Les Semaines

December 12, 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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Living in the Dark

It's so close to the dark of the year. We're far enough north that Jim leaves the house in the dark and comes home in the dark, and I turn on a light at 4:00 in the afternoon, particularly on dim rainy days like we've been having lately. I know a lot of people hate this, but right now it feels cosy, like a good time to draw in, work, curl up by the fire.

The sunny days are prime and so highly valued, but colder. Friday was lovely like that -- full of sun and glorious blue sky. Yesterday and today, grey again.

It's near the holidays and I'm starting to get serious about getting ready. It's nice, I'm not as panicked as I have been in previous years about getting everything done. Possibly because we have less money this year so I'm doing less shopping, possibly because Christina has already been here and I've already given her all her presents except for a couple that have arrived since she left, possibly because I've been so stressed out about so many things this year I've run out of panic. Or maybe I'll panic next week. We'll see. I think I'm also being a little easier on myself as far as expectations go.

We've started writing our annual New Year's cards. Have sealed up all the non-U.S. ones. No long letters this year, just brief notes. That's all there's room for, and is another thing I've allowed myself, especially as every year our list gets longer. I suppose I could arge that the poems we include are our notes to our friends and I do write a little news section so the main information is there. I hope no one feels cheated of a personal letter.

We've started our baking. Yesterday Jim made the dough for poppyseed cookies, and tonight I rolled and cut and baked. Stars and moons and three tiny bunnies out of the last of the dough. The stars are the only holiday-ish shapes but moons are great and why not bunnies? I would have also made ginger cookies, but we're out of eggs.

I'm not exactly getting into the seasonal mood yet, but holiday cards have started arriving. I admit today at the coffee shop I was annoyed by the Christmas music. Most of it is so execrable. It really put me off my game. Mostly I can screen out the music I hear there while I'm writing but when I recognize what's playing I have more trouble -- and clearly have the most trouble when I recognize the music and don't like it!

I still have plenty of baking, and holiday cards to go. And sewing and wrapping to begin. Wish me luck.

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

Listening

Listened to Anonymous 4's On Yoolis Night to purge the horrible Christmas carols from my mind but what is really playing the radio in my head is Throwing Muses' song, "Santa Claus" -- very unChristmasy.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I really enjoyed Nina Kiriki Hoffman's A Fistful of Sky. It's a young adult novel about a woman born to a family each of whom generally received a power in their teens. She doesn't and believes she is normal, until suddenly in her twneties her gift appears--and it's a dark one. How she and her family and new friends cope with her power is an engaging story.

Georgette Heyer's Sprig Muslin is another of her romps where the old maid on the shelf through her own high standards for love rejects what seems to be her only hope for a loving future. Complications ensue. Here through all kinds of mistakes honourable characters discover each other, and secure their future happiness. Fun, though not my favourite of hers. (See my March 18, 2001, July 8, 2001, July 29, 2002, September 14, 2003, and September 21, 2003, November 9, 2003 , November 30, 2003 and July 11 entries for comments on other Georgette Heyer novels.)

For a couple of years I've been running across recommendations for Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman books, so I picked them up and just finished The Steerswoman's Road, which is the first two books, The Steerswoman and The Outskirter's Secret together in one volume. I really enjoyed these. For some reason they gave me the same sense of a powerful, absorbing story well-told that Lian Hearn's did. They're really nothing alike, just a feeling of mature certainty of storytelling about this. A steerswoman vows to answer questions truthfully and gathers truthful answers wherever she travels. The organizational purpose is to share knowledge amongst the population and to accumulate knowledge, especially maps, and send it back to the archives. When Rowan runs across mysterious blue stones and starts trying to figure out where they came from, suddenly people are following her and trying to kill her. Along with a friend, an Outskirter warrior, she tries to survive, to learn more, and to pass that knowledge back to the archives. It's a fascinating tale of strong characters in a fascinating world. Recommended.

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Writing

With holiday preparations, my writing time is disappearing, which is annoying as I'm very close to being finished this first half of the second draft and I'd like to wrap it up. Soon, though. My usual writing date with Karen was delayed until this afternoon as she was out of town. Got quite a lot down, just want to do one more run over in printed form so I catch more errors and strange phrasings.

Got my first return from the batches of poems I sent out a few weeks ag. This was an email submission. Now I'm trying to decide whether to revise the poems yet again or just bounce them back out the door. This is a batch I've never been quite happy with. Funny that I put them together in this submission.

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Retrospective: old journal

Um. Still on hiatus. You guessed!

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