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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



Coming out of Isolation

I'm still seriously curtailing my activities--work seems to be about as much as I can handle energy-wise, especially as we're heading into the busy season--but I did have to make two exceptions this week, both because people were in town for brief visits.

First was a friend from the ecto list. We've been in correspondence for several years because she has helped out with The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music, the music review site I organize. We met for lunch one (kind of exhausting--more on that later) day after work and had a chance to talk for a while but I kind of hit the wall and had to get going home. I hope next time she's in town I'm in slightly better shape for more of a visit and conversation.

Second was a friend from my Clarion West class who was in town for part of the weekend. I had a chance to take a nap after work before we had to take Zach into the vet and after we dropped him off home Jim and I met her and her husband for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and chatted over a pleasant dinner. It was so great to see her again! We tried to go for coffee afterwards and found an open Starbucks but it closed shortly after we got there. We were standing outside talking but again I'd reached the end of my energy, so we didn't go on from there. I'm sad because we usually meet at the World Fantasy Convention in November, but she can't make it this year.

My exhausting day at work was kind of nasty. For a while I've known that they were going to move me into another office, and the office had been painted last weekend so I knew it would be fairly soon, but imagine my surprise getting into work on Wednesday morning to find my computer and desk (and nothing else) had been moved out of my office into the new one. So I went over there and there it all was in parts. I think if I'd been feeling better it wouldn't have hit me so hard but all I could think was that I could possibly do anything that was and I might as well just go home. Luckily my coworkers helped me sort out where to put my furniture and got me started on organizing things and Jim came in for an hour to move stuff over for me. I just was in no shape to do much of that myself, though I did do some. It wore me out, though. After I got home from my lunch with the ecto friend I slept for three hours.

The next day everyone apologized for not telling me that they'd started the move, and happily by that time I'd recovered and could be more gracious about it.

The only other real news is that Zach is showing more signs of age. He's 17 and a half, and now not only is he having growing kidney problems but his heart murmur getting worse and it seems like that he has thyroid problems as well, as he's lost well over a pound since February. Poor guy. He still seems perky and is doing pretty well, but we're having to prepare ourselves as best as we can for things to get worse. He's had a good run, though, well over three years more than Maddy, whom we got at the pretty much same time, so far.

2 pearsA pair of pears: dalek pear and pear butt. From this year's bumper crop.


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Listening to Astrid's new disc (lovely indie pop) and wrote an Ectophiles' Guide entry for Daughter Darling.


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Pamela F. Service's children's novel Winter of Magic's Return is about three children in a special school, 500 years after nuclear war has destroyed most of civilization and nuclear winter has caused another ice age. The three are all drawn to adventure and become friends. One has a strange background and an encounter with people claiming to be his relatives helps him remember that he is actually Merlin, awakened out of his magic sleep in his cave by an accident. Now the children have to defeat the people claiming to be his relatives. This was intriguing but a little thin. I found myself willing to send the sequel back to the library without reading it.

Maybe I shouldn't read Georgette Heyer novels so close together or maybe Frederica is simply so much one of her best that it overshadows the merely good ones, but though I enjoyed it I wasn't wild about Sylvester, either. Sylvester is a kind of D'Arcy character, a duke who decides that it's time to marry. Advice from his mother and godmother make him settle on a young girl he doesn't remember meeting. She is cowed by her stepmother, though fiesty enough when out of her shadow. Knowing that Sylvester is coming to offer for her, she convinces her best friend, a squire's son, to help her run away to her grandmother. Unfortunately the weather is bad and they have an accident, and the stiff-necked Sylvester comes to their rescue.

I re-read Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere after watching the DVD of the show about 10 days ago when I was sick at home. I enjoyed it quite a lot, especially the inventiveness---Gaiman has a delightful knack for putting a new spin on classical-feeling tropes. This is the story of Richard Mayhew, whose upwardly mobile life is interrupted when a strange-looking injured girl lands at his feet and he defies his conventional fiancée to help the girl. This leads him into the dark, dangerous, and magical world that lies beneath streets of London he and the rest of the world are familiar with. It's highly entertaining.


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I've been starting work on writing this year's Canada Council grant application, and thinking about ways to approach the novel. Not quite in good enough mental form to start working, but will be very soon.


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Retrospective: old journal

February 1991: Trip to England with Jim and Christina

Monday, February 18, 1991
London to Hay-on-Wye

Bombs went off in Victoria and Paddington stations Monday morning [1], so it was difficult to get out of London or to get information as to how to get out. Scrambled around Picadilly to get rail and bus info--finally took the tube to Ealing Broadway and got a train there to Newport (castle right by the tracks), near Caerlyon where Christina's aunt lives, to Hereford, then right on the bus to Hay-on-Wye [2]. Hay is incredible--old stone walls & stone houses--ways called the Back Fold (narrow, winding, right by the castle) and shops and shops of books.
Hay castleHay Castle.

Hay Castle at sunsetHay Castle at sunset.


     We checked in at the Seven Stars, left our bags, and raced over to one of the Booth's locations and looked as it got dark. Then we made our way over to the Wheatsheaf for a wonderful meal of steak & kidney pie, chips & peas, and a cider (ales for Christina & Jim). Walked a bit around Hay to look and plan for the next day. Then retired to the Seven Stars. It's a beautifully restored place, Tudor-looking on the inside. Lovely old bed, with matching side tables and chair and a beam right above our heads.
     One window looked out across the back yard and the neighbour's bird cage full of yellow finches (?) and the Seven Stars' pool to the fields on the other side of the Wye River and the rolling hills. The other window looks toward town and the shops across Broad Street. It's right by the town clock, which chimes the quarter hour--a beautiful clock. Hay has caught me entirely.

Hay clockThe Victorian clock tower.



1. This was during the first Gulf War.

2. Hay-on-Wye is famous for being a town full of used book shops.

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