Sunday, May 17, 2015

Last Post Here--and a "New Home" for JASNA Syracuse

Your Regional Coordinator writes:

This is the last blog post I’ll be writing as Regional Coordinator for JASNA Syracuse, since I will be stepping down from this role at Midsummer. As explained in the April 22 post, JASNA Syracuse and JASNA Rochester are being merged over the next few months into a new Region, JASNA Central and Western New York (JASNA CWNY). It’s been my pleasure and privilege to serve you as your RC for the past six years.

But as Betty the cat (your RC and her Regency Beau’s new feline) illustrates, this isn’t the end of everything for JASNA in the old Syracuse Region by any means: Like Betty herself, we’re just getting a “New Home”! The indefatigable Lisa Brown will be serving for at least the next two years as RC for the new CWNY Region. I will be assisting Lisa on the CWNY Executive Committee, along with Celia Easton, Rochester’s retiring RC; the new CWNY treasurer, Marie McEneaney; the “blogmaster” for the new Region, Chris Cassidy; and, we hope, anyone else from the old Syracuse and Rochester Regions who wants to join us in planning for a bright future for CWNY.

Chris has already gotten the blog for JASNA CWNY up and running, and he’s doing a fine job with it. Please bookmark it for future use (  Both the old Syracuse and Rochester blogs are available as archives on the new blog, and I plan to contribute guest posts from time to time.

I also plan to continue holding meetings in parts of the old Syracuse Region for at least the near future: a Michaelmas meeting at the Liverpool Public Library on a Saturday toward the end of September (exact date TBA) at 2 pm; an All Hallows meeting at RiverRead Books in Binghamton on Sat., Nov. 7, at 2 pm; and future meetings as interest is expressed. And meetings will continue to be held in Rochester on the former schedule (third Saturday of each month at 1 pm at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble, unless otherwise noted).

Although there will be no full Regional meetings over the summer, there are still JA-related events to note on your calendar:

Wed., June 3,  noon: Registration opens for the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Louisville, KY. The theme this year is “Living in Jane Austen’s World,” which is sure to be a popular topic. So if you plan to attend, don’t delay in registering (go to this link for more information). Remember that you must be a JASNA member to attend the AGM.

Sat., June 6, noon: Lisa Brown will be presenting a Jane Austen Era fashion show at the Rochester Central Library in downtown Rochester (go to this link for more information).

Sun., June 7, 1 pm: A planning meeting for JASNA CWNY will be held at Celia Easton’s home in Rochester. I’ll be attending this and will be glad to give a lift to any other JASNA members who would like to attend from the Syracuse area.

Sat.-Sun., June 13-14: War of 1812 Bicentennial and Jane Austen Weekend at Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford (go to this link for more information).

So goodbye to JASNA Syracuse--and hello to JASNA CWNY!

Yours in Austen,
A. Marie Sprayberry, outgoing Regional Coordinator, JASNA Syracuse

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

An Important Announcement

An Important Announcement for Members and Friends of the JASNA Rochester and JASNA Syracuse Regions

At the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Montreal in October 2014, JASNA’s North American Board of Directors made two decisions on new by-laws directly affecting our Regions:

(1) Term limits have been set for Regional Coordinators, who now cannot serve more than three consecutive two-year terms (a total of six consecutive years). As of Midsummer 2015, A. Marie Sprayberry and Lisa Brown will have reached the six-year limit for JASNA Syracuse, and Celia Easton will have completed over ten years of service for JASNA Rochester. Moreover, both Marie and Celia would like to step down as RCs for personal reasons at this point. And there is no clear successor to Marie and Lisa in JASNA Syracuse.

(2) From now on, a new Region cannot be founded whose central city is within a two-hour drive of the central city of another Region. Under this new by-law, JASNA Syracuse would not have been considered for independent Region status. 

The Rochester and Syracuse RCs have been discussing what to do ever since. Under the circumstances, it seems to us that the best thing to do is to merge the present Rochester and Syracuse Regions into a new Region. The JASNA North American leadership has approved the merger. Our current choice for the new Region’s name is JASNA Central and Western New York (CWNY).

Since Lisa Brown is only two years into her current service as Rochester’s co-RC, we propose that she become the new RC for the combined Region, for at least the next two years. Lisa will be assisted by an Executive Committee consisting of Celia, Marie, Christopher Cassidy (who will be the “blogmaster” for the new Region’s blog), and others to be determined later—including, we hope, some current JASNA Rochester member(s) from the Buffalo area. Any current JASNA Syracuse or JASNA Rochester members who would like to serve on the Executive Committee in some capacity should contact Lisa or Marie. In particular, we are hoping that someone will volunteer to serve as Lisa’s co-RC, in order to “learn the ropes” of becoming Lisa’s eventual successor.

Meetings will be held primarily in Rochester’s current regular meeting place (the Pittsford Barnes & Noble). Marie plans to continue with meetings at Liverpool in the Syracuse area, as well as at Binghamton and Hamilton, but will probably cut her schedule back to four meetings a year. We are also hopeful that one or more Buffalo-area members might be willing to hold occasional meetings there.

Regional dues: JASNA Syracuse has not charged regional dues (in addition to the annual fee for North American JASNA membership) since 2009, but JASNA Rochester has traditionally charged a modest $5 a year to cover incidental costs at the local level. The plan is to continue this very reasonable charge for the combined Region, for those who participate in local-level events.

Finally, the URL for the new Region’s blog will be A preliminary version of this blog is already up and running. Posts on the old Syracuse and Rochester blogs ( and, respectively) will be accessible as archives on the new blog.

So it's a different future for us Janeites west of the Mohawk River in NY State--but we hope that it will continue to be an enjoyable one, with "clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation" (to quote Anne Elliot in Persuasion). If you have any questions, let Marie know (see contact info at right), and she will try to answer them as best she can at this point. And we hope to see as many of you as possible at JASNA Syracuse's final meeting as JASNA Syracuse, in Binghamton on May 2 (see the April 19 post).

Sunday, April 19, 2015

JASNA Syracuse May Day Meeting in Binghamton, Sat., May 2

JASNA Syracuse's May Day meeting will be held Saturday, May 2, at 2 pm, at RiverRead Books, 5 Court St., Binghamton.

Appropriately as we head into summer, the meeting topic will be Sanditon, Jane Austen's final, unfinished novel--set at a seaside resort still under development.

In some ways, Sanditon was a new departure from Jane Austen's earlier work; in others, it hearkened back to much earlier writings. What new and old themes was she taking on here? And how might she have completed the novel if she'd lived to finish it? (OK, we admit that Charlotte Heywood might not have been twisting the night away to the Beach Boys at the Sanditon tea rooms...) Come and share your ideas!

Reports from those who have read either of the two major modern completions of Sanditon (the ones "by Jane Austen and Another Lady" and by Juliette Shapiro) are also welcome.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2015 Jane Austen Ball in Rochester

Richard Sauvain, registrar for the annual Jane Austen Ball in Rochester (co-sponsored by the Country Dancers of Rochester and JASNA Rochester), writes:

This is just a note to let those who have attended the Rochester Jane Austen Ball Weekend in previous years know that the 2015 Ball is coming up soon.  It's earlier than usual this year, on April 25 and 26, 2015.

As usual, the weekend starts on Saturday with an afternoon practice session for all and an experienced dance in the evening.  On Sunday, another practice in the morning, a relaxing luncheon, and the Ball itself in the afternoon.  You can see all the details (and a great picture of last year's Ball) on the CDR web site.

As I write this, we're over 2/3 full, with room for only 24 more dancers, so it you're thinking of coming, register soon.  Registration can be done online using PayPal, or by US mail.

And we add a few more details: The space limitations Richard mentions don't apply to observers; the number of observer tickets, including a lavish tea (and a buffet lunch before the ball, if desired), is unrestricted. The Ball's location will be the private country club near Rochester that has hosted the occasion for the past several years; details and directions are available upon registration for the event. Regency dress is encouraged (as you can see from the 2014 Ball photo above) but not required. CDR and JASNA Rochester hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reminder: JASNA Syracuse/JABC Ithaca Meeting, Sat., March 7

Here’s a reminder of our JASNA Syracuse/Jane Austen Book Club of Ithaca joint meeting this coming Saturday, March 7, at 2 pm, at the Crow’s Nest Cafe on the second floor of the Autumn Leaves Bookstore, 115 The Commons, Ithaca.

This will be our JASNA Syracuse Lady Day meeting, although it's a bit early for Regency-era Lady Day, March 25--an important day for hiring or dismissing servants and transacting other business during Jane Austen's time. (It was also the traditional start of the agricultural year, although here in Central New York, we can only dream as yet about planting our gardens!)

Our topic will be Emma--Jane Austen's fourth published novel, and widely considered her most perfectly crafted one, with a couple of "hiding in plain sight" romantic mysteries at its core. At the same time, the character of Emma herself has generated controversy ever since JA herself described her as "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." And some of the supporting characters have become topics for debate themselves. Do you like Emma, or want to put her head through the wall? Does Miss Bates talk too much even for us? Is Mrs. Elton as insufferable as Emma thinks she is, or can a little sympathy be raised for her? And how soon can you claim to have guessed the secret of the overly reserved Jane Fairfax and her mysterious piano? Come prepared to discuss these and other issues!

Finally, we pass along two requests from our hosts for this meeting, the friendly “pirates” of the Crow’s Nest Cafe: Please don’t bring “outside” food or drink into the cafe, and we need to keep our voices to a conversational level, since the cafe shares open space with the rest of Autumn Leaves. We heartily encourage you to purchase food and beverages from the “pirates”--and if we refrain from emulating Miss Bates, we should be able to abide by the other request!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reminder: JASNA Syracuse Candlemas Meeting at Liverpool, Sat., Feb. 7

Here’s a reminder that the JASNA Syracuse Candlemas meeting will take place on Saturday, February 7, at 2 pm, in the Sargent Room of the Liverpool Public Library (310 Tulip St., Liverpool). The topic will be “Read Any Good (Austen-Related) Books Lately?” Come prepared to say a few words about any book by, about, or related to Jane Austen and her world that you’ve read lately--and we’re prepared to stretch “related to” pretty far!

As at last year’s Candlemas meeting, there will also be a book swap, so you’ll have an opportunity both to pass on books meeting these very loose criteria and to pick up some new ones. (In the photo above, Action Jane Austen shows both some books your Regional Coordinator has been reading, and others that will be put into the swap.) Any books left over at the conclusion of the swap will again be donated to the Liverpool Library.

So do come and “have your share of the conversation”--especially after all the winter weather we’ve just endured. We hope to see you in Liverpool on Saturday!


Also, here is news about an upcoming set of Janeite events: At the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford (southwest of Rochester), the Hosmer’s Inn will be featuring a “Tribute to Jane Austen Hosmer Dinner” as part of its Historic Dinners series (see this link). The JA dinners will feature recipes from the receipt book of Martha Lloyd, JA’s long-time housemate (and eventually sister-in-law, although JA unfortunately didn’t live long enough to see her brother Francis marry Martha as his second wife). A spring series of these dinners will be held May 15, 16, 22, 23, and June 5; a fall series will be held September 5, 25, 26, and October 9, 10. All dinners will cost $75 (or $70 for GCVM members) and begin at 6 pm. Please call 585-294-8218 to make reservations (required) or for more information. (If you plan to attend, don’t delay about making reservations; these dinners look as if they're going to be very popular.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

JASNA Syracuse Winter/Spring 2015 Meetings: Save the Dates!

 Save these dates now for the JASNA Syracuse Region’s winter/spring 2015 meetings:

Our Candlemas meeting will take place on Saturday, February 7, at 2 pm, at the Liverpool Public Library (310 Tulip St., Liverpool). The topic will be “Read Any Good (Austen-Related) Books Lately?” Come prepared to say a few words about any book by, about, or related to Jane Austen and her world that you’ve read lately--and we’re prepared to stretch “related to” pretty far. (In the photo above, Action Jane Austen and Harry Potter discuss the curious coincidence of a character named Mrs. Norris in both Mansfield Park and the Potter series!) As at last year’s Candlemas meeting, there will also be a book swap, so you’ll have an opportunity both to pass on books meeting these relaxed criteria and to pick up some new ones.

Our slightly early Lady Day meeting (Saturday, March 7, at 2 pm) will be a joint meeting with the Jane Austen Book Club of Ithaca at the Crow’s Nest Cafe (second floor of Autumn Leaves Bookstore), 115 The Commons, Ithaca. Through a quirk of its publishing history, Emma can actually claim both 2015 and 2016 as its bicentennial years, so we’ll get the discussion of Emma started at this meeting.

And our May Day meeting (Saturday, May 2, 2 pm) will take place at RiverRead Books, 5 Court St., Binghamton. In an appropriate beginning to the warmer days of spring and summer, we’ll discuss Sanditon, Austen’s final (and uncompleted) work, set at a seaside resort town under development.

More details about all these meetings will be provided closer to their dates--but do mark your calendars now!