Jack Hardy

Mar. 16th, 2011 08:34 pm
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Jack Hardy, Folk Singer and Keeper of the Tradition, Dies at 63

I didn't hear about this until Sunday, when a friend who used to go to his song circles here in the city and his late-night fireside sings up at Falcon Ridge came to a gig we did down in the Village, and mentioned it at dinner afterward. I didn't know him personally, but it is a great loss and I am very sad. Here's some coverage from the Times.

A Circle of Song in Tribute to a Torchbearer of Folk

Video Library: Remembering Jack Hardy. Tim Robinson performs at a gathering commemorating Jack Hardy, a folk musician who held weekly sessions at his apartment until his recent death.

Lee McGarry

Apr. 7th, 2008 06:10 pm
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I wrote the first part of what follows over the last week of March, but caring for my mom was taking up most of my time day and night, and I didn't manage to post it.

Last week of March, 2008

My mother, who's in her early eighties, started subscribing to Astounding magazine in the nineteen-forties. Her friend Mimi turned her on to it. Mimi was a physics major at Hunter, where she and my mother went to college, and she grabbed Mom one day and put a copy of the magazine in her hands and said the equivalent of "This is so cool, you have got to check this out." Mom was initially skeptical, but she read the issue and was hooked. Before long she was reading the pulps on the subway to and from school, then later on to and from work. Our apartment was always strewn with the magazines--F&SF, Galaxy, Analog, Asimov's, and many others--and she read every issue from cover to cover.

After getting her degree in English and then deciding she didn't want to be an English teacher after all, Mom taught dance at Arthur Murray's for a while, and then put in several decades at an insurance company, first in the steno pool, then as an attorney's secretary, and for the last twelve of her years there as a paralegal after finishing a night-school program at NYU while she was working full-time and parenting a child and coping with the whimsicalities of life with my father. (They hadn't exactly hit it off the first time they met, but got together after discovering a shared love for A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh.) After she retired from the Equitable, she took a full-time job as parish secretary at our Episcopal church, also serving as a lector and lay minister, and retired from there about twelve years ago, when we moved out of that neighborhood. She'd always been a fantasy reader--Charles Williams, Mervyn Peake, C. S. Lewis, and E. R. Eddison were especially beloved, as was Tolkien--and she loved mystery novels and War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov. She was an English-history buff and an admirer of Elizabeth I. She loved opera and folk music and Gilbert & Sullivan, and had shelves filled with albums and librettos; we had a subscription to the Metropolitan Opera and went to operas there and at the New York State Theatre together for years. She loved Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, Cary Grant and Indiana Jones, Gunga Din and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Partly because of her love of opera and partly because of her love of language, she studied German, Russian, Latin, Italian, and French, and kept a reading understanding of all them as long as she had a dictionary handy; we worked through a teach-yourself-Welsh course together when we were both on an Evangeline Walton kick, and we took Irish Gaelic language classes together. She loved Gormenghast and Majipoor and Middle Earth with all her heart. She loved Kipling's India, and Discworld, and Earthsea; she loved Ellis Peters and Lindsey Davis and Dorothy L. Sayers. She loved E. Nesbit and Diana Wynne Jones and Tove Jansson, she loved His Dark Materials even though it broke her heart, and she loved the Harry Potter series; until she had the last book in her hands she worried that she wouldn't live long enough to get to read the end of the story. She did the Times crossword every day of the week, and all the other crosswords and acrostics she could get her hands on. She kept voluminous diaries and reading journals in a beautiful, meticulous hand.

She hasn't done a crossword or written in her diary or felt like listening to music in a while now. She keeps a Cadfael book by her at all times, and has a pile of Falcos and an Earthsea omnibus close to hand, but she doesn't really read them, just picks them up and looks at them and puts them down and closes her eyes, figuring she'll read when she's not so tired. They're all getting a little ragged from being handled and slept with, the way the things that comfort you tend to do.

She has fairly advanced, metastatic lung cancer and COPD and is increasingly showing symptoms of senile dementia. Throughout the agonizingly protracted diagnostic process (the mass in her lung first showed up on an X-ray on December 3rd, but it's in a tricky spot and two needle biopsies failed to get enough tissue for a diagnosis), she was clear and firm about wanting to fight for as much time as she could get, and she's now three weeks into the light chemotherapy and Avastin treatment proposed by her oncologist. (Without treatment she'd have fewer than six months. If the treatment helps, she might have an eighty percent chance of surviving the year, and could live two years, five years, no one can say for sure.) In February she was hospitalized for two weeks after a fall that may have involved some kind of stroke. While she was in the hospital, a thoracic surgeon did a mediastinoscopy and bronchoscopy that she'd been scheduled to have as an outpatient the day she fell (and which yielded the diagnosis at last), and installed an infuser port. The first couple of weeks she was home, she started eating a bit better and getting stronger, responding well to physical therapy and other home-care-agency support, but the chemo or the disease or her natural decline or a combination started taking a heavy toll, and she's doing rather poorly right now. She's unable to perform any of the basic tasks of daily living by herself. I've become her full-time caregiver, with invaluable help from the RN and home health aides who continue to come three times a week.

The double whammy of cancer and mental decline is a frightening, exhausting experience for her, and heartbreaking and difficult for me to witness and to cope with. Her mother suffered dementia at the end of her life (we cared for her in our house, with the help of a paid daytime nurse, during my teen years), and my mother said to me on numerous occasions thereafter that she had a horror of ending up like that. I fear that her fears are coming to pass, and I don't know if any time she carves out for herself by fighting the cancer will be time she can enjoy. We take each day as it comes and do the best we can. We laugh when we rediscover the grunting noise her big stuffed hedgehog makes when you squeeze it. We sit and watch the early-blooming willow outside her window come into flower.

I believe that good wishes have power, and appreciate all good wishes sent Mom's way.

April 6, 2008

This past Wednesday night, after continuing to decline rather than improve and after a decision to stop chemotherapy and try to regain some quality of life for the time she had left, Mom had severe abdominal pains, and after talking to the on-call RN at the home-care agency I called the paramedics to take her to the emergency room. A CT scan showed an intestinal perforation. She went into surgery at 6am Thursday, where it turned out that the perforation was a rupture; she survived the surgery, but she had become septic, and she went from Recovery into the ICU. It was touch-and-go for a couple of days, but she took a turn for the worse over Friday night. At 6am Saturday we got a call to come to the hospital right away. She died--in my arms, inasmuch as is possible with the tubes and monitors and bed rail and all, and looking into my eyes--at about quarter past seven.

She didn't want a funeral service; she wanted to be cremated and brought home again to be with me, and that's what I've arranged for. Because some people very dear to us have said that they hope for an opportunity to show their respects, there may be a memorial service in a few weeks; I can't make that decision right now. There are many picures I want to share, but they require scanning, and that will have to wait a bit. She contributed to Planned Parenthood, Alzheimer's and macular-degeneration research, various wildlife- and nature-conservation organizations and animal shelters, public television and radio, and the Democratic Party, and she very much wanted the genre magazines to continue publication.

I was privileged to share her life with her for more than half its span, and I grieve past the capacity of words to convey.

tmcg: (neon quill)
A few minutes ago, I heard from another author on the phone that Robert Jordan had died.

I started copyediting his books with The Shadow Rising, in 1992. When you work on a long-running series for so many years, you develop a strangely personal relationship with the author even if you never meet face-to-face or speak over the phone, and I feel...bereaved, in a way that's hard to articulate. And frustrated, with a shake-your-fist-at-the-universe kind of anger. The Wheel of Time was the grand work of a lifetime, and he should have had the lifetime to complete it.

a few links )

tmcg: (leafy starry)
I received this remembrance of Jim Baen in an email from Bob (Robert Stacy), and he was kind enough to give me permission to post it.

The one and only time I met Jim Baen was in 1974, when I was travelling
cross-country with Robert Borski. Bob's agent, Kirby McCauley, set up a meeting
for us with Jim when we were on the east coast, shortly before Worldcon in DC.

We were a couple of hippie reprobates who'd attended Clarion the year before.
Bob had placed a couple of stories in F&SF and Analog.

Jim's "office" was in the back of a room lined with shelves, full of gawd
knows what. He was friendly, he was gracious. He didn't know us from nobody,
and he treated us like peers. The details of our conversation are lost to me
now, but the salient impression he left me with was how important it was to him
to not only hold a door open for new writers, but to make them feel welcome, to
feel special, for wanting to pursue such a lunatic goal as publishing their
dreams. His willingness to foster newcomers was an inspiration.

Pat York

May. 26th, 2005 08:13 pm
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Her voice, her smile, her enthusiasm have been much in my thoughts. What a pleasure it was to sit up late talking in a hotel room we shared, away from the distractions and demands of the convention, or at a table at an industry cocktail party; what a pleasure it was to see her anytime, how consistently cheering and affirming she was, the obvious interest and pleasure she took in other people and their pursuits and achievements. She interacted with a rare directness and curiosity and eagerness. When I talked to Pat, I was pulled out of cruise control into an engagement so genuine that it always took me a little by surprise. She made interactions matter. She made moments matter. It's very hard to accept that she's gone.

There's more here. And here. And here.

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Andre Norton has returned home for hospice care after an exhausting battle with illness. The update is here. Scroll down for the address where cards can be sent.

Miss Gould

Feb. 15th, 2005 02:27 pm
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Eleanor Gould Packard died on Sunday.

The Associated Press obit does not do her justice, and I'm sure its phrasing would have rankled her. Betsy Wade's piece in today's New York Times business section does a little better. (Input the URL at bugmenot.com to bypass compulsory login.) Eulogies in The New Yorker will no doubt come closest of all. And I'd like to try, here, when I've had time to gather my thoughts, although there's much to say and I'm sorely inadequate to the task. Ironic as it is on several levels, conveying in words, at third hand, what Eleanor did is extremely difficult. The best and perhaps the only way to understand it is to look at a heavy Gould proof.

Wade's piece ends:

Interviewing Miss Gould for this obituary put the writer on the spot. Because she had been deaf since 1990, all questions had to be written; because of her status as a legendary editor, spelling counted. While asking about a Roger Angell statement, the interviewer at first wrote the name "Angel," then added the second l. Miss Gould observed, "I was going to say ..."

Always the arbiter, she added, with amusement, "I'll have to stage a faked death and come back to correct my obit."

Goulded galleys of her obituaries would be fine--and enlightening, and amusing--things to see, and would tell more about the work she did than any prose description could. There have been no Gould proofs since her stroke, in 1999; we've already felt that loss. Now she's gone, and there is no one in the world who reads the way she did. I grieve.

tmcg: (obelisk)
I was trying to think all day yesterday what I could write about my dad's experience in the Philippines in World War II. I'm his only voice now. Well, me and my mom. I keep thinking someday I'll rise to that privilege, but I keep shying away from it. Anyway, he never talked much about war as war. All he told us were the funny stories. Some of them were horrific, like the guy sleeping near him who woke up screaming and stabbing a man's head repeatedly with his knife, and it turned out to be a coconut that had fallen onto his mosquito netting. Some of them were deeply ironic in a Joseph Heller way. Most of them were just plain funny. I know he saw some terrible stuff; and he had some hard experiences growing up itinerant during the Depression, and he never hesitated to tell us those stories, so I think he buried a lot of what he experienced in that war so deep that he didn't even go there anymore. I don't know how he felt about his service to his country. He said he enlisted when he was seventeen, because he was tall and could pass for eighteen and he didn't want to get drafted into the army or the marines; he wanted to go into the navy, because they had showers. I don't know what he thought about the war he fought in. I wish I could ask him. Then again, he was a Big Fish kinda guy. He'd only weave more tales of the past he created as much through telling it as having lived it.

So, basically, I'm just going to post a picture:

tmcg: (Default)
Today I watched my 1989 car towed away forever.

Pragmatic Me: I cannot believe I'm crying. What a doofus! It's an object.

Animistic Me: Objects really do have souls. It didn't want to go.

Pragmatic Me: No va! It does not go! It had to go!

Animistic Me: I gave it a pat and thanked it for never breaking down on me in an unsafe place, for being a home away from home for fourteen years, and that was not enough. It didn't want to be hauled away. I just lost a companion. Watching it get towed was like watching one of my own limbs be wrenched off. Things do have souls!

Pragmatic Me: Oh, stop, for ^&*@%'s sake. It was a car! You'll get a new one and forget all about it.

Animistic Me: It wasn't sentient, but it was alive. Maybe it soaked up some of me. Maybe, like houses, there are good cars and there are bad cars. This was a good car. It looked after me. It never ran over an animal. When I got into it, it felt right and familiar and safe. I'm going to miss it.

Pragmatic (Though Statistically Challenged) Me [plays MegaMillions].

Animistic Me [calling to departed car]: If I hit, I'll come and get you!!!

tmcg: (pirate)
Newsday recently ran an article about Stanley Rygor (who plays the button accordion at a gig and a couple of sessions I'm involved in) and the evolving relationship he and his wife, Kathleen, had with their son, Robert, who was gay, and who died of AIDS.

Stanley is one of the warmest, kindest people I know. I'm glad that Dennis Duggan decided to sit with him and Kath for a while at the St. Patrick's Day parade this year and talk about their story.

Each year since Robert's death, Stanley and Kathleen attend the parade in memory of their son, who still would not be allowed to march under a banner.

Stanley, who plays Irish songs on the button accordion, has become an icon in the gay movement.

"My life is consumed with gay activism," he said. "I am sometimes asked if I am gay. I say, 'No, I am straight,' but I consider the question to be a compliment."

Alas, the link expired into paid-archive-land.

tmcg: (Default)
David Brown
Ilan Ramon
Kalpana Chawla
Laurel Clark
Michael Anderson
Rick Husband
William McCool

The courage and intelligence and hard work and spirit of discovery that sent them up there should not have brought them to this. They should have come home to the people who love them. I hope they've embarked on an adventure more exciting and beautiful than the one they were returning from.

tmcg: (Default)
I'd been up very late the night before writing a book about what happens after the world ends but life continues. At a few minutes after nine, the phone rang. The machine screened it. From Manhattan, K's voice said, "Get up. Turn on CNN. Something big is happening downtown."

I'm up on the early side to take care of some email I couldn't get online to answer last night. I find I don't have the focus to answer it anyway; instead I post a cranky wasp here, written last night. I live near an airport; the sound of aircraft is continual, and normally I tune it out, but this morning I notice it, am surprised to perceive it as ominous. At 9:06 the phone rings. Caller ID says it's K calling from work. I pick up and say, "Do not tell me that something big just happened downtown."

I couldn't process the images on the television. They looked like the special effects from a disaster film. After I got through on the phone to as many people as I could, I went outside, shared a grim nod of greeting with a neighbor, went out behind the houses, to the water, to where I could see Manhattan--real light reflected from real objects to my real eyes, not filtered through a lens.

I can't bring myself to tune in to the television coverage. I go outside, share a somber greeting with a neighbor, and walk out behind the houses, to the water, to the place where I saw the first tower fall. To pay my respects to the dead, to say a prayer for the ones who loved them in this life.

It was a crystal-clear day, the kind that can't decide whether it's late summer or early fall. The water was luminous, still. The skies were silent. The skyline was burning.

It's a blustery day, warm as summer but restless as autumn. The water's current is audible, its surface whitecapped. Oblivious birds, some born in this last year, circle and keen. A flag at half-mast whips violently in the wind, making the sound of flames.

There was a crowd of people gathered, staring at the towers. Some had climbed up onto the bulwark to see over the chain-link fence. Others stood by their cars and trucks. A radio was turned up high, a reporter restating the confused facts as we already understood them. Suddenly the black smoke pouring from the towers in the distance was engulfed, eclipsed, by a billowing cloud of gray. It seemed to start from the ground and blossom up. The man on the radio cried, "Oh my god, oh my god." Someone in the crowd, someone from this town of cops and construction workers and firemen and steamfitters and EMTs and plumbers, said, "Oh shit, oh shit. The guys up in those floors." Someone else, nearer to me, very quietly, said, "I don't think they could have gotten everybody out."

There's no one standing by the water. There's one guy sitting in a pickup truck. His radio is on, but all I can hear is a low murmur of voices. We stare out over the water, separate. There's a haze over the city; the skyline is invisible. The town recycling truck rumbles out from the dirt road to the left, raising a thick, gritty cloud of dust. I close my eyes until it settles.

I cannot comprehend the number of people whose dying was, to me, a faraway billow of gray. The shock of it drives me away from the sight that I came here to see with my own eyes. All I can think is all those people, all those people and, selfishly, inanely, my home, this is my home, what they've done to my home. I walk home, through the clear still day.

No one else has come here while I held my private vigil and the pickup-truck guy held his. The wind is rising, sweeping through the trees like surf, whistling in crevices. Inside it is the queerest stillness. I walk home, through the wind and the echoes.

tmcg: (obelisk)
110 Stories, by John M. Ford

The last line of Seamus Heaney's poem "Mid-term Break" is "A four-foot box, a foot for every year."

Ford's poem is one hundred and ten lines, a line for every story.

January 2013

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