Les Semaines

August 15, 2004

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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My Time is My Own

Oops. I missed a week. I was very, very tired and then sick. I basically slept for most of the week. Sunday when I usually write my entries Jim's niece, Devin, his nephew, Mark, and Mark's son Daniel arrived. Devin is moving here, and Mark and his son drove out with her. So strange and wonderful to have family in town!

I sneezed, coughed, and blew my nose through their visit, but we did get to Archie McPhee's (an important stop off for anyone visiting Seattle), the locks to see the ships passing between the Sound and Lake Union, the van Gogh to Mondrian show, the new downtown library, Pike Place Market, etc.

Mark and Daniel left on Thursday morning, leaving Devin and her roomate Melissa to set up their apartment as best they can while waiting for their furniture to arrive. Devin brought her sugar gliders out with her so I got to meet them. They are delightful. If it weren't that Sophia would find them fascinating I would be so tempted to get a couple. They sleep during the daylight and play at night which is a little awkward but they're tiny and soft and have a lot of personality, especially Alvin, her littlest one. They're really charming.

Saturday was Devin's birthday, so we raced off to friends' housewarming party, put in an appearance and chatted there, then picked Devin and Melissa up and took them to a restaurant in the International District to have dinner on a patio there. A lovely evening as the heat of the day started to cool off. We came back here for cake, only to find that it has slid on the way home and looked quite funny. It had set that way so we couldn't slide it back but it cracked us up and it certainly was tasty (from our friend's bakery in Fremont, Simply Desserts--I highly recommend them!).

Today Mom arrives for her annual August visit. I'm feeling a little sick again but am hoping it will just go away.

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

Listening

Mostly Ectophiles' Guide discs for review. And Regina Spektor's Soviet Kitsch.

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Reading

Well, I was sick--had reading time but not much brain--so I re-read Monica Furlong's Wise Child and Juniper, and read the recent (and final) addition to this young adult fantasy trilogy, Coleman. While this is a series, these are fairly individual stories. The first is the tale of a young girl whose mother has abandoned her while her father is away aboard ship, having left her with her grandmother, who eventually dies. Her aunt and uncle have their own children and aren't wealthy enough to take care of her, so she winds up in the care of Juniper, a woman who lives alone and works as a modwife and healer for people in the village. Though she's at first frightened of Juniper, the Wise Child eventually grows to love her and to learn that she may have powers of her own. The second novel is the story of Juniper coming into her power. She's a princess and must go to live in a hut with a witch in order o learn her powers. Coleman is the Wise Child's cousin's story, but it also follows along with Wise Child's and Juniper's fates, as the three of them leave the village and go to Juniper's father's kingdom--which has been taken over by magicians. These are lovely stories, rich in world-building and human wisdom.

Sharon Shinn's Summers at Castle Auburn is a stand-alone fantasy novel about the illegitimate daughter of a prince. After her parents' death she is raised by her rural grandmother, a witch and healer, but spends her summers with her father's family at the castle, learning the complicated politics of the royal court. This has a bit of romance, lots of interpersonal politics, a bit of magic, lessons about holding other races captive. As she matures she begins to see her worlds--and her family--more clearly. Entertaining. (See my May 9, 1999 and July 18 entry for comments on other books by Sharon Shinn.)

Laurie Colwin's Goodbye Without Leaving is a novel about a woman who spends a few years in the 60s touring as the only white backup singer for Ruby Shakely and the Shakettes, and basically after that she doesn't know what to do with her life. It's interesting as she figures it out, sort of. At least she marries and has a son and gets a couple of jobs. I found it enjoyable but forgettable.

China Miéville's Iron Council is the third of his novels about the world of Bas Lag and the chaotic, beautifully crumbling and contentious city of New Crobuzon. This is about Cutter, a rebel following his distant lover Judah Low, who is following the Iron Council, calling it back to the city where the rebels need its support. It is about Ori, member of various underground groups, who is trying to do something instead of just talking. It is about the mysterious Ann Hari who is pure rebel certainty. It is about the Iron Council, hope of the desperate who struggle their oppressers and their repressive wars. Powerful, magical, violently sad. I adored this. The only thing more I could wish for in this novel would be perhsps a little more depth of characterization; otherwise it was utterly captivating. (See my May 7 & 14, 2000, July 21 & 28, 2002 for comments on China Miéville's previous books.)

Caroline Stevermer's A Scholar of Magics is a delightful fantasy about a brash young American sharpshooter, who is enticed to leave Kiowa Bill's show to use his skills for a research project being conducted by a group of scholars of magic at an exclusive university. There he meets the sister of one of the scholars and odd things begin happening. A delightful story, with promise of more in the future. I'll be looking for them. (See my October 7, 2001 entry for comments about another Stevermer novel.)

Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a mainstream novel, the premise being that is is a book written by an autistic teenager who is tryin to sort out who killed a neighbour's dog. At first he is suspected, but is cleared and despite his father' warnings to stop, he works at figuring out who has killed the dog, which unfortunately, leads to some revelations about his family that he must then deal with. A fascinating look at a different experience, but like The Speed of Dark () I found myself seeing in him my own traits, which is a little disconcerting.

Late last night I started Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me and stayed up until nearly 4:00 and I had finished it. This is a mainstream romance about a woman who overhears her just-that-evening ex-boyfriend bet another man that the other man can pick her up. Annoyed by this, she decides that she will let him, then dump him. Of course it only gets more complicated from there, especially as one of her best friends falls in love with one of his. Like all of Crusie's novels, this was simply a terrifically fun read. (See my September 3 and 24, 2000 April 28, 2002 and April 13, 2003 entries for entries about Jennifer Crusie's other novels.)

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Writing

Despite not feeling terrific I've been working on this chunk of novel, adding some important things about my character's time in university, which was pretty sketchy before now. I really want to complete this section before September hits and I go back to work.

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Retrospective: old journal

Alas, still on hiatus. I hope to get back to this soon!

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