Les Semaines


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


Neile is a saucepan!

Neile Graham is a rocket launcher that's made of glass!

Neile is a saucepan! It improves upper-body muscle!

Neile is a personal organiser that's solar-powered!

James Gurley is a wristwatch that shoots laser beams, tells you when it's ready and looks better than it sounds.

Jim Gurley is a webcam that requires a sample of DNA and has adverts on the side.

Jim is a fridge magnet that speaks randomly-generated sentences and produces hot tea or coffee.

Zach is a mobile phone that's made of rubber! It contains a tinier version of itself and has a leopardskin print.

Sophia is like a normal mattress, but it recites haiku.

I, like many other friend on the net, have been visiting http://thesurrealist.co.uk/priorart.cgi? and collecting various definitions of self and other. I found it entertaining.

Meanwhile, at home, this is what has been happening:

pear treeHere's a little proof that the season is in the process of change. This is our pear tree.


tomatoesHere's the last of summer's bounty.


I really haven't been doing much with my new camera yet. Mostly because I don't see the point of 3,000 photographs of our cats, which it what we usually find when we develop rolls of film from our other camera. So I'm trying not to take pictures of the cats and am having trouble figuring out what I do want to take pictures of. Things in our back garden, for a start, I suppose.

This was a busy week, with the fiction workshop on Sunday, on Tuesday a poetry workshop, on Thursday Jim and I gave a poetry reading together. Thursday night because I'd had an extra mocha to get me through the poetry reading, I didn't get to sleep until 3:00 am, and so I took Friday as a mental health day, the truth being that I would have gone mental had I had to get up in time to get to work. I slept until 9:00, when I was woken up by a stupid solicitation call. Ugh!

We were going to go to hear Rasputina (a great group of women celloplayers with a weird and wonderful sense of humour about songwriting) that night, and after waiting in line at the door for well over an hour and discovering that they were going to start playing later than we had hoped, Jim and I decided that we would rather have dinner and go home and rest up. Se we went to a restaurant across the street. In about five minutes the friends who were waiting in line with us showed up at the restaurant. We had a lovely dinner, then went home and relaxed.

Saturday was an interesting afternoon, as Ali, a carpet seller we had bought carpets from when we were in Turkey was in town, and had asked us if we wanted to bring friends to see the carpets he had brought with him for sale. Some of our friends were interested in coming, and so we had a lovely afternoon watching Ali show wonderful carpets. I was so tempted by one in particular, but Jim was firm, and reminded me that we had other plans for our money right now. Damn. Anyway, our friends didn't have Jim telling them no, and so they bought some really lovely carpets. I totally understand why Christina and Matt have their wealth in Turkish carpets; they are gorgeous things, and last forever, and are worth every penny. Ali's friend's apartment was a gorgeous place, too. The building it is in apparently had been a hotel, and the apartment had been the hotel ballroom. A beautiful space, lovingly decorated. And many stunning carpets, of course!

Then today Jim was on a panel at the Northwest Bookfest. We got up early (for us on a Sunday, at least) because he wanted to go and hear David Wagoner read at 10:30. Wagoner is the person who had chosen Jim for the T.S. Eliot prize, and Jim had never met him. So we got a wonderful reading and Jim got to meet David Wagoner. He's a poet I've been reading since the '70s, when Robin Skelton told me about his work when I was an undergraduate.

Jim's panel, about science and poetry, was interesting, and he got to read one poem as part of the panel. There was a signing afterwards, but then we went home as we'd already had several hours of wandering around the bookfest and we ready to come home and do a little work and try to get some of our weekend chores accomplished.

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


Thanks to a friend from Sweden, I have the new disc by Baxter, which has a couple of dancey songs--I'm not much on dance music, but I like Baxter and their lead singer's way of singing enough that I can mostly ignore that and just enjoy the songs. Luckily, only a couple of the tunes are like that.

I've also discovered a singer/songwriter that I like quite a lot--Noe Venable. She's got a little-girl soprano, which reminds me a lot of Lisa Cerbone. The other thing that reminds me of Lisa Cerbone is her storytelling lyrics, something I enjoy a lot.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Sarah Waters' Fingersmith is the story of a protected daughter in a family of thieves, who is persuaded to play the part of a lady's maid to help a scoundrel Gentleman marry a lady and make away with her fortune. I can't say too much more without spoiling the novel, but be prepared (this isn't too much of a spoiler because as the "maid" tells her story she warns of this) for all kinds of confusions and doublecrosses. This is set in Victorian England amidst an unusual lot of characters, and is a clear depiction of both. I found it absorbing, and well worthy of the Booker Prize nomination it received.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Only revision this week, not anything copious in quantity but hopefully in quality. Right now I'm working on a poems that I brought to my poetry workshop group on Tuesday night and some short story revisions.

On Thursday, Jim and I gave a reading at the Frye Art Museum, which is a wonderful venue--comfortable chairs and great acoustics. Alas, our audience was small, even if one vocal member seemed appreciative. It was a little strange to read in such a wonderful place with only a few people to enjoy it. Still, I loved reading.

Then today Jim was on a panel on science and poetry at the Northwest Book Fest. So I got to play wife of poet rather than self as poet. A little more anonymous.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1986

1444. Seventeen and Naked
February 4, 1986

It's a path I've often walked
and now the usual story: the trees
marked to be felled, or already
fallen and gone and stuccoed houses
in their place. Big houses on small
bits of the land, peering over other
houses' heads, straining to see
over the ridge's edge a patch of the
strait. I would like to say
that this is the forest that made
me, that filled my heart and belly
with this land but that would
be lying. Not that I didn't come
to know each turn of the path
and know each tree by knowing
trees if not where they lived.
This is where I walked when
I felt like walking, where I
brought friends sometimes to
walk and talk and come out
to the rocks above the cemetery
and highway to look out all
the way to the Sooke hills
and the Olympics. It was
so close and stretching yet
safe and familiar. It was
where I brought my first
real lover, young and needing
to be alone, pine needles stick
to our sweaty limbs and moss
imprinted on our skin. It was
really something to be seventeen
and naked under there [trees
on these hills]. [alders/cedars and pine]
[Breeze rising from the islands
and the taste on his lips
of salt and moss and what we made
in that nest with our clumsy hands
smelling of sex and moss. His hands
that held my breasts cupping all the
hills.] [1]

1445. Song of the beds
February 4, 1986

When you first shared mine
we would only sleep and in
the middle of your dream that
first night you reached over
and grabbed my shoulders
shouting a word that I now
can't remember. The second
beds were shared--
you shared mine and I
yours, visitors to each other's
lives then we moved together
had the mattress on the floor
in the cold yellow house and
all night I was fearing
spiders and the cold as wind
from the Hellgate passed through
the walls as though they weren't
there. And then our marriage bed
always shared high off the ground
the summer the window hight
street noises blowing over us
bathing in the streetlights
and no other cover and winter
close under the comforters
barely letting our faces out to
breathe. And always your breath
on my face saying goodnight and
I wait to hear what you'll say
in your dreams. [2]

1446. This is my task
February 5, 1986

I've rarely felt less like writing that tonight, Wednesday, between everything and no where. I've been having strange dreams that I don't remember until something touches them off in my mind later in the day.

In the morning there is nothing left.
You gather the fabric tatters
counting them quickly as if
speed would make them more.
You examine each one, later,
their edges stiff and almost sharp
perhaps they have been transmuted
changed into some other element.
The fieldstar has been burning
since dawn. In the sunlight
you hardly notice. Walking the fence
as it cages the yard you're glad you're
alone. When you walk past the fieldstar
it burns just a little more into your palm
and you touch it. Rising, now, from
the grasses you pretend you're become newborn
just learning to open your eyes
and finger the grass blades and
they cut you easily and at first
you don't notice. And it doesn't
matter. It's only your blood
on the soil, this time and the
fieldstar is watching, glowing,
keep track of your movements.
and your mind's eye. The darkness
keeps it near you. [3]

1447. Tongue of the native speaker
February 5, 1986

which means the language it was
born to, which it shaped
before you heard anything.
what you said to your mother's
heart when you realized you were
hearing. What you said when
you knew that it was all
something other. No need
for anything before when it
was all you. No need for
definition when there are
no distinctions. [4]


1. I tried to get this poem to work for a long time but finally ended up abandoning it.

2. I don't think I ever really tried with this one.

3. Ditto.

4. This, altered, became part of the title poem of Spells for Clear Vision.

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