Les Semaines

February 20, 2005

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

 §

Easily Pleased

I like little things, like the palindrome of the front part of this file's name.

Like having a Monday holiday so I can get my grant applications written.

Like the way Sophia is fascinated with the CD/DVD tray opening and closing on my computer.

And how in her excitement and interest in the tray weaves and weaves and weaves around my legs as she waits for it to move.

Our day-long writing retreat here in this sunny house with the cats sunbathing and the little breaks where we come out of separate worlds to share how things are going, and the meals together.

Going to movies that we all really like with friends, coming back here afterwards to talk and just hang out. Last night I was deeply happy after we went to Finding Neverland and Karen, Barry, Tamar, and Zac came over and we ate and talked and were silly and had fun teasing each other.

Zac got our 19-year-old cat Zach interested in playing with a little piece of ribbon, which he never even did much when he was a kitten.

The very gingery ginger cookies I make, from a recipe from a woman in New Zealand who sent them to me through a writing exchange made on a Usenet writer's group a few years back.

Faking my way through changing a recipe and getting lots of compliments for it.

Reliving the wonders of my 1991 trip to Scotland with Christina as I type out my journal and choose the photographs to accompany it here.

Good music that I've loved a long time.

A walk through sunny Carkeek Park with Jim and Tamar.

Getting one or two things accomplished at home and at work.

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

Listening

Gave a good listen to Scott Merritt's music to put it on The Ectophiles' Guide. He does pop that you might think is any pop until you find it in your head days, weeks, months, later.

Right at this very moment I'm listening to Universal Hall Pass's Mercury, featuring the powerful voice of Melissa Kaplan from the sadly defunct Splashdown.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Kathe Koje's slim young adult novel Buddha Boy is, yes, just as excellent as the previous YA novel of hers I read, (see my January 23rd entry for my comments on The Blue Mirror). This is about a high school boy, who takes care to stay in his safe group--not part of the in crowd but not despised either--until he meets the Buddha Boy, odd and clearly an outcast. The Buddha Boy draws him despite his urge for self-protection--and so does his exceptional artistic ability.

I then immediately read the final Kathe Koje's YA I hadn't yet read, Straydog, and it was just as excellent as the other two. She's got such a vigorous, clear style and a command of voice that reading these is just a pleasure. And the books are short. And interesting. They should be great at capturing the attention of reluctant teen readers. This is about a loner who volunteers at an animal shelter who finds herself deeply attached to vicious, frightened stray.

Kent Haruf's Plainsong is a lovely, quiet novel. There are two stories: first a family with two boys, the father a schoolteacher, the mother depressed and withdrawing from the family; then a pregnant teenager whose mother kicks her out and whose boyfriend has moved away. As life continues and they sort through the events and try to make sense of their lives we get cool glimpses of their struggles and pain and joys. Gently, humanely written.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

So virtuous! Got the chapbook re-shuffled and out the door to one contest. Finally found the right structure for the poem that I've been struggling with and it fell into place just in time for my poetry workshop. Sent out a long poem to a long poem contest, and a submission batch.

And Saturday we had our third day-long writing retreat and I got all the way through the (and past!) third section of the novel. On this run-through it doesn't seem like I have all that much to do with this section in the way of major revisions and adding scenes. I hope this is true. I think it's true!

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Saturday, August 3, 1991

Skye

Did laundry, looked for 20p pieces to run machines. Around 11:00 we headed to see the Crusader's Grave at Skeatbost. Had to ask at the post office (name in Gaelic) tried a couple of gates, then walked over to St. Columba's Island, found the gravestone.
Drove a slow way across to see Dun Breag, a hillfort, refortified in the medieval era -- lovely view of the islands. Hard to believe that before the Clearances 2,000 people lived in the town below along the water. The dun itself was high, but not the highest hill around, and not sure how defensible -- on one side the way up was easy, but apparently people found the site useful for thousands of years.

 

Dun BeagA view of and from Dun Beag.

 

Then the long drive down to a ruined church, where the mean Neil McKinnon used to go (another reference to Hugo's The Right Madness on Skye. Had a wonderful time wandering around the ivy-covered ruins, looking at the stones. Found the medieval foliage-covered stone and other interesting ones. Stones crumbled, covered in moss, worn by wind and rain and years. Even those 50 years old look ancient.

Saw one father's memorial for his four children, one stone all that was left was a vase (gave it some daisies and wild flowers), one whose son died in Dutch Guyana in the last century, several whose graves are really in New South Wales. Lovely place.

 

Kilchrist churchyardIvy creature on the ruins of Kilchrist churchyard.

 

Drove back, wandered around town a bit -- go stuff for dinner, came home and had a quiet evening sorting through stuff, etc.

 

Rainbow over PortreeRainbow over the view from our B&B in Portree.

 

Last night before I went to sleep had a half-sleeping dream about touching a large, warm dog who instead of hair had ferns like those that grow here in the walls of the ruins, everywhere else, even down to the kelp line on beaches.

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