Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, September 28, 2013


  [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]  Show IPA
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first job she applied for.

1754; Serendip + ity; Horace Walpole so named a faculty possessed by the heroes of a fairy tale calledThe Three Princes of Serendip

So ... the other day, realizing I was coming to the end of Spoon River Middle School, a book I've been serializing on this site since early in May, I was looking through some other material--and found the (unfinished) sequel to The Papers of Victoria Frankenstein, vol. 1 of which I'd serialized here before Spoon River.  I'll be writing more about this decision in another post--but I wanted to share this: When I opened the notebook where the typescript has lain since 1999 (!), I found in the little sleeve inside the front cover an old 3.5 floppy disk.  I'd labeled it , as you can see, like this:
  • Niagara Falls
  • Mom's 80th b'day
Younger readers will not remember the 3.5 floppy disk (though "floppy" is kind of a misnomer: they were pretty rigid, the covers; "floppy" was a carryover from the previous, larger floppies: 5.25 in.--and there'd been even a larger one yet--an 8-incher.  (If you watch the old film War Games, 1983, with young Matthew Broderick, you can see the large disks in use.)  These disks did not hold much information--just 1.44MB.  If you had a very large file (a book, or a Quicken file), you often had to use more than one of these little guys to save everything.

Over the years I gradually replaced the 3.5s, going with the improvements in technology: ZIP drives, jump/flash drives (the first one I had was 256MB), external hard drives.  Now I have files stored in various clouds here and there--though I still use, for paranoia's sake, an external hard drive & some flash drives. When I travel, I take a 16G with me.

Well ... anyway ... Mom's 80th birthday was 9 September 1999.  So why was this disk in a notebook holding a (not finished) sequel to Victoria Frankenstein?  Well ... I knew I was going to have an important scene at Niagara Falls, and on my way to see my mom (who was living then with my dad in Pittsfield, Mass. in Melbourne Place, an assisted living facility--a place Dad needed but Mom didn't), I stopped at Niagara Falls, did some research and photography, took a ride on Maid of the Mist (something I'd always wanted to do), then drove on east in I-90 to Pittsfield.

Pack-rat that I am, I'd saved an external 3.5 drive (USB capable--I have an old ZIP drive, too), so I knew I could probably see the files on the disk.  But open them?

And indeed I could see them... though they had a .KQP file extension, and no program on my laptop would open them.  I hopped on the web, found a free program that would both open the files and convert them to .JPG format, downloaded it, opened it--saw the pictures for the first time since 1999.  And there--though the quality is not too good--was an image of my father in September 1999.  None of us knew I would never again take a picture of him.  He died on November 30, not quite three months after I took this photograph.

I took that picture at the Red Lion Inn in Lenox--or it could be the dining room at Melbourne Place--I can't tell (we ate both places).  Mom had recently been making Dad wear a bib (this one's rather large!) because he was so incapable in his later years of keeping his food on his fork until it was in his mouth (she was tired of the laundry)--but Dad was a good sport about it.  As he sits there, smiling, he is 86 years old.

And here's brother Richard with Mom on her 80th.

And a shot of the Falls from Maid of the Mist ...and as I look at it now, of course, I remember 1999, the year I both had a father and didn't, the year he sailed into the mist, turned, looked, and was gone.

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