Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dalek-building in times of plague

(In which Helena discovers the wondrous glory that is duct tape.)

We'd been suffering a kind of cabin fever that spilled all over our weekend, the 3 of us variously having our sinuses infected (me), throats strepped (Helena, suspected — with possible symptoms, and a memo from the daycare that scarlet fever is making its rounds — but in the end not; but home for a few days all the same), and lungs phlegmed (J-F), although it was better than the more literal cabin fever we'd been anticipating having to endure (in a shack in the woods in the snow with in-laws).

I'd been looking forward to starting book #3 of my Chunkster ChallengeInfinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace — and a shack in the woods in the snow with in-laws for the weekend seemed just the right time and place for it. The change in weekend plans heralded a change in reading material; the tingling behind my eyes and general heaviness of head put me in no mood for jesting but was rather more suited to an appropriately pseudoephedrine-enhanced reading of The Exquisite, by Laird Hunt, which, I neglected to say, reminded me of both The Street of Crocodiles (Bruno Schulz) and The Dodecahedron (Paul Glennon), in ways I care not to elaborate (because, really, I'm still not thinking all that clearly) beyond noting the problem (for the reader, as well as for the characters) common to all of trying to decipher objective reality from how the subjective mind creates its own narrative of it.

Also, I'm diving back into Patrick Hamilton (Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky), my way of celebrating his upcoming birthday. It's not right that he should sit there so long unread, and it's not right that I should deny myself the pleasure. It's a very different reading experience from, say, The Gold Bug Variations, which I readily proclaim to love (it's as if I've never really loved a book before). Hamilton makes me turn pages, I crave it, every knowing glance and every second guess, even though I know it's going to end badly; Hamilton is a drug.

Helena, still with a low fever, after a single day of feeling tired and resting was no longer acting sick at all. I ran out of energy long before she ran out of suggestions for games I should play with her. Even when she's engaged in solitary activities, she prefers that I'm by her side, colouring my own sheet of paper or drawing my own letters (and not with my nose in a book and a coffee at hand, although some days she's more accepting of this tendency of mine than others). I was tired of the options Helena offered me.

"Why don't you build a Dalek?" I flippantly suggested (having recently read about a contest).

And away she went.



I am proud to say that this Dalek is entirely of her own invention. I offered Helena an array of materials to choose from. I stepped in when she neared tears over trouble affixing its... hmm... appendage, and brought some duct tape to the rescue (ah, duct tape!), after which I stood by and cut pieces according to her specifications. Helena saw fit to dress the Dalek in duct tape almost entirely; she really likes the colour, and it's shiny besides.

(The Dalek Song.)

A second Dalek is in the works, but Helena's interest has waned, which is just as well. There's already a Dalek among the elephants; the last thing I want is a whole army of Daleks in the house when our defenses are down.

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