Les Semaines

March 26, 2006

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


Home Repair at the Equinox

Busy week. We had a plumber in to cure our slow bathtub drain that left us wading ankle-deep by the end of our showers, and we got a new roof. Amazingly, it took only a day. There were six or seven at any one time and boy they were quick. They started at 8:00 in the morning and were done just as it got dark. They had to come back to finish cleaning up the next day, because they couldn't see anything.

I don't know exactly how old the roof was. Probably only about 20 years, but they were a tab kind of shingles with a big loose flap that caught the winds, and every time we had a big wind storm we lost shingles. Finally patching them back on wasn't a good solution, so we decided to bit the bullet and have the roof redone. Now it's a medium gray rather than the orange-y brown it was.

So now we're poor poor poor. It's only money. Houses love it.

Our neighbours across the street had a sewer drain collapse. That was two weeks of work and a hell of a love more money, so we're grateful and have our fingers crossed that that never happens to us. The house just to the south of them got torn down this week, too.

Lots of busy trucks in the neighbourhood this week. Back hoes and claws. It only took about 15 minutes for the house to be gone. Amazing.

The weather has been windy, rainy, sunny, as it usually is this time of year. I love it. Buds everywhere.

My mother has a date for her knee surgery, May 2, though she's on the list in case someone else cancels. I do hope the date gets moved up, as hanging around with a knee that is getting steadily worse waiting for a surgery date can't be any fun. I keep trying to think of distractions to send her, but she's not so interested in many of them. It's still snowing there outside of Edmonton. Brr.

Chronicles of Sloth: Episode 18

  • Email inbox up to 315 messages (from 296 last week, from 380 when I started tracking this, and way up from my 231 low in late November)
  • New novel stands at 54,232 (up from 51,883 a week ago) words
  • One more medical appointment to arrange
  • Clarion West applications up to date but I'm struggling to keep up with them
  • Jim is still listening to the final poems for upcoming possible CD to see if I need to re-record any. Still need to: have a photo taken; finalize the order; provide a final listing of the tracks & times
  • Succubus booklet to design & lay out for the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets
  • Canadian taxes rough draft done! (due April 30 but have to do before U.S.) and U.S. Taxes rough draft done! (due April 15) Yay, me!
  • 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 2 more since last week (25 remaining in the red bag)
  • Get framed picture of me & Jim & send to Jim's Dad
last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


Rusk is a wonderful traditional Norwegian group that does haunting spare version of ballads. Lovely stuff.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Lydia Millet's Oh Pure and Radiant Heart strikes an uneasy balance between satire and a realistic relationship novel. While skewering various American stereotypes, it brings three of the first Atomic bomb scientists into contemporary times, having been carried away at the moment of the first Trinity test. A librarian and her gardener husband take them in, and gradually get caught up on a crazy parade to take an anti-nuclear message to the American people. Weirdness ensues, of course, and events drag our dreamy librarian and the skeptical gardener along with them. I am caught between admiration and exasperation on this one.

Jeannelle M. Ferreira's A Verse from Babylon is a novel set in the ghetto of Vilna under the Nazi regime, chronicling (in a series of vivid scenes scattered in time and chronology) the lives of a group of Jewish friends who created a repertory theatre there. It's a disconcerting, beautifully written novel that I suspect will work better for some readers than others, but it worked well for me.

Justine Larbalestier's Magic Lessons is the second in her YA Magic or Madness fantasy trilogy. Like the first, Magic or Madness, this has a freshness and vitality that made me inhale it and get anxious for the concluding volume -- not that this didn't feel like a complete volume in itself, because unlike the middle books in so many trilogies it did, but more that Larbalestier is so creative with her ideas about magic that I'm really looking forward to the experience of reading more of this story. I love the combination of New York and Australia, of young teens having to deal with adult situations, of the choices they keep having to make. And they're nicely written as well. Recommended.

Patricia A. McKillip's Solstice Wood is her first fantasy novel set in the contemporary world for many years. In it, a young woman is reluctantly drawn back to her ancestral home by the death of her grandfather. There she finds a situation tangled by a legacy from the nearby woods, where the boundaries between the faery and human worlds are thin. I loved this.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Thursday I had trouble writing because I was sleepy and because just at the time I should have been writing a big claw was tearing two the house behind our neighbours. Gone in moments. But I had a good roaring session on Saturday.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

1639. Social Weekend

December 8, 1991

Can't sleep again, slept in till 9:00 when Mom called to talk about Christmas baking and the Charlottes, then read the paper, went back to bed for a while till the phone rang again. Then wasted most of the day. I'm amazed at how easily I do it. Then went to Ken's Hanukkah/Housewarming party, very crowded. Fun, but amazing how much I don't like large parties. Don't know, can't bother with normal conversation. I want more intensity. Want something that matters. Anyway, we had two nametags on. "Pointy-headed intellectual" and "Literatae artiste aesthete." Fun. Lighting the candles and the story was fun, too.

I'm tired, but restless. It's windy and I can heart it, especially here in the study where the big bush scrapes against the siding. Strange creaking noise.

Jim hates me doing this. Has gone to sleep, I hope. I know the cats will be hogging my pillow.

Saturday wa Gail's birthday and we had a surprise party at her house that Jim and I helped set up. Anne came with Cota and Louisa. It was fun. Then we went to a movie with them.

Now it's time to start on Christmas cards and to respond to all the letters -- youch -- that I've been collecting.

1640. Card game

The words that I won't say
shuffle in my head, offer
me an ace, a jack of shades
a headache, a two of harts.
Shuffle again, turn up
the eight of clams, diggen
on the beach. Trees scrape
against a window in the rain.
That's an ace if I ever
heard one. The ace of harps.
So now I lay out solitaire,
on the top is the two
of diatribes, cover it quickly
with the three of shames,
the four of chimes silences
it. Your deal. Cut the cards.
The solitaire is double
now, the game spite and
malice, hearts and
crazy fates. You ask
me to pick one for keepers,
to tell my fortune, one for love
one for the past. Your hands
move faster than a riverboat
gamblers' an ace slips
up your sleeve and dangles there
it's the ace, the ace of hearts.
I pick he first, the kind
of shadows, future, then the four
of change for love, and last
I choose the jack of dialogues.
You turn to lay them on the velvet
sheet and they've changed
the past is now the six
of crimes, love the ace of gardens
and my future,
dangles from your sleeve
the ten of pardons. [1]

1. Wow, I can see the kernel there of the poem this became, but it changed a lot, or got pared down or something, and appears as "The Game of Cards" in Blood Memory.

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