Les Semaines

September 2, 2007

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

 §

Working & Playing Quietly

Just continuing to do stuff, mostly in my study but also little things around the house. Staying quiet, hoping my mother's passport would arrive in time for her to visit (it didn't, boo). But Harold and his daughter visited from B.C. for two nights and Jim's nephew Mark is here for the long weekend, so it's not like we feel neglected.

We've done a lot of little things, harvested the lavender, picked our blueberries and made of pie of them, went out for meals, walking through the Ballard Sunday Market, driving Mark and Tamar to Bumbershoot, had two lovely dinners here including salmon and one Devin cooked for us all, went shopping at Sonic Boom Records. Jim made tweed cake with our neighbour Joani for her birthday. Lots of work and amazingly rich!

I've been catching up some with The Ectophiles' Guide, which I got shamefully behind on this past year. I'm going to try to keep up better in the future, but you know how those resolutions go.

The end of summer feels peaceful, though Sophia had a slip today which was upsetting, but it's clear having the string of visitors has upset her routine. The kittens have been less stressed but still a little odd. Only one flea on the last combing.

The apples and pears are starting to fall off the trees. Leaves aren't showing any yellow or red yet, but somehow it feels is about to happen any second, that if we don't keep our eyes open it will already have happened.

I've rediscovered how relaxing (and sometimes obsessive) doing jigsaw puzzles can be. I spent the last week slowly putting together a 1500-piece version of Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. I know, what an insane and wonderful thing to make a jigsaw puzzle of. I did the frame, then hell, then tried to concentrate on purgatory, though heaven fell together while I was trying to get through purgatory. It was fun to have putting the pieces together make me study the picture better. I let it sit there for a few days before I could bear to take it apart. I'm just starting Botticelli's Primavera.

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

Listening

Listening to lots of stuff, particularly we've been listening to Tunng's two experimental/folky albums and Bellowhead's edgy trad folk album Burlesque that I heard about in Mojo and decided to order from the U.K.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I finally got a hold of copies of Suzette Haden Elgin's SF novels, The Judas Tree and Earthsong, parts 2 & 3 of the Native Tongue series (thank you, Kylee). They're about a future world where interfacing with aliens absorbs whole extended families into learning and using their languages for negotiations. Humankind has reverted to a patriarchal society, where only the linguist families' women work; otherwise women are considered utterly inferior and incapable of rational thought, then they go far into the future beyond that. The novel is structured in a way that should be distancing, but somehow is not. It's a mixture of idealism and a brutal look at language and male/female relations. Fascinating.

Lois McMaster Bujold's fantasy novel Legacy is the second in her Sharing Knife series (duology? I dunno). In this one, the two characters go to see whether Dag's society will welcome them. I guess that's not too much of a spoiler for the first volume. The couple are fun to watch interact, and the story is engaging. Lovely to see people fond of each other depicted beyond the initial flash of romance. So far, though, this series isn't up to her previous ones for me.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

The novel is making my head hurt too much, so I went back to an old short story I'd never done anything with, messed with it, tidied it up, and actually sent it out. Don't faint.

I really have been going through a thinking rather than actively writing stage. I don't think that's bad, but it's hard not to expect to be productive. Few actual words, either changed or added, but the brain is busy.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

March 13, 1994

Things starting to bloom everywhere and sun frequently--and real rain. And I'm freer of the long list of things to do than I have been in a long time. I've been obsessing with music and trying to stay warm.

cold stone and the creeping
thunder of incense.
smokey light and the bitter
taste of ashes and bone.
I haven't moved for hours
muscles locked
and the voices are silent

-----

Come the men with their tale
of god's descent and rising
come the men with their tale
of father and son
come the men with sky-god
with their cutting of flesh
with their eye for an eye
and an aye for all that
with their vagueness and vision
and not a word for the fields
nor the seasons
nor rise of sun not birth
but only words for the rise
of their own parts
and where and when
and no other
They know nothing of death
nor of life, nothing but the spear
of their own flesh held apart
and now sacred. They fear
to use it is to lose their strength
and well we know it.
for them to use it is for us
to gain ours.
The fools with their false
chastity and a god made
without a man and woman
coming together--none of the joy
of it but only his mother's
work and pain and then no
end to it. Never joy again.
He is such a petty god
so childish with his
worship me and none other
and torment to the rest
so very join my club
and we're the best
and nothing to do with
dirt and fields and weary sleep
of the leap joy of the animals
no birth and nothing but death
and the first bloody birth isn't enough
your mother's sweat is nothing
all about the Spirit and
nothing of spirit. Nothing
of dancing in the fields nothing
of the blood and sweat on my
thighs Nothing of the long night
giving birth to do.
O come the men with their cries of sin
come the men with their shame
come the men their death for our birth
come the men with their holiness
bound and named.

[So, was I crabby or what? Anyway, much revised, this became the "What We Have Lost" section of "The World of the Dead" in Blood Memory.

-----

"The attempt to attain knowledge of the part is also a journey into the world of the dead." Carlo Ginzburg, from the introduction to Ecstasies.

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