pegkerr: (Fiona)
Rob and Delia are off on a college tour, so it was just Fiona and me celebrating her reaching her milestone birthday. Twenty-one years old today! I took her to see Cyrano at the Park Square Theater and then to Highland Grill, where she ordered her first legal hard cider. (Legal here in the States, that is; she ordered over in England, too, where the drinking age is 18).

It's been a fabulous twenty-one years, hon! Love you so much.

Fiona on her 21st birthday - March 30, 2014


And here she is the day she was born )
pegkerr: (candle)
When I had moved out in my twenties, I needed a kitchen table. My Mom and Dad brought one to me at my apartment. I still remember them carrying it across that long parking lot on a hot summer's day. I'm not quite sure where they got it. Used, maybe, or perhaps from a relative. It was painted an ugly shade of thick brown paint.(Edited to add: Rob remembers that there was a thick coat of dark green OVER the dark brown.)

I spent weeks stripping and sanding that table down to the bare wood, working in the outdoor patio behind Rob's apartment (this was before we were married). It took so long because I had to dig into the crevices in the legs with the edge of a nail file to chase every last bit of brown paint out in the detailing of the lathe-turned grooves. You can still see tiny bits of the paint, like shadows, proof that I was not an expert used furniture refinisher by any means. I don't remember what the wood was, but I stained it a red maple color and covered it with a protective gloss. I remember how vexed I was by a stray hair that floated in on a breeze and caught in the gloss and affixed itself there, like an insect caught in amber.

We moved it to our first apartment together, and it became our first table. When we moved again, to our house where the girls were born, the table was put in the dining room. Rather too humble, aesthetically, for the space, but it fit perfectly, and when we covered it with a cloth, and put the best dishes on it, it suited us well. Two leaves could be pulled out from the ends to add length whenever we had guests.

Over the years, of course, there were scars. Delia the toddler banged her spoon incessantly, and so there is a patina of half-moon shaped scars on her side of the table. (We always sat at the same places.) Once, someone put a candlestick on the table, and some liquid spilled and soaked the felt cushion underneath, leaving a stain which marked the varnish. There is the smear of nail polish where Delia was experimenting, and I couldn't rub it off. I didn't want to try anything stronger that would take off the finish. I'll admit I wasn't always scrupulously quick about wiping away everyday stains.

It's used, battered, and hardly an heirloom. But we loved that table. We grew our family around it, and told our jokes, and traded our bon mots and cracked each other up. We had raging arguments, often about whether onions must be eaten or not. Fiona banged the back of her head against the back of her chair 1,346,234 times and never never remembered not to do it the next night. We ate our Christmas breakfasts and celebrated twelfth night there. We brought various hopeful Boys to join us. Fiona perfected her pterodactyl mating call there. We held hands around it and blessed our meals, and cried and screamed and raged and loved each other there.

We didn't have a hearth, so we used a table instead.

My mom is moving from the apartment she shared with Dad to a smaller senior complex. She had to downsize, and so she offered us her dining room table, the one I grew up with. It, too, has a rich family history, and many happy memories. It is bigger than ours: we will have to take leaves out and put the ends down, and we can't sit in the same configuration, because you can't put your feet under the drop leaf ends.

But. It, too, is the family table with a lot of lovely memories, and I hated to see it go to some strangers. Yes, we will take it, I said, and when the girls leave home, Rob and I can take all the leaves out, drop the sides, and it will work as a long narrow table for just the two of us. And then one of the girls can take our table when they leave to set up their own household.

Mom is going to be using the old oak table she had in her kitchen, the one she received from her mother-in-law (yet another generation's worth of memories).

So I have taken the legs off our table...

Dissassembling the table

We will have to do our Valentine boxes breakfast Japanese-style, on the floor, tomorrow morning,

Dissassembling the table

and then hustle it into the basement, so the dining room is clear when the truck brings Mom's old dining room table to our house.

And our old table will wait, patiently, in the basement, until either Fiona or Delia move out, painstakingly reassemble it, and gather friends and a new family around it to make a new generation of memories.

In a funk

Jan. 27th, 2014 08:40 pm
pegkerr: (candle)
I've really been in a funk, which is one of the reasons why I've been quiet here.

Rob is done with chemo (yes, I know I need to write something on the CaringBridge account) but he is still mighty tired, and I haven't noticed much in the way of improvement yet. He is starting physical therapy to regain his strength. They told him at his first appointment that it may take months to recover from the fatigue.

Fiona has successfully transferred, to the University of Minnesota, and is taking classes there now. She is living at home, and commuting in with me in the mornings, which is nice. It just takes me about an extra five minutes or so to drop her off. I know she'd rather not live at home, but she has no job (she lost hers, since it was an Augsburg work-study job), and she didn't have time to arrange housing on top of arranging for the transfer. So she's at home for now.

Delia is still mulling college options. She was five for five on acceptances--and then got turned down today by the place she wanted to go to the most, the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. It was also the most reasonably priced, which is going to be a significant factor. The letter said it was because she didn't have credits which we KNOW she had. We are going to try to reverse their decision but, yeah, we don't know if there'll be much hope.

As for me, well, I'm still studying French every day. The last couple of days I've been feeling really lousy, emotionally, but I don't particularly need to go into details. Just a lot of things seem awfully hard right now.

The terrible weather really doesn't help.

Fiona

Jan. 6th, 2014 05:47 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
Also: Fiona has a new haircut. Here she is, looking adorable.

Fiona's new haircut
pegkerr: (Honestly am I the only person who's ever)
I like these pictures, which were taken at Infinitus in 2010. Rob found them poking around the HPEF Flickr website.


Fiona and Delia at Infinitus in Orlando, Florida, July 2010

Peg signs Alternity Posters - HPEF Infinitus July 2010

© 2010 HPEF, all rights reserved. Free for private, non-commercial, use only. Please credit Jenn Racek and HPEF if photos are printed, published or reposted in any form.
pegkerr: (Fiona)
She has been traveling between school terms and has been catching us up about her travels to Bath, Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon. She told us all about the Jane Austen walking tour she took in Bath.

Fiona: "...and I got to try some of the Bath mineral waters!"

Me: "Is it as nasty as they say it is?"

Fiona: "I've tasted things that are much worse. After all, you made me drink milk, growing up."

She also saw the graves of Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis within a 24 hour period, which was just mind-bendingly brilliant.
pegkerr: (Default)
New CaringBridge post. Bottom line: we're past the first chemo, side effects have been mild, so far, so good.

Caregivers are busy. I've put seventy-five miles on the car over the past two days, just running errands around town. One errand was to take Delia to the doctor's. She came back from camp a week ago with some kind of bug which blossomed into full-scale post-camp crud. The doctor tested her for strep, which was negative, but put her on antibiotics anyway, due to the importance of not taxing Rob's weakened immunity. She also advised that Delia use the neti pot (which Delia HATES. She used it once, and admitted it made her feel better, but has since avoided using it again).

I got my hair cut. My hairstylist reported that the bald spot at the nape of my neck is even bigger, and now I have another area where the hair is thinning on the side of my head. Argh. "You've got to cut it out with the stress," she told me.

Wish I knew how.

I keep checking Fiona's blog hoping for another post (mothers of students studying abroad are voracious for news) but at least I did hear from her via GoogleChat yesterday. She reported that she is in a flat with a kitchen, a bath, and five single rooms. She had been there a day and had not yet met any of her roommates, although she has heard some sounds at night. And that the only shampoo in the bathroom is a man's shampoo.

Hmm.

She says she finds this hilarious. I asked whether she might consider asking the housing office whether a mistake has been made. She said that apparently students in the UK are much more cool with co-ed housing situations. I said I wouldn't hyper out about this if she feels safe.

Still. I found this somewhat surprising.

We have a Skype date tomorrow, and by then, I hope she'll know more about the housing situation.
pegkerr: (Default)
Fiona's current converter plug adapter, which she forgot to pack.

I did get an email from her this afternoon, saying she had arrived safely at Lancaster and had settled into her room. Gee, I hope she can find another current converter quickly in Lancaster. Or we may not be hearing from her again for awhile.
pegkerr: (Fiona)
I dropped Fiona off at the airport tonight with lots of love and kisses and a prayer of blessing. She's leaving for England in about an hour and a half.

I felt privileged to give her her last hug this side of the Atlantic.

I hope she remembered everything she needs.
pegkerr: (Fiona)
Fiona has set up a blog to record her adventures in England, or as she calls it, her 'Cross-Atlantic Shenanigans.' Here's the link.
pegkerr: (Default)
The girls have always been fascinated with the idea of fairies. Fiona particularly used to spend hours when she was a little girl creating fairy houses and furniture in her special place by the front porch.

I have blown off gardening this year entirely due to my crazy work schedule and the trials I'll be involved with. I knew I would simply have no time, and so my yard is pathetic. No flowering plants on the porch for the first time EVER, no geraniums in planters in front of the front door. My lawn is full of weeds.

But I did stop in the garden store once, thinking to get a flowering lobelia in a hanging pot that I traditionally hang by the back door--but instead I saw a display of fairy gardens, and so I asked the girls if they wanted to create one. They were enchanted by the idea. We spent several hours, seriously weighing pros and cons of the various things they had for sale--they wanted SO much to get it right that it took them forever to make up their minds, and so all were rather cross by the time we got home.

But Fiona set it up, and although she occasionally forgets to water it, so the baby's breath looks rather parched, on the whole it has taken shape nicely. I am sure if there are any fairies in the neighborhood (and Fiona, I suspect, secretly is convinced that there are) they would find this a lovely haven.

Fairy Garden - June 2013

Fairy Garden - June 2013

Fairy Garden - bench and well

Fairy Garden - well (For perspective, that watering can in front of the well is about the size of a thimble.)

This is one of those special things you see as a parent occasionally, where something they had as children continues to enrich their lives as adults.

Isn't it beautiful?
pegkerr: (Default)
A friend of mine, David LaRochelle, recently posted a picture of me on Facebook when I was Fiona's age (20).  Compare it to the picture taken of Fiona earlier today (still with the long hair). My hair at the time was about exactly the same length.

Fiona, of course, probably has better dress sense than I did at that age...although you do have to remember, it was the 1980s.


Peg at age 20
Fiona at age 20
 

pegkerr: (Default)
Fiona decided that since she's going abroad, she wanted a change. So she made a big one!

Fiona: Last afternoon with long hair

Before shot

The moment of truth

IMG_0198

Looking good!

Her reaction: "I look about five years older. And I am no longer swishy, but sproingy."
pegkerr: (Default)
Finally! Finally! Fiona has received word: she has been ACCEPTED to the University of Lancaster in England for study abroad next fall.

More details to come.
pegkerr: (Fiona)
2:45 a.m. at Minicon:

Me: Happy birthday, my love!
Fiona: Thank you, Mommy.
Me: Welcome to your twenties.
Fiona: Thanks. So far, they've been okay.
Me: I thought your teen years went rather well.
Fiona: At least I didn't turn into a raging bitch.

Yep. Adorable as ever.
pegkerr: (Default)
Forgot to post these: a couple of family pictures from after the matinee performance on Sunday.

IMG_0145
IMG_0144
pegkerr: (Fiona and Delia)
Going out for cupcakes after A Midsummer Night's Dream with our adorable girls.

Adorable daughters 3/17/2013
pegkerr: (Not all those who wander are lost)
I read this article a couple of days ago and I've been thinking about it ever since. It pins down something I thought about quite a bit when I was writing Emerald House Rising. I was intensely irritated about the fact that so many fantasy authors seem to have difficulty with trying to come up with a reason for women to go out and have adventures. SO MANY. I got sick of books that started with a family being destroyed, or a rape that drove a woman from home, usually on a quest for revenge. Can't you think of OTHER reasons for women to leave home?

I hadn't thought about some of the other points she makes, including that we really don't have any narrative for a woman on the road other than the one that ends in tragedy: she will end up raped and/or dead. The classic example that springs to mind for me is 'Vagabond.,' (or 'Sans Toit ni Loi' in the original French, which translates, I think, 'Without Roof or Law.') You can watch it in its entirety on Youtube, starting here. The movie begins with the woman's doom: she is discovered dead, in a ditch. The rest of the movie backtracks, telling the story of how she got there.

The quest narrative is so important in fantasy literature; it is archetypal. Jung thought that we needed it as part of our human story. So why do we suffer such a lack of imagination if our protagonist is a woman?

This takes on an interesting frisson for me, as I contemplate my daughter going traveling abroad next year.
pegkerr: (Default)
Posting this for Fiona, my woman warrior and dedicated gamer.

From Think Progress here:
After launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a long-term project that would examine the roles women play—or are consigned to—in video games, Feminist Frequency video blogger Anita Sarkeesian was subject to a vicious, violence-saturated campaign of harassment. While it was awful to watch Sarkeesian be threatened and slandered for the sin of wanting to do her job well and comprehensively, the utter inability of her harassers to shut her work down has been wonderful to watch.

And I’m cheering Sarkeesian’s perseverance even harder now that the first installment of her project, titled Tropes Vs. Women, is out—and it’s terrific. Examining both the depiction and gameplay of characters like Pauline, Princess Peach and Zelda, Sarkeesian goes back to the origins of the Damsels In Distress trope art and literature, explores how the trope migrated into video games after the rights to Popeye characters couldn’t be secured for a video game, and examines how the trope became valuable to the video game industry:



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