Les Semaines

January 23, 2005

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal


Getting Things Done

Monday was a wonderful day. A holiday on my own. I got a lot of writing done, and sewing on the skirt I promised a friend for Christmas. In fact, I finished the skirt on Wednesday and gave it to her Thursday. Sometimes when I have holiday days alone I feel as though I've wasted them. Not this one. I've really, really loved the sewing I did before Christmas and making this skirt. I find it very satisfying.

The work week seemed packed, condensed into the four days. Friday was fun because it was a co-workers birthday and we took her to lunch at a tea shop, the kind of fabric-lined place with china teapots and afternoon tea. I hadn't been there in a few years, so it was fun to go.

The weekend was quite packed. Friday night we went out to Pho with Devin and her boyfriend, Dave. Saturday I went for my usual writing session with Karen, after which we grabbed lunch at a fancy supermarket with a great deli, then went to a Clarion West board meeting and training session, then I drove her back to our place where Jim had prepared a vegetable stew. Karen' husband met us there, we ate and chatted and listened to music then watched The Empire Strikes Back, which I enjoyed. I was glad, because the pervious one though I'd loved it when it first came out in theatres, left me rather perplexed about why I'd liked it so much.

Today was me dragging my heels all morning, then going out to the Clarion West annual general meeting, with a reading at the end by L. Timmel Duchamp, which was delightful. And you know, I don't think I have much else to say about this week.

I'm really pleased that I got so much done. My study is still a dreadful mess.

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


Still absorbing the bits and pieces of Fiery Furnaces EP, which is better than any b-sides collection has a right to be.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Scott Westerfield's young adult novel Midnighters: The Secret Hour was hard to put down. I can't remember if I read it in one or two sessions, but it really caught me up in its world. When a young girl moves to Bixby Oklahoma, she discovers there's an extra hour in between midnight and 12:00:01 when only she and a few other people -- and many strange creatures -- are awake. Everyone and everything else is frozen in time, including raindrops hanging in the air. When the creatures start attacking her, the group of other midnighters at her school discover help and help her. But the creatures keep attacking. Suspenseful, magical, intriguing.

Stepan Chapman's The Troika is an absurdist, surrealist book that works -- mostly because of its science fctional background story. It's a strange reading experience. I kept expecting at any moment to start being bored and frustrated by it as I get with most surrealist novels -- but I wasn't and I kept reading on. There was something basically compelling about the situation of the three characters, an old Mexican woman (mother), a jeep (father), and a brontosaurus (their daughter). Their adventures and the stories within them and that surround them grow more and more poignant. How very strange. What a tour de force.

Kathe Koja used to write horror novels. I'm not a horror reader, and I bounced off one of hers once, trying to read it because it had been recommended so many times. When I heard she was now writing young adult, I was a intrigued but didn't follow up until now. I'm glad I did. The Blue Mirror is a slim but highly effective novel about a girl with a talent for drawing street people and downtown types -- who finds herself strangely and suddenly attracted to a homeless streetkid. She falls into an absorbing love/obsession with him, but strangely, though she can draw everyone else, can't draw him quite right. And she begins to realize that something really isn't right with him. The voice in this is pitch perfect. The story is brief but utterly believable. I'll be tracking down her other two YA novels.

last week's reading § next week's reading


A poem from one of the batches I sent out in November was accepted by Litrag. This is "1773," a poem stolen from Samuel Johnson's account of his trip to the Hebrides that year.

Finally completed my revisions of the first half of my novel and printed it out and handed it over to Karen. And began working on the next section. So happy to feel like I'm really moving forward again.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Tuesday, July 30th

Lochranza, Arran Island

We are weary. Very busy day. Got up after weird cattharic night, washed face fast, had brekkie, piled into Bonnie Prince Charlie (B&B owner had to him him out of the tight driveway for me) (Bonnie Prince Charlie: so cute so bright so red) drove along coast road to cute little tower (Kildonan Castle) that we couldn't get at because of a nasty fence & scary warning ("dangerous ruin") but we looked at it hard. Walked around the side down to the water through a very overgrown bank, then along a natural breakwater (two parallel with a tiny bay in between -- the rock is old red sandstone).


Me at KildonanMe walking down the bank with the Dangerous Ruin behind.

Christina on the causewayChristina on the causeway. (My scanner is so automated that it decided this photograph was black and white with no prompting from me, darn it.)


Then back to to drive to Torrylin Cairn. Stopped at a post office, parked there (got stamps and mail postcards at last), had a short, lovely walk beside (abve) a stream and bushes toward the sea to the cairns. Very lovely, windy.

Torrylin CairnsTorrylin Cairns.


Back along the way, picking raspberries. (I'd said "boy, those black berries look a lot like raspberries, so Christina got smart and decided to see how much like raspberries they were. They were just exactly like raspberries.) Back to the post office where we chatted up the store attendant (he'd worked for the Belfast police detecting counterfeit £s).

Tried the wrong road to the hillfort but got a good view of it. Drove along, parked by a farm. The farmer came by carrying a fleece and put it in the barn. Christina was petting his dog and asked him if we could park there. We had a nice long chat (James his name, dog named Jem) scratched Jem and talked. When we shook his hand it was covered with lanolin from the fleece.

Then walked through cow and sheep field to the hillfort -- Pictish -- Torr A'Chaisteil, or Corriecravie. Climbed all around, being wary of cowpatties, wondering how those devils got up that high, stood in the very strong wind then went down and around where the side was crumbling. Admired the crumbing rampart, found a great hole to climb in if we were 2 inches high, scared some sheep back into the lower levels, sat in a tree, back to Charlie.

Christina in the tree.Christina in the tree.


From there to Brodick where had lunch and bought jewels [earrings]. Then tried to find Stone Farm Circle but it was hiding on top of a hill that we couldn't find a path to. Walked up to (Bronze Age?) Auchagallan Circle (short climb). Went farther hoping to find the other but no go.

Then to Machrie Moor. Amazing. Walked up through the fields, detouring to a lovely stream to hide in the hedges and pee (now I know how it feels to have the wind up a kilt). Kept walking (a mile) to Moss Farm Circle, granite with thistles through lots of sheep smell. One other tall isolated stone.

Then up to the Moor, peat and bog and wind, wind, wind. Wonderful. Six circles there. The first (#5, eight granite stones that looked like sheep) right by the ruins of Moss Farm.

Took shot next of #4 -- 4 granite stones.

Then to circle 2 -- three tall Old Red Sandstone, cut millstones nearby.

Circle 1, granite and sandstone. The granite on one like stucco.

Went to #6, mostly sandstone, one lovely pitted one. This had once had a timber circle on its site.

Back to #1, and back again to Charlie. Found a feather on the way back. Too wonderful.


Machrie Moor 1Machrie Moor: stones like sheep.

Machrie Moor 2Machrie Moor: one of the tall Old Red Sandstone stones.


Getting late, so drove by one more stone in the middle of a field surrounded by sheep. Then to Lochranza Hotel. Had dinner and set off to see the castle. Locked, so looked around, said hi to sheep (munching on seaweed on the beach). Moved poor Charlie to the ferry line up for the morning (hope he doesn't run off into the sea!!) tipped in space #1 toward the sign post. Back to shower and sleep.

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