Those damn cats… and some family history

We decided to give our kitties a wee taste of freedom and adventure today. While sitting out on our front porch — Becky typing away on her iBook, me studying for the bar — we deliberately left about a slight opening in the sliding door, just wide enough for a cat to slip through.

Butter, perhaps having heard horror stories about the dangers that curiosity poses for her species, stayed safely ensconced inside the apartment. But both Sasha and Toby ventured out into the great unknown:

We kept a close eye on them, of course, and didn’t let them stray too far from the porch. Toby seemed right at home, which isn’t surprising, considering she spent a good deal of time outside during her kittenhood: in the yard, garden and driveway at Becky’s parents’ old house in Buffalo, across the street in Bassett Park, and even at more exotic, faraway locales like Mount Rainier and the Oregon Sand Dunes. Anyway, today she happily took advantage of the opportunity to use concrete to scratch an itch, and then went merrily exploring in the nearby bushes.

Sasha, on the other hand, has been an almost-exclusively indoor cat for her entire life, so she was a bit more skittish, wandering no more than a few feet from the fence (as the top picture suggests) and quickly scampering back when she got too spooked. Indeed, she ran back inside the house after maybe 10 or 15 minutes, having apparently had enough of the great outdoors. (At this point, Toby was still wandering through the shrubbery.) But of course, in stereotypical cat fashion, she decided she wanted to come back outside as soon as we shut the door. I couldn’t resist videotaping her adorable efforts to paw through the glass:


* * * * *

In light of our baby news, this post reminds me of a classic Loomer-Loy family story — one of my all-time favorites, actually.

Before my parents had me, they had two cats: Shirin and The Pooka. And of course, as “cat people” are wont to do, they would constantly regale their friends and relatives with tales of all the amusing things their cats were doing. (Sound familiar?)

Then, in 1981, they got pregnant with their first (and, as it turned out, only) child. They had been married for almost four years when they sat my dad’s parents down and gave them the big, long-awaited news: a baby was on the way! Naturally, Papa and Nana Loy were excited and thrilled. But after the initial expressions of joy and congratulations, Nana — a.k.a. Helen McNamara Loy, she of the famously sharp tongue and acerbic Irish wit — muttered out of the side of her mouth, “Thank God, now we can stop hearing so much about those G**-damn cats.”

I wonder if, up in Heaven right now, she’s saying the same thing about me and Becky. I’d be a little disappointed if she wasn’t, actually. :)

* * * * *

Speaking of Nana Loy, it so happens that my mom just sent us a photo album — it arrived in the mail today — with a bunch of great pictures of me and Nana. She died when I was very young, so I don’t really remember her. But I was her only grandchild, and I’m told I was the great joy of the waning years of her life. You can tell that from the pictures, actually. Here’s one of me on Nana’s lap:

I mentioned before that Nana was Irish. She was, in fact, 100% Irish, and is the source of all my Irish blood (that I know of). She wasn’t fresh off the boat, though: her family had been in this country for quite a few generations, since at least the era of the Great Famine, if not before, from what we understand. But anyway, you can credit (or blame) the McNamaras for my red hair — which, as you can see, hasn’t really changed color, or style, since I was a toddler — and my total inability to get a tan. :)

Nana was prominent in Connecticut political circles. Indeed, occasionally somebody from Connecticut will recognize my name and figure out that I’m Helen Loy’s grandson. I bet this post will get a few Google hits from folks who remember her. Among her many endeavors, she won the Republican nomination for Secretary of the State in 1962 (losing the general election to incumbent Ella Grasso, who would go on to become the first female governor in the U.S. who was not the wife or widow of a former governor).

Through the magic of Google News Archives, you can read excerpts of some Hartford Courant articles from the 1950s and 1960s that mention her — just search for “Helen McNamara Loy.” (You can find a few others if you search for just “Helen Loy,” without the “McNamara.” She normally went by just “Helen Loy,” but she included the “McNamara” on the ballot because she wanted the Irish vote!! Heh. The European ethnic communities in Hartford used to be very important voting blocs.)

Even cooler, from 1945, Papa and Nana’s wedding announcement! Man, Google rocks.

Anyway, here’s a photo of me with both my parents and all four of my grandparents — from left, Papa and Nana Loy and Grandma and Grandpa Loomer:

Hard to believe we’ll soon be a full generation removed from that photo! In less than seven months, we’ll be able to take another picture like that, with me and Becky in the foreground holding our baby, and Papa Loy, Nana Loomer, Dziadzia Zak and Babçia Zak lined up behind us. What a life!

And to think, this started out as a post about cats. :)

9 Responses to “Those damn cats… and some family history”

  1. gahrie says:

    Well…ya gotta give Sasha credit for determination……..

  2. Leanna says:

    Thanks for the memories!


  3. Joe Loy says:

    Yeah, gahrie :). “Mrrowwr. I will just keep Scratching at this magic wall until it Goes away.” :>

    Brendan, thanks indeed. Great post.

    Though unlike your parents when we constantly regaled our friends and relatives with Our cat-tales :], you neglected to Mention that Shirin & her daughter The Pooka Furball MacPhellimey ;} were purebred Himalayans. Veddy chic, don’t you know :>. (Which Cat-Fancy snobbery, I would Bet, probably moved your Nana Loy to remark in private to Papa something to the effect that “Christonnacrutch, those kids think those damn cats’ sh*t doesn’t stink.” :)

    Yes, you were the apple of Nana’s eye, all right. / In the maternity wing they told her she was most welcome to View you through the window of the infant nursery. To Hell with that crap, replied Herself, demanding that you be brought, immediately & off-schedule, to Mom’s room where Nana could properly Cuddle & Coo you. “But Mrs. Loy, it’s against the Rules.” “Oh, Bullsh*t.” They Brought you. :)

    “She normally went by just ‘Helen Loy,’ but she included the ‘McNamara’ on the ballot because she wanted the Irish vote!!”

    Actually it wasn’t her idea, it was the “brain”child of the bigshot Republican “strategists” :), who insisted that the hibernian maidenname be included on all the party Pamphlets & Potholders. (Political Potholders were a Big Thing in that campaign. :) My Mom went along with it, but I think she snickered up her sleeve at such foolishness. She knew, you see, that in those Party Lever days of predominantly Straight Ticket voting, & with the Dem slate being Led by incumbent Governor John Noel Dempsey & hadn’t Himself been Born, Bred & Buttered in th’ fair County Tipperary & with still the hint of th’ ould lilting brogue for to Prove it, any Connecticut Repooblichan ;> had all the chances of an Orangeman in Rebel Cork as far as the Irish vote was concerned :).

  4. Lisa says:

    On a sidenote, something in your post reminded me of something I’ve been curious about lately. I noticed in the quote from your grandma that you wrote it as “G**-damn.” Why is it that in that word, we bleep out “God” and not “damn?” Isn’t “damn” the actual “swearing” part of that hyphenate? I noticed the same thing when I would hear the Fall Out Boy song “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race.” The radio would bleep out “God” and not “damn.” In my opinion, “damn” is a swear word, while “God” is not. Of course, saying “G*d-d*mn” would violate the whole commandment against taking the Lord’s name in vain, but it just seems odd to me that that’s how we edit it. Anyone else have any thoughts/insights as to why we do this?

  5. Joe Loy says:

    I know! I know! Call on Mee! :) I know becuz I Seen it on The History Channel :>. The Commandment against Taking the Lord’s Name in vain IS the origin of taboos against “swearing”. I.e., the Swearing of a False Oath: “By God, I will pay you back your loan Tomorrow.” Taking the holy Name in vain, see? Calling upon the Lord to be Witness to a Lie. VERY big sin.

    THC also Linked this up with (I forget how, exactly ~ Etymologically, I think) to the notion of the Sacred versus the Profane ~ the Profane having been originally, and Neutrally, everything taking place Outside the precincts of The Temple. IOW, not necessarily the Bad, but simply the Secular. But over time the concept of things Profane acquired the connotation of the Unholy, or perhaps more precisely, Antiholy: e.g., “Profanity”.

    I’d guess that when we Bleep out, or at least craftily Amend, the Holy Name when Swearing our mighty Oaths & Imprecating our vile Curses, we Neuter them theologically. They become Impolite but not eternally Damnable. ;>

    Boy do I love The History Channel :)

    (Commentposter removes Hat from over Mouth and slinks away, smirking with selfsatisfaction :)

  6. gahrie says:

    You should see the looks on some of my students when I explain the concept of damnation, and what the literal meaning of God damn is.

    I tell them you are asking God to sentence the offender to eternal damnation. The more religious ones really freak about this…..

  7. Leanna says:

    Leanna says:
    My understanding as to why the name of G*d is blocked out (and this is Jewish tradition) is not because it’s a profanity but because it shouldn’t be written down or even spoken in its entirety. Because, well, it’s G*d. Traditional Jews don’t even say the full name G*d gave him/herself in the Old Testament.

    That’s why I use asterisks. Others I don’t know about, but that’s at least one reason why it’s done.

  8. Rebecca Loy says:

    Dude, Joe looks like the unibomber.

  9. Brendan Loy says:

    That’s unabomber to you. :)

    But Dad has evolved since the early ’80s. Now he looks like Saddam Hussein. ;)