Les Semaines

May 31, 2009

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


Yet Another Meme

Last weekend was annoying in many little ways, even though it was a four-day weekend. The week got better, but not better enough, you know?

The weather is great, though.

And Jim made a wonderful apple pie.

—Meme Warning—

What bill do you hate paying the most?
Taxes, because I have to pay both Canadian and American and the forms drive me nuts. If I have to say literally which bill, since it's not like you can exactly call a tax form a bill, I suppose it would be the credit card bill where I paid my share of the cost of my stupid CPAP which I hate so so very much. Bill that comes regularly? None of them truly bother me.

Do you miss being a child?
Not so much, though I do miss all the free time.

Chore you hate the most?
Dusting. We have way too much stuff to work around. And under. And to dust before placing it back on the dusted surface.

Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?
At my dining room table. Though I have to say at La Push last year was probably more romantic.

If you could go back and change one thing what would it be?
I'd have gotten more writing done when I was younger.

Name of your first grade teacher?
I don't remember any more! I had two, because we moved from Vancouver to Edmonton in the middle of grade one, and I can't recall either name right now. I do remember being the only student in grade one in Edmonton who could already read, though.

What do you really want to be doing right now?
Sitting reading on the love-seat, holding up a cat or two.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer. I thought I might be a teacher of some kind, though.

How many colleges did you attend?
Two. UVic (the University of Victoria) for my BA, the University of Montana for my MFA.

What are your thoughts on gas prices?
That we don't yet pay the actual cost of gasoline.

First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
Sunday! The only alarm was the cat alarm, and I thought, "Atia, stop ricocheting off me!"

Last thought before going to sleep last night?
I hate this machine.

What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Geoffrey Chaucer. I think he'd be very amusing. If had to choose someone alive, I really can't think of anyone, though there are a lot of dead people I'd like to have spent time with.

Have you ever crashed your vehicle?
No. Other drivers have crashed into my vehicle, though, and I have dented vehicles in my time.

Get up early or sleep in?
Sleep in, please please please.

What is your favorite cartoon character?
When I was a kid I loved Casper the Friendly Ghost. Yes, I was a smarmy child. Now I'd have to say Lisa Simpson.

When did you first start feeling old?
I think I've always felt old. But it doesn't help that now my students are all young enough to be my children, and that I've got a great niece who will be in her teens this summer.

Favorite lunch meat?
Rare roast beast.

What do you get every time you go into Target?
I haven't been into a Target in several years—since I heard that they allow their pharmacists to deny drugs even if the customer has a prescription.

Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
Sort of. Though I've been married 25 years, I didn't expect to marry at all. I do think that either everyone should be able to or no one should.

Favorite movie you wouldn't want anyone to find out about?
Ladyhawk. Now you know.

What's your favorite drink?
Depending on the situation: cold spring or filtered water; cherry cider from Trader Joe's; hard pear cider; Lagavulin single malt.

Who from high school would you like to run into?
Tammy Melnyk. For some reason I've been wondering what happened to her. She wasn't even someone I knew well, I just liked her art.

What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?
KUOW, an NPR station. My musical tastes aren't wide enough that I can bear any music radio stations.

Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?
Neither interest me at all.

Worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back?
Breaking up with a really sweet and fun guy for someone I thought I was crazy about who turned out to be totally whacked. And mean.

Do you like the person that sits directly across from you at work?

Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purposes?
No, though there was a time I wished I'd had one handy.

Last book you read?
Cassandra Clare's City of Glass.

Do you have a teddy bear?
Yes. He's a non-cuddly panda who growls when you tip him on his back. He lives stored in a box in the catbox room. A waste of a good panda.

Do you go to church?
Hell no.

What is the worst airport you have ever visited?
Heathrow. Loud, crowded, difficult to navigate.

How many of your friends/acquaintances/colleagues have been indicted?
None that I know of.

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


I am in shock. I actually like (most of) Tori Amos's new album (with the not-so-terrific title:) Abnormally Addicted to Sin. I had pretty much given up on her music, since I can't be bothered to listen to her last three albums, and in fact only own one of them now and that only because I couldn't bring myself to listen to it enough to decide whether or not to let it find another home. But once I set Abnormally Addicted to Sin so I will skip a couple of songs and tune out the bombastic 70s guitar that appears here and there, I enjoy the songs. Quite a lot, actually. Surprise, surprise

last week's listening § next week's listening


Elizabeth Scott's young adult novel Living Dead Girl is told in the voice of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted as a child. Her captor has her convinced that if she tries to run away he'll kill her parent—he convinces her that he did this to the previous girl he kidnapped. He constantly molests, beats and starves her, but despite the lack of food, she's getting older and less attractive to him—now he wants her to get another young girl for him. This is a horrific read. This is well-handled and feels emotionally true. Which is terrifying. Not for the faint of heart.

Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs was the opposite: a frothy and delightful romance. When Anna and her rich, noble escape from Russia during the Revolution the servant they entrusted with their jewels, the family riches, disappears, and when they arrive in England they're penniless. To earn some money, Anna reads a book about how to be a good housemaid, and gets a temporary job at the home of an English count who has just become engaged to an heiress to save his nearly bankrupt estates. Unfortunately, the heiress is a believer in eugenics and is marrying him for his title and his ancestry. This is lots of fun and the characters are charming.

Cassandra Clare's young adult fantasy City of Glass is the final volume in her Mortal Instruments series. Any description of the plot would make no sense without knowledge of the previous two volumes, so I'll skip that, but will say that the action in this volume was particularly engaging and well-handled. This series got stronger for me as it went along, and I ended up liking this book quite a lot.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Slowly pulling myself out of the not-getting-anything-done hole I had dropped into.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Wednesday, June 11


Got rolling early enough. Went to tyre place in Peebles, but they didn't have the right size. They didn't tell us that the tyre was shot. Went back to Neidpath Castle. Down from the car park through a lovely carved arch.

Mother & I outside Neidpath Castle.


Castle was L-shaped, but now pretty much rectangular. Privately held and in the process of being restored, dug out, repaired. Different stairs—some the spindle kind, one wide one. A bunch of kindergarteners followed us in. Mom and I started at the top and worked our way down, fro the top with signs of workmen, and two wall walks, down to the 17C panelling of "Queen Mary's Room," the Mural Room, then the main hall, then below that the guardroom and pit prison and well.

Then to Galashiels to the tyre place. After that, went further into town to the tourist agency, then picked up sandwiches. Pouring rain.

Then to Melrose Abbey, a beauteous ruin, but pouring rain. Lovely details still extant outside—gargoyles and the bagpipe-playing pig, the "he suffered because he himself willed it" guy, a skull-like gargoyle, and the still lovely apex of the east gable. Dad and I walked around the outside and then over to the museum on the Commendator's house, where we saw all kinds of pottery, masonry, etc. bits and even ceramic urinal c. 14th C and metal cooking vessels. (Mom napped in the car while this was going on.)

Melrose AbbeyMelrose Abbey. Unfortunately the bagpipe-playing pig is not visible from here. You also can't see how serious the rain was.


From there to Dryburgh Abbey, which felt very different from Melrose. Plainer and stronger. Nice walkway in amongst trees and sheep not far away. There was a manic ball of fluff riding an eddy of wind that I picked up, but left again to return to its games. Wandered through Abbey, still raining hard. Found some lovely bits of masonry, which I photographed (lamb of God, Adam & Eve) in the Chapterhouse, traces of 14th C. decoration (covered in plastic, so not photographable). Scott buried here in 1832.

Dryburgh AbbeyDryburgh Abbey.


Then to Smailholm Tower.

SmailholmSmailholm Tower. Where Sir Walter Scott grew up.


Dad stayed in the car this time. Mom and I climbed up. Interesting man in custodian place. Spindle stair, only one, way up. First storey held figures from Scott's writings—small figures made by a woman name Anne Carrick. Amazing. (Some had been in Museum at Melrose, too.) The Border Widow especially caught me and Mom, then upstairs there were ballad illustrations—a lovely big Tam Lin with Janet just having pulled him from his fairy steed (other dark ones behind him).  

Tam LinThe scene from Tam Lin. Sorry so fuzzy—no snapshot could do this justice, though. It's not normally an art-form I like, but I loved these—they had such spirit.


The other side of a tapestry was the fair queen. Also others, in particular the Demon Lover and Thomas the Rhymer and the Fairy Queen. Long chat with caretaker afterwards about possibly visiting the woman who made them who lives in Kelso, but we found our B&B, had dinner, and are here now collapsing, drying out and warming up.

I picture Maddy's house [in Gypsy Davey] as rather like Smailholm, but elsewhere and trees around.

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