Brian Larkin & Elizabeth VanderPutten
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Among the highlights of 1997 was our annual February trip to Mexico, accompanied by our long-time friends Clay and Eve Cummins. Two weeks on the beach in Puerto Escondido does wonders for one's outlook on the world. Brian got a taste of small town medicine when he got a sty and visited, in turn, a local GP and then a specialist who spoke no English (as in nada). Now, the state of Mexican medicine is a wonder to behold. The main difference between the GP and the specialist were instruments. The GP used a $2.00 magnifying glass while the specialist had equipment from a 1970s U.S. oculist. In any event, neither was able to provide the right medicine. Brian had an interesting lesson in Spanish. He carefully read aloud the eye chart (you know, E, I, Z, O, D, etc.) pronouncing the vowels as E, I, etc. (as in Old McDonald Had a Farm). The doctor was convinced Brian was next to blind, since the E in Spanish should be pronounced as a eh and the I as ee, etc. (ah, Elizabeth's 14 years of Spanish courses to the rescue!) On the way home we spent a few days in Oaxaca in the honeymoon suite in a pretty little pension, the Las Golondrinas. One of the things we will both remember was the lovely little church a few blocks from the zocolo where we attended Mass said in Spanish, which was followed by a small memorial service and the singing of Ave Maria in Latin.
For our 20th anniversary on July 10, we visited San Miguel de Allende which is located in the mountains north of Mexico City at an altitude of 6,200 feet . It has a large English speaking community and is considered one of the most beautiful old Colonial cities in the country. We were "casing the joint" as it were as a possible retirement spot. Brian managed to come down with something like the flu which laid him up and left Elizabeth to her own devices a good portion of the time. Being the shy, timid, retiring person that she is, she managed on July 4 to get invited to the home of a retired professor to watch the Mars landing on TV!
From San Miguel, with only an overnight in D.C. we went directly to Long Island to attend the wedding of Elizabeth's nephew and godson, Michael and his beautiful bride Tanya. It was good to see the whole family. Aunt Annette thought it was pretty interesting that it took three of us to arrange the logistics so she could attend. We thought it was kind of nice for us to arrange a reception for her at the hotel where we stayed --- which was also the site of the New York State Motorcycle Rally. She declined, however, to attend the rock concert party in the motel parking lot next to her room! Remembering her previous experience with motorcycles, Elizabeth too declined all offers of rides.
At Thanksgiving, our grandchildren, Shane (first grade) and Erica (kindergarten), after several unsuccessful previous tries, visited from Upstate New York (not even Erica's chicken pox stopped them this time). They brought their mom and dad (aka son Dan and Michelle) with them. (We thought this was nice.) The children, of course, are incredibly smart, cute and athletic. (Like all Larkin children, they are both above average.) After showing them all the great sites of Washington, they both decided they liked the escalators best, although Shane did like some unexpected fireworks and all the gift shops. Earlier, in October, Dan was honored as the "Trooper of The Year" in his zone that includes Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties in Upstate New York. Besides being a full time Mom and a pretty good runner, Michelle is working with the local schools in coordinating an art project.
Brian's sister, Maureen, who had visited Dan and Michelle while on her annual New England maple leaf viewing trip in September, drove up from Richmond with her daughter Caitlin for the post-Thanksgiving get-together. Caitlin, who was pretty much a straight 'A' student, just finished her MSW on December 11. She is also the source of a wide range of questionable jokes on the internet.
Grandson Rory (Ruane's son) has recently started sending email. He continues to do splendidly in school, is vice president of his student council, and is a star on the football team.
Son Shannon and his wife Dawn are doing well. Shannon is in direct marketing and Dawn, among other things, was honored by the Mayor of Schenectady for her work in getting the down town area spruced up. Hillary, their oldest, is a bubbly, loving girl who is always a joy to talk to. Conner, age 2, shows all the signs of becoming as tall as his father and grandfather. Last year, we were with him when he learned to crawl which was really exciting for us. We wonder what he has in store for us this year.
We hear from daughter Kathi a lot more now that she has an e-mail account at her job with RAITT at the University of New Mexico. She and her children Stephen and Sara went to Disneyworld this year. Stephen, an incredibly energetic 10 year old, made them visit every exhibit. Sara, a sophisticated 17-year-old, is starting her plans for college. Impossible!
Tracy Larkin Thomason, our civil engineer niece in Nevada, was married at Thanksgiving. We were sorry to miss her wedding but are thrilled for her.
Elizabeth's family all continue to do well. Her father, the Commodore, still reads more books than most folks. He has had to cut down on his swimming, substituting water walking but not bad for an 87 year old. He recovered amazingly quickly from a hernia operation. We had to convince him to stay with family for a few days rather than returning alone to his walk up apartment immediately. Secretly, we think he enjoyed sister Jean and then sister-in-law Peggy's home cooking, clothes washing and overall great care.
After getting Mike and Tanya married, brother Dick and wife Peggy went to Ireland to visit her mother, the first trip in a long time. Their oldest son, Richard and wife Meg, are building their own businesses. We, who have chosen the safety of more bureaucratic jobs, truly admire young folk who start a business and are responsible for a payroll, meeting expenses etc. Niece Dorothy (whom Brian insists is still 11) is in graduate school while doing great at work.
Elizabeth's sister, Jean who visited us here in D.C. a few weeks ago, belongs to more groups and activities than anyone can keep track of. She is stage manager for a local acting group and plays banjo in a group she founded. Her husband Bob quips that he belongs to a group of folks whose wives belong to groups. She and Bob are the animal lovers of the family -- and naturally have named their newest dog Banjo.
Brother John and his wife Pat continue to revel in their four beautiful grandchildren (both Jill and Dawn have two). John is on the Internet and continues the VanderPutten family tradition of sharing puns.
Elizabeth was glad to see Uncle Robby on a recent trip to The Island.
On a sad note, Brian's brother Maurice -- known by everyone as Mo -- died in August leaving his widow, Fazala, and daughter, Jennifer. His wonderfully friendly, smiling self will be missed forever by all who knew him.
One of the fun developments in 1997 was getting most of the family on the internet. We are able now to stay in touch with almost everyone by e-mail. There are very few members of either of our families now to whom we cannot pop off a message on the spur of the moment.
Having just returned from Upstate New York where we will have visited children, grandchildren and old friends Allen and Jeanne Hills and their family, the New Year will find us here at home in D.C. getting ready to visit Elizabeth's family on Long Island on the first weekend in January and looking forward to Puerto Escondido on February 6.
Brian Larkin and Elizabeth (aka Betty aka Betty Anne) VanderPutten