Monday, October 22, 2007

happy birthday

In a previous post I mentioned cousin Jon Loomis' new novel, and his brother Dana's move to Nevada. Well, here is a photo of us Loomis cousins, being "arranged" by our fathers for a nice photo in Grandma's Ruxton garden -- dated June 1961. Uncle Dana is clearly trying to force Jon and Sara to hold hands against their will. Young Dana is politely standing by, holding his little car. Dorothy has her squinty mad face on. And Dad is trying to keep me from escaping with a death-grip to my head. I guess the photographer gave up trying to wait for a better shot. "I'm taking the damned picture now!"

Dad's birthday is coming up on November 2nd. He would have been 78. The year before he died, he told me that he didn't care if Brud and I got married (we'd been living together for 6 years at that point) -- he just wanted more grandchildren. So for my birthday he gave me glow-in-the-dark sheets (I guess to get that baby-making action going), and a copy of Dr. Spock's Guide to Baby Care. Thanks to those sheets, Nick was born the year after Dad died, and I kept the Dr. Spock guide on my bedside table for instant consultation every time that poor child made so much as a peep. So, happy birthday, Dad, and thanks for your help in getting my family started.

Here's that favorite picture of Dad, Uncle Dana, and Aunt Esther -- brothers and sister / 3 monkeys -- circa 1989.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"behind every cloud is ... another cloud"

OK. I have to admit it. Nobody laugh. I have a secret passion. My kids think I'm a complete loser, but I have this thing for....clouds. Don't ask me why, but they just really speak to me. Sort of like those shells on the beach that call out to be picked up and taken home, to be displayed in a little jar on the windowsill. Except it's kind of hard to do that with clouds.

So last year the kids gave me a gift certificate to Borders, and what did I do but buy myself a book on clouds and the weather. I keep it in my car, and have been known to pull over on the side of the road to look up an interesting cloud formation. I run the risk every day of being pulled over for "cloudspotting while driving." I have seriously considered becoming a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, but I'm not much of a joiner. I might join just to get the t-shirt. Is that so wrong?

Well, I've decided maybe I've inherited this trait. The diary and guestbook that Helene brought and gave me (see post below) turns out to have belonged not to Grandma Loomis but Great-Grandma Isabel Abbot. And in it were dozens of newspaper clippings about the weather -- she obviously had a passion for such things as well:

  • Coldest Wave Since 1899 - Extend from Rockies to Atlantic and Lakes to Gulf (32 below in North Dakota)
  • First Snowfall is Only a Flurry (October 30, 1925)
  • Hottest September 8 since 1881 & Mecury Again Above 90 (1918)
  • Temperature Goes to 69 - Weather Bureau Records Show it was Hottest Oct 29th in 44 years (1918)
  • Northeaster Brought 3.77 inches of Rain (1923)
  • How to Dress to Go to Frisco -- Democrat Convention-Goers Should Trade Palm Beach Suits for Overcoats (1920)
A brief article Great-Grandma collected from 1922 states "the only thing to do about the humidity is to bear it. But while it endures be tolerant of the frailties of the human temper. Sea bathing affords only temporary relief. Cooling drinks are of no help, because the perspiration they provoke cannot be radiated. It is only possible to wait till it is over and to remember Mr. Shakespeare's injunction that time and the hour run through the humidest day."
So what's your secret passion? Not the ones that everybody knows about, but a thing that fascinates and resonates, even when no one around you gets it? I have one friend who is an enthusiastic member of Friends of the Erie Canal, even though she's never lived anywhere near it, or even visited in the area that often. Uncle Jack Loomis put together lists of funny names he found in the phone book, like Jack B. Nimble or I. P. Freely or Olive Yew. He had collected dozens of pages of them, lovingly typed out on his ancient Underwood typewriter.
Now you know my passion. Tell us yours in the comments field below. We promise not to laugh.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

another long lost cousin

Cousin Jon in his comment on an earlier posting admitted to acts of SG -- Self-Googling. I practice another private vice -- GOP -- or, Googling Other People. Hadn't heard from Dana for several Christmases, so I did a little fiddling around on the Internet and found he's moved from North Carolina to parts West. He's relocated to Nevada, where he's Director of the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada at Reno. Read all about him in the University's NevadaNews. If anyone has contact information for him or updated news, I'd love to get him back on my Christmas card list.

Monday, October 08, 2007

why is kyria stabbing grandma with a fork?

Finally getting around to sharing these photos of our summer visits. Pictured are Kyria, Mom, Fransje, Livy, Claire, me and Hannah. A whole bunch of goofy girls, I'd say.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

visit from helene

Cousin Helene Van Oosten visited today. She divides her time between Fisher's Island, NY and Santa Barbara, CA, and points in between. For those of you who may have forgotten, she is our second cousin -- Edna Lapham Van Oosten was her mother and Aunt Helen and Uncle Roger Lapham were her grandparents. She brought along an album that Grandma Loomis kept -- a guest book for the house in Washington, Connecticut -- full of autographs and photographs and letters and clippings. I'll scan some of those items and share them with you. She also brought an album of Grandma's photographs of her sister Helen and the Lapham family. Grandma was an aspiring photographer and studied at the Art Student's League of New York and with noted photographer Clarence White. Helene told me that Grandma was much chagrined that her parents wouldn't allow her to pose nude for him -- when she later saw an international exhibit of his, which included a number of nudes, she realized that she could have been famous!

Here are a few of the photographs that Helene brought along. I believe that Grandma Loomis took all but the one of herself.

Dorothy Abbot Loomis
Helen Lapham, Carol Lapham, and Isabel Abbot
Lewis and Carol Lapham and Edgar Abbot
Isabel Abbot