Tag Archive | Zuihitsu

Alex J Szabo Obituary

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Commander Alex Julius Szabo (USN, Retired), Father, Aviator, Veteran, and Entrepreneur, passed from this life on Tuesday, November 19th, 2019, at his home in San Antonio, Texas. He was 82 years old.

Alex was born on November 13th, 1937 in Miller Heights Township, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Julius Szabo and Julia Elizabeth (Polgar) Szabo. He attended Bethlehem High School and graduated from Moravian College in 1959 with a Bachelor of Sciences in Economics and Business Administration. On August 25th, 1962, he married Rozella Louise Byrd at the Naval Air Station Chapel in Pensacola, Florida.

He entered the US Navy in 1960 and trained as an Aviator. While assigned to Naval Air Transport Squadron 3 at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, he flew one of the planes in Operation Dominic, the last above-ground testing of nuclear bombs. He later served 2 years “on the Ice” in Navy Squadron VX-6 at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, as part of Operation Deep Freeze. Szabo Bluff in the Queen Maud Mountains in Antarctica was named after him. Alex also flew C-130 cargo planes into combat zones during the Vietnam War. He finished his military career in the Reserves at squadrons out of NAS Dallas, Glenview NAS Chicago, and finally NAS New Orleans.

In civilian life Alex flew for Braniff Airlines, mainly flying to South America. He was also on the crew of the Concorde during it’s time in the US, one of the few US pilots granted that honor. He completed his flying career at United Parcel Service, working as a Pilot Supervisor in Louisville, Kentucky. During his time in the Louisville area, living in the small town of Lanesville, Indiana, Alex was an active member of the Lions Club and served on the Town Board of Lanesville for several years.

After his retirement, he and his wife enjoyed traveling in their Airstream trailer, having adventures all over the US and Mexico. They settled in San Antonio, Texas to be closer to their grandchildren. Alex enjoyed travel, old cars, airplanes, and was a keen bridge player. He leaves behind his wife of 57 years Rozella, and their two children, Maria Louise (Robert) Gilson of Olathe, Kansas, and Alex Jeffrey (Christie) Szabo of Helotes, Texas, as well as their two grandchildren Emma and Kaitlin Szabo. He is predeceased by his parents, Julius and Julia Szabo, and his sister Helen Kranitz.

A Memorial Service will be held on January 3rd at 10:30 am at Crossroads Baptist Church, 8300 Tezel Road, San Antonio, TX. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Disabled American Veterans.

Resquiat in Pacem, Daddy

By the water’s edge
The hummingbirds whispering
In the summer air
And in that moment I knew
I would not see you again

Alex Szabo
November 13th, 1937 – November 19th, 2019
Father, Aviator, Veteran, Entrepreneur

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Tsukihime

Tsukihime
October 1, 2008 – November 1, 2019

Princess of the Moon
What mirror can I fashion
That reflects your heart?
The shadow in the corner?
That silent step on the stair?

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Tsuki crossed the Rainbow bridge today, curled in my arms. The test results from the vets showed that her liver levels were worse, and the medicine we’d been giving her had no effect. Any further treatment would have required surgery, and we’d put her through that last year. It was a gut-wrenching decision. I take comfort in the fact that she had 11 good years with us, and I spent a lot of time with her this past month. Tsuki was a strange little cat, very timid, with a constant expression of melancholy. But she was very sweet. She loved gathering up the cat toys in the house and hoarding them on our bed. Sometimes she would deign to bring one down and share it. She enjoyed watching bird videos on TV and climbing all over Robert whenever he tried to sit and read a book. Rest well, Princess. I shall always miss you.

This is a rare personal post. I set Inktober aside when my cat Tsukihime was diagnosed with liver disease in early October. I spent much of the month caring for her, until we had her tested again yesterday (November 1st) and found that her illness was worse. I made the painful decision to let her be put to sleep.

Spent most of yesterday in tears over Tsuki. I think it was the shock of it. I didn’t even realize she was sick until her checkup in October, and while I knew the prognosis was poor, I had let myself hope that she was getting better with the medicine. So it was very hard to hear that the meds had done nothing at all for her. And I knew we had to let her go. The Vet offered to let me take her home for a final weekend, but I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with her all month, and I didn’t want to drag it out. She died as she had lived, timid, her head tucked in my arms. My poor little kitty.

Thank God Robert had started his vacation, although he was at a rescheduled doctor’s visit and didn’t find out about Tsuki until I came home without her. As for Robert, he took some blood tests (results next week) and got some antibiotics for that sinus infection he can’t seem to shake off. Tsuki’s loss hit him hard as well–she was actually more his cat than mine in many ways. I rescued her, but she fell in love with Bob at first sight, and was always crawling up on him when he was in bed or at his desk or watching tv on the couch.

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Tsuki and Robert…the saga begins.

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On the Couch

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Tag-team with Nabiki

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The last picture I took of Tsuki. With Robert, of course.

She was loved and is missed.

We’re down to one cat, something that hasn’t happened to me in nearly 30 years. It feels lonely, although Ryoko seems to be enjoying her free run of the house. She’s very confused. She knows there should be another cat around somewhere, but Tsuki is nowhere to be found.

We kept Ryoko and Tsuki separated (I’m not sure if I even have a picture of the two of them together) because Ryoko bullied Tsuki so badly that Tsuki was terrified of her. They knew the other was around, and would occasionally catch a glimpse of each other through a briefly-opened door, but otherwise, they had very little contact with one another. Each of them was allowed a half-day of freedom, otherwise they were kept pent up; Ryoko in my office, Tsuki in our bedroom. Tsuki had more room and got to sleep with us at night (unless I was in my Comfy Chair with insomnia), but the bedroom has blackout curtains due to Robert’s weird work schedule, so no outside view. My office is smaller, but there’s a window looking over the backyard with a nice view.

In a perfect world, we could have worked out the problems between the two cats and all lived in (semi) harmony, but we tried everything and those two just hated one another. The vet suggested rehoming one of them, but both had personality issues (Tsuki being incredibly shy and Ryoko being aggressive) and so it would have been difficult to place either one of them. So they lived in their separate worlds in our little house.

Now Ryoko is all we have left. We cleaned up the bedroom and washed all the bedding so there was less of Tsuki’s scent. Ryoko was a bit shy about going in (mainly because we’ve been chasing her out of the bedroom any time she managed to slip past us before), but she’s figuring it out. She slept with us on the bed for the first time last night and was quite happy.

Because we’d been having to give Tsuki meds at night (and waiting an hour after that before we could feed her), I had gotten in the habit of sitting in bed with her after medicine time, watching Bird TV videos on YouTube. Tsuki absolutely was wild about Bird TV, as you can see from the pictures below:

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She would watch the Bird TV while I would listen to the birdsong and read. It was peaceful and relaxing, and we both grew to enjoy the ritual. Tsuki knew what the TV controls were and what it meant when I went to get them. I only wish we’d found out about this earlier.

Last night, I decided to see if Ryoko liked the Bird TV as much as Tsuki did. She was certainly riveted by the action and sounds, although she’s not a jumper like Tsuki, so she stayed on the bed to watch.

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So I think I may continue the practice of Bird TV. It is relaxing and does give me time to read, while entertaining the cat.

I don’t know how Ryoko will change now that she’s an only cat. We’re hoping she’ll calm down some. She seems to enjoy being in the room with either one or both of us. She used to keep her distance but in the past year has become more of a lap-cat.

Unfortunately, with her temperament, we’re not sure if we can add another cat to the household without her going wild on us. As badly as I want a multi-cat household again, we may have to wait. Given our current reality, with my father’s illness, upcoming house repairs, and that cruise Dad wants us to take, we’re not in a good position to take on another cat (or cats) for awhile.

My heart, it hurts so much. Tsuki was a strange little cat, but she was firmly ensconced in our hearts. She was also the last active tie we had with our old home in Dubuque, and I found that wound torn open as well. It’s strange, as we’ve been here in Olathe almost seven years, but for some reason, it still doesn’t feel “real” to either of us.

But I type this now in my office, with the door open, yet Ryoko is here with me. She’s barely let me out of her sight today. Maybe I won’t be so lonely after all.

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And a poem for today, November 2nd:

Darkness in my heart
And yet the sun is shining
The air, fresh and clear
A cloak of leaves, shimmering
Autumn eases my sorrows

The Alamo, a Poem

So while digging through bins in the garage, I came across this ancient treasure. My first epic poem (and illuminated book–although badly illustrated would probably be more accurate) from when I was 12 years old. Done on index cards and bound with glue and a black ribbon with yellow flowers. I give you–THE ALAMO!

The Alamo
A Poem by Maria Szabo

The Alamo was a Mission
A mission that was a success
In short, the Mission Alamo
Was the very best.

The Mexicans did not trust
The Americans, who were harrowed
Then the Decree of 1830
Added upon their sorrows

Sam Houston was a general
Who called the men together
So Houston said to his men “Give up?”
And the men replied “Never!”

General Houston appointed a man named Travis,
Who was told he had a job,
He took 183 men to the Alamo
To await the oncoming mob

With Travis was James Bowie,
Whose knife had his name,
Also Davy Crockett
About to go in his fame

At dawn came General Santa Anna
And 2000 men did he bring
The Texans looked on soberly
And didn’t say a thing

“Surrender to us!” said Santa Anna
“And we will let you go!”
Travis fired his largest cannon!
Clearly, the answer was NO!

The fight was on and started
Bloody and 13 days long
But the time was given to Sam Houston
To make his army strong

At the Battle of San Jacinto
The world was shocked to see
Texas win independence
With the death of 183

So wherever you are, whenever you are
Above earth or below
Remember the death of 183
And Remember the Alamo!

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Cover. Bound with black ribbon and yellow flowers (for the Yellow Rose of Texas). Death looms in the shadows of the Alamo.

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Cover page.

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Looking back, I’m impressed that I put little illuminated letters to start almost every page.

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So of course, Mexicans meant sombrero and pinata. Hey, I was 12.

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Historical fact: The Texans really had a flag with a cannon saying “Come and Take It!”

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And there’s the Alamo. I’d been there on a family trip a few years before. There were actually more than 183 people in the Alamo, but I didn’t remember that at the time.

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Bloody Bowie knife. I was a weird kid.

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You can’t really see in the picture, but Santa Anna with his big hat is marching in on the very left bottom of the page. I didn’t take into account binding when I drew the pictures.

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Okay, you can see Santa Anna and his big hat a little better here. I was a little obsessed with that hat of his.

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The bloody battle. I somehow forgot to mention that the Texans lost the battle? But that the battle was important because it gave Houston time to organize his army. Still, how the heck did I forget to mention they lost?!

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And a sudden jump to the Battle of San Jacinto. In the men’s thoughts (big faces on the right) are Davy Crockett (with his coonskin cap), James Bowie (with his muttonchop sideburns) and William Travis, who was boring looking and didn’t make much of an impression on me. The Mexicans are shouting “Me no Alamo!” and “Me no Goliad!”, which actually did happen. The Goliad Massacre on March 27, 1836, was overshadowed by the Battle of the Alamo, but twice as many men were killed there.

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So the stick figures are shouting “Victory or Death!” Again, I forgot about margins when drawing this.

Okay, not an epic for the ages, but hey, I was 12! Also not great at drawing. This was a school assignment for my Texas History Class and I don’t remember what grade I got, but did remember getting points for creativity.

I only have bits and pieces of my poetry from that time, mainly things I published in the school newspaper. I stopped writing poetry for a long time after my 8th grade English teacher told me that my poems were “stupid.” She was a horrible teacher. You should never say that to a child. I didn’t start writing poetry again until I was in my 30’s.

Peasant Perspective- Participating when Life gets Busy

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Nakatsukasa-shu (Collected Works of Poet Sadayori) (Detail) Attributed to Saigyo. Japan. 12th Century. Important Cultural Property. 13.1 × 15.2cm. Idemitsu Museum of Arts.

Something that I’ve seen a number of my friends post about recently is being overwhelmed by their activities in the SCA, trying to fit that in with what is happening in their mundane lives, and the frustration of not being able to do so.

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, because I have been there, more than once. SCA (and the sub-hobbies that come with it, whether that being martial arts, physical arts, or both) tends to be an encompassing activity, or as one person succinctly put it, “all-in”. As I have dealt with this before (and am currently having to deal with it now), I thought I might offer some advice.

First, if you want to avoid frustration, remember that the SCA is a hobby, not a career. I’ve heard many people complain about peers who tell them not to be ambitious, but the fact is, the peer is trying to save the person some pain. For good or for ill, the SCA Award structure is imperfect. Even if you do everything “right” (whatever that means), the fact of the matter is awards are given by the whim of the Crown, and with peerages, they are aided by the advice of the respective Orders (Chivalry, Laurel, Pelican, Defense). So a lot of the decision is out of a person’s control. So I would advise not to be so attached to the outcome of your labors. Instead, focus on the Doing of things, and find happiness in that.

The SCA is a social hobby (it does, after all, start with “Society”), and so getting out and going to events or even local meetings is an important part of it. And sometimes that can be very hard, especially when you are trying to balance work and family life with it. When I started in the SCA, I was in my mid-20’s, single, living in an apartment, and doing temp work that allowed me the flexibility to be very active. Now I’m in my mid-50’s, dealing with a chronic illness, a husband who prefers other hobbies, a house to take care of, and elderly parents who need more of my time and attention (my husband and I skipped the kids part, but several people have to work that responsibility in as well). And that makes a huge difference on how I am able to play SCA.

I often marvel at what I was able to accomplish back in my younger days, on a pitiful income. But I was young, had a lot of energy, and not much in the way of responsibilities. Nowadays, I do have to take better care with my health, as well as managing our money so that we can pay our mundane bills plus save up for retirement, which isn’t so far away anymore. So I’ve had to change how I play my SCA game, and frankly, ratchet back my ambitions somewhat.

And that’s hard, because there are so many interesting things out there I still want to do! I truly love this hobby that allows me to mingle with so many other history enthusiasts, even if we don’t all focus on the same time or place. There is that tangible enthusiasm for learning, not just from reading books (although yeah, I love that too), but by physically attempting to either recreate or adapt the material culture of the Medieval world, and by doing so, create a tie to those who lived in those times.

So what do you do, when faced with these circumstances? First, I would say, don’t quit. Even if you have to back-burner a lot of your SCA activity, try to get out to an event or local meeting once or twice a year. There are many robust online communities, which can be very helpful in many ways, but there’s nothing that replaces face-to-face interaction. Second, try not to focus so much on what you are missing out on than what you can do. Keep up with at least one of your interests. Remember that circumstances do change, and while you may not have the time or money to participate as fully as you would like right now, that doesn’t mean that will always be the case.

Encourage others on their journey. I’ve found I enjoy seeing the progress made by many of my fellow Shire members, even as they surpass me. I won’t lie, I do get a little jealous, but I see them putting in the work and they’ve earned their recognition.

Look forward to the time when you can participate again more fully. In the meantime, take joy in smaller things, and keep learning and exploring at a level you can manage. Don’t let the imagined glory of some nebulous tomorrow steal the enjoyment of your hobby today! In this way, you can still enjoy the SCA, and the Society in turn will not lose the gifts that you have to offer.

Calon Lily

I dreamt that I knelt
Down amongst the Lilies fair
An autumn springtime
Yet I was awake, the sun
And the moon smiling upon me!

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(Order of the Calon Lily, September 15th, 2018 scroll by HL Alessandra de Piro, text by HL Saito Takauji)

At the Queen’s Prize Tournament last Saturday, Their Royal Majesties Xerxis II and Belanna graciously invited me to join their Order of the Calon Lily, which is Calontir’s Grant of Arms Arts award (and a polling order). I’m sure pictures of me being completely gobsmacked by the whole thing will be turning up on the interwebs soon enough. As it happens, I wasn’t wearing Japanese garb that day–I was in my Norse boyclothes (stolen from my husband), because I’ve lost so much weight that I need to make new clothes!

It has been 15 years since I’ve received an award, so I definitely was not expecting it.

Anyway, still processing the whole thing. I’ll be making a post later about Queen’s Prize and sharing my own entry–the Kotori no Uta Hyakushu (100-linked-poem collection) soon.

Planning the Sewing Frenzy

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So we’ve decided to give Gulf Wars a try next year. My husband (Alfgeirr) and I are not great campers, but I have been to Pennsic twice (in my younger days), we’ve camped at Lilies, and at Armorgeddon, which tells you about how long it has been since we camped. (Since we moved near the KC area, we tend to day-trip Lilies when we go now.)

I measured my husband the other night for some new garb. Alfgeirr still fits some of his old garb, but his body shape has changed a bit, so it doesn’t fit as well as it did. It was funny, I grabbed the tunic worksheet that I had used the last time I had made him garb (3/15/2008–wow, it has been awhile!). He maybe hits one or two events a year due to his crazy work schedule, so I haven’t felt a need to make him anything new for awhile, but obviously he’ll need more for Gulf. He’d gained a lot of weight, then lost some of it, and really, the only big measurement difference was his abdomen (waist, hips). He’s one of those guys who carries his weight that way, whereas when I gain weight, it is distributed all over my body.

So it’s time to finally make the blasted Thorsbjerg trousers I’ve been promising him for the past 3 years. They’ll be a modified version–I’m adapting a pajama pants pattern and adding the crotch gussets which define the Thorsbjerg trousers. No footies, and he’d rather have a drawstring waistband than have to belt them, then belt the tunics above. I’ll do a trial pair from an old sheet and see how it goes, then use that as my pattern for the rest. Got everything out and ready, just doing my usual cutting procrastination!

He’ll also be getting some new tunics, but those are easy. I know I’ve got trim stashed around here–gotta dig through the stash. He has a Mongol-style hat if it gets cold, but he’ll need a 6-panel hat as well as a few hoods. He already has two pair of winningas, a variety of bags, two plain leather belts, and a torse if he feels fancy, so he’s good there. If I’m feeling ambitious, I might try to make a coat. Those look so awesome.

He doesn’t want to wear period shoes, due to some long-time foot issues. He’s had several surgeries on his left foot and his foot-shape is so odd that we have issues finding him modern shoes. Hey, whatever, he’s coming to the event with me. His plain black tennis shoes would blend, kinda. (Not really but I’m not pushing it.)

I’m in a quandary as to what to make for myself. I had bariatric surgery a few months ago. I’ve lost a lot of weight this past 6 months and I’m already where my old garb is way too big on me (and the stuff I outgrew years ago was donated to various groups’ Gold Key). I have 5 names registered (Austrian, Anglo-Saxon, Japanese, Magyar, and 16th century English), but my main focus has been on the Japanese for the last 15 years.

Apparently (according to a good friend), I confuse people because I so rarely wear Japanese garb, but instead usually don 10th-11th century Anglo-Norman stuff. I do that because it is fairly shapeless, easy to make, and I can wear wimples to hide my short hair. I actually took apart and remade two of my old tunics when they got too small for me, and still get compliments on the way I did it (added plain white linen strips down the sides–a very period solution). My friend suggested I go all-out Japanese, and then people might actually recognize me when they see me.

I guess I could. Certainly I’ve done the research (which for me is most of the fun!) and Japanese clothing is not fitted, plus it can be easily resized. I solved the hair issue with my zukin research. But damn, I’ve always wanted to look like I stepped out of a portrait, and I can’t do that with Japanese, my body shape is all wrong! Even in my skinny days, I couldn’t wear a kimono due to my broad shoulders and generous bosom.

But OTOH, for Gulf Wars, lower-class Japanese would be easy to do, with maybe one court outfit? Opinions, anyone?

The only stipulation is that I have to use what fabric I already own–a lot of various colors of linen, some pretty but polyester brocade, and the fabric from a bunch of vintage meisen silk kimono that I’ve been dissecting for the past couple of years for craft projects. I wonder if the meisen silk could be dyed over? It’s not painted–Meisen was stenciled on the loom, which is why it was so affordable. But I don’t know much about dye at all. As for the linen, I have a few stripes, but most of it is mono-colored (in a variety of shades). I could stencil or block-print it? Even lower-class Japanese loved their textures, that would really add a needed touch.

Shoes: I have a couple of pair of jika-tabi. Need to put in some inserts and test them for long-walk comfort. Zori will not do, when I wear them, my feet hurt the next day, and we’re looking at a week of walking around. I have a pair of geta (that I lent to somebody to wear and they ruined them), but again, not keen.

Hat: Zukin of course, plus I have a couple of straw kasa, one of which is wide enough to approximate an ichime-gasa (top shape is wrong, though). The other one would be better for a man, but I’ve seen pictures of women using those kinds of hats without the veils.

And I need to fit this sewing around my calligraphy stuff. Oh, well, Idle Hands are the Devil’s Playground, right?

*Photo: “A Woman and a Cat” print by Kitagawa Utamaro, approx. 1793-94