After working continuously for a full year and only missing once, I'm burning my well-earned vacation days before the end of the year and enjoying the fact that I now have enough seniority to get Labor Day and other holidays off automatically. I wanted to go to Bubonicon during my week vacation, but there wasn't enough cash in the kitty for that. Maybe next year.
The office is now clean enough to set up the big desk and get the computer and all the doodads moved over to it. A little more cleaning and I'll be able to set up the keyboard (the Yamaha, not the typey one). There's even enough room for the mixer board and other stuff, provided it too hasn't walked off over the years. I may be able to start doing music, real music, again.
I'm doing some light sorting here in the office today. It's not that there's a lot of stuff in here, but rather that it's spread out over several dozen half-empty boxes, and consolidating those will save a lot of room. For now, though, I'm looking through books. Dad left me with a bunch of his old books when he went to Florida. Most were for me, but three boxes are full of his old French books, both from when he was studying it, and when he was teaching it at Texas Tech. He asked me to donate them to the Foreign Language Library there, so I'm going through and seeing if any need to be repaired, cleaning them up a bit, that sort of thing.
It's a wide variety. Several textbooks on grammar (including Einhorn's Old French), sure, but also a nice collection of French theatre, complete with full scripts and a songbook or three. Dad has always felt that if all you do is read French to study it, you'll sound like a book. The real French, he said, was in the plays and the music, so that's what he put his students on. There's a heavily-notated (and luxuriously bound) Balzac that I think I might keep for myself rather than send it on. Yes, there's Proust – you cannot escape Proust. But there's also a mint 1966 paperback copy of Saint-Exupéry’s Courrier Sud that will be photographed for the Wikipedia – lots of these books will be, he kept everything in such perfect condition all these years. Some Garnier Flammarion editions of Stendahl, and of all things, a French rhyming dictionary.
Looking through all of these reminds me of just how little I know about my father. From the Seventies on, I know who he is. But before that, there's not a lot of information and I've never questioned him about a lot of it. The books provide a rough chronicle of his life to help fill in the gaps. He signed almost all of them, many are in the flowing signature he had from the Sixties on, a lot were bought during his trip to France then. The oldest ones though, date from the Fifties, as they're signed in block print, followed by "H.M." (Hospital Man), and "U.S.S. Shangri-La", the ship on which he served when he was in the Navy.
I'm very glad though, that he was able to see France one more time. He's just got back from visiting friends in the south near Marseilles. At seventy-one he packed everything up and drove, drove, from northern California to Florida, stopping in Lubbock and Big Spring on the way to visit me and my brother. Now at seventy-three he's gone to France and Italy. A few more years and he will have lived longer than any of his forebears did. France was good for him, he sounded quite happy when he called me on the phone from Manosque – I don't think the climate in Florida is healthy for him, too hot, too humid. His handwriting on the postcards he sent from Digne-les-Bains and Torino shows a much steadier hand than I see on his letters from home, too. I've wanting to convince him to move up here. Still hot, but at least it's drier. It's also less expensive and there's better work for semi-retired RNs here than caring for rich retirees younger than he is or working in the prison system, which is about all there is to do in Florida.
And so it goes.