Suomenlinna

During @WorldCon75 I played hookey for a day to go to Suomenlinna, the island in Helsinki’s harbour with my friend and ‘borrowed cousin’ Laura. It was a beautiful day, but as I got to the harbour I saw there was a thick bank of fog over the water. It made the day a little more magical. Here are a few pictures (more in the album on FB). Magpies, white cheek geese, wild flowers, cake, and the Toy Museum, which veered from interesting nostalgia to outright nightmarish!

Mom

mom and me Aug 66

Marjorie Virginia Laity, née Weber 1937-2017

Rather unexpectedly my mom died Saturday night. We’re all reeling a bit, especially my dad. She had hip surgery earlier this summer but had recovered so quickly that she was walking down the block without assistance already. In keeping with her desires there will be no funeral; if you would like to honour her memory, you can send a donation to the Friends of the Thomas Branigan Library, PO Box 213, Las Cruces, NM 88004. If you’d like to be part of a general donation we’re gathering in her name [click here for the PayPal link].

Robert wrote up a very nice obituary that will be appearing soon in The Lansing State Journal, The Johnson City Record Courier and The Las Cruces Sun-News.

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If you knew my mom, you knew how energetic she was, never still for long. In recent years she really loved feeding the roadrunners from the back yard of their home in Las Cruces. They got a new Lab puppy at Christmas and Maggie is already a robust 70 lbs.

Mom was a superb seamstress: she always said that computers were beyond her, but somehow she had no trouble programming the computer-run sewing machine that seemed to do everything but knit (it scared me!). She loved ice skating so much, even when she fell backstage at the ice show on Mother’s Day and broke her ankle in four places. Of course she had her first knee surgery after a spill hill climbing on motorcycles back when we were kids. She was mostly fearless.

Here’s something that never failed to make her laugh. It became a long-running joke on family trips along with the guy who looked at the beauties of Monument Valley and muttered, “I see no significance in that.”

In high school she started working as a telephone operator, a job she loved. She always told the story of helping the woman who wanted to talk to Elvis (she was a big fan herself) and they got as far as Colonel Tom Parker. My dad and us kids would always make her call for pizza because “You have such a nice telephone voice” (which she did). We always had music on in the house. My mom loved to dance too, especially a lively Polish polka.

Thanks for everything, mom. Feel free to share your memories.

 

June Snapshots

While I’m busy with my conference, here are some lovely photos: the Howff, progress on the V&A and the rail station, fascinating exhibit at the McManus, graduation with the penguins, and of course that cheeky gal.

Metamorphoses: Medusa

Charcoal Burners, Black Sails & Magic

Uskglass Charcoal Burner

Admittedly I’ve not left the house since I got here, but don’t let my indolence fool you! I am ready to rise to the opportunity and sure enough, I will be. Thanks to Cailleach’s Herbarium mentioning it on Facebook, I got on the waitlist and now have ticket in hand to attend ‘The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland’ this Friday. A workshop at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, it looks to be a fascinating day (see the whole list of speakers here).

So many interests colliding in useful ways! It’s great to have the feeling you’re in the right place at the right time.

And speaking of collisions: the above illustration is of course the lovely Charles Vess. It’s for the last story in Susanna Clarke’s collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu. In my usual way I had hoarded the last few stories last summer, thinking when I read them there would be no more of her writing to read as she has nothing else out at present (yes, that’s how my brain works). I didn’t know the interest I would develop in charcoal burners in the meantime! So it was the first thing I read when I got back here. A delightful tale with saints (including Brigit), Uskglass and of course the titular charcoal burner.

Total collision count: dissertation subjects, two forthcoming conference papers, and the new all-consuming medieval project, Rauf Coilyear. I’m teaching Rauf in the upper division medieval class this fall. I love it when a plan comes together.

Meanwhile I am playing dolls with Miss C and catching up on Black Sails with my sweetie. Life is good.

The Big Trek

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Back to Scotland: the big trek is even bigger this time around. Albany to Philly to Manchester then Edinburgh where I’ll catch the train to Dundee. Depending on how timing works, I will either catch up with my family at Granddad’s or back at the house. As usual, I’m still packing.  It’s been so hot here in NY that I have to remind myself it’s going to be (gloriously) cooler in Dundee. Hurrah 🙂 It’s been a taxing year. Happy to escape.

‘Tis the Season

Grades are in and I am safely come to Dundee. There were happy family greetings, gifts, and packages waiting — and even a bit of sun. And much silliness, of course. Now #tea and the opportunity to idle and write. There’s time to let much of the madness of a harsh year slip away, if only to return to the resistance later strengthened.

At passport control, the fellow asked ‘Purpose of your visit?’

‘To avoid having to hear about that orange idiot twenty-four hours a day.’

‘Fair enough.’