Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cinderella's Towering Poseidon Camelot

I was talking with someone the other day about what was the first movie you remember seeing in a movie theater. For me, in a movie theater, it was Disney's Cinderella. You see, back in the old days children, before the "inter-net", Disney only put its movies in the theaters every 7 years. So it was pretty special when they released one of their movies. My memory mostly consists of being in the dark theater, sitting in-between my parents.

After that, the next one I remember is Star Wars. That of course, was a pretty big memory.

But what other movies do I remember from before that? Not too many. We didn't get a chance to go out to movies a lot, but that's okay, I think that made them have a bigger impact when you did see them.

So what movies helped shape little Leah into who she is?

My parents took me to a drive-in to see "The Towering Inferno". I wasn't too interested in it at the time, it was a little OLD for me don't you think Mom and Dad, and I distinctly recall laying in the backseat coloring in my huge Pinocchio coloring book for most of the movie. Nevertheless, the disaster genre began its seepage into my brain. I still think of Towering Inferno whenever I come across Gremlins 2 or Poltergeist 3 since they happened in huge apartment/office/shopping/you-never-have-to-leave-buildings. I don't remember much of it, just that it was a fabulous 70s cheese-fest with horrible drapes and furniture and clothes to make you ill, and that hair, yikes! I saw it a few years ago, and that's still all that's stayed with me.

The next movie I remember from that time is "The Poseidon Adventure". It's hard for me to say when I first saw it, it's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Take the Towering Inferno, add a dash of Titanic, and sprinkle some Love Boat on top. Voila! Upside-down 70s cheesiness for all. DO NOT bother with the re-make from a couple years ago, watch the real thing, it's so worth it.

Finally, the last movie I remember from my early childhood is "Camelot". I saw it while we were on vacation somewhere in the woods at some people's house. I know that sounds horrible, I wish I had a steel-trap memory like some people I know, but c'est la vie, this is me. What I remember about that house is that they had a pot-bellied stove (cool!) and an annoying little girl (boo!). And I watched Camelot on tv there and loved it. I didn't see it again until I was in my late teens. It's hard for me to describe how I felt when I saw Richard Harris loping around the woods with his eye-shadow acting as if he was supposed to be naive and teenaged when he most clearly was not. I had not had much exposure to the theatre so it took me a while to take him seriously. Once I got over myself, I loved it. My mom had the LP soundtrack, so I had listened to that all my life. I'm afraid the whole prancing eye-shadow incident did make me put Richard lower on my list of favorite British Shakespearean trained act-tors (1. Peter O'Toole, 2. Richard Burton, 3. Richard Harris, and for good measure David Bowie. Shut up, it's my list and if I want David Bowie on it, he can be on it).

So what's all this mean? How have these movies imprinted me? Other than the permanent sense of impending doom when near fireplaces and bodies of water, and the uncontrollable fear of best friends and mice stealing my boyfriend while singing, I think I'm doing pretty well, thanks!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Center Street Cemetery, Wallingford, CT

Last August I was fortunate enough to have a chance to visit Wallingford Connecticut. It's a small town not far outside of New Haven Connecticut. Ancestors of mine (plus others) that lived in New Haven ventured out a little North-ish and founded Wallingford near the Qunnipiac River. The name Wallingford came from a town of the same name in England. The town was incorporated in 1670 and the Center Street Cemetery was established in 1683.

I read some newspaper articles just now (first one, second one) that later in the same month that I was there some vandals toppled and broke some stones as old as 200 years old. The town believes they have successfully repaired them though, and celebrated the 325 year-annivesary of the cemetery by dressing up as famous people who are interred there. I wish I could have seen that!

My direct ancestors who were part of the founding of Wallingford were Daniel and Ruth (Rockwell) Mix. Unfortunately I couldn't locate their headstones in the cemetery - some of the really old one's are long gone or completely illegible. I was also shaking my fist at the beautiful blue sky and sun we had that day because it was in the exact wrong place for my photos of gravestones to show up nicely. Oh well!!! Such is life.

There was a handy-dandy listing of the oldest or most famous people who were buried there:

I kind of like the style of the older grave markers you see. You'd see hearts and skulls and winged moons(?) suns(?) and sometimes foreboding quotes at the bottom like: "Prepare for Death & Follow Me".


Here's a couple pics to give you the flavor:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

No Spa for Leah

One of my favorite things to do is get deep tissue massages. Since I have horrendous computer posture, it's been a saving grace to keep me feeling both 15 on the inside and outside. I hadn't gotten a massage since the "spa-incident" of last october where I suddenly decided it would be a great idea to have acid poured on my skin in a controlled manner by a spa technician. For a more detailed explanation of that fabulous idea, refer back to posts from last october and november.

So I was kind of spa-shy for a few months, plus christmas was busy and all that. I decided, hey, it's january and cold and nasty, let's have a nice little treat of a massage. I called my place up, made an appointment and eagerly awaited it. Wednesday night I went, it was fabulous. I don't usually have back problems, I tend to keep all my tension/anger/rage-against-the-machine in my neck and shoulders, so I noticed that when the massage person worked on my lower back it felt like she was working something out - it was a tiny bit tender.

No big deal right? I felt great that night, felt great again the next morning. That is, until I was getting dressed and something happened. Something bad. I don't know if any of you watch Spongebob Squarepants (yeah, so I like spongebob, got a problem with that?), but there's this one episode where his little starfish friend Patrick jumps in the water after eating and it shows the muscle in each butt cheek stick out and spin into a knot. Absolutely hi-lar-i-ous. Or maybe because I was drinking and watching...but either way, that is the exact feeling I felt happen in my lower back muscle. It felt weird. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, hey, that doesn't feel right. Within minutes, my lower back had entirely seized up, I couldn't bend, I could barely walk, I couldn't sit, I was trapped in a standing position for the rest of my life. I stood there, thinking it was a bad time to discover just how much stuff I stored on the floor, because I was never going to get to any of it ever again. I hobbled to my computer and stood in front of it, typing an email to work that I was going to be late.

Now, it's not that I don't know pain. I've had migraines for most of my life, and learned the tricks of compartmentalizing pain so that you can still function. But this was different, I was walking around like an 80-year-old with arthritis. It's been a few days, and I can feel it working itself out, but man oh man, lower back spasms are NO JOKE.

Then to put insult on top of injury, I decide (despite being the person that yells at others for doing this) to accept prescription ibuprofen pills from someone else to help me out with this. Don't worry, I've learned my lesson. On top of all this, the hobbling and limping and doing plie's just to pick up cat toys, I got an adverse reaction to the pills. Last night, all over itchy red dematitis. Itchy enough to make you want to go mad, like mad-hatter-mad, like the kind where you know how bad it is to scratch but you can't help yourself and you do and then it gets ever more red and inflamed and itchy, and you start to think, have I entered some kind of 2nd ring of hell, am I actually dead at this point and paying for all my sins? I'm so sorry for being an angry driver, I'll stop, I'll stop, I PROMISE!!!!!

I still have left-over bumps and red marks today. It was even bad enough where I did consider the emergency room because I could feel that the tissue inside my mouth was swollen and itchy, and then my esophagus as well. So naturally I had visions of anaphylactic shock and murder-death-kill going through my brain.

All because I wanted a massage!!!!

On a nice note, I got catered to all day today thanks to my inability to actually stand up straight. Of course, everyone at work who had to live through my chemically peeled face last fall is asking me if I'll ever go back to that salon. Honestly, I don't see why not, it's not their fault I seem to be excessively vigorous when getting dressed and undressed. (See another previous post on how rough I am on myself when getting undressed, I really ought to look into all this and see what it really means.)

Moral of the story? It's okay to get dressed and undressed in a calm and reasonable manner. And probably do some stretches before-hand to get ready.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Devil in My Angel

So yeah, the new cat Angel's been at home with me for about a month now. He is a great cat, very loving. Loving to chase NooNoo that is. Not that she isn't an instigator or anything. Plus, he is young and full of energy and hated that I went back to work, so when I get home I have to play play play with him. If I stop before he's ready, he nips at my ankles!!!! Not meanly, just letting me know he still wants to play. Naturally I have been trying to teach him that this is not behavior that we will tolerate in this house mister. How has that been going?

Well let me tell you.

With poor Patches, my cat that passed away in November, literally, in a conversational tone of voice, you could say, "No Patches" and she would stop whatever she was doing or about to do!!! NooNoo of course is too slick to get caught doing anything. She's like a ghost or ninja. You have a feeling she was just there but there's nothing but a puff of smoke and a faint meow fading into the breeze.

With Angel sounds more like this:

No Angel, I said NO, I SAID NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's not that I like running around my house with squirt bottles screaming like a banshee out of old Irish legends, it's just that that seems to be what he understands. I'm thinking I should get one of the 911 alert things and wear it around my neck because one of these days I'm either going over the balcony or down the stairs. I have a habit of going down the stairs, and that's not in the normal upright human way... I've actually had to throw out pairs of socks because it seemed that they caused the bottom of my feet to equal the slipperness of freshly waxed hotel lobby floors when walked on with high heels...

So tell me the it because he's a boy cat? I'm thinking that's pretty much the reason. So this proves it is in fact genetic, all that behavior, the not listening, the defiant bad behavior, the abject apologies and purring afterwards that just lead to more not listening as if nothing ever happened because nothing is ever actually remembered.

Tell me again why I didn't pick out an older cat????

Oh yeah, cause look at him, isn't he so sweet? :-)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Four Generations

There's a few pictures like this floating around in my family. The women on my mom's side of the family tend to live FOREVER, so there was a great-grandma around to take these pictures with. This picture below was taken sometime between August 7-9, 1973.

Starting on the left is my mom, wearing a lovely lavender checked frock. Actually I do like it. Notice how tan she is - we all still lived in Miami at this point. In the middle, holding me, is my grandma, Ann Mix Domelle (mentioned in the previous post), and next to her is her mom, Cornelia Akins Mix Simpson. I knew her as "Grandma Simpson". She is the "Nelia" I mentioned in the previous post, the one with a million kids. She did divorce William Mix, my grandma's father and married a Leon Simpson.

I'm in the middle staring at the dog rather than the camera.

Grandma Simpson lived up in the Finger Lakes region of New York, that's where this picture was taken. We all think she was part gypsy because no one moved as much as she did. Now that I think about it, maybe she was running from the law. Or maybe she was in the witness protection program. Or a spy.

Probably the answer is that she lived through the Depression with a million kids and moved from place to place, depending on who would let her stay on their land (in a trailor), or who had a house for her to rent. Some of the kids would have already been out of the house (probably the eldest two brothers, my grandma was the youngest). She married Leon Simpson in 1935, so hopefully things improved for her after that.

Why did she get divorced from William Mix back at a time when divorce was so much more shocking? I'm not allowed to say, my grandmother would kill me. :-) Let's just say irreconcilable differences. But rest assured there was no murder or kidnapping or anything like that. Just people not getting along.

I have one sibling. I cannot even imagine having 9 siblings running around with an age range of 22 years. I guess you would get used to not being the center of attention? And you would be pretty good at wolfing down your food to get seconds before it was all gone, huh? And you could sleep through noise really good too I imagine.

Grandma Simpson's maiden name was "Akins". I've had a pretty tough time researching that name. It comes up as Akins, Akens, Aikens, and Aikins.

I know that Cornelia's grandparents were John and Deborah Akins, who in 1850 had a farm in Ithaca, New York. There were 7 kids running around (in 1850 at least). Beyond that, I have no clue, it's been a wall. According to the 1850 census, John was born in NY, but the census's older than 1850 only list the head of the household's name. Gee thanks stupid census people, I guess the only important person was the head of the household? How do you expect me to figure out where John was if he's only a checkmark under the "child aged 10-15" column? Stupid census people.

And don't even get me started on the government letting the 1890 census burn up in a fire. Oh, the humanity!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ann Mix Domelle

I just got a scanner finally at home, so am very excited to begin scanning old pictures. In the meantime, I got to thinking about pictures of family that I have, and below is one of my favorite pictures of my grandmother (my mom's mom). There is one other that I love, but we'll save that for another day.

I don't know where this was taken, but it is labelled 1960. That would make Ann a few years older than me in this picture and I think she looks just beautiful. As a little girl I always vaguely associated my grandma with Elizabeth Taylor because she also had short dark hair, and whenever we went somewhere, the first stop was in the bathroom to put on red, red lipstick.

Ann Mix was born back in the 20s in New York, in the Finger Lakes area. She talks about that landscape, the rolling hills and farms with a wistfulness. She did not have an easy childhood, she grew up during the depression, and survived going without during the 30s and the 40s during the second World War. Those of us born after that I don't think will ever understand what it is to go without. We have everything we want at our fingertips, at the 24-hour convenience store, at the 24-hour grocery store and Wal-Mart. We (I do, I admit it), get annoyed if exactly what we want is not available. I am wasteful. My grandma still cleans and re-uses ziploc bags. There is nothing wrong with doing that, it comes from the Depression when you used what you had as long as you could.

She speaks of seeing her mother cooking, cooking, cooking. We even took a trip once, a bunch of family, to New York, to track down all the places they lived up there. We found the little old farmhouse where my grandma remembers being a child. We stood in the ramshackle kitchen filled with debris, and she pointed to the corner and said "That's where my mother made pancakes." In the other corner was where she remembered the wooden table and chairs they all sat at. She said, "My father would say to my mother, 'Nelia, can't you control these kids?'". Her mother's name was Cornelia. My grandmother had 7 brothers and 2 sisters (twins). Yikes!

There are lots of little tidbits I could tell you, some good like those above, some not so good. I don't want to say the not-so-good one's in print out of respect for my grandma. She would regret telling me then because she comes from a time when things were not so open as they are now. We regurgitate our entire lives and psyche out into the ether for everyone to see (and comment on). It used to be done in whispers, out of earshot of the children.

My grandmother gave me some of my best memories. She used to wash my hair and comb it out so gently. No one ever combed my hair like my grandma. She called the knots in my long hair "gnarls". She is the first person that explained what the word "buttocks" meant to me. I was about 6 or 7 years old, and we were laying up in the bed in the spare room. It was a summer night, and the windows were open, and the curtains were blowing just a little. The bed was up against the window to get the breeze. And then she told me. I must have laughed for a good 5 minutes, I couldn't believe what a dumb sounding word that was. She laughed right along with me, belly laughs in the dark. I think of that now when I see my mother laughing with her grand-children.

My grandma used to bring me chocolate kisses without me asking! Wow! Mom never did that! :-D Also, in the summer, I guess she must have hated leftovers, because when it was later in the evening and time for ice cream, she would just divide up the whole rectagular package of ice cream between us all! I wonder where my sugar addiction came from! :-)

I can also credit her with my ability to walk softly as a cat. She lives in a twin, and never liked the idea of the neighbors hearing you stomp around. She actually got all of us, whenever we were there, to walk quietly. To this day, I can give my father a heart-attack at any time I deem necessary. Of course, maybe he should stop sitting with his back to the door....pad, pad, pad, WHATAREYOUDOINGDAD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

My grandma used to feed all us kids off of pink depression-ware plates. Can you believe that? I loved those plates so much. They were "American Sweetheart", I looked it up. I have a sugar bowl in my kitchen. It doesn't match a thing in the house, because it's pink, and glass, but I love that sugar bowl because it represents my grandmother.

My grandmother is very old now, she doesn't remember things so well, it is the hearkbreak of old age that some people start to lose little bits of their lives. But I remember, I will always remember. She did not, has not had an easy life, but that never stopped her from showering love all over me. I was drenched in it all my childhood. And I appreciate it and love her so much for it!!!

Call your grandma today!!! She'll be so happy to hear from you!


Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up"

My genealogy vacation is almost over, tomorrow I have to go back to work and the real world. I've done pretty much all I can do online with the Redcay/Ferro families, to make progress it's going to take a visit to local historical societies now. That can wait until spring so that walks around cemeteries won't be freezing cold.

Once I figure out a way to make $500,000 a year by doing genealogy research for a living, I'll make the career switch for real. Until then though, I need the real job still! Dumb old real job....

Anyway, one of the most fun things to do if you like doing genealogy is to inflate your sense of grandeur by finding famous people you are related to. Some of the one's I've found for me are Lucille Ball, President Grant, and Queen Mary of Scotland (the one who had her head chopped off in a particularly unpleasant way by Queen Elizabeth). Again, I laugh at the people who say they yearn to live back in simpler times. Oh yeah? Either you were poor and constantly at risk of having your landlord put you out or torture you or whatever, or you were rich and constantly at risk of having your head chopped off by peeved kings or queens. Frankly, I'd prefer to be living in the future when we'll have time machines and food pellets that actually taste good. Then I can visit the past, but not stay. I'd just love to see if it was as smelly, louse-infected and yellow-tooth filled as I believe, or am I just a bit too imaginative.

But back to the grandiose feeling of being related to famous people. There are also the people who love saying they are related to royalty. That's why there was a big genealogy craze back in the late 1800s, early 1900s. It suddenly got real popular for the upper-crust in New England to say they were related to royalty back in the old world. Some shady people made lots of money making up fake lineages attaching to royalty just to make people happy. Several years ago I was researching one of my lines, and traced it back to England/Scotland and actually did find a royal connection. But I wouldn't let myself believe it until I had verified it six ways to sunday. Whatever that phrase means. But I made double-sure before I told anyone.

As I've been doing my brother-in-laws family, I've been hoping to present him with something cool, some famous person, but I don't have them going back far enough to really do that yet.

Until last week. I found a famous person. Turns out my brother-in-law is 5th cousins with.........


Yes, that Eminem, the only Eminem. How funny is that? They have a common ancestor in a Jacob Heffley, born on March 27, 1833 in Lebanon County, PA. At some point he moved out to Minnesota and through various descendants and states, voila, we have Marshall Bruce Mathers, III. I've read a few quotes from Eminem, and he says he's never met his father (and apparently doesn't care to). I thought that was sad. Also, it probably means he wouldn't care to be contacted by long-lost relatives, huh?

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