Les Semaines

July 19, 2009

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


Fourth Week of Clarion West 2009

The infamous fourth week of legendary burn-out has the students (and the administrators) exhausted and somewhat more brittle than four weeks ago, but we all still have determined energy to carry us forward. Speaking for myself, of course, but to all appearances it seems true of us all.

Nalo Hopkinson kept everyone inspired, challenged, and together for a wonderful week, and I personally really enjoyed spending a little time with her as we dashed out to go vintage pattern hunting.

She made it a fun and productive week, though as I say below I did hit a bad patch in my writing project, it immediately picked up and started running again, thanks in no small part to Nalo.

This also was party week, for not only did we have the usual Friday night party (sheesh, I haven't really mentioned these, but they have been great parties, and even I, violently allergic to large social occasions, have been having a lot of fun). Yesterday was Astrid and Greg Bear's annual Clarion West party at their lovely house on the lake, which was delightful. This is such a generous community!

Last night I had to speak the dreadful words of "clean-up" meaning after workshop clean-up. It doesn't seem possible. Does this end? It's a world unto itself and while it can't last forever and it has to and I can hardly wait for my time to be my own again and what on earth will I do with myself after it's done?

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


I really really like several songs on the Dirty Projector's new album Bitte Orca—unsurprisingly if you know my tastes, I prefer the songs where the women's voices are especially featured. Will I be able to grow to like the (to me) overwrought male vocals? Time will tell....

last week's listening § next week's listening


Christian Moerk's novel Darling Jim is the only novel I finished this week. I've been reading some short stories and started a few novels I didn't finish. Darling Jim begins with a postal letter carrier realizing that a woman on his route is dead. The police discover that not only is she dead, but there are two other dead women in the house—her nieces, whom she has likely murdered, and evidence of that a third was imprisoned there. When a clerk in the postal office looking through undeliverable mail discovers the journal of one of the murdered women, he decides he has to sort out what happened and find the third sister. All the women, including the aunt, wwere involved with a dangerous, attractive, manipulative storyteller, the Jim of the title. A well-told story with intriguing characters, and I like how the mystery of what happened and how it all happened unfolds.

last week's reading § next week's reading


After hitting the wall a bit on Thursday (mostly because of running too many errands in the heat, I think) it all picked up again and I got in an actual groove on Friday and Saturday. Words let the page. That was good.

The in print magazines I mentioned last week both made their physical appearance in my mailbox on Friday: my Scotland poem in the Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and my two poems in Dream Catcher. Double in print day! It has been years since that happened.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Sunday, June 15, 1997
Farm near Kirkcudbright

First to Drumcoltrun, a 16th C. tower, but it was closed for two weeks. Stout & simple.

Drumcoltrun TowerDrumcoltrun Tower.


Drove on to Dalbeattie, booked a bed for the night. Then off the road through farmland again to Orchardton Tower, a round tower, mid 15th C. Only round tower in Scotland. Lots of swifts flying through it.

Orchardton TowerThe delightful Orchardton Tower. I wish I'd managed to capture the swifts in flight. They were mesmerizing.


To Dundrennan, where we looked through the fence at the ruined abbey.
Dundrennan AbbeyDundrennan Abbey.


And on again to Kirkcudbright, a lovely little town, with MacLennan's Castle in the center of it, built by the provost of Kirkcudright, complete still except roof. Suddenly I could picture the room at the top of the square tower as Maddy's—except town to look out at instead of forest. Laird's loo looking out through fireplace.

MacLennan's CastleMacLennan's Castle.


Afterwards we went for lunch—wonderful—at a little place not far from the castle, Arty's. Mom had tomato soup, Dad had an omelet, and I a chicken, tarragon, and grape sandwich, a bit of salad with a light vinagerette, tasty coleslaw and a mocha! Espresso!

After lunch walked through town and saw some lovely stores (closed). Then off to Threave Castle. It was about a mile from the car park to the jetty. The castle is on an eyot in the River Dee, and the caretaker has a little boat with a motor to to take you across. He had all kinds of things to say on the short trip across about how the water used to be higher, but now there are dams upriver and down. It actually used to be tidal.

Threave CastleThreave Castle.


Explored the castle. Downstairs has a stone vaulted ceiling (kitchen, prison below) and upstairs the laird's rooms. Lovely views across the river, even swans. Sat across from the entrance and wrote a card to Jim. On the way back the caretaker talked about Archibald the Grim.

On the walk back I went along a little path through a patch of woods beside the river. Little birds didn't fly away until I was inches from them, and over a stile I got a lovely view of the castle with the defensive wall tower in profile.

Back to the car, picked up sandwiches for dinner, and then to the farm. Nice place. Has a motte behind it. No teamaking facilities, though. Sitting here, on the bed, Mom asleep beside me, Dad snoring in the chair by the window and a ring of standing sheep in the pasture behind him.

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