Les Semaines

May 25, 2006

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

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To Alberta & Back

My mother is healing. I am typing this on the plane on the way home. I left my mother earlier this afternoon with a horribly swollen leg, but she is able to walk and do her exercises, even though one of them hurts a lot. I am so glad that I went to see her. Not only did my sister need a break, but Mom and I needed to see each other. I feel so much better for having been there, and seen her, and known for certain how much better she is already. She seems brighter, and yesterday even phoned my sister with one of her particularly mother schemes to do with shampoo trading. That made me laugh and feel secure that she was becoming herself again.

The knee is still bad, because there was a vein that didn't get taken care of, so it bled into her leg and caused the worst of Mom's problems. This is why she got a fever and why her exercises were more difficult for her to do than they should have been, why her leg was more swollen and painful than most. We were glad to find this out, because we were worried that Mom had other health problems, or that she didn't want to recover. It was good that there was a clear explanation for most of it.

By the time I left she was walking so well. The bad knee made her foot turn, and it's going to be work for her to get the muscles to straighten back out, but the huge progress she made while I was there makes me sure she'll be able to do it. I'm so glad--what a relief it will be to her when she's able to trust that knee again and to get around without pain. She lives in a two-level house, and stairs were horrible for her.

I took the plane up (thanks thanks thanks to Tamar for the air miles that paid for the flight) on Friday morning, abandoning Jim and our houseguest, Harold (Jim swears there is some forcefield that keeps Harold and I from being in the same place at the same time for any length of time). The flight to Edmonton is only two hours. I had reserved a rental car at the airport, and drove up to Lamont. The car was a silly, gutless Chrysler Sebring. The garbage bag in the car bragged that the cars were for sale and to count this as a test drive. No thanks. But I liked its silver-green colour. And on the way back to the airport I quite liked the air conditioning. That was good.

The drive was uneventful. I was surprised not to go through any urban-feeling area at all. From the moment I left the airport, all was rural.

At first I drove past the family farm, but realized it as I did, and turned around.

It was a revelation to see my sister's life. We have only seen each other a few times in the last dozen years, and I really had no idea how much she had changed. I mean, she's still herself, but she is so much happier, so much more settled. She has found a good place for herself, and it was wonderful to see that. I really enjoyed what little time I spent on the farm. The animals are wonderful. She has sheep and goats (and two llamas to guard them from the coyotes). There are cattle, of course, and a miniature horse and a donkey (named Don Quixote). Ducks, turkeys, chickens. Two dogs, house cats and barn cats.

While I was there I sort of helped move the older chickens to a bigger pen, to make room for them to get bigger and to open up the little room they were in for a new batch of yellow fluff balls that arrived just before I left.

Mostly, I fell in love with my sister's cats and with the kittens in the barn. There were some about three months old that were wild and we couldn't touch (though I really wanted to touch the little gray boy with the smudge on his nose), and there were three about a month old, two white with calico patches and a male with tabby/gray patches. I held both of the calicos whenever I got near the barn. They were lovely. Jocelyn took pictures of them in my hair. They all live together in a pile with the various female cats. Communal mothering at its finest.

TENDER HEARTS WARNING: DON'T READ THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH. There were also two kittens (a third had disappeared) about a week old. Jocelyn brought a dark tabby out for me to hold, but while I was holding him we heard a squeak from the barn. Jocelyn went in to get the other kitten, only to find that one of the older cats had attacked it (too many kittens?). She chased the older cat off, but it was too late for the little one. That was heartbreaking. I know cats do that when they think there is overpopulation, but it was horrible to hold the sibling, knowing that now it was an only. When we put it back in the pile of moms and kittens, it's rather feral mom took it away to hide it. I hope she hides it well.

I should also say in all of this how good it was to see Harold, even if only overnight. And that I have terrific friends. Tamar and the air miles. I hope she's still having a terrific time in Hawaii. Devin came to help Jim remove sod at the side of the house. You know, I like the life we have made, too. I miss my mom already, and I miss my sister and her family (I got to spend some time with her husband, whom I hardly knew, and to see my lovely niece and handsome (14 years old!) nephew/godson, and had only met my great-niece once before! But I'm glad to be flying back into my life.

The Rockies are beautiful to fly over. Mountains, mountains, everywhere. Those rough, razor peaks.

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Listening

A new Halou album, Wholeness and Separation, just landed in our mailbox. It hasn't quite taken shape to my ears but on initial listenings it seems lovely.

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Reading

Maureen F. McHugh's China Mountain Zhang caused quite a splash when it came out, as it was one of the very (if not the) first novels that predicts that China will become the biggest power in the future. This is about an "ABC" (American-born Chinese) who is actually half Hispanic but whose genetics have been tweaked so he appears Chinese. He is gay, and a construction worker, and his Chinese-born and thus higher-class foreman wants him to marry his daughter. His adventures start there. A fascinating novel.

Cecelia Dart-Thornton's The Well of Tears is the second in her Crowthistle series. These books are hard for me to read because there is so much I don't like about them, but there are wonderful moments that keep me reading. I want to kick the characters half the time and am heartily sick of how beautiful they all are, but there are terrific bits of folklore that the characters run across as they travel. The romance is wooden. Only brief periods of tension. But I read this. Why?

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is the story of Fat Charlie, whose mother took him to England when she and his father separated. He's an accountant, and engaged to marry. Then his father dies, and he discovers that he has a brother he has never known. When the old women who were friends of his father's tell him to whisper to a spider if he wants his brother, he does so--and then his brother, a slimmer, more handsome, more reckless version of himself arrives, and the fabric of his life starts to unravel.

Naomi Mitchison's Travel Light is a charming fairy tale, of a princess whose stepmother plans to kill her. Her nurse carried her off into the woods, but turns there into a bear. She looks after Halla as best she can, but finds it difficult to look after a human child when she wants to sleep all winter, so when the dragons offer to take care of the child and promise to raise her well, off she goes to live with the dragons. As the age of dragons comes to an end, her adventures continue. This is a delightful classic tale, told in a classic way.

The third in Scott Westerfeld's young adult Midnighters fantasy series, Blue Noon, chronicles what happens to his characters who discover a secret hour that occurs at midnight when there are sudden appearances of the secret hour during the day, and when the midnight country begins to expand. The characters suffer and try to deal with this and their interrelationships with other Midnighters and Jessica's relationship with her sister. And the possible end of the world.

Sally M. Keen's children's novel Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Swamp Queen is a fun re-telling of the Tam Lin ballad set in the Appalachian mountains. Gnat is a feisty heroine whose determination is charming. As are the rest of the characters that surround her, and the bits of magic thereabouts. A delightful novel.

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Writing

Not the most productive two weeks I've ever had, given I was worried about my Mom and travelling. Did have lunch yesterday with Karen, and we talked about Gypsy Davey and the changes I made with the last big overhaul revision and what I still need to do. I have been tinkering with stories, as well, and thinking about where the new novel is going.

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Retrospective: old journal

Thursday, May 14

Rennell Sound

Got going later than we'd hoped, of course, but headed off to Rennell Sound. We stopped at the MacBlo yard, waiting for a logging truck to follow through the active logging area west of town. The fellow who helped us was wonderful--interesting. Talked about learning Haida for three months and complained about how little he knew. Talked about where his wife and daughter would be for the summer and told us where to find fossils and floats.

We followed a truck that followed a truck--very dusty. We counted out the kilometers. Then after 14 km we were free and drove on--through clearcuts and some untouched forest. Road pretty good--Dad drove. Then down the 24% grade to the Sound.

We stopped at the first beach, briefly, and looked around--then drove on up the Sound, stopping to take pictures at a wonderful waterfall and overlooking Gregory Beach.

Drove on to Bonanza Beach, which is where we spent the most time. Two beaches there. First we explored the rockier one to the south. I walked all the way to the estuary and frightened three beautiful birds. Found some lovely shells, but no floats. Had lunch there, then moved on to the sandier beach as the tide went out. Sandpipers. Lots of deer prints everywhere. More shells.

Dad, beachcombingDad beachcombing.

 

Fun trail back, too.

On the way back we stopped off at Gregory Beach that we'd earlier stopped to take pictures of.

Then back up the hill, pausing to give the car a break, and back along the roads and a burger for dinner and tired.

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