mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
But what else is new, right?

Ten orders in the queue, all of them with deadlines within a week of each other and within two weeks from today. One of them is for fourteen pairs for a production of "Kiss Me Kate". Thankfully, no codpieces on those, so once they're cut they'll go together very fast. Also good, no dance until after October, probably.

Still waiting to hear back from the factory in India. There were plenty to choose from on IndiaMart so I'll give him this week and then we'll move on. In the meantime, still working on the dye machine, little by little. Hopefuly can get the queue cleared up so I have some breathing room to spend real time on it.

The head roller and traveller are mounted in their block, bearings and all. Next step: the pulley box where 1750rpm will be reduced to 20-ish. I've got it in my head, I just need the hours to do it.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
More like braised. Brain-braised. As in, cooked slowly in liquid. Yesterday was not terrifically hot but it was humid and there was little breeze to speak of in our little, low-lying corner of faire site. I went in just my shirt, leaving off the usual doublet. Felt odd but the decision probably saved me some real trouble.

As it was, the heat got to me anyway: I was unable to fall asleep last night, couldn't nap today, and I've spent today in an unproductive fog. It was only through the deepest effort of concentration that I was able to accomplish a task as simple as filling the chickens' water and food containers. Got about midway through a couple pairs of tights and didn't have to make myself stop at ten o'clock. I just sort of pootered out.

I tried to do some programming today, working on the Seamlyne website shopping cart. What a joke THAT was. I got it to a point where it's more or less stable, then tried unsuccessfully to nap. My body still feels like I'm out in the heat. I'm hoping a shower will put quit to that finally, so I can sleep.

I don't mean to say that everything's bad. I'm to the point now where I don't stress about stuff too much if stuff can't be helped. Can't concentrate to do something? Don't do it. See? Easy. There's nothing hanging immediate fire anyway. I have deadlines to meet that I certainly don't want to let languish, but if I keep up it'll all be fine.

Tomorrow, after a good night's sleep.

To told a potential customer to "fuck off" last night. Not in so many words, but that was the gist of it. I could tell he was going to be high maintenance if he became a customer, argumentative and not willing to help his cause in any way. I'm the business owner so I owed him everything he wanted at the merest snap of his fingers. Yeah, no, not so much. Sorry, cupcake, can't help you. It's liberating to be able to do that. I wouldn't have had the cajones a few years ago, but I've got a large enough customer base that pissing off one whiney, self-absorbed little bitch isn't going to even make a dent.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
All doublets contracted for the year are done. I have two pair of sleeves to make and a hat or two, and soon I'll be back on Seamlyne orders and the dye machine. There's plenty of fabric on the shelf, all the bills are paid for the month. Making progress.

I've started emailing with a company in India to see if I can get fabric by the hundred-yards in any color I want for a price below my pain point - which is calculated to be anything less than what I'm paying now. I'm really hoping so because that should lower my cost of doing business enough that I can bring my prices back down to where they were in '06. With a time offset of ten hours, the communication is slow going. In Kulkata at this moment (23:03CDT) it's already been Monday for 9-1/2 hours.

If that falls through, there's a company I found online that does batch dyeing, and I would have to imagine that just from economies of scale they could do it cheaper than me. We'll see what India has to say first, though.

I slept for three hours mid-day, much more than I intended, and I'm still beat. 'Night all.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
I've heard it said, "Never make a permanent decision out of temporary heartbreak." There was no music in me, so I left the Taylor where it was, in its case in a little-regarded corner of the basement. I didn't try to force my way through it. I pulled it out a couple nights ago. I noodled some tonight. I wish I could say it felt good, it felt like coming home. Best I can say is it didn't feel bad. I'll go with that. Patience.

Glasgow, a.k.a. L'il Boop, is becoming braver. She's spending more time not hiding, and explores every room of the house. She loves interaction with people - specifically me and Jami, who I think she doesn't associate with The Big Scary Black Dog - and begs for attention. Doesn't much care to be held and if I've got her and sit down, she's off within just a few seconds, but she squeaks when she sees me coming, and reaches out a paw. She doesn't really "meow", as such. Her voice, like the rest of her, is very delicate. So is her purr-motor. You really have to listen, but it's almost constantly running.

Such a different little cat from how she was back in ... whenever it was she appeared in our lives. April? I dunno, and I'm too lazy to look it up. Or too tired.

Been sewing like mad. I'm almost caught up. One more doublet, a pair of sleeves, and some alterations on a doublet that's already done, and that's caught up. Just seamlyne tights orders after that.

Saturday, I went to faire and worked at Astral Sea. It still amazes me, even after having known Danny for twenty-plus years, that we just slip right back into our old relationship, putting it on like an old sweater. Even at fifty, I need his friendship, a stable male influence near my own age who feels as I do about many issues. He's my best friend because he once called me on my bullshit at the risk of our friendship. There's a lot that's happened in my life that's not been positive that might not have if he'd left the issue alone, but my integrity and the emotional well being of those around me needed that kick in the ass at the time, and he was the only one who cared enough - or was brave enough - to do it.

While there, I was reminded how many other friends I have, even those I don't see often. One in particular, in a simple gesture/hug, intuiting that I really needed the contact, I am particularly grateful for. You know who you are :)

The day's unaccustomed activity didn't kill me like I thought it would. A little sore around the calves, but I hurt more sitting in a chair all day.

Feeling better, generally.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)

I haven't picked up a guitar since April. The Taylor has been sitting in its case in the basement since the Sunflower Feis, and I've had no desire to pick it up.

I made the decision about a year ago to not pursue gigs anymore. The rejection by Scarlett Town (probably more by Eddie Edwards, specifically) was exactly the right decision for all parties, I wasn't a good fit, but still stung all the same. Looking back, it was kind of the last straw, and made me examine more closely who I am.

I was invited once by the Irish Center to perform for WinterFest; once by the Wyandotte County Fair; once by the Kansas City Irish Fest; once by my kids' own dance school. Each time the folks in charge praised my performance, "Where's this guy been?", "Why haven't we heard of him before?" "We need to put him on a better stage next year!"

...but not one, NOT ONE, ever invited me back.

So I guess I wasn't that good. Between Michelle's health and my jobs, I don't have the bandwidth to market myself, and I know that's a factor, but right or wrong I have this general idea that if something is important or desired, it will be sought out. Michelle will ask me, "Why did you throw [that] away?" and I'll reply, "Because [it]'s been sitting in that spot where it doesn't belong, in the way, for two weeks. If it was important, someone would have claimed it by now."

I've been in this corner for fucking years, time to throw it away.

Anyway, that's where I am.

I found myself at Irish Fest Friday night with the kids, who were dancing with their school. Hooray. I had some time to kill before they went on stage, so I went wandering. I didn't wander long. I pretty quickly found a bench in the shade (in front of some trash bins; not inappropriate) and just sat and waited. I was suprised how much it stung to be there without a performer's wristband.

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)

I will be so relieved when this weekend - or at least tomorrow of it - is over. I don't much like Irish Fest (crowds, noise, unwanted contact and interaction) but the kids are Irish dancers so we go. They performed with their school tonight on the main stage; I was smart and remembered to bring earplugs to protect my hearing from those big-ass, bassy speakers.

The dance instructor is pregnant and stressed and distracted, and it showed in the performance of several of the dancers, but I know what to watch for. I'm sure that to the average audience member it looked fine. Coming onstage for the finale, Katies shoe slipped on the stage and she fell "right onto the one part of her body ideal for absorbing the shock", as I teased her afterward.

Read more... )

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
We were on our way to buy a couple of new chicks, silky bantams, but when Michelle learned that they were straight run - meaning not sexed, you get what you get - and absolutely not wanting a rooster we mutually put the kibash on the idea and started back home. She was telling me about how she has some family (newly discovered) buried in Orrick, Missouri, and since we were on that section of highway, I turned that way.

Orrick is about twenty miles that-away, on 210 following the river toward Richmond. Not much to the town, population somewhere under 400. The cemetery has probably three times the population and is divided into three, easily identified sections, like mis-matched additions on a house. We found one relative, but not the other, but it was a beautiful day and beautiful country and we had a nearly normal family outing. Even the kids enjoyed the cemetery, outdoors with a view for miles in every direction from the top of the hill, a gentle breeze, birdsong. For Michelle it was like going home to Tennessee, for me, Nebraska. For an hour or so, I wasn't worried about sewing or my day job.

It was wonderful, much needed.

I also got a lot of sewing done. Not as much as I wanted (oh hey! that's NEW), but I'm still pleased with the day. I've no complaints.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
It's pronounced "fesh", in case you've been wondering. The word "feile", should you ever encounter it, is pronounced "fay-leh." Means almost the same thing as "feis" but has religious overtones, like "feast day" vs. "party."

The Chicago feis we attended last weekend was one we'll not be attending again. It's mostly outdoors, part of a big Irish festival with carnival rides and fried food trucks, like a county fair but with more shamrocks. Asking dancers to compete in the heat and humidity where there's little crowd control - folks just walking between the stage and the judge like they're not even there, taking pictures of the dancers (a no-no in competition) - is just stupid.

At the end of the feis day, Michelle and I were sitting in the lobby, she Facebooking while I noodled on the guitar. We were there kinda late, and were sitting there as the bands started coming in from their days and heading (naturally) to the bar. After a while, taking a break with the guitar laying on the case, a small man in a hat came walking up and complimented me on my instrument. Pretty soon, he asked permission to play it, and we sat for the next two hours trading songs. He'd take it, tune it in standard, do a song...I'd take it back, tune it to DADGAD, do a song...back and forth for two hours. He suggested to me that the Taylor was probably worth ten or twelve thousand dollars, no matter what I paid for it (which wasn't as much as that). Michelle said later she heard his lady-friend/companion say, quietly, "I wonder how much he'd take for it?" It was a lot of fun.

It was Michelle clued me in who it was: Brent Hoad of the Elders.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
I hadn't even picked up my guitar since the Sunflower Feis fundraiser ceili in early April and it showed Saturday night. I made a lot of mistakes, completely forgot the lyrics to an entire song - or at least jumbled them bad enough that I might as well have - and couldn't get some of the more complex fingering for a few songs down. The muscle memory for them was just gone.

As usual, though, my audience was kind, generous, and perhaps most important, forgiving.There were a few people who'd not heard me before, so I may have come away with a few more fans.

I don't know if the evening knocked me completely out of my depressive funk, but I did leave feeling better than when I arrived, with the determination to keep the guitar out of its case and near to hand. There are a couple of new songs I want to work up,including this one:, which I came across quite by accident and caught my imagination and seems to be in my sweet in spot.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
I haven't posted lately because I'm just not in a good head-space and I don't want to whine through the keyboard. I'm desperately tired and beginning to despair that this is what my life is to be until it ends. Michelle talks every day about how she's getting better, but that has no practical meaning when I'm working two full-time jobs AND STILL making all the meals AND taking the kids every place they need to go. I never wanted to be a parent, and here I am for all purposes a single dad.

I'm grateful for The Machine, it's given me something challenging to do, something to get enthusiastic about. I need, among other things, to get laid. That'd go a long way to improving my outlook. It's pretty lonely here, in every sense of the word.

Okay, whining done. Don't look for it again any time soon.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
The machine is coming along, but progress has slowed greatly. I keep finding things that need to be done differently or additionally, and that pushes completion time way out. I shall record some of them here to they're on record somewhere:

Read more... )
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
I have vowed to get to bed much earlier than the last several nights, so this will be quick.

I've stopped listening to books on tape - nothing philosophical there, just finished the last one and haven't put in the effort to find another. Nothing philosophical, but not without purpose, either: I firmly believe that what you put in your head is what comes out of it (G.I.G.O) and what I want out of it is creativity: I've got things I want to do, and I want my brain open to ideas. Music or silence on the drive to work.

I've got three songs started - just lyrics, and most of what's come out doesn't even rhyme, but the ideas are there and written down (so to speak - speech to text memos on the smart phone).

The dye machine Ver 2.1 is taking shape in my head, but not yet in physical reality. There simply hasn't been time. Too much day-job, too many migraines (M's, not mine), not enough time in the shop.

This weekend is the Sunflower Feis, hosted by Driscoll School of Irish Dance. Every parent is involved somehow, running errands, running stages, putting up results, acting as ambassadors. I don't know how I managed it, but I'm not participating. No one has given me a job and to be perfectly honest I haven't sought one out. Too much to do otherwise, and if I can drop off Michelle and the kids and come home, so much the better. It's going to be a stormy weekend, and I'd love to be home for that.

The barter economy is alive and well. I have a student who wants to know everything I know about sewing, pattern drafting, dyeing fabric, anything she can get her hands and mind on. Katherine came to the house last Sunday and - since there's always so much going on - every time she went to a new room in the house she just had to stop and take it in. She was quite overwhelmed. The barter part is that she is a former Irish dance champion who teaches yoga with an eye toward turning dancers into winners, we we're trading my time in the shop for her time with the kids. Win-f'n-win. She's lovely to hang out with (and not at all hard to look at) so that's a bonus.

Glasgow is still not a personable kitty. She hides during the day, and only comes out after dark. She doesn't come when called or show any interest in people when we try to get her attention. You have to go to her, BUT when you do, scritches and whisker rubs are the order of the moment. You even go near her tail and the butt goes all the way up. She head-boops, she'll lick your fingers. She will not be held, though, and spends the time when she's out either eating or on the cat tree. From my perspective, there's been no impact at all on the day-to-day. 
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
Not the weekend I was expecting.

I had planned to clean the garage Saturday morning and spend the rest of the time working on Ver 2.1 of the dye machine. I've done quite a lot of sketching, noting things that need to be added (a drain would be useful; a rounded basin would be much more efficient), changed (height adjustment of the top roller assembly), or added (spring or elastic tensioners on the top roller; additional rollers to accomodate longer fabric).

For a variety of reasons, that didn't happen. Instead, I did a deep clean on the main bathroom, bleaching for mold and removing all caulk around the base of the surround. It had been so long, getting the porcelain clean required mounting a scrubbing pad on my drill. Took an hour and many, many applications of cleaner. (I hate to say this kind of stuff publicly, but we've been focused on just surviving day to day since 2011; you have to pick and choose what gets done.) Soon as I have the funds that aren't otherwise spoken for, I need a roll of blue painter's tape so I can cleanly recaulk the tub. That was Saturday.

Today (Sunday, 3/27, Easter) I cleaned the garage. Ver.2.0 left the garage a mess of sawdust and lumber scraps. I combined two projects. I've always wanted a light in the door-end of the garage, but the ceiling is so low there is no clearance at all, 3/4" at most, just enough for the garage door handle. I removed the drywall from the ceiling and mounted a flourescent fixture in the space between two joists, placed in such a way that the light shines thought the garage door windows when the door is open. I added an outlet, one-half switched for the light. More outlets! For years there was only one, and to do anything at all required multiple extension cords. In the last six months, I've added one at one end, one in the middle, and now one by the door. Slowly turning the space into someplace where I can conveniently, quickly work.

What all this is leading up to is I was cleaning so I could make the next thing I didn't anticipate. Next to the dishwasher has been an empty space that I've wanted to fill with a narrow cabinet to store cookie sheets. I haven't had the time or money coincide to make that possible, and the new cat found the space behind the dishwasher as a place to hide. She can hide if she wants, but we want to be able to get to her. I made a filler, just a U-shaped bit of plywood to fill the space and keep her from getting in. It was a matter of an hour, maybe?, most of the day was spent cleaning.

Tomorrow, I get a visit with the orthopedist, hopefully figure out - maybe even fix? probably not - what's going on with my right arm. My left is starting to hurt from taking up the slack. I'm ready to do something.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
Some progress with Glasgow, who has now been given the nickname, "Little Bit" because she weighs next to nothing. The vet said five point three pounds, but I don't believe it. It's like lifting a furry balloon.

And that's the progress: she can be picked up and held. She doesn't like it, but she doesn't try to kill anyone, either. Only the barest hint of claws as she gets herself settled in to put up with the cuddling. She's started doing normal things while we are nearby: grooming herself, eating, looking around. She's still not happy about a lot of interaction, but she settles into it well enough.

There was no huge Irish dance dress rush up to St. Patrick's day, so I"m not coming out of it super stressed. Lots of activity - the kids performed nearly every day last week - but it was all manageable. I'm going into the coming week feeling pretty good. The school always takes the week after S.P.'s day off from dance classes so there's that to look forward to. Meals at home, no extra hour-and-a-half drive to and from Kansas every damn day.

For a variety of reasons - one of which is not yet publically known but will be hard to hide in about sixteen weeks, if you know what I mean - Driscoll will not be sending any teams to Oireachtas this year. The school has several dancers that have qualified individually, but they'll be doing their own thing and there won't be a big project of school dresses in the run-up --- meaning a more relaxed autumn than we've had in for-friggin'-ever. That also means Thanksgiving at home. I'm am very grateful for that.

Seamlyne is caught up. Lots of orders, but none behind. We are on schedule. That hasn't happened in a while.

Day job is day job. Our primary client has turned out to be insanely bad at running his business, and our billing has suffered for it. He's lost millions in bad financing deals and unwise expenditures like a $750,000 Christmas party after their first year, with no savings in the bank. There's another up-and-coming project for a client in Kentucky - a dealership with Real Money - that will do us well if we don't fuck it up. The adage "work like you're showing off" has never been more apropos.

Misc Stuff

Mar. 19th, 2016 10:48 pm
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
Snowing tonight, then forecast for 80 degrees on Wednesday. March in Missouri.

St. Patrick's Day: performed at Backroom Gallery. It was a ton of fun. Richelle Basgall (of Dogtree) stopped by and sat in on a couple of songs. Was very glad to see her there. My in-laws came, too, and brought several of their friends from church. By the time I started playing, it was SRO in the coffee shop. There's a younger couple who've been coming up to see me - he's all pierced and tatted up and she looks like the Girl Next Door, not two people I would have pegged to be together as a couple, let alone would come along to see a fifty year old folkie like me, but this was their second time. One of the them is dragging the other, I'd bet, I just haven't determined which is which.

Friday night: performed at Woodstock B&B here in Independence. Very short, very different: I was mostly there for ambience. The event was a "pudding club", basically a themed meal (Irish, this time) with a dessert sampler at the end. My job was to provide the music during the parts where the "emcee" wasn't talking, but she talked most of the time and I was invited to join the meal, so I don't think I played more than half an hour. Because it's a B&B, when the meal was over everybody went to bed, so I was done.

It's a beautiful place, on Lexington across Chrysler from the RLDS autditorium. They have several rooms, themed: French, Moraccan, other's I'm not sure about. Much bigger than it looks from street.

We have a new cat. 6-9 months old, five point three pounds, she's been living on the property for several months now, finally settling down in the "Guest Room" using the woodchuck tunnels for access. When I had Jami fill in the tunnels, she was trapped and we were obliged to catch and figure out what to do with her. We put out the live trap and got her, then put her in a kennel; we've been working slowly on getting her used to human contact. She's fully feral, and scratched the shit out of Michelle early on - Michelle now has cat scratch fever (yep, it's a real thing) from the bacteria on the cat's claws.

She hisses a lot and lashes out until she figures out that we're not backing off, then she tolerates being petted. I held her this afternoon for Michelle to shoot some pain meds down her throat, and lived to tell the tale. She was tense but didn't try to kill me. On her first vet visit, they confirmed gender and general state of health: no worms, no communicable diseases, no fleas. She got all her shots, and we had her de-clawed (front only), spayed, and microchipped. We are now officially, for good or ill, her forever home.

Her name is Glasgow, named for Katie's favorite reel. She's no longer cowering in the corner unless we get close, but still insecure enough to put her butt into the corner when we do. Based on our interactions so far, though,I think she'll be patient and sweet, and a talker.

My right elbow continues to get worse. Hurts to straighten it from a bend, hurts to pick up a glass of water let alone a pitcher of tea. The visit to the orthopedist can't come soon enough. Probably just tendonitis, but it would be nice to know that for sure.


Mar. 15th, 2016 10:19 am
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
Recovered from the time change? Maybe. I feel better this morning than I did yesterday.

One thing that's definitely contributed to feeling better is I blocked everything on Facebook with the words "trump", "clinton", "hillary", "cruz". No point in blocking "rubio" or "carson", and Bernie is someone I want to keep track of. It's not that I want to bury my head in the sand and ignore what's going on, there's just only so much room in my head and I prefer to fill with things that don't make me ill - much like my stomach. Why gorge on junk food?

Here's what I know:

Cruz is a mad scientist who wants to bring about the end of the world and remake it in Jesus' image, with him at the head of it. He belongs to a cult of radicalized christians no better than the worst of the Taliban or Isis. Join or die. No tolerance. No shit.

Trump is a mad scientist, he's creating an army of monsters to do his dirty work for him, and it's only going to get worse. You can graph it as a straight line downward and not miss the milestones by more than a percentage point or two. He's a secular version of Cruz. Join or my intolerant followers will kill you. No shit.

Clinton is an establishment, business-as-usual politician with no hope of beating Trump if he gets the GOP nomination. She's got too many scandals he can beat her with, and he has no scruples.

If either Cruz or Trump is elected with a GOP super majority in congress, America will die. I and my family will begin looking at a move to Canada or Europe. I'm not kidding or exagerrating. I don't want to be a citizen of a country full of people this stupid.

Sanders is the last, best hope, and I doubt he'll get elected because the GOP have successfully taught the people of this country that their votes don't matter.

The Hunger Games aren't real - not yet - but Collins was writing a book of prophesy. Take the killing out of the story and look at the events as a series of bullet points: control what the population sees and hears; control where they can go; control points of supply; rig the economy in such a way that the population is too busy trying to survive to put up any real resistance; divide the population into smaller, mangeable groups; pit the groups against each other to keep the focus off the central authority. It's happening right now. It's been building since the Reagan administration. Bread and circuses. The Romans understood.

That's how it is. It's not going to change before November. I don't need that constant noise in my life. If anything significant happens I won't be able to avoid it.


Mar. 13th, 2016 10:46 pm
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
I anticipated a lot of things about what life would be like when I turned fifty. I didn't exect it to hurt. No, no, not "woe is me" hurt, but, "damn, when did I break my elbow?" hurt. Right arm joints are really having difficulty. Okay, can't blame it on turning fifty, it's been this way since last autumn, but I've really only started noticing it recently. If I try to pick up something with my arm extended - reaching for something a little distance away, say - I get a needle of pain through my elbow. An object as heavy as a glass of water is nearly impossible.

My hands are especially problematic, since they are how I make my living. The cold weather, such as it was, was a misery, and many mornings on the drive to work they hurt so bad they could hardly function.

It's a pain. Pun acknowledged.

It was a quite a weekend, an amazing weekend. I haven't played with a band in twenty years, and I was invited to play with Dogtree for the Driscoll ceili. Vic had another commitment, so they were short a guitarist. It was a much different experience than I had with Scarlet Town a year ago: Dave was patient, but Eddie is a very good technical guitarist, and like many very good technical guitarists he has little patience for those that aren't as good as he is. On the other hand, Richelle and I go back to 1990 or so (with Emerald Skye), and Chris and Rachel are just in it for the love of the music, and we're all friends outside of the music. Couple of rehearsals and we were good to go.

The actual playing was tough, though. About eight measures into the first song, the muscle that is the pad of my right thumb (the "abductor pollicis brevis" if google is to be believed) cramped, then seized, making me unable to hold my pick to strum, which is mostly what I was doing. To get around this issue since I couldn't get the cramp to ease, I held the pick between my index and middle fingers. This is turn exposed the last knuckle of my middle finger to the strings and it wasn't long before the strings cut deep enough to call it an "injury."

I didn't notice until I looked down and saw blood on the strings. Hoo-eeeee! I adjusted the turn of my wrist, which helped only a little, and when the tune was done I grabbed some electrical tape and wrapped the finger. I think if I hadn't, the strings would have eventually exposed the bone.  My finger and I got through the night and it was honestly FUN. I surprised myself; I'm a lot better than I was twenty years ago.

Then off to a freinds house for post-ceili burritos and conversation. I got home at two in the morning. A good day all around.

I have three outstanding projects, a yeoman costume and two video projects, one six months old. They weigh on me, but I'm hoping that Michelle's ability to function continues to improve so I can be home to work on them.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
Went to Aunt Lois's funeral this morning. Just like a church service but less exciting, and that's saying something. The Temple Lot services, led as they are by lay-clergy and unpaid whoever-has-the-talent-to-do-task-X, are relatively staid affairs. Song, prayer, song, sermon, song, prayer.

Tick tick tick tick tick *ding*. Honey, your Jesus is readyyyy!

The songs are accompanied by organ or piano, sung slowly (even the songs of praise), and prayers are long, droned out of whoever's brain isn't preaching that day. The sermons are taken from the Bible and/or Book of Mormon and given by men with (usually) no formal ministerial training. "Ah prayed over it, and God revealed to me that Brother Hayseed over thar yonder should be Called to Preach Thuh Word." Seriously. That's how it works.

The officiating minister read the newspaper obituary verbatim, a couple of my cousins sang a couple of hymns, the "eulogy" was a sermon about waiting for the second coming of Christ. I think Lois was referred to only twice as the preacher struggled to get his Titanic of a sermon around the iceberg of a eulogy. "What can you say about the life of a woman who touched so many people so deeply? In the Book of Mormon, page 237, in the book of Irrelevant, we read, 'Verily I say unto you, behold the camel is like unto a sheaf or barley, which like the bicycle rolling up hill, so too does the Son of Man eat lasagne at eventide.' Oh, and after He was crucified, Jesus appeared to the Aztecs as a winged serpent god, so, uh...right. Moving on."

Yeah, sometimes, they're that bad. What did any of it have to do with my aunt? Not a goddamn thing.

So, the funeral was more church service than the celebration of the life of a woman who lived long enough to have thirty-two great-great-grandchildren.

*sigh* It's what they're used to. For my funeral I want a cash bar and an Irish band, and anyone who picks up a Bible or hymnal gets bum-rushed out the door.

At any visitation or funeral, if the casket is open I make a point of stepping up and laying my hand on the hands of the deceased. This has a couple of functions for me: it's a way of saying goodbye, formally; it's a way of removing the cold remains I see from the warm memories in my head; and the complete absence of life reminds me of my own mortality and works to get me past the squickiness of it.

There have been only two exceptions: my brother Mike's funeral, where any acknowledgement of that loss was - and still is - too painful, and Aunt Lois, because I arrived too late to do it. I stepped in the door, the service began. I wasn't planning to anyway; there was no real relationship there, nothing really to say goodbye to.

I declined to go to the graveside portion of the service. It's an hour and a half away and while there will be food afterward - and I've no doubt it will be good food - I don't want to give up that much of my day; five hours minimum, and the kids are performing tonight an hour in the other direction. Yeah, no thanks.

Aunt Lois

Feb. 21st, 2016 10:50 pm
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
So, my aunt died yesterday (2/20/2016.) 105 years old. A good run. She'd been interviewed a few times by the Independence Examiner - "What's the secret of your longevity", that bullshit - then they gave up and moved on when her mind checked out, around the 103rd year.

She was my dad's sister and the oldest child of John Elmer and Elizabeth Millicent's seven kids. We weren't close. After nursing me back to health when I was three or so, then returning me to my family, she was just ... "Aunt Lois."

When we fled Nebraska and the debts my father had incurred after borrowing money from The Wrong People, we lived in a borrowed single-wide in Springdale Lake Estates in Belton, Missouri. My mother was anxious to get a job, so she became a medical secretary and left me in the daily care of my sister. Kathy was ten years old at the time, with no training as a babysitter and no good role model in our mother. I was given a bottle in the morning and left alone in a playpen or crib all day. I had little interaction or nutrition, and naturally I did not thrive. (All this I know from family stories from my cousins. I've never broached the subject with Kathy.) One doctor threatened my mother to call DFS and have me removed to foster care, such was the extent of the neglect, and it was at that point that Aunt Lois showed up at the doorstep, not unlike a short, feisty Mary Poppins, and took me away from the situation. She was my mother for a couple of years, until her husband sold their Independence house to my father (earning my mother's undying enmity) and they moved to the country.

I have no memory of any of that.

I didn't really begin to get a picture of who Lois was as a person until I had children of my own and I wanted them to have a sense of where they come from, but even then it was extremely limited. When we stopped going to the Temple Lot church, the family - all of whom are still active members - well, they didn't exactly sever all ties, but they didn't make much of an effort to stay in touch. Neither did we, to be honest. Funerals and weddings. If not for my cousin Susan and brother Chris we'd never know what was going on in that branch of the family at all.

I went to her apartment a few times, and it always took her a while to recognize me. "I'm Bill's youngest," I'd say, and it'd take her a minute but she'd get there. There was no real relationship, though.

So, I'm sad she's gone, but not for the reason you might think. She outlived her husband by thirty years, two of her daughters and most of her doctors, and she was a distant background constant in my life - I still live in the house my dad bought from them, and some of the family still calls it "Vance and Lois's house" - another piece of my younger years gone and I'm that much closer to old age and the ultimate end, reminded of my own mortality and not terrifically happy about it.

She stoically accepted as God's will whatever came her way, including living as long as she did, but I have to imagine, when her soul finally broke free, that she was much relieved. We will go to the funeral because it's the right thing to do. It's respectful. She certainly deserves that.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (music at the coffee shop 2)
When I spent the night in the Hilton's lobby, the fact that I can't sleep on Hilton's choices of bedding/pillows was only part of the issue. Michelle is a noisy sleeper and I am a very light sleeper, so it was mostly because she was keeping me awake. However, even when I was left alone in the room, my rest, such as it was, was fitful, full of odd, upsetting dreams. I began wonder if something about being on the 15th floor, where movement of the building would be subtly exagerrated, also held some responsibility. Maybe my body was picking up on it and I just wasn't consciously aware.

Our winter break is over and Seamlyne is once again busy. I've got enough orders in the queue to keep me busy full-time for at least a week, and thankfully I'm not in any danger of missing deadlines (yet). That happy condition will maintain as long as I don't get lazy or sick.

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