Les Semaines

October 28, 2007

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

 §

Catch Up Week

Weeks like this are hard to write about, as really not much happened. I worked. I slept (having trouble sticking to the eight hours a night thing already, but at least if it's a serious target I get closer than I otherwise might).

The weather, though mixed, had some lovely sunny spells this week, and the colours this autumn are really spectacular. This is the view outside our living room window:

 

Our smoke bushSun coming through the multi-coloured leaves of our smoke bush/tree.

 

The picture doesn't do it justice at all, even with the new lovely camera my father loaned us when we visited Victoria, but the light coming through there is amazing. It makes me think long and hard about the effects of beauty on the spirit. There are things I do all day long as a pick-me-up, one of which is looking at clouds. Another is whenever I go to the bathroom at work taking a long look at the view from there (trees, buildings and bridges mostly). Watching the cats move, sleep, and play. Keeping an eye on the trees as they don't seem to change from day to day but do.

Poor Sophia was so freaked out by our trip to Victoria. I had asked a friend of ours who is very cat-experienced to try to pill her, but being cornered, picked up, and pilled by someone she doesn't know well Freaked Sophie Out. She peed on several things in one corner of the living room and was totally wired when we got home. She's still calming down, but the one good thing it did was make her appreciate us better. She was quite clingy for a while (for her), and even let the kittens sleep near her so she could be near me.

It wore off this morning, though, when I decided to catch her (she'd been sleeping at my feet) to pill her then give them breakfast (the kittens had been agitating for breakfast for quite a while, Atia running over the loveseat and launching herself from there to the floor, passing inches in front of my face--lots of dashing hither and yon). Anyway, much to Sophia's disgust, I grabbed her before she'd gotten very far (my feet moving is usually enough to launch her, but I caught her). Held her a little and tried to calm her. She waited a moment, then nearly struggled away, so I went into the kitchen, grabbed the pills, and she bit me. Not as hard as she could have, but drew blood. Then I pilled her, and Jim came upstairs and fed the kittens as I fed Sophie. She wouldn't eat until Jim went over and petted her. She Does Not Love Me today.

Poor girl. We had already decided it was better when Jim pilled her. I should have stuck to that.

I also had an adventure in stupidity this week. I was going to visit a friend in an area of town I don't know well at all. I mapquested it and she gave me rough directions, which differed from the mapquest directions, so I tried to blend them, missed a couple of turns, and wound up way farther south than I should have and stuck in rainy rush-hour traffic. It was ugly. I'm so lucky that my life doesn't include much rush-hour traffic. I felt a horrible sympathy for Jim. I also felt I was in one of those nightmares where you're trying to get somewhere and can't make any progress and whenever you do you meet another setback. This, as I had to drive around Boeing Field get back on the crawling Interstate. I took an exit, thinking I could manage to get myself in the right direction only to find myself crawling back on the Interstate. I finally made it, but was well over an hour late. Had a lovely dinner at an Ethiopian Cafe (Cafe Ixion, for anyone in the Columbia City neighbourhood, go, the food was great and the place was sadly nearly empty because of the light rail construction going on outside). Great seeing my friend again, who had left town for a few years and is back in Seattle.

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

Listening

PJ Harvey's White Chalk was the soundtrack to my traffic adventure. I love it so I hope it doesn't always bring back these feelings of gray frustration.

Also enjoying the new Beirut. So lively and yet eastern-Europe-y dark.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Eleanor Cameron's A Mystery for Mr. Bass and Time and Mr. Bass are the final two in her children's SF series about the Mushroom Planet. In A Mystery for Mr. Bass, Chuck and David find some mysterious, glowing bones in a nearby hillside and their young scientist friend Prewytt Brumblydge starts acting stranger than ever. It's all connected with the Mycetians, of course. In Time and Mr. Bass, Chuck and David learn about Mr. Bass's long history, just as several artifacts important to the Mycetians disappear. There's also an evil force that must be defeated before it damages the Mycetians and Mr. Bass. The latter is quite a complicated story, but both are a lot of fun. They're a little dated and a little sweet but really they've passed the test of time quite well.

Mary Gentle's alternate history novel, Ilario: The Lion's Eye, follows young hermaphrodite Ilario as s/he escapes the court s/he was raised in when it got too dangerous, only to be tricked and enslaved in Carthage. Luckily, an Egyptian librarian rescues Ilario to be a scribe copying manuscripts. All Ilario wants is to be a painter but the past would leave him/her alone: his aristocratic mother and father both want him/her dead. And the librarian has secrets, too. Even when Ilario's artistic dreams begin to be fulfilled, his/her impetuous nature complicates training. Funny, it didn't make my head hurt to read this book as much as it does to write about it. Ilario is both male and female physically, but in daily prefers to be perceived as male as the options for women in the world at that time were limited, but fate causes him/her to have to swtich back and forth as he and his master's ever-changing situation demands. An intriguing idea, and I look forward to reading the second volume.

Tiffany Trent's Hallowmere: In the Serpent's Coils is a young adult fantasy novel about a young girl whose parents have died, her father disappeared in the Civil War and her mother is killed by a fever that Corrine barely survives herself. Taken in my her uncle, Corrine is beset by odd, terrifying dreams of the Captain, a shadowy figure with a bloody hand, and voices whisper to her from a hawthorn bush. When her uncle sends her an isolated girl's school in Virginia, thing get worse. Mysterious events are happening there and no one will talk to Corrine. In the meantime her dreams are getting more frequent and she finds translations of ancient letters talking about the Fey that complicate things still more. The Fey are there, the Captain is there, and girls have been disappearing from the school. Not essential, but an enjoyable read for fans of dark magic. I was a little annoyed that like many novels recently, this stops rather than ends.

Jo Walton's alternate history novel Ha'Penny is remarkable. I think I liked it better, even, that Farthing. Like Farthing, with whom it shares a Scotland yard inspector, Carmichael, It's set in a Britain that in 1941 made peace with Germany and now is itself ruled by Fascists and society is still tightly class-bound and Jews and Communists are the scapegoats of the hour. Viola, one of six eccentric daughters of a rich family, is an actress who is about to play a female Hamlet, when her Gertrude is blown up by a bomb (which Carmichael investigates). Then her communist sister badgers her into coming up to visit their uncle where she is coerced into a plot to kill Hitler and the British Prime Minister, who are going to attend opening night. Reluctantly, given the option of being left in a ditch if she won't, she agrees. The story is told alternately by Viola and Carmichael. Captivating, heartbreaking, and Hamlet of course, fits right in beautifully.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Back to the synopsis trim. So close now! It's good to be actually working again rather than avoiding working, I have to say.

Also sent out two poetry submissions and collected a short story rejection.

Mom is doing research for me, both for the Canada Council poetry collection and for an upcoming YA novel. It's fun to get her report of what she's found. I really ought to be doing more reading from my shelves. Really. Novels are so much more compelling, though, even when they're not the best.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

June 15, 1994
Thurso → Stromness

Jim's Journal

Used by permission; Neile doesn't seem to have kept a journal this week.

Got up a 8. Breakfast of cereal/coffee/toast/O.J. Went shopping for staples and back to B&B by 10:30. Ferry to Stromness at 11.

Took 2 hours to reach Orkneys (Stromness) so didn't arrive till after 2:00. Checked in at B&B. Went to tourist info center. Planned itinerary. Decided it was too late to go anywhere today. Walked around Stromness, shopped and went to Museum. Had interesting info on history of town, story of Elisa Frasier who was kidnapped by aborigines in Australia in mid 1800s (husband and his crew all killed in her presence) and who was rescued by John Graham. Found out our B&B is next to oldest dated structure in town, 1600s. Good display on John Rae, arctic explorer from Orkneys who searched for/found out fate of Franklin's expedition. Apparently Stromness was a watering stop off point for James Cook, Franklin expedition, and other explorers using the northern route. Nearly all the sunken hulks of German boats used as barriers used during WWI and some of which were later raised with gigantic air bag balloons and used for their scrap iron. Upstairs in museum had good display of birds in/around Orkneys.

Sat outside museum on stone break wall and read pieces from George Mackay Brown's selected poems I bought in shop for Ken Smith. Brown is from here and still lives here--writes of life and spirit of place for islanders.

Had dinner at Ferry Inn around 7:00. Game Pie (venison, rabbit, and deer). Back in B&B by 8. In bed asleep by 10:00.

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