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: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
I think I've caught up with everybody from the friending meme, so it's about time that I started explaining myself to my new friends (and this may be a refresher course for longtime friends as well).

I'm Patty, Pat, or Patricia (not Trish). Born and raised in Massachusetts, I still identify with that state, even though I have lived in Maryland for 23 years now. I am simultaneously an only child and the youngest of at least five -- my mother had a whole string of miscarriages before I came along. When I was growing up, I thought *everyone* waited 11 years after their wedding to become parents. Ha ha ha. So, yeah, my parents were "old" parents. In fact, today would have been my mother's 96th birthday.

So, yeah, I've been "on my own" since my mother died when I was 37. My father died shortly before my 23rd birthday. At least he got to see me graduate from college ... the first time around.

I have bachelor's degrees in both journalism and physics (different universities, different decades) and a master's degree in astronomy. Didn't get to my doctorate; the master's degree is worth about as much as a postage stamp in the job market. I did a lot of writing for trade magazines you've never heard of. For the past five years I've been freelancing, which means that I still write for some of those obscure publications, but for far less money. Sometimes I get really depressed and wonder why the hell I bothered to be the first in my family to go to college.

Anyhow, as you may have noticed from looking at my tags, I've been in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) almost as long as I've been on LJ. (See this for an explanation if you're unfamiliar.) Sometimes I wish I had joined the SCA much earlier in my life -- who knows what my life might look like by now -- but one can't turn the clock back. I just might as well make the best of whatever life I've got left.

Some other dramatis personae in this journal:

* Julia -- my beautiful gray and white cat. She came to live with me on July 14, 2009. (Don't worry, I love dogs too, I just don't have one in my life at the moment.)

* The boy toy -- this guy who has been living here in my condo (without a job) for some years now. I tend not to call him my boyfriend. More like the Doctor Who companion. I have no plans to marry him. People think I should throw him out, but I worry that I will be incapacitated with loneliness.

* Tall Dancer -- An unattached male SCAdian who lives 650 miles away. He was invited to our barony to teach some dances back in January and I ended up getting a wicked bad crush on him. Various things happened online. I guess we're just friends now. I have been unable to convince him to go to War of the Wings, a fairly large SCA event that is roughly equidistant from the two of us. But I'm going there anyway.

* R. -- A platonic male friend of mine for 30-plus years. Lives in northern Virginia. Politically conservative, so I try not to bring up the subject of politics. Huge LOTR fan. He has many, um, quirks, but he is part of a small group of friends who helped pull me out of a dark place when I was in my 20s, thus earning my lifelong thanks.

* T.H. -- A friend who has invited me to her house for Thanksgiving for many, many years. I mean, when I first started going, her nephew was in middle school, and he's now in his mid-20s. By now I know her entire family.

* Maugorn and Patches, CZ and Alex/Phoenix -- people I know both in real life and in LJ.

Other people to be explained when necessary.

Another fairly recent introductory post.

I think that's it for now. Feel free to ask questions.
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
I actually enjoyed Lunacon more than I had anticipated I would. Probably because I had already figured it was going to be a small con, so I wasn't expecting a slew of parties and familiar faces (although I certainly did see some).

R. and I took the Amtrak train from Union Station in DC to Penn Station in NYC. We then took one subway line one stop uptown to Times Square, then got on a special subway shuttle that apparently goes back and forth just between Times Square and Grand Central Station, nowhere else. I don't ever recall being inside Grand Central Station before, so I took a few minutes to gape in awe at the ceiling and chandeliers before we got on a Metro North commuter train to Port Chester, N.Y. Bill got into town about the same time we did, so he picked us up in his minivan and got us to the hotel.

The Escher Hilton, as it is frequently nicknamed, is undergoing renovation from the dated-looking "country Early American" style to the "modern retro with dark wood and light avocado" look. At least this time around the renovation work didn't interfere with our use of the indoor space.

I took things easy -- went to a few Saturday panels, bought some beads from Fabric Dragon, and saw the art show -- Carol S. is transitioning her jewelry-making style from Native American to steampunk. R. had his usual up-and-down moods. Sometimes I think he would be happier if the con consisted of no one else but the handful of people he is already friends with. Both nights, he begged out of the parties early and I eventually found him stretched out on the bed in his room, still with his clothes on, as if he meant to get up and go out again or something.

The open parties were extremely lightly attended, but it wasn't difficult to figure out that you didn't really need an invitation to go to the "NYC science high schools alumni party," which had plenty of high-test booze. Yep, that's where the people were really hanging out. I actually met a guy called "Eric in the Elevator" who knows [profile] didjiman from Baycon. Cool.

[personal profile] cz_unit wrote quite a bit about the Lunacon party scene. Some other interesting posts I found through Google Blog Search:

http://mrburkemath.blogspot.com/2012/03/lunacon-2012-report.html
http://kathwp.malibulist.com/index.php/2012/03/19/my-rather-busy-weekend/
http://kradical.livejournal.com/2512851.html

Lunacon was permeated with warnings that this might be the last Lunacon if people don't cough up some more cash and volunteer help. From the con's home page:

As you may have noticed, membership in Lunacon has been shrinking over the last few years; last year membership was down by approximately 200 paying members. Unfortunately, Lunacon’s bills have not been shrinking as much as our membership, and we are in need of an infusion of cash. In order to help make up the shortfall, we are having a charity auction for the benefit of Lunacon. Items will be on display in the art show, bidding will use the same rules as the art show. If you would like to donate anything to the charity auction, please bring it to the art show and see Andrea.

Cash donations will also be accepted. Every donation of $5.00 or more will receive a special “Friend of Lunacon” ribbon.


And there was a long spiel about needing volunteers on the back of each Lunacon badge. I won't retype it into this entry because it's getting late.

I suspect that the membership was not as far down as last year (when I didn't attend, either) and I read that the masquerade was actually bigger than last year's (15 entries, as opposed to 6 -- still pretty low, but not QUITE as pathetic). The essay on the back of the con badge said that volunteers are REALLY needed for pre-convention tasks that can be done over the Internet. I felt a bit of a pull, but in the cold light of reality, I don't know what my situation is going to be like by this time next year -- whether I'll be working, whether I will have money and/or time to travel, etc. The last thing I need is to promise something that I can't deliver on.
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
Last weekend I was at the 75th-anniversary Philcon. R. was subsidizing me by buying me an Amtrak ticket and not asking me to pay for my share of the hotel room, at least until I have a job. (It was a three-way split, as our mutual friend Bill came down from Massachusetts and sacked out on the floor.) I bought my own NJ Transit tickets and some food.

I think I've finally made my peace with the fact that Philcon is just destined to be forever smaller than the "Land of Endless Parties" of the late 1980s. So I actually had a decent time there. I enjoyed catching up with friends from Massachusetts. Carol the expert costumer now exhibits jewelry in convention art shows, and she has branched out from her earlier beaded necklaces into steampunk-looking stuff with gears and rosettes. She sold quite a few pieces, too -- good for her!

I attended two or three panel discussions on steampunk stuff, mainly for the benefit of the boy toy, who wants to make himself a steampunk outfit. I also am starting to feel the gentle tug of that genre. Maybe I'll try something for Darkover this coming weekend -- I could wear the long black skirt I bought for the SCA but don't wear there, plus a black-and-white blouse from the "career" part of my closet and my black wool hat and a bit of jewelry. It won't be much, but everyone has to start somewhere.

But back to Philcon. Again, I basically did what I wanted to do all weekend, and it was relaxing. Heard some good music -- bought one CD, from a group called Tricky Pixie, which included the musical guest of honor. The group performed during the masquerade intermission (and the entire masquerade took only half an hour, so I think the concert was longer than the masquerade).

Rumor has it that this year's attendance was at least 100 higher than last year's (which I didn't go to, either), so things must have been REALLY dead in 2010. And the Cherry Hill (N.J.) hotel has already booked up its ballrooms with weddings for the third weekend in November 2012, so the Philcon folks will have to search for yet another venue. During the optimistically titled "Next 75 Years of Philcon" panel, one guy (Hugh Casey, I think) said that any hotel can make more money from an afternoon wedding than from a full-weekend convention. Of course, I could go on about whether regional SF cons that are organized by non-profit groups should emulate the SCA model of holding events at venues that are less expensive than hotels ... but it's getting late now.

I do hope Philcon keeps running in future years, although I obviously cannot guarantee that I'll attend every year. The con definitely needs new blood. I see the same faces I've seen for 20 years or more, and a lot of them aren't aging well. I know that fandom tends to be more accepting than the general public, but still, younger fans don't want to hang out with a bunch of decrepit old fogies falling asleep in the corner of the con suite.

One last thing: At Philcon I heard that Arisia has grown to have about 3000 attendees, and the next one might hit the 3500 mark! Dang, I wish I could get up there sometime.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
Sting turned 60 years old today -- I already knew that was going to happen, because today was also my friend R.'s 60th birthday.

I wanted to get together with him, because nobody should spend a round-number birthday alone. So we took the Metro into town from our opposite sides of the District, and rendezvoused at the Starbucks just inside the entrance to GW Hospital. It was in the old GW Hospital building -- now torn down -- where R. made his entrance into this world. How many of us have returned to OUR birthplaces, so to speak, on our round-number birthdays?

From there we walked to West Potomac Park where the last day of the Solar Decathlon was being held, and we saw a couple of the solar homes, including that of the overall winner, the University of Maryland. It was a pretty cold, raw, and drizzly day. Walking back uphill to the GW campus area warmed me up again, though.

R. and I ended up eating dinner at the Bertucci's near GW, where we have gone on a number of other occasions. All in all, I think he had a pleasant birthday.

OMG, one of my longest friends (I've known him since 1984) is sixty....
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
I went to Holiday Faire and came home with a bunch of loot for not much money!

Let me explain. First of all, I didn't go to Philcon this year. Many of you realize my sentimental attachment to that con, dating back to 1987, but this year I didn't want to spend the cash (and I *did* spend a lot of cash on Philcon 2009). Out of the past 30 days I've spent eight nights in hotels, and I've both flown and ridden Amtrak, so I'm not exactly hankering for a getaway the way R. was (he went to Philcon, of course). Actually, R. did offer to subsidize me, but I told him -- graciously, I hope -- that I'd rather he reserve his help for sometime when I really need his help, like a car repair or something. I know that's a lot less fun than a con, but still....

Anyhow, back to Holiday Faire. I didn't post in this journal on Friday because I was busy making a turkey for the A&S competition. Yes, a turkey. The A&S competition had a turkey theme, and since this was part of the year-long House Corvus A&S Decameron, I really wanted to enter it.

Flashback to a few weeks ago, when the boy toy and I were shopping at the local farmers' market, I couldn't help noticing that a lot of the small ornamental gourds that are sold at this time of year are shaped like birds (well, bird heads/bodies/beaks, anyway). So I decided to make one of them into a turkey for the A&S competition. I encased the whole gourd in Viking wire knitting (also called trichinopoly), made some legs with heavier-gauge wire, attached two black glass beads for eyes and stuck a bunch of craft-store feathers into the wire stitches to make the wattle, wings and tail. I was up pretty late on Friday night finishing all this up. Then, on Saturday morning, I had to write some rush documentation, because while documentation wasn't "required," I knew darn well it would be expected.

So I got a slightly later start to my day trip than I had planned. Fortunately, the night before I had programmed "Lady Magellan" with the site address. I was expecting the GPS to lead me over the same route I'd taken to the Metalsmiths' Symposium at the same site two months ago, so I was a bit nonplussed when Lady Magellan told me to get off I-66 about 11 miles before I thought I was supposed to exit. There were times along the way when I couldn't help thinking, "What the hell...? Where is this thing taking me?" But ultimately I trusted the GPS and it got me to the site via a route about nine miles shorter than the route published in the Acorn, but with more stop lights and traffic, so it was only a little bit faster.

Anyhow, I got to the event just in time to enter my cute lil' turkey in the A&S competition. Then I bought a lunch and sat down to eat. First I found three of my Pennsic campmates from Southwind, who had just finished eating, so I got to chat with them a bit. Then I saw Maugie, Patches and Melinda, plus some other Stierbach folks. The local herald was suffering knee pain, so I offered to help him with a few announcements.

More later -- time to go to sleep.

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