Monday, September 26, 2005

Lately, the sequel

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It seems to have become very seriously No Longer Summer. I closed the wondows that have been open since May the day after the equinox, and today I lit the woodstove. It has been a hard time on a lot of my friends.

Week before last, one friend (Mark) lost his father and younger brother to cancer within three days of each other. The family plot is in my town; I went to the funeral scheduled for Mark's brother. It rained gently but steadily all through both Mark's brother's funeral and his father's, which was on the next hour on the _other_ side of the family plot. There was a 25 minute break between the two services, which allowed us to walk around and chat. nd for them to move the chairs. I guess they were making it clear these were two, separate rituals. Mark's mother seemed to be doing far better than I would have been able to.

The Catholic priest (presiding for Mark's brother) wore clericals and a black baseball cap with "St. Theresa's Parish, Henniker" on it. They have adapted the committal service nicely for ashes. The Congregational minister, for Mark's father though she had never met him, was a shorter perky blond in an alb and a very nice gold stole. She read not only quite a bit of Robert Frost, but also a poem by Edna Dean Proctor, whom I must call a local poetess. The closing benediction managed to merge the Lord's prayer with the Irish Blessing. I was not stirred to join her congregation.

Last week, one older friend in my archaeology outfit lost her last sibling and Sarah my dear ex-housemate lost her second grandmother, about 14 months after the first one.

Today I heard about my friend Grace's mother: I knew she had been becoming less and less compos (though, unusually, much kinder as she became dimmer). Grace was not looking forward to trying to persuade her mother to leave her own apartment, where there was a caregiver several hours a day and a really fine adult daycare in walking distance. Her mother liked to go buy the newspaper herself;the nursing home was nearby but would not have let her go outside. Grace had been helping her stay home by driving to Boston from Northampton (about 100 miles each way) almost every weekend for about the last four years, and took her on vacations and outings. Her mother had had a coronary aneurysm for many years; it gave enough notice that she had two days in hospital, with visitors, consciousness, morphine, enjoyment, before dying last Saturday.



Myself, I spent last Saturday in Woburn seeing how some of the other part of the world lives. An old friend whose husband was getting made Worshipful Master of his Masonic Lodge had invited me and another friend our age, Tommy Lee, who is a Mason despite also being a science fiction fan. Julianne my hostess does not want to be an Eastern Star, and I no longer have living Masonic relatives; the three of us live in some place very different from whatever planet (Kansas?) Masonic lodges are on. The smell of Beef Burgundy and the age of nearly all the men involved popped me back to some undefined period in the early 60's and I nearly made a run for it (my knee is much better, but not actually good enough to get very far). It was, as Tommy said, an interesting anthropological experience. And it was lovely to see Tommy and show him my house. He lives in Virginia and I can rarely tempt him up north.


On Sunday we went to an Antiquarian BookFair, the news of which to Tommy had been like the scent of opium to an addict. We were both reasonably well-behaved; I got a Sierra Club Guide to Southern New England for $8, and Tommy got some organ music. The problem with Antiquarian BookFairs is that there are no treasures to discover and obtain for cheap; if the books weren't already someone's darling, they wouldn't be there.

I did enjoy handling a 1690 Collected Works of Milton ($4K) and Tommy was heartbroken that the Swedish/Virginia-Algonquian Lutheran Catechism from sometime like 1790 was out of his price range at $3K. There was also a volume of The Comic History of Rome, only $150 which was probably cheap at the price. It was originally written in 1847 and I am afraid I still thought it was funny. I was surprised and disappointed not to find anything about knitting or weaving. So I am the more envious of Cassie. I have a very good (if pricey) used bookstore in the village, but it's well-organized and I am not the only one shopping that category. (If you wanted some books on bad things one hand-made in the 70's, however...)

My main fiber Yahoo-list is too full, and because I am a heartless elitist I am tired of reading some of the writers on it. I am considering starting a moderated list for fiber people and their friends. It would be kept to a reasonable number (the old SheepThrills was 200; I should be very surprised if this got that big) You would have to be able to appear kind, polite, mostly literate, and at least sometimes amusing. One would not swear at fellow list-members, and all flames would be conducted off-list. One might make vicious remarks about other list-members' color sense or choice of fibers if one were sure these were not hurtful. One might discuss politics and religion (I mean besides about whether acrylic is a fiber or a conspiracy) as long as one did not preach very often. If this sort of thing appeals to you,try this.

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