Les Semaines


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


Not So Exciting, Is It?

Really, this was a pretty boring week, at least when it comes down to writing about it. I went to work. We started writing our end-of-year cards. We tried to start getting ready for the holiday, at least list-making. Tamar and I spent almost all of Saturday shopping, which I really enjoyed. It's fun being with someone who actually likes shopping. I don't much, and Jim really doesn't, and so shopping has become this big chore. I go alone and am bored or I go with Jim and he wants to get the hell home so we're rushing. Tamar and I got a lot done, and I never had a clue that we were out there for seven hours. In the middle of the day we stopped and had a leisurely lunch and continued shopping. It was fun to be with her.

Today the writing group met. And that's about my week. Though I should mention that there have been cat wars this week over the Cat Magnet blanket. It's a blanket that was my grandmother's, who died in the early '80s, so I've had this a long time. It has always been a cat magnet. Early in the week one of us left it on the loveseat with only room for one cat on it, and there were skirmishes for days, leaving one cat or the other in gloating possession. Finally, Jim spread it out so they could share.

Cats on the blanketSo here they are, finally both happy.


Please don't tell my mom--she doesn't like the cats having possession of the blanket.

So, in lieu of interesting tales of Neile's adventures in the world, here's some more basic info.

Getting to Know Neile

Full Name: Neile Graham (I don't use my middle names); my birth certificate says "Neile Nancy Eileen Graham"
Birth date: 8:30 am, Wednesday ("full of woe"), October 8, 1958 in Winnipeg Manitoba (feel free to cast my horoscope)
Zodiac sign: Libra is my sun sign, Scorpio ascendent and I can't remember the rest, my Chinese zodiac is Year of the Dog
Hair color: white/gray & medium brown (more white as time passes but underneath there's still more brown than I'd like, just be done with it, will you? )
Eye color: light blue
Height: 5'4", nearly 5'5" when I've done enough yoga to loosen my spine
Personality type: INFJ, obsessive, lazy
Children: 0, nope none.
Location: at my computer (Apple G4), in my study, in the Whittier Heights area of the Ballard neighbourhood of Seattle, WA, U.S.A. (though Canadian by citizenship)
Weirdest hobby: Throwing garden snails onto the road for them to take their chances. Survival of the fittest, you know. I fear I'm creating a race of super fast snails because the rest don't survive.
Pets and their names: two cats--Sophia (3) and Zach (16.5)
Things you like to do: write, read, listen to music, talk with friends, sleep, cuddle with cats
Things you like to collect: books, cds, experiences, ideas
Best advice ever given: Your life is yours to make
A non-sport game which you enjoy: mah jong
Coolest experiences in life: travelling in Scotland, the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), and Turkey
Stupidest thing you've ever done: He was a long, long time ago in the past now
Fave things to do in the summer: sit outside late at night talking to close friends, help run Clarion West
Fave things to do in the winter: curl up with a good book by the fire, sit and talk to friends over coffee
Character traits you like most in a girl/guy: knows how to talk--real talk, not just superficialities; knows when to just be there in silent companionship
Future goals: complete my unfinished writing projects and follow through with them
Fave color: gray, green, blue
Fave Foods: curries, cake (not together, though, thank you)
Funniest person you know: Kurt Roth
Fave sport: none now, used to be soccer
Fave toy: computer
Fave cartoon character: Maggie Simpson, Hobbes (of Calvin and),
Fave Actor/Actress: Alan Rickman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Emily Watson, I'm sure I'm forgetting many someones
Fave Movie(s): King of Hearts, Bagdad Cafe, Time Bandits, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Lord of the Rings
Fave Animals: cats, snow leopards
Fave TV show: Farscape
Fave Song(s): Veda Hille's "26 Years", Happy Rhodes' "Words Weren't Made for Cowards", Tori Amos' "Blood Roses" (today it's Coppé's "bones and ashes"
Fave days: Friday afternoon to Sunday night
Fave month: July & August (I don't work those months); otherwise October and May
Fave holiday: Christmas
Fave part of the newspaper: comics
Fave store: cd stores, book stores (though now I do most of this on-line); for physical stores it's stores with unusual things
Fave thing to wear: comfortable dresses
Least fave to wear: dress-up clothes
The worst thing you despise: fundamentalism, rigid-mindedness
Fave book: The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Fave book character: The one who is making me write my novel
Fave place to write: My dark green study
Fave magazine: Contemporary Archaeology (it's Scottish and English), Historic Scotland, Century SF magazine (sadly moribund)

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


coppé with r.breen's papa my buddha is a jazzy electronic experimental collection but it's is also full of emotion, as the disc was recorded while her father was battling a terminal illness. It includes recordings of all kinds of interesting noises from the hospital, including a trip by ambulance. It is surprisingly beautiful and affecting.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Robert Charles Wilson's The Chronoliths is a solid near-future SF novel about what happens to a man and to the world when suddenly a conqueror starts sending monoliths that celebrate his conquests back 23 years in the past. These huge objects suddenly arrive, devastating their surrounding. Some arrive in the countryside, and some arrive, flattening the cores of cities. Scott Warden happens to be nearby when the first one arrives in the Thai countryside, and unbeknownst to him, he leaves his wife to deal with his toddler daughter's health crisis. The arrival affects the world and his life in dramatic and interesting ways. I found this an interesting novel--a story with worldwide affects told through a very personal lens. An accomplished SF novel.

Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice's Water Witch was a fun romp of a novel. It's about a desert planet and water politics, a con woman playing princess, a princess getting tough, a young noble trying to do his best for the planet, a goat-like creature holding a soul, a Tycoon and his son. Don't look at this one too hard or it will melt.

John Barnes' The Sky So Big And Black is a novel about a young woman involved in the terraforming of Mars. She is telling her story to a psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist is the frame of the story. It's an interesting story and vision of Mars and the future. I was hoping to like it as much as his other book featuring a young female protagonist, Orbital Resonance, but didn't quite--I think because the forces against her were so exterior. (See my March 26, 2000 entry for comments about another book by John Barnes.)

William Trevor's The Story of Lucy Gault is the sad story of an Anglo-Irish family who decide that they must leave Ireland when local Catholic men attempt to burn their house down, and the father shoots one of them in the shoulder. Unfortunately, when the time comes to leave, their nine-year-old daughter, who loves where they live, decides to run away to prevent them going. Unfortunately, through a series of mishaps, they decide she has been drowned, and her parents leave, and decide to travel, leaving no forwarding address. Then the daughter is found, near-death, but alive, in the woods. The pain of the parents as they travel and the people who look after the young girl, and the girl herself, is painful and realistic.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Writing our annual cards and critiques for Sunday's crit group was the extent of my writing this week, I'm afraid.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

December 1986 - January 1987

1481. Thinking I Remember This
December 7, 1986

Rain in my hair and eyes
so thick it might seem solid
as glass but we cn walk through it.
It is night, of course, to set
the scene and the rain weighs enough
to carry leaves down with it as it falls.
So it seems everything's falling.
You break a branch off the maple
and hold it above me. It does nothing
to stop the rain, only collections larger
drops to release them itself, slow
amplification. Slow dreams as the rain
suddenly stops and were released
from its spell, capering in the puddles,
shaking our branches, other branches
till the water collects on the soil too full
to let it in. It is this I think I
remember, this moment of surfeit
of too much to take it all in
so it just all collects on the outside
waiting for the sun to dry it away. [1]

1482. Where it Ends:
December 14, 1986

Where the wind and start
meet in their slow wheeling dance
and the edge of atmosphere is shriven,
where the thin blue light of the
timing machines dulls and flickers
in living rooms and kitchens
Where as you settle into deeper sleep
you and the cat both turn together
muttering love from your warm dreams [2]

1483. Robin
December 14, 1986

I have been reading Skelton at Sixty and it has made me very homesick for Robin. What he taught us is true and beyond fashion. Who he is is true and beyond fashion. And deserves homage.
     From the other side I am reading The Real West Marginal Way. What a contract in style and men and poems. Fascinating.
     We're approaching Christmas here and whatever wonder there i in the deepest centre of winter and its dark. Wrap presents, bake the rituals. Making.
     BN continues, bit by bit, and now I am in the midst of a creation myth in the centre of chapter four. The biggest mysteries are just beginning to unfold. I think this may be too slow for a children's book, but we shall see. The book that writes itself, that's what this one is.

1484. Ai
December 14, 1986

"This I'd stand up
like Lazarus
and walk home across the water"
So what is the nights darken so early
I look like a pieces of the moon?
You can barely see me
without your own light shining
down. So what if even children
laugh at my glittering tail?
I am comet of comet,
leader of Orion
and the north stars. Sirius
laughs too in his barking cough.
If you knew me better you could
hear. What I was is larger than
your own life. Helen I was,
Bronwen and Gaia and Brigid
is my favourite name. I knew
Orion when he was young and homeless,
Zeus when he was barely named.
So what if I wander the wet
streets of your city tarted up
and ready to dance? Believe me,
if you knew one step I taught
Dionysus, one of the dreams I gave
Jesus or Hitler you would be
dancing too. Think of the fates
I could give to you. [3]

1485. New Year Already
January 4, 1987

It seems hardly believable that it can already be 1987. Especially as this January is so mild that it could easily be October. Rain and grey, that's all. Not cold.
     And Christmas is over--it was lovely, home with Mom and Dad and the kids, and taking Maddy and Zach with us--Zach finding his way up into the ceiling and all.
     And I've got this new pen to learn to write with that Brenda sent from Germany. I've got to break it in. It's a Pelikan [4]. Seems to write pretty dark. Wonderful of Brenda to send it, especially as I had to retire the fountain pen I've used for years.
     I've had one day in my new job at UW [5]. Enjoyed my days in between jobs, few as they were.

1486. Sunday Day
January 11, 1987

Sunday, writing day. I can see Jim's point--this is the only day that we are really free to write, timewise, and yet the pressure to get something done, to be in the mood to produce, bothers me and gets in my way. Often I don't even try to get anything done, but then I feel guilty for wasting this day. And it's sunny today and a perfect day for walks and to go to the zoo at last, but we stay indoors and wait for the Muse to descend, whether she does or not. Whether we will or not, won't or not. Tea from my catface mug, Maddy and Zach huddled sleeping together.


1. Part of this evolved into "Rain in the Forest" in Blood Memory.

2. This never went anywhere.

3. Clearly neither did this.

4. This is the pen that I'm still using.

5. I got a job as a Word Processor Operator (a job category that no longer exists) at the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington.

last week's Phonosnout § next week's Phonosnout

Last Week § Les Semaines index § Next Week

Email comments, questions, and complaints to neile@sff.net § Neile's main page

3094 people have wandered through this week with me