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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



Suddenly, The Middle Ages

So on Wednesday I turned 45. I can longer ignore the fact that I'm middle-aged. Few people live to be 90, so I've probably already been middle-aged and now I'm over the hill but I'm not going to admit that. At least not quite yet. For some reason when Jim reminded me that I was turning 45 I was surprised. It seems much older than 44, at least the numbers do. The psychology of numbers is weird. Anyway, I'm just going to have to pretend that I'm going to live a long time because I have to get used to the idea of being middle-aged before I can even think about being over the hill. People my age are grandparents, have children in college, have published dozens of books. But I can't think about that now.

I had a lovely birthday, especially the lemon poppyseed cheesecake Jim made me.

Work is still going well.

I'm starting to get back to the Real Work.

I had two lovely lunches this week, one with coworkers, one with Karen.

4 Saw a good movie (Lost in Translation) with Karen and Barry.

We got to hear Robin Holcomb twice, see Tamar three times (twice for Robin Holcomb, and she had us over for delicious pumpkin walnut flapjacks this morning).

Today disappeared from me, though. It just evaporated, hence the sketchiness of this entry. It was gorgeous and windy all day. Just at sunset the sky was amazing, the clouds speeding overhead and Jim and I leapt into the car and drove to Sunset Hill to see it without houses and power lines in the way.

Tonight's sunsetSunset tonight at the nearby park overlooking Shilshole Marina and looking west across Puget Sound toward the Olympic Peninsula.


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On Tuesday we got a postcard about a free performance at Jack Straw by Robin Holcomb, who is one of our favourite singer-songwriters. Though it meant we didn't have time for a proper birthday dinner, which didn't really matter, as my coworkers had taken me out for a proper birthday lunch. Tamar went with us and it was lovely to see Robin Holcomb in a small studio setting, where she actually talked to the audience. We were intrigued enough that on Saturday night we bought tickets to the multimedia show she'd been previewing music for. This was a cycle of songs, O Say a Sunset she'd composed around Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. It included Robin Holcomb, Aiko Shimada and others doing some lovely songs, two actresses portraying Carson and her best friend, an video work behind that. An interesting but brief show.


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Mai the Psychic Girl is a Japanese graphic novels (the story is by Kazuya Kudo and art by Ryoichi Ikegami) collected in several volumes. It's about a 15-year-old girl who has strong powers. The organization that secretly runs the world has discovered a series of such children around the world, but she is the most powerful of them, and they send their people to try to capture her. This is the story of who she evades capture and battles with the organization and its minions, while at the same time discovering who she is and what truly matters to her. The beginning is a little better than the end.

Frances Itani's Deafening is the story of young girl in a small town in Ontario who is deaf as the result of scarlet fever at 5. The first part of the novel explores who she learns again to communicate and how her family reacts to her difficulties. Finally her mother agrees to send her off to a deaf school, and the next section of the novel covers that. After she graduates she works in the school's infirmary, and there she meets a young hearing man. They marry just before he leaves for France to work as a medical bearer at the trenches of WWI. The novel deals with all these delicate relationships: between the characters, the society of that era, that of sound and vibration, the experiences of the young men at war and those waiting at home for them, disability and acknowledging or ignoring it. A lovely novel.


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Work on the second draft of Gypsy Davey (yes, that's still the working title, the real title hasn't knowingly crossed my conscious yet) continues to slowly pick up steam. I still feel like I'm just starting getting back to work on it, though. And damn it just like last week, on a day when I was having trouble getting started the mail came and I couldn't just ignore and there was not exactly a rejection, but a notice about a grant I didn't get. This time I wasn't able to bounce back quite as quickly and I didn't get much done that day. Sigh.


last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

February 1991: Trip to England with Jim and Christina

Thursday, February 11, 1991
Avebury to London

Got up slowly, had breakfast and piled on the most mud-proof bits of clothing we could find. Left our bags at the inn and caught the bus to Silbury Hill--a green mound now, startlingly obviously man-made. They've done a few excavations there and really only discovered the way it must have been constructed. There was a terrace on the top, not filled in and still clearly visible.

Silbury HillSilbury Hill.


     From there we walked a very short distance to West Kennet Long Barrow [1].

West Kennet Long BarrowThe entrance to West Kennet Long Barrow.


     Raining very lightly, but muddy chalk trail--full of interesting stones, so we picked up a few.
     The barrow was headed by standing stones and had been cleared out and reinforced. Rain was dripping in spots inside and they'd put in a couple of skylights. People had been in there burning candles, and there were herbs and bits of paper in little openings between the rocks. Picked up two stones inside. Clambered on top--it looks as though there are plenty of chambers still unexcavated. Christina finding many stones. Took some pictures, looked out to Silbury and across the amazing green and misty plain--rolling.
     Walked back down, Christina still rock hunting. By chance I found one that fit my closed hand perfectly, with indentations for each finger. I wrapped it in a kleenex and carried it as we walked back to Avebury [2].

Walk to AveburyMy view of the walk back to Avebury. Christina walking quickly ahead, Jim in between, and me dawdling behind, looking at everything.


Still raining slightly as we came to the stones again. Walked through a hilly copse to the ones we'd visited in the dark. Wonderful grassy ditch around them [3].

A view of Avebury.


     Went to the gift shop there, then walked through the rain back to the Inn. The innkeeper gave us a lift partway. Changed into less muddy clothes and then stood in the rain waiting for the bus.
     The bus was late. Took it into Swindon where I wandered around a long time finding a bank to get some £. Then got on the train to Reading, had to change to a local line then because our tickets would take us right into London because we'd had to get them at Ealing Broadway because of the bombs. It was a real milk run of a train.
     At Ealing we got the tube and went to register at the Centre Français. Then, because Christina had teased us about how much the people she'd last visited Avebury with had done in one day, we arranged for tickets for Cats for that night and Shakespeare for Saturday. Left pretty quickly, grabbed fish & chips and ate it on the tube. At the theatre Jim and I managed to trade seats at the play to sit together. Cats was truly an extravaganza. My favourite was McCavity, then Mephistopheles. Dancing, costumes amazing. It was like I thought it would be and yet wasn't. Alas, I'm not much into extravaganza or that kind of music. Expensive, but a rather fitting thing to do here. The music grew on me some and it really was fun.


1. The long barrow is one of many Neolithic tombs in the area.

2. I still have this piece of stone. It really is strange how it just fits perfectly in my curled hand.

3. Interesting how the stones are now interspersed throughout the village.

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