Les Semaines


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


Incident at the Dinner Table

Wednesday night after dinner Jim and I and the Uninvited Guest (Zach) were sitting at the table. Zach sits on one of the chairs and his head is just above table level. Jim decides to start a conversation and starts meowing at Zach. Zach stares at him and replies with one loud "MEOW!" Astonished, Jim continues to meow in a conversation tone. He pauses. Zach continues looking directly at Jim and hisses.

We stared at each other and then Zach in surprise. Jim worried that he'd said something very rude to Zach in Cat.

Then I thought to look down, and Zach's tail was twitching in a truly annoyed manner. At what Jim said in Cat? Suddenly suspicious, I told Jim to look under the table. Sure enough, Sophia pranced out. She'd been playing with Zach's tail.

Darn. I thought we'd finally broken through the human/feline communication barrier.


That was, perhaps, the highlight of the week. Hey, it has been quiet--what can I say?

In other news, Jim's brother is starting to show some signs of getting better. He opened his eyes a couple of times and once responded to a question his son asked (it's not like he could really talk with the respirator and everything). They even sat him up in a chair for a couple of hours yesterday.

Tamar came over for dinner Friday, or actually she brought dinner from one of our favourite Indian/Mediterranean restaurants. We had a lovely quiet evening talking and then watching George Harrison memorials on the music TV stations. Tamar and I admitted that he'd always been our favourite Beatle.

Saturday was windy and rainy in the extreme. Rain and wind lashing the house. We stayed in. I started some holiday baking. If I start now maybe I'll manage to get everything done that I want to. Who knows?

Oh, and the good news: since we had a drain cleared out we haven't had any more of this excess of rain creeping into our basement bedroom. Of course, the built-in drains should have handled it no matter what so there's definitely something wrong with them, but at least it's not a hurry to get it fixed. Especially not at the amount of money and effort we'd have to invest in getting that work done.

Sunday night again. Darn it all anyhow. Jim's making his lunch and then will have his shower (yes, he's weird he does these things just before bed, like a normal person I do these things before going to work, which might explain why I'm always running late) so it's time to start wrapping it up for the night.

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


The new Gabriel Yacoub album, which I had to order from a French online site with my limited understanding but it arrived safely, and is quite wonderful. It's one of his more acoustic, lower-key albums and is really lovely. Full of yearning tones and harmonies weaving around the main vocal line that are beautiful enough to break your heart.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Donna McMahon's Dance of Knives is a novel about future Vancouver when there has been a political breakdown in the U.S., perhaps partially caused by a large rise in the sea level. Downtown Vancouver is a kind of No Man's Land for criminals and the disenfranchised, the battleground of tongs and the harbour patrol, all vying for control. Into this world walks naïve Klale, who has run away from the proscribed life of the Fisher Guild in Prince Rupert. She winds up in the KlonDyke, a bar where there is an uneasy truce between all the battling parties, or at least most of them. The characters she meets there and the mayhem she causes make for an interesting and ultimately emotionally rewarding novel.

Bailed on Diana Marcellas' Mother Ocean Daughter Sea, which from the description sounded exactly like the kind of thing that I love but after 100 pages or so I simply didn't find compelling enough to continue. I could kind of guess what was going to happen and I didn't want to go there.

I have a loose policy not to read books written by multiple authors, but after reading the description of Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove's Household Gods I decided to try it, and I'm glad I did. It's the story of Nicole, an LA (originally from Indianapolis) lawyer who is at the end of her rope: she's just been passed over for a partnership in her firm, her husband has left her for a Hollywood blonde, she's broke and her ex owes her back child support, and her children's daycare provider has to quit with no notice. The Roman gods, Tiber and Tibera, hearing her from the tablet beside her bed, decide to send her back to a time which Nicole thinks will be much simpler. Nicole goes to sleep and wakes up in the body of Umma, her ancestor, a tavern-keeper in a Roman frontier town. How Nicole's 20th-century assumptions clash with the new culture she's submerged in and how she learns to cope is an interesting story to follow.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Same poem. Same novel. Some good new thoughts about both in the shower this week. Blessèd showers.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

November 1980 - January 1981

1196. Stolen Apples                            November 30, 1980

I could go on about familiar themes: my fragments that make themselves into nothing, how I make so little of my so little time, how the month ends as it does. I am always wistful, and half angry--half losing who I am and half growing. It is this in-between time where I am learning what will happen and don't know what I am doing--and I don't know what I'm doing, whether these fragments will become anything, whether these poems will grow--or not.
     I sat in one of the offices that overlook the end of the peninsula, and there were clouds moving below me, and banks of them above, shining, moving. I felt myself move with them, almost with a touch of vertigo, but true. I moved. Something moved. And these things give me hope, which is how I remain. I have wasted the rest of my day after work, and I am almost ready to sleep. I will dream, and I hope what I dream I'll remember. Last night I dreamt of Harold and I chasing down stolen apples, through crowds & parkades, and climbing.

1197. Wondering & never knowing                            December 8, 1980

I am reading too many books--several at a time, and my new Poetry Northwest came, and makes me want to have poems in it. I've been working on these fragments, trying to expand and understand. It appears as if now I am exploring character (mostly through action), and thus in a way, narrative. I am telling tiny stories, and planning (thinking) about prose. I am always wondering what I am doing, and what comes next (wondering and never knowing).

1198. Without reason                            November 17, 1980

Now I am trying to work my way through boredom. I thought I had discovered the reason for my boredom, but now I have forgotten them. I knew I should have captured i while I had it, and it's gone, and I'm set with my boredom for quite a forever.

1199. Beyond previous notes                            January 6, 1981

Things are ending, and i want to wrap poems in here, have them enveloped by my other wanderings. Gillain has gone [1] and with it so many hopes and stresses. I feel glad for myself, but sorry for others. I am benefitting from the change, as if a great tight spring in myself can release. I am looking forward with interest to this year and the events within it--random.

1200. Travel log                            January 6, 1981

This seems to be my log of some journey. I write so often of landmarks behind and approaching, of losing my bearings and finding them This is so, this is the journal of my travels. So now I should say I am at a landmark now, and I see signs and omens all around me. My mind is clearing again, as though for some time it had been locked in--stale air, dead ambitions and all. I couldn't wrtie because there was nothing to mix with the raw material--no inspiration could blow in to spark anything to life. This is changing now. Air is moving, I am breathing again.
     This is not merely a resumption of life; in many ways I have to start from scratch, start construction of larger and expanding boundaries. Start a new parrern from whic to guild all (to crib from a book). There is more than I can possibly have been aware of, and now is the time to learn it. I am ready to enter new territories I have hesitated to enter until now, wanting a guide. A glowing outlook for the future--not really because it will not all be growing forward or even positively, and now I must behing taking the steps, beginning at twelve hundred for the twelve hundredth try.

1201. Part I                            January 7, 1981

This means I must take the first / step
and this is it--my foot / resting on what
is not quite / dry land, nor
is it air which / surrounds me: cloud
and sky, wind / and soil. I am beginning
to reassess everything to understand that there are
differences. The first step
and I am walking toward
the eagle that is less an
eagle than my a station of mind.
I should mention the lack of
snow, and the mild, barely chill
weather, and the rain. This has
brought him here from wherever
it is he comes.

        The eagle
on the dying or dead branch
of a cedar, neither resting
nor flying. We both take the
step from this time to shelter.[2]


1. The alcohol treatment centre I worked at, which was always financially rickety and finally had to close.

2. See the final version of this poem here.

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