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 "ArrĂȘt" 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: Snagged on LJ (great news)
Wrapped up my science-writing conference this morning with a guided tour of the cartoon library & museum at Ohio State (http://cartoons.osu.edu/). Much squeeing happened! Now to entertain myself for the afternoon.
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
(In which I took the theme, "No true Scotsman," too literally at first. Now that I discovered that it refers to a kind of logical fallacy, I don't have time to change my thoughts around. I've got a short freelance assignment for *pay*, a job interview on Thursday, and a huge decluttering project going on here.)

Scotsman. Scotland. Never been to Scotland. When I planned to spend two weeks in the UK -- an Anglophile's dream -- in 1989, I wanted to avoid if-this-is-Tuesday-it-must-be-wherever syndrome, so I limited my itinerary to southern and southwestern England. (It didn't hurt that I could crash on a London friend's sofa and save myself lots of money.) Granted, my friend's parents escorted me on an afternoon trip into Wales, which was a welcome addition, but other than that, I stuck to England and didn't go even as far north as Hadrian's Wall.

None of my ancestors came from the British Isles. In my native state of Massachusetts, being of Irish descent is a Really Big Deal, partly because of demographics and partly because of the Kennedys. Scottish heritage, not so much.

I never even saw the movie Braveheart, because some LGBT folks were urging a boycott of it at the time, and I have liked Mel Gibson less and less over the years. I suppose I need to read a really good history book about Scotland. (Back in high school, I read and adored Victoria Fraser's biography of Mary, Queen of Scots, but Mary wasn't the only person in Scottish history.) Suggestions are welcome.

In my professional life, I've had to interview science professors at the universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrews, but not all of them are actually Scottish. One was from Germany and another was from some undetermined Middle Eastern country (I didn't ask). The strongest Scottish accent I've heard in a while came from an engineering professor in Australia. So what IS a "Scotsman" or "Scotswoman" in these days of globalization?

The referendum on Scottish independence will fall on the anniversary of my mother's birth (just a coincidence, I'm sure). I wonder what will happen.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
The boy toy and I got home around 7 o'clock last night. Yes, it was a night for dance/music practice, but once I got past the threshold I did NOT want to cross it again. I drove a total of 1,172 miles in five days! Thus, I felt a powerful, overwhelming urge to be stationary for a while.

I know that it's a stereotype that cats shun their owners when the people come home from an extended trip. However, Julia ran to greet us at the door and let out a stream of vocalizations that could only mean in kitty language, "Where have you BEEN all this time? I *missed* you SO MUCH!" She came up to both of us for skritches and petting. When I flopped down on the bed and extended my right arm to stretch it out, Julia laid her body against my arm with her head perfectly positioned next to my hand for the neck skritching. Awwww....

Anyhow, we had mostly fabulous weather. One brief cloudburst in New Jersey on the way up, a few sprinkles in the morning on the way back ... otherwise, it was GORGEOUS weather: bright, sunny, ideal temperature, low humidity, nearly cloudless skies ... to me, that was EXACTLY how summer SHOULD be!! Gosh, I miss New England summers!!!

I will write more later, but I just wanted to drive home the point that one of New England's major supermarket chains and one of the supermarket companies here in the DMV (the new slang for DC/MD/VA) are EXACTLY the same:

luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
And this is only the FIRST day of the month! 29 more days to go!

Not only do I have to work on the plans for Storvik Novice Tourney -- wrangling the heralds, figuring out if my tent still is holding up for another year -- AND figure out how I'm getting to KWHSS, now that I've registered for it -- AND get the Herald's Point newsletter finished before KWHSS -- but I've agreed to help chaperone the church Youth Group (high school students) on their weekend trip to NYC the weekend BEFORE the other two events!

(Don't worry, folks, there are only three or four teenagers going on this trip, and I know their parents and where they live. Heh heh heh.)

Oh, yeah, I gotta do my freelance work, look for a job, intelligently vote on the church budget, make SCA award recommendations, figure out how to PAY for both Pennsic pre-registration and quarterly estimated taxes for both the IRS and Maryland, make some intelligent comments on the proposed new SCA heraldry rules that were JUST posted online tonight, and do a couple of things that I'm forgetting at the moment. Oh, and a 90-year-old church member called me tonight to complain that the congregational coffee team needs more help.

*head spins*

I *had* been thinking about going to Highland River Melees, maybe day-tripping because my back is feeling cranky and I don't know how much heavy lifting I want to do just yet. But now I just wonder whether I should go at all. Lots of A&S classes, fun with friends, tasting the results of the Baronial Brewing Smackdown, et cetera, but the site IS 117 miles one-way from my residence, and I really should meet with the Youth Group at church to go over the plans for the NYC trip, so I'm wavering....
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Yesterday was the annual church auction. I didn't want to spend too much, of course, but I did manage to snag this Magellan GPS unit for a mere $45! Woo-hoo!

Of course, I'm not going to keep it in the car for everyday use, because that's an invitation to get my window smashed in and the GPS stolen. However, when I know I'm going to venture into unfamiliar territory (such as many of the non-Storvik SCA events I attend), it will be nice to have that little extra voice telling me where to go. Even on the familiar routes like my annual trips to Massachusetts, I will be happy to be routed around traffic jams, or to be advised of nearby eateries other than the ones advertised near the exit signs.

I suppose the GPS wouldn't have helped me earlier yesterday afternoon, though, when I went to my ex-boss's house in Springfield, VA, for a brunch to celebrate her 40th birthday. (I know at least three people who were born in November 1970; she's one of them.) Apparently Fairfax County is building/rerouting roads and renaming others in that neck of the woods, and GPS services and Google Maps haven't caught up yet, according to the chatter at the party. I went about five miles out of my way after getting off I-95 and had to call the ex-boss's husband for updated directions. Ah, well, I got there eventually.

Anyhow, I'll probably call the GPS unit "Lady Magellan," given that it will largely be taking me to SCA events. :-)
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
This morning I woke up and looked out the hotel window and the first thing that escaped my lips was: "IT'S SNOWING!!!" Yep, big, puffy flakes were falling! Of course they weren't really sticking to the pavement, but on the flat roof of the building next door I could see some wet slush accumulating in triple-point equilibrium harmony.

Snow! The season of holidays and skiing is approaching....

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