Tags: rhode island funeral

krazy koati

We're gonna stick together, body and mind

My brother and his wife adopted another Chinese orphan, their second child, maybe a year and a half ago. It turns out I'm the first of my brother's siblings to be able to visit, news I greeted with a silly, ``Yes! I win!'' And the nieces were eager to see me, the few moments we had Sunday morning before my parents and I headed out. But I figured that's just because it's always exciting to have something shake up the usual, especially when school hasn't started.

So anyway this is as close as I'll ever get to being Guest of Honor at a convention. They were thrilled I was there and I'm not sure if they were competing for my attention. But I had just walked down from another goopy shower when the elder niece (eleven years old, which is impossible, since I know when I last saw her in January 2014 she was six, maybe seven) handed me a picture, a folding-over picture of a rabbit eating vegetables I guess? It was also for Aunt bunny_hugger. Both nieces were thrilled to learn of an actual adult who doesn't like the taste of coffee. I did confound them by admitting that I do nevertheless get a cup of coffee about once a week when I go to the farmer's market, for vegetables for our rabbit, because it's free. That this is true does not make it less daft.

So my free day ended up including a lot of playing with the nieces and, yes, worrying about the cold I would be bringing home from them. (I didn't, and I didn't pass one on to bunny_hugger, it seems reasonable to say at a week's remove.) A lot of this was showing off toys, some of which I knew well --- they've got a lot of Legos --- and some from reputation --- Minecraft stuff --- and some because I exist at all --- My Little Pony merchandise. ``This one talks,'' my elder niece said of a really big Twilight Sparkle doll. ``What does it talk about?'' I said. ``Mostly My Little Pony.'' ``I have friends like that,'' and I'm pretty sure she thought I was joking.

``Do you want to play dragons,'' they'd ask, and it's not like they need to ask me twice. Especially as they have several dolls of Toothless. That much I was on solid ground for. Trying to follow an 11-year-old and a 6-year-old's narrative sense was beyond me. I did feel I had to point out you can't really consider it proved that the Mean Dragon is mean just because she took someone's fish; she could just be hungry.

To get some sense what I brought to the play table, besides the assertion that it takes more than being labelled to make someone the bad guy, my nieces have an old-fashioned 80s-style desktop telephone as a plaything. The elder niece pointed out how you press the little plastic posts to hang out. And I asked if she knew why that was surrounded by that plastic cradle. She understood that it was so the receiver didn't slip off. But I pointed out the cradle goes up high enough that if the phone tips over by accident, the hang-up posts are protected. You can't hang it up by mistake. And I went on, pointing out all the surprisingly many clever little touches of the old phone to keep people from making mistakes on it. They were intersted to know about the dial for how loud the ringing should be and figured out how to get the phone to reliably produce a little ding.

As the day wore on and they wore down, or their mother worried they were wearing me down, they watched a movie. Boss Baby, which I hadn't seen because um, yeah. The movie turned out to be less bad than I anticipated. Annoyingly it kept trying to be interesting, with the suggestion that the whole story is an imaginary tale the seven-ish protagonist dreams up to process his feelings about the demanding new baby messing up his life. The times the flights of fantasy are made explicit were the most visually interesting parts, yes, but also prompted my younger niece to ask if they were really happening. Her mother explained which parts were imaginary, and also that you watched this move a hundred times already. (In a final diversion from being interesting the movie throws in a bit near the end where Baby Alec Baldwin has to Learn the Power of Imagination, which doesn't come from anywhere or go anywhere but suggests someone threw a pile of notes on the film after they'd animated the first act.)

After dinner --- where I had to sit next to my elder niece, since I'd sat next to the younger at lunch, and realized how much I had forgotten about kid politics --- they wanted to show off what they called the funniest videogame ever. This would be Octodad, if I haven't got it wrong, a game where you play an octopus who's fooled people into thinking he's a normal human male and he's got a family and a job and all that. You have to go around doing normal human tasks like mowing the lawn even though you're very wobbly and have no fine motor control. It is, as they said, a funny idea, and there's a lot of nice physical comedy in the gameplay. I didn't get a turn, but was also pretty fine with that.

So that's how the day went. The next morning I'd had to get to the airport, so we didn't have time for a further play session. They did want me to know I should come back soon, though, which is always glad to hear.

When I got to the gate for my Baltimore to Newark flight there was ... nobody there. Nothing. Even the TV screen that normally says when the flight will be taking off showed nothing but a message to please restart the computer. We got pretty near boarding time before anything happened, which was, someone coming out of the jetway to say that hadn't anyone announced the flight was going to be late? That the pilot hoped to take off around 2:00? ... Which would be a jolly exciting time for me since the flight from Newark to Detroit was supposed to start boarding at 2:20. Baltimore-to-Newark is a surprisingly short flight --- the reverse direction Saturday had been about 35 minutes in the air --- but still.

Eventually, around the time the doors were supposed to close, someone came to announce the flight was leaving late and to start dealing with people who were missing their connections. She also arranged a backup flight for me just in case I somehow wasn't able to get off this plane and to wherever the next plane was to leave from in the maybe ten minutes between our arrival and the doors closing on the next flight. The whisker-thin margin evaporated on the ground in Newark, since for some reason we were unloaded on the tarmac and had to take a shuttle-bus to the terminal. ... The correct terminal for my next flight, but still. Other people had it worse; the last half of the short flight one of the attendants was going back and forth to a passenger whose connecting flight was to Hong Kong. I wanted to offer my experience, which was that long-haul flights like that will hold a reasonable time for a passenger with delayed arrival, but (a) my experience is a decade-plus out of date and (b) the fact the attendant wasn't able to confirm that right away indicates my experience might not be relevant anymore.

The connecting gate for my backup flight was the lone one in that part of the terminal being renovated, so there was no space to sit around while waiting for any news about what might go wrong. Nothing did go wrong with it, happy to say. And I did get the promised seat for the backup flight.

So I got home at a little after dinnertime, as bunny_hugger was preparing for the school day the next day, and that was the end of a week I guess I had expected to have but without quite knowing when.

Trivia: A 1901 Christmas advertisement for Frederick Loeser's proclaimed it had stocked four million handkerchiefs for the holiday season, ``four for every man, woman, and child in Brooklyn''. Source: Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class, Jan Whitaker.

Currently Reading: To The Great Ocean: The Taming of Siberia and the Building of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Harmon Tupper.


More pinball in Traverse City. The same pinball, but more of it.

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View of more of Comet's layout. The center ramp represents the Comet roller coaster of the game's title, and the game's sequels of Cyclone and Hurricane have a similar center ramp. On the right there is another ramp which plunges into something they didn't do in the sequels, three holes of decreasing size but increasing point value. When lit.


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The top hole promises the ``FIRST EVER ONE MILLION PINBALL SHOT''. It's not. There were some electromechanical machines with million-point shots, although those were also games that were ``really'' three-digit scores just inflated way up. But for solid-state pinball? Yeah, strangely enough. This shot was ``really'' worth 200,000, but you could get the playfield multiplier up to 5x so that it'd then be worth a million points, as promised. Given the helix ramp's brokenness we couldn't get the play field multiplier going and so never had a chance at the million point shot.


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Renowned crazy person Python Anghelo did the art for Comet and he filled the playfield with a remarkably consistent bird's-eye view of an amusement park. Here's a shot of some of the crowd art including what's thought to be the first appearance of Pin-Bot on a game.


krazy koati

And with emotional glue

The luncheon was set for 1 pm and in a town a fair drive over. My mother, driving efficiently to the place, got there early enough the staff was apologetic, saying, they had thought the event wasn't to start for another half-hour. My mother asked if she could just use the bathroom, and that got us in to the restaurant while they opened up the patio area reserved for the event. It had a lovely view of the harbor, and the suspension bridge, as well as the part of the lawn where a groundhog eventually came out to do groundhog chores. Across the inlet were expensive houses with private docks and, I would have sworn, one boat that looked like a big swan boat as at an amusement park. Probably it was just the walkway behind it merging with the boat's shape to suggest a neck and head, but, who can say? My aunt loved the restaurant, but never ate outdoors, where it wasn't air-conditioned.

The menu was meant to reflect some of my aunt's favorite meals there, which included a lobster roll. Another choice was a crab cake sandwich. The appetizers offered a choice of clam chowder or Caesar's salad. My parents were quick to assure me they could probably work out a vegetarian version of something, anything. I swore that I was fine; I try to eat vegetarian, but that's all, just trying. More serious is my brother, who's allergic to every kind of fish or sea product known to humanity. (Caesar's salad, made correctly, such as by a fine restaurant overlooking the bays of Rhode Island, includes anchovy.) Also they did have a steak-on-a-salad option. My brother got through lunch without needing his epipen.

We had lunch with my uncle's brother (where I learned his opinion of my textbook) and his daughter, plus a couple of other people whose connection I could remember for the length of the explanation. A couple times over the lunch my uncle, and my cousin, came over to talk with us; they were circulating among the tables and we didn't demand too much time from them.

We stayed through the end of the luncheon, and then got organized to go home. That is, back to my brother's place in Baltimore. The promise to my nieces that we would be back in two days was a simplification or a useful parental lie; we'd be getting back in after one day, but after their regular bedtime. So we had checked out of the hotel before setting out to the funeral home and, obviously, long before the luncheon finished.

We were not going to drive the six-plus hours from Rhode Island to Maryland in funeral-appropriate wear, though. My mother's plan: change into something comfortable for long car rides. Where? ... Well, the bathroom of the restaurant. I felt a bit weird doing this, since my comfortable-wear of cargo shorts seemed about four levels of clothing too casual even to just walk through the place. Could be worse. My brother's change of clothes was inside a duffel bag marked Property of Starfleet Academy, and I brought that in to him.

Our two cars started out driving back in loose tandem, as my father had the idea that one of us should call the other if we stopped for anything, like gas or food or whatnot. We stopped first, for fuel. (My brother drives a Prius and so is beyond such mortal needs.) And called to synchronize our stopping together at this Connecticut-area rest stop, after which we realized we didn't know why we were doing this.

Well, my brother and our father stopped in New Jersey at a White Castle, to try out the Impossible Burger sliders; they reported the burgers were really good, although hard to compare to a normal slider since they made them with jalapeno cheese and that's a different taste. My mother and I did't stop for White Castle (my mother never would), but we did stop at a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike just far enough south that I could snag the year's brochures for Casino Pier and Wildwood and Story Book Land and a bunch of my and bunny_hugger's other friends.

As we were going into the rest area, some guy raced ahead of us and cut us off on the road turnoff. He kept going and came to a stop at the gas pumps, which left us baffled. We would be sympathetic to a desperate race to the rest area before one's bladder exploded, but, to hit up a Sunoco? Afterwards his car was parked, facing the wrong way, along the curb in front of the sidewalk entrance to the rest area instead of in the ample parking lot. Guy might have just been a jerk.

Still, it was --- past the Great Connecticut Traffic Jam --- a normal enough drive that went as quickly as reasonably could. We got back to my brother's house shortly before midnight and went in quiet as possible. I changed out of my cargo shorts to the maroon sweatpants I've been wearing to bed when it's cold lately. (Baltimore was hot, but my brother's family air conditioned the place to where penguins were rooting around the rec room.) I apologized to my sister-in-law that I couldn't stay up later, but I did ask her to look at my outfit --- maroon sweatpants and a purple t-shirt --- and admire my look of Starfleet Casual. She did.

And I nestled in in my guest room, the basement, to catch up online with bunny_hugger --- in the whirlwind of activity before the first day of classes --- and get some sleep before my big day with my nieces.

Trivia: New York City government costs --- poor relief, police, jails, street cleaning and repair, fire equipment, lamps, wells, and salaries --- rose per capita from $1.87 in 1790 to $4.29 in 1800. Source: Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, Edwin G Burrows, Mike Wallace.

Currently Reading: To The Great Ocean: The Taming of Siberia and the Building of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Harmon Tupper.


PS: How August 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog, reviewing the usual stuff.


PPS: Traverse City and its big secret.

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And here, in this unsuspecting corner of Traverse City, did we find ... what might well be the only Comet (Williams pinball, 1986) on location anywhere in the freaking world.


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bunny_hugger looking on with amazement at actually finding the table. For some reason this game, once omnipresent, is just impossible to find; it's not even at, like, the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Hall of Fame, nor the Sparks Pinball Museum, nor ... anything, really.


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Like many games Comet has lanes, in this case four of them (unusual but not too rare; three is more common), although their lights spell out the 1-9-8-6, since the game was made in 1985. (Allegedly Python Anghelo was thinking, hey, 1986, Halley's Comet returns. Fair enough.) Completing the lanes increases the playfield multiplier, up to five times. The catch: the easiest way to get the ball to the lanes is through that spiral ramp on the upper left there. And --- you see how you can see a light bulb burning there? That's where the ramp's plastic has broken so that a ball has almost no chance of getting to the lanes up there. I managed it once in the several games we played and I don't think bunny_hugger did it at all.


krazy koati

But we'll pick up the pieces that scattered

While the alarm didn't go off at 7:30, I was awake. My brother too. I'm all but certain he had an alarm set on his iPhone. At least it started making this noise like rocks battering together. We didn't go to breakfast, a decision I thought sound at the moment since I still felt full from the previous night. My evaluation changed an hour later. I had made it through the wake and dinner the previous night without staining my good suit. On driving to the funeral home my mother noticed a little white streak on my pants. Source unknown, but rubbing it with the condensate from a small water bottle she'd taken from the hotel's breakfast removed it.

The funeral home was there for one last bit of people gathering to say goodbye. And for us as pall bearers to gather and start taking instructions, which the funeral director and assistants were good at delivering. My capacity to self-distract is boundless. By the water cooler (my uncle warned about drinking too much, since there's no bathrooms at the gravesite, and then patted my shoulder, chuckling but also offering that there was a bathroom at the church) I noticed old photographs of Island Park, and the wooden roller coaster at it. I didn't know of any amusement parks in Rhode Island. (The coaster --- named Bullet, an unusual choice --- and park were destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938, which I ought to have guessed.)

They had us stand in the entrance way for the last mourners to leave the viewing room and only accidentally block the bathroom (we let people through). Then they had us gather in the hall by the door leading directly out from the room. The funeral home attendants did the last cleaning-up of things, including ratcheting down the inclined bed of the coffin. They used a large metal socket, almost as if they were getting the lug nut off a stubborn car.

They wheeled my aunt's coffin out on a dolly to the small anteroom. There we all took a spot and lifted up the coffin, and stepped out the room and down the wood steps that suddenly seemed unnervingly slick. An illusion, surely, caused by my not wearing dress shoes often anymore. We set her in the coffin without incident and each of us went to our cars with instructions to, at the church, come right up to the hearse.

My brother and I rode together; my parents took their own car. We also ended up somewhat far back in the funeral procession. At the church the procession ended up in this long thread snaking around the parking lot, while one woman went slowly through each car giving some instruction. My brother asked if there were any reason we shouldn't just, you know, park. I couldn't think of any, so we did. After the service started I realized the reason: the procession would pick up again, leaving from the church and going to the graveyard. I didn't mention to my brother so don't know if he had the same realization. We did have to fumble our way back into the line of cars, which had (mostly) been left just snaking through the parking lot through the service.

At the hearse we gathered again to slide the casket out. It rests on rollers, so this is not as challenging as you might imagine. Then up the stone steps of the church, which again brought out my worries about the slickness of my shoes. We set the coffin on another dolly and stepped back for the sprinkling of the casket with holy water and the placing of the white shroud over her casket.

Friends sensitive to such things may have noticed that I'm that kind of apostate who grew up Roman Catholic. My aunt, my godmother, was still actively so and thus that's the mass which was read. I haven't gone to mass regularly in decades, and even intermittent masses have been rare things. But all that childhood training pays off: almost as soon as the priest began reciting the pieces common to ordinary masses it all came back to me. I could feel confident that I was respecting my godmother's memory, snappily answering offers like ``The Lord be with you'' with ``And also with you'' and the discovery that apparently they changed this to ``And with you in spirit''? This was unsettling.

There was a small missal at each pew, offering the prompts and responses and general order of mass. I kept not reading it, though, out of a sense that I should pay attention to what was happening rather than read about what was happening. I think that I carried through acceptably. Granted, it's hard to notice if someone isn't saying the right thing in this setting. The only real slip made where someone would notice was at the Eucharist, where I forgot to cross myself after taking the communion wafer and wine. And was in the first row so that I didn't have the prompt to this thing I'd forgotten; I could just watch (nearly) everyone else do it instead.

That's getting a little anthropological. Let me think more about the personal. I'd expected to tear up through the funeral and these moments came. At the singing of Amazing Grace, for example. At the singing of Ave Maria, and again at the recessional. Also at the eulogies, particularly talking about my aunt's commitment to what the priest described as the true Christianity, that determination to be kind and supportive and giving, which my aunt was. The singing of the Prayer of Saint Francis may be traditional. It also felt true to who she tried to be (and, honestly, to what I try to be). And was again hard to stay composed through.

The second eulogy, that by my aunt's son, had an odd personal surprise. He was talking about my aunt's desire to be interested in everyone she knew, and brought up me as an example. I'd given her a copy of one of the textbooks I wrote. He explained how she sat down and read every page of this book meant for upper-level or early-grad-school mathematics and physics majors, despite the main text getting pretty impenetrable, but just because she wanted to be a person who'd read my whole book. I had known she wanted to do it. One thing I didn't know --- and learned at the lunch afterwards --- was she handed the book to her brother-in-law, who did have a bachelor's in mathematics, to ask if it made sense. He thought it did. (This is all the feedback I've ever gotten on it.)

The funeral director's assistants wheeled her coffin back to the church's entrance. We pall bearers lifted it up and brought it back to the hearse. And then the funeral procession resumed, going through the twisty paths to a grave site that more than one person commented they didn't even know was there. My uncle said that when they were planning this, even the Catholic priest said, you know, there's no problem burying you in the Episcopalian graveyard. She wanted a Catholic one and that was that. As we were driving we passed the crushed remnants of one of the small, magnetically-attached flagpoles from some other car. My brother mentioned how he wouldn't really know if ours had fallen off, after all.

And the gravesite service was the last time we were tasked with lifting my aunt's coffin, and moving it places. The priest said a few words on this sunny, nearly cloudless Rhode Island day. And the funeral director reminded all that they were welcome to a luncheon in her honor, at another of her favorite restaurants. The moment broken, we all took our last looks and hugged whoever it felt right to, and got back to our various cars.

On the drive there my mother asked if we pall bearers had ever actually carried my aunt's coffin. Well, she had mostly seen funeral home staff wheeling the coffin along the inside of buildings. I affirmed we had, and that it was less heavy than you might imagine. Although having five other people bearing the load makes it less hard.

Trivia: As late as 1897 sailors in the British Navy were forbidden the use of knives and forks, as prejudicial to discipline. Source: Food in History, Reay Tannahill. (I ... would like to see this corroborated but don't have the energy to read an Aubrey-Maturin book right now.)

Currently Reading: To The Great Ocean: The Taming of Siberia and the Building of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Harmon Tupper.


PS: Friday in Omena opened with our stopping in Suttons Bay and that Radio Shack that was inexplicably still there. Also having lunch with bunny_hugger's brother.

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80% off is a fantastic deal on stuff you didn't really want in the first place. Note the wireless microphone up front. To the left of the picture was a rack of Assorted Cables, $2 each. Also a popcorn machine.


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Oh man, for 80% off of forty dollars and without the use of any tools you could use a space-age computer control to make your car annoy the entire neighborhood and run your battery down to zero when a branch of the tree you're parked next to brushes the rear passenger door!


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Guys! I found just the thing to record all those Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes on in SLP!


krazy koati

We get bruised; we get battered

I drove myself to Detroit airport, figuring the long-term parking for a half-week would be cheaper than the Michigan Flyer ride to East Lansing. Maybe not. It did make scheduling easier. Flying to Newark was uneventful except for a very loud man in the row behind me explaining to his poor seat-mate how he worked out really cheap airfares by booking one-way flights to other cities with connections in the city he wanted to go to, and only taking carry-ons so he could skip the last leg of the flight. He explained this at length. It reminded me of the time ages ago that a paper-products manufacturer explained to a woman who (I thought) feigned fascination well about how toilet paper's designed to fall apart when wet while facial tissues are designed to hold tight. I wondered how it is every commercial air flight doesn't include a moment where some woman garrotes some man explaining things.

Flying from Newark to Baltimore was delayed some because I was flying United and this always happens, but I was able to keep my parents updated and they met me in the most confusing way possible: telling me what baggage carousel my luggage would be in, regardless of what the airline told me, and then meeting me at a door that as best I can tell was at the opposite end of the airport. Or just felt like it. We got to my brother's place --- the brother who was in Newark that day --- about midnight, and my parents immediately went to bed. I talked a little while with my sister-in-law while she also played some Xbox games I don't understand about blocky people doing stuff like throwing knives, or riding a boat while a shark comes after them. One was about hiding out from a killer clown for the four minutes of a simulated night. All right.

We were supposed to leave at 7:30 so I just assumed someone would wake me, like, 45 minutes to an hour ahead of time. I got woken at 7:15 and staggered past nieces incredibly excited to see me into the kids' shower upstairs, that I guessed was the one I was supposed to use? Couldn't find any soap, but they had about 42 bottles of body wash, so I could take a hurried and goopy shower before setting out just a bit late. My younger niece wanted to know why I wasn't staying and my parents promised that I'd be back in two days. I took this to mean we were staying in Rhode Island two days, and hurriedly grabbed an extra set of pants, underwear, and shirt for my duffel bag packed with what I thought I'd need for an overnight trip.

After stopping at a breakfast place that got our bagel sandwich orders two-thirds correct my parents and I drove up to New Jersey. The plan was my brother would join us and we'd all ride up together, but he couldn't get anyone to drive him to the service plaza somehow and so we ended up split, my mother and I in her car and my father and my brother in my brother's car, driving up I-95 and through the Great Connecticut Traffic Jam and yeah, I nodded off through some of that, but in fairness, NewsRadio 88 was getting really boring by then. Even the crazypants dubious financial-advice show wasn't all that interesting. I didn't remember news radio being quite this awful when I used to listen to it regularly.

The hotel was this pretty charming little place in an old-looking house with long twisty and imperfectly levelled hallways that I just assumed my parents had used sometime when they'd been in Rhode Island and found Evelyn for some reason unable to put them up. Not so; my brother had found it, using one of those web sites connecting you to hotels that have vacancies that night. Anyway we split up, getting dressed for the wake. There I learned the blue dress shirt I'd grabbed was too tight for me to wear. I momentarily panicked about what about the purple shirt I was going to wear at the funeral, but remembered: no, I tried that on the day before, before setting out to buy a tie. I'd just have to wear the purple shirt both days and hope that nobody noticed and that I didn't stain it in any important ways. I ended up going to the wake in the same outfit I'd wear at the funeral, except for the tie. My brother, who has a job that's split between telecommuting and meeting people who head divisions, wore one of his have-a-meeting suits.

The wake was ... well, kind of what you'd expect. Well-attended, certainly. I knew some of the people there, relatives of my aunt and uncle or friends whom I'd seen when they had some big event. Still my parents were very good about playing introduction so that I could have a person's name in mind from the moment my parents said it until the moment my parents had finished saying it. My other aunt, that is, the other of my mother's quartet from college, was there for an hour and my brother and I largely moved in her orbit through that. (She couldn't be at the funeral; she still teaches, and the next day, Monday, was the start of her classes.)

The casket was open and it wasn't until seeing my aunt's body that I really choked up, for the first of many times those two days. She did, as they say, look great, posed in the way that haunts you with the suggestion she might open her eyes and sit up, abashed at all the fuss. She was in her wedding dress; my uncle said to people how they had figured, you know, she'd only wore it the once. He thanked me and my brother for coming out, and for being pall-bearers, and again I choked up trying to say how I was glad that I could.

It was several hours of hand-shaking, and sometimes hugging, and telling people that I was glad to see them except for the circumstances. And saying a last farewell, or at least waiting for the chance to say a last farewell since a stream of people came to say their farewells. But we did have the chance.

Afterwards we went to one of my aunt's favorite restaurants, where my family got way too involved in the question of whether they could order an appetizer with meat in it and whether they dared order the antipasta. It was a great dinner and we ate probably too much, another of my aunt's favorite pastimes, and I got through it without staining my jacket or shirt any. We could hang them back up in the hotel room closet for the funeral the next day.

The hotel alarm clock was a hotel-model alarm clock, the sort with over 2800 buttons and no clear way to set the alarm time. I did my best to set the 'A' timer and couldn't. But as best I could tell the 'B' timer was set for 7:30 and since that was about when we needed to get up, that seemed fine. Also as best I could tell the 'B' alarm was set to sound, so that all seemed fine. The alarm did not in fact go off the next morning.

Trivia: By 1865 Great Britain was producing 225,000 tons of steel per year; Germany, 98,000 tons, France 41,000 tons, and the United States 14,000 tons. Source: Engineering in History, Richard Shelton Kirby, Sidney Withington, Arthur Burr Darling, Frederick Gridley Kilgour.

Currently Reading: America's Humor: From Poor Richard to Doonesbury, Walter Blair, Hamlin Hill.


PS: Some more Northport.

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Looking over the stepped waterfall at the edge. I guess the small river runs into town and probably connects to that fake waterwheel at the restaurant, come to think of it.


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Nature! We saw a whichever this is swimming across the mill pond, where it was far enough away we couldn't be sure what the heck it was.


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So anyway I'm guessing beaver, based on these pictures and a short movie I got before it vanished into the edge of the pond.


krazy koati

I feel the blues coming on

So my Aunt Evelyn died last week. She was my godmother, one of my mother's core college friends. The second to die. It wasn't unexpected. She'd had cancer, and it had been getting worse. A few weeks ago they took her off treatments, and brought her to hospice. I'd tried to call her, to say something, but she wasn't able to answer the phone when I did call. I sent a card, thinking as I picked it out and wrote it that a get-well card, or get-well wishes, were just ... absurd. But I did anyway because what's there to do otherwise?

Last Friday I got e-mail that my uncle wanted me to be part of the ceremony. This shifted my thinking about going to the ceremony from ``could I possibly?'' to ``could I possibly not?'' and I figured, no; this is what I have savings for. I e-mailed bunny_hugger, then at work, to tell her of my plan and let her protest if this were impossible. And then in a tortured phone call with my mother worked out just how I might get to the Rhode Island ceremony. Flying to Providence was expensive. Flying to Boston and having my brother there pick me up --- oh, he's in Amsterdam this week on a family holiday. Flying to Newark where my other brother was, to visit friends, and riding up with him --- oh, Newark's crazy expensive. Flying to Baltimore, that brother's home, and riding up with my parents who were driving up from Charleston? That's possible and much more affordable. The flight went through Newark.

Flight booked, with a scary lack of comment from bunny_hugger (she was already heading home and didn't see my e-mail) I got to essentials. I have one good suit, the one I got married in, when I was six years younger about 25 pounds lighter. It still fit. My shirt fit too. My tie --- I didn't think a purple paisley tie would be appropriate. At the funeral my uncle would wear a dark purple paisley tie. But I knew one place to get a Good Quality Tie, the Men's Wearhouse on the east end of town. They were having a buy-one-get-one-free deal on ties. I couldn't imagine needing two black ties, but felt like, well, free tie? I got one that's completely smooth, and one that has a subtle diamond patterning. The clerk said they were lovely and asked what event I was buying them for. I felt trapped between my compulsion to answer honestly and not wanting to dump bad emotional stuff on someone who has to deal with the public. And then before working this out just said the honest, ``My aunt died and I need it for the funeral.'' She didn't act startled. They probably get a fair number of people coming in to make emergency purchases of grown-up clothing ahead of funerals.

I also popped into the Meijer's opposite that mall, there to get travel-sized toothpaste that I didn't end up using, and travel-sized deodorant that I didn't end up using (had enough left over from previous travels) and a little bottle of Listerine. I drove back, arriving home less than a minute before bunny_hugger, who it turned out had been at the same Meijer and the same time getting something from the Pharmacy department which, you might ponder, is pretty close to where you get travel-size toothpastes and deodorant and Listerine. Also while driving home we both listened to the same episode of the same podcast. Yet somehow we technically weren't there together.

I'd leave Saturday. This would cancel my attending a trivia-night league finals. MWS and his family go to restaurant trivia nights, and we sometimes go along, and they had made it to season finals. They needed a fourth for the event and thought I'd be perfect for it. Instead bunny_hugger had to go, messing up her plans to prepare for the coming semester. They didn't finish in the top ten, where the money prizes were. But not for bunny_hugger's participation; she kept a log of the questions and we worked out that, all else being the same, there was just one question she didn't know that I did, and she was more confident of the right answer on several questions than I was.

Also that I'd miss Sunday: pinball league finals, in Fremont. This would be another high-value event, although not so high as the Baby Food Festival whose story I'll get back to after all this. bunny_hugger and MWS would go to it, and she'd get a fourth and a sixth place in the two events. The fourth place should give her a good lift in the state rankings. The sixth place, eh, a slight boost. On their way back they were besieged by a massive storm, a nightmare of low visibility and downed branches and a storm that kept acting like it might let up and not doing so. I'd miss driving through all that, being, instead, at the wake and then a dinner afterwards at one of my aunt's favorite restaurants.

My aunt had a reputation as a Rain Goddess, as for a while in the 80s and 90s heavy storms and, in one case, a hurricane converged on events she was planning to attend. It's a bit nice to imagine she was thinking of bunny_hugger.

Trivia: In September 1803 Sunday was restored as the day of rest in France. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: America's Humor: From Poor Richard to Doonesbury, Walter Blair, Hamlin Hill. Most startling minor discovery to this: 19th-century examples of an uneducated-westerner-type saying ``mistopher'', just like Snuffy Smith says. Like, it's not some weird comic strip convention apparently? Huh.

PS: Reading the Comics, August 24, 2018: Delayed But Eventually There Edition, getting me up to last Saturday on the comic strips at least.


PPS: Some more Northport.

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And the waterwheel, which isn't functional, but which I think I remember bunny_hugger learned had never been functional and was just a bit of scenery for the attached restaurant.


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Old style car, one of several parked at the edge of town. Going ahead and guessing my father owned one of these back in the day, but that's just playing the odds.


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Approaching the old mill pond at the north end of Northport.