Les Semaines

August 23, 2009

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

 §

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Went to Victoria to visit my parents, leaving Jim and the cats to fend for themselves which sadly they seem to be able to manage.

Realizing that our lives had been sadly without drama for a long while, Dad proceeded to put The Fear into Mom and I by letting us take him to visit the doctor, receiving a prescription for nitroglycerin patches and referrals to a cardiologist and a thoracic surgeon, and coming home a falling to what could best be called a decline. He did get himself dressed and downstairs, but for a few days that was the most he could manage. He looked grey, had no energy or appetite, and couldn't manage even a short walk with the dogs. He slept in his chair and held his dog Ben, mostly. He wouldn't have done the latter, except Ben insists on it.

Luckily, the patches gradually seemed to help him perk up, and by the time I left he could manage a short evening walk with the dogs, which still leaves poor Mom with her bad knee dealing with the two other daily walks. I am low-level worried about this, especially as Mom's not feeling particularly wonderful herself, and they have to deal with a second leak following the complete replacement of the outside structure of their duplex (leaking so badly the house would have fallen in about another year--the photographic record of the repair is scary). But they went through that for months and months. And then a leak and finally it was repaired. An now another. They are beyond sick of dealing with this, and I can't blame them. They shouldn't have to.

Also, while in Victoria, I got to see John Barton for several brief visits, and even had lunch with Diane, Harold, and their daughter Leandra, which was fun. John also gave me a copy of his new book and it's a knockout. It has been a long while since a book of poems has impressed me this much, and believe me, it's not just because we're friends. If this book were a chocolate bar, it would be this one, whose glory I just appreciated through the wonder that is the chocolate level subscription to Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.

So, after Victoria it was home to the real world. Which meant all the errands, chores, and nagging personal and home projects. Too many of them! So I've been picking away at them. Jim took the week off to write and do home repairs, and only had a chance to do the latter, because stripping and scraping our front concrete steps took over his life. He did it for four days, and has the blisters to show for it. However, we have since painted the stairs and they look *wonderful*. Wonderful, that is, for a boring, plain, innocuous set of concrete steps painted pearl grey. You wouldn't think them capable of such perfidy as stealing a week. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, if they had any. Since they're concrete and it's summer, butter would definitely melt *on* them. Jim nearly did, as did I when I helped with the painting.

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

Listening

Jim has been listening to a band called Lightning Dust. They're growing on me.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Sarah Dessen's young adult novel, Along for the Ride, is like all of Dessen's novels I've read: absorbing. Auden is the child of self-absorbed academics and has concentrated on academic success to the point of having little social interaction with other children. After her parents split up, she decides to spend the summer between high school and college with her father's new family in a small beach town, where she begins to explore the social scene. Characters and situations seem real, individual, strong depicted. Recommended.

Sarah Prineas' children's fantasy, The Magic Thief: Lost is the second volume in her series. Like the first, this is fun, adventurous, and entertaining. A good read.

Simone Elkeles' young adult novel, Perfect Chemistry is about two smart kids in high school: one from a well-off family who appears to have everything and another from a struggling family involved with gangs who seems headed for jail. Of course they fall in love. How they sort out their complications of their lives is interesting and well-depicted.

Alice Kuipers' young adult novel life on the refrigerator door: notes between a mother and daughter is a story told, as the title says, in notes that a mother and daughter leave for each other. They start off the usual thing for two busy people trying to communicate as they can, but take a dark turn when the mother discovers she has a lump in her breast. Well-told and the author makes the note device work.

Binnie Kirshenbaum's The Scenic Route is an adult novel but the characters have a lot in common with those in the young adult novels I've been reading. Sylvia, at loose ends after a divorce and laid off from her job goes to Italy, where she meets Henry, another American who is married to a wealthy British woman and lives off her money. They fall for each other and travel Europe together in his car without any real destination in mind, telling each other the stories of their lives--well, mostly Sylvia tells him stories and tells the story of her friendship with her friend Ruby, and is presumably telling Ruby the story of her rambling romance with Henry. An odd, entertaining read about the way peoples' lives really do seem to go.

In Sally Prue's juvenile novel Cold Tom isn't good at helping his tribe watch out for the demons who surround their area of the woods, encroaching at every turn. Targeted by his tribe, Tom runs to the demon city, where a demon tries to help him out, despite his reluctance and fear of demon ways. Entertaining and inventive.

Michelle Zink's young adult fantasy Prophecy of the Sisters set in the late 19th century U.S. is part of a series, but there's no indication of that anywhere on or in the book, and it doesn't have a particularly satisfying ending. There's a lot to recommend it--in feel it is very like Libba Bray's recent trilogy that started with A Great and Terrible Beauty. Lia is a twin, her mother has been dead for a while and her father has just died, and suddenly she has a strange mark on her wrist and her boyfriend who is cataloguing her father's library finds a book that recounts a prophecy about twin sisters, a Guardian and a Gate... Gothic, and few too many "what shall we do?" conversations, but an interesting story.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

My poem about being in Edinburgh, "Aged Black, Morning Green" just appeared in print in Canadian Literature.

Have managed to keep slowly progressing on the word-by-word novel cut despite travel and home repair and all. I would prefer to be making faster progress. I had dreams of being done before going back to work September 1, but that seems impossible at this point.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Laters. Sorry. Or I'd never finish this entry.

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