Friday, January 28, 2011


Hi. Just wanted to say hi.

I let that mom off the hook and cancelled our playdate. Good God, I hate that term. Anyway, best all around. We are demoted from friends to acquaintances. And that's fine. It happens.

In good news, there are some deer just hanging out on the top of the hill behind my house and that makes me very happy. Very. I only see them infrequently, but not today.

And, of course, I've begun the magical thinking. A sign? What do you call it? An omen? I always think of Damien, but not that kind. A good omen.

Alright. Phone calls to make and then lunch to make. Have a good weekend. We're going to our friends' house in Pennsylvania tomorrow for a birthday party and then a sleepover. And yes, my daughter will most likely cry when we leave, but it'll be ok, still worth it. In the end, we get to see our friends, our good friends. And even I may cry when we leave, but s'OK. They're friends. True friends. And that means everything.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Something Suddenly Came Up

So, I just got a call from another mom, who I had counted as an ally in the whole "these people suck" campaign I've been mounting. (Keep that fact in mind while I tell you the rest of this.)

She did a few things in this phone call. First of all, she was calling, I thought, to confirm our lunch playdate with our kids at my house tomorrow. Uh, she was not. Well, maybe in an indirect way she was. She was calling to tell me 1. she had a cold and was I ok with her germs? (yea, that's fine, as long as it's not your daughter, I guess.) and then 2. would I rather go to this place called Jumperific or some shit with her friend Blah-blah instead? It's great, because, with her cold and all, she wouldn't have to run around after her daughter and the kids are easily entertained! Plus, she hasn't seen her friend Blah-blah in ages. (Uhhh. *thinking I haven't seen you in ages either, but... ok* Well, to be honest, I don't like those kinds of places because they're the first thing I'd do, actually, if I wanted to give my child a horrific stomach virus. First thing. Let's go to a place where hundreds and hundreds of potentially sick kids have been where they are all touching things and then putting their hands in their mouths and then getting way over stimulated and where the places are never ever fully cleaned by the minimum-wage teenagers running the place!)

So in the end she hedged and said, "Yea, well... yea, let's do lunch then! I'll come over! It'll be great!" You know what? Fuck you. Yea, I may be an anti-social ahole, but come on. I think tomorrow I'll call her in the morning and tell her that I changed my mind about her cold germs. This way everyone wins. She gets to go to Jumperific or whatever to meet Blah-blah and I get to be by myself. Win-win.

Whatever happened in that Marsha/prom episode of the Brady Bunch, anyway? I cannot for the life of me remember. Did the guy tell her to fuck off? Or did she gracefully change her mind and go on the pity date? Did he still tell her to fuck off, though? Seriously. He completely should have. I need to know what the loser guy did so I can do the same.

To quote my facebook "friend" who my husband loves because her posts are hilars and, coincidentally, the former cartoon Cathy, "Arrrrrrgggghhhhhh."

Update: OK, so I was outside shoveling a poop run for my dog (complete with privacy cul-de-sac) and I couldn't stop thinking about this. Am I the asshole? Or is she? Are we both assholes? I just can't tell anymore. Granted, I'm not fun to be around, but still... lame. OK then. As you were.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This is rad. Or, I love Google searches. I just love the Interwebs, really.

This is rad. I love every single thing about that write-up. Also check out the Go-go bar link on the left side of the webpage.

Luyster house is House A in my previous post. It is a 1718 Dutch colonial house, now a private residence, that was moved from land that AT&T purchased to build a big complex which may be shutting down. The AT&T site is in the upper left hand of this picture (also from the previous post).

Again, I love every single thing about that psychic write-up, testimonial, whatever. Every single thing. Also? I'm kind of loving every single thing about this Phebe project. Makes living in Middletown somewhat bearable. So much more research to do this spring. So much to find out! Yay!

"Tomorrow! Tomorrow! The sun will come out... tomorrow!... Just thinkin' about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow 'til there's none. When I'm stuck in a day that's gray, and lonely, I just stick out my chin, and grin and say, oh!!!!! The sun'll come out tomorrow so ya gotta hang on 'til tomorrow, come what may! Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow! You're always a day away!!!"

All together now! (OMG, was Annie depressing, or what? Favorite musical ever.)

Oh and I'm totally coming up with lots of wildly fantastical plans involving a walk to the Beekman House site with the psychic and a ladder and possibly a shovel. What if we found John Ruckman's unmarked grave? Holy crap! What if I found a relic of Phebe's? I could wear it around my neck as a talisman. Unless it was huge. Hmmm. Working it out in my head. This is fun. Again, yay!

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Dear Old Homestead," a Poem by Eleanor Crawford Beekman

So, the poem (mentioned at the end of this post). It's lovely and sweet and I want to memorize it. And incorporate it into my being. But somehow, I don't think that's going to happen. Maybe I'll get lucky and come across a portrait of Ms. Beekman. Now wouldn't that be something?

Without further ado:

My childhood's home in Middletown -- there's magic in the name;
For a lover of its quiet haunts in childhood I became.
While yet a child, a little child, I knew each hill and dell
That lay around the homestead old, the place I loved so well.

The old Homestead! the old Homestead; how dear it is to me,
The white old house, its ample walls, in fancy I shall see;
For every flower, and shrub, and tree, I love them more and more,
From the old locusts in the yard to the rose bush by the door.

The wide green lawn where oft I've played will be remembered too,
With the grand old oaks and green top pines that there together grew,
Where oft with joy and great delight which to the young belong,
I've seen the robin build her next, and heard her morning song.

Here, too, beneath the shady trees, I've sunk upon the grass
To see the beauteous butterflies that near my brow would pass,
Or the humming birds, a tiny tribe, with plumage gay and bright,
As they darted on from flower to flower, in the soft sunbeam's light.

Here, too, upon my pillow, oft I've watched the starlit sky,
Then slept, soft winds among the trees singing my lullaby.
Dreaming of things, sometimes in fear, sometimes in visions strange,
Sometimes of joy, of scenes enjoyed in many a noonday range.

The hill, the hill behind the house, will live in memory's flow,
The limpid spring--the cool and shady grove that lies below,
With winding path beside the brook a most delightful walk,
There oft in childhood I have gone for play and sportive talk.

The dear old Homestead! with the view of waters too, the bay
With vessels slowly dropping down the broad sea's great highway,
Their spreading canvas mirrored bright upon the glassy deep
Whose waters seem to slumber beneath my very feet.

These are but part of countless things that with my heart strings play
As I think of the old Homestead, where my childhood passed away,
I'll ne'er forget the distant hills, with woods on either side
Where moss and flowers I've gathered when wandering far and wide.

'Twas there in early spring-time I've often gone to see
The earliest flowers of the year the dearest things to me;
And there when autumn days came on I've wandered farther still,
To find the crimson cardinal that bloomed beside the rill.

These only are a few bright things my heart will sacred hold
For of all the joys of childhood the half can ne'er be told.
The ramble off for luscious grapes down in the meadow green
With many walks in orchards with their fruit of golden sheen.

The laugh that made the wild-wood ring, when 'neath the chestnut tree
The shaken branches showered down a store of nuts for me.
The old Homestead! the old Homestead, shall be forgotten never
Though the ocean from well-loved scenes my weeping eyes may sever.

From spicy isles, from orange groves, my heart for home will sigh,
For there's no spot like it for me, beneath the wide blue sky.
Though I should dwell in marble halls, with spacious gilded dome,
The place of family and friends, a most delightful home.

When weary of unceasing pomp, and joys that bloom to die,
I'll long to breathe its purer air and see its bluer sky;
With budding trees, and singing birds, and lovely fields of green--
The old Homestead! the old Homestead, will be earth's dearest scene.

Middletown Village, April, 1855

My favorite part is about the boats (7th stanza) "Their spreading canvas mirrored bright upon the glassy deep; Whose waters seem to slumber beneath my very feet." Oh and also the last line "The old Homestead! the old Homestead, will be earth's dearest scene." Oh and also I love locust trees.

I love the freedom of her childhood. Do all children who grow up on acres have this freedom? Even still? Or is that gone? Everything's so fenced in, but then, I've never grown up on acres. We did used to have the freedom of the neighborhood, though. Just went out the door in the morning, came back at night after having played with friends all day. Exploring, riding bikes, being free.

I can't imagine not knowing where my kids are. I also know that around here, you can't ride bikes too easily. I want for my children that freedom and I guess I just have to get them out more. In the spring. More hikes in Tatum Park. More hikes everywhere. More days outdoors. And more deep breaths when they are out of my sight. Maybe they'll stumble on some "humming birds" and see some of the beauty Eleanor, or Leila, saw.

(Image at top of the post is of a locust tree, from this website.)

A Couple of Maps. Or God Bless Satellites.

So, above is a map of my area. Phebe's area. Alright. So her house was situated at A (give or take 100 feet) in the above map on a hill. It's not a super high hill. Anyway, they were talking about all the views and honestly, I don't see how it's possible. Even to see the bay. According to Ms. Beekman's poem, though, they could see just that, even to be able to spot the boats coming in. Hey! I know! I need a topographical map with elevations!

Above is a closer look with the house closest to where the Beekman House was as the reference point A. No one built at the exact point where the original house and then its replacement following the fire of 1891 were. I think it was slightly up and to the left from house A.

I'm thinking of reverse looking up the phone number from the address of house A and calling and asking to just go for a walk in the woods there. That would be nice. But it would require me to be brave enough to call a stranger and ask a weird question. Oh and Hen would have to be in school. Lots of things would have to happen, let's just say. On the long term agenda, I suppose.

The house I just referred to is very very interesting, too. It was from Phebe's time period and survived. It was a Dutch house and was moved from about a mile away and it's gorgeous but small from the outside. It actually appears to be a lot like the Holmes-Hendrickson House and I think it's from the same time period. I'd love to see inside it, but I don't want to freak the people out even more, so let's put that way down on the agenda.

I would love a chance to find out in person if you can see the bay and the ships, but that would involve somehow getting a ladder or something to go 30 feet up in a tree and even before that getting permission to bring said ladder on their property. There are numerous no trespassing signs at the entrance to the property. Numerous.

In a book on the history of Middletown by Randall Gabrielan, though, there's a picture of house A at such an angle that you can see where the old driveway to the Beekman House was. And driving past today, I saw the old driveway! Oh, if only I was a braver person.

A new year's resolution, I suppose. Walk up Ruckman Hill to the site of the old Beekman House. With my camera. In the spring. OK, then. I'm doing it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Update: Some New Information!

: Holy gah, but I found a lithograph from 1878 in Google Images. I... I... don't know what to say. God, I loves the interwebs, is one thing to say, though. Here is the house this whole post is about, the Beekman House (on the upper left corner of this print, which I'm totally buying for $45. Holla!).

Hi! I went to the library today and, seriously, within 20 minutes I found out more, very important information about the Taylors. Holy crap, this research project is just sitting there, waiting on me, and I'm either too sick or too saddled with children (no disrespect to my children, but good gah, they're time sucks) to really delve into it the way I would've in my twenties.

In my twenties I was in chemistry grad school (from age 23 to 28 about) and I researched the crap out of things. Mostly in the library and mostly having to do with the history of my actual project. These things didn't really please my professor, who wanted new research being done on the cutting edge of my topic, but it pleased me immensely. Anyway, I could spend days tracking down footnotes, reading experimentals, trying my goddamndedst (sp?) to understand kinetic isotope studies. These things will become useful again, I'm thinking, in this history project but as of yet I don't have the hours and hours of free time to really focus. Seriously, I think I was the only person at the whole institution who was upset that the library closed at 9 pm on Friday nights.

OK, without further ado, some notes taken from a great piece I found at the library: "Two Old Historical Houses in the Village of Middletown Monmouth County, New Jersey" compiled by E. C. M. VanBrunt and read before the Monmouth Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on January 19th, 1907. (Holy shit on that last bit of info, that was yesterday!) I still haven't dissected all of it (there are a lot of references to books and articles within the speech and it is kind of confusing), but I'll give you the relevant bits. Certain things I found very interesting!

Oh and I'm going to transcribe it directly, as it's written. Confusing quotation marks and all. It's long and for that I apologize. I'm just excited. I haven't been able to find anything in ages.

Here we go, from C. M. VanBrunt:

We will now turn to the more cheerful grand old Colonial Crawford Beekman mansion, the boyhood home of Commodore Bainbridge [Phebe Taylor's grandson! - blogger's note], of Revolutionary fame. One record gives the following beautiful description of the Beekman homestead, and while the dates were wrong, and it may be a trifle overdrawn, it is mostly true. This article was written about 1878:

"One of the first objects which meet the eye upon entering New York harbor from the sea is the Beekman house. This landmark of Revolutionary memory (a sketch of which accompanies this description [squeeee! if I could ever see this- again, blogger's note-OMG! Look above!]) still stands, though remodelled and enlarged. It is located upon the hill at the western extremity of Middletown village, overloooking the bay. From its spacious piazza, a panorama of rural and picturesque beauty lies before you; to the west, the rugged heights of Staten Island are in view; to the north, the glittering spires of New York; to the east, the long and low beach of Long Island;" (all this can only be seen when the atmosphere is very clear) "then beneath you, the pleasing rural view of Bay shore, dotted with thrifty farms and substantial farm houses, and interspersed with woodland and meadow. Then the bay with its steamers and sailing craft, passing and repassing, give animation to the scene.

"The traditions of this old mansion are interesting. This place was settled in the year 1668 by one John Ruckman, of whom but little is known further than the dim tradition that he was a famous hunter and possessed great influence with the Indians, and at his death was buried at the foot of the hill" (afterwards called Ruckman's Hill) "near Chocondor Spring."

In an article entitled "The first Grist Mill in Monmouth County," written by ex-judge George Crawford Beekman, is found the following; "On page No. 1 of the old Town Book of Middletown is a record of the first division of home lots as called on the thirtieth day of December 1667. These lots are numbered from the west end, on the south side" (supposedly of the present highway), "to the east end of the town. These lots were assigned as follows: John Ruckman, lot No. 1." Then follow the other names. This lot, long years after, unquestionably comprised the site known as Ruckman Hill, and the location of the "Colonial Mansion" in later years. The home of Ruckman was perhaps only another rude log hut. Records do not state.

"From the Ruckmans the property passed into the hands of the Taylors. In 1745 John Taylor, at one time Sheriff of Monmouth County (appointed under the crown of England in 1751), built a mansion, often called "Taylor's Folly." a portion of which forms a part of the present structure" (this account being printed in 1878, previous to the fire. John Taylor was the presiding judge of Monmouth county just before the breaking out of the Revolutionary war.) "It was considered in that remote day to be a well-built and elegant residence. In 1845 the building was remodeled and altered in its internal arrangements" by Rev. J.T.B. Beekman and his wife, Ann Crawford. "The front door, with its bull's eye and brass knocker" (this knocker is now in the possession of E.C. VanBrunt) "the spacious hall and stairway, as well as the northwest room on the ground floor, and the one above it on the second floor, were left undisturbed, and are now, after a century's use, better preserved than many of more recent and modern construction.

"After the battle of Monmouth, when the British were retreating, the division of the army under General Clinton and Lord Cornwallis passed the house on their way to Sandy Hook Bay. General Clinton, together with Lord Cornwallis and other officers, rode up to the house, where they were met by John Taylor and courteously received and entertained by him. They remained here until nearly the whole division had marched past. It was rumored that the sheriff's two sons were with the retreating army. The only daughter of John Taylor married Dr. Absalom Bainbridge." "About 1770 he settled at Princeton, N.J., but when the war of the Revolution broke out, moved to New York, where he was appointed surgeon to one of the regiments of the crown. William Bainbridge, afterward known in history as Commodore Bainbridge, who figured in the war of 1812 and so successfully commanded the frigate Constitution, was the son of Dr. Absalom Bainbridge [and his wife, Mary Taylor Bainbridge, daughter of John and Phebe Taylor-blogger's note].

[Also blogger's note - two more paragraphs to go! Long, I told you and twss!]

The following was taken from notes made by Theodore Beekman: "John Taylor, Esq. was appointed one of the three commissioners by Lord Howe, then, in 1775, commanding his majesty's army in America -- to meet three gentlemen from the Continental Congress, then assembling in Philadelphia. They were to endeavor to compose the troubles between the king and the Colonies. It could not be done, as the quarrel was too far advanced, and the settlement was left to the sword. They met, however, at the mansion at Middletown and talked it over. Lord Cornwallis was one of the commissioners."

The following note was written by Theodore Beekman in a book entitled "Commodore Bainbridge": "The Great White House mentioned in the first chapter of this book was built by John Taylor, Esq., in 1745. It was called the finest in Monmouth County at that day. In 1795 he sold this property to his friend George Crawford, and removed to Perth Amboy, where he died a few years later. [Phebe died in 1791, remember - blogger's note] The deed calls for 167 acres of land, of which about 100 was in the home farm and 17 acres lie between the Taylor and Hendrickson lands, and is now owned by 'the descendants of Mary Crawford Murray; three children of George Crawford Murray and Henry Scudder, son of Eleanor Murray Scudder, great-grandchildren of George Crawford.' The deed was signed by Commodore Bainbridge, who acted as chain bearer when the survey was made for writing descriptions for the deed. Although dated 1793 it was not recorded until ten years later. The noble old Mansion house, after braving the storms of nearly 150 years, was destroyed by fire in 1891." A great loss to the entire community.

OK, me again (blogger). For some time, I wasn't sure if they left Middletown after the war due to their being loyalists, but it seems they didn't. Or he didn't. It makes me mad that Phebe isn't mentioned, but whatever.

I have a general idea where this house was, but it's a little confusing too. I would love to do an overlay of a map at that time with a current map. I no longer think we were on Taylor property, but instead on the land of Thos Whitlock or Robert Jones. What's Thos short for, I wonder?

OK, longest post ever but... Dude! She was rich! Sounds lovely, doesn't it? The situation of the house? Ima try to remember the beauty of the land here. Makes up tons for the lack of beauty of the people (behavior wise anyway, but kinda meaning physically too - I'm horrible). Am I the only person who pines for the days when old women didn't butcher their faces with plastic surgery? Is it just me?

In another post, I'll transcribe the beautiful, sweet poem written by one of the last children raised in that house before it burned, Eleanor Crawford Beekman. She wrote it about the house and the surrounding land and it's a wonderful picture of what beauty there was to be seen in Middletown village in 1855. I envy her in some ways. And then I pop my penicillin for my recent strep throat infection and then I don't envy her as much. But still. Next time, the poem, I promise.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shake It Off. Or, My Thoughts on Phebe's Gravestone.

Today, I took care of some bidness. Sorry, business. Doesn't that word seem like busyness? Weird, I never noticed that before.

Anyway, I deposited a paycheck, some hush money from Comcast (who is officially on notice) and I paid a ton of bills.

So, I realized it might be a good way to start off the year first with some spleen venting (see last post) and then to take care of some Phebe bidness.

I don't think I've ever explained what drew me to her in the first place. And that leads me to why I think she's special. Let's, shall we?

Look at her gravestone. First of all, I noticed it because it's next to her children's gravestone, but secondly, I noticed it because it was so very different from all the other (legible) women's graves. I'll give you an example: her niece's gravestone.

Niece-in-law by marriage, actually. And in the same graveyard. They were family, technically. Buried twenty years apart, and yet, their graves are remarkably different.

No "wife of" for Phebe. No "In memory of" or age, either. Just name and date.

She wasn't wanted there. That's my feeling. I can't get the word "begrudgingly" out of my mind in reference to the whole thing.

It's very possible that I'm way off, but in researching Phebe, I've visited a few graveyards and hers seems distinctive to me.

So, a little mystery. Just the perfect thing for me, what with my new Sherlock Holmes coat and all. Oh, I haven't mentioned that, have I? As a counterpoint to eff you, Christmas, I should've said that my husband, while off on his own, found the perfect, Sherlock Holmes coat for me. He knew I needed a new coat that was not black that went with my new brown shoes and that did not highlight my charming dandruff. (Sexay.) And he knew I would be bothered by the brown shoes/black coat problem. And he knows I hate shopping. And, finally, he knows I love Sherlock.

I can't really explain what it meant for him to give me that. Only to say that I do believe he's the one. Ten years into the marriage, I think this. Which is maybe not normal, but it's kind of ideal.

Alright. Back to Phebe, I like the fact that their dismissal of her is the reason I picked her to investigate. I'm hoping this year that I finally get some time to do more actual research. My not teaching at night will help immensely. Now, if only I can get over this fatigue...

Until later...

And still... eff you.

While I have a few moments, I wanted to explain about the last post. And how it relates to the twittah. Or something.

Lately, I've been thinking things in roughly 140 characters. Book titles (shortest example, probably), stupid observations, my takes on weird sayings. I don't post things as my twittah account is pretty much dead. Jesus, the stuff people post can be largely pretty dumb (I think I follow the wrong people). Plus it was too distracting. The stupid stuff. That strangers say. Don't get me wrong, my stuff is at least as stupid as everyone else's. Anyway.

Here's one I came up with a couple of days before Christmas. Or maybe on Christmas. Not sure.

"What do you get the drunk who remembers nothing?" And then I was going to list out the presents I bought him. But then... he never got any of it. So the correct answer is: "Nothing. Even if you do actually send him something. It's nothing."

Still mad. Which is incredibly stupid. But not in a twitter way. In a just, "for Christ's sake, what did you think would happen?" kind of a way.

I want my calendar with photos of my kids back.