luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
On Monday, Labor Day, I posted the following tribute on Facebook. I *meant* to copy it here too, but I got tired later in the day.

One hundred years ago TODAY, my Uncle Rene was born. Yes, my father and one of my uncles were born just four days apart in the same year. Uncle Rene was my *maternal* uncle, just so you're not totally confused.

Most people pronounce "Rene" as "reh-NAY," same as "Renee," but my family of French Canadian Americans always pronounced my uncle's name as "RAY-nee." At any rate, my Uncle Rene was the third of six children born to a couple of residents of a heavily French Canadian neighborhood in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Rene grew up to be the tallest of his siblings and was always a big high-strung. His hair stood up straight on top of his head, and he wore thick glasses. He left school after the eighth grade because by then it was the Depression. At some point he lost the tip of his right middle finger to some sort of tool or machine. He had only the tiniest stump of nail on that finger.

As you can see from the
[Facebook] photo, Uncle Rene joined the service during World War II, but I don't think he stayed on the front lines long. My mother always said he had "shellshock." I think he was shipped home to recuperate. I have a little satin pillow that is printed with the words "For Mom from Fort Belvoir."

Rene never married or had kids, but lived with his mother (my grandmother) and took care of her as she aged. She signed the house over to him before she died, so he would always have a place to live. He worked as a janitor at Fitchburg State College (as Diane N***
[a former member of my church who attended Fitchburg State] can attest) until he retired.

My Dad and Uncle Rene were good friends and were in a bowling league together. One Sunday afternoon they scared my Mom -- they went down to the local airport and convinced someone to take them up on his small plane for a cruise around southern New Hampshire. Better to seek forgiveness afterward than to try to get permission beforehand....

By 1987 Uncle Rene and my mother were the last of their siblings left alive. They were the third and fourth kids in the family, and I think my mother was closer to him than to her other siblings. He died at age 79, and my Mom died four weeks later.

Happy 100th Birthday, Uncle Rene.


* * * * *


On Monday I had gotten up early to march in the Labor Day parade as a member (really, president) of the local Toastmasters Club. I should really start a DW/LJ tag for Toastmasters, as that's probably going to be a bigger part of my life for the rest of the "club year" (i.e., until next June 30). The town where I live was built as a New Deal project 80 years ago, so yeah, we love our Labor Day festivities. It's traditional for marchers to toss candy to the children on the sidelines, and some of them bring bags, almost like Halloween trick-or-treating.

This is the third year I marched in the parade with the Toastmasters. It's really quite fun, and it's not a lengthy parade at all. This year's event had a TON of entries for local politicians. The area is so heavily Democratic that next year's primary (I think it will be in June) is tantamount to election. So, yeah, everybody wanted to "press the flesh."

At the elementary school book sale at the Labor Day festival, I scored three books, including The Civilization of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas -- list price $60 when it came out. I think I paid $8 for the three books and the reusable tote bag to carry them in. Deal!

At the parade I scored coupons for a free Mission BBQ sandwich and a free slice of Three Brothers pizza. So I think I came out even, more or less.

* * * * *


I was supposed to have a small surgical procedure today (to remove a small BENIGN lump), but the hospital arbitrarily rescheduled it to next Tuesday, without bothering to TELL me until I made inquiries late yesterday afternoon. *grumble*

I had explicitly made no commitments to anything for the coming weekend, because I figured I was going to spend the weekend loafing around and sleeping off the painkillers. Now, however, what to do? In addition, money is a bit tight again, since I paid off some crucial bills.

Although I've been invited to attend no less than three different SCA events in three different states, I think I'll stick closer to home this weekend. Maybe I'll catch up on some projects here. I really hadn't planned on going to an event until Battle on the Bay, which is the weekend of Sept. 22-24.

* * * * *


I haven't been in touch with Tall Dancer a lot lately, but he called twice this afternoon. Apparently he is on a long drive from Georgia to Tennessee for a small relax-a-con with friends. And he just got back from Florida to celebrate his grandmother's 95th birthday. I do hope his relatives are safe during Hurricane Irma.
luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
Last month, while going through some of my books, I found one of my two copies of Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. (Yes, I have *two* copies, with two different covers. Fancy that.) Since the year was about to start, I thought it might be a route worth pursuing for my mental health in these trying times, even if it does read in places like something preciously, pretentiously straight out of the 1990s School of Self-Esteem.

I haven't done the gratitude journal *every* night, but when I can, I do (in my own handwritten diary, the latest volume of which began in February 2008 -- that's how much I have switched to online journaling). There have been a couple of nights when I was too tired, a couple of nights when I was feeling crappy about myself and/or my bank account, a couple of nights when I just plain forgot. I suppose it will end up being a helpful reminder of the good things about my life (because, honestly, my life IS mostly good except for the lack of a steady income).

There are a couple of indications of how times have changed since the book was first published in 1995. January 28th and 29th cover "The Illustrated Discovery Journal" and "Your Personal Treasure Map." Both are supposed to be exercises involving paper, photo-filled magazines, scissors, and glue. Nowadays, of course, people just use Pinterest. :-)
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.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
Nope, I didn't post over the weekend because I was having too much fun at Philcon. Despite the sardine-like conditions for three adults crammed into the back seat of a Prius, my friends made the car rides pleasant. H. made me a necklace and a bracelet out of beautiful cobalt blue beads. I certainly wasn't expecting a nice gift!

F. spent a lot of time at the con in the gaming areas. I think Spider was very attracted to the art show and art-related panels, including a roundtable discussion on how to price your art. Now she's talking about exhibiting some of her artwork at Lunacon next spring. Hm, maybe this is the spark that will give her some purpose....

H. and F. also got a chance to talk with some folks from New England whom they had not seen in, literally, more than a quarter-century. Since before Spider was born. So, yeah, another good thing.

I also finished Rebecca over the weekend. Now, I'm not going to put these comments under a cut, because the book was published in 1938. But my first reaction to the "big reveal" about Rebecca was: Eewww, how can the narrator still love her husband once she knows he KILLED HIS OWN FIRST WIFE??? And got away with it? Second reaction: Why wasn't Mr. de Winter at least a member of the House of Lords, if not some higher peerage? Third reaction: Maybe the whole thing was some kind of assisted suicide?
luscious_purple: Boston STRONG! (Boston Strong)
I'm not sure how much I'll be posting to LJ/DW over the next couple of days. I'll just have my tablet with me, so those posts are liable to be VERY short. A few other random comments:

1. Still reading Rebecca. At times I wonder whether Rebecca was the illegitimate child of Mrs. Danvers. Yes, I know all about the rigidity of British social classes and all that, but still... Wait, wait, DON'T tell me!

2. For sports fans around here, the 30th anniversary of this gruesome injury is a Big Deal, but maybe this week will finally become known for Bryce Harper's National League MVP award. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about David Ortiz.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
1. It has not escaped my notice that the funeral Mass for 9-year-old Tucson shooting victim Christina Green fell on the 14th anniversary of my mother's funeral Mass. Of course, my Mom did not live to see Sept. 11, 2001. Christina's entire life came after hers.

2. After a hiatus between June and December, I started to update my LibraryThing again. Today I passed the 300-book mark, and I'm nowhere near finished. Have a look if you wish.

3. I know there's a Bardic Night in the barony tonight, not far from where I live, but I don't feel like going out tonight. Maybe it's the cold, maybe it's the lack of money for gasoline. I am really, really hoping that the check comes tomorrow. On Saturday, at the latest.

4. I'm still working on the boy toy's fingerless mitts. I'm almost halfway done the second mitt. I should really post a photo when I get a chance.

5. Note to all who are going to Arisia this weekend: Travel safely!
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
You know me -- I'm always looking for sources of Lithuanian history, particularly about the Battle of Grunwald, since this is its 600th-anniversary year. Lately I started poking around on Better World Books, which overall looks like a very good Web site.

So I found these books, but scattered among them I found stuff like this and this. And then I started to think ... hmmm, that cover illustration kind of looks like an American Civil War cannon, so what's it doing on the cover of a book about a battle that happened 450 years earlier?

And THEN I found yet another book -- again, with a fairly high cover price -- that said in the book description: "High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles!"

Whaaaat?? So THEN I Googled the name of the publisher, Alphascript Publishing. You can tell that something bad is going to happen when you start typing "alphascript publishing" and Google automagically suggests the word "spam." :-P

Sure enough ... according to this Web site, Alphascript is a Mauritius-based "company" that is a subsidiary of a German thesis publisher. Its books are just agglomerations of downloaded Wikipedia articles with the same authors' names appended to the cover (one of these authors, "John McBrewster," gets 35,900 hits on Amazon.com alone, which makes me laugh). And these books -- with content you can get for FREE under the Wikipedia license -- sell for $50 and up a pop, sometimes as much as $120!

You can read this rant by [profile] rufftoon and other statements of awe and disgust here and here.

Oh, that company also goes by Betascript Publishing.

I cannot believe that somebody would be trying to make money by selling such poor-quality books, never mind abusing the "copyleft" provisions of the Creative Commons license.

I am not blaming Better World Books, Amazon.com, and other online booksellers. I doubt they can police every title, especially by the rapidly growing print-on-demand houses (which includes reputable players like Lulu.com). But we who are looking for books on fairly obscure topics need to stay on our toes ... and NOT subsidize this kind of effort.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
For all you friends of independent bookstores, President Obama stopped by one today and bought a few items. :-)

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