luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
Happiest of birthdays to those two folks born on the exact same day, Maugorn and Forestcats!!!
luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
On January 12, 1997, the New England Patriots won a playoff game. I know this because I had to plan the calling hours at the funeral around this.

My mother used to say, "Don't bother having a wake for me when I go." And she went on about the expense of it all. Finally I told her, "Well, gee, Mom, what if **I** want to have people come and comfort me at the hour of my greatest need? Funeral rituals are for the living!" After that, she didn't rant about the calling hours as much.

So, when I came to make the arrangements for Mom the way she had done for Dad ... I realized that everyone was 15 years older than when Dad passed, and some people might have given up night driving along the way, and it gets dark early in January. And then the funeral director gently suggested that the playoff game started at 4 p.m. and would go till at least 7 and no one would want to be at the funeral home during that.

Thus, instead of the tradition 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. hours, I just had the wake from 1 to 4 p.m. Then my relatives trooped over to my childhood home and we all watched the Patriots together. Not like my heart was in it or anything like that.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
... my mother passed away in the ICU.

She had gotten worse each of the days since I arrived in Massachusetts. The morning of her death, the hospital had called me and asked me to bring a copy of her living will, if she had one. I knew she had one, because I had visited with her lawyer when she had it drawn up. It took me a bit to find it, but fortunately I knew enough of my mother's secret hiding places.

I picked up my cousin Janet and my Aunt Bev and went to the hospital. The medical staff explained that my mother wasn't likely to be breathing on her own much longer and that once she got on a ventilator, she would probably never get off of it. I knew how strongly my mother didn't ever want to be on a ventilator, how she put that in her living will. So I signed the DNR. I hated it with every fiber of my being, but I knew it was what my mother wanted.

My mother's primary care physician stopped by the hospital on his way home from work. He took her hand and said it had been an honor and a privilege to be her doctor.

At the moment she stopped breathing and her heart stopped beating, Mom's hand fluttered a little. I hope she heard me saying "I love you, I love you" and singing snippets of songs to her through my tears. I hope my voice was the last thing she heard.

Love you still, Mom.
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
Forgot to mention yesterday: The NBC commercials celebrating Matt Lauer's 20th anniversary as co-anchor of the Today show remind me of how much of a fan of Bryant Gumbel my mother was. In fact, on Gumbel's last day on Today (20 years ago yesterday), I left my VCR recording when I went to work so that I would have a tape of that tribute episode in case my mother missed it due to her knee procedure. I never showed it to her....

Twenty years ago today ... my Saturday started with a call from my cousin Janet, saying that my mother was in a lot of pain and couldn't move her legs and was being transferred from Leominster Hospital to St. Vincent's Hospital in Worcester. Obviously I was upset over the complications, and I wanted to fly up to Massachusetts, but I had the additional complication that I was the only member of my four-person work group who was supposed to be in the office for the coming week. My boss and his wife were incommunicado, somewhere in Paraguay on vacation; the second person was on a ski trip in Vermont; the third person was flying (with my boss's boss) to a conference on the West Coast.

I remember the afternoon as a tangle of phone conversations. I couldn't call Janet back directly because she had called from a pay phone -- remember that technology? So I was trying to find out what was going on from the Leominster staff, plus I was trying to convince US Airways that I needed a "family emergency fare" or whatever it was called, so that I could fly to Boston right away, plus I was trying to find somebody from my then-workplace to notify about the situation. I finally tracked down the wife of my boss's boss, who promised to tell her husband once he reached his destination.

Around dinnertime I flew up to Boston. (I wasn't worried about how I was going to get around in Massachusetts, because my mother's car was sitting, unused, at her house.) Janet and her husband, Kevin, picked me up at Logan Airport. By that time, my mother was in surgery (for 4.5 hours, as it turned out), so there was no point in my trying to see her that night.

On the way back to my childhood home, we stopped at Leominster Hospital to pick up my mother's personal effects, which for some reason weren't transported in the ambulance along with her. Once alone at home, I looked through her purse just to see what was in it (you know how people always say stuff gets stolen in hospitals). At the bottom of the purse I found a baggie with two diamond rings in it. My mother's and my grandmother's. The ones that my mother had reported stolen to the local police a couple of months earlier, because she was sure that the visiting nurses and home health aides that I'd arranged for her were stealing her blind. With her mild confusion, Mom had robbed herself.
luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
Do you know why the TV commercials for the newfangled blood thinners (the ones that are supposed to replace Coumadin/warfarin) always warn patients to tell their doctors if they plan any spinal anesthesia? I'll tell you why.

Twenty years ago today, my mother went to the regional hospital to have an infection drained from one of her knee joints. Since she had a mechanical heart valve, she had to be careful about infections. (She was also taking warfarin for that.) On top of that condition, she was battling both congestive heart failure and COPD, so the doctors thought that she should have spinal anesthesia rather than general anesthesia. It would be better for her cardiopulmonary system, they said.

Unfortunately, the doctors didn't know that Mom had a small blood clot somewhere inside her spinal column. It probably resulted from a fall on the bedroom floor -- a fall not big enough to break any bones, mind you, just enough to shake her up. At any rate, when the doctors withdrew a tiny amount of spinal fluid to make room for the anesthetic, the clot swelled up and pressed on her spinal cord, causing her lots of pain and disorientation and making her unable to move her legs. And thus started her final downhill slide.

(Later, when her primary care physician phoned me after her funeral to see how I was doing, he said that his father had died under virtually identical circumstances. Over the years, doctors have wised up to this potential side effect of blood thinners, probably because of accumulated similar experiences.)

The more you know, etc. etc.
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
The Tournament of Roses has a "never on Sunday" policy, apparently dating back to the days when people rode horses to church, so we had to wait until today to watch our favorite New Year's Day parade. (It was certainly a tradition in MY house, anyway.)

Later on, the boy toy and I watched the Rose Bowl football game. I'm not one to watch any old football game just for the hell of it, but the boy toy is a big fan of the University of Southern California Trojans, because his mother graduated from USC. (The boy toy himself went to a Division III school, Humboldt State.) It was a thrilling game, with dramatic interceptions and lead changes, plus lots of scoring. USC won with a last-minute field goal, 52-49. Woot!

* * * * * *


Tonight makes 20 years since my final telephone conversation with my mother. (Of course, I didn't know that at the time.) I'm about to hit a lot of Mom-related 20-year milestones, all of them sad.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
Last Tuesday -- a week ago tomorrow -- Maugorn and I picked up the Honda Accord from the auction lot in southern Anne Arundel County, and then we had enough time left in the day that we took my 1996 Pontiac Sunfire to the salvage lot in Jessup. I hated to think of my beloved automotive partner of 20.5 years going to "the junkyard," but I need the cash more than the tax deduction (because I may not have enough other deductions to itemize, anyway).

Fortunately, we could get to the salvage lot via U.S. Route 1 instead of limited-access highways. Maug followed me the whole way, in case the bent frame collapsed or something. (I was in a then-SO's 1974 Dodge Dart when the frame broke. He was driving about 5 mph in a parking lot when there was a sudden "bang" like a gunshot and the entire car started to shake like gelatin. So, yeah, I didn't want that to happen to me on this final trip.)

The day was mild and sunny. My Pontiac's engine worked perfectly well, even if there was a lot of noise from the exhaust leak. However, it didn't feel like a dying vehicle. I listened to the all-news station, WTOP, which was just breaking the news of Carrie Fisher's death.

At the salvage yard, the sun shone heartbreakingly brightly through the open sunroof:

IMG_6162 Last view through the sunroof!

Maugie took a photo of my last embrace:

IMG_6170 Maug took this photo of my hugging the Sunfire for the last time.

Final odometer reading: 197,570.

Shortly after leaving the yard, I asked Maug: "Why does this feel as if I just left a beloved family pet at a high-kill animal shelter?" And then the tears came. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Anyhow ... I took the Accord to the local friendly garage for mandatory Maryland inspection. It needs a new muffler and front pipe, plus an upper ball joint on the left front side. Not too bad for a 1993 vehicle. Despite the car's age, several of my Facebook friends have assured me that I made a good choice, with one guy saying that the early-1990s Accords are among the best cars Honda has ever made.

Normally I just call my cars "Baby," but this Accord is going to be known as Draco, as in Draco Malfoy, because R. will take one look at my Accord and exclaim, "SLYTHERIN!!"

IMG_6173

R. owns a champagne-colored 1993 Honda Accord himself -- he bought it brand-new from a dealer and takes meticulous care of it. For whatever reason, though, he hasn't asked me about my car situation since I got the Accord. And he and I went to the Wizards game together on Friday (it was his company's employee outing, so it was all free of charge to me). When I do finally tell him about it, he'll get quite the surprise....
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Star Wars Against Hate)
Quiet night at home. The Accord is in my possession; the Pontiac is gone; I'm watching the annual silliness on CNN. Times Square is blinding, there are so many LEDs. Yay optics.

The highlight of this year was the Lithuanian folk dance festival, Sokiu Svente 2016. Google it if you are curious.

I am extremely pessimistic about the future of America.
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
Everybody, it seems, is saying how terrible 2016 has been because of all the deaths of celebrities. Well, I personally know a fair number of people who have lost loved ones this year. Two friends lost their spouses within a week of each other. One of the bereaved friends was the only bride for whom I was a bridesmaid (most of my good friends either are perpetual singles or were already married when I met them). Also, I know two friends who lost adult children this year -- cruelest of all -- and then other people are fighting major health stuff, like cancer and complications from detached retinas.

Yeah, the happy glow from the big Lithuanian dance festival of midyear has kind of worn off, in no small part due to the Giant Lying Russian Stooge.

Oh, yeah, I am not going to Massachusetts for Christmas this year due to the ongoing car issue. I have paid for a very cheap 1993 Honda Accord, though I am still waiting for the thing to pass inspection so that I can drive it. I went cheap because I am borrowing money from friends in order to buy it. I hope I can get a year or two out of it.

Dammit, I am SO SICK and FUCKING TIRED of this "gig economy" shit and this "get the baby boomers out of the workforce" mentality. Unlike the Trumpkins, I am NOT mad at the government. The government actually has LAWS against age discrimination and against trying to claim workers as independent contractors when they should be employees. The former is just damned hard to prove/enforce and the latter is hard to track down.
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
My longtime friend Mike T. belongs to this group called the National Air & Space Society, which is like the Smithsonian Associates, only focused on the one museum. Sometimes he gets tickets to interesting lectures: Jim Lovell, John Young, Alan Bean, and a few others.

In May 2012, he got tickets to the overflow seating area for the Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial Lecture, which is an annual series of talks focused on aviation (and usually military aviation and/or flight test, as far as I can tell). This time, though, the speaker was going to be none other than John Glenn. Yes, he was going to be talking about Navy aviation and Marine Corps aviation, but still ... John Glenn!

So, three of us got together for the momentous occasion, and Helen even took a selfie of us:

photo from John Glenn night NASM 2012

We were seated on rows of chairs out in the main hall of the downtown Air & Space Museum. Before entering the Imax theater for the main lecture, Senator Glenn appeared in front of us so that we could at least see him in person. Then we watched and listened to his talk on a large screen. He went on and on about all the different planes he had flown in his lifetime, and there were many of them, as he retained his flying privileges for decades because, hey, John Glenn.

And finally there was a Q&A session. I figured: what the heck, this would be my only chance in this lifetime to ask a question of such a mightily famous person as John Glenn. So I got up, stood in line at the microphone, and managed to calm all my jittery nerves long enough to ask him: "What was the latest model fighter jet that you have flown?"

And he answered: "The F-14, I think."

So, there you have it.

Godspeed, John Glenn.

Nope.

Dec. 6th, 2016 04:28 pm
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
I didn't get the car that I looked at on Sunday afternoon. It was a nice 2003 PT Cruiser, clean and running well, just needed a new O2 sensor. But I said it would have taken me a couple of days to round up the cash, and some guy came by on Sunday evening and said "yes" to the car (and probably whipped out a bunch of C-notes).

So, here I am, planning to get on the Metrobus in the rain to go downtown (i.e., into the District) for my local professional group's annual holiday gala. Nobody knows how to party-hearty like the science writers. Except, perhaps, the Lithuanians. :-)

Yesterday I sweated through some online applications for professional jobs. Tomorrow I'll be back to the classified car ads.
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
I *might* have found an easy solution to my transportation woes. I'll probably know the definitive answer by tomorrow. I hate to write too much before I know for sure, but please think positive thoughts for me tonight!!
luscious_purple: Stop SOPA and PIPA (No SOPA)
And here's the proof:

http://www.behr.com/consumer_ca/ColorDetailView/PMD-90

(Not quite my favorite shade of purple, but I'll still take it.)
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
By and large, it's been a rough month, punctuated only by a few better moments.

I hope everyone who celebrated U.S. Thanksgiving a few days ago had an enjoyable holiday. I did -- as I have for the past 15 or so Turkey Days, I went to my friend T.H.'s home, where I joined her extended family. Everybody contributed something, nobody shouted about Trump (we're all LGBT-friendly people, disgusted with the Giant Lying Russian Stooge), and everybody had a good time.

This year, however, I did NOT drive to T.H.'s house in my longtime motor vehicle. Those days are over.

My 1996 Sunfire, a.k.a. "Patty's Pretty Purple Pontiac," a.k.a. "Baby," is destined for the sunset after 20.5 years of mostly faithful service (the transmission failure on the road to Pennsic 40 being a notable exception).

Details... )

So, what do I do about a new car? I'm pretty sure that I don't qualify for any kind of financing. I certainly wouldn't give *myself* a loan. So I need to buy an older model (beater, jalopy, hoopty, etc.) that will pass Maryland inspection and run for a few years.

What's my budget? I am still figuring it out. As small as possible, but remember that a $700 car that needs $2300 of work to be legally registered under a new owner really costs $3000.
I wish I could just get myself to Carmax, but that place doesn't seem to sell anything under $7000 and I don't see myself being able to afford that anytime soon.

I'm really caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, folks ... without reliable transportation, it's even harder to find temporary or permanent employment, but without an additional source of income, I can't afford wheels. I have no idea what my health insurance costs will be next year ... they are already going up a lot under Obamacare, but I am NOT counting on Obamacare to last past January 20. Seriously.

Gaah, I don't know what to do. First-world problem, I know.
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
Yeah, I know, long time no post.

I had a long feature article to write, I felt all seized up from anxiety over the presidential election, so I went WAY over deadline, which meant that I got paid a lot less for my work... and my editor was pissed off... and then I got anxious over money....

And then I went through all the ups and downs of the near-end of the seemingly endless election cycle, and I went into my work as an election judge thinking that of *course* Hillary Clinton was going to squeak through. But the news looked bad as soon as I got home and I just couldn't fall asleep for the longest time, even though I'd been awake since 4:45 a.m., until I took cold medication (and I am not sick) to try to still my racing mind.

I had posted this on FB before going to bed:

Report from today: I awoke at 4:45 a.m. to get to work at a precinct in College Park. (I voted on Oct. 31.) I served as a provisional ballot judge. We were busiest, surprisingly, between 7 and 9 a.m., with an early crowd of people trying to get voting accomplished before the workday. Other than that, a steady stream but no big evening rush. Perhaps all those folks had voted early too (one of the local early-voting sites was elsewhere in College Park).

Before today, I had worried that idiots were going to harass the incredibly diverse voters of this precinct, but the only observer we had was from the Organization of American States. He was the former Peruvian ambassador to the U.S., and he bore an uncanny resemblance to Tim Kaine.
This precinct gave three times as many votes to Clinton-Kaine as to the Giant Lying Russian Stooge and Lord Voldemort. We did our part.

Even though CNN just called California for Secretary Clinton, I am feeling lots of loathing and disgust right now. Can you say "reverse Bradley effect"? I can't even imagine the suckage of another humongous recession. I am going to bed after I finish this one beer, but this may be the last news I watch for a long, long time.


Since the news, I have been in a dark place.

Facebook again, Wednesday afternoon:

(Adapted from a couple of comments I made on other pages.)

I admire everyone who is saying, "Yeah, folks, let's go out and fight for justice! Never give up!" However, some of us are in a very dark place emotionally and are not ready to do that yet. Some of us may never be ready for that, ever. I know that my grief and disgust are still too deep.

Since I have earned degrees in journalism, physics, and astronomy, I am feeling some professional as well as personal repudiation. There's nothing like living in a nation where a large chunk of the population believes that every journalist sucks and repudiates the science that both detected the global warming problem and could give us the tools to fix it.

The polls lulled us because so many people in this country are willing to lie about their own bigotry. I have lost a lot of my faith in the arc of the universe and the supposedly intrinsic goodness of humanity.


And finally in the evening:

On top of everything else ... I started heading out to the "gathering in community for worship, reflection and fellowship" at my church, and the steering on my 20-year-old car started acting really squirrelly. The car was pulling to the left, which grew noticeable at about 30 mph, and when I tried to correct it, the steering system felt all loose or something. I pulled into a parking lot and checked the tires -- no flats. Managed to drive home, but I have to get it looked at tomorrow. It could be something as simple as power steering fluid or as messed up as a bent tie rod or a busted axle. Just another episode in the ongoing saga of "The Ruination of Patty D[redacted]."

Still don't know what is wrong with my car. Still don't know whether I will ever work again. I *do* know that without an Affordable Care Act subsidy, my health insurance will cost $532 per month for my high-deductible plan. Right now I pay $70 per month. My mortgage is only about $594 per month.

I am still sad. I am angry. I am on a hair trigger.

Today...

Sep. 24th, 2016 11:29 pm
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
Today the boy toy and I spent the day in Baltimore, visiting a couple of museums that waived their entrance fees today under a special Smithsonian program: the B&O Railroad Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. (Sorry, photos are still in my camera.) Then we stopped at a diner-type restaurant that had been featured by Guy Fieri on the Food Network.

We had a great time ... but when we got home, we found a large hairball right in the center of the top of the coffee table.

Gee, thanks, Julia. :-P
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
On Monday, September 5, I marched in my town's Labor Day parade with my local Toastmasters club. While we were lining up to get ready for the parade, I took some photos that I thought might be of interest to CZ.

First, a couple of images of a plug-in BMW:

IMG_5335 Electric BMW in the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade 2016 IMG_5334 Electric BMW in the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade 2016

THEN ... I saw a car that looked an awful lot like the orange Porsche that CZ used to own back in the 2000s:

IMG_5336 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016

Note the solar panels -- I sincerely doubt that these were factory-installed in 1974 or whenever the car was built!

IMG_5337 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016
IMG_5339 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016

I even photographed the dashboard for clues to the retrofit:

IMG_5338 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016

Lots of other cool things. I really need to update my Flickr site.

Holy Hell

Sep. 1st, 2016 11:52 pm
luscious_purple: The scribal demon made me do it! (Titivillius)
Tonight I watched the documentary Holy Hell on CNN. The group described in the film wasn't the worst cult on planet Earth, but it still did its share of damage to the people who thought they'd found a second family of total love. Worth a watch. Definitely thought-provoking.

Tomorrow morning I'll figure out what I'm doing for this weekend's Battle on the Bay and pack the car accordingly. I don't even know what the Baron and Baroness are doing for heraldic support. Guess I'd better check that out....

Oh NO.

Aug. 31st, 2016 10:14 pm
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
Don't worry, I'm perfectly fine. Even got my driver's license renewed today, which would have been my father's 99th birthday. (99!)

BUT ... today the weather forecast changed, and what had been the prospect of a perfectly sunny and clear Labor Day weekend was replaced by the prospect of having a tropical storm roar over the mid-Atlantic region on Saturday evening -- right when Storvik is hosting Battle on the Bay. (It's our turn to host this SCA event; in odd-numbered years, the Barony of Lochmere runs it.)

Longtime readers of this journal may recall the vicious June 2012 storm that resulted in the cancellation of that year's Storvik Novice Tourney. That was NOT a happy weekend. One of our fencers took refuge under the permanent pavilion just before a tree crashed down on top of her tent. She's convinced that she would have been killed if she'd stayed in her tent. Other tents were destroyed or damaged, and the access road was blocked with downed trees and wires.

I have been hoping that I could camp at the event (Friday and Saturday nights) because I'm helping out with troll (entrance gate; where we collect the money) and the Battle on the Bay site is a 45-minute drive from my home. However, I really don't want to bring home wet canvas. I did that after the spring SCA "garb wars" event on the Eastern Shore, when it rained all weekend, and spreading out the tent to dry in the living room was a giant PITA. (And that one I *had* to camp at because of the distance.) I guess I'll just keep an eye on the weather forecasts. I happen to know that the National Weather Service runs another one of its giant "operational" supercomputer models every six hours.
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
First off: Today is the 34th anniversary of my father's death. Coincidentally, at the time of Dad's death, my parents had been married for 34 years (and about seven weeks). So, about seven weeks from now, I'll have a sense of how long my parents' marriage lasted.

Gene Wilder has died at age 83. Mostly I remember him as Willy Wonka.

Tall Dancer called me again tonight. I guess this is becoming more of a weekly check-in thing. This time around I avoided talking about job searching and mostly prattled on about dancing, eating the endless leftover cole slaw from the epic party, my weekend plans, and so forth. He is always more reticent about his personal life than I am with mine -- the whole pseudo-counselor thing, I guess. But he did say he is going camping at an outdoor "relaxacon" over the coming holiday weekend. Up with friends from Kentucky and Tennessee. I think he did the same thing over last Labor Day weekend, too.

Happy find at a local Little Free Library: I snagged a copy of the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired the Broadway musical Hamilton. Given my financial state, I don't have a snowball's chance in hell of seeing the actual production, but at least I can enjoy the book.

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