what I'm thinking and doing

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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



Late late late

A much, much quieter week this week, which was good--a chance to do a little catching up and a little feeling better. I'm still not 100% rid of this cold, but I'm much better. How freaking annoying to be sick--with a cold!--for so long.

The real reason this is late, though, is because we had a teenager for the weekend, and a teenager who needs to sleep a lot and who was sleeping in my study, so I didn't have access to my computer. I could check incoming email but not old and I couldn't work on this. Yes, the same teenager as last November. Come to think of it, she made me late, then, too. At least I blamed her then and I blame her now. Shame on me.

So I'm behind.

Not that I'm not always.

I mean, my god, it's two-thirds through April already. 2003 is nearly a third over. Clarion West is due to start soon. My job will soon go on hiatus. Then start up again. Maybe as a new job. Or maybe with all the budget cuts I won't have a job. Maybe Jim won't. I love the uncertainty of the contemporary world and economy. Not.

It was also a paperwork kind of week. Getting the taxes in the mail. On time, even. Two weeks early for Canada. Then finally signing on the mortgage refinance that took forever with a company that was incommunicado half the time. Luckily, we got a special deal from them because of the link they have with the university, or I would never go with them or recommend them to anyone. They didn't talk, or listen. Or send what they were supposed to send or ask us any questions, except to ask us to send paperwork we'd already sent them and when we pointed that out they could finally dig it out of their pile. I mean, I know things are busy with refinancing, but even I am more efficient than they are. That's saying they're pretty damn bad. But it's done. We hope. We signed at least.

I must have thought or done or lived something else this week, but you know, I spent time recovering from doing too much last week, and more sleeping and coughing, and some doing all those things one needs to do to get oneself to work and fed, and one's cats fed. I did spend some time, too, enjoying the flowers. The pear tree is already losing its blossoms, though. The hawthorn and the smoke bush struggle to open their leaves.

Full-blown spring.

What a delight.

Full-blown spring.

Ugh. Already?

Tonight I look at Jim and said: imagine where we were twenty years ago. He replied that we were probably angsting about our wedding (still a few months away) and pushing my Mom to find a church, or maybe she'd found it by then. Maybe we were going to the unsympathetic priest who told Jim he was prostituting his religion by getting married in the church and not being a practicing Catholic. Hell, if his father would have forgiven us, we'd have stayed far away from the Catholic church. Even if the priest who counseled us was kind and the priest who married us also was. Even if the church was on Brentwood Bay. It still wasn't the church I dreamed of being married in. The little Anglican one, only about 1/4 mile away from the one we were married in. Set in a graveyard, with Spanish moss hanging from the trees, and a stone in the graveyard that says simply "Sam, pioneer". My sister got to be married there once, how come I couldn't? Actually, Jim and I went and wandered in the graveyard after our wedding ceremony. Yes we're odd.


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



New Velvet Belly album and a really lovely one. Damn, it's charming. Delightful. All of that. That sweet voice counterpoised by slightly rougher back-up.

Also been listening more carefully again to Pepper McGowan's Bad Stars to write about it for The Ectophiles' Guide. It's one of those albums that grows on you more the more you hear it. It's bluesy, heartbreaking, yearning...even with the covers it feels like a deeply personal album.

last week's listening § next week's listening



Janet McNaughton's young adult novel, An Earthly Knight, is a retelling of the Tam Lin ballad (one of my favourite stories ever), set in the 12th-century Scotland borderlands. Jeanette is the daughter of a minor nobleman. Her elder sister has already disgraced herself, and Jeanette is suddenly expected to redeem the family honour as a potential bride to the brother of the king. But in the meantime, she has met a mysterious young man, Tam Lin, considered to be mad by the nobility but a kind of folk hero by the locals, who say he had been kidnapped by the fairies. For me the historical part of the novel worked better than the magic, but it was still a lovely read. Just didn't have the wonder of other versions. Still delightful and readable and recommended, and Jeanette is an interesting character. So is finding out what really happened to her elder sister and the portrayal of Scotland at that time.

Larissa Lai's novel, Salt Fish Girl, is an intriguing mix of myth, folktale, futuristic fiction and the literary novel. It begins with dual stories, one set in the 19th century and the other in the future. One is mythological and fantastic, the other is futuristic and realistic. They're about love and scent and the weird world and patterns and viruses that come up through your feet and corporations taking over the world and mermaid-like creatures giving birth to the human race. Read it.

last week's reading § next week's reading



Oh, hell, was I supposed to write? Brain cells not quite ready for that yet, sorry.

last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

December 1989

1574. Two hours in the Gloom
November 19, 1989

Rain outside. Maddy on my lap with a claw. Zach asleep on the blue chair and my sewing machine cluttering the middle of the room--a moveable feast. Time to start any and everything. The rain.

1575. Christina in Britain Without Me
November 19, 1989

When she left Toronto it snowed
and was very cold. She was sleepy
and forgot to pack her pajamas
and somehow was sad to be going.
She was barely over her bronchitis
and slept most of the way on
the plane. She woke only long enough
for steak and an Italian papa
who thought she was cute.
Then a slow train to Reading
and a fast train to Bath--the fastest
in England and the man beside her
told all about the buffers at the end
of the lines an in the ends of the trains
(English men & their obsessions with trains)
She went to see the Roman baths
and an unsuccessful muddy walk in a park.
Then train to Newport, bus to Carleon, to
stay with Great Aunt Clarice. Next day they drove
to see Great Aunt Doris, who cries and forgets,
driving north through Brecan Beacons.
Before and after lunch she took Thomas
the neighbours; dog for muddy walk
up the hills above the valley an to the Roman
amphitheatre across the river.
On Sunday to Caerphilly Castle with Thomas
to look for buried Romans to bring
back some treasure, but no go. So 6
buses here and there to take her to
the Castle. The moat was the size
of a river and people fish there. [1]

1576. Instead
December 3, 1989

My head full of things other than poetry--more like having 60 cards to do (in how many days), all the packages to get ready and mail, when to do the baking and what to bring to a potluck, and whether or not to go to parties.
     Instead mother's words about Bamfield in November: "Last night was special dark, dark with all possible stars, the milky way and quiet. We were out in a herring skiff admiring bioluminescence, trailing from paddles and dip nets...stars above and below!" In the afternoon she walked out through mud flats to Execution Rock and the remains of Ohiat village. Brought me back a bit of seaglass from the rock I carry now in my coat pocket [2].

1577. This issue again
December 10, 1989

"You don't wait around for inspiration to come. That's a lazy man's game." Barry Moser about his illustrations. Is it true for poetry, for me? Something to think about again and again. I guess it's that I hate what happens when I'm forcing things--the scraps mixed good and horrible but never complete. Often preachy an stilted or over-romantically poetic [3].

1578. Closing the Year
December 31, 1989

I am trying to end the year better than I started, by writing. Worked on BN for a couple of hours in the early evening. I'm on page 250 now, so over halfway done, say 5/8 of what I feel it should be.
     I didn't get much done over the holidays for all the usual reasons--hard to write when feeling so lazy, and with Mom and Dad here there just didn't seem to be time. And they were here for such a short time--really only two and a half days. We read and bookshopped and ate holiday things. Had fun Christmas Day, taking turns opening gifts. We managed to finish everything in time, happily, even th catnip man and woman Mom made for Maddy and Zach and the grey mice I made for them. And Susan's skirt that I made too small and will have to redo. Next year, but I daren't take too long with it.
     Looking forward, of course, for all the best things for the new year and decade. I thought that I had laid claim to the '80s, but I lived through them, I hope to claim the '90s [4].


1. Just an account with line breaks, not ever a poem.

2. Turned this into a poem, stealing Mom's words verbatim. It's the first poem in Spells for Clear Vision.

3. I still haven't finished dealing with this issue.

4. Yeah, I know not really the '90s until '91. But the number changing feels serious, so don't bug me. And when you say 1990 the language speaks of something beyond the '80s.

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