Les Semaines

March 3, 2006

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


Bad Days

This isn't a good time. Work has been crazy, Clarion West applications came in like a deluge and it took forever + four reams of paper + a toner cartridge to process them.

The trip to Victoria -- when we got there -- was good. But we didn't get there Friday, as scheduled. No, overnight the rain turned to ice and it snowed a little on top of that, and though we managed to slowly drive over to Tamar's, the taxi that was supposed to pick us up there never showed (though they said it did and then said one would be there shortly shortly shortly) but too late for us to catch the Clipper up to Victoria. We were really annoyed, as they kept saying it would be there.

Devin had taken the bus down and was waiting for us, and the Clipper people took pity on her, and gave us all boarding passes for Saturday, so at least we got to go. We have to write a Letter of Outrage to the cab company. If they'd said they couldn't make it in time, we would have just driven there, which is what we did Saturday morning. Sigh.

So Friday we got Devin from the Clipper terminal, then went to Java Bean and drank coffee and played Scrabble. Then we went our separate ways (Tamar and I went to the record store to see what we could see.) A quiet, unexpected day. It was peaceful. I thought about going in to work because it has been so busy, but decided the day of rest would be better for me. It was.

It made the trip to Victoria very short, though -- we were only there a little over twenty-four hours. Once we arrived, Dad and John Barton were there to meet us, and Jim and John disappeared, and Dad, Tamar, Devin, and I went to Dad's place briefly, then to Sam's Deli to have lunch, then to Lush, Roger's Chocolates, Munro's Books, A&B Sound (which has really gone downhill), etc. We had a fun afternoon walking around and mostly window shopping more than anything. Afterwards, we drove around the beach drive around Dallas Road and the Victoria Golf Course, through Uplands, to UVic and back home.

We met Jim and John at Santiago's for dinner. Devin and Tamar ordered a picture of sangria which we all had a bit of and we proceeded to eat every bit of everything. Delicious, even the potatoes that Dad spilt his beer into (couldn't taste the beer at all). It was a fun dinner. Jim and John wanted to go see Capote, so we headed back to Dad's where we played Scrabble and laughed very hard.

The next morning Dad took us to Butchart's Gardens. There wasn't much colour there (some heather, some daffodils, some crocuses, and a few other plants) but it was still lovely, green, mossy. We had lunch at the cafeteria there, then had to get back home to catch the ferry. Way too brief.

I realized that Dad was missing Mom enough to even come shopping with us!

My mother, by the way, is in Lamont, Alberta, staying with my sister while waiting for a date to have her knee replaced at a clinic there. I think she's doing okay, but her knee is getting worse rapidly and it has been 30 below there and blizzard-y so I think she has a little cabin fever.

Got back to hear that Octavia Butler had died on Friday. This is a huge loss to the whole damn world, to science fiction, to Clarion West as she taught for us many times, most recently last June. I was also surprised to feel a powerful, personal loss. I didn't know her well, but I enjoyed all the time I spent with her. She was a powerful presence, a brilliant writer, and a delightful person. Damn. She was only 58.

There was a wonderful memorial for her at the Science Fiction Museum on Thursday night.

The week was full of other small things, nothing of course to compare with that. Little things, like three nights running of insomnia and four hours of sleep. Forgot about the NEA deadline until 10:00 the night before it had to be postmarked, and so stayed up to complete that.

And doors open that shouldn't be. First Jim left all the doors to the garage open. First I closed the one between the back of the basement and the main area. Then I noticed that the door to the garage from the basement was open, then that the garage door itself wasn't locked. We could have been murdered in our sleep. Then the freezer door on the fridge kept opening. Then this morning I got up to find the upstairs colder than downstairs, which never happens, but Jim had neglected to lock the front door when he came in from seeing Karen and Barry off after our writing retreat (and DVD-watching after) and the door had blown open, so it was open all night. Ditto the murdered in our sleep and add that everything could have been stolen and the cats run away.

But that didn't happen, just our heating bill will be a little larger than it might have been.

Well, in order that this isn't another 2:00 night, I'm signing off, though I'm sure there's more to say.


Chronicles of Sloth: Episode 15

  • Email inbox down to 318 messages (from 279 last week, from 380 when I started tracking this, and way up from my 231 low in late November)
  • New novel stands at 47,544 (up from 43,783 two weeks ago) words
  • One more medical appointment for me to arrange (the tits-in-a-wringer one -- wonder why I keep putting it off, hmmm)
  • Clarion West applications up to date -- this was a struggle and took hours and hours because March 1st was our $100 tuition break deadline
  • Bailed on trying to get Artist Trust grant application done
  • Managed to get NEA grant application done though
  • Need to sort through poems to decide on final ones for upcoming possible CD (and need to arrange to finish recording)
  • Succubus booklet to design & lay out for the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets
  • Canadian taxes (due April 30 but have to do before U.S.) and U.S. Taxes (due April 15)
  • Arranged the 2 large stacks of CDs to ready for review
  • CD pileup ignored this week (keep/toss/add to ectoguide)
  • Tape collection diminished by 1 since last week
  • 2.5 friend's novels still waiting to be read & critiqued
  • Get framed picture of me & Jim & send to Jim's Dad
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Liza Cody's Bucket Nut is nominally a mystery, but really it's a study in voice. Eva Wylie is a wrestler--she's big, touch, lives rough, runs errands that she doesn't ask about for suspicious people, and works as a security guard. When she takes on an extra job in a night club and the place fills with police and tear gas, she rescues a young back-up singer for the band--she never says why, but my suspicion is that she reminds her of the sister she was separated from a ge 10 when the sister was adopted by her foster parents. She's still looking for her sister, and she's getting into further trouble. Eva is a terrific character.

Diana Gabaldon A Breath of Snow and Ashes is the next in her Outlander series about a woman (and part of her family) time-travelling to Revolutionary North Carolina to be with a Scotsman she had met on a previous time-travelling adventure. This is a fairly loosely plotted story following the adventures of frontier life, politics, family relationships, relationship with neighbouring town and cultures. Highly readable.

last week's reading § next week's reading


New poem about Westness Walk in Orkney.

Missed novel writing on Saturday because of the Victoria trip, but met with Karen on Tuesday night instead and wrote only a little as the teahouse we were in has changed its hours, then on the following Saturday we had our day-long retreat and I got a little more done despite fighting sleep the whole darn day.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

1632. Stories

November 17, 1991

Last night wind and rain. Serious wind. It sounded magic from our bed, but someone was hurt when the roof came off their house in Alki. Our power has only flickered. It's supposed to stay like this for the next week at least. Only a little after 5:00 and it's already truly dark. Really dark. Night and magic where strange things will happen. Good to stay together and to tell each other tales.

1633. My father's house

November 17, 1991

This is the house
he built with his hands:
rocks from the fields,
the shore, rising
to four walls, mortor
from the strange
white sands of the bay.
Farmers from the crofts
nearby came to help him
and my mother's family
came to bring hot bread
and ale to feed them all.
And when the house was
done the fiddler played
and we sang the songs
that all of us know
all night. [1]

1634. Late Night Talking

November 21, 1991

Hey, if I'm up this late and can't sleep, the least I can do is try to write.

Take me away from the abstract.
If you talk about the earth
I want to sense the grit of the soil
under my nails, feel
how it dries
the skin on my hands.
And love, don't talk of it
I want to know the way
it pulls down on you
from nowhere, everywhere,
one certain direction
like the cold rain.
I need to feel the way
it drives its chill right
into your bones.
Taste the tang of your fear
like metal on my tongue.
I beg you, no more considered
ponderous dreams. Promise me that. [2]
It's a cold day. The wind
tears in from the coast, wrestles
the trees. Pulls down the wires
that hold our city together
so yes we fall apart.
It's 2:00. 6:00 is going to be here awfully soon. Ackity ack.


1. This poem never went anywhere.

2. This is the start of the poem "Late Night Talking."

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