Eulogy

In some of my earliest memories of him, I remember my uncle Steve as The Guy Who Helped Built My Swingset. Every kid needs a swingset, but I was always especially attached to mine. I don’t think there was a day in the 16 years we lived in that house that I didn’t spend at least a little time out there, rain or shine. It was my favourite playground. When things got a little too crowded inside the house, it was my quiet haven.the swingset

 Every Sunday, Steve came over after church to eat lunch with me and my mother and my grandparents. Afterwards, I would sometimes ask him to stay and play a game of checkers with me. Sometimes he would, but most often he went on home instead. I was never upset by that; I always knew that Steve, like me, was a shy person who got tired out easily by people. I knew that for him, going him on a Sunday afternoon to his apartment and his cats was a lot like me retreating to the backyard swingset he had built for me.

 

But even though he was quiet and valued his solitude, Steve’s haven always seemed to have a place for me. Whenever I visited his apartment, he would gladly relinquish his computer for a while, or watch me play with the cats, or go with me down to the swimming pool. Once, we collaborated on making dinner – hamburgers and salad – for ourselves and my mom. I was going to slice little bits of ham for the salad, but there wasn’t a cutting board available, so Steve layered some wax paper on the kitchen counter for me. I had quite a little pile of ham all ready to go in the salad, but when I picked it up to dump it all in, I discovered that the knife had not only sliced through the ham, but also the two layers of wax paper – all the ham quickly ended up on the floor. We stared at each other for a minute, shocked, and then laughed. I think we put tomatoes in the salad instead.

 

Sometime in middle school, I decided that I wanted to learn French, so I got myself some language-learning software and loaded it onto Steve’s computer. If my command of the language is a little less than fluent today, it’s probably because I spent more time watching Star Wars and playing computer games with Steve than I did actually learning French.

 

A love of science fiction is something that my uncle and I always shared – he was a very early and lasting influence on my taste in literature and television, and I think he was happy to have someone with whom to share the things he loved. He never made me feel like it was a chore to spend time with me; we could be in the same room, each reading our own separate book, just being quiet together. He took me to the library and to movies in the summer. Once, when I forgot my library card at home and he didn’t have one, Steve signed up to get a library card that very day just so I could check out a book I’d already read three times.

 

There was one interest that my uncle and I never got the chance to share. I remember him telling me about a British sci-fi show called Doctor Who, but I never sat down to watch it with him. When my mom and I were cleaning out Steve’s apartment after the stroke, I found his VHS tapes full of Doctor Who episodes and decided to watch them – mostly as a way to feel close to him at first, but after a while I developed a genuine liking for the show. Four years ago, a friend of mine, also a fan of the show, hosted a Doctor Who viewing party and get-together at her house – that’s where I met my husband.

 

There are things I will never know about my uncle, moments we will never share, and questions I will never get to ask. But I do know this: he will never stop adding to my life. It – and I – will always be better because of him. He will never see me finish my PhD, or spend an afternoon doing engineering projects that I will never understand with my husband; he will never hold my children and distract them from their French lessons. But in the things that he taught me, the way that he shaped me, my uncle will be there for all of that and more.Steve

Medically Speaking

Ah, violent wind storms. Driving home through the neighbourhood tonight was like driving through the remains of an Epic Battle fought by large, plastic trash containers.

In other news, after 4 days of sharp, stabby uncomfortableness in my left shoulder (and eight years of general shoulder joint pain, shut up), I finally took myself to the doctor. An hour later, I left with an rx for an anti-inflammatory, an order for some x-rays, and the knowledge that I have “surprisingly good reflexes.” The doctor will likely send me to an orthopedic specialist, but she wants to see the x-rays first.

It took a little over half an hour to get my prescription filled, so I chatted with my mom for a while. She is well, Grandmother is well, Steve is…only slightly less well than his usual.

Grad school applications, GRE scores, and one letter of recommendation are in! Two more letters, and then they can send me my acceptance letter. Aaaany day now. 🙂

I made a pair of pants last week. Actual, wearable pants. Yes, the one article of clothing that has thwarted me for years and made previously readable sewing instructions morph into incomprehensible Greek has finally submitted to my will. Mostly because of my grandmother’s tutorial. 🙂 But still! I have committed pantsery Huzzah!!

a Holiday Pictorial

First and foremost, thanks to everyone for your kind words on Saturday. The funeral arrangements are finalized; they’re…a little unusual, but then, so was Gail.

We were with my family for Christmas Eve festivities this year, and I learned something that I really should have guessed: my grandmother is an Uno shark. Oh, sure, she’s over 80 and blind in one eye, and she’ll you that she can’t tell the blue cards from the green, but don’t think that will stop her from trouncing you and anyone else at the table. Ooooh, no.  When I was very little, she and my grandfather and three of their closest couple-friends used to play cards – canasta mostly, and rook – on the weekends, sometimes till wee hours of the morning at our kitchen table. We had a little bar-like area in the family room of that house and I used to set myself up there with water, soda, and a bucket of ice and serve as “bartender” till I had to go to bed. Should’ve known her deprecating demeanor was just hiding her card hustling skills. Last night she and I and John played game after game of uno till nearly midnight.

But before all that, there was dinner and playing with the pets and opening presents and…general happy togetherness. Fantastic evening.

And I have pictures!!

April Showers…

Got bitten by the productivity bug this weekend. Or maybe it was just restlessness at the cold and rain keeping me mostly indoors. Either way, I now have a few more pumpkin centerpices done, a few re-done, three boxes of little bubble bottles tied with ribbon, my bookshelf reorganized, and all my craft stuff (that I have room for at the apartment right now, which isn’t even a dent of what I have) in brand new colour-coded plastic storage. And I finally found a place for all the Christmas decorations.

Thanks to an FYE giftcard and an errand that took me and John downtown anyway, I now have Vol. 1 of The Bela Lugosi Film Collection. 5 movies, 3 of them Poe adaptations, 4 of them co-starring Boris Karloff. I am in gothic-horror heaven. Much time was spent this weekend lusting after admiring the quality acting of Mr. Lugosi.

 I had a Border’s coupon as well that I intended to use on getting myself a copy of Dance of the Dissident Daughter, since the local library is going to tar and feather me if I don’t return theirs. I did, in fact, leave with a copy of the book – as well as a gorgeous translation of Tristan and Isolde and a copy of Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. I geeked out a bit.

Season finale of Dresden Files last night – anyone else watch? Thoughts on the episode? The series? The possibility of a second season?

Also, there is a 3-ish foot tall TARDIS in my living room. Pictures forthcoming, probably this evening when I have my camera, but dude. There is a 3-foot tall TARDIS. In. My. Living Room. Squee. 🙂

thanksgiving

Apparently instead of a Christmas dinner this year, my office is having a Thanksgiving dinner instead. Next Tuesday, in fact. I’m kind of glad because I have at least two, maybe three, various Christmas plans and this may be the only Thanksgiving dinner I get.

We were planning on visiting some out-of-town family for Thanksgiving. Since my uncle can’t eat, my grandmother offered to stay home with him (we can’t very well eat in front of him, that’s just mean), but he’s been restless lately and his blood surgar is harder to control with tube feeding…mom doesn’t want to leave the two of them alone. John and I could go ahead out of town, or we could stay with my family here, or…well, I have a few more options up my sleeves.

So what are you all doing for Thanksgiving?

a life lived

So Friday, I’m sewing away, finishing the gypsy costume I decided at the last minute to throw together for KMF..only to find out the faire was cancelled. Damn.

Made the trip to Kentucky anyway, though, to see John’s friends Mike and Robin, and their impossbly adorable two-year old Wes. Oh, and Belle, the the ridiculously affectionate golden retriever. Can’t forget Belle – she won’t let you. Much fun was had, it was good to finally meet people I’d heard so much about. Robin is very, very pregnant right now and Wes, for reasons completely unknown to anyone but Wes himself, has taken to calling his new brother “baby Jack.”

No sooner were we back in town on Sunday than I ran off to rehearsal for the Harry Potter show various bits of KWP are doing for InConJunction up in Indianna this weekend. Good times swingin’ weapons at people.

Yesterday, I finally got to see the Thutmose III exhibit at the Frist. Amazing. If I could’ve fit the nearly 7-foot-tall statue of a seated Sehkmet under my shirt, it would be residing in my living room now. Alas.

Very very quiet fourth for me; I think I like it this way. Got up semi-early to go swimming and was surprised to find nobody else at all in the pool; much watery fun was had. Then later there the grilling of the hamburgers at my mom’s house, and I think now that my grandmother is petitioning to have John come over once a week to fix all the random things a household of women tends to be flummoxed by. (I think my mom could’ve figured out what was wrong with the grill eventually, but that blown lightbulb over the staircase was a real problem. The stairs were too narrow to support a ladder and we were all too short to reach it.)

There are various people and pets strewn about and napping now (funny sight to behold), and I think later there shall be chocolate chip cookies. After running around so much and having fun the last few days, I think I’ve earned the right to be a slug for an afternoon. Besides, tomorrow I start my last two days as an employee of JoAnn’s. Eep.

My grandmother has known her two best friends for almost twice my lifetime. They’ve been so close to us all that they’re like my grandmothers too. Seems I got the lion’s share of sweet, older ladies who like to dote on the only child.

Madeleine’s body died this morning; her brain had been officially dead for two days. She cried with me on the phone for nearly an hour the morning my grandfather died. I miss her already.

travelling

I was driving home tonight in the beautiul, beautiful weather with my windows down, listening to a retro 90’s radio show – their words, not mine, and oh, how it made me laugh to think that music from the 90’s is retro now – and the EMF song Unbelievable came on. I love driving to that song. Made me smile. And made me remember Heather, and how we both saw the movie Coyote Ugly – probably at Misty’s house – and came up with the brilliant if facetious idea that we should dig out some old pairs of Heather’s vinyl pants and go find ourselves a bar top to dance on. I loved – and still love – to think about that idea, because Heather’s the kind of girl who would do it in a heartbeat – and I’m the kind of girl who would seceretly want to do it, love do it, but never would…unless I were with someone like Heather. We never did go dancing, and certainly not on bar tops, but I still entertain the idea sometimes.

Stupid Girl up next, a song a learned to like courtesy of S, who introduced me to the band in highschool.  S was a lovely and insanely cool red-haired goddess, and my biggest high school crush. There were prettier girls. I didn’t want a pretty girl. I wanted S, who played volleyball and watched Buffy, and shared my love of good books, buttered popcorn, and Molly Ringwald movies. She had pale, freckled skin, pretty blue eyes, and bucketloads of nerdy rebel-girl cool. About the time I decided that I was firmly in crush territory, she decided to accidentally break my heart. And so it goes.

The music and the weather and the driving were the just the icing on the cake of a wonderful week. Details? Why, sure.

Monday: I went fabric shopping. No, stop laughing, I’m serious. I went to a fabric store on my vacation. Of course I also went to the post office and several antique malls as well; spent mass amounts of quality time with John’s mom, who is a pretty nifty lady. Also, there were Girl Scout cookies. (To whom it concerns, I have my very own box of Samoas now. I am eating one at the this very moment. Mmmm.

Tuesday:
Teh shopping! My grandmother loves two things: shopping and me. Not necessarily in that order.  (And she loves other stuff too, but it’s not relevant to the story.) So, we went shopping. It was…terribly liberating. My grandmother is always after me to look nice and dress professional, and now that I’m a few scant months from entering a work environment that might require that, I’ve begun fine-tuning my wardrobe. I can work around dresscodes, but I can’t stand uniforms; I’m very attached to my clothes and what I can say with them. So, with the help of Kohl’s sale/clearance racks, I found three really nice outfits that are smart, office-appropriate…and terribly, terribly me. I love them all.  It was very heartening to do something fun and proactive, something to celebrate both my impending graduation and the fact that I will soon be free to seek tolerable employment. Also got the chance to talk to my grandmother a lot, which we don’t really have time for these days.

Wednesday:
Greenways! Lots and lots o’ walking. It was such a great day for it. And later, friends and Chinese buffet.

Thursday:
I believe there was some sleeping in this day. And, um, some other stuff. Maybe? What the hell did I do Thursday?

Friday:
Toured the Belle Meade Mansion for the first time since I was 9 or so. Still a beautiful place. And again with the warm, gorgeous weather. I broke out the bathing suit for a bit, to assist in the delicate and slightly damp process that is washing a Covette convertible. There was dinner and couch-lounging.

And then it was back to work for the weekend. Bleeeeh to the work. But it wasn’t so bad really. Tomorrow I take Lilly to get stitches removed, then it’s back to class for me, for a few more nose-to-the-grindstone weeks. I’m more than ready for it. My energy is amazingly renewed, and most of that has to do with all I have to look forward to, once I jump this these hurdles.