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: Lithuanian map and flag -- "Proud to Be Lithuanian" (lithuanian map and flag)
One hundred years ago TODAY, a couple of Lithuanian immigrants in Gardner, Massachusetts, welcomed their first child: a boy of fair skin and hair who resembled his mother. They named him Anthony, later nicknamed "Tony." He grew up active and strong and took technical courses in high school, but his parents died when he was a teenager, so he went to work in the factories.

Tony volunteered for the service right after Pearl Harbor, so the Army Air Corps sent him to Scott Field in Illinois for training in radio operation, navigation, and airplane mechanics. He was sent to India on "the Hump" route of the China-Burma-India Theater of WWII. After the war, he met a woman at a dance, and they married and built a small house together. After many years of trying, they had a daughter of whom he was always proud. He once told her that the day she graduated from college would be the happiest day of his life.

Sadly, Tony -- my father -- died the year after I graduated from college (the first time around). But at least he got to see that. It's true that I've spent more years of my life without him than with him. But at least I spent my important growing-up years with both parents in my life.

And his spirit is with me whenever I'm doing something he would have enjoyed, whether it's dancing, marveling over the latest technology, or looking up at a plane in the sky.

Happy 100th Birthday, Dad. Laba naktis....
luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
In case you may be wondering why I find August 29th a day to be endured rather than enjoyed ... today is the 35th anniversary of my father's death. For those of you who haven't been around me long enough to know the full story, and/or those of you who don't want to touch LiveJournal with a ten-meter pole, I'll put the original LJ entry from Aug. 29, 2003, under a cut.

The sad story here... )

And here's another way I think about my Dad, even today. Heck, you can read more of my past writings by clicking on the "dad" tag on whichever journal you're reading this on.

As far as the rest of today ... it's been a quiet, rainy day, with not much to do except plug away at my freelance writing and keep tabs on the Harvey flooding situation in the Houston area.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Star Wars Against Hate)
... of the Apollo 11 launch!

More later, maybe.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
For those who were wondering about Expo 67, 50 years ago this month....

My family drove up from Massachusetts to Montreal. By this time, the family car would have been a 1965 Dodge Polara, sort of an off-white eggshell color. I have no idea which roads we took, but the trip seemed to take all day, and we got to Montreal in the late afternoon. My mother tried to teach me a bit of French; I was fascinated that the red stop signs said "Arrêt" and the exit signs said "Sortie." Since I had been reading everything I could find in advance of Expo 67 -- and even though I was only 7 1/2, that was a lot! -- I could recognize the huge geodesic dome of the U.S. pavilion off in the distance, but my Dad could not figure out how to get any closer to it. I remember saying, "Daddy, I think you missed the sortie."

We pulled over to the side of the highway and Dad pored over the map. A car pulled up behind us and a man got out and walked up to our car. He asked us whether we had any hotel reservations, and when my parents said no, he said, "You aren't going to find any." He introduced himself as a Mr. Dalton, pulled out his government ID and said that he was a Quebec government official and he and his wife were letting tourists stay in their home. So we followed him to his house, which had a facade made of randomly shaped blocks of white stone. The house seemed magnificent to me, especially because the street was also named Dalton. I have no idea how much my parents paid for us to stay in their spare bedroom, breakfast included.

We spent two or three days at the Expo. I remember HUGE crowds everywhere. At one point my mother and I waited 45 minutes in line to use the ladies' room. Forty-five minutes' wait to PEE!!!! I remember going up the escalator in the U.S. pavilion, which was said to be the longest escalator in the world. (I suspect the ones now at the Wheaton Metro station are longer.) I remember turning up my nose at the tuna-fish sandwiches my mother had packed for me in a cooler; I wanted fresh French fries, while my parents had a "buffalo burger." A parade for the 20-millionth visitor to the exposition passed by us.

I remember riding on an antique carousel in the amusement-park section, La Ronde. I was terrified, because instead of the vertical pole right in front of the saddle, the only place for me to hang on was a tiny little T-shaped handle to the right of the horse's mane. I remember spending my carefully saved-up allowance on an Expo 67 tote bag and a little flag with the "Man and His World" logo. I remember that I'd fall asleep in the back seat of the car on the way back to Mr. Dalton's house, but I would wake up when the car stopped at a gas station or something and my mother (whose grandparents were all born in the St. Lawrence River valley) would be translating directions for my father, who didn't speak a word of French, couldn't read the signs and kept getting lost.

On the last afternoon we were there, my mother declared that her feet hurt and parked herself on a spot of grass in the shade of a tree. My Dad took me to La Ronde, where we rode the Gyrotron, which I'd read about, probably in Life magazine. (An image of its exterior is here.) It was the first time I'd been on a ride with little moving cars that never quite stopped, even though this is quite normal now in the big theme parks. The first building was filled with a space motif, and it was my first encounter with black light -- I laughed at how my white ankle socks and the white parts of Dad's print shirt glowed eerily. Then the moving car took us back outside and down into the bowels of a fake volcano, where we were "eaten" by a big red monster at the end. I'm not sure what the combination of the two scenarios was supposed to convey, but I was thrilled anyway.

I wanted to take my mother on the Gyrotron, but wouldn't you know it -- that night there was a huge thunderstorm and the La Ronde rides closed early for safety reasons. We spent the evening sitting under the roof of a food-vending booth, with my mother talking in French to one of the workers there. The next morning we checked out of Mr. Dalton's house and headed home.

In late July 1983, as my mother and I were approaching the first anniversary of my father's death, she and I took a short trip to Montreal to see the actual city. We stayed at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel -- I didn't yet know it had been the site of the famous John and Yoko "bed-in" -- and saw lots of neat stuff. I insisted on checking out the Expo property again. From a distance we could see the skeleton of the geodesic dome. The Gyrotron had vanished from La Ronde, but I did go on a loop-the-loop roller coaster, just to satisfy myself.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Star Wars Against Hate)
1. Lately, my LJ layout seems to be completely broken on the Chrome browser, but it looks normal on Firefox. Has anyone else (or, anyone else who still does LJ/DW, that is) experienced this problem?

2. After a year and a half, I finally updated my "Lady Patricia of Trakai" blog. Check it out.

3. Today I spent some time working on my class for next week's Known World Dance and Music Symposium. Teaching a class on a subject on which there is exactly *one* extant English-language book will be ... interesting.

4. Today has also been the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation. I think the boy toy is officially tired of the subject. :-)

5. Little by little, I'm going through my files on both my computer's hard drive and my external hard drive to weed out duplicates. Especially on the external hard drive ... I've found five or six copies of some of the files on the external drive, thanks to various backup efforts. I had been really close to running out of room on both drives. Now I'm a little less close.
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
Good grief, how the time does fly....

So I have had a couple of great weekends in a row.

Saturday, May 27: Daytripped to Balticon in downtown Baltimore. Second year that the con has been held in the city where one must pay to park. That wasn't the only reason why I limited my con attendance to Saturday, though (more on that in a bit). I enjoyed the things I wanted to enjoy: the medieval dance, Maugorn's concert, and the masquerade. I saw some folks I don't get to see too often, although I did miss CZ and Alex/Phoenix. Moving the con suite from the 12th floor to the fifth-floor common level was a HUGE improvement.

Sunday, May 28: I really wanted to attend church in the morning, because that was our first glimpse of the ministerial candidate. She made a very big positive impression right from the get-go. After the service, there was a pizza luncheon and the candidate stayed to answer our questions. She has an interesting life story -- she worked as a civil engineer for many years before feeling called to the ministry. She and her husband have three grown sons.

Afterward, it was kind of a drizzly day, so the boy toy and I went on a drive through Anne Arundel County and ended up at an idiosyncratic joint called Crabtowne USA. Hey, the fish tacos were good.

Monday, May 29: The "money committees" of the church met with the ministerial candidate for a couple of hours. More positive impressions. Afterward, the boy toy cooked up shrimp and scallops at home.

Saturday, June 3: Storvik Novice Tourney, our barony's signature event. Once again we held it at the College Park Knights of Columbus, which has plenty of room, though no camping. That's OK -- it's the next town over from me, so why would I need to camp? I taught a "heraldry 101" class, although a couple of heralds who know much more than I do sat in and geeked out. Many, many of my friends received well-deserved awards from Their Majesties and Their Excellencies. Exposure to bright sunlight all day long made my brain go into "instant sleep" mode after sunset, so I went to bed a couple of hours earlier than I usually do.

Sunday, June 4: Another excellent service by our ministerial candidate, followed by our annual congregational meeting, at which we voted to call her as our settled minister with 98 percent of the vote. Yay! We finally have a permanent minister again! After the meeting, we had a brief party with champagne and cake, and there was much rejoicing.

We shall see whether this coming weekend's Baltimore Lithuanian Festival will live up to its outstanding predecessors.

And oh, yeah, after midnight it will be June 9 and the FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY of my high school graduation. It's a couple of weeks before the boy toy's 40th. Birthday, not anniversary. Why do you *think* I call him the "boy toy" here??
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Star Wars Against Hate)
(Note: I don't know whether this will cross-post to LJ because I haven't accepted LJ's new TOS yet. We shall see what happens.)

Today makes the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I. Of course, the war has fallen out of living memory -- the only people who were alive back then and still exist were tiny children then. Of course we don't go around reenacting it much, because it wasn't full of "exciting" maneuvers, just a long, static, disgustingly miserable slog that was only peripherally relevant to our continued existence as a nation. (One could argue that we as a species did not learn a damned thing from that war because people are STILL using chemical weapons in Syria -- HORRIBLE.)

I honestly don't know whether I have any relatives who served in World War I. Once I found an online listing of WWI soldiers from my mother's hometown and it included a man with the same name as my grandfather. However, I have a hard time believing that my grandfather served. His first two kids were born in 1914 and 1915, then my Uncle Rene was born in September 1917, and my mother was born in September 1919. Do the math. IMHO, my mother looked more like her father than any of her siblings. So if he had served in any capacity, he probably remained on the home front.

Since my hometown's city hall was built in the 1930s, probably with New Deal funding, the community's memorial to World War I got pride of place in front of the main entrance. It's a granite obelisk with four statues, one on each side, one each representing the Army, the Navy, the Marines ... and the nurses. Yes. A woman with a calf-length skirt on a military memorial. I wonder why this is not more famous nationally.
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: 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.
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: 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.

Hiya, Dad!

Aug. 31st, 2015 10:42 pm
luscious_purple: Lithuanian map and flag -- "Proud to Be Lithuanian" (lithuanian map and flag)
Happy 98th Birthday! Oh, wait ... you didn't get to be anywhere near that old. If you could come back to Earth today the way you were when you died, you'd be just nine years older than I am. I have some friends older than that, or in your approximate age group, at least. You might like them.

Anyway, so much to catch up on. Once again, your birthday falls during a time when your favorite New England Patriots are defending Super Bowl champions!!! How 'bout THAT!! You never even got to see them play in the Super Bowl once when you were alive, never mind win it!! Of course, the Pats have now become the huge dynasty team that fans of all the other NFL teams like to rag on. Oh, well....

And the Red Sox have won the World Series THREE TIMES in recent years!!! Can you believe THAT!! The only time THAT happened during your lifetime, you were in diapers, just past your first birthday, so of course you missed all the excitement!

So many things have changed. Remember how you like to browse at Radio Shack while Mom and I shopped for female clothes? About a year ago, just about all the Radio Shack stores vanished! Yup, no more! Sears and Kmart are just a shadow of their former selves too, due to crummy management. Of course, there are a lot of cellphone stores where some of the Radio Shacks used to be. What's a cellphone? Oh, yeah, it's a phone that you can carry around in your pocket, and you can talk to anyone anywhere whenever you want to! You don't have to be the president of the United States or some other big shot to have your own mobile phone!

Speaking of radio, the kind of music you liked to listen to on Sunday afternoons -- what I always called "dentist-office music" -- isn't really played on the radio anymore. But, don't worry, I could hook you up with all sorts of mellow "easy listening" stuff, or maybe even the Big Band sounds of the Swing Era, through my Spotify app.

What's an app? Oh, yeah ... it's a little thing you run on your smartphone, and it connects you directly to the Internet without a browser. What are all of those things? What the hell am I talking about?? *deep breath* My, I really do have a lot to explain about how the world has changed since 1982. Never mind the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of your parents' homeland....

Just leaving you with this thought: Your nephew Tim is now older than you ever got a chance to be. Today, his grandson began the fourth grade.

As always with love,
Your little Patoodle
luscious_purple: Stop SOPA and PIPA (No SOPA)
No news on the health status of my friend in hospice.

Today is the 41st anniversary of my Confirmation (a Catholic thing).

I need to do some serious cleaning up around here in preparation for furniture rearranging next week.

Today I wore my new sneakers for the first time. I bought them in one of my visits to the local Kmart that went out of business last month. Comfy.
luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
Somebody wrote this celebration of LiveJournal that sums up a lot of my feelings about LJ and DW. I don't mind FB, but sometimes there are just things that need to be said without being attached to a legal name that can be Googled by prospective employers.

I've been meaning to write a long post about relationships (the romantic or not-so-romantic kind) on LJ/DW, but I need to make some headway on my writing-for-pay first.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
(Taking a quick break from my friends-locked musings to note something here.)

I'm not sure *exactly* which day in February 1970 I started to scribble into a notebook. But somehow I think I remember it as February 23. So ... today makes the 45th anniversary of the day that I, fueled by youthful enthusiasm and a desire to emulate both Anne Frank and Harriet the Spy, started keeping a "notebook" or "diary" or "journal" or whatever you choose to call it.

I spent a *lot* of time scribbling all through the '70s. Based on some very preliminary transcribing I've done, I wouldn't be surprised if I wrote 200,000 words during that decade -- all by hand! Since then, my journaling has gone up and down and I have had some breaks, but I've been here on LJ since 2003 (and on DW since 2010).

Forty-five years ... wow.

Anyhow, back to "work" (for some freelance value of "work") and ranting.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Yep, once again we have reached the anniversary of my father's death. Now it's been 32 years since he walked the face of the Earth.

However, instead of dwelling on his death, I'd like to imagine seeing him again. Granted, if he had been alive all this time he would be two days short of his 97th birthday. But in my mind he will always be 64.

Dad died long before I had any notion of joining the SCA or even doing other remotely "fannish" things. Also, he did not seem particularly interested in history other than World War II history, and I doubt he knew much about the Middle Ages. However, he was a welder by trade, and he knew enough carpentry to build his own house. So he would be able to appreciate many of the handcrafted items we use in the SCA. His service in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II -- he was based in India -- greatly increased his tolerance for summer heat and humidity, compared with most people who lived their entire lives in Massachusetts.

So, if I were to take Dad to Pennsic for a day, I'd get him dressed in a pair of floppy pants if he wanted to go shirtless, or I'd get him a knee-length men's tunic that he could wear over his swim trunks or shorts if he wanted to. I'd put a straw hat on his head -- or wrap it in a turban -- and we'd go exploring the merchant area. I'd show Dad all the armor and medieval furniture for sale. I'd point out the workmanship and I'm sure he would want to talk to the craftspeople about how they made that stuff.

Then we could go to the battlefield and I'd show him what people REALLY do with all that metal stuff. It's not quite like watching football or baseball, but he would probably pick up on the excitement. In time, perhaps he would learn enough about the function of armor to make himself useful on the sidelines by doing some quick on-the-spot armor repairs. Or he would be a great waterbearer, as long as he remembered to drink enough water himself.

Later on I'd introduce Dad to Baron Rorik and other cribbage-playing friends for some good, relaxing card games and some cool drinks. Since Dad was always a volunteer bartender at the Lithuanian club -- and at home I think he took more pleasure in mixing fancy concoctions for guests than actually consuming them -- I'm sure he would love to try some of the meads, beers, ales, cysers, and other goodies that SCAdians brew up. He might not ever want to drink a Schaefer again!

Finally, since Dad would choose 1970s-style variety shows over the cop dramas that Mom liked, he probably would like to spend his evenings listening to the bards around the campfire. Or maybe dancing in the Pennsic dance tent -- the steps would be unlike the foxtrot and polka of his youth, but I bet he would learn quickly. Mosquitoes would not be a problem -- he always said that they didn't like to bite him.

Ah, if I could only spend a day with my Dad the way I am now...
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
A woman’s home is her castle.

When I think of “home,” I don’t think of the condo I bought nearly 15 years ago. I dream of the perfect little house.

Two bedrooms, one bath, six closets. A basement, half finished, and an attic with a real fixed staircase. A garage just big enough for a whale of an American-made car.

Shiny varnished woodwork. Maple trees to shade the roof. A backyard hill made for sledding.

My father and mother built that house. One evening, as a thirtysomething man trying to start a family with his wife, my father sketched out the design of the house on a crinkly sheet of tissue paper. The initial sketch became more detailed as he took a ruler and pencil and measured out the walls and doorways just as he had been taught in his high school mechanical-drawing class. Then he and my mother bought a half-acre of land and got the foundation dug. All summer long, the two of them worked 10 hours a day at their factory jobs, grabbed a sandwich for supper, set up a couple of clamp lights, and hammered away until midnight.

My parents brought me home to that house as a newborn. Growing up, I knew every closet by name (front-hall closet, work-clothes closet) as well as by the sound of its door and by its contents (the squeaky canister vacuum cleaner, the musty scent of worn sweaters and pants). The medicine cabinet made a prolonged metallic squeak as my father opened and closed it when he got up at night to take some aspirin. The sheets on the backyard clothesline almost blinded me with their cleanliness in the sunshine.

One evening at the dinner table when I was about seven years old, my mother announced, “We don’t have to pay the rent anymore.” I didn’t know anything about veterans’ mortgages at the time, but I garnered the sense that we had planted deep roots and I would always be able to build cardboard-box houses in the cellar and roll down the back hill with the grass slap-slapping me in the face until the world spun weirdly.

Time passed, and one Sunday morning my father dropped dead in the bathroom he had built, and some years later my mother went into the hospital and never came out. I bought a condo near the big city where I’d always wanted to work and sold the little house in the small town to a single mother who had been born at the hospital near my condo.

My life puttered on until the economy crashed around me. Now I am old and hard to employ, and I worry constantly about paying the mortgage. I know I could not have foreseen the Great Recession and its lasting impact, but some days I bitterly regret not keeping my parents’ house free and clear. At night I close my eyes and still dream about the perfect home, built by my parents’ hands, with hopes and love.

2014-03-31 17.15.18
luscious_purple: Stop SOPA and PIPA (No SOPA)
Hello, I'm Patty. I am many things. Labeled many ways.

I am an only child. I am also the youngest of at least five children. My mother had at least four miscarriages that she hated to discuss. God is the ultimate abortionist.

I was a good child. Bit of a prodigy, even. Studies came easily to me. Until I hit a brick wall in graduate school, and my talent for taking multiple-choice exams no longer got me any further.

I never questioned my need to go to college. Now I question whether my three degrees were all for naught. I played the game and did what my parents told me would give me a good life and now I have fallen out of the middle class.

I'm a nonfiction writer trapped in trade-journal limbo and trying to figure out what to do next. I would advise today's young people that writing is something to do on the side, not one's entire career.

I love the past, present and future simultaneously. I have participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism for 10 years. I wish I'd joined in 1977. At the same time, I wish I could be around to see the 22nd century. Since I'm old enough to remember the JFK assassination, though, I am realistic. Longevity does not run on either side of my family.

My greatest fear is that I will be of sound mind and frail body and yet be euthanized because society cannot afford to keep childless elderly people alive.

And tonight I shall go out and help make music for dancers.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
What 2014 might look like, according to Isaac Asimov in 1964.

I saw Asimov once. It was in the 1980s at a small SF con in NYC. I had gone on this road trip simply because my friend Bill R., who used to sell posters and stuff at cons, was vending his wares at this one. I remember his bristly mutton-chops, of course.

Ah, and next year makes the 50th anniversary of the New York World's Fair. My parents did not take me to it, because all their friends warned them that it would be a horrible place to take a small child. So they left me with an older family friend named Bernie, who took good care of me. But my parents missed me terribly and vowed never to go on vacation without me again.

Funny thing is: even though my parents came home with a bagful of World's Fair souvenirs for me, for years afterward I thought my parents had been delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention (which actually happened six or seven weeks *after* my parents' NYC trip). I think I was well into my teens before I figured out the truth. I don't think my parents lied to me ... I think I just conflated events in my head somehow.

Speaking of my parents ... it's always hard to get up on August 29th.

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