luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
Thanks to a bit of recent reorganizing, I now have a plastic bag filled with plastic bags from stores that no longer exist: Borders Books & Music, People's Drug, Bradlees, Rich's Discount Department Stores, Fashion Bug. All trips down Memory Lane.

The reorganizing came about because we were digging the Christmas boxes out of the spare bedroom, which has been pretty much just a storage room for some years now. Plus, the boy toy replaced the second of the two window blinds in that room with the blinds that were left over from his parents' house when they moved from Maryland to Texas. The old blinds had been disintegrating; I'm a bit surprised that the condo board's aesthetics "police" never called me on that, although maybe the large holly tree in front of one of the windows had something to do with that.

I would like to arrange my spare bedroom so that I could use it as a "crafts room." I could put the sewing machine on my uncle's old desk, the one that I used to use for my desktop computer back in the pre-wireless days when I had to plug the machine into a phone jack. I could also have a folding table for temporary use.

But first I have to winnow down the stuff that's already in that room. I can't spend too many hours at a time going through boxes and bags of old papers, books, and whatnot, because I get overwhelmed. I can take those chores only a little at a time. Intellectually I know that I shouldn't hold my current life hostage to my past. OTOH, since my "old life" is virtually all gone now, save for a few Facebook friends, no wonder I hate to chuck all of it out.

Good stuff

Nov. 24th, 2015 11:54 pm
luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
Tall Dancer phoned me earlier this evening! He was driving to Kentucky to spend the long Thanksgiving weekend with friends there. He sounds quite content to be away from the local SCA and negative memories involving his ex, although he still intends to go to Gulf Wars and maybe some dance-specific events.

Forgot to mention yesterday that the boy toy and I took a big step yesterday. No, not that kind of step. We went to the post office and submitted his application for a U.S. passport card to give him, finally, SOME sort of valid, unexpired photo ID. (He let his California driver's license expire more than a decade ago and hasn't bothered to get a new one in more than a decade on the East Coast.) I say "we" submitted his application because I had to sign an affidavit stating that I've known him for more than two years. He might not get the passport card in time to fly to his parents' retirement home in San Antonio for Christmas, but probably he'll get to spend a week with them in late January. I am SO happy that he will finally have a valid ID.
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: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
What, only one guess? (That was on Dreamwidth, not LJ.)

Anyhow ... I am going to Philcon. To try to help out the next generation.

There's this couple, F. and H., whom I've known since they were newlyweds in the late 1980s. They moved from Massachusetts to the San Diego area for eight or nine years and then ended up in northern Virginia. By then I myself had moved to Maryland. R. knows them too. "Salt of the Earth," he calls them.

F. and H. have two kids, an older daughter and a younger son. Both were always whip-smart with outstanding vocabularies even in elementary school. The young man's in college now and his sister graduated a few years ago from one of the Seven Sisters colleges that is still all-female.

I last saw F. in September for the big NASA Goddard open house (H. had gone to visit their son in college that weekend). F. was telling R. and me that he's worried about his daughter, whom I'll call Spider.

Since graduating from college (she majored in classics, with a minor in studio art, I think), Spider has basically lived at home without doing any of the usual get-your-career-started type of stuff. She doesn't even have a driver's license -- I know that learning how to drive is less common for millennials than for previous generations, but still, there are some places worth visiting that are not on public transportation. She doesn't work, except for occasional cat-sitting at neighbors' houses. She had been taking some art classes since she graduated from college, but she hasn't lately. She doesn't even really go out to museums and such without her mother.

Her father, F., really started to think about her behavior when she turned 26 in September, because, yeah, there's that whole Affordable Care Act thing about no longer staying on her parents' health insurance. F. was wondering whether Spider's depressed, whether she should be seeing a therapist, or whether he and her mother should just start applying some good old parental pressure to get out the door and get a job. F. says that H. is not so worried about Spider's lack of direction. Now, H. has been a SAHM all along -- I think she even quit working before Spider was born -- but then again, she has been married to an environmental engineer pulling down a halfway decent salary. If Spider never goes out and socializes with folks, she's not going to get married to anybody -- and her parents won't be around forever. (H. has already had a double mastectomy for breast cancer.)

My take? I can't tell if Spider is depressed -- I haven't seen her in person since last December, IIRC. As she has grown up she has seemed to become more shy and soft-spoken, at least to my eyes, but I don't see her that often, either. I know she's really smart, wrote some surprisingly good fantasy stories when she was a teenager, and can draw well. R. thinks that going to a small (that is, not overwhelmingly large like a Comic-Con), fan-run SF convention could draw Spider out of her shell and put her in touch with her creative peers. I agree with him to an extent, but I also suspect that a little adult pressure (from her parents or others) might nudge her toward at least getting a driver's license and some sort of job outside the house. Even if she *did* graduate from a prestigious college, at some point people are going to start judging her on what she's done post-college, and "nothing of substance" is going to start to look pretty bad.

So the five of us (F., H., Spider, R., and yours truly) will carpool together to Philcon on Friday. Obviously I want to have fun, but I'll also be keeping an eye on Spider to see whether she is truly having interactive fun with other people or whether she is just sitting by herself, sketching in a corner.
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
Several weekends every year, I feel torn because I have multiple events demanding my attention. They're all good choices ... so it's hard to choose. Often, these weekends occur around a holiday.

So ... guess what... this weekend I have no less than four things I could attend:
Those events aren't always on the same weekend. In some years, Philcon and the church auction have been held on the second Saturday of November. I'm also fairly new to Toastmasters, just starting my second year, so that hasn't been a factor in the past.

But when there's a conflict, it's just so hard to choose. I'm sentimental about Philcon because it was my "first" SF con back in the '80s when I was so much younger. Even though I can't afford to buy expensive stuff, I still enjoy shopping at Holiday Faire and socializing with folks from all over northern Atlantia. My congregation is my spiritual home and the auction is its second biggest fundraiser of the year (only the annual pledge drive is bigger, naturally). I've never been to a Toastmasters conference before.

So, which one did I choose this year, and why? Please feel free to guess in the comments. Answer tomorrow....

Ramblings

Nov. 16th, 2015 11:23 pm
luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
Today, when I submitted my invoice for my most recent feature article, I officially passed the total amount of money I earned through freelance writing in 2014. That may not sound bad considering that we still have more than six weeks left in the year. However, it's not saying much. I'm still pretty low-income, although by the cramped U.S. poverty standards that have not been adjusted for inflation in many years, I'm positively rolling in the dough.

I have a Typepad blog for ranting about income inequality, the "gig economy," and similar topics, but I hardly ever post to it. Just annotating the articles I come across in the Internet puts me in a depressed mood. And when I'm depressed, it becomes even harder for me to do the good stuff, like applying for jobs or seeking out new freelance clients. At least I save the articles on those topics to my Evernote account for future reference.

I could go on and on about politics in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, including the detestable reaction of these governors (mostly Republicans) who don't want "those" refugees. I'm glad Maryland's Larry Hogan isn't (yet) one of them. Perhaps a few rounds of aggressive chemotherapy while in his first year as governor have given him a new insight on humanity. Let's hope.

*yawn*

Nov. 15th, 2015 10:59 pm
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Long day. Had to get up early (after an episode of tossing and turning due to a weird dream) for the church Finance Committee meeting before the worship service. Then, afterward, I had to help count the money. Later the boy toy and I went to the farmers' market, and still later I had to gas up the car and go up to Baltimore for Lithuanian dancing.

By the way, Maryland is the teeny little state with two NFL teams -- whose bright idea was it to schedule two home games at the exact same time??? Couldn't the games be, y'know, played at staggered times or something???

Anyhow, now that I have come home and had a late dinner, I'm watching Talking Dead and yawning my head off.
luscious_purple: Boston STRONG! (Boston Strong)
Last night's news from Paris was certainly horrific. I changed the photo on the top of my Facebook page to an image of an old-fashioned postcard showing the American and French flags with the slogan "They Wave for Liberty." It looks like something printed up for World War I. I got it from a Facebook group called "French Canadian Descendants" (yes, I am in a whole lotta FB groups, just as I joined a bazillion LJ communities back in the day, even though almost all of them are dead now).

Today I got away from the sad news for a while and did something I've been wanting to do for more than a month: the boy toy and I went to see The Martian at our local multiplex. What a wonderful movie! Not only was it the kind of hard SF I like the best, but it was just so refreshing to watch a science fiction movie that was all about problem-solving instead of blowing up and shooting up "the others." Awesome!!! Now, of course, I really want to read the original book. (I also have a lot of respect for how the author, Andy Weir, crowdsourced the science while he was writing the book. Gotta think about how to do something like that in other contexts.)

(And, of course, I do have a few nits to pick about the plot, but in general it was one of the most "realistic" SF movies I've seen. And I've seen some awful stuff -- see, for example, Spacecamp. Bleah!)

Tonight I munched on homemade popcorn (the movie-theater stuff is way too expensive) while watching an hour-long YouTube video of Andy Weir, Adam Savage, and Chris Hadfield talking about The Martian. Now I'm listening to the Democratic debate while the boy toy watches Doctor Who in the other room. I'm following two live blogging/tweeting websites: Media Nation and Slate. Certainly Bernie Sanders is firing off some zingers....
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Not much accomplished today, it seems. Ran a couple of errands, waited for the exterminator to come to do the bimonthly bug spraying. The boy toy did three loads of laundry. I started to read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I've read a lot of nonfiction lately, because of my freelance work, and so I thought I'd read something a big classic yet suspenseful.

Late in the afternoon I first read some Facebook mentions of the bombings in Paris, so I flipped on CNN and the BBC. So sad. I really, really hope that there are no more attacks. And I really, really hope we on this side of the pond don't end up ramping up the security theater as a result. Yes, I want to be safe, but can you imagine going through TSA-style rigmarole to enter a shopping center or subway station?

I've never been to France, but I identify with it in a distant sort of way because of my French Canadian heritage. Also, until I was 6 or so, our neighbors across the street were an older couple from Marseille. I called them Auntie Ray and Uncle Leo, even though they were no kin to us. ("Ray" was short for Raymonde.) They had two kids who were almost grown by the time I was born, as well as a yappy little Pomeranian named Frou-Frou, the first dog I ever met. Auntie Ray and Uncle Leo moved back to Marseille, but they came back for a visit some years later -- I think I was in college by then. I'm sure they are long gone now.

Water

Nov. 12th, 2015 11:40 pm
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
When it comes to the four classical elements, I'm all about earth, air and fire. Not so much water.

When I was a kid, I *hated* getting water up my nose with a passion. So I developed something of a phobia about it. I never got the hang of rhythmic breathing no matter how many swim classes I took at the municipal pool and Girl Scout camp. By my last year of Girl Scout camp, I was the *only* girl in my unit still at the Advanced Beginner level. Everyone else was at least an Intermediate. True, I had the Advanced Beginner counselor all to myself, but I'll bet that she would have rather had the time slot to herself.

Anyway, I'd lived here in Maryland for many years without setting foot in my current community's municipal pool, but I'm glad I've started taking water aerobics classes there. I don't have to put my face in the water, but I still get some exercise.

The secret: a flotation belt that straps around the waist. (OK, so it rides up a bit during the class.) You get into the deep end of the pool and you are just suspended there like an astronaut training for an EVA in a neutral-buoyancy tank. No weight on your feet, no pounding on your knees, but you can get lots of great abdominal exercise by lifting your legs.

Some days, like today, I haven't felt like exercising, but then I drag myself to the pool, and afterwards I feel better and I'm glad I've done it. After all these years, I guess I've become a pool rat!
luscious_purple: Stop SOPA and PIPA (No SOPA)
Just had a bit of a scare. The most recent version of my feature article, which was on the screen when the battery ran down at the New Deal Cafe, was all garbled when it was restored. So I had to go back to the second most recent version, which was OK. Now I have to read through very carefully to add in the last few thoughts I had while at the New Deal. AAUGH!

In other news ... today would have been the 53rd birthday of one of my college peeps, the guy who died last December just before Christmas. As a tribute to him today, his wife posted a list of things we could do to honor Mike. I'll put it behind a cut, but please do click on it; it's a fine list.

To squeeze everything out of today... )

Please don't pass that around, because I didn't write it. Jill did. But I intend to print it out and stick it up where I can see it, along with another deceased friend's motto, ETHOOL ("Enjoy The Heck Out Of Life").

Now to that last little bit of the article....
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
Once YET AGAIN, a really brief placeholder entry to satisfy #nablopomo. Had a nice evening dinner with friends, one that was planned a month ago. But now I really, really have to finish that freelance article....

*grumble*

Nov. 9th, 2015 11:40 pm
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
Another day of trying to get this #nablopomo entry in just under the deadline. Well, I am once again trying to get this for-pay article finished. Guess which is more important to me right now.

I've had a decent day and an enjoyable dance practice -- we even had a visitor from the far-off Kingdom of Ansteorra, in town for a conference of systems administrators at the Marriott Wardman Park. That's one thing I love about the SCA -- wherever you go, through the SCA you can always find good people.

Gaah, my writing sucks at the moment. Trying to save my good turns of phrase for the paying article, I guess....
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
More good times today. Sonia and Maugie held a baby shower for a dance-group couple who are adopting a baby, so their nearly 4-month-old son was the guest of honor. He was pretty mellow and good-natured, considering he was surrounded by a dozen or more adults he'd never seen before. The other couple who had a baby in April also brought their daughter. It was the first time I'd seen either infant in person. Sooooo cute, both of them.
luscious_purple: Lithuanian map and flag -- "Proud to Be Lithuanian" (lithuanian map and flag)
Wow, I am just squeezing this in for #nablopomo.

A big day for ethnic food. For brunch the boy toy and I went to the annual Slavic food festival at a Russian Catholic (not Russian Orthodox) church in Beltsville. Then this evening I went to a fundraising dance at the Lithuanian Hall in Baltimore and had still more ethnic food.

Wish I could write more, but I'm really trying to get this in before midnight. More details tomorrow.

Old and new

Nov. 6th, 2015 10:39 pm
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
Lately I've been snacking on PopCrinkles. The "sea salt" flavor. They taste like ... something I ate in my youth, but I can't quite place it. Not quite like Pringle's ... but maybe a precursor to Pringle's ... or some other snack food from the late '60s or early '70s. Perhaps the "inventor" of PopCrinkles did a search on expired food patents from way back when.

Everything old is new again.

Yesterday I stole a glance at Target.com to see what the site had for plus-size activewear, since the activewear in my local Target is only for women who are already skinny. So I clicked on "plus sizes" and looked at all the categories there ... and, would you believe it, there's an entire category called '70s style trend. Fringe, fake-fur vests ... stuff that crawled out of the back pages of the yearbooks of the classes that graduated from high school just before I did.

Everything old is new again.

Last night I went to my first deep-water aerobics class since the city's indoor pool reopened (it had been closed for six or seven weeks to get a new roof and other repairs). It all felt familiar, even though there was no more sunlight coming in through the big plate-glass windows at the deep end of the pool building, because it gets dark so early now. And then I went back into the freshly painted women's locker room to shower and change into dry clothes ... and realized that I'd forgotten to pack my underwear. So I had to "go commando" to drive home. Six or seven weeks is long enough to forget my prep work, I guess....

Everything old is new again.
luscious_purple: "avoid heralds" (avoid heralds)
Choices, choices!

I wish I could go to Baltimore for the 7 p.m. astronomy lecture at Space Telescope Science Institute. I adore hearing about new astronomical instrumentation! And I might even run into a friend from Massachusetts!

But my body desperately needs the water aerobics class at my town's indoor pool from 6 to 7 p.m. I haven't been to a class there for about six weeks, thanks to the major renovations at the indoor pool.

Can't do both. The pool and the institute are at opposite ends of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, which always gets jammed up at rush hour.

Argh!
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
Back when I had a job -- five years ago, now -- my employer had this thing where, as part of the annual review process, we would list our goals for the coming year. Some ordinary, achievable goals, and then some "stretch goals" that would be a bit more difficult to reach. Somehow, all these individual goals would get mushed together into group goals, and then departmental goals, and then one year later, we'd all sit down and calculate how much was actually achieved. And if we had collectively achieved a certain percentage of these goals, everyone in the organization would get the same amount of year-end bonus, regardless of our rank or salary.

Gee, did I ever mention how much I've missed getting a chunk of change, like $900 to $1200, dropped into my bank account during the first week of December?

However, I digress. Now that it's getting dark earlier in the evenings and the local community college has sent out its winter catalog of non-credit classes, it's time to think about what to do next.

Yes, I am a freelance science writer. I'm not giving that up. Indeed, I am working on a historical feature article due next Monday. But it's NOT enough to pay the bills. Yes, I have been applying for full-time jobs for five years now. No, I am not going to get hired. Not only do I have a five-year gap in my resume -- because freelancing isn't a "real" job -- but also my first name, Patricia, just screams "Born in the 1950s!!!!" In person, I don't look 56 years old, but on paper I seem to be in my 60s, no matter how much I chop off the bottom end of my chronological resume.

I keep thinking that, as a hedge against declining opportunities (and pay) in science writing, I should do something else in addition to science writing. You know how you sometimes see an author described as "a writer, yoga instructor, blues musician and adjunct professor of aerospace engineering"? Yeah, that sort of thing. (Never mind that I suck at yoga, teaching, and building paper airplanes.) Right now my resume says writing, writing, writing (and a bit of editing). But I know that I can do so much more.

But what?

Whatever I choose, it's got to be something I can pick up with a minimum of additional education and cash outlay. I have two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree. I do NOT need another academic degree. I cannot afford one, anyhow.

Take a couple continuing-ed courses and become a notary public?

Do the lessons on Codecademy.com?

Buy out Mistress Martelle's equipment and supplies for making things with beeswax? (She's selling them to focus on fiber arts.)

Write that book based on my diaries of the 1970s?

Start some sort of podcast and try to find a corporate sponsor?

All of the above?
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
So, I voted. It was about five minutes before the polls closed, but I got there to cast my ballot for the municipal election. We have city council elections in the odd-numbered years; the school board and county posts happen in even-numbered "midterm election" years.

Usually the actual vote takes about 90 seconds, and then some volunteer makes you sit at a table and fill out a really long questionnaire about "community issues" that takes 15 minutes. Fortunately, my precinct was out of copies of that form, so I didn't have to slog through that particular chore.

Since moving here 16 years ago, I've voted in most of the city elections. I didn't vote when I first got here in 1999 because I'd literally been here only two months and was still completely uninformed. Also, there was one year when my early-evening dental appointment ran overtime and I couldn't get to the polls in time.

Still, I take my franchise seriously. I read the candidates' biographies and Q&As in the local paper. I voted for a mix of incumbents and challengers, but in the end the incumbents won (it was a race of 11 candidates running for seven council seats). Ah, well. Turnout was pretty pathetic as usual for a city contest, but next year, when the White House is on the line, the crowds will be overwhelming. I don't see why other people don't exercise their right to vote every year, but, hey, I did my time writing get-out-the-vote editorials for small-town newspapers back in the '80s. I did what I could do in the pre-Internet era.

Anyhow. In other election news, my friend Leslie was just voted in as a school board member in the New Jersey town where she lives. Congratulations to her! Up in Massachusetts, my hometown's Republican mayor was reelected, and my mother's hometown got a new mayor, a guy I once met at my cousin Steve's house (his wife and the mayor-elect's wife are longtime friends).

And so we move on to the Big Enchilada. I am so disgusted with the GOP's hatred of Barack Obama that I never plan to vote for a Republican again. There have been a few times in past years when I have voted for a moderate Republican -- when I lived in Connie Morella's district and I wanted to reward her for voting against Bill Clinton's impeachment, when John Silber was running for Massachusetts governor and I couldn't in good conscience inflict him on the rest of the state, and once when the Democratic candidate for state rep or state senator was anti-choice. However, now that the party has moved SO far to the right, I can't envision a similar scenario occurring ever again. To all the people who say "Vote the person, not the party," I respond: If you consciously choose to associate yourself with assholes, what does that say about YOU?

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