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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



And Now For 2003

I started 2003 off by basically doing nothing. We slept too late, stayed up too late, read too much, ate too much (the frig is finally thinning out and the last of the cookies are downstairs in the freezer and out of temptation's way, thank heaven), watched many DVDs (Dr. Who, Farscape). Went and saw both the second Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies for the second times so Christina could see them for the first. Discussed them and the books they came from. Hung out with Christina and Jim and talked and rested up, mostly. Hardly left the house. Talked about family (how complicated they all are and how hard it is sometimes to have relationships with your relations). Work (how she loves her and works too hard; how we'd rather do the Real Work of writing). Writing (Christina writes academic work, is working on a commercial biography, and has written a fine mystery novel and started a lovely children's novel). Our lives (the day-to-day and the overall issues). How she couldn't live back in North America (it's too homogeneous for her among other things). How we want to travel but seeing exotic places doesn't mean all that much to me, really (I loved Turkey, but her visit to Morocco, though she adored it, didn't really inspire me to go. I know, I'm a strange one. I'd rather go to Scotland again. To Turkey again. To see where she's living in Bulgaria. To see what her life is like).

I should probably be full of resolutions to write more, exercise more, lose weight, work smarter, and all those things. But I can't get up the enthusiasm. You see, I like my life. I'd like to do these things, sure, but right now they don't seem horribly pressing.

Maybe tomorrow morning when I'm back to work and that particular reality again the details of my life will come into focus again. I've started thinking about Clarion West again, and getting ready for the next workshop, so that's something. Had lunch with Leslie yesterday and we went over a few things. I'm so lucky to work with someone like her. We get along so well and come from the same perspective on most things. I really enjoy working with and talking to her.

And having Christina here has been wonderful. I fear because of prospective changes in her life that this will probably be our last visit together for quite some time, though we do really hope to head her direction sometime in 2003. She's been up in Victoria visiting relatives for the weekend, though, so for the last couple of days it has been almost like back to normal. Even though I leave to pick her up from the Victoria Clipper in about an hour and she'll be here until Wednesday, I'm guessing that going back to work is going to overshadow having her here, especially as she has more relatives to visit before then.

Wait, I do have one resolution: I'm going to finish my novel revision by this spring. There. I do feel a little better. Conforming to the year's imperative, you know.

yellow side of Chilkat bag blue side of Chilkat bagI realized that while I showed the process of Mom making the bag last week I never showed what the finished bag looks like, so here it is, both sides. Yes, that's fur on the top and the things dangling on the sides are deer hooves. They make an interesting clattering noise. Mom is less than happy about how it turned out overall, especially that the strap isn't perfect, but I think it's lovely and she made it.


Jim bakingJim baking yet another pie. How the flour does fly!


Neile as carnivoreSo Jim and Christina dared me to put this photo up. Here I am acting the total carnivore with the bone from our leg of lamb, and isn't it interesting how the light caught my eye tooth like that? Between this and the bag photos I've probably disgusted the solely herbivorous out there. My apologies.


Please do let me know if you find this new design readable. My coding for it is really messy because I really don't know what I'm doing, so I hope it works in everyone's browser. Oh, and do you like it or prefer the old one? I was also thinking about a new title, but couldn't come up with something better than the lame Les Semaines, which has as its only charm that I've slid it into French.

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



Somehow what I've been listening to has no focus again. Have been listening to more of the lovely Laïs, more of the recent eastern European purchases. Bits and pieces of this and that. A used copy of Bows' Cassidy arrived this week, and i like it as much as their first, which I recently got. The singer from Speak Bite Me sings with Bows a lot, and I love her work. The album as a whole is a little up and down, though.

last week's listening § next week's listening



Shifra Horn's The Four Mothers is a magical realist story of four generations of Jewish women in Jerusalem, running up to contemporary times. Their lives and loves and relationships with each other are fascinating. And while I enjoyed it as it was going along, I ended up feeling like I missed the point. Events went on but didn't seem to comment on each other. So, in all I found it intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying.

Katya Reimann's Prince of Fire and Ashes is the final novel in a trilogy. I read the first two a long time ago, and remember really liking the first and being a little less enthralled with the second. This one is the story of how magical people made the deepest connection with their country by trying to make their prince into a king. Magic runs deep in this world, and a group of families have been tied to this ruling family in their pledge to the prince. I think my reading of this suffered from the amount of time between reading the first volume and the middle and then this one. I was interested in this but not as caught up as I might have been.

Midori Snyder's Hannah's Garden is a lovely young adult novel about a young musical girl, raised in an unconventional family, who has to return to the family farm when her estranged grandfather is taken ill. But along the way strange things start to happen to her: she sees a hare who acts in a most unlikely manner, a strange fiddler whose fiddlehead is carved like a woman, a strange man who is alarmingly attractive. And her mother has a new boyfriend. This is a tale of Celtic-style nature magic and its intersection with the real world, and I found it charming.

last week's reading § next week's reading



A story returned and I sent it back out again. A decent start to the writing year, at least I did something to forward my work.


last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

Spring 1987

[I've stopped calling this The Phonosnout as even though I've continued the numbering system, over the years the tone has changed and this is now basically a writing journal.]

1503. Beginning again
May 31, 1987

It's a spring windy day and Sharon [1] has brought three zucchini plants, muffins have been baked, dishes washed, things tidied away and my pen filled. To make me ready. To open let go and let write. Let's hope. New book, new dreams. Let it all be fresh. Let Her visit.

1504. Susan Dreamed
May 31, 1987

Susan dreamed it was me
she couldn't find in the snow.
I had gone out in all that
white waste of air and was gone.
Leaving her looking, looking for me.
      — • —
What was it I would leave for?
Where would I go? I would
have walked through the snow
for nothing, to feel it break
under my bare feet, not resisting me
to turn to water against my warm
getting colder. I would walk past
the fallen pine, crossed, jumping over,
the ice blowing around the rocks of the stream,
maybe breaking off a piece to place
on my tongue and then I would truly
be gone, as though walking through
an enchanted place, warned not to eat
or drink lest th wizard claim me.
I would be claimed. Find a burrow
dry and dull with earth, scramble
down beneath the tangling roots
to the nest of last fall's grasses.
You would not find me there. [2]

1505. Three choices and old grasses
June 6, 1987

I am in the world
without the real protection
of self and shell, dream
and come back. This comes
from nothing, is nothing,
holds me. As the words
hold me. As wealth of dreams
hold me. Shadows move by me
and cannot. I say they do,
but I would not. And I am
not moving, as I am. Filling
myself, filling you. And
dreaming true dreams. Three
choices and old grasses are
the three I choose. Willing
or not. Willing it not
to be. To be two. I'm ready.
Or not, as I am. And always.
Hold it then let it go. [3]

1506. Talking to each other
June 6, 1987

Wind through the doorway
like hands on my face
waking me, chill and alive.
It says meet me on the corner
where I'll appear as someone
you love. I trust it, how could
I not, with its cool fingers
gently rubbing my eyes
(Nancy would say I have
told you too much, but she
does not know what I mean)
I dress and still its palms
move under my skirt, my blouse,
till I step out and it's freed
running all over me, the grasses,
the sky and beyond down
every road every trail, tangling
into the bushes that would stop
it ravelling itself and its short
memory of me. Just as would someone
I might love carry me. Carry
me gone down to the sea.
(in ships, dance into the sails
and away again). Out and
ever carry me. [4]

1507. My mother drumming
June 14, 1987

Sea wind runs in the strait like salmon
quicksilver and cold in late spring.
My mother sits alone on deck--sun up,
boats moving out fishing, fog horn
on B.C. side--Neah Bay rocky seaweed
shore and the old stories steam in the light.
She writes to tell me last night was a salmon feast
at Hoback Beach and the Makah elder
traded her drums--he took hers +
started drumming + chanting and gave
her his and told her to drum. "So
there I was drumming a Makah
drum with 3 others--sorry I
didn't know the chants. They were
chants to invite people to eat and
enjoy the feast."
             He liked her drum,
said it had good tone and she should
use it lots. "he told me a story about
the design on his wife's drum--an
eagle and lightning snakes." [5]

1508. Shoah
June 14, 1987

Under the steel grey skies of Treblinka
the prisoners dig up rags to carry and burn.
They disintegrate in their hands
and the skeletal men are crying.
They keep working. The stiff evergreens behind them
are witness, stand guard to the secrets
of who knew what first, and what
caused who the greatest pain. They
are the grimmest trees I have ever seen.
The men keep moving; they cannot stop
even as I move through my ordinary life
in a city a world away. I watch them.
Watch the wind rip through the thin cloth
of their flesh, their thin flesh that barely covers
their bones. The wind freezes the tears
in their eyes that can no longer watch
themselves. Mothers, children, daughters
and sons mean so little here we must
call them rags. Bitter rags the colour
of winter sky we try to hold them
in our hands. What will not burn must
be crush,ed what is crushed must be
emptied into the river's arms. It can
hold them all better than we can.
we, whom knowledge makes thin,
whom knowledge turns into bitter
rags even in the shelter of our ordinary
lives. [6]


1. A co-worker from the Department of Microbiology, where I was working as that now-archaic thing, a word processor operator.

2. I think the Susan I'm talking about was a close friend from Montana, soon to move out to Seattle and live with us for four months. This poem never went anywhere, though I think I might have swiped a couple of lines for another poem.

3. I took the title and not much else of this one and these bits eventually cohered and accumulated other bit and were published in Spells for Clear Vision.

4. This never became anything. The Nancy I was talking about was a friend from Missoula who moved to Seattle shortly before we did. She still lives here and not far away but we've lost contact.

5. This, revised and expanded, appears in Spells for Clear Vision.

6. This also, somewhat revised, appears in Spells for Clear Vision. I wrote this after watching a segment of the TV special on the Holocaust by that same title.

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