Les Semaines

January 8, 2006

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

 §

Into the Future

I hope I don't have to start calling this journal Les Mois. That would suck some, besides it being difficult to summarize a whole month meaning that I would procrastinate about doing it, and where would I be then, calling this Les Années? Probably.

So, I'm sorry I haven't written. This is one of the things I have to say a lot in email and on paper correspondence. First it was Christmas Day and my parents were sleeping in my study so getting to this computer was difficult. Then it was New Years Day and I was busily getting out the Limoges and the silver and linen and roasting a lamb. Now it's already January 8th, and 2006 feels like it has been around forever. These have been eventful uneventful weeks.

We're still eating holiday baking, which goes to show that we overdid it. Actually, over the holidays none of us much felt like sweets so that is why there is still a lot around.

We had a good visit with my parents. I'm a little worried about my mother's knee as the arthritis in it is quite bad and she is having trouble getting around. However, my sister seems to be taking charge of this situation, so I'll just watch and see where I can help. Dad and the dogs are fine, and this visit the dogs were able to come out and sit in the living room for several hours each night without too much feline (or canine) upset.

The holidays were pleasant. Some friends have been going through difficult times (losing beloved pets, car wrecks, breakups, family arguments, family illness, general life annoyingnesses) and that has been rough. Work is busy as it's a new quarter and we're gearing up for our application deadlines.

The Chronicles of Sloth are out of control. At least, the things I was going to do I have not done, and my email inbox is still in balloon mode. Maybe I can bear to report on this next week.

It's 2006, and I'm going to try to be better, in all ways. Isn't that what I'm supposed to resolve this time of year?

I have all kinds of stupid urges to waste time on this like redesigning this site, but as this isn't exactly my skill area, it would take me an eternity, so it's unlikely to happen until I get rich and can pay someone to make it look the way I'd like it to.

So this is what 2006 looks like. Huh.

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

Listening

2005 was an excellent year for music for me. Here's my top ten (not really in any order, except Veda is #1):

  • Veda Hille - Return of the Killdeer
    This is a totally brilliant album, playful and smart.

  • Fiery Furnace - EP
    Loud, fun music. Hooray!

  • Christine Fellows - Paper Anniversary
    Christine has a knack for bright, haunting songs.

  • Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself
    Who knew I could fall in love with something so pop?

  • Sufyan Stevens - Illinois
    Beautiful music and wonderful constructed songs. This album totally won me over from the instant I heard the intro track at a coffee shop

  • Broadcast - Tender Buttons
    This is probably their best album so far. Full of catchy, noisy wonders.

  • Kate Bush - Aerial
    A mellow album, mostly, but so beautiful. I still feel I need to listen to it more and know that if I do I'll get more and more out of it.

  • Charlotte Martin - Veins ep
    This is a real leap for her to my ears -- she's stretching herself into new and wonderful places.

  • Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
    I like both versions of this album. It's wonderful, catchy, all good things.

  • Sigur Ros - Takk
    Delightful to lose yourself in.

Bits and pieces (not all from this year) that helped make my year even better:

  • Jorane - The You and the Now
    A little uneven, but I'm glad she's back to musical hooks and more song-like songs.

  • The Decemberists - Picaresque
    Great fun! Story songs. Drama! Lust! Revenge!

  • Boa - Get There
    The lead singer has such a lovely voice.

  • Duplex - Ablum
    >We play the two cat songs a lot -- they're so much fun -- and there are several other tracks of interest to us here even though we're not kids Fun is good!
  • Eliza Carthy - Rough Music
    Yet another strong traditional English folk album. Eliza is wonderful.

  • Fiery Furnaces - Rehearsing My Choir
    A strange, yet surprisingly listenable album.

  • Hank Dogs - bareback
    I fell in love with two of the tracks off this album. Lead singer has a terrific voice. It's mostly mainstream contemporary folk so while I know it's good it's not my thing, but "bareback" "Let Go" -- wow!

  • Hanne Hukkelberg - Little Things
    She's channeling Billie Holiday, I swear.

  • Jaggery - in lethe ep
    Strange, gorgeous, individual -- a CD Baby find

  • Lanterna - Highways
    Always lovely.

  • Inga Liljeström - Elk
    A surprise that I could fall in love with another triphop-type album. I thought I was over it. This is gorgeous and has a range of styles.

  • Myshkin's Ruby Warblers - corvidae
    Myshkin's music is powerful folk, and what a voice!

  • Petracovich - we are wyoming
    A little gentle, but lovely

  • Rasputina - A Radical Recital
    They are always terrific.

  • Aiko Shimada - Like Hannah
    Lovely. Need to listen to this more.

  • Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
    Always good rock.

  • Andi Starr - supergirl ep
    A CD Baby find. Good pop/rock. I recommend her album, too.

  • Worm is Green - push play
    The lead singer is the focus here, so I like this album better than the previous one (which I did like). Some really, really catchy music on here.

Biggest disappointment:

  • Tori Amos - The Beekeeper (boooring)
    When I put this in the player, I keep skipping songs because they're boring and right away I'm at the end of the album without a song I want to listen to. For a long time Tori was my favourite artist. What a fall!

Current favourite single:

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Clare B. Dunkle's In the Coils of the Snake is the last of her young adult trilogy, The Hollow Kingdom. about the relationships between the goblin, elf, and human world. This one follows the fortunes of the children of the previous characters (I can't say much more without including spoilers for the previous volumes). They are just as interesting, foolish, and wise as their parents. Truly, this is a remarkable series for being so very fantastic and yet the characters being so humanly recognizable. It makes for a rich mixture.

Dia Calhoun's Phoenix Dance is a young adult novel about a young girl from a family of dancers, who longs to become a shoemaker, especially to create shoes of beauty. She gets her wish when her aunts apprentice her to the best shoemaker in town. There she gets to meet twelve princesses who wear out their dancing shoes each night. Wrapped in this are also the struggles of the people in their feudal-style (somewhat benevolent, I must admit) for democracy, Phoenix's struggle with being bipolar and to cope with experimental herbal medicines to control it, a romance, a competition for the best shoes, magicians, an island inheritance lost, and you've got the recipe for a book that seems to have distinctive good parts but that never quite seems to be one book.

Libba Bray's Rebel Angels is a young adult novel, the continuation of A Great and Terrible Beauty. While I found this one a little clunkier than its predecessors (wow, Christmas takes a looooong time coming here) it is still fascination. Again, there's little I can say without spoiling the previous volume. I still like the characters a lot, if they are perhaps a little more contemporary than Victorian.

Kate Grenville's The Idea of Perfection is an adult novel (at last!) about an unlikely romance between a quiet, rather shy bridge engineer and a somewhat brash museum curator when they are both out of their element in a small, isolated Australian town. There's a parallel story about a wife, once a model, who is stuck on perfection but finds herself breaking out despite herself. Enjoyable.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu's Zahrah the Windseeker is a children's novel about a young girl in an alternative world who has dada locks and learns she can fly. She's afraid of it, so her best adventurous friend takes her to the forbidden forest to learn to control her gift. When he is bitten by a poisonous creatures, she must find the antidote before it's too late--venturing into the jungle alone. This was a fascinating read, but in so many ways the main character appears younger than the 13 years the author gives her. The forest is a wonderful creation.

Cameron Dokey's Sunlight and Shadow is a young adult fantasy, retelling the story of The Magic Flute. Here, various involved characters take their turns telling what happens when the Lord of the Day kidnaps the daughter he has dad with the Queen of the Night, in order to marry her off to his apprentice. Quick, nicely written, and clever, with some quite magical moments.

E. L. Konigsburg's children's novel From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is charming, especially because of the characters. Claudia decides to run away, and carefully plans it out--from where she will stay, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to who she will take with her, her middle brother, Jamie, because he has money. The two of them follow through, and get involved in trying to sort out the truth about a new statue the museum has purchased. Highly enjoyable, especially Mrs. Frankweiler and the two children.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

This has been going quite well. I finished the novel re-write Christmas Eve, finished two versions of the synopsis (a one-page and a 15-page one). I have two people reading this version now.

I've also started back working on the novel I began last summer during the Write-a-thon, but dropped to do these re-writes. It is progressing. Yay! A good start to the year. Yesterday was our writing retreat day, and I added 3,000 words.

In 2005 I made 11 poetry submissions, heard back from 8 of them so far (one I'm about ready to count as lost, even though I know they received my submission because they added my email address to their mailing list), and had 6 poems accepted.

I hadn't realized till now it had been that good a year for my poetry. I thought I'd been concentrating on the fiction too much! I hope to keep up the momentum sending poems out.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

I hope to get back to this next week.

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

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