Les Semaines

January 27, 2008

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

 §

Peek-a-Boo View

We have lived in this house for almost 14 years. I just noticed Monday morning that we can see Mount Rainier from our living room window. [Okay, that is, we can see it on those rare moments when none of the neighbourhood trees have leaves and it's clear weather.] I can't believe I never noticed it before. As the sun was rising I was sitting on the loveseat when I noticed the bump of the mountain silhouetted between houses/trees. I thought it was a hallucination, but later that afternoon I got out the binoculars to be sure. Who knew?

Pretty funny. So our house has a peek-a-boo view and is worth lots more money, right? Not that we're going anywhere anytime soon. We will enjoy our silly teeny view, we will!

It just seems so insane that neither of us noticed it before. I keep thinking I must have known and just forgot.

This weekend was the kitten's anniversary. We adopted them a year ago and turned Sophia's world into an even more scary place than it had been, what with all the hazards of people looking at you (terrible!) and touching you (even worse!!!), now the horror of kittens. Though I still of course miss Zach--how could I not miss a cat we had for twenty years?--I can't imagine life without Titus who is the most calming presence possible in times of emotional stress (thank you for all the nights when I was too freaked to sleep when you purring by my head was the only thing that kept me from screaming) and Atia who by who by her wild energy and frequent nudging for attention reminded a freaked, stressed person what really matters: love and play. So thank you, too.

Touch wood and thanks to better living through chemistry, Sophia hasn't peed outside the box since October. We're going to try easing her off the meds in a month or so when her prescription runs out of renewals.

Do I have anything more to say? No, I don't. So, bye for now. Bye. Good night.

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Listening

I've been listening to too many lame discs for review for The Ectophiles' Guide. I need my ears cleaned out. Time to blast out some PJ Harvey or something.

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Reading

Kathe Koja's young adult novel Kissing the Bee is the vivid (as all of Koja's work seem to be) story of Dana who is in love with her long-term best friend's boyfriend and how this all plays out in the few weeks before high-school graduation. Recommended.

Neth Kephart's young adult novel Undercover is about Elisa, who ghostwrites poetry for guys to give to the girls they're interested in. When she starts falling for one of the guys of a very demanding girl, Elisa retreats to a pond in the woods and teaches herself to ice skate. This is a lyrical novel, full of lovely language, but it ended just a little quickly.

M Sindy Felin's young adult novel Touching Snow is the story of a girl in a Haitian immigrant family. She has had to grow up tough because her stepfather beats her and her sisters. The story begins with her elder sister being beaten almost to death, and Karina has to pretend that she has done it--they're family cannot survive on her mother's salary. A former lawyer who runs a community center gets interested in her, and starts her volunteering at the center, where she meets his daughter, who gives her a glimpse of what her life can be like. A tough but very real story.

Barry Jonsberg's young adult novel Am I Right Or Am I Right? made me laugh out loud. Calma is a rather brittle smart-ass whose life is complicated by her suddenly falling for a gorgeous guy at a local store so she gets a job there, her long-lost father suddenly appears and wants to talk to her, her best friend is keeping secrets, and her mother is, too. Calma is certain she knows everything that's going on and can control the situation, but she turns out to be wrong, wrong, wrong.

Reading Nicola Griffith is always a delight. Reading her prose is like stepping into the perfect bath--a hedonistic, almost heady but also simple pleasure. Always is the third of her mystery novels featuring Aud Torvingen. Here Aud travels to Seattle to sort out some problems with real estate investments and to catch up with her recently married mother. There's something very fishy going on with the real estate, including strange accidents happening to the film project renting her big warehouse, her mother, with whom Aud of course has big issues, seems to be suddenly doing very uncharacteristic things, and Aud finds herself deeply attracted to the former stunt woman cuerently catering for the film crew--all this interspersed with descriptions of a women's self-defense course Aud had just finished teaching. All this mixed with Aud's hyper-alert attention to the physical world world make for an absorbing and educational read. Entertainment that made me think. What could be better?

In A.M. Jenkin's young adult novel, Repossessed, a minor demon from hell gets bored and decides to see what human life is like, s he takes over the body (and life) of sixteen-year-old Shaun who was seconds away from stepping out in front of a truck. Though Kiriel is smart, he's not quite sure how heaven's going to react to this, and he also doesn't know how to fake being a contemporary teenager. His adventures are fun, but this idea had a lot more potential than is explored here.

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Writing

Tinkering with where I'm at with the novel and with poems.

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Retrospective: old journal

June 24, 1994
Inverness and South

Jim's Journal

Used by permission; Neile failed to write anything about the rest of this trip.

Finally had cereal for breakfast, nothing fried. Took forever to get our car at Eurocar. Around 11:00 drove south along A96.

First stop: Sueno's Stone. Large, impressive Pictish stone, 20 feet tall in atmosphere-controlled plexiglass. Scenes on one side depict horrific Pictish battle. Probably dates from 800 A.D.

Walked back around to Witches Stone. A small, unassuming boulder almost by sidewalk in front of police station. In medieval times up to 16th-century witches were rolled in a barrel down hill--where the barrel stopped, the contents of barrel and witch herself burned on spot. This site/stone marked spot where several such burnings took place. There was an incredible casualness to the story the marker placed there--how almost meaningless it seemed, right next to the sidewalk--that I found very powerful.

Drove next to Elgin Cathedral, where we parked by little park nearby, walked through ruins of Elgin C. sacked by the Wolf of Badenoch in 12th century. Marvelous cloister walks, ruined walls. Spent an hour wandering around, taking photographs, looking at gravestones. After, Neile, John, and I went to tourist info to book ahead room in Inverarie. Had lunch in park by Cathedral.

Drove next to Huntly Castle. A spectacular 15th-16th century castle built by the Gordons. Had been a castle on this site since 12th century. As we wandered through, I saw it was the most intact I'd seen. Poked through halls, dungeons, kitchen, lord and lady's bed chambers. Where a wood floor had been we saw holes in stone façade where support floor beams had been. A spectacular front piece to castle façade.

By now it was near 5 so we drove to B&B. Then drove out to see Maiden Stone and East Aquhorthies Stone circle with recumbent stones. Maideb Stone near road, part of right side chipped away. Had comb and fan with large boar on one side, a curious circle design on other. The stone circle in the middle of field. Sheep on one side, canola oil (rapeseed) field on other. Beautiful, mystical power to circle--4,000 B.C. Easy to see dancers there and shamans obviously moon from recumbent stone.

Lastly saw Brandsbutt stone which was in part right by B&B where we are staying. Had once been broken up to form wall but not has been reassembled. Had V-rod and crescent. Nearby was cross markings for stone circle long ago destroyed. Remaining stones had been included in stone wall by road.

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