what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout
I don't go to Victoria very often, even though my parents still live there, but every time I do I get overwhelmed by reminders of my past. Almost every place I see there brings back memories of various events in my life, what I used to do and where I used to go. I lived in Victoria from shortly before my 10th birthday till I left for graduate school shortly before my 23rd. I've lived in Seattle now nearly ten years and before that we were here for nearly two years so soon I'll have lived in Seattle as long as I did in Victoria but I haven't got nearly the same kind of knowledge of the place or a sense of my history laid out here. Something to do with those formative years being spent in one geographic space and then moving away, only returning for brief visits. (We did live there for the summer of 1989, too, in my parents' house while Jim was looking for work--a period of waiting, not really living.)
It starts when I get on the ferry from Tsawwassen. The ferries have changed over the years, but that run first across the open part of the Strait of Georgia, then through the gorgeous Gulf Islands is so familiar to me I can envision nearly the whole 1.5-hour trip. I remember running around the ferry as a child. I remember making up biographies to tell to strangers to amuse myself during my frequent crossings as a university student vising friends going to UBC. I remember running into an older man I knew from church and necking on the upper deck with him and then later in his Jag (the smell of pipe tobacco and leather--mmm). I remember the relief of getting on the ferry after the 11-hour drive from Missoula when I was in graduate school there.
I always used to spend the entire ride outside looking at the view--islands so close you think it would be nothing to jump off the ship and swim ashore and so beautiful you're tempted to try just that--but now I usually spend the trip inside reading, glancing up often.
Then driving in from the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay it's all home ground. Driving down the Pat Bay Highway you can see the building up on the hill that used to house the alcohol treatment centre my dad and I used to work at, you go past the road to Island View Beach where I used to go to beach parties, past Elk Lake where Mom used to take me and my friends to swim, then past the house Christina lived in shortly after I first met her, then the part of the lake where a boyfriend and I used to skinny dip at night, then where I used to walk Christina's brother's dog the summer he spent travelling away from me (foolish me, I'm about to fall in love with Christina's brother in The Phonosnout), then the road to the house my parents built with the woods behind that were my spiritual home and then so familiar road into town from there, even though there has been a lot of development there downtown Victoria hasn't changed much, where I used to roam with the Mustard Seed (the Christian drop-in centre for wayward teens I volunteered in for several years) folk, looking for "our" kids. The least familiar area of town is past that, where my parents live now, but only blocks from where they live is Dallas Road and the breakwater where I used to walk with Randy (a later boyfriend), and Beacon Hill Park where I used to go on very early morning walks after staying up all night talking to friends. I remember standing on the bluff there above the beach looking toward the Olympic Mountains (which I can see a different side of from Seattle) with a friend, Harold, when an owl buzzed just over our heads. I recall looking down in that same place another time and seeing a barnacled, battered whale rounding the shoreline.
What surprises me most now is the beauty of Victoria's setting. I mostly took it for granted when I was growing up, but now each visit reminds me. There are lovely parts of Seattle, but not that conscious care not to spoil the beaches, to keep access to them public. The beaches, rocks, and woods of my home and native land.
I also read the second in The Black Jewels Trilogy, Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop. This is a dark fantasy (all kinds of vampyric creatures) which usually isn't my thing either but there are some wonderful things about this particular series, one of the main things is how the family who loves her deals with a terribly precocious child they know is far beyond them and will go farther. I love how their affection and care for her is so real. That's a rare thing in genre fiction--in any fiction. The books aren't so much about her, but how she affects the emotions of the ones around her who love her.
On the trip I read the third book, The Price of Blood and Honor, in Elizabeth Willey's ongoing (I think) series. I like the characters and the world, so I found this one interesting but not very plot-oriented--things just seemed to happen and not toward any particular purpose as though this is an in-between kind of book. A couple of times I really wanted to kick the characters to make them wake up and pay attention, and I don't remember feeling that way in the earlier books. Since it was the third I'd had some pre-conceptions that it might be the end of the series but it clearly isn't.
I also bailed on a book--Allan B. Coe's Children of Amarid--I just couldn't get interested in it, though I got nearly halfway through. I rarely quit reading something but I could tell I wasn't going to enjoy this. Though the story idea was interesting-ish (mages psychically linked to hawks) I'd seen the idea before, and the characters and presentation felt flat to me--and he didn't use the link much, at least as far as I got. There didn't seem to be much point to the device. And I wasn't particularly caught up in the characters or the danger threatening their society.
To make up for that disappointment I allowed myself to start a Sean Stewart novel (The Night Watch) I'd been saving for a rainy day.
I did have fun at the reading on Sunday night--it was the first time I'd read in Vancouver. The reading was too long at nearly three hours and with nine readers, four of whom read fifteen minutes to be able to donate Canada Council reading fees back to the League, and each of the rest supposedly for 10. My 15-minute time was right before the break, which was good. There was a large crowd, too, but the layout of the space was awkwardly angled--I was facing away from Jim and the friends who had come with me. The audience reaction felt mixed to me--I feel as though I might have been too dramatic for them, though I did get some positive feedback from individuals afterward. I had fun listening to the other readers, and was pleased to have participated. I hope The League of Canadian Poets made some money out of it over and above the reading fees.
2. I recall Tammy was an impressive artist--not just the usual highschool stuff. I wonder what happened to her?
3. Echoes here of a Christian song about going to heaven.
last week's Phonosnout § next week's Phonosnout
Last Week § Les Semaines index § Next Week
Email comments, questions, and complaints to email@example.com § Neile's main page
3084 people have wandered through this week with me