Les Semaines

August 28, 2005

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

 §

Painting, Mom, Victoria, and Back

Wow. Sorry to be away so long. I've been busy, and lazy. And everything. Mostly that.

So as the title says, I have been painting my kitchen forever. In general everything has its right colour on it and has for a while, but:

  • there are places where the classic burgundy clearly is thin
  • there are places where the classic burgundy wavers into gosling (or other) territory
  • there are places where the gosling wavers into classic burgundy territory.
This is going to take a long time to sort out, and I'm tired of it and find trying to paint in ways that make things appear straight (when there's bumps and caulking and basic un-straightness to begin with everywhere) terribly frustrating but sometimes occasionally rewarding and all zen-like.

My mother came to visit. Immediately Zach sat upon her lap and irritated her knee which has arthritis and absolutely no cartilage. It swelled up and she couldn't walk. So. She used my rolling desk chair to get from her bed to the bathroom and Jim's walking stick (a long driftwood pole he picked up in Haida Gwaii) to get farther away than that. Needless to say, she didn't go out of the house and didn't go blackberring with us when we went, and we didn't go out much. I continued painting (with plenty and more help from Jim).

Then after a week, when Mom had borrowed a hiking stick from Karen and Barry and in any case was getting around a lot better, we got ourselves onto the Clipper (Jim came up three days later) and went up to Victoria. Where:

  • we watched many episodes of The Darling Buds of May
  • I wrote a little not enough
  • we visited with our friend John
  • we walked along the beach looking at the Olympic mountains and tidal pools and watched the fog drift in (should have done more of this given my parents live a block from this)
  • we watched the dogs sleep
  • we read a little, ate a little too much, slept
  • and we also talked a lot
  • and read the newspaper
  • and I got a sudden, brief obsession with doing my mother's crossword puzzles for her
Now it's nearly noon on Sunday, and not having written anything here in three weeks I am trying to make up my mind whether to paint first and shower later or shower now and then paint. Neither seems to make much sense. I think this is because I am very tired of painting and of knowing every last centimeter of my kitchen's burgundy trim and how it meets the other colours of the kitchen (gosling most places but white a couple of doorways and highly stained & varnished wood in yet another). All of the lines in this house are bashed and crooked and wonky and making them appear straight to the eye, especially with my shaky human hand seems an impossible task. Perhaps I should forget it all and play computer solitaire until I am pushed into mental oblivion by it, but I already did that for one day and it made me hate myself.

1:35 and I'm going to shower and then paint a while. Cheers.

Chronicles of Sloth:

  • 380 messages in my email inbox (messages filtered and now residing in other email boxes remain uncounted)
  • 1 novel not yet ready to go out
  • 1 kitchen to finish painting
  • 18 poems sitting at home waiting to go out
  • 2 large stacks of CDs to ready for review
  • 1 huge pile of papers to sort through + 1 papered-high inbox of perilous proportions
  • 1 rack + 12 personal CDs to sort through (keep/toss/add to ectoguide)
  • 1 red cloth bag of tapes (+ a bookcase)
  • 2.5 friend's novels to read & critique
  • more but that's all I'm going to talk about for now
last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

While painting I have been listening to lots of terrific music that I haven't listened to in ages. it's truly heavenly.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Kelly Link's collection Magic for Beginners is a delight. Kelly Link is a smart and scary writer, and this collection shines. They are stories of that have American feels, fairy tale feels, eastern European feels, suburban feels. She can do it all. I didn't love all the stories in it, but most of them are so wonderful as to make me wish I'd written them myself. "The Faery Handbag," "Magic for Beginners," "The Hortlak," and "Catskin" are my favourites. They are so inventive and charming. Damn.

David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is a series of linked stories ranging from an 18th-century traveller on a ship sailing through the south Pacific to a future group of survivors barely hanging on in the Hawaiian islands. It was so wonderfully smart that I loved reading it. I got into each of his stories and found them all fascinating in various ways. I enjoyed the themes that ran through them about slavery, belief, human nature. I didn't think it all quite came together, but it was a fine run. I love fiction that makes me reflect and think, and yet is still entertaining.

Jane Guill's Nectar From A Stone is the story of a half-English half-Welsh medieval woman and her Welsh servant in Wales, travelling away from a murder committed in self-defense through a country ravaged by the English occupation and the Black Plague. Along their journey they come across a half-English half-Welsh knight, who has been captured (and tortured) in France and has now returned to wrest his family land and wealth from the man who has taken it by murdering his family. This has all the ingredients of a terrific book, and while I really enjoyed the details of Welsh life and society in those days I found the overall tale and characters just didn't come alive for me.

After reading nearly all of it, I finally bounced off Ali Smith's Hotel World. A young woman working in a luxury hotel in London has fallen to her death by showing another member of the staff how she can fit into the dumb waiter. The book opens with her voice after death, then goes to a woman living on the street, and eventually goes to other people affected (more or less) by the event. After a while it just lost its drive for me.

Tanith Lee's Biting The Sun (an omnibus volue of Don't Bite The Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine) is the tale of a rebellious woman in a beautifully-imagined utopian future where the youth are allowed to pursue pleasure -- but within the bounds set by androids which had been created to protect and serve people. They mostly are idle and concerned with their love lives, but some pursue somewhat dangerous pleasures because when they die or suicide they are given a new body to their own order. But this woman decides there has to be something more, and so she goes looking first within her society and then beyond for something more fulfilling. An intriguing read.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

I didn't get nearly as much done on my novel in the last few weeks as I ought to have done, particularly as my deadline for getting it out in the mail is September. At least I didn't say anything foolish like September 1st or anything. It was hard to find energy to work on it while painting the kitchen, and dammit I'm still painting the kitchen. Remind me to never, ever paint rooms with strongly contrasting colours. It was a little difficult to do while painting the kitchen and having Mom visit. Except when I was in Victoria, I met Karen for our usual productive sessions. Yay. I thought I would do a lot of work in Victoria but the days there went very quickly and I wasn't terribly disciplined though I did get more than no work done there. And now I'm in the thick of the slow and painstaking touch-up work for the kitchen. Anyway, I have done a fair amount of revision but I'm not done yet. Of course I will never be done but at some point I will call a halt and finish the synopsis and send the damn thing out, as the new novel is still calling me poignantly from the corner of my mind in which I have exiled it.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Damn, still on hiatus.

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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1975 people have wandered through this week with me