2003

10.19


what I'm thinking and doing

what I'm listening to

what I'm reading

what I'm writing

retrospective: old journal


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Les Semaines

 

 
 

What I Was Thinking of Doing

Well, so far as least being 45 hasn't been quite as shocking as turning 45. That is good.

I continue to have to get up far too early in the morning. Luckily, Jim gets up before me, gives me a hug before he leaves, and there on the counter is my mocha espresso he's just made. He's a hero. Unluckily, there is Zach, who will have just come downstairs after his breakfast and will have jumped on the bed and curled up to sleep. Amazing how difficult it is to leave him alone there. I mean, he's an old cat. He needs company at times like these. But I drag myself up anyway, collect my hug and coffee. And because I'm a woman sometimes before these two things, but at the very least before the coffee I have to go and pee. I'm sorry if this offends you. For me, it isn't an option. Offense or skipping the peeing. When I'm doing this Sophia usually comes dancing in and rubs against my legs and lets me pat her a couple of times before she dances off elsewhere or finds something on the floor she hopes is a bug but mostly always isn't.

Then I fill and turn on the kettle to make a pot of tea to fill my thermos and go and wash my face and put in my contact lens (I shower at night these days). Usually I manage to get in one contact lens and have to go grab the shrieking, boiling kettle. I finish what I'm doing then go downstairs, scoop out the catbox, and put on a cloth or two. Pet and envy the sleeping Zach. Run a little mental inventory to make sure I've remembered all the clothes I planned to put on (hey, this time of year I'm still trying to remember that if I don't wear socks my feet will get cold).

Back upstairs, to the coffee. I'm on a cereal kick right now (I had bread and butter for breakfast for years) so get myself a bowl of cereal. Take it and whatever remains of the coffee (some days I've finished it, some days it's still untouched and getting chilly) to my computer and download my email. Read it, wish I had time and free hands to answer it, then floss and brush teeth and brush hair and run out the door to my car to either: (1) meet my carpool partner which means it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday; or (2) drive to work which means it's Tuesday, Thursday, or there's an unforeseen circumstance like the vacation or illness of my carpool partner, both of which happened this week.

So I either drive the whole way, or partway then am driven the rest, in either case I wind up behind the building I work in right around 7:30 am. Then I enter my office and work work work till 12:30 when I'm driving myself or 12:45 when I leave to catch the bus to my car. Right now I'm updating prospective student records and asking them if they think they'll be going the certificate program or not. Sometimes they even answer me!

After arriving at my car I head west. Sometimes, frequently even, I have an errand to run on my way home, like on Mondays it's our main grocery shopping expedition, on other days it can be going to the post office to mail packages and check our P.O. Box (P.O. Box 30187, Seattle, WA 98113-0187 if you ever feel inclined to write a holiday or postcard or send a cheque to purchase one of my books) or going to Trader Joe's or going to the bagel shop or the drug store or the pet food store or the vet's for Zach's medicine and fancy prescription diet food.

Then it's home, glorious home, where I pet Sophia and Zach who are basking in whatever light might be coming in the living room window and make them their lunch--since Zach's elderly kidneys do better on more frequently smaller meals--and then my own. I usually sit at the dining room table to eat my lunch and Zach usually joins me there, because by that time he'll have eaten his own lunch and be looking to have a little of mine. If he hasn't quite finished his lunch, I'll be spending time shooing Sophia away from it. I usually read magazines while I eat my lunch. I'm up to April 2001 or so reading a friend's old New Yorkers, or I'll read Locus or Smithsonian (which seems to be getting offensively patriotic of late) or Mojo or whatever other magazine is lying around. Words. That's the thing. If they're in front of my eyes, I'll read them.

Then I write or avoid writing for a couple of hours by looking at my email again or the horrendous mess that is my study. Then Jim comes home and it's either his or my turn to make dinner, I can never remember, then we eat whatever it was whoever made, then it's the other one's turn to do the dishes. Then a shower then some more time-wasting then it's reading in bed time, or sometimes reading upstairs time which these days I find much more comfortable than reading in bed.

Rinse, repeat. That's my week. At least now, while Clarion West is at its quiet time and it's not holiday preparation time.

So this weekend Jim and I went to Carkeek Park and sat watching waves for a little bit and listened to the train run right behind us vibrating the rocks we were sitting on and watched the waves a while longer, then went on a brief walk up past the orchard (swiping a few apples, of course) and back, then home to make two more batches of spiced raspberry-apricot jam. We've made five this year and are going to stop now. I was hoping to make blackcurrant but when I looked at the amount of currants we've saved over two years it's still not quite enough. Darn.

Where the plum tree wasWhere my plum tree was. Sigh.

 

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

 

Listening

Thea Gilmore's Avalanche, about which I say on The Ectophiles' Guide (or will as soon as I upload it):
Everyone is right--Avalanche is her best album yet. The songs are especially urgent and compelling (with the exception of the way too I've-heard-this-same-song-dozens-of-times single "Juliet (Keep That in Mind)"--yuck!--I also find something just a little mean-spirited about the lyrics in "Juliet", which I don't in her other songs). So--skip over "Juliet" and listen carefully to the lyrics in the rest of this wonderful album. They will make you smirk and laugh and smart just a little from the barbs, and the tunes will stick in your head in a big way. All the rest of the tracks on this album make me want to hit repeat to hear them again, and when they're not playing on the cd player, they're playing in my head. I could name almost every song on the album, but my favourite tracks are the touch "Rags and Bones" and "Heard You Heard", and the yearning "Eight Months". The push she's getting in the U.K. for this album is right on--this should be her breakthrough album.

This assumes that you know that Thea Gilmore is a young, very prolific English singer-songwriter of sarcastic and cutting wit.

 

last week's listening § next week's listening

 

Reading

Charles de Lint's Spirits in the Wires is his most recent Newford novel. It's about a group of his characters there who have to get involved when something happens to the WordWood, a magical e-text library on the internet and it goes down while people who were accessing it disappear. One of the characters who believes she was created by the WordWood disappears, too. The group includes the man who had blackmailed a hacker to bring the site down with a virus in revenge for a bad experience with the woman who believed she was created by the site. She is an interesting but vague character and it was good to get more of her backstory here. We also learn about Christiana, who is the storyteller Christy Riddell's shadow but now a person in her own right. While I enjoyed reading this I kept wondering whose the story was. I eventually decided that it was Christiana's story but the novel is so divided that it's not really clear and so the ending lacks some emotional punch. It was more a series of interwoven stories, all of which centred on the events with the WordWood, all of which were good stories with interesting conclusions but none of them really weighed more than any of the others. A good story collection but a little unfocused for me for a novel. I'm a huge Charles de Lint fan, but I've liked his other novels more than this one.

I can't say enough good things about Robin McKinley's Sunshine. It's the story of a woman, Rae, whose nickname is Sunshine. She is a baker at her stepfather's coffeeshop, which is the family business. Or almost a community business, as she's dating the cook. It's pretty much her world, especially as she has to get up so early to start the day's baking, and while she's a little antsy, she likes her work and her world. But one evening she decides to go out to a nearby lake that she used to go to as a child, just to think, when she suddenly finds herself surrounded by vampires. They take her to an abandoned house and leave her there, chained up next to a half-starved vampire who is chained there, too. No one has ever escaped from vampires, in this world that is full of Others, the most terrifying of which are the vampires. Well, Sunshine does escape. With the half-starved vampire. And how she escapes and with whom starts her life having more complications than she could have dreamed of. I loved this novel, though I've never been particularly interested in vampire stories. Highly recommended.

 

last week's reading § next week's reading

 

Writing

Work on the novel is proceeding slowly. I'm still working but would like to be doing more than I currently find myself able to. Well, at least I'm working, which is more than I have been for quite a while. Engage. Re-engage. Revise and relive, reinvent.

Also gave another once-over to a short story in order to submit it to my fiction workshop. This is the first time I've submitted a revision, but I made a lot of change and I'm curious what people will think of it before I start seriously sending it out again.

 

last week's writing § next week's writing

 

Retrospective: old journal

February 1991: Trip to England with Jim and Christina

Friday, February 12, 1991
London

This morning was painful getting up. I was very tired, but trailed along behind Christina and Jim. First we went to the Tate, where the three of us saw the Turner Fourth Decade exhibit. Really lovely paintings--I was especially interested in one called "Harvest Home", but also some of the classical and sailing ship ones--but I almost liked th watercolours better. One thing interesting especially was his model sailing ship with a background he painted like a diorama.
     Took a tea break which perked all of us up, then split up to see the things we wanted. I spent most of my time in the Pre-Raphaelite room. Lots of interesting things there among the too Romantic pieces like "April Love" and "The Lady of Shalott" and "The Awakening Conscience" (yag!). Saw also "The Annunciation", "King Coppola and the Beggar Maid", "Beata Beatrix", "Claudio and Isabella", "The Knight Errant" and am interesting one I'd never seen before, "The lament for Icarus"--beautiful wing, naiads. Caught by "The Golden Stairs" especially the faces and draperies, "Persephone", and "La Bell Iseult", noticing her expression and the things around her: a small grey dog curled tight in her tousled sheets, on the table a kind of altar perhaps?, a carafe of wine, oranges, her brush, on the floor her shoes, one urn and basic, the patterns in her dress, the carpet, the cloth on the table.
     No Blake available, but saw the rest of the British art gales.
     From there we went to the Museum of Man, where Christina talked to the curators about Newcombe's donations to Kew, which had been transferred to that museum in the 1960s [1]. While she was doing that, Jim and I looked at their treasures exhibit. Wonderful African and Polynesian things. Two lovely African leopards.
     Also an interesting Northwest coast (the only thing NW besides a human figure (~8 ft tall, very non-figurative) shale amulet that I sketched for Mom. Also walked through a Palestinean dress exhibit. While waiting for photocopies, we went for lunch, came back to the Museum and didn't meet up right. Took us a while to get together.
     Walked up Regent Street, got ink for Susan, then went to Liberty's--a beautiful building, galleries with tapestries, Tudor beams, dark wood. Did but 2 meters of 90 cm wide Morris print lawn--that I've been dreaming of for years [2].
     Walked through to Carnaby Street, where we found wonderful, beautiful, inexpensive silk scarves to take home as prizes. Then to Oxford Circus station to the Abbey. The Royal Chapel closed off, but we went around through the cloisters to Poet's Corner. I left Jim there while I wandered past the Throne and the Stone of Scone held beneath it [3], and Mary Queen of Scots. They were closing up, but they let me through to quickly see Elizabeth's tomb and effigy--Mary was there, too [4], and there was a little warning about the Reformation and the religious problems gone through during that time. Signs also saying "no lecturing." Saw Phillippa of Hainault (who was queen while Chaucer lived--his wife one of her ladies in waiting) and Edward the Confessor. Then back to Poet's Corner to see Chaucer's sarcophagus and the memorials.
     Back to find Christina, who had lost us and was waiting for us at the front.

Abbey entranceNeile & Christina outside the entrance to Westminster Abbey. Note the sign banning ice cream cones.

 

Then down to Oxford Street. Starting to wear out, and things (Foyles and Waterstones) were closing, so we split up--Christina up the street and we went into the Virgin megastore--found a Gabriel Yacoub and a cheap Bix Beiderbecke collection for Dad. Then home--to buy tea, juice. Found a candy store and bought dolphins, mermaids, and other weird candy.
     Exhausted to bed.


NOTES

1. For my mother's research on Charles Newcombe.

2. Still haven't made anything of it--it's still just part of my wonderful fabric collection.

3. This has since been returned to Scotland.

4. Elizabeth the first and her older sister who ruled before her, Queen Mary.

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