Les Semaines

April 30, 2006

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


Week Notes

My back has been annoying off and on all week. On Monday I only went into work for a few hours for a meeting and to bring some work back home with me. Then Tuesday I spent trying to deal with upset from the pills and didn't get to work at all. Lots of sleeping, walking around to loosen up the muscles, heating pad and on and on. By Wednesday it was mostly better, down to the minor discomfort level and I stopped taking anything for it, and of course overdid it, and paid for that, but only a little. It's definitely mending.

The volunteer lilac in our back yard is in full bloom, full-on perfume.

We've been having very bad nights with Zach restlessly yowling in our ears and/or giving little annoyed mrrups, and/or pawing at my head and/or climbing on my head. We've put a heating pad between our pillows since that has made such a difference for him upstairs, but it really hasn't done much good at night. It used to be that he wanted to lie in my arms and if I moved he got mad. For a while he couldn't decide if he wanted to be under the blankets or on top, and suddenly became incapable of getting under the blankets without demanding help. Right now I'm not sure what he wants, and he isn't either. He topped it off on Friday night by throwing up all over the coverlet at three in the morning. It may be that we have to lock him up at night. I'm sure after twenty years of sleeping with us, though, he will hate it, and I don't think there's a place in our small house that his loud voice wouldn't reach our bedroom. We're still brainstorming how to cope better because he's stealing a lot of our sleep.

It's birthday season: my sister's on Thursday and Christina's yesterday, so I've spent a lot of time on the phone. Their lives both seem really busy. Jocelyn with the farm and having Mom staying with her; Christina just finishing a production of Pride and Prejudice and wrapping up the academic year. There are more birthdays to come!

A Clarion West board meeting this afternoon.

Jim barbecued for the first time this year on Thursday. It was lovely and hot, and we had steaks that we'd gotten free for buying new tires for the car. They were good. Devin came over and joined us.

We played Scrabble, and Devin and I tied one game (she usually beats me by many points).

Advance notice to anyone interested: I will be giving a poetry reading at 7:30 on May 10th at Elliott Bay Book Company with fellow Canadian poet Diana Hartog.

Chronicles of Sloth: Episode 20

  • Damn: over the last few weeks my email inbox blew up to 444 messages (from 341 last chronicle episode in March, from 380 when I started tracking this, and way, way up from my 231 low in late November)
  • New novel stands at 61,196 (up from 56,482 in March) words
  • One more medical appointment to arrange—gotta get on this!
  • The Clarion West class of 2006 is complete, and getting ready for the workshop. I'm working on various bits and pieces, and putting the student packets together for mailing to them
  • For upcoming CD I still need to:
    • re-record one poem
    • have a photo taken
    • finalize the order
    • provide a final listing of the tracks & times
    • send it out
  • Have finished lay out for Succubus booklet for the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets, and now need to proof, adjust, and send it out for approval/proofreading
  • Found missing T4 and all tax forms and checks are out the door. Just in time!
  • Get framed picture of me & Jim & send to Jim's Dad
last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


Hooray for new arrivals from Europe: Under Byen's new disc from Denmark, and Jim Moray's from England. The Under Byen is terrific and very like their prior releases. Dreamy and weird and oh lovely. The Jim Moray a little more uneven for my taste than his first. A few of the tracks are too pretty for me. But the good ones are great. He does traditional folk updated with electronics and other contemporary stylings. When it works, it really does.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Ann Halam's YA SF novel, Siberia, begins with a child and her mother being transported to a prison camp camp in a landscape like Siberia. Gradually it becomes clear that we are in the future, and most of northern Europe now has a Siberean climate and an authoritarian rule. Few animals have survived the climate change, but Rosita/Sloe's mother has a magical (scientific) kit that contains several kinds of "seed" animals that can be nurtured to become a variety of creatures. This may be the only surviving form of these animals in existence, and Sloe and her mother must protect the kits at all costs -- and try to get it to a safer place, where they will be allowed to grow the animals and let them free. I found this fascinating, if bleak though the ending was a little unsatisfying.

Janine Cross's fantasy novel, Touched by Venom, has received several venomous reviews, complaining about the suffering the main character undergoes, how to many people it seems unnecessary and unnecessarily dwelt on. It struck me a a little much, yes, but also quite realistic for all that, and the prose certainly helped me carry through the points where I got a little squicked. Overall, while I didn't think this book was perfect, its worldbuilding was impressive and the overall story intriguing, and certainly not deserving of the inventive it has received. I think because it is a story about dragons, readers might have been expecting lighter, more Pern-like fare. Certainly not a view of a cruelly hierarchical and misogynist society.

Sonya Hartnett's Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf is a YA(?) novel set in a bleak small town near a mountain in Australia. Satchel O'Rye's family is in difficulties, his closest friend has left for the city to get work, and he has the offer of a distant job, but doesn't want to leave his parents. He's up in the mountain chopping wood when he sees an unfamiliar dog-like animal. When he tells his friend's outcast sister about the animal, she gets excited and thinks it might be an extinct creature from Tasmania. How this plays out is an interesting somewhat loose-feeling tale, with strong evocations of the characters' (including the animal's) daily existence.

Kate Constable's The Singer of All Songs is a children's fantasy novel about a fragmented land where a young girl is growing up in a community of women, learning to sing the "chantments" of the ice goddess. When a young man arrives wounded in their sanctuary, shortly followed by his adversary, a sorcerer who has the ambition to have the powers of all the various chantments in their world, she follows him back to the outside world to find some way of defeated the sorcerer. This has its charms but needed some energizing or desanitizing or something to rough it up around the edges a little.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I'm a little at sea right now with the novel, and am trying to go back over it to get a better sense of where I am, so I've been slowly picking away at creating a synopsis for it.

In the meantime, I revised an old story (different one from the one I was working on last week) and actually sent it out. No one faint, okay? I still quite like it, and hope someone else will.

Also sent out a batch of poems. Whoo!

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

May 1992 Trip to Haida Gwaii (The Queen Charlotte Islands)

Monday, May 11, 1992

New Hazelton → Prince Rupert
Got going a little earlier, though it was a shorter driving day. We stopped a couple of times to walk around by the Skeena River. Had lunch by the river, and took photographs. This was the prettiest part of the trip.

SkeenaA Skeena River view.


Arrived in Prince Rupert very early for the 11:00 ferry,—so first went to take a look at the Museum then wandered around town for quite a while up and down the streets of town. We were at quite a loss. Wandered in and out of bookstores. Finally had a "Chinese" dinner then went to the ferry terminal where we are now, watching the sun going down. Another two hours till the ferry. Feeling very lazy.

Tuesday, May 11, 1992

Prince Rupert → Queen Charlotte City
Got on the ferry and went down to the stateroom. Jim and Dad went out to explore, but I couldn't budge. Slept fitfully, worrying about not getting up on time, till the warning buzzer went.

Got off the ferry and went straight for our place in Queen Charlotte City. Crashed until about 10:30 a.m. Then gathered ourselves, made some breakfast, and went to the tourist agency, got some info, then went to the Queen Charlotte Islands Museum. Wandered around there for quite a while then wandered on the beach. Then to Skidegate.

Then drove up to Balance Rock, which we admired, crunching little shellfish as we went. Found some shells, Then went along the road and stopped to walked around again. [Marginal notes: "Strawberries + eagle"; "No overnight camping beach".]  

Balance Rock profileBalance Rock profiled against the Hecate Strait.


Balance rock to scaleDad and I show the scale of the Balance Rock.


Then we drove up to the Tlell River, and walked along the river to the dunes. Lost of deer tracks in the sand, and wild strawberries. The river runs parallel to the beach for a long ways with the dunes in between. The river is a strange, brown colour. Jim found sand dollars; I found a few shells on the beaches.

Then we grove back and had dinner at John's Café, decent Chinese-sort of. Then back to the guesthouse for a quiet evening and showers.

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