Blog

Spot the Station

6:11 AM, January 15, 2018

So, on Monday I saw the International Space Station for the first time this year. I qualify this year—2018—because I’ve been looking for (and usually finding) the ISS in the sky for a couple of years, now. And I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while, too, but something else always seems to bump it back in line.

I began this exercise two years ago, when a friend from work told me you could sign up for alerts, to let you know when the Space Station is visible in your corner of the sky. The alerts are super convenient, because they take all these factors into account:

  • It has to be dawn or dusk, because the ISS reflects the light of the rising or setting sun. It’s not visible in the middle of the day or night.
  • The ISS must be 40 degrees or more above the horizon.
  • It also travels at roughly 17,500 miles (28,000 km) per hour, circling the Earth every 90 minutes. So it’s visible in a pretty tight window, usually anywhere from two to six minutes.

NASA does a good job of tabulating all these things, and sending a text about twelve hours before your next viewing opportunity. Here’s the website where you can sign up, if you’re interested: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

For any given opportunity, the only things that keep me from spotting the Station are timing and weather. If it passes overhead while I’m still asleep, or when I’m in the car on my way somewhere, then I’ll miss it. And weather is about the only thing NASA doesn’t include in the alerts—you can’t see the ISS if there’s too much cloud cover.

It was supposed to be visible a bunch of times in late December, at the end of 2017, but I came up empty several days running because it was too cloudy. I took it as a good omen for 2018 that everything was perfect for Monday morning’s sighting—the sky was crystal clear, the air was cold but not too windy, and it wasn’t so terribly early as to be obnoxious. The city of New Orleans needed a good omen, as our beloved Saints just suffered a devastating loss the day before, taking us out of the playoffs.

And here’s the thing (or things), the reasons I keep going outside and looking at the sky to spot our friends in the Space Station. One, it’s a great perspective check: whatever’s going on in my world, whatever’s causing me anxiety or drama (like the collective misery of a city with dashed Super Bowl hopes), those alerts are a reminder to look up. Up in the sky, I know there are six people who are an orbit away from their homes and loved ones, who’ve given up their time and Earth’s gravity for science, for progress, for adventure—I’m sure their reasons are plentiful. It reminds me of the reasons I wake up early to pursue my writing.

Two, it’s an opportunity for a quick meditation. About whatever—perspective, gratitude, ambition. And faith. Faith that even if the sky is cloudy, and I can’t see them, the Space Station and its occupants are still up there. Faith that the next time the weather will be clear and I’ll get to track that little point of light as it zooms across the sky. And if not the next time, then maybe the time after that.

And finally, I’m not only a sci-fi geek, I’m a science geek. Astronomy, geography, geology. The very first thing I ever wanted to be was a cartographer (I’d say “map maker” when I was little). I imagine the occupants of the Space Station, looking down on me as I look up at them, a tiny speck way down in the boot of Louisiana. Each of us thinking how valuable, how fragile, and how momentous our endeavors are. As troubled as things may be, all over the map of the Earth, if we ever stop reaching for the stars, then hope is truly lost.

Per aspera ad astra.

5:31 PM, November 26, 2017

Comic Con Through the Years

Ma nièce Cherie et moi

So, I was at the New Orleans Convention Center this past weekend for Wizard World New Orleans, more commonly known as New Orleans Comic Con. I’ve attended this event for several years running—it’s appeared in this space before.

I wrote about my attendance two years ago; and the very first picture I used on this blog was from Comic Con 2012. As I reflect back on this past half-decade plus, the common denominator, and the thing that makes Comic Con so memorable for me, are the family and friends who have accompanied me.

Back in 2012, it was niece Cece. I learned a lot about Doctor Who as we waited in line to get our entrance passes. Later that same year, myself, Cece, and one of her friends spent fifteen hours in a movie theater for the Avengers movie marathon. I think my legs (and neck) might still be stiff.

In 2016, niece Kate gave me a briefing on what was going on at school and with her friends as we waited to get our picture taken with Hayley Atwell. (Hayley Atwell was promoting her Peggy Carter character from the Agent Carter television series.)

For 2018, I was accompanied by niece Cherie, and got an education in not only Doctor Who, but also what used to be called the Star Wars expanded universe, and especially the character Revan.

I’ve also had the pleasure of attending with my good friend Sabrina, who instructed me on all things Outlander. And also best friend Kristen, who pops up in this space from time to time. For the past two years I’ve met her and her family there. Her son and daughter are just coming into their own fandoms, and it was especially fun to watch them take in the weird Comic Con wildness the first time around. They handled themselves like old pros this time.

It’s worth noting that Kristen introduced me to comics, specifically The X-Men, many, many years ago. And here’s the thing—we were roughly the same age as Cece, Kate, and Cherie the years they were my primary Comic Con companions (a little nod to Doctor Who there). We’re talking about that span between sixteen and eighteen years old: formative years indeed.

That’s the real treasure for me. Cece, Kate, and Cherie are all cousins; they each sprang from different siblings of mine. Spending that time together, apart from their siblings and parents, and finding out what’s rocking their individual worlds at such a flourishing age—it’s something that stays with me. Like the springtime plays in City Park’s Sculpture Garden, Comic Con has been something of a winter tradition between me and the nieces.

As I writer, discovering what these young women find compelling is invaluable. But as an aunt, and dearer to my heart, making these memories with such remarkable and beloved kindred is something I hold very close.

And one of these days, I’ll finally settle in and start watching Doctor Who.

Here, Winter Is

City Park, New Orleans, January 1, 2018

Wherefore no man grows wise without he have his share of winters—from The Wanderer, an Old English poem

As my first post of 2018, I was going to write something about how I resent New Year’s resolutions, yet feel compelled to make them anyway. And work in something about how I began this year as I began the last, with a walk in New Orleans’ City Park. But how the big difference was the weather.

So, I’ll start there. It’s cold! From the morning of January 1:

Okay, okay, I know this is downright balmy compared to some spots in the Midwest and along the east coast. But it’s all relative, right? The average January temperature in New Orleans is a low somewhere in the ’40s, and a high in the ’60s. (Fahrenheit, of course.) See, my app said it felt like 14 degrees! And apps don’t lie. (Do they?) And how about all those hard freeze warnings!

Anyway, I bundled up and took my walk. It wasn’t so bad, except when the wind started to blow. That’s when it must have felt like 14 degrees. I got some nice wintry pics of City Park, so it felt worthwhile.

On to resolutions. They’re awfully “should-y.” As in, “I should exercise more, I should eat more healthily.” It always makes me think of Yoda’s admonition to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back: “No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” It’s like the difference between intention and resolution. I had intended (not resolved) to swim some laps (in an indoor heated pool) before work yesterday morning. But it was really cold, and it was tough to get out of bed, and my throat was a little sore (maybe from that cold walk). So I did not swim laps. Thanks to Yoda, and the line of demarcation between intention and resolution, I don’t feel like a failure. If I had resolved to swim laps, and hadn’t, then I might be feeling like a failure.

It’s also why I’m hesitant to apply resolutions to my writing. In 2018, I’ll see the conclusion of my eighth year of this fiction-writing journey. Early on, I made writing resolutions—both New Year’s and Lenten—to write something every day, or to finish a short story. Things along those lines. But as I’ve come to view writing as a vocation, resolving to do these things feels like resolving to show up to work when I’m scheduled. It’s an unnecessary resolution. Showing up at my job is something I just have to do, or do not. And be ready to face the consequences if I do not.

So that’s where I find myself this winter, this extra-cold start to 2018. I’m deep into the re-writes for my second novel. I need to make the time to finish these re-writes, in short order. I intend for my time spent “doing” to far outweigh my time spent “do not-ing.”

I’ll go back to the beginning to conclude this post. That quote about wisdom growing through your share of winters is something I remember from high school. I must have encountered it in English Lit, and it’s something that has stayed with me ever since. I hadn’t remembered that it pre-dates the Norman conquest of England—thanks for that, Google. While I’m not that old, I’ve seen at least thirty winters since I first read that line. I can only hope that I’m wiser now for having seen those winters through.

2017 Look Back

City Park, New Orleans, January 1, 2017

The years teach much which the days never know. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I think back just twelve months ago, I remember a whole lot of uncertainty. We (the U.S.) had just completed one of the most surprising election cycles in recent history, and certainly in my history. My posts from a year ago reflect that state of uncertainty, to a degree. There was talk of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, some angst on my part over missing a #WritersResist event in New York.

I’m relieved to write that I feel a modest degree less uncertain now. The Republic still stands, the government still functions. (You can read into “functions” what you will, it’s a broad term.) On a personal level, I’m still employed, I still have some savings for the future, and I’m still writing.

This post completes the second full calendar year of this blog. On the “published writer” front, I signed a publishing contract with After Glows Publishing in the first quarter of 2017, and re-released The Incident Under the Overpass with them in September. I hope that the follow-up to TIUTO will release in the first half of 2018.

I had an essay published in OUTSIDE IN MAKES IT SO: 174 New Perspectives on 174 Star Trek TNG Stories by 174 Writers. I will have a short story appear in the sci-fi anthology Just a Minor Malfunction, issue #4, in late February 2018.

My progress in the published realm feels slow, but at least I can state that there is progress. And while I’m glad to be putting 2017 to bed, the year definitely had its highlights. I thought it would be nice to reflect on the new places I saw this past year:

  • Whitney Plantation: a sobering start to the new year, as I learned more about the role my ancestors played in the life of this once-successful sugar plantation. While not happy times for me, any occasion where my eyes are truly opened is worth remembering.
  • Düsseldorf: I saw a city in Germany I’d never seen before. Also of note, this is the only new place I encountered with my job—every other new place was of my own volition.
  • New Smyrna Beach: vacation with husband Tim on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
  • Murfreesboro, Tennessee: my first total solar eclipse!
  • Greece: a happier occasion to have my eyes opened, on vacation in one of the planet’s cradles of civilization.

So once again, Ralph Waldo Emerson states it best. The last days of 2016 certainly did not have places like Greece or things like a total solar eclipse in their sights. I’m grateful for the cumulative learning offered by this past year.

 

The Last Jedi

**BE WARNED: This post contains spoilers. Unfortunately, not the spoilers I was hoping for.**

OK, so—Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’ve seen it once, last Thursday, and I’m still undecided. I feel like I need to see it again, now that I know the story, to confirm what I like and don’t like about the movie.

I’m pretty firm in the opinion that I like Rogue One better. (You can read my appraisal here.) And I think I like The Last Jedi better than The Force Awakens, but that’s where I want an additional viewing to confirm.

Here’s what I liked:

  • The cast: Specifically, the new characters of Finn, Rey and Poe (and BB-8). The characters and the fantastic actors who play them were one of my favorite things about The Force Awakens. The characters really get a chance to develop, independent of each other, in The Last Jedi. (And at 2.5 hours, there’s opportunity for development. I believe this is the longest running time of any of the Star Wars.) And a few sub-points:
    • Chewbacca: Not a new character, but it’s a new actor inhabiting Chewie’s fur. The nuances and differences are super-subtle, but I think the Finland-born actor Joonas Suotamo does an excellent job of honoring the character work originated by Peter Mayhew, while putting his own stamp on this legendary Wookiee.
    • Poe Dameron: I have no problems playing favorites. Oscar Isaac’s Poe is a definite favorite. IMHO, he’s a worthy recipient of the Han Solo “scoundrel-fly-boy” mantle.
    • And the rest: Really liked Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Kelly Marie Tran, too. And yes, I’m only focusing on the Resistance actors. I’m one of those people who always wants the good guys to win in the end. (Sorry, Domhnall Gleeson—you’re a lot of fun as General Hux, but you’re with the First Order, so, you’re out of luck).
  • The setting(s): One of the main reasons I want to see The Last Jedi again—it might be the most visually appealing of all the Star Wars. The mining planet Crait, the island on remote Ahch-To where Luke has been spending his time—each is stunning in their own way. When I was younger, I used to want to escape to Hoth when I wanted to hide away. Hoth has been replaced by Ahch-To. It’s warmer, it’s definitely much greener, and there doesn’t appear to be any Wampa.
  • Luke Skywalker’s storyline: I don’t have any complaints about Luke Skywalker’s thread in this movie. I was very satisfied with how his character was woven into this new trilogy. But the overall story leads me to…

What I didn’t like: (here there REALLY be spoilers!) It all relates to a lack of resolution. Let me break it down…

  • Rey’s parentage: We are told in the movie that Rey’s parents are nobodies. Just some folks who sold her off for drinking money. Fine. If that is indeed the case, and not some subterfuge being perpetuated by Kylo Ren, I still feel like we’re owed something. Some flashback to complete the scene from The Force Awakens, where we see Rey as a small child being handed off on Jakku. Otherwise, why would you tease that scene?
  • Snoke: Dude has obviously been around a long time. He looks like he’s pieced himself together from mortal injuries before. Yet, he gets eliminated in this movie, and there’s no reference made to who he might be. Frustrating.
  • Princess Leia: I’m still so saddened by the loss of Carrie Fisher. We all know that she can’t be in the next Star Wars movie, which makes her role in this movie so poignant. There seemed to be so many opportunities to bring her character to a fitting and honorable end in The Last Jedi. But no. All I’m going to say, is, the pressure is on the storytellers of Episode Nine. How do you remove Leia’s character from the story in a way that does her character justice?

So, I would like to see the movie again, minus the expectations noted above. And then see how I feel about it.

Since Star Wars is one of the hugest commercial ventures out there, I’m sure that’s music to the filmmakers’ ears.

A Christmas Miracle

Temporary resident in Brother Dave’s yard

It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles. — Hans Gruber in Die Hard

So, being smack dab in the midst of the 2017 holiday season, I find myself looking forward to waking up Christmas morning, firing up the old Blu-ray, and watching Die Hard. While I enjoy the movie any time of year, I do find it takes on special meaning at Christmas.

Just like how it somehow feels right to watch Jaws around the Fourth of July. Though not every Fourth of July—in any given year, I’ll abstain if I happen to be training for an open-water swim race. It’s too spooky heading out into the water if Jaws is fresh in my memory.

But I’m getting sidetracked. I did not intend this post to be about my holiday movie-viewing habits. It’s supposed to be about a couple of rare occurrences that transpired recently.

First, snow in Southern Louisiana. That is rare indeed. The winter storm that just blew through much of the U.S. took an unusual southward dip. Last Friday, I drove to work through freezing rain, and saw some snow flurries later in the day. Though the snow didn’t stick on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain (where I live and work).

The snow did stick roughly thirty miles away, on the north shore of the lake. I found myself over there on Saturday, making good on a long-standing intention to visit 2nd & Charles, a used bookstore. There are maybe 40 of these stores scattered throughout the U.S., and only two in Louisiana.

Another aside: I’m a newly-minted fan of this store / concept. I traded in a bunch of DVDs and Blu-rays, received a cash offer for them, and then spent slightly more than what I had just received on gifts. The net result was that I still reduced the amount of unused “stuff” in our house, and was also introduced to a really cool bookstore.

Anyway, once I crossed the 24-mile concrete span known as the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, signs of the previous day’s snowfall were evident. The white stuff was still showing—on the shoulder of the road, on pitched rooftops. I had lunch with my brother David and his family, and his north shore neighborhood still looked like a winter wonderland.

Which brings me to the phenomenon I really intended to write about. By pure happenstance, I saw all of my Louisiana-based siblings on Saturday. There are five of us here, (seven total—two sisters live out of state), and our respective orbits don’t typically intersect. And, we’re a pretty introverted lot, so gatherings and celebrations don’t come together as quickly or naturally as they might for other families.

Lunch with Brother Dave and his whole family—Sister-in-Law Barbara, Nieces Cherie and Veronica, and Veronica’s fiancé Josh—would have been blessing enough. I headed back over the Causeway with a full belly, and happy to have caught up with beloved family. And, I had enough time to make it to vigil Mass with Brother Jerry, or “Mass of the Ancients” as we’ve dubbed it. (Vigil Mass with Jerry is not a rare occurrence; we used to bring our mother to this Mass, and just never stopped once Mom was gone).

When I arrived at Jerry’s house, I discovered Niece Kate, recently home from her first semester at Mississippi State, would join us for Mass. Then, walking into church, what to my wondering eyes does appear, but Sister Susan and Brother Stephen. They usually go to the late Sunday Mass, but as the fates would have it, were at Saturday’s vigil.

So, lo, in the span of just a few hours, I saw all my Louisiana siblings. Mom, who passed away three years ago this coming Sunday, would have been very pleased by that turn of events.

The Star

Our local star rises over City Park in New Orleans, December 3, 2017

I recently read about the 17th card of the Tarot deck, the Star. It’s a pretty hopeful one, coming after the Fool has emerged from his encounters with Death, the Devil, and a creepy Tower with people falling from it. I couldn’t help but draw the comparison between the Star being the 17th card in the Major Arcana, and this being 2017…

The book I was reading was Juliet Sharman-Burke’s The Complete Book of Tarot; I’ve had this book for decades, but have referenced it more and more these past few years as I focus on my writing. Regarding the Star, she writes: “The Star has always been an emblem of hope and promise; a light to steer by.” She goes on to reference the Magi following a star to Bethlehem. It seemed another interesting coincidence that I just happened to read about the Star on the first Sunday of Advent.

And I got to thinking, I realized I am personally feeling more hopeful in December 2017 than I was in December 2016, for several reasons. First, I feel a lot more confident about my fiction writing than I did a year ago. It seems I spent the better part of ’16 consumed with and worried about the publishing part of authorship. Truth be told, it felt like a distraction. I couldn’t see how I could keep all the plates spinning and finish the trilogy I had begun in anything resembling a timely manner.

Fast forward to now: book 2 is written, and I’m in the midst of editing and re-writes. Book 3 is outlined, and I’ve begun writing it. Working with After Glows Publishing has made a world of difference—they’re who I have to thank for the confidence boost.

Next, I start a new job next week as a Technical Writer. It’s with the same company I’ve been working for; but it’s outside of the marketing department. So, no more trade shows for me. Believe me, it’s a welcome change—I’ve been involved with trade shows or “experiential” promotions for roughly twenty years. I’m excited about taking on a new challenge, and having the chance to hone my word skills with a different type of writing.

Finally, I find the #metoo movement really hopeful. I try not to stray too much into political/societal musings in this space. My intent is keep it to things I have some authority over—mainly, my personal experiences and how they relate to my writing. Since I’m a woman who has worked in a corporate/business environment for many years, I definitely have authority over my own experiences in that sphere, and those experiences definitely influence my writing.

And I know this: it takes boatloads of courage to come forward and expose the bad behavior of someone who has power over you and your livelihood. Too often, I’ve seen that courage met with, at best, some temporary disciplinary action; at middling, indifference; and at worst, reprisals against the powerless. The fact that some perpetrators are now losing their jobs—their positions of power—feels like a sea change to me.

A quick aside: I’ve written here before about The Writer’s Almanac. I hear it has been canceled since Garrison Keillor was dismissed from Minnesota Public Radio. While I will miss hearing the content of that syndicated program, I was never particularly attached to Garrison Keillor’s hosting of it. I’m impressed that Minnesota Public Radio didn’t let his “brand name” outweigh the claims that were brought against him.

I’ll conclude with the December quote from my 2017 “First We Dream” calendar. It’s from Louisa May Alcott, and it seems fitting that it involves a star:

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

Jones vs. Mews

Jones v. Mews—kinda sounds like a legal dispute, doesn’t it?

Nope, in keeping with the tone of this blog, it’s a movie / pop culture reference. I caught up on Stranger Things over the long Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S.

I loved Season 1 when I watched it last year. Several months after everyone else did. So, I began streaming Stranger Things 2 this past Saturday. Several weeks behind everyone else. Again.

And, because everyone’s already seen it, I think I can keep this post spoiler-free. Heck, I still have 3 episodes to go, so there’s only so much I can spoil.

What’s jumped out at me are all the Aliens references in Stranger Things 2. Paul Reiser’s role is the most obvious. Since they all seem so apparent, I wanted to make sure I didn’t plagiarize anyone, or re-write what some other fan may have already written.

The top result from a quick Google search was a Vulture article by Brian Tallerico, “All the Ways Stranger Things 2 Is Like James Cameron’s Aliens.” NOTE: the Vulture article contains spoilers. Which, actually, I didn’t mind. But I might be one of the few people on the planet who actively seeks out spoilers. I hate surprises.

Anyway, sure enough, the very first thing the article points out is the comparison between Paul Reiser’s portrayal of Dr. Owens in Stranger Things 2, and Burke in Aliens. (After all these years, I still love to hate Burke. What a great weaselly villain.) The article also scooped me on the following:

  • The visual similarity of the worlds inhabited by the Demodogs in Stranger Things 2, and the aliens in Aliens. Though I would have gone a little further to point out the tunnels in the Upside Down and the sub-floor on LV-426…
  • The use of radar. It’s a brilliant device for tension-building. Observers see little blips on a screen (the aliens / Demodogs) descend upon their teams, while they watch in horror.
  • Flamethrowers are the chief weapon used against the monsters in each story.

But here’s something that wasn’t in Tallerico’s Vulture article: the cats. Jones from the Alien movies, and Mews from Stranger Things 2. My apologies to anyone who’s already drawn this comparison, but I didn’t see anything in a quick perusal of the Google results. Though I didn’t scan too far down. It’s a little surprising, since cats consistently win the Internet.

In the Alien universe, Jones, or Jonesy, is an orange tabby cat. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) looks after him. The Alien vs. Predator wiki calls Jones a “ginger American Shorthair,” but where I come from, cats of his ilk are known as orange tabbies. Or more specific to my family, orange marmalade cats.

Here’s a fun fact: I grew up with the random knowledge that calico cats are always female. But just recently learned that orange tabbies are predominantly male, roughly 80% so.

Mews from Stranger Things is also an orange (marmalade) tabby. But is apparently in the 20% minority, because the Stranger Things wiki refers to Mews as a “she.”  Mews belongs to Dustin Henderson’s family; and, as such, appears to have a more pampered house-cat existence than Jonesy.

While Jones and Mews meet different fates, they are two cats who look similar, who have roughly the same presence in each dramatic milieu.

In a match-up, I’d pick Jonesy any day, but I won’t elucidate why, because that might be a spoiler.

So, there.

The Texas Renaissance Festival

“Leaf me alone,” says the Fall Faerie

So, I was in Houston this past weekend, visiting my sister Julie. Hurricane Harvey had something to do with this trip. After it dumped its biblical portions of rain on the Houston area, Julie and I carved out this time—a grateful acknowledgment of the fact that she and her husband were spared any flooding.

It took a little while for our schedules to coalesce. I had the trip to Greece last month, and Sister Julie had a bunch of work travel that just wrapped up. She flew to three continents over a four-week period, I think. One of her trips was supposed to commence the week Harvey hit, but airport closures pushed it forward.

As the fates would have it, I found myself in Texas during the Texas Renaissance Festival, for its Highland Fling-themed weekend. A note about this fair: Wikipedia tells me it began in 1974, on the location of an old strip mining site. Julie has lived in Houston for the past twenty-five years, and has been an avid fan of the TRF since she discovered it, shortly after her arrival in the Lone Star State.

Through the years, there’s been an assortment of our family that’s joined her on her annual trek to the festival, held every autumn, fifty-five miles northwest of Houston. I’ve been with her once before, five or six years ago, when I purchased a little owl figure at one of the shops.

There is a specific reason behind my relatively new fascination with owls. Shortly after I began this writing journey, I dreamt I had an owl as a pet. More a familiar than a pet.  In the dream, the bird was trying to tell me in an owl-lie type way that I needed to adjust my focus, and pay more attention to writing. As motivation, it sorta backfired—while I definitely give writing more focus these days, I also get easily distracted by images or depictions of owls whenever I encounter them.

Original Owlie, plus a new sibling from Greece

Anyway, Sister Julie was in a reflective mood at this year’s festival. It might have been the effect of finally alighting at home after her round-the-world travels. Or maybe because her children are all grown now. Her daughter, Niece Emilie, would almost always join her for the Highland Fling weekend. Em just started a graduate program at Yale, so a trip back home to Texas just for the Fling was too hard to swing. 🙂

Julie pondered aloud about why she’s always loved the TRF. Was it the time of year, the South Texas air finally turning cooler? Was it the clothes and costumes? Was it Tartanic, the group that bills themselves as “Insane Bagpipe/Drum/Dance/Comedy” performers? Personally, I’d put in a vote for the scotch eggs and pear cider.

I reminded her that she’s always been drawn to that historical period:

“Remember the term paper you wrote in high school, ‘Was Medieval Woman Really…”

“Mid-Evil?” she finished my sentence. “Yeah,” she said, “How do you remember that?”

“I guess that’s the kind of stuff I remember.” Growing up the youngest of seven kids, with a nascent ambition to write, I paid attention to my older siblings’ term papers, short stories, plays, impromptu comedy skits…

Really, it’s enough for me that the Texas Renaissance Festival is just something my sister loves. As well as a lot of other people, apparently—it was packed this past Saturday. And I love seeing all the costumes, which span far beyond the Renaissance period. (For more casual togs, I was not the only one in a Star Wars t-shirt. And Astros fans were also out in force.)

And finally, I like to think of the “reawakening” meaning of renaissance. Here is an old strip mine, reborn as a verdant, pastoral, place. And what a lovely venue, and event, for the people of Houston to return to each year.

Outfitted for Highland Fling
Blending in
Worlds collide
Admiring Julie’s new hair clip while waiting for the swings
The swings
Sunset at the TRF