Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Home Maintenance, Y U So Sexy?

Hi!  I haven't made it sexually uncomfortable around here in a while, so I thought I'd share.  Some uncomfortableness of a sexual nature.

It'll be fine.  Don't worry so much.

Uncomfortable sexy story #1:

Anywhoo, today I went and bought caulk.  I went to the local paint store, which is small, and which I frequent because I may not be able to do much, home improvement-wise, but I've always enjoyed painting.  Gives you a fresh start, you know?  I go there a lot and there's this guy in his twenties who has this Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club vibe going on.  And I *still* fall for that crap.

So I'm standing around, acting like a little school girl, trying like hell to avoid talking to him on account of I need caulk, but I'm not finding the exact type of caulk I need.  So then he says, alllll sexay like (not really), "Can I help you find something?"  "I hope so.  I'm looking for a particular type of caulk.  I need the kind you can squeeze.  The kind that's white when it comes out, but dries clear.  Do you have that, I wonder? *bats eyelashes sexily*"  You get the gist.  Kinda fun, really.  (Of course I only said the first two sentences there, but wouldn't it have been great had I run with it?  Actually, nah.  I don't know how to bat my eyelashes sexily.  Plus, I'd have creeped young Judd out.  And honestly, I'm going to need more paint in the future.)

Uncomfortable sexy story #2:  A few years ago, in our last house, which was also in a slight state of disrepair when we bought it (it's a pattern with us), I had the energy to completely redo all of the front landscaping.  It was a huge job, for such a small house and a small lot.  The reason is that half the yard was taken up by pachysandra, which is a densely rooted groundcover that is frankly a bitch to remove.  A real bitch.  So I thought the rental of some equipment to help might be in order.

I trot off to the local EZ Rental place, which, again, I came to frequent.  Didn't stop me here, though.  Young-ish dude behind the counter helped me.  I explained my problem - the roughly 80 square feet of pachysandra to get up and replace, eventually, with grass.  The roots.  The roots are the problem.  So, any machine would get jammed trying to rip all that stuff out, excepting maybe a back hoe or something.  And I say to the guy, completely unaware of what I was saying, "So...you're saying it's a hand job, then."  "Uhhhhh."  "I mean, it has to be done by hand."  "Uhhhh....yea."


Uncomfortable sexy story #3:  For some reason, when I was a kid once, I was sitting around outside with my mom, my younger brother, and our lawn guy Kenny.  He was nice.  Died of alcoholism, ultimately, but he was a nice guy.

Somehow it wasn't too unusual, I guess, that we should all be sitting around chatting.  My mom's very extroverted and is super friendly with everyone she's ever employed for anything.  In any case, I was probably 10, my brother 9.  Leaf blowers had just come out.  Yes, I seem to be getting old.  And we kind of start marvelling at it.  And my brother had the distinct honor to be the one to say, completely unknowingly of course, "Nice blow job, Kenny."  I had no idea what that meant either, but what I remember is how red my mom got and how she let out a brief giggle before she wrapped the chat up, somehow, and herded us inside.



Oh and all of these pictures are wildly sexual if you squint.  Real hard, like.

Huh.  I enjoyed this.  Even more than I enjoyed telling young Judd-ish that I needed caulk.

Until next time...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Proprietary House Visit, Filled with Awesome

Hi! I thought I'd do something different with this post and just cover one topic. I know. But with lots of supporting materials (links, photos, videos). I know. I'm expanding my blogging horizons.

Last week I took my three year old son to visit the Proprietary House in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. My only regret is that I took my three year old son to visit the Proprietary House in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. For real. That kid is getting nowhere near two hundred and fifty year old objects/rooms ever again. Much less around docents who clearly cannot handle being interrupted, constantly, by a three year old boy who just wants to climb on chairs. Old chairs.

I tried taking him to Marlpit Hall here in Middletown a while ago and that, too, was a bust. But he was older this time, I thought. It'll be better this time, I thought. *sigh*

In any case, there's so much to say. So much! Oh, so much.

The visit in itself, while brief, was great. I'm going back! They offer tea and a tour for $7 every Wednesday. For real, if you're ever "visiting" Perth Amboy (and by that I mean, oh my God, how did we end up in Perth Amboy, I'm scared. Oh look! A historic house. Huh.) you should totally visit the Proprietary House. Oh, what I like/love about the website I just linked about Perth Amboy are one general and two specific things. First, generally, it's very honest. Unlike the official Perth Amboy website. Honest is refreshing. Secondly, there's a picture of a cat in the main slide show. Great. Thirdly, there's a warning about going there after dark. Again, honest. And great. Check it out.

It was originally built with the goal, from what I can tell, of becoming the Royal Governor's mansion in the 1760's or so. Eventually, with a lot of back and forth from the Royal Governor, William Franklin (below), illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin and devout Loyalist, it did become the Governor's Mansion for East New Jersey. For two years, 1774-1776. Then he was arrested by the Continental Army. I got a big "Nero's playing the lyre while Rome is burning" kind of a vibe off of that, but that's probably just my interpretation. Regarding this portrait, I think he's a handsome looking devil, but the arched left eyebrow kills it a bit. Again, just me.

In any case, it's an enormous house. Very lovely. In pretty bad disrepair cosmetically, but lovely. And they had such visitors! Ben Franklin, of course, trying to persuade his son to come over to the rebel cause. But then William was all "No, you, come to the dark side," while breathing heavily (he had a cold). Ahh, I jest. Also, John Adams. Basically a who's who of important Loyalists/British officers and Revolutionary figures. Dare I say it? Maybe Phebe visited them! Oh, if I could prove that, I'd die.

After the Revolution, it was owned by a former British spy who was also mayor of Perth Amboy. I know! That's a cool side story. Another time. Then a bazillionaire (for the time) and then it was made into a hotel. Then disrepair. Then an orphanage. Then more disrepair. You get the idea. But now it's this behemoth building right smack dab in the middle of lots of row houses, in disrepair, in a generally very poor, very depressing town. I really had trouble picturing what the area must've looked like before. That also is another post, as I found a really good series of maps and aerial drawings of Perth Amboy from the 1770's. In any case, this drawing below, from this good website, gives an idea of how it looked as an estate.

OK, more supporting materials!

Let's start with the tea room. I found a picture! (Most pictures come from the Proprietary House website. A few come from me and a few more from da Google. I shall specify each case.) This room was originally a wine cellar and then an ammunition storage room. It's fantastic. I would hang out there all the time, if I could. It's on the basement level adjacent to the kitchen and servants' dining room. Not good if you're claustrophobic, I suppose, but I liked it. This grainy picture from here.

Alright. This is the part of the post where I tell you that this house is also on the map today because...wait for it...people believe it to be haunted. For real. Riddled with ghosts. Again? Great. And, of course (of course), there are lots of fantastic videos about this on youtube. I'll walk you through some of those in a bit. First, I want to show you more of the house and emphasize that it really is lovely, as a historic house, I mean.

The main floor of the house has a beautiful big entryway. With a lovely dining room off on one side and a lovely, big parlor off the other. I'll post below two pictures from this room. (I'm not a good photographer, especially of interiors. Huh. I'm better than whoever took that picture of the tea room, right? Right. I feel better.)

More on that mirror in the picture above in a bit.

Another photo of the interior from their website below, because I didn't want you to get the sense that all the rooms are that finished. They're not. Not by a long shot.

You can see lots more (bad) photos on their website. Check it out. And, seriously, if you ever find yourself in downtown Perth Amboy on a Wednesday, first of all, God help you and second of all, visit the Proprietary House.

Alrighty, time for the ghost stories. The house was "investigated" by Ghost Hunters. (For some reason, won't embed. Sorry.) Now, I've never seen this show, which runs/ran on SyFy, except for the video down below, but...well, I find it hilarious. These people, the TAPS people. So hilarious. A fair bit of the video is set in the basement tea room. "Are you afraid of us?" "No." I like Bruce. He seems awesome.

Anyway, I did not know any of this when I went to the Proprietary House, but I love it. OK, the ghost thing gets better though. I know. You say, "Wha? How can it get better than Ghost Hunters?" Right? It does. Enter psychic Jane Doherty, who I've read about before and who, of course, would be involved in this. Not only is she involved, but they let her give tours (in the banner of the previous link, they give some info. Sorta.). Oh and the best part about her? Her magic stomach. It's true. It's magic. In this video below (which is fantastic), you get to see it in action in the Proprietary House. Skip to 0:56 if you have to. "Here I am!"

Before I leave the ghost thing, one last video. Quick one. The mirror in the parlor in my picture above is the subject. I've watched this one about twenty times.

Almost done. Phew. Last thing to talk about in this whole big bag of awesome is "The Reenactment." So many things to say. You know what? I need to itemize. One, I just missed it and was really excited to go next year. (It's "performed" every year in early June.) Two, my favorite part of the video is the part when they write "The drama is about to begin." Three, uhhhh, Colonel Heard? Who was Phebe Taylor's brother? Yea, not how I pictured him. He's like a clean shaven Artie Lange here. Not how I pictured him. Four, my second favorite thing is the butler guy. Five, I have to confess I didn't make it past two minutes, which leads me to my last point. Six, I probably won't go next year due to my sensitivity to second hand embarrassment. For to enjoy.

In my last post, I believe I mentioned my interest in wearing an 18th century costume. My views on that are evolving.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Revisiting the Diary of Elder Mott

Today, I remembered an old post from July of last year. In the past few months, I've had a fair amount of crap to deal with. And that's taken me away from Phebe research some. I'm starting back up again, but lately I haven't found out that much about her specifically. I've found out a fair amount about the men around her, though, which is, I guess, normal. Sad and normal.

But then, like I said, I remembered this old post. I found not just a reference to her, but re-reading it, I realized that therein were described some specific things she did and a direct quote by her. I don't think I understood the importance of Elder Mott's diary. This might be it as far as information about her personality goes. Everything. I thought it would be good to revisit the passage from his diary.

"June 1751 a Groundles Report Being Spred that John taylor Was Grate With Sarah thorne By Which Phebe taylor Was Stured Up to a Sperit of Jelosey: And did Much Abufe her hufband: for which he Came and Made Complant to Me of her: I Went to See her and told her the Sin She Was Gilty of But She Would Not hear I Used Indiuers (?) With her Several times But to No Purpofe. John thorn allfo Complained Unto Me: that Phebe Strove to Mak difrance Betwen: he and his Wife By Infifting her hufband and his Wife Ware Actually Guilty of the Charge Which Complaint I Laid Before Phebe With the Several Agrivating Sins She Was Gilty of In So doing: She Stil Continued obStinate and Juftified her Selfe In all She had done: Upon Which I told her She Should Not Be admited to her Place: With out Publick Acknolidgment: Which She Refented Very Much and told me I Ufed her Very ill And Watched Over her from Evel and Not for Good."

So she was publicly angry with her husband for supposedly cheating on her (possibly not true, I suppose) and she was chastised by the church elder for doing so. She told him that she had been "used very ill" and that the elder "watched over her from evel and not for good." Fantastic stuff.

Then in August, when she wasn't there, they suspended her until she could have a hearing.

Then in October 1751: "At a Church Meeting at Middletown Phebe Taylor Gave her Attendance Defiering to Be admitted to her Place Agane in the Church. I being Sik Could Not atend. The Church Redily admited her to her Place again In the Church. With out Examining the Complant laid Againf her By Me in Auguft."

Sounds like he was pissed at that last part. Also, in 1751 she gave birth to her seventh child (fourth child who survived childhood). So my thinking was she was fed up. I don't know. It was terribly exciting.

No more about them until the Revolution (1777) when her husband John was officially dismissed from the church for going against the Free States. That section is really interesting in the context of the Revolution, but doesn't mention any wives, much less Phebe, so less interesting to me.

Good gravy, but I found when I first read the elder's diary and it was almost one year ago. Bad amateur historian. Bad.

I plan on going here this week: The Proprietary House in Perth Amboy. Perth Amboy is also where Phebe's husband John Taylor was buried. Maybe I'll get a lead on that. Proprietary House was the residence of William Franklin, Royal Governor of New Jersey, illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin, and the place where William Franklin was arrested at the outset of the Revolution. He was arrested by Phebe's brother, General Nathaniel Heard, head of the New Jersey militia. And damn it all, but I missed the reenactment. Damn it! Next year. Something to look forward to.

I should look into how much a Revolutionary era lady's costume costs. And I should just commit to being the kind of nerd, middle-aged nerd at that, who would dress up in a Revolution era lady's costume. Commit! I shall endeavor to commit.

Besides costumes, there's a lot more to do. I still haven't walked to where Phebe's house was, or found Cocowder Springs on Ruckman Hill, all of which is about two blocks away from me in Middletown. I could walk there. I should walk there. The problem is that going to Phebe's old house's foundation (adjacent to the new Luyster House property) involves me knocking on those people's door and asking for permission to trespass. Or to walk there without being arrested for trespassing, is I think what I mean. I am the kind of person for whom that is very difficult. Holy crap, but wearing a costume in public is nearly impossible. I also want to go back to the Monmouth County Historical Library and try to look more at original documents. They store them there.

I'm feeling better lately, kind of surprisingly, so I'm going to start making goals again. Get back into this a little. I still have very little time to myself, but damn it, Penny, "Make it work!" (Quoting Tim Gunn, a personal hero, not the least of which because he reportedly has lots of social anxiety problems. And yet is successful. My kind of dude.)

Wow, all over the place again. I guess I'm roller-coaster-y a lot lately. It is, apparently, how I roll.

Until next time...