Les Semaines


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


The Right Time Change

smoke bushMy smoke bush is autumnal.


At last the right time change, the one where we finally get back the hour that was stolen from us in April. But it does mean that winter's on its way. It's dark now when Jim will be driving home from work.

On Wednesday Jim had to be on campus in for much of the day, and so we bought sandwiches from the little store across the street from my office, and drove to Gasworks Park to have lunch, getting out in the sun and looking out across Lake Union to the city laced with fog. It was lovely. I walked from there along the Burke Gilman Trail to where I park my car and picked this up along the way.

blackberry leafIt's a blackberry leaf. I just loved the colours. I didn't have my camera with me, so I brought it home. Sophia chewed it a little, but I don't think it's too noticeable.


Speaking of Sophia, this is why I've had some trouble getting any work done.

Sophia on my chairSophia likes to steal my warm chair when I get up to do something. She looks so comfortable, it's hard to move her, and she's not very good at sharing except when I'm on there first.


This is how she and Zach spend a lot of their time now.

doubledecker catsIt's a weird kind of double-decker cats.



I've been talking with my friends, trying to figure out just what is it about job dissatisfaction these days. I have it so bad I can't stand it. If RocketMan wouldn't kill me I would quit in two seconds. Mind you, I know he feels the same way and has the golden handcuffs called a paycheck even more in his mind as his paycheck is what keeps the roof over our head and my cd buying spree continuing. I don't know what my job pays for, other than we suffer over the summer when I'm not bringing in a paycheck. Maybe food or something.

The worst I think is longing for what I'd like to do with this time instead. Painting and writing and playing music. Why don't people pay us to do these things instead of paper pushing? I guess we need to be one of the top 10% to make that work, but it's hard to get to the top without the time to invest. Maybe we should just all starve in garrets and forget about owning houses and eating.

I wish the world really did owe me a living, or that it would pay us for what we really want to do. It's hard not to feel that anyone could do our jobs, but not anyone can write what we do. Though it's not as though people are knocking done our door to read what we write. Still. Dammit.

It seems that right now with the economy the way it is people are moving from wanting a fulfilling job to just being happy being able to pay the mortgage. I should be grateful. Alas, I'm not. I know not every job can be like running Clarion West, but I wish my job was. Less paperwork, more people work.

I did have a wonderful moment at work early in the week. It was mid-morning, and the city was still in the fog gray and I walked down the gray gray concrete hallway to the gray and dark women's bathroom. The whole world seemed to be in black and white. Then I looked out the window in front of me, and there was a tree in all its orange glory, like the one bright thing in the world. Show off, I thought. But then I just enjoyed it. The vividness of my smoke bush above reminds me of it.


Thursday night was a big Clarion West event. A reading/panel, with Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Vonda McIntyre, and Syne Mitchell, with Greg Bear as master of ceremonies, celebrating the kick off of our 20th anniversary year, as we're about to have our 20th consecutive workshop, and we've just started fundraising to start a Founder's Fund to help with emergency expenses, the kinds of nasty surprises that seem to continue to come up. I helped manage the tickets and door, so I missed a lot of it, but it seemed like an incredible time, and how amazing to have those fabulous writers in the same place at the same time.

Octavia, Vonda, Ursula, SyneOctavia Butler, Vonda McIntyre, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Syne Mitchell. Photo by Leslie Howle.


Speaking of writing, that's what I've mostly been focused on this weekend, but I didn't quite get enough done. Sigh. But I baked scones tonight for the first time in ages.

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


So much music, so little time. I got a slew of new discs in the mail several of which I like a lot and want to keep playing. I've been really bad about keeping this section of the journal complete and up-to-date, mostly because it takes me so long to figure out what I want to say about music. And yes, I do think that saying is true, that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. But I also believe that it's useful to try. How else to communicate enthusiasm for it?

last week's listening § next week's listening


Margaret Sweatman's When Alice Lay Down with Peter is a strange novel that continued to be interesting throughout without feeling particularly compelling or engaging. I'm not sure how that works. It's the story of four generations of a family living in Manitoba just south of Winnipeg on the Red River, beginning with the time of the Riel Rebellion and continuing until about the 60s. The family is a touch fey and also highly politically aware, fighting with first Riel and later generations with other fights for the common man, such as one family member goes to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Their interrelationships are what's mostly interesting--the relationships of the couples and the between the generations. All in all an interesting tale with a touch of mysterious magic.

Arthur Slade's Tribes is a fascinating but brief young adult novel, a character study of a teenager in his final year of school who examines his peers through an anthropological lens, as though they're foreign tribes whose qualities and actions he's cataloguing. It's a very human, wholly believable look at an alienated boy. Highly recommended.

Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling's edited collection The Green Man gathers fantastic tales of the forest for young adults. I thoroughly enjoyed these, and thought most of the stories quite magical.

last week's reading § next week's reading


You know, doing a little writing is good for what ails me. I can be feeling depressed and tired and if I just make myself work on something, I start feeling better rapidly. It's like magic!

Anyway, one more iteration of the story completed. I hope the story itself is nearly complete as I need to get it out in the mail.

In other news, I got another story back, with a rejection, but at least it was a "we'd very much like to see more from you" rejection. I need to get that story back out in the mail, too.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1986

1448. Sleepy and head aching
February 6, 1986

Another night to write to write a night. I wonder if when Linda gave me this pen she knew how much I would love it and how long I would use it? [1] I think, after cleaning, it's back into shape, no more clogging. Though I like my other pen, it's this one that feels right and these years. Seven at least.

1449. The Book of Common Knowledge
February 6, 1986

is brown and its pages are worn
with the run of fingers that haven't
touched it. This is what we all know.
No Need. So the book exists despite us,
telling us: the knowledge is common
that human beings, like sparrows,
peck at their knowing with an
unseeing eye, alert only for the
sight of personal dangers.
Under the heading of person
danger: any kind of thing
which threatens us anything
that does not is not danger.
The weight of this is thunder.
We spend years looking for
the author of this book. [2]

1450. The Book of Forgetting
February 6, 1986

gray spin and it smells like water
like a stream in the forest, moss
and soil. It reminds you of rain.
You ask, what is the colour of rain.
It says the colour of rain
is the flavour of stars:
hidden. Familiar. [3]

1451. Little Pound
February 6, 1986

"The stars are not in her counting."

"When the cranes fly high
     think of plowing"

"That the grass grow from my body,
That I hear the roots speaking together"

     "that hath the gift of healing
that hath the power over wild beasts"


1452. As one speaks to stone
February 9, 1986

You speak to me as you would
an angel, addressing me like
one who has power over nothing
being nonexistent. Not living.
We walk through the shills,
following them upward to
the land's cave and sheen
of its autumn, see the man
addressing a sheer bank
of basalt, raw and heedless
as his need to speak, apostrophizing to this open
wound of bone, leading as it does
to the earth's core
where such messages
one heard
are recorded.

1453. As Bryer sleeps
February 9, 1986

so sleeps dreaming. [4]


1. My first fountain pen. I used it for about ten years and finally lost it. Sigh.

2. This, rather shortened and improved, is yet another part of the title poem of Spells for Clear Vision.

3. Also, as above.

4. Bryer was my black cat.

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