Farewell, Fredrika

Con report: LunaCon 2017

Last weekend I went to LunaCon. It was smaller than the last time I went (2014?), but I had a good time anyway. There was some speculation in the con suite as to whether it was so small that it would not be able to continue, but that remains to be seen. I would hate to see the con end as it has such a long history in the region. I don’t really have a network there, though, so there’s nothing personal in these remarks.

On Friday night I attended the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers reading which was 2 hours of good to great fiction. I would like to get more involved with them if I could get my act together to actually write stuff.

On Saturday I went to a panel on “How Star Trek Shaped My Identity.” This was a good panel with interesting panelists. Topics ranged through career pursuits, cultural assimilation, feminist awakening, gender transitioning, and emotional balance. Eventually the conversation devolved into cautious optimism about the supposedly forthcoming new series Star Trek: Discovery. [For those not following Trek news: Caution is warranted because the new series has already been postponed several time and changed show runners; furthermore it will only be available on CBS’s new subscription streaming channel. (I am personally annoyed because the show is set in the near far future, before the original series. We already explored that in Star Trek: Enterprise which was my least favorite of the series.)]

Later on I went to a panel on New York Fan History. In September, there was a great fan history panel at the Star Trek: Mission New York con which emphasized the role of New York fans in getting the Trek fandom rolling. However, that panel was comprised of mostly women. This panel was comprised entirely of older white men who talked about the longstanding feuds of various NY fandom clubs and where everyone’s apartment was back in the day. Sometimes they would mention a great event and then say, “Oh yeah, [woman’s name] did that.” But none of these women were available for this panel apparently. Once someone started talking about the attractiveness of college-aged female fans who were too young for him, I left.

I bought a very pretty ring in the small Dealers Room from Janet Kofoed.

Finally I went to a poetry workshop run by my colleague, poet Christina M. Rau. It was called “Erasing Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Creating Found Poems.” We used selections from random science and fantasy texts and wrote through them to create new poems from their language. It was fun, and there were colored pencils and crayons. I used two pages from a science textbook explanation of genetics and wrote this poem:

Clone Poem

This is the law:
Segregate independently
to any other combination.

we now know the logic of this law
inherited, determined by

Yellow seed
Green seed
Round seed
Wrinkled seed

Rye wry rue roux

It is now known that
the presence of many mistakes
tend to be in groups.

Fragments extracted from any tissue
Using restriction a number of times
The blotting paper membrane splits.



late Friday link post

Some New York wildflowers

I’m working on a blooming calendar for the Hempstead Plains on Long Island. It’s part of my ecocomposition course; my students researched information on the various plants. I have been doublechecking their information. For this process, I’ve relied on the Plants Database from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. Many of the images in the database have been generously placed in the public domain. Enjoy these photos of some New York wildflowers from the database.

Tuesday’s catastrophe

I voted for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday morning, so obviously my week is not going well. I keep thinking of a man in line behind me while we were waiting to vote. He snarled at me to just move out of his way, and not to listen to the older woman who was managing the queues. He was so annoyed being made to wait around for women to take their turn and to say whose turn it was. I remember thinking he was the olden days personified.

But here we are and he is the future the Electoral College has brought us. Four years of a future, anyway.There is so much to be upset about in a Trump presidency, but these two articles stand out for me.

  • Trump Picks Top Climate Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition” by Robin Bravender at Scientific American‘s ClimateWire. The earth is already approaching, if not past, the point of no return on global warming. A Trump presidency is a catastrophe for the planet.
  • Donald Trump’s Triumph is a Victory for White Supremacy” by Brittney Cooper at Cosmopolitan. That KKK-endorsed dogwhistle sounded a lot louder than just post-Obama backlash. Trump’s racist¬†rhetoric and policies¬†are horrifying. A Trump presidency is a catastrophe for civil rights, equality, and justice.

I don’t have any answers, and I don’t know what to do. As a writer, I’m going to blog more.


Distant Hegarty aunts and uncles

There was really no family memory of having relatives in New York, but since I’ve moved here I find them fairly often. I’ve known for awhile that my great-grandfather’s sister Julia Hegarty King (1869-1935) is buried on Staten Island. She turned up in a New York ¬†death index on Ancestry.com and I sent away for her death certificate. Today I took advantage of the glorious fall weather and drove out to Ocean View Cemetery to see her gravesite.

Julia shaved a few years off her age once she got to the United States. So there she is with her husband Thomas. Carroll McLoughlin was Julia’s son-in-law. The surprise bonus of going out there is the discovery that Eleanora (Hegarty) Hughes is there too: she’s Julia’s sister and another great-great-aunt. I didn’t even have a death date for her until now.

In Massachusetts, my Hegarty relatives are mostly concentrated in the Cambridge/Somerville area of Middlesex County. I’ve long wondered why my great-grandfather chose that particular area. Today I found one possible reason: he had an uncle already living there. (Most immigration happens in chains; people go where they already know someone.) Since I pushed back that next generation, I’ve been able to better identify which Hegartys are mine. The FamilySearch matching engine brought forth a Massachusetts death certificate for a 3X great-uncle Jeremiah Hegarty, who died in Cambridge in 1905. He was the uncle of the women buried above and of my great-grandfather. So that’s who my great-grandfather knew in Cambridge. I suppose the next question is about who Jerry knew, but I need to actually work on things for my job for a while now.

The Proclaimers and unrelated events

I went to see The Proclaimers on Saturday night. They were fantastic, as always: pure and joyful. Their set was lengthy and included lots of songs from their new album. I hadn’t even realized they had a new album, which I am now adding to my Apple Music playlists. Last time I saw them (at The Bell House), they were mostly¬†acoustic. This time they had a magnificent full band: Stevie Christie on keyboards, Garry John Kane on bass, Zac Ware on guitar, and Clive Jenner on drums (with drum solo finale!). Terrific show.

They played at the Gramercy Theatre on 23rd Street, and on the way in I¬†thought the security was a little much: bag searching and wanding and wrist banding a crowd of mostly middle-aged people. (The Reid brothers are in their mid-50s.) Afterwards, the security precautions seemed prescient given the bomb that went off a few blocks away. I thought I heard a big boom shortly before the band went on, but no one else seemed to be reacting so I assumed it was an equipment setup sound from backstage, or something connecting to the sound¬†system. Leaving the theatre, the street was blocked off heading west, with lots of police and sirens racing that way, but I¬†assumed it was political motorcades. I¬†didn’t hear about the actual bomb until fellow commuters clued me¬†in on why there were so many subway reroutings.¬†I didn’t even have enough information to be frightened until I was well out of harm’s way. I feel lucky and grateful, both for the music and for my blissful ignorance of the evening’s scary events.

Hegarty of Kilmurry, Cork

This month another couple of million of Irish civil registration records were placed online at irishgenealogy.ie, an Irish government website. Of course I checked if there were any new Hegarty records.

I found a Daniel Hegarty of Brandy Lane in Cork, husband of Margaret Riordan, registering the birth of his son John Hegarty in January 1867. I remembered that a Daniel Hegarty of Brandy Lane was the informant on the birth certificate of my great-grandfather John Hegarty of Gillabbey Lane, Cork in December 1867. My theory is that Daniel was the informant for his nephew; that my great-great-grandfather Michael Hegarty of Gillabbey Lane was Daniel’s brother. I know that Michael’s father’s name was John because it was given in Michael’s marriage record to Ellen Cronin.

I searched the parish sacramental registers that are also online at the same website, and found a marriage for Daniel Hegarty and Margaret Riordan in February 1858 in Kilmurry, Co. Cork.¬†I searched all the parish baptisms for a John Hegarty with sons named Daniel and Michael, who would be the right age to be having children in the 1860s, and sure enough he turned up in Kilmurry with his wife Eliza Kelleher. Between 1829 and 1845, John and Eliza (Kelleher) Hegarty had seven children: Daniel, Jeremiah, Ned, Ellen, John, Michael, and Patrick.¬†John Hegarty is also listed as a tenant in Kilmurry in Griffith’s Valuation in 1853.

Therefore, I’m adding John Hegarty and Eliza Kelleher as my great-great-great-grandparents.¬†I also found a 1796 baptismal record for a John Hegarty in Kilmurry, the son of Michael Hegarty and Mary Donnelly. It’s only one piece of evidence but I’m adding them for now as 4th-great-grandparents; it’s not like evidence is thick on the ground for this period.

So it’s worth checking out the updated Irish civil registrations site if you haven’t already. They took me back one solid generation and one more pretty good possibility.



Newfoundland: East coast

This is the second part of my August trip to Newfoundland. First part is here.

We flew on Monday in a tiny propeller plane from Deer Lake to St. John’s to avoid the long driving slog across the island. We rented a car at the airport and drove to Harbour Grace, a former second city that has hollowed out due to job loss. Harbour Grace is also where my maternal grandmother was born. We stayed two nights at the super comfortable Rose Manor Inn. We hung out there a little more than I normally would on a trip because there is not a lot to do in this area. Fortunately, they have adirondack chairs looking out over the harbor and these were a peaceful two days.

We walked around and explored the Conception Bay Museum and the Harbour Grace visitors’ center. These are staffed by polite, charming, but very bored teenagers who obtained summer work grants from the government. There was a sort of palpable sense of “OMG why would anyone want to look at this old stuff?!” It was equally interesting to talk to them and hear what their plans were. We had a couple of beers at the almost deserted bar of the Hotel Harbour Grace, where there were just us and a few locals playing the video slot machines. We ate dinner both nights at the Rose Manor Inn because there literally were not any other restaurants open in the area. Fortunately the Inn’s dinners are fancy and delicious.

Statue of Amelia Earhart in Harbour Grace, where she began one of her transatlantic flights
The Conception Bay Museum features this figure of pirate captain Peter Easton, who had a pirate fort in Harbour Grace in the early 1600s.
Shipbuilding. Lots of model ships about too.
Harbour Grace harbor
The now decommissioned Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

On Tuesday, we drove to Harbour Main. We visited Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic church and looked at the house where my maternal grandfather was born. (We didn’t knock, so I don’t know who’s living there now.) Finally, we drove up a dirt lane and into someone’s back yard to visit the old “Irish” cemetery where my great-great-great-grandfather Vincent Costigan from Co. Tipperary is buried.¬†We had lunch afterwards at Crooked Phil’s in Carbonear which served the platonic ideal of a ham sandwich and curried chicken soup.


Sts. Peter & Pauls. The vaulted ceilings reminded me so much of boats’ keels.
Costigan house where my grandfather was born.
Harbour Main harbor, view from in front of the Costigan house
“Old Irish” cemetery; Vincent Costigan’s stone is the tall gray one on the left
Wider view of the cemetery

On Wednesday, we went back to St. John’s and visited The Rooms. There was a very moving exhibit focusing on the 100th anniversary of the Beaumont-Hamel offensive in the Battle of the Somme, where the Newfoundland Regiment had an 85% casualty rate. I am not a military history person but this exhibit was amazing. They even had an area devoted to the keepsake photos that soldiers took before they left, including the original camera from the main photo studio. I have one of those photos from my family history files. The Rooms has an online exhibit about Newfoundland and WWI.

Ignatius Furey (left) died at Gallipoli; Bernard Cleary (right) died at Beaumont-Hamel
Ignatius Furey (left) died at Gallipoli; Bernard Cleary (right) died at Beaumont-Hamel

The whole museum was great. There was an exhibit about the influence of Irish culture and I learned that Waterford crystal was founded with money made in Newfoundland and was extremely popular in Newfoundland. I had never realized that my mother’s and grandmother’s fierce brand loyalty to Waterford crystal had any connection to their Newfoundland roots.¬†We had a great lunch (crab cakes and salad) in the museum cafe, which has amazing views of the harbor.

Inuit ivory cribbage board, made for tourist trade
St. Johns harbor

After The Rooms, we returned the rental car and checked into the Quality Hotel in St. John’s, which was conveniently located downtown. We rested a bit and then embarked on perhaps the most expensive activity of the entire vacation: dinner at super fancy Raymond’s, one of the top ten restaurants in all of Canada. I had the charcuterie platter (shared), the fresh pasta, and the salmon. Also wine and some kind of lemony dessert. It was festive and fantastic. We had drinks beforehand at the The Fifth Ticket where there was a cheerful but inexperienced bartender. Nevertheless, my Blow Me Down Blueberry Mojito was delicious.

On Thursday I visited the offices of the Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, where I confirmed that there are no sources I am overlooking and other people are reaching my same conclusions, so I’m not wildly offtrack in my family history research. After that I went to the small¬†Fluvarium, which is basically a wall of windows built into the side of a river so you can watch the wild fish. I have never seen such enthusiastic aquarists as the Fluvarium staff. We had dinner with a friend of my brother’s at Chinched Bistro, more charcuterie and pasta, absolutely delicious.


On Friday we ended up walking around downtown because the weather cancelled our whale watching plan. We wandered along the harbor and did some souvenir shopping. We had fish and chips at the Duke of Duckworth pub. We had tea in the crypt of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. We visited the Peter Lewis art gallery which had some terrific abstract pieces by Susan Doyle. In the evening I met up with a potential 4th cousin at Bernard Stanley Gastropub, which serves an excellent cheeseburger.

Duke of Duckworth
Duke of Duckworth

And then vacation was over and I had to return to Brooklyn and the new school year which has prevented me writing this up until now. I loved this trip. The people are friendly, the vibe is very laid-back, the air and water and streets are clean. There are local problems with unemployment and the government seems to be cutting services like libraries and schools. So I can’t really say it’s actually paradise. It seemed obvious that many people make most of their money in the tourist season and survive off that the rest of the year. But a lot of places in New England are like that too. There was not much diversity outside of St. John’s. The high prices were offset by a favorable exchange rate for the US dollar, but that exchange rate could change and has in the past. Most of all, the Canadian government has prioritized tourist services which makes it easy, for the most part, to travel around and see things: there are logical schedules and good signage. I would love to go back and see more of the province¬†and also spend more time in St. John’s.

Here is a google map of the trip: