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In a long chat with my sister last night, we covered: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transylvania University, Presbyterian missionaries in Brazil, genteel poverty, Mitt Romney's father, patrons of the Baltimore Museum of Art, paintings by my grandfather, chicken stress, plantar keratosis, gait analysis, sciatica, pronation, the etymology of "hallux, upupa epops, Nigerian and Thai names, the mind-finger connection, the fact that porne is derived from a verb that means "to export for sale" (in Greek), sesamoid bones, Big Papi's wrist, horse legs, Tupac Shakur, the height of Rod Stewart.

Don't you wish you had been there?
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I discovered today I am a direct descendant of Myles Standish as well as John and Priscilla Alden (his son married their daughter). Mayflower Descendants, here I come! Suppose I should go read Longfellow now. And, just in time for a small family reunion at Thanksgiving on that side of the family (we are gathering at my 88 year old grandfather's).

Ah, Mother

Aug. 27th, 2010 11:49 am
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My mother called me at work just now, I think from her car (a terrible habit I cannot break her of), to ask me what I wanted for my birthday (which is Labor Day).

I gave her some suggestions (butter dish in the crockery pattern I am starting to collect; flower bulbs).

She said she didn't like any of my suggestions and what did I think about a small hooked rug?

I said we had a lot of small rugs and a big rug was probably out of her price range, and besides choosing a rug is a fairly big decorating choice and not a great gift from out of town.

Who wants to place bets on the chances I'll receive a small hooked rug in the mail next week?

My mother has never been able to understand that a gift is to please the recipient, not the giver. Also, she has confusion about the fact that I am, in fact, not her.
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Yes, they were in BOTH of the newspapers in town.


The wedding of Miss Avis Wheeler Hill and Mr. Theodore Pratos Berle, at the home of the bride's parents on Main St., North Woburn, at 6:30 last evening, was one of the prettiest home weddings of the season. The large old fashioned house with its spacious hall and rooms, beautifully decorated with ferns, palms, leaves and roses made a splendid setting for the auspicious event.

The ceremony was performed by Rev. George H. Tilton, pastor of the North Congregational Church. Mr. Charles R. Carter, of this city was best man, and the maid of honor was the younger sister of the bride, Miss Elizabeth Putnam Hill. The members of the Alpha Kappa Chi of Wellesley College of which she was a member, also attended the bride en suite.

The marriage was solemnized in a room banked with young oaks and maples and the library and hall were prettily decorated with crimson and white peonies.

The bride wore a gown of white Japanese crepe, with tulle and old family lace, and carried a shower bouquet of lilies of the valley. Her bridal veil was fastened with a spray of lilies of the valley.

The bridesmaid was attired in organdie muslin and carried a bouquet of pale pink sweet peas tied with a ribbon of the same shade.

The couple were the recipients of an unusually large number of wedding gifts both useful and ornamental.

Following the ceremony a reception was given by the bride and groom assisted by Mr. and Mrs. William W. Hill, parents of the bride, and Mr. Charles R. Carter, the best man. There was a large attendance of relatives and friends including guests from New York, Pittsburg, Manchester, N. H., Boston, Winchester, Somerville, Medford, Woburn and elsewhere.

The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William W. Hill, and one of Woburn's most popular young ladies. She is a graduate of the Woburn high school, '04, and Wellesley college, class of '07.

The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Pratos Berle of St. Louis, Mo., a graduate of Oberlin college, with degrees from Yale, Andover, and Harvard colleges. He was for a time pastor of the North Congregational church in this city and is at present holding a responsible position in the New York office of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

After returning from an extended wedding tour, Mr. and Mrs. Berle will reside in New York city.
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At halfpast six o'clock Wednesday evening, June twenty-sixth, 1907, at the residence of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. William W. Hill, No. [blurry - 237?] Main Street, Woburn, Rev. George H. Tilton, pastor of the North Congregational church, N. W., performed the rite that united in wedlock Mr. Theodore P. Berle of New York City, and Miss Ava Wheeler Hill, graduate of the Class '07 of Wellesley College.It was one of the most notable matrimonial events that has occurred in this community for many years. Both parties have hosts of warm friends who showered congratulations and good wishes on the happy couple at the close of the ceremonies.

The Best Man was Mr. Charles R. Carter of Pittburgh, Pennsylvania; and Elizabeth Putnam Hill, younger sister of the bride, performed charmingly the duties of Bridesmaid. She was dressed in organdie muslin, and carried a bunch of pale pink sweetpeas tied with ribbon of the same shade. The bride was beautifully attired in white Japanese crepe with tulle, and old family lace. She carried a shower bouquet of Lilies of the Valley, and her bridal veil was fastened with a spray of the same. Her only ornament was a diamond and pearl brooch, the gift of the groom.

The ceremony took place in a room banked with young oaks and maples; the halls and library were decorated with white, pink, and crimson peonies; the diningroom was trimmed with pale yellow marguerites, the bride's Class flower at Wellesley; the sittingroom was trimmed with windflowers [sic?] in pastel shades. The house was redolent with the perfume of woodland ferns.

Mr. Morris Carter, a cousin of the bride, played bridal music just before the ceremony, and also the Lohengrin wedding march for the bridal party to come down the stairs. A very attractive feature was the grouping on the stairs and landing of 30 girls from the A K X Society of Wellesley, to which the bride belongs.

Following the wedding Mr. and Mrs. Berle gave an informal reception assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Hill and bridesmaid, which was attended by friends from Boston, Brookton, Cambridge, Constantinople, Turkey, Haverhill, Lowell, Manchester, N. H., Melrose, West Medford, Nashua, N. H., Newbury, Vt., Newburyport, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Pa., Roxbury, Somerville, Wakefield, Wareham, Winchester and Woburn.The Highland Orchestra furnished the music during the evening, at the close of which the bridal party left for a wedding tour.

These were my great-grandparents. They had 4 daughters, my grandmother 3rd in 1913, and it was not a happy family, at least according to my grandmother.
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Sorry, due to a computer malfunction, we are temporarily unable to post pictures of the newly four year old boy. I can report that this morning, he anxiously demanded whether the underpants I was proffering were FOUR-year old underpants? Weren't they his OLD underpants? I reassured him that they were, in fact, rated for a four year old. He also asked if he was as tall as a four year old was supposed to be. I didn't know there were such stringent requirements!

My grandmother used to warble two songs to me when I was a baby -

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good
She was very very good
And when she was bad she was horrid!

And then, this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgJq4YLRWbA - a 78 record, which captures pretty well her vocal tone when she sang - I only remember her singing the chorus:

When it's springtime in the rockies
I am coming back to you
Little sweetheart of the mountains
With your bonny eyes of blue
Once again I'll say "I love you"
While the birds sing all the day
When it's springtime in the rockies
In the rockies, far away
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There's nothing as consistently stressful for me as the children's birthdays. Dillo's is Sunday, and do we have a plan? We do not. He's old enough now that he expects something to happen. mr. flea was going to see if we could do something at his school Friday, and invite the two friends who have left already (assuming they are in town, which I doubt.)

Part of the problem is that the dates of both kids' birthdays mean the chance of its being incredibly hot are high. So it's hard to plan a simple "run around in the yard" birthday party (our house being small enough that 4-6 children in it is a houseful, never mind their parents).

We're also going ahead with the refinance, which means collecting documents, and the planning commission will meet in 2 weeks on our roof proposal, and the kids are taking swimming lessons soon, and then mr. flea's parents are coming and then school starts. Blah.


Jun. 20th, 2010 08:10 pm
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Nobody mentioned to me that my brother (age 31) is now visibly balding.

I guess he got off lucky - my father was a chrome dome by about 27.

ah, family

Jun. 15th, 2010 06:11 pm
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So, as usual, our family vacation at the beach, in a house which officially sleeps 6, will include 3 adults in addition to my family for most of the week, and 4 for 2-3 days.

Every year my mother says, "Come, we'll be there for only part of the week so you can have a family vacation to yourselves," and every year my sister ends up sleeping in the closet (on the low-woman on the totem pole principle, last year - she was the only adult under 60 without kids (we had kids in our bed, which is better than the closet but only just); this year on the principle of the person who is only there for 2 nights and not 6 gets to sleep in the closet.)

I have a secret plan that Casper can share a (double) bed with my brother. She's a fine sleeping companion now - snores gently, but not too wiggly, sleeps like a log, and doesn't pee. Contrast Dillo.

Edit: I forgot to mention my mother is bringing her cat. Whom she loves, my brother and sister hate, and my children are afraid of because he is aggressive and hissy.
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It's a little funny to me how many people I am related to have wikipedia entries.

There's my great-great grandfather, Marcus Wilson Acheson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Wilson_Acheson

My great-grandfather's first cousin, Edward Goodrich Acheson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Acheson (nephew of the above)

My great-grandmother's first cousin, Frances Parkinson Keyes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Parkinson_Keyes

My grandmother Dod's first cousin, Adolf Augustus Berle, Jr. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Berle

Nobody on my mother's side at all, as far as I can tell; I know a lot about her family history, but nobody seems to be Wikipedia-level.
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We got into a discussion at dinner about what was the biggest bear (polar bear, or some kind of brown bear?) e decided to look on the internet and discovered that the consensus is polar bear, but some people root for the Kodiak bear (which is a subspecies of the brown bear, and is what mr. flea was plumping for.) We then looked up the biggest whale - casper said it was the blue whale, and Dillo was rooting for humpback. Casper was right, of course, but Dillo was still happy to hear about humpback whales, and the threatened meltdown when we told Casper we'd been whale watching once and SHE NEVER HAD didn't actually happen.

Dillo was full of exciting questions about planets on the drive home today - "Why does the earth move? Why do planets go around the sun? Is the moon a big planet?"

I do so hope they grw up to be scientists. I definitely should have been one (though a practical, non-quantum theory one - I am only into Chapter 2 of "How to Teach Physics To Your Dog" and I am worried I am not as smart as the dog.)
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My father (63) is mostly retired at this point. He and his wife are in the process of updating their house, decluttering, and thinking about moving to their retirement location. (She's only 50, but works as a crossing guard, so her career is not a factor; their kids are out of the house.) Family is mostly in New England or Ohio.

This is the list of things my father wants in a retirement location:
-temperate weather - not too hot in summers, not too cold in winters. I gather some snow is acceptable, but not Maine/upper New England levels of snow.
-small city, a college town would be ideal.
-not below the Mason-Dixon line.
-in a politically liberal location.
-preferably a place that is neither growing (exurban McMansion developments are a bad thing) or declining (i.e. not South Dakota).
-less expensive than where they live now, which is a wealthy area of Cincinnati. (My father is well off, but very cheap.)

He recently checked out Asheville and decided it was too expensive, he didn't like the way the highways went through the city, and he hated the exurban development. (It was already a fail on the Mason-Dixon line factor, and also possibly the snow issue.)

I just can't imagine a place that would actually meet his requirements. Anyplace with great weather, a thriving cultural scene, and progressive, is going to be overrun with OTHER people who want to live there, meaning it's expensive and has development issues. I mean, look at Portland, OR. In the age of the internet and "great places to retire" magazine features, there are no hidden gems.
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Item one, an email just received from my mother. Subject: American Girl dolls.

Subject line: OMG the doll is fat!

Body: Borrowed an A.G. doll from next door. Can't say that I like her construction as all of her limbs wiggle loose. She will remind you of how very nice the Sashas' are. And, she is fat: absolutely porky in the arms, legs and torso. Truly the new American girl!
How can we influence Eve back to Sasha, or shall we trust that superiority will rise to the top.

Truly it is a wonder that her children did not develop eating disorders (our inherent tendency to be skinny probably saved us.) Also, no wonder we are all snobs.

Item two, my father is crazy too (or at least a prescriptivist, which as we all know = craxy)! From an email warning us about the rockslide between Asheville and Knoxville, he corrected my usage in the message he was replying to, like so:

> It sounds like [Hmmm: "AS IF", a conjunction, not preposition!] the afternoon/evening of Sunday the 27th is good to have an everyone gathering? Let's tentatively plan on that.

Yes, growing up with my father was like living with the English Police. Also, every time anyone said Florida or orange, he corrected her pronounciation (short o, not long!! Long is what those declasse people say!) I do speak very nice standard English, but I suspect I would have done so anyway without the continuous grammar shaming.

Memo to Teppy, your Chatty!Coworker's extreme literalism and general assy responses often remind me of my father. Who, I can say in all honesty, replies like that because he is an ass (said more nicely, he's a geek 12 year old boy), not because he has Asperger's or anything.
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The kids are now both old enough that I can leave them with Grandma with almost no qualms about how things will go. (I do expect the possibility of tiffs between my hard-headed daughter and my hard-headed mother, and generally get them.)

Grandma and husband are off to Asheville, leaving me in great hopes that mr. flea arrives at the Athens airport as scheduled at 4:40pm, because I don't have a backup plan to collect Dillo from school if mr. flea ends up kicking his heels in Denver or someplace. Taxi, or my neighbors (who would be happy to help and there are enough of them that one should be home), I guess, would be the answer.

Had parent breakfast at Casper's school today. Thomas' mother informs me that Thomas told her that Casper plans to marry him. This is news to me, but he's actually a great kid, so if she still feels this way in 20 years and can convince him, I'd be okay with it. He's going to be tall enough, too (his parents are as tall as we are). Lots of parents showed up, including many of the ones you always suspect won't, and I got to spend some nice time talking to kids who were parentless as well as loving on my kid. I told Jeremiah he had a beautiful name and he was so shyly pleased. There are a bunch of seriously beautiful children in Casper's class.

Dillo had a charming habit of hating it when I push up my sleeves. He always pulls them down for me. He is doing GREAT on the potty lately, and I feel like we are finally finished with diapers in my house!

Tomorrow is mr. flea's birthday and I am planless. It's been a very distracted week, all out of routine and dealing with Mother. I am also planless for Thanksgiving and Christmas (though I have preliminary gifts bought for my mother and siblings at least.) This weekend needs to see some serious planning happen.

(Oh! Grandma got the kids flu-misted yesterday at the county. They got 2 of the last 3 available doses of mist, but the county did have some shots. They say they need another dose in a month, but we'll see how the WHO/CDC work this advice out in the next month, and also, will they actually have any in a month?)
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I got into work at 8:20 feeling like I'd already put in most of a day on the home front, although I only got up at 6:15. (I did get to hear my mother prowling around the house from about 4:30 on.) This is what it's like to have family staying in the house, and disrupted routines.

And then I got in to find faculty fulminating outrage over a lost book in my email. Not without justification - the book in question is both enormous and valuable, and I agree should probably not circulate. It wasn't lost while I was employed here, but I do feel some obligation to address the concerns, and have begun to do so. But the *tone* of the emails is so exhausting at 8:30 am after a trying morning. Nobody can make drama like faculty. Several things lately at work have reminded me of the various reasons not associated with writer's block and the two-body problem that caused me to leave my academic career path.
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I have found myself worrying lately about what we'll do with the Dillo the summer after pre-K, when he won't turn 5 (and be eligible for any summer camps) until July 11.

Note that this possible problem is scheduled for TWO YEARS FROM NOW. I mean, things could go so we'd not be living here at that point.

ION, my brother who got married in May refers to his wife as "the wife" on Twitter. It kind of makes me want to dope-slap him, although I am sure he means it well.
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I am about to turn 14 here, and my mother is 36 coming up on 37 - exactly the same age I am now. It's August 25, 1986, at Crazy Aunt Nancy and Billy's house in Richmond. We visited my great-grandmother Mary in the nursing home on that trip, and Mary thought my mother was her daughter Porter, who at that time had already been dead for 11 years.


Me and my siblings, Christmas 1986. This is my One True Haircut; I think I'm on my way back there right now. Possibly even that color, if I can justify the expense. (Notice that Nate is on Jane's back and Jane is on my back and I am very strong!)
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Before Mount Auburn cemetery, we went to Woodbrook Cemetery in Woburn, established 1854. It's right downtown, between Salem and Beech streets. (http://www.yeoldewoburn.net/Woodbrook.htm)

Longity long )
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Sunday morning we visited two sets of family graves in the Boston area. Set 1 will have another post - I transcribed the stone inscriptions and left the paper at home. Set 2 is my great-grandparents, Ormon Earle and Jane Augusta (Jennie) Spurr Bassett, and their daughter, Rosamund Jane. They are all buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge (http://www.mountauburn.org/), under one stone (relatively recently placed by my grandfather).

Bassett descendants

Rosamund died at age 2 when they were living somewhere in Boston. It was only after her death that they conceived my grandfather, who was born in August 1922. Jennie was a nurse from Nova Scotia who came to Boston in the teens. Ormon was named after Ormond Beach, FL, where his parents honeymooned. My mother has fond memories of, especially, her grandmother (although when pressed could not actually conjure anything specific!) She said they they both lived with her family for a while when the family lived in Winchester MA in my mother's elementary school years (later 1950s-early 1960s).

Ormon, Jane, and Rosamund

My mother was really happy to visit the gravesite, although I know she's been there relatively recently with my sister. The stone was 1/4 buried by soil creep from the hill. It's in an area called St. Paul's Plot, below Spruce Lane, above a small lake. There are currently active areas of the cemetery nearby, and my mother reports that her husband is thinking about buying a plot somewhere; she seemed taken by the idea of Mount Auburn. She made us promise to come visit her when we're in Boston if she's buried there (she's 59 and in good health, but my stepfather is 77).
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It was good. The reason for the trip was my 24 year old half-brother's wedding, which was Saturday. We drove up in the Honda from Boston, ate lunch at a little restaurant I'd scoped out on the internet in New London, and changed in their bathroom. Then off the the wedding, which was churchy but not too much so (evangelical, so nothing Popish like communion - instead, there was singing and talking about Jesus). The bride's family sang the benediction at the end together from the congregation, a cappella and in at least four-part harmony, and it was pretty awesome. This is apparently a traditional thing for them. My father and brother both made that "I am being looked at and am goofy and also proud" face. Dillo was adorably awesome in an outfit my mother got him - grey button-down shirt, black pinstripe vest, black pants, purple tie. Casper wanted to be told she was beautiful and was a little disappointed that Dillo got more attention. The reception was at a lodge at a lake about half an hour away, lovely except for the incredible number of mosquitoes. Very low-key, not a full meal, just fondue and a chocolate fountain and cheesecake as the cake. Some dancing. We learned that white evangelical Christians from Ohio mostly do not know how to do the electric slide. Casper totally busted a move, however, and also got a splinter in her foot on the deck, which my father removed.

It was nice to see my stepmother's family - her mother (age 79 and not in great shape - contrast my vigorous and active 77 year old stepfather), sisters Debbie and Brenda and their spouses, and my stepsister Joanne and her partner (Joanne cried and cried during the ceremony!) Talked some to stepmother and a little to father and sister and (busy bridesmaid) Kat. Then we had dinner in Concord with my other brother Nate and his friend/soon-to-be-flatmate, Elena, Dillo asleep on my chest for the whole meal. Nate, in classic Nate form, nearly failed in his one appointed wedding task. Kat called him Thursday and told him to bring 16 bottles of lambic beer to the wedding, for the groom and bride and the wedding night, apparently (dry wedding, though the couple are legally of age.) The significance of the number 16 is unclear, and why lambic? There was much general wonderment and mildly ribald speculation about the wedding night by Nate and Elena. He didn't procure this in Boston and was surprised to learn NH liquor stores don't sell beer, so sloped off to Concord between the wedding and reception to raid a grocery. Then locked his keys in the rental car at the reception. Classic. But, he paid for dinner and I quite liked Elena, so he came out okay on balance.

Friday we went to Crane's Beach in Ipswich and drove around very briefly looking at old houses and ate lunch. (Sibling set at the beach: Aidan, Seamus, Declan, Cormac.) Sunday we did the cemetery visits, both Woburn and Mount Auburn, and then mr. flea and I went to dinner and Star Trek for our anniversary. Monday to the Public Garden on the way to the airport, and here we are at home.


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