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October 19, 2014

Velma Bowen, RIP
Posted by Patrick at 09:25 PM * 108 comments

velma.jpg As discussed in the current open thread: Velma Bowen de Selby died yesterday, in Seattle, 18 Oct 2014, at 3:30 PM (PDT). Her partner Soren de Selby was with her. Ave atque vale.

Roz Kaveney.

Jo Walton.

We will miss her forever.

Edited to add: New York memorial service details here; Seattle memorial details here. The organizers of both gatherings are requesting that people planning to attend get in touch.

Comments on Velma Bowen, RIP:
#1 ::: Yatima ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 11:14 PM:

I can't. I can't.

#3 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:09 AM:

I do want people to know that when I saw her in late September, when we knew her illness was terminal, but thought she could have a year or more (three weeks! neither of us thought that for a moment!), she said that she was sometimes scared, and worried for her loved ones, but also "oddly serene."

I hope (and think it likely) that she kept that odd serenity, which is so very Velma, throughout.

#4 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:43 AM:

Jo Walton said what was needed, I think. I knew Velma only slightly -- we were, one direction or another, a continent apart -- and... to be honest, when we did encounter I was always a bit uncomfortable. She was always fashion-model thin/anorexic, so I worried about her health, and she was...ummm.. as a mutual friend put it "a sexual exhibitionist"... or at least much more sensual than a staid old fogy like me could cope with easily. And yet, she was a marvelously Good Person, and did some writing that touched my soul. I don't think I'll miss her forever... only until I (too) die,.

#5 ::: Rosa/yarnivore ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:02 AM:

We've been fighting cancer in my household, too. My condolences to everyone for our loss. RIP Velma.

#6 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:19 AM:

Maybe I'll just come out from under the bed when my friends stop dying.

#7 ::: Scraps (Soren deSelby-Bowen) ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:08 AM:

Don Fitch, I'm not mad, but Velma was never anorexic. That word is used sometimes in fandom very loosely and hurtfully, and Velma didn't have any of the symptoms of the disorder. You could have cut off your description at "fashion-model thin", and everybody would have understood you to mean "thin" with a undercurrent of disapproval. By the way,Velma in the last (at least) twenty years had lost her thinness, so you could breathe a sigh of relief for Velma's health.

Velma would be pleased that she did some writing that touched your soul. Thank you.

#8 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:35 AM:

This is just so wrong.

Much love and sympathy to all.

#9 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:40 AM:

#3: Thank you, Debbie. Yes, I can so see that "odd serenity" and am grateful to know it was with her so very recently, so very near what turned out to be the end.

#10 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 04:02 AM:

From a New Year's Day party at the Nielsen Haydens'; IIRC, this was to the tune of "Steam Heat," and the year was 2010.

#11 ::: Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 06:06 AM:

This is just dreadful.

She is and will be sorely missed.

#12 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 06:07 AM:

I had very little physical time with Velma, sadly. She was always a bright and energetic person, full of fire and life and that's how I want to remember her.

That and the way she encouraged me to write Gilbert&Sullivan filk.

#13 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 09:42 AM:


There is a thing here and Velma is one of the people who helped me understand this way back on her Taff trip, so I think it's appropriate that I mention it in this context. There are indeed women who are beautiful in an uninhibitedly sexual way, and who dress and behave in a way that enhances that. And lots of us feel intimidated by them, because in highschool we were the nerdy ones and they despised us, or we felt they did, and in retaliation we despised them and the things they found important and the time they spent on them. But in fact, doing fashion and beauty like that is a hobby -- a fandom. It has nothing to do with SF fandom, any more than ham radio or making preserves, but it has no less to do with it either. It's just a hobby. And our value judgements about it don't really have anything to do with the good people who happen to practice that hobby, just some jerks in our memories who did -- and there are jerks everywhere, but far more good people.

There are women -- and Velma was one of them, who have that hobby and look awesome but they aren't intimidating, or trying to make everyone conform. Velma never looked at me as if she despised me for not sharing that hobby, and she never did that thing of offering so kindly to fix me up so that I looked less terrible. She was best friends with Vicki for decades.

I'm glad I didn't let my anxieties and legacy biases get in the way of my knowing Velma better. And I'm sorry you did, and sorriest of all that it's too late now. But maybe understanding this blind spot will help in future with other people.

I can't believe she's dead. It feels like just the other day I ate salmon with her in Seattle, at that outside place by the water. It was June, on my signing tour. I thought she was looking tired, but we didn't know anything yet, and now, gone!

Death sucks. I know I keep saying this, but it keeps being true. Theodicy.

#14 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Scraps, so glad to see you posting, so very sorry for your unspeakable loss. Losing Velma is a loss to all of us.

#15 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:14 AM:

Scraps, it's good to see you posting -- I have been worrying about you, but didn't want to bother you. I wish so much you and I and Velma had intersected again after you moved west, but it just never happened. Elric sends his love, too, and know we can and will do what we can if you need anything, even from up here in the extreme Northeast (you know we moved north, closer to where Macdonald and Doyle are, yes?).

#16 ::: Kristen Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:15 AM:

This is the current contact information for Soren.

Mailing address:

Soren deSelby-Bowen
c/o Tom and Sally Weber
7041 14th Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98117

Whatever people might want to send/give is fine. However, if people would like to make a donation in Velma's name, here are two that Scraps feels Velma would be happy about people donating to:

The Cancer Patient Assistance Fund at Swedish Hospital Cancer Institute (direct link to donation page)
Select "Cancer Patient Assistance Fund"
If people want, at the bottom of the page is a place to indicate if a person wants their donation as a tribute (in memory of/ in honor of)

The Washington Healthcare Access Alliance
On the main page under "About" click "Need and Formation" and on the bottom of that page click the orange "Make a Donation" button.

#17 ::: Kristen Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:32 AM:

I'm discombobulated. The above information for Soren should have been prefaced with "This is the current contact information for Soren."

[I have added that line to your comment, Kristen. —Abi]

#18 ::: Jill Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:45 AM:

Velma was one of the most generous, warm, vibrant people I've ever had the honor to know.

She will be dearly missed.

As I've said elsewhere: Find a piano bar, sing a torch song, and raise a glass.

#19 ::: Mark Richards ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:29 PM:

I heard about this on Sunday.

I'm glad to see Soren posting ... I can (almost) imagine how you are feeling.

And in partial response to Don and Jo's posts ...

Yes, Velma was very thin when younger. That was strictly genetics. Her father was tall and thin, and I've seen old photos of her mother when younger, and she was thin as well. As she got older, though, her metabolism slowed down (just like her mom's).

In high school, Velma was one of the nerdy ones, and still was to some extent when I got involved with her (we were both in college). She was also a dance major, and I think the sensuality was an outgrowth of her evolving realization of what her body was capable of. But she had also been scorned for the bookishness and nerdiness all the years before she got into a high school (Hunter) where intelligence was valued, so she could never have condescended to anybody who came from a similar place.

I love her. I will miss her.

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:58 PM:

I never met Velma, and know her only from posting and reading here. But it's obvious that she was a wonderful person who touched many lives. My condolences to everyone who loved her.

#21 ::: Rachel Tanenhaus (tikva) ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:04 PM:

Many thanks to folks for posting the updates on Velma here. As someone who didn't know her well but admired and cared about her, it's been helpful to be able to look here for news.

Velma and I met once or twice, but mostly knew each other online. She was always kind and supportive and wise and gifted with words. I admired her greatly. Velma and Soren and I met up in New York once and went to a fish and chips place where we talked and had a lovely time and I got to try the guilty pleasure that is the deep-fried Resse's cup. :) I wish I'd gotten to hear her sing. She was a light in the world, and I am just so damn sad that she's gone. I'm heartbroken for Soren and the rest of her family and friends, and angry that her life was cut short, but also sad for the world because it needs a Velma in it to make it a better place, and I don't quite know what it'll do without her.

Soren, I don't even know if you remember me, but if there's anything at all I can do to make things easier for you from here in Boston, please don't hesitate to ask.

Much love to all who are mourning. May your memories be a comfort to you. Salem and Brodie send sad wags and nosebumps. But aren't we so lucky that Velma was in our lives?

#22 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:12 PM:

May her memory be a blessing.

#23 ::: Jack Womack ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:22 PM:

Scraps, separate letter to come. My heart goes out to you,fully.

#24 ::: Scraps (Soren deSelby-Bowen) ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:36 PM:

Tikva, I remember meeting you! And your voice online.

Mark's so right, but especially his point about Velma as a young dancer. Even at 50 you can see it clearly in her posture.

#25 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:17 PM:

My heartfelt condolences to everyone who loved Velma. I met her only once or twice, at Wiscons, but both in person and online she just gave off life like sparks. I knew things were very bad, but I could not believe those sparks would go out. She was so very much present in all she did.


#26 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:19 PM:

I only met Velma (and Scraps) once, when I was visiting Patrick and Teresa in 2010. She had such grace and charisma; I liked her tremendously.

Its just so hard to believe she's gone.

I'm sorry, Scraps.

#27 ::: Dusti ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:24 PM:

My sympathies, Soren. Velma was - is - a brilliant light. We are lessened.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 04:42 PM:

I knew her only online, where she was kind and friendly. I am saddened by her loss. Condolences, Scraps.

#29 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 04:46 PM:

I, too, only knew of Velma online, but I can see the sorrow of those who knew her, and send my condolences to all who loved her. She was a lovely soul, gone too soon.

#30 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:08 PM:

I don't think I ever met her, but I can still be sorry she's gone. Now I never will.

This popped into my head as I read this thread.
(I'm afraid Dr. Suess is a major influence on me.)

She's now gone away
Beyond hopes, beyond fears
Mourn for her passing
And left behind dears.
We'll miss you forever
As long as we live.
That's all we can do,
That's all we can give,
Until our lives end
and Death we must meet.
Her memory a blessing,
Her living complete.

#31 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:48 PM:

I keep thinking of the day we were walking across Brooklyn Heights, Debbie & Vicky & Velma & I, and talking about ancestors and the military. Debbie & Vicky & I all had stories of grandfathers and great-grandfathers who had gone to great lengths to escape the Russian draft, while Velma stared in shock! - her ancestors had fought for the US with honor. We reassured her that our fathers had all served in the US, where the draft was for the common defense. OTOH, the Russian draft, in the 19th century, was for 25 years starting age 12, meant to erase boys' Jewishness. It was a very different time and environment.

We've missed her wit and joie de vivre since she went West, and now there's no chance of talking with her ever again.

May her memory be blessed.

#32 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:49 PM:

We met in the mid-90s, at my first TES meeting (Don and Suzie Q, wherever you each are, bless you for introducing me) when she lent me a Spider Robinson collection (Melancholy Elephants), although we both later lost our taste for him. Later, I left TES; having only sporadic Internet access then, I fell out of touch with this unique, wonderful person. Five years later, a random LJ search for a friend’s scene name led me to his LJ, and in turn to an LJer with a very familiar user picture. One night in March 2002, she posted saying that she’d be in Rose’s Turn, a piano bar in the Village I dimly remembered. It would be lovely to see her, if I could, I thought. I wonder how she is? …and, as happens mostly in bad fiction, someone popped their head in the door to tell me the server had crashed, we could go home. I remember standing outside the steps leading down to the bar, and feeling as though I were going to walk onstage… and then I did. As much as things have changed since then, I never regretted it.

We bonded over SF (although I was never a member of fandom; she, on the other hand, had been for at least three decades); Sondheim; laughter. Perhaps most of all, the sort of bond that happens when you meet someone’s gaze during a song, and you are both there, helping to make this beautiful thing happen. We stayed together well after the original Rose’s group had pretty well come apart, though I saw everyone there at least once, in the days leading up to the sudden end- ten days between the word being shared and the closing, if I recall. That was the week Deathly Hallows came out; I was somewhat underspooned at the time, and left that night before the end.

We stayed in close touch through the aftermath; I will never forget that Wire’s Chairs Missing album was playing, with a song about a fly, when Helen called. Stroke. Watching Soren slowly come back to himself; helping them move, and move again; talking with her through tears and terrors, until slowly, the world began to feel like the world again. Doing what I could to help with that. Hearing the Buzzcocks’ “Why Can’t I Touch It?” playing at Quarter as she held Soren’s hand and wept, and feeling that this was almost too personal of a moment. Afterwards, I never played that song (or that Wire album) again.

After she moved to Seattle, we fell out of touch to a certain extent, even when I moved out here: she had posted many times about her missing New York and the piano bar scene, and I was certainly part of that, a reminder of things gone, perhaps. That said, there were emails, texts, invitations to visit; plans that might have come to fruition, in a kinder world; songs that would play, and take me back, for a moment ("...a person could develop a grippe..."). It is an odd fact that the last time I heard her voice, Elise and I were talking to her on the phone, as we walked through a cemetery.

There’s a person on LJ called Jon Singer who’s renowned for being a social nexus- a Kevin Bacon for his circle; Velma was that for me. I met enormous swathes of people through her (but not, as I has originally assumed, Patrick and Teresa: that was Eleanor’s New Year’s party); saw Sondheim shows I would not have seen; read book I would not have… someone I knew from high school pinged my Facebook as I wrote this paragraph, to say that she remembered Velma from Mother. Such a wide swath of people, memories, feelings, like the wake of a ship, leading back to her.

Goodbye, Velma.

#33 ::: lisajulie ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:51 PM:

May her memory lighten your grief.

#34 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:59 PM:

Scraps, I'm glad to see you here. I'm so sorry for your loss, which I can't even begin to fathom.

I had the great privilege of dancing with Velma. The company she danced with at the time, the Non-Canonicals, had a director (Judith Friedman, and I can't believe I remember her name almost 30 years later) who decided to experiment with having someone in her company without dance training (not that she told me it was an experiment), and let me join. She got what she wanted out of that, and kicked me out, but during the brief time I was in the company, I got to share a dance stage with Velma.

We danced in a piece called "Rogue Fruit" (I remember Judith had first called it "Strange Fruit," but the piece was about a vegetable garden, not about lynching, so she changed the name). Velma had the only human role in the piece, the gardener. I remember her costume was a dress with a dropped waist, and thinking no one could possibly look good in that...until she put it on. Velma looked good in anything.

She perfectly conveyed the utter innocent cluelessness of the gardener, happily watering plants right up until they rose up and devoured her.

Velma and I talked about some dance projects for a while, but nothing ever came of it, alas.

#35 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 07:56 PM:

Like Lee and Ginger, I knew Velma only from her very occasional posts here. But it's obvious that she was dearly beloved of those who did know her, and that the world is less because she's gone. May those who are grieved be comforted.

#36 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 10:01 PM:

Oh, no. It's too soon. It's always too soon, but still.

I only interacted with Velma here, and wish I could have known her better.

Scraps, my profoundest condolences. The same to all her knew her as well as I wish I could have.

(Tangent of a vaguely self-absorbed and insecure nature: I missed the announcement on the open thread. I don't keep up with open threads well at the best of times, and this time I'd been away due to having felt obliged to post something contentious in response to something that struck me as contentious, and not feeling emotionally equipped to return to the conversation until just this minute. In light of this awful news, the argument feels unbearably petty to return to.)

#37 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 01:00 AM:

In general: Going to miss her. I mean, I only ran into her a couple times, in passing, in actual face to face life, but she's been so much a part of online life for so long... Just, damn.

And -- Scraps! Hi. I'm so sorry for your loss -- and I wish I could do anything (other than monetary donations) to help. Stupid distance.

#38 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 01:28 AM:

Something I hadn't thought about in years: when we were a lot younger, and Velma was thinner and more conventionally attractive, she told me that she envied my looks. Her image of strong and attractive womanhood wasn't thin, it was voluptuous, like the older women in her family. That's not a word I was used to associating with myself, but nonetheless: my tall, thin, dancer friend wanted to look more like her short, plump, significantly less athletic friend. Knowing that was, I think, a nontrivial part of getting comfortable with my own looks.

I spent much of today with Elise, Scraps, and his parents and siblings, talking about her (and other things, of course). It was good, including the bits where one of us said something that reminded another of one of the ways we'll be missing her.

#39 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 06:21 AM:

My condolences.

#40 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 08:33 AM:

I met her once, at a Clarion West party. Maybe twice. She gave me a pen. I don't like that she's gone, not at all. My condolences to those she's left behind.

#41 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 11:44 AM:

I've only just begun to participate in this community, and the fact that it has decreased is not good in the slightest. I feel as if I have missed out on someone rare and valuable.

My deepest sympathies to Soren, and all.

#42 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 12:59 PM:

My condolences.

May her memory be a blessing.

#43 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 05:12 PM:

Xopher: Judith Friedman? The same what's married to Richard Friedman?

#44 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 05:43 PM:

Yes, that Judith Friedman. She was a professional dancer until the injuries forced her to stop dancing, then became a choreographer.

#45 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Vicki: And now a physical therapist. I guess I'll have to call and tell her about this. They live 3 blocks from us, but don't tend to read a lot of fannish communication channels any more.

#46 ::: Kat Crighton ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 08:07 PM:

Velma walked me through Brooklyn and Manhattan, introduced me to piano bars, showed me music in the streets. We talked. I loved her, and I miss her, and I always thought I'd have more time. Scraps, you have my condolences.

#47 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 09:29 PM:

Wow, Jon, I'm glad I mentioned it then. This was all 30 years ago, and much as it hurt at the time, I'm not carrying any grudges.

#48 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 09:33 PM:

In fact even right after being dismissed from the company, I donated money to her project and got a very nice thank-you letter. Guess I couldn't have been too angry about it even at the time.

#49 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 09:51 PM:

Sometimes I can't remember or get time or energy to write (it's very hard, both the Velma coping but also [more] the stroke), but:

I'm reading everything, and the memories that people tell, I'm holding to my heart. More of Velma. Thank you.

#51 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Strength and Peace, Scraps.

#52 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 12:04 AM:

I saw the sad news on a Facebook posting in the last hour or so. I did open a browser window a few days ago on Making Light but didn't actually read any threads.

I don't remember when I first met Velma: it was long ago I was in an apa she was in for years, and thus a correspondent. In person and correspondence she had that field of serenity and thoughtfulness and consideration about her, an the smile that would appear. She'd survived some horrible childhood experiences, perhaps some of the serenity came from that, detachment as coping mechanism and turned to what to me seemed an adult personality strength.

One of my memories of her is from a Lunacon years ago, that involved the comment, "Seth, I don't think you're gonna get your rope back."

#53 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 01:18 AM:

Oh, dear. I'm so sorry to hear that.

#54 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 02:12 AM:

I've been rereading stuff I'd written about Velma in years past in zines and diaries. This bit I'd forgotten from her Feb/Mar 1995 visit to London made me smile:


'This was the night of the 'Ton, the regular first-Thursday gathering of London fandom. This is now but a pale shadow of what it once was but there were some interesting people there, not least of whom was Geoff Ryman. After talking to Vijay for a while, Geoff turned to me and confided, "That's one very sexy woman. She's turning me on and I'm gay!".

To Geoff's chagrin I immediately passed this on to Vijay. "I-didn't-mean-for-you-to-pass-that-on," he said, through gritted teeth. Maybe not, but compliments should reach those they're about.'

#55 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 02:21 AM:

I remember that. :-)

#56 ::: Rachael Patterson-McGuire ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 12:12 PM:

I remember meeting Velma after almost ten years of interacting with her on LiveJournal, and being supported through my ups and downs (two hard pregnancies, life's general madness) by this beautiful, gracious, talented woman.

I walked into the gathering room at my very first Wiscon, and there she was! We recognized each other immediately, and I almost flew into her arms. We laughed and hugged and kissed and laughed some more. She was the highlight of that entire convention.

Then when I saw her soon after you folks moved to Seattle, and we did it again.

I'd told her many times over the past fourteen years, but she really was one of my heroes. I know I'm not alone in that.

#57 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 02:31 PM:

I never met Velma, nor have I met Scraps. I've been away from the fannish community for many years. But I do connect here, and many of my friends from years ago are my dear friends still, and some of these dear friends loved Velma deeply. So her death grieves me, and I send love and condolences to Scraps.

#58 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 04:29 PM:

So many people, so many stories one is on the edge of. I live less than a mile from Soren, and I was at the dinner at the outside place by the water Jo mentions, but I did not know Velma, and I regret that. I wish all of you who did know her strength and comfort.

#60 ::: Lordlnyc ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 07:43 PM:

OMG! Baruch dayan ha-emet.
My deepest sympathy and condolences to her family and all her friends! May her Memory Be for a Blessing!

Just saw a post about Velma's passing today. I know her from Lunacon and TES. She was a wonderful person and will be truly missed. :-(

#61 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 07:57 PM:

Rob Hansen's #54: for the win.

#62 ::: MoXmas ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 11:00 PM:


Condolences and love to you, man.

Lots of Well and Echo folks feel the same.


#63 ::: cori ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 12:22 PM:

Hi Scraps, we haven't met since Echo softball years ago, but Josh (Slacker) and I wanted to say how sorry we are for your terrible loss. Velma was clearly a light to you in dark places.

Cori (Slobber)

#64 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 01:28 PM:

MoNo and Slobber! {wave}

Morgan, I have spotted you in many virtual places. I meant to say how you brighten up the virtual and real (not to say the virtual is unreal, I just can't think of a simple word) places you inhabit.

Cori, you inhabit in my memory second base, where I threw a (successful) double play ball from short, throwing out a guy who doubted our defense. Sweet.

#65 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 01:28 PM:

And thanks to Josh.

#66 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 01:41 PM:

How do I track down conversations about Velma's death on Facebook? I have an account, but I only have it for things that require a Facebook account. I tried to look, but.....

#67 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 05:25 PM:

I just tried typing "Velma Bowen" into the search box at the top of the Facebook interface. After four or five lines of results that point to her Facebook page (and the pages of friends) another Search icon appears next to her name. Clicking that brings up a number of threads. Most of them are from my Facebook friends, but some are from casual acquaintances who aren't on my Friends list. Whether or not you can see them may depend upon the internal FB security settings of each individual thread originator and whether they're on your Friends list. I'd be happy to send you a list of the threads I can find by private email. Others who are more social than I am may be able to turn up more threads.

By the way, thanks for hanging in and posting. I can't know how tough it is for you to do it; but I'm pretty sure it's a healing thing to do.

#68 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 06:49 PM:

And now her coordinates have a t component.

Mortality sucks.

#69 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 04:55 AM:

Thanks, Lenny.

#70 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 05:33 PM:

Surfaced from bronchitis to find this.

Scraps, my heartfelt sympathies.
My heartfelt sympathies to all of us.

Xopher, can I join you under the bed?

#71 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 06:15 PM:

I am really fucking sad about this.

I will always remember her for conversations soulful and ribald, for boozy, hilarious, magical nights in piano bars, for those huge beautiful eyes that could go from innocent to wicked in less than an eyeblink, for her uncanny ability to draw out stories you never thought you'd tell anyone, for how much fun it was to make her laugh.

My heart goes out to Soren especially and to everyone else who feels her absence.

#72 ::: sonnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 06:37 PM:

I only knew Velma through a different board (that I hadn't been active on for a few months) but was very sorry to hear about her passing. From her messages and writing, she always seemed like a very cool lady. I'm sorry for your loss, Soren.

#73 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 11:41 PM:

I tried to follow Lenny's instructions, but I failed at "another Search icon appears next to her name". I can't see it. It's just an intro page: "other people you may know", "about", "photos", "reviews", "2012","chat"....

I swear, apart from the evil part of Facebook that's why I don't visit: it also sucks. How did Facebook take over? Grumble.

#74 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:14 AM:

Hm. Maybe try "Posts about Velma Bowen." I'm not sure why the basic Search thing is behaving differently for you. I'm not actually clicking the first Search icon to the right of the query box, just typing in query text and waiting for FB to display a bunch of queries to choose from on its own. Then I click on one of those.

#75 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:45 AM:

Huh. As far as I know, my Facebook never displays a bunch of queries. Tried "Posts About Velma Bowen", too.

I'll get it. I'm probably being stupid.

#76 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:09 AM:

It's Facebook that's stupid. Maybe it does something with your metadata that varies search results from user to user -- or Javascript is turned off in the web browser? Someone smarter than I am about this may be along presently to help. If not, I could copy the threads I see into a Microsoft Word document and send it to you.

#77 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 02:23 AM:

Javascript is not deliberately turned off, but sometimes it acts like it's turned off. (If so, though, it usually says so.) Maybe because I have Adblock turned on. Maybe I should turn it off on Facebook. (I used to run NoScript, but I turned it off long ago.)

#78 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 11:40 AM:

As I settle down to mark papers, I come across this doozy:

Christine de Pizan fought for women’s rights and one of the few women during her time that was taught and able to write during her time period where she specifically began to write about women and their rights giving them a place where they would be okay from the attacks given from men who thought that they were more inferior than women.

The student does not help by informing me that Pizan wrote in the 1890s.

#79 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:29 PM:

Scraps, sometimes when I'm trying to find an account on Facebook, I just google the name and the word Facebook, so: Velma Bowen Facebook. The search pulls up various accounts--it might help.

My deepest sympathy. I only knew Velma from here at ML, but that was enough to realize what a courageous spirit she was, and how deeply she will be missed.

#80 ::: Scraps (Soren deSelby-Bowen) ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:55 PM:

I found Velma's Facebook page, to be clear. But that's the only Facebook page with discussion about Velma I've found, and there is some, apparently.

It's all right; I don't want to take over this thread with my failed Facebook discussion.

#81 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:55 PM:

While logged into Facebook, after running the search, the URL field at the top of my browser reads:

If that's pasted into the URL field and threads with Velma's name in them still don't appear, it could be either a browser problem, or idiosyncratic Facebook behavior related to the account that's logged in. (I'm running Adblock on mine and it doesn't interfere.) Scraps,if you get tired of FB and want to email me at lennyb at Speakeasy dot net I can forward you a zipped up Word document that contains all the threads I can see through my account. (I can only access comments on the ones started by my FB friends.)

#82 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:12 PM:


If you have that file anyhow, could you please send it to me as well. (I can do Facebook, sort of, but find it frustrating and am going to wait until I need to talk to people about Velma there.)

#83 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:32 PM:

Vicki: send me an email at the address in my last post.

#84 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 02:02 PM:

Scraps, your Facebook quest doesn't come across as a derail. I find your presence here in this awful time for you reassuring and inspiring, and hope you will be able to continue regardless of the topics you visit. Who knows when this group's useful info might benefit others as well?

#85 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 02:39 PM:

Thanks, Carol.

#86 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 02:47 PM:

Well, how about that: Lenny, when I pasted the address, the page that comes up says:

Sorry, this page isn't available

The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.

Facebook doesn't like me. Probably heard all the nasty things I said about them over the past years.

#87 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 02:52 PM:

(Lenny, I think I'm done trying. I'll send you my email address.)

#88 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 04:05 PM:

Stumbled upon: video of Velma discussing her first published story.

Also, a memory: I'm at Quarter in Brooklyn with Velma and Soren; Soren is recovering from his stroke. I glance down; Soren is beating time on the bar with his fingers, just as he used to do at Rose's Turn. For just this one moment, in this one small way, the world has righted itself, just a trifle. I look up... and catch Velma doing the same thing. We exchange glances, and smile.

#89 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 10:56 PM:

Scraps, Making Lighters, all--

I am so sorry for your loss. Velma was always kind to me, even though we were were not as well acquainted as I might have liked. May her memory be a blessing.


#90 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 11:42 AM:

I've been reading Velma's (view all by) history. It reminds me that I think of her every time I polish shoes; her story about doing so has become part of my world of associations.

#91 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 09:50 PM:

I was very sorry to hear this news. I intersected with Velma during four months or so as a newlywed in 1983 during my first marriage when my ex-husband Neil was finishing a grad degree in New Jersey and we spent some time with the NY fan community.

She is the star of one of my favorite stories about fandom: Before we got married while we were still just friends, Neil (originally from New York but he had moved to Israel when he was 16) came to the US to do a grad degree in NJ but didn't really have much in common with the other people in his program. I suggested that he get in touch with SF fans in NY and gave him some names. He went to a party at Marc and Donna's and was staying the night in their living room when at about 2 am, Velma apparently came into the room stark naked and basically said the equivalent of "How about it?", an offer that Neil politely declined. He said later that he then had one of the most bizarre experiences of his life, having a serious conversation about sexuality with a beautiful naked woman at 2 in the morning!

#92 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 09:04 PM:

I've been wanting to post something here, but have just felt tongue-tied day after day. Today I'm exhausted due to a number of nights bad sleep, and perhaps that will get me past it.

I never got to meet Velma, except that I did, through her voice here on Making Light over a period of years. I had had some vague hopes of perhaps meeting her and Soren eventually on one of our rare mainland trips, but I never took any steps to make it happen. If there had been time....

All the same, there was something about her voice and viewpoint that I truly cherished seeing in her posts here. The best I can put it is that Velma always struck me as someone who life had dealt a hand of very difficult cards, who was perfectly frank about it, and who played those cards with exquisite grace, passion, and kindness. I would like to have known her better, but that can only be in that realm where all things are known.

Atque in perpetuum, soror, ave et vale.

#93 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 10:26 PM:

A memorial service for Velma deSelby-Bowen will be held Tuesday, November 18, in the theatre of St. James Presbyterian Church, 409 W 141 St (corner of 141 St and St Nicholas Ave) in Manhattan. The service will begin at 6 pm and will be followed with a light repast.

NOTE: If you plan to attend, please confirm by email to, so that adequate preparations can be made to accommodate everyone at the service. (If you forward or repost this notice, please include this information as well. Thank you.)

#94 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 10:28 PM:

[I'm not organizing the NYC memorial or anything; I'm just handling net-based RSVPs because Velma's sister said it would be helpful. Everything I know is in the comment above.]

#95 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 12:07 AM:

There will also be a memorial in Seattle (on a different day):

We are planning a memorial gathering for Velma on Saturday, November 8, at 1:30 p.m., at Washington Hall in Seattle. Everyone is welcome.

There’s no formal officiant. Instead, this is an opportunity for her family and friends to get up and share our memories of Velma. We’re still working on the details of the planning. If you know you’ll want to get up and speak, please tell Vicki, by email at Or if you just want to be with people, please let Vicki know you’re likely to attend so we can get a head-count for food and drink.

Washington Hall is in the Central District, at 153 14th Ave Seattle, WA 98122. We will be in the Lodge Room. The space is wheelchair-accessible and easily accessible by mass transit; there is also a parking lot. We have the room from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., including set-up and clean-up time; if you want to come early and help with set-up, please let Vicki know.

RSVPs to Vicki at please; I’m trying to reduce the burden on Scraps.

#96 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 10:54 AM:

Alas, there's no way I'm going to be able to jump on a plane and make the memorial in person... but I'm starting to daydream about how two folks from our parish managed a presence via robot during the London Worldcon and... I wouldn't even need that much (I am feeling somewhat leery of the amount of arranging that must surely be involved) but might there be room in the planner(s)' collective agendae and skills-sets to create some kind of opportunity of internet connection?

Please feel free to say "no" if that is going to be too much to load on the organizers' plates. I'm already happy that there will be a moment to remember Velma with other like-minded folks. If nothing technical materializes, I know I'm perfectly free to create my own space in tandem with the memorial several time-zones away. But, as the Dutch say, "'Neen' heb je al; 'ja' kan je krijgen. (You already have 'no,' but you can get a 'yes.')

Crazy(and still processing the horrible fact of Velma's being not here anymore)Soph

#97 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 11:43 AM:

I can't speak for Elise or Helen, but if someone wants to volunteer to set up and run something like Soph is suggesting for the Seattle memorial, talk to me.

#98 ::: Farrell McGovern ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 05:02 PM:

I just heard about Velma....I lost touch with her many years ago after I stopped going to a lot of East Coast cons...she was a beautiful soul, and the world is a little less bright without her in it.

#99 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 11:16 PM:

I was thinking of Velma tonight.

Taken as written that death sucks.

#100 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 04:59 AM:

I talk to Velma, every day and night.

#101 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 12:58 PM:

I wanted to ask her advice yesterday--because she's the person I ask about a lot of things. We will cope, somehow, and I will figure out an answer to my problem.

#102 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 01:48 PM:

There are some nice photos of Velma in the report I wrote on the 1997 Boskone:

aka. Fanhistoricon

#103 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 01:51 PM:

Huh. Borked the link. Let's try again:

aka Fanhistoricon

#104 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 03:12 PM:

:appreciates Rob's link and photos a lot:

#105 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 09:36 PM:

@100: Scraps, my deepest condolences. And may you always be able to talk to her.

#106 ::: Linda Blanchard ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 02:25 PM:

Late to the news. So sorry for your loss, Scraps, and being so out of touch all these years. My memory has begun hitting serious lapses and fades, recalls only that I've hung out with Velma one or two times and had a blast when I did, and that we were (I believe) in BWA together (but my memory is seriously beginning to fail me). You I remember, though, young, and wish you and she had more time together.

#107 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 12:08 AM:

The memorial service in Seattle went well, with quite a bit of help, large and small, from lots of people.

#108 ::: J.A. Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 11:57 AM:

Believe it or. Ot, I just heard this. I went to high school with Velma and am sorry to hear of her passing. We didn't stay in touch much beyond our graduation. Rest In Peace, olD friend.

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