Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - Christmas Newsletter 1998

Merry Christmas to All . . .

We have just finished decorating the tree and it is time to say Merry Christmas Family and Friends. We will remember 1998 as the Year of the New Home. Four family members and several friends moved into new homes in 1998 and Elizabeth moved into a new home in terms of her career, all subjects to which we shall shortly return.

The first big event of 1998 was our annual jaunt to Puerto Escondido, Mexico in February. We stayed in C-3, the same suit in the Zicatela Bungalows at the Hotel Santa Fe, in which we have stayed for the past 10 years. Our long time friends, Clay and Eve Cummins, accompanied us as they have in past years, Celia took again care of us at the Santa Fe, and we again spent some time with Gina Espinosa catching up on the year's events in town. We even wrote an article on Puerto Escondido for an e-zine Mexico Connect.

The 2nd major event of the year came in May when Elizabeth took a one-year assignment as a Program Officer in the Education Research section of the National Science Foundation. This "sabbatical," as she called the assignment, was something to which she had aspired as long as she has been with the Foundation and brought her home again to the field of her Ph.D. and her life time love of education. After three months, they invited her to join the staff permanently -- and she said, "where do I sign?" (Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten)

Elizabeth's birthday (she isn't advertising which, meaning she may be over 29) was one of the memorable events of 1998. We spent it in Grand Canyon, a place Elizabeth has always wanted to see and which we had planned to visit with Brian's brother Mo who sadly died last year before we ever got to do so. Elizabeth hiked enough to claim she hiked the Grand Canyon on her 55th (oops) birthday. Elizabeth took some fine pictures and Brian created a web site on the Internet, A Birthday at The Grand Canyon 

A real bonus on that trip was a side visit to Sedona, Arizona. Spectacular! Elizabeth even picked out (make believe) a condo as a trial retirement spot (The Red Rock Country of Sedona). No year would be complete without at least one trip to the Shenandoah Mountains. This year we spend our anniversary at Big Meadow.

Elizabeth's family continues to thrive. While Dad admits to getting older, he still reads more than most folks, participates in his PEER group of senior citizens at Hofstra University (although he does complain a bit about the young-uns -- the 65 year olds) and generally can out argue most of us on just about any topic. Aunt Annette continues to inspire us all with her vitality, good humor and continued sense of adventure. Elizabeth hasn't seen Uncle Robby much this year but hopes to soon.

Her brother Dick and Peggy's family is doing fine. Rich and Meg bought a house with a memorable multi-colored shag rug and hosted Thanksgiving. Peggy said it took her about two minutes to let go of the idea that she had to cook the Turkey and could enjoy being a guest. Godson Mike and Tony have a new apartment, new jobs and have announced they are expecting! And Dorothy, whom Brian refuses to admit is over 11, got her Master's Degree, got engaged and shines at work at Computer Associates.

Her brother John continues to work for the ever-expanding Bank of New York. He and Pat continue to enjoy their four grandchildren but have also decided its nice to have some peace and quiet at home. Jill and Kevin have just purchased a house (in between apartment and house they lived with Mom and Dad). Dawn has survived a number of mergers at her bank while Basil continues his Internet business.

Her sister Jean continues to star in a number of ways. She received a "star award" from her Hospital for service "above and beyond," (Jean grew up to be a star) had a publication in her professional journal on topic none of us non-medical types could understand, and is planning another (having found some very rare fungus). She continues stage managing for her local theater group. One fun event was her visit during the Kennedy Center Honors. Like a couple of star struck teenagers, Elizabeth, Jean and friends hung around the Center pointing out with squeals of delight the arrival of folks like Colin Powell, Mia Farrow, Bill Cosby, Madeline Albright and a host of writers and actors. Elizabeth had to admit knowing only the politicos. She needs to get a life!

Son Dan Larkin, daughter-in-law Michelle, and grandchildren Shane and Erica provided one of the nice occasions of the year when they drove down from Saratoga, NY for Brian's 65th birthday. Erica and Shane decorated the entire unit with streamers, balloons, crepe paper etc. He claims this was the first time he had balloons and candles in 30 years. The big news is that Dan is due to be promoted any day now to Sergeant Daniel Larkin, New York State Police. Erica was a donkey in the Christmas play and Shane a red and white cow! We hear less from son Shannon, daughter-in-law Dawne and grandchildren Hillary and Connor since they dropped their Internet connection. Dawne is working as a tutor for a local company. Shannon is studying for insurance sales. May he be as successful as his Uncle Larry Hills who has a thriving insurance business in Nevada but, sadly, whose health is not very good at the moment. We wish all well. Son Ruane continues as a job counselor with the handicapped and will start graduate school next fall at the Russell Sage in Troy. He continues to play the guitar at his Uncle Allen Hills' golf club. Grandson Rory who lives with his mother Kelley Isabelle in West Eaton, NY remains busy as a 16-year-old. He stars in golf and football ("I want to play quarterback because they get a lot of recognition," he wrote), is Junior Class VP, and is heavy into weight lifting. "[My] bench max is 205 and my squat max is 255." Whew! Daughter Kathi, 18-year-old granddaughter Sara and grandson Stephen are well. Sara, who lives with her dad Bruce Lyon in Upstate New York, is visiting mom and brother in Albuquerque for Christmas. Kathi works as Project Coordinator at the UNM and remains vintage Kathi with plans that rival Cecil B. DeMills including a Ph.D., staging a Larkin clan family reunion, and visiting Ulan Bator -- and that's before lunch.

Brian hears almost daily from niece Caitlin Wright, who continues to fight for the rights of the mentally handicapped against a villainous, greedy government and insensitive care providers, and to provide an endless stream of email humor. She also has purchased a new home with a wonderful yellow rug and is enjoying all the challenges (fiscal and physical) of keeping it up. Her mother Maureen (nee Larkin) Wright remains in the boondocks of Virginia, miles from the nearest town or village, and continues to work at the Veteran's Hospital evenings and weekends and holidays and likes it all! Brian's sister Allison and her husband Dean say hello from the seasonably fashionable Bethlehem, GA. Our engineer niece, Tracy Larkin-Thomason (daughter of Brian's late brother Dennis) and husband Jeff and son Jon survived the scorching summer in Nevada where temperatures were regularly in the 100+ range -- and all with smiles, and we have the picture to prove it. Tracy has advanced up the ladder to the point where she has a staff of eight plus "borrowed personnel" and whose chief complaint as an engineer supervising megabuck projects is "I get frustrated when so much attention is given to personnel matters." Two more years till she finishes school! Nephew Steven Larkin, Tracy's brother and neighbor, is head of his QA Department and has been responsible for incorporating the ISO 9000 standards into their processes. While we've not tasted anything yet, we have been told that wife Diana cooks from scratch. Their children Joshua, Kati Lynn, Krystal Nevada, Rebecca Lynn, and Steven James have terrific names don't they.

We hear regularly from Allen and Jeanne Hills whose golf course in Upstate New York was doing a land office business on Thanksgiving while it was snowing in Phoenix. We will attend the wedding of their lawyer-to-be son, Adam, in January. We got together with Margaret Windus and Alan Bow in August at their new Ocean Pines, MD estate. Unfortunately another long time friend, Nancy Jane Stubbs who usually joins us, dislocated a shoulder at the last minute and could not make it this year. Elizabeth partially made up for it by visiting Nancy Jane's new home in Florida in late October where they walked four miles each day (Elizabeth claims eight) on the beach, heard great music and dined on Nancy Jane's fabulous cooking. Barbara Richardson, our feminist scholar friend dating back to Elizabeth's NIE days (90-Day Wonders), and who now teaches at Western Michigan University, still keeps her Christmas tree up year round. While Elizabeth has only spent one week in Barbara's hometown in Maine she dreams of going with Barbara on her annual vacation. Lobster never tastes as good outside Maine. Another friend, Barbara Butler, retired from NSF in November (Barbara Butler's Retirement) on October 29, 1998. Barbara, who commuted between Delaware and DC, has moved full time to her home in Delaware with husband Glenn Porter. We both miss Barbara who was a regular Kozy Korner dinner partner, NSF Mah Jongg coordinator and best buddy. 

...and to all a good night