Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gladys Wood By Kayte MG Langstaff

My earliest memories of my grand-mother, Gladys Wood, are all scent and vague images – spiced bacon and old books and the diffuse light that filtered through the window at the top of the farmhouse stairs - but my age was still counted in months the first time we met, and circumstances would slide ten more years between us before we had the chance to speak.

For that first decade, she was a feature in my mother’s stories and a face in photographs: one of a pair of girls with linked arms and matched smiles or the pretty young woman with the doll-like baby that somehow grew up to be my towering uncle “Chic”. In more contemporary pictures, she had a smile that shaped her cheeks exactly like mine.

When she came to visit us, she brought art books and vine charcoal, two porcelain Siamese cats that she made sing and dance for me. She loved to tell tales and eat rich foods like egg yolks, dark meats, and creamy foreign cheeses. She openly and proudly adored her mother and her sisters and spoke long and vibrantly about the family.

Gladys was the sort of woman who knew herself and had no fear of showing her colors, from experimental cooking to show tunes played loud in her car. She gave praise and criticism with equal passion, always meaning to love, even if her words could sometimes cut.

To me, she was something altogether new and wonderful. She was a loving grandmother who dared to invest herself in an eclectic and sometimes unpleasant girl, showering me with care and attention even though we were two states’ width apart. She made me want to learn to whistle ornate symphonies the way she could, and she bolstered my self-esteem by letting me cut her hair or insisting that my backrubs were the best.

I’ll never forget the garden she drew from the hillside around her house or the lush curtains of fuchsias that spilled from hanging pots along the perimeter of her porch, and I’ll never forget the way she would exhaust herself to talk to me on the telephone the month before she passed away. My concerns were still more important to her than her own, and she still offered me warnings and advice that I wish I had given more heed. She never stopped providing her love.

I used to send her “Happy B(earth day)” cards and find them pinned to the wall in her office months later, and she will always come to mind before tree planting or river cleaning on earth day. She was the voice of the gnome that lived under the maple tree, the hand that tended the peonies and roses, and the heart that smoothed the tension from a hundred family disputes. She is unforgettable.

Picture One: Gladys
Picture Two: Lucille Kinsella and her cousin, Gladys
Picture Three: Gladys and Chic
Picture Four: Beth, Gladys and Kayte
Picture Five: Kayte, Gladys and her marvelous garden

Thursday, April 16, 2009

‘It Happened to Me’ and Welcome Bo, to the White House

I have been saving this story of the loyal dog for a while now. With Beth’s Alaska writings remembering Outdoor Life’s ‘It Happened to Me’ stories, and with the new young pup at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I thought it might be time. NOT that this dog was saving outdoorsmen from the wild claws of a bear or the teeth of a mountain lion, but impressive, all the same. You be the judge!

Many of you know that the Kinsellas have a summer place in Ontario, Canada that we have gone to for almost fifty years now (okay, THAT feels strange to write!).

Here’s a story from a few years ago, but I still love it—the loyalty of a dog!

As my brother Chris writes:

Jen wanted to try the new kayak by herself so I said sure and went on a walk with Bridget, Patrick, and Joe in the backpack. Pickles I held on a leash. We crossed Tom’s bridge at the new cottage by the swamp and meant to progress up the hill to the Men’s Weekend Memorial Trail. However, crossing the path and heading for the water was the biggest snapping turtle I had ever seen. Its shell was as big as a garbage can lid. We watched it proceed to the water and get stuck trying to slip between two logs into the water. I of course had to poke it with a pig stick and it finally made it into the water. I then decided to proceed up the hill with the kids in tow.

Pickles however, had other plans. Suddenly, he went beserk, pulling wildly at the leash. I fell backward on my butt from the shock with Joe in the backback-- luckily, he was unhurt.

Out of the corner of my eye, something lunged at Pickles. A second turtle, as big as the first, was there on the land, trying to follow its mate into the lake. Pickles held his ground between us and the turtle, barking and leaping into the air like a madman, oops, a mad-dog. With Joe on my back, I could only watch events unfold, hoping that Bridget and Pat would not step into the fray. Pickles seemed to sense this and continued to dance between us. Finally, the turtle lumbered into the water and disappeared into the bay.

Pickles, a failed product of more than one doggie obedience class, and it must be said, simpleminded ( or so we thought) has his detractors within the extended family; this day, he more than made up for his previous antics!

Picture One: Pickles, the Wonder Dog!
Picture Two: Looking toward the ‘Men’s Weekend Memorial Trail’
Picture Three: Looking down the bay
Picture Four: Turtle Perfect Water

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dan Maffei in Office, and the Colbert Report

I love it when somone else does the writing of our cousins’ blog stories!

The Syracuse Post-Standard’s writer, Mark Weiner, has been covering our cousin, Dan Maffei from his Washington bureau.
On January 11th, he wrote:
Freshman Rep. Dan Maffei looked more like a celebrity than a newcomer Tuesday after he took his oath of office on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Maffei, D-DeWitt, who succeeded 20-year veteran Rep. James Walsh representing the Syracuse area, was stopped at every turn by well-wishers and prominent members of Congress as he walked through the U.S. Capitol and back to his new office.

And, on January 9th:
Minutes after he was sworn into office, Maffei said the reality of being a United States congressman still had not sunk in.
"I just sat in that chair in the midst of everything, thinking about the task before us and what an honor it is to be able to serve my hometown," Maffei said. "I'm just so grateful. It really is a dream come true."
His wife of six months, Abby Davidson Maffei, watched the ceremony from a balcony above the House floor. She had one of three tickets Maffei was allotted for the event. The others went to his father, Neil, and mother, Louise, who made the trip from Syracuse.
The new congressman left the House floor with a substantial advantage over the class of 57 incoming freshman members. Maffei found out late Monday that he was appointed to one of the largest and most influential committees, the House Financial Services Committee.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., will make many of the key decisions about President-elect Barack Obama's proposed $775 billion economic stimulus package and other matters to address the struggling economy.

And, then on January 20th, President Obama’s Inauguration Day, Weiner writes:
Syracuse area Rep. Dan Maffei, D-DeWitt, slept Monday night in his office in the Capitol complex in order to avoid the historic gridlock that paralyzed Washington, D.C. for most of the day.
Maffei, who was about 30 yards behind Obama, said he was overcome with emotion during the swearing-in ceremony,
"I sort of lost it twice," Maffei said. "I just teared up. During his speech, it was surreal to see him from behind. I can't describe what it was like to see 2 million people. It was surreal. It was like a movie."

And, I send a shout out to my brother Dan, for noticing this March 21st item in the Post-Standard, also written by Weiner:
In his first 100 days in Congress, Rep. Dan Maffei has debated on the House floor, appeared on CNN and visited the White House to discuss weighty issues.
But Maffei said nothing prepared him for Friday's interview with Stephen Colbert, the comedian who hosts "The Colbert Report," a popular show on the Comedy Central cable channel.

"The reason I agreed to it is that he does a little bit of a plug for your district," Maffei said. He mentioned to Colbert that Budweiser is brewed in Baldwinsville and that salt potatoes are a staple of the New York State Fair, in Syracuse.

"I need to be a cheerleader for the district," Maffei said. "And besides, I think you're better off getting (the interview with Colbert) done, rather than resisting."

When I first put together this story, it had not aired, but as of last night, it has! (Thanks to sister Sue for noticing).

To see the full Colbert Report piece, go to: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/224011/april-07-2009/better-know-a-district---new-york-s-25th---dan-maffei.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Birthdays, Part One!

April Birthdays are here, and that is no April Fool’s Day joke!!

Aunt Ruth’s family celebrates with Marlene Ann Maney ( Richard’s daughter).

Uncle Harold’s grandson, Jessie Taylor Spear (Mary Lou’s son) is an April baby.

Aunt Esther’s family celebrates with Laurie Acker Lochner (Rick’s wife) and Judith Powers Lochner (Ted’s wife).

Aunt Doris’ Hawkes have Charles William Hawkes, and Kelly Marlene Walker (Cindy’s daughter).

Picture One: Marlene Maney
Picture Two: Matthew, Jesse, Daniel Spear
Picture Three: Laurie Lochner
Picture Four: Judy Lochner
Picture Five: Charlie and Mary Hawkes

April Birthdays, Part Two!

The Bakers have:

Gladys Howland Wood and her son, Michael F. Wood, and Gladys’ great grandson- Kathryn Wood Barron’s grandson-Aedyn Langstaff.

Since we just celebrated Phyllis’ birthday, her April family birthdays include two of her daughters, Rhoda Lynn Coleman and Sheila Ann Coleman—known as Annie, and Bernard C. Walker (Dawn Coleman’s husband).

Leona’s son, Neil Carmen Maffei, Jr. is an April birthday baby.

Picture One: Aedyn Langstaff
Picture Two: Michael and Chris Wood
Picture Three: Aunt Gladys
Picture Four: Bernie, Annie, Ed
Picture Five: Rhoda

April Birthdays, Part Three!

For the Lucille/Aunt CB Kinsella family, we have Rosemary Holz Kinsella (Tim’s wife), and her and Tim’s son, Paul Christopher Kinsella. Also, Jim and Jill’s daughter, Kelly Ann Kinsella celebrates a birthday.

Picture One: Rosemary Kinsella
Picture Two: Paul and Angela
Picture Three: Kelly

April Birthdays, Part Four!

For the Arnon Taylor kids, Michael Anthony McCarty (Diana’s son) is April born, as is Graham Alan Wright (Donnie’s son, grandson of Nancy) and, Gabrielle Michelle Letourneau (Cynthia's daughter, 1st grandchild of Nancy Taylor Wright).

Picture One: Michael McCarty
Picture Two: Gabby
Picture Three: Graham