity of it all--a catbed! And cat barf! How the might had fallen.

We also made two batches of spiced raspberry-peach jam yesterday. Quite a delicious combination. We also have some apricots to make a couple more batches of spiced raspberry-apricot jam, probably next weekend.

My files are in better shape than they were last week, but there still are two serious piles o' mystery paper that I need to sort through.

Amongst other things this week, I visited Tamar's sweet cat Genki while she was away back east (she's getting back today). We rented an actually kinda boring movie (Pollock, about the painter). I separated dried lavender blossoms from their stems and worked on The Ectophiles' Guide on my delightful new laptop while semi-watching Dark Shadows episodes. We have discovered that they're really too boring to watch, but it's a great time to do all those dumb little things that don't take much brain but that otherwise I never get done. Several buttons have been sewn on while watching it, too, though not this week. No sewing this week at all, despite the fact that I have a lovely new dress that just needs to be shortened. I also have spent many late-night tossings of the furry white tailless (Sophia's favourite) mouse down the stairs. Good thing Jim's a heavy sleeper.

Chipping away at my list of things to be done before September. As though after that I will be incapable of accomplishing much, but that's probably pretty true, since I have an October 1st grant deadline and a couple of other October 1st deadlines to meet, and work is always quite intense and wearing this time of year.

So that was a lot of the minutiae of what I've been doing. What about what I've been thinking? What have I been thinking? Have I been thinking? Well, mostly trying not to think about how quickly the days of August are disappearing. Drifting off at odd moments into the plot of my novel. Thinking about how mice it has been to have Jim around all week. I wish we could afford to do this more often (afford both in terms of money and vacation time use). A neighbour asked us since we both were off work if we'd be taking a lot of daytrips. Daytrips? Us? When we could hang around the house, listen to music, torture the cats and each other, and write a little? No contest.

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

Listening

Late at night getting my head into writing (and playing solitaire, of course) I have listened to a bunch of music, and have appreciate anew Susan Court, Mandalay, Emma Townshend, Sarina simoom, Susan James Bill Jones, Anne Briggs, Sarah Fimm, Tim Eriksen, Martin Carthy. Some of these are new as I got all wound up and placed ordered with amazon UK, and various indie sources. New music! Old music. It's like I'm suddenly capable of hearing it again.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Carole Glickfield's mainstream novel, Swimming Towards the Ocean is about an immigrant family living in Brooklyn (later in Manhattan) in the early 1950s and beyond. The story is told by the youngest daughter, whose imminent arrival has just been discovered by her beautiful mother at the beginning of the novel, and it causes her mother to despair, as her two elder children are in their teens and she was not planning to have another child. She spends the next several months doing what she can to lose the child but doesn't manage to, then toward the end of her pregnancy she thinks about swimming into the ocean and drowning herself but a kind passerby, attracted to her, intercedes. Her husband is having an affair and she herself is attracted to the stranger and they meet again after her daughter is born. And it goes on...this is a novel about love and fidelity and mostly about infidelity--I think every main character in this novel has an affair. I enjoyed this a lot while I was reading it but it doesn't stick much in my mind afterwards.

Lois McMaster Bujold's Cetaganda is another Miles Vokosigan novel. In this he is sent on a diplomatic mission to the Cetagandan empire for the funeral of their empress, but on the way there he has a curious encounter with a servant who is later murdered, and Miles decides he must find out what happened or his empire will be blamed for the murder. And besides, he's curious. This is another entertaining adventure novel.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman's Past the Size of Dreaming is the sequel to A Red Heart of Memories (see my October 24 1999 entry for comments) and follows Matt as she grows more used to her budding relationship with Edmund, the witch, the magical house they've come to, and attachments to people rather than constant travelling. Edmund feels drawn to bring a group of magical friends together, and the house has plans for them. So they track them down one by one and bring them back to the house. There's an evil magician they must deal with, but also the house has a big surprise for them. This is an intriguing novel about characters learning about themselves. It had some delightfully magical moments, too. I found it charming, though it didn't quite sweep me away.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Making progress on the novel in fear that it's all going to come to a screeching halt September 4th. I write still slowly, in fear and trembling.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February - March 1980

1131. Less means more                                                                        February 25th 1980

I'm all excited for a new dream. Dreaming of a home on an island, a cabin in an acre of forest on the island. I dream of all seasons, growing and drying leaves, of myself aging there, and growing large enough to live on an island.
     The island I live on now is too large for me, it is as engulfing as a continent; I cannot feel self-contained here. A peninsula is almost as good as an island, but I want less. I feels good to say I want less, enough though less means more.

1132. As ever                                                                        February 26th 1980

Talking to Harold again, as always, as ever a mistake. He tried to tell me how things are, what the people who matter are trying to write. As always, as ever, I didn't absorb enough. Glum. I have only an outline of what matters.
     People who are working, trying desperately to be innovative are trying to race technology for an audience. They are growing within its pattern. Others are not fighting that way, but are working with myth, which uses archetypal, ancient patterns, even often of language. They/we use physicality, sensual (visual) images which work at the spiritual level, to do something apart from technology, not even in the same race: Harold, I, Robin, Pat Lane, Pound, Stevens, Eliot, and on and [1]

My life will run havoc this night                                                                        February 27th 1980

My life will run havoc this night. My time goes steadily more and more out of joint as I try to end this month, to do all the things I must do to do so. My mind has not yet become unglued, though it threatens to do so. I am, as yet, awake and aware.
     Strange workshop today. Everyone's reactions were unpredictable, even mine, as I denounced everyone and left; though my poem was well-received. what I said was not, and we were not listening to each other. It was all incomprehensible.
     Twelfth Night on TV tonight was not; however delightfully tangled, I received it in clarity, enjoyed it, despite the heavy shadow of the essay. I must finish tonight in order to be able to type it tomorrow at work, in order to be able to hand it in Friday morning, in order to be able to pack, in order to be able to leave at 1:00 pm, in order to meet Brenda at 3:00 at Departure Bay, in order to get to Parksville, in order to hide away, in order to get peace, in order to write more poems, in order to become myself and to have work for the workshop will attend if anyone from then is still speaking to me.
     It is obvious that my life has/will run havoc this night.

1134. Definition of Days                                                                        March 4, 1980

Another long silence has frozen me here, while I continued to contemplate the poetry of W.S. Graham. Needles to say, I spent Thursday working on it, too, but did not finish, as I had to work that evening. I spent Friday morning getting myself and other things read to head north, then I burst off like Raven, in a northern way. I finally found Brenda at the ferry terminal, then I found our motel. A log cabin growing out of the forest very close to the beach. It was a super weekend of miles of sand before the lazy ocean (the kind I'm not used to) and hours of talking and finishing my essay. It was brief, but what I needed--the fireplace and the ocean and a sympathetic mind. So Saturday and Sunday were spent in a lazy ocean way. Monday I working in the morning so I could go to the workshop. It was all right (nice wine, nice cheese) and I felt as though I got something out of it all other than exhaustion. [Quote from a wonderful poem by Charles Lillard deleted. Read Voice my Shaman.] So to class for Robin's lecture on his friend, Roethke, and then late to work (ouch) and here I am, writing, spilling ink into the night here on top of our mountain. Yawn, this night will end soon and I will drift on home, ta ra!


NOTES

1. What a list! Heh. And yes, it did end that way.

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