Les Semaines

September 16, 2007

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

 §

Bachelor Weekend

Jim's off to Victoria for the weekend. I'm alone. A little, at least.

Things are gearing up at work. Every day is busier and the next two weeks are the absolutely busiest of my year--and I'm just now catching up on the email that I couldn't answer while I was gone. I think, I hope, I wrote the last email yesterday that I had to preface with an apology for taking so long to answer. Work email, I mean. My home email is still a toxic disaster zone.

It has been a rough week which made it hard to stay on an even keel. I don't think I've managed that well. So many old wounds have been re-exposed from very old ones to new: friends suddenly lost a kitten they had had less than a year, a kitten I've seen weekly since they got him; the murder last April has been brought all to immediately to mind because of various things at work. I'm even revisiting a time in my life when I worked for an impossibly difficult person, a situation that was so bad I was literally sick every Sunday night at the thought of having to go back to work on Monday. It's not that all of these things are happening directly again to me, but even when they're happening to other people, it all comes awake again whether simply in empathy or not.

We had a staff retreat on Tuesday. It was exhausting. Preparing for the new year is complicated and our goals seem huge and distant.

Devin came over to help me eat lamb last night. (Jim's out of town, let's eat lamb.)

Jim got home at 2:30 this afternoon.

Last night the rains started. It has rained off and on all day and gotten steadily colder. First I had to put on socks! Then a sweater!

Is it truly fall? Surely we have a few days still to come where I can be sockless and sweaterless.

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

Listening

Psapp's cheerfully crazy instrumentation and lovely vocals have really been helping me get through this week. I can't help but feel better when I listen to them.

The new Noe Venable is gorgeous. Gorgeous!

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

John Crowley is a wonderful author. His most recent novel, Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land, is a truly unique creation. In it, he includes the text of a newly discovered novel by Byron. Parallel to that is the story of the woman who discovers it in the course of research Ada Lovelace, Byron's daughter, for a website about notable women. It's a fascinating story about the relationships of daughters to lost fathers. I found it ultimately very satisfying, but admittedly strange to be reading the novel purported to be by Byron. Yet it worked.

Charles de Lint's short novel, Promises To Keep tells the early story of his recurring character Jilly Coppercorn: how she dragged herself out of the depths of a self-destructive drug habit to rejoin the world. A powerful story, clearly told, with heart. Damn, de Lint does this well.

Jim Butcher's Storm Front is the first of an ongoing series about Harry Dresden, a freelance wizard who is for private hire and who also works with the police to solve supernatural crimes. Here he has to solve some horrific magical murders while at the same time he is under suspicious of having caused them. This isn't really my mind of thing, and sometimes the writing drove me insane, but overall I enjoyed this. Yes, this is the one that inspired the Scifi Channel's series.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

I'm working on putting together my agent query packet. This is hard. Even if Karen did give me a terrific head start.

Of course I have a two-page and a ten-page synopsis and suddenly everything I find online says send a five-page synopsis. Sigh.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Friday, June 10th

Seattle → Glasgow

The plane ride was long but not horrible--three different planes: Seattle → Dallas Ft Worth → Chicago → Glasgow. Slept some.

Arrived in Glasgow about 10:00 am and asked at info, got shuttle £2 each into Buchanan bus station. The driver described the way to the street we wanted (Renfrew) and we dragged selves and luggage up past the School of Art to our B&B.

Got directions to the Glasgow Art Gallery & Museum. Funky building with a totem pole in or corner of the main hall. First went to look at the archaeology wing and saw a lot of carved stone balls and a skull of two and many reconstructions of graves and stones and such. A few interesting Celtic bits, too. Then to the very disappointing Contemporary, then to the Victorian, where there was a lovely Rodin sculpture of a fallen angel and a Burne-Jones Danaë. Had lunch (potatoes) because I was having a horrible sinking spell (dizzy, actually) then wandered more to find the van Goghs were on tour elsewhere as were many of the other things we might particularly have liked to see. Did see a funky Rubens, "Nature Adorned by the Graces" and a lovely Rachel Ruysch still life. Looked at lovely guns and armour. Stunning inlay on the guns. Also a funky helmet from Star Wars or Willow or some such.

Then a long way around to the University, where at first we found the wrong Hunterian, though did see dinosaur eggs, then crossed the street to the Art Gallery where we admired some Whistlers (lots of studies of various colour combos) and then the Mackintosh house reconstruction, which was amazing--gorgeous lines and decorations like glass in doors, etc.

Then went to the library, where they had some stunning medieval books on display then walked and walked and walked to Tower Records downtown, spent some money, and grabbed a taxi back to Victorian House. Collapsed about 7:30 and slept straight through till 7:00.

Best stuff: the manuscripts, Macintosh stuff, the Ruysch still life.

Jim's Journal

[included by his kind permission]

Long plane ride from Seattle to Glasgow. First stop Dallas, then to Chicago O'Hare and then on to Glasgow. Managed to sit next to Neile the entire trip. On run to O'Hare sat next to computer man who coordinated/oversaw an entire Sun Sparc network--he/I laughed at some guy a few seats up who touted his work as a technical advisor on a LAN Novell network. On way to Glasgow managed to read All the Pretty Horses and start Bones of the Moon. Movie was Blink, really terrible one about a blind girl (well, nearly blind) who sees murder and much be protected by Aidan Quinn. Only managed to sleep a couple moments on plane-our seats wouldn't lean back or were very uncomfortable. Got into Glasgow ten to eleven am.m; took aiporter express to bus station in town. Walked and dragged luggage to Victorian House, where we dropped off our belongings and headed off to see museums. Neile bought stamps for postcards (postie wouldn't take traveller's cheques). Walked up to Tenement House along window tree-lined path beside M-8--place was closed so we headed over bridge to the Glasgow Art Museum. Walked along streets with "to let" signs everywhere, Victorian brick façes, narrow roads with no trees in front or near sidewalks. Spring seems to be a month behind here--the roses have hardly begun to bloom. Glasgow is a dirty city, lots of trash along sidewalks and lots of construction going on. The Glasgow Art Museum was an ornate structure with dark brick front column and stairway. Lots of public school kids inside for the afternoon copying some of the artwork, or the armor collection, or relics from Stone Age Scotland. Some nice cairns and tools in exhibit cases. Went to see the contemporary work, but most of pretty mediocre. Had tea and taters in the museum cafe. Then went to see modernist stuff--had a few wonderful sculptures by Rodin and a few small Picassos, Matisses and then went to Victorian era room. Saw lovely Burne-Jones called "Danae or the Tower of Brass" and a wonderful flower arrangement piece by Pachel Ruysch "An Arrangement of Flowers by a Tree Trunk". Bought some postcards in museum shop.

Then we walked up Kelvin Street and around U of Glasgow campus. Managed to get lost on campus. Wandered through portico hallway and main quadrangle. Found Hunterian Museum. Then across campus to Hunterian Art Gallery. Had C. R. MacIntosh house front as part of façade of building. Gallery had some lovely Whistler pieces, mostly portraits, ie. Study of Roberts with Red Fan. Also had furniture from the home in Paris that he designed. Saw small Nocturne, which I loved. Banks of Thames piece at dusk. Went through the C. R. MacIntosh house recreated in museum. Lovely art deco furniture from (well earlier that than that) turn of century. Simple lines and functional pieces. Wonderful beaten silver frontpiece for doorway and on mantle. Also saw Duncan Shank's The Creative Process about the nucleus and development of his piece "The Pink Cloud, Crossfield" a landscape. Interesting development through seasonal/daily light and looking at photos of trees beside river where he lived. Stunning piece. Had a laugh. Went to library to view illuminated manuscripts--which had pages from books of Hours and bibles--and sat down at QAPAC, turned out to be GEAC.

Took long walk to Tower. Grabbed taxi back to Victoria House and asleep by 8:00 pm.

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