Sunday, May 26, 2013

This Blog's Not Dead! But Lots of Other People Are, Though.

Hey there, interneters!

Well.  Six months.  Six months!  Right?  Jeesh.  I have no excuse.  Oh, wait.  Kind of.  There was a hurricane (ahem, sorry, "superstorm") and we didn't have much damage, but we had no power for eight days and it was cold and we all got sick and evacuated to a friend's house with heat and food and then there was Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that that entailed.  And then the winter happened and now spring and here we are.  Oh, and I built some raised beds in my backyard and have started a vegetable garden.  Go me.  Alright, so I've been busy.

And, more importantly I thought, I haven't been busy with any Phebe stuff, so I didn't want to write much here.  But yesterday, that all changed.  I did historical shizz!  I did!  And it was brief and cool and I shall tell you all about it and use the pictures I took.  Hooray!

First of all, though, let's get this out of the way.  It's not about Phebe.  Rather, I went to visit the grave of one of my favorite people that I've learned about along the way (he's kind of neck and neck with Phebe as far as interesting to me - actually he's a little bit ahead, because I like to daydream about him and me being a heterosexual and all, that's super fun, so he has an unfair advantage over Phebe).  I went to visit the grave of Captain Andrew Lee in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Wilkes-Barre is about three hours from us and I have to tell you, it was a painful drive, both ways.  God.  But I need to give you context. (I'm sorry for the all-over-the-place-ness of this post, but I'm excited to be back!  And out of practice!)  So, let's start from the beginning.  I've been wanting to find his grave for quite some time.  And this February, my husband went to China for a business trip and we kind of agreed that it wasn't that big of a deal for me, having to do dinner and bath stuff for the kids all by myself for a week in addition to everything I regularly do for them every day.  Not that big of a deal.  I just wanted, in return, to get to go to Wilkes-Barre by myself some weekend in the near future.

That was the deal.  Shit, I wish I'd stuck to that deal.  Because things changed.  They morphed into not me going by myself, no.  They morphed into a family trip.  Alright.  So I found some things Chris and kids could do while I was at the graveyard (totally forgetting that we wouldn't have two cars and that that would be impossible, but whatever).  And then my husband says, "Hey, why don't we bring Rusty?  We'd save on the kennel and he'd love it!"  But guess what?  Guess who got to hold a farting, shaking, panting dog on their lap for three hours each way?  This guy, that's who.  God, I smelled so much like dog it was horrible.

Oh and we went kind of cheap on a motel and our blinds didn't close and we didn't sleep and I was cold and I'm whining now but I had to get all that off my chest because, Good God, I should've gone by myself.  Yes, I might've been cold and would still not have had blinds in my room, but I wouldn't have had to hold a shaking, farting, panting dog for six hours, nor would I have to have had to listen to my husband complain for nearly the entire trip and also wouldn't have had to listen to my son ask for candy for every ten minutes on the drive because my husband promised him candy at the next stop.  That happened both ways.

So, in essence, I got about an hour and a half at the graveyard yesterday, where thank God, I found his gravestone (kind of a miracle because this place was huge).  But it was great.  And worth it, I think.

We ended up leaving super early this morning, because honestly, not a fun trip, and I didn't get back to the cemetery or to spend any kind of time in the town he lived in towards the end of his life (Nanticoke) or to go to their Historical Society Museum.  Oh well.  Next trip, right?

I should mention a few other context things, before I get to the pictures.  It is Memorial Day weekend and there were crazy amounts of flags at this cemetery, which was awesome.  I really appreciated that the caretakers of the cemetery did that.  And it had to be them, because flags were at every single military man's grave, regardless of how old.  There were Revolutionary War veterans with flags, and you know no one's left to do that kind of thing.  So, that was nice.

Only, one thing about Captain Andrew Lee's gravestone was that, for whatever reason, he didn't choose to put Captain on there and he got no flag.  That was a bummer and I should've put one myself, but I wasn't prepared!  Who carries around a flag?  Next time, though.  Hey!  Maybe next year I should go and correct that injustice.  (By myself!)

Anyway, but this is a guy who crossed the Delaware on Christmas Eve in 1776 with Washington.  This is a guy who somehow survived being on a British prison ship in the New York harbor for two fucking years.  This is a guy who was a spy for Washington towards the end of the war.  This is also a guy who went and rescued his cousins who had been sold into slavery by the British to a Native American tribe.  He went to Canada to get one of those kids.  That's some badass, "Taken"-type shizz.

I've written him up before and here's the link to the first time I wrote about him and his spy story, and here's the link to the second time I wrote about him and gave a few biographical details about him.  I just reread that second post and I didn't mention the crossing of the Delaware, or the prison ship, or the rescuing his cousins.  Preview of Captain Andrew Lee, Part Two?

Without further ado, here's his gravestone, which is sandwiched in between the gravestone of his wife, Priscilla, on the left, and the gravestone of his daughter, Priscilla, on the right.

The long dreamed of gravestone in surprisingly good condition after two hundred years.

Self-portrait with Captain Lee.  Artsy.

So, the consort thing.  I don't know if you can see it, but under Priscilla Lee's name on the left is written "consort of Andrew Lee."  Apparently, the term consort was used on gravestones when the wife died before the husband, meaning that the husband would still be living when her gravestone was cut.  And that's the case here.  Priscilla (his wife) died in 1816 and Andrew died in 1821.  At first I was all scandalized by the consort term, naturally, but then google helped me out and I realized it wasn't anything more than a convention of the times.  There were actually several consorts that I found, once I started looking around.

Secondly, I like how he's sandwiched between those two.  That's cool.  I don't think I've seen a set of gravestones together like this.  I mean, that's unusual, right?  There certainly weren't any others like that around in this cemetery.

I did find a few other gravestones that I liked a lot.  The first of which is for a beloved wife who died in childbirth.  I love the etching on the edge of the gravestone.  Plus the script.  Overall, just so pretty and so so sad.
In Memory of Mary, consort of Thommas Bennit Who

Who Departed this life April 29th, 1820.  Aged 38 years & 5 months.  Allso her infant son, at the same time.
God, you know?

I like the inscription at the bottom of this next gravestone.  Super morbid and weird.  Also, I just noticed this, but for some reason, Hannah wasn't listed as a consort, but I guess she was.
Sacred to the Memory of Hannah Apple
the wife of William Apple
who departed this life July the 13th AD 1822.
Aged twenty five Year five months & five days
Though greedy worms devour my skin
And gnaw my wasting flesh
When God shall build my bones again
He'll clothe them all afresh
There was also the grave of a young man named Ruggles Brush who "drouned" at 19 in the year 1800.  Very sad too.  Mostly I love his name.  Sadly, the photo didn't turn out.

So, even though my time with Captain Lee's gravestone was so fast that it reminded me of Clark Griswald at the Grand Canyon, I think it was worth it.

In German, but you get the idea.

I wish I'd had a flag.  I wish I'd had more time.  I wish Rusty was chill in the car.  I wish I was a little bit taller.  I wish I was a baller.  (Skee-Lo, yo.)

I don't know.  There's more to do here.  To start, I need to write up part two of the Captain Lee story.  I really need to find an actor who embodies everything that I think Captain Lee was.  I need to spend some time on that.  But mostly, I need to write up part two of his story.  And I need to not neglect this blog anymore.

Until later.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three months? What the hell?

Hey there, internets.  Three months, huh?  I hadn't realized it had been that long. ya been?  Good?  Good summer?  Mine? was okay.  Went home to Florida for a week and it sucked.  But then we went, a few weeks later, to Maine for a week and it was fantastic.

My husband and I found the town we want to retire to.  Maine, right?  I know.  Most people would retire to Florida, but too much badness for me there, so Maine it is!  Anyway, the town we chose, that we kind of randomly decided to stop in, was Belfast.  They have two or three independent bookstores there.  And one of those bookstores has a science slant, so...there you have it.  Our dream town.

Otherwise, our summer was good, I guess.  Too many stomach bugs for the summer, but no big bad health thing, so that was good.  Let's see...what else?  Not much!  My four year old was home with me a lot, especially for the last few weeks of summer and he was in a tough, pain-in-the-ass stage.  So, not good.

It's been great that they're back to school now.  Starting to feel like fall here too.

What I really wanted to write to you about (besides the fact that I just needed to write something, for Chrissakes) was that something interesting happened on my daughter's Back to School night at her school a few weeks ago.  Well, nothing interesting (at all) happened actually at the Back to School event at her school, but something interesting happened after.

Truthfully, Back to School nights are difficult for me, on account of my anti-socialness, generally.  Just awkwardness galore.  This one was mercifully short.  My daughter's teacher has been there for decades, it seems, and she really doesn't give a rat's ass (again - haven't said this in a while, but I apologize for my profanity, 18th century Phebe -  truly) about what the principal does or does not want, so she (the teacher) did not play the multitude of youtube videos that the principal told all the teachers to play.

Mostly the videos were because we couldn't have a big assembly, for whatever reason, and the PFA still needed to give us their spiel.  Plus the principal herself always gives a speech.  What I heard, though, later, was that because of the big demand on their servers, or something, that the videos stopped every two seconds or so to reload.  Good Christ, that's annoying.  So, thanks Mrs. C, for dismissing us early and thereby pissing off your boss (which generally isn't a good thing).  Sincerely, thanks.

Alright, now to what happened.  I live through the woods from the school.  Less than a block through the woods (distance-wise).  But, you know, it's the woods.  So while I walked to the event through the woods, I don't like walking there at night, because...woods.  There are deer herds that move through the woods, for real, and I didn't want to startle anyone.  Least of all myself.

So, the other, non-woods way to the school is about two blocks on a busier street.  I took that route home, in the dark.  Besides the fact that I got annoyed with myself for being so fearful, (For real, me.  What the hell?  I'm tired of being afraid.  Really.  I think I'll make that a new life goal - to nut the fuck up.  I really annoy myself.) something cool happened.

On that route home, I walk past a house built in 1756 (and not modified at all in the 19th or 20th centures, so still in its original state, more or less).  I believe that John and Phebe Taylor began construction on that house and may have lived there shortly before selling it.  In any case, John's brother Edward ended up buying it decades later and died there, passing the house down to his family members.  It's now a museum and lovely.  I've written about it before - Marlpit Hall.

What happened was this.  Here I was, walking along, not thinking about anything except maybe, I hope I don't get stabbed to death tonight.  (For real - annoying.)  When suddenly, I look up and see lights on in Marlpit Hall.  I say lights, but it honestly, appeared to be more candlelight that I saw.  But it wasn't actually lights (or candles) that were lit in the house.  It was the reflection of a streetlight.  For a split second, though, it was like someone lived there.  It's been empty for 150 years, at least.  Probably two hundred years.  But, for that second, it wasn't.

And it really stopped me in my tracks.  And it made the whole sucky night worth it.  And it made me realize, that really, these were just people who used to settle in for the night.  Who tucked their children in, who thought about what they had to do the next day, who thought about the people they missed, maybe - their parents, or siblings, or, sadly, maybe a child they lost.  I don't know, maybe that's too morbid.  Maybe they just took out a book and read a little before blowing out the candle.  Maybe they got busy.  Who knows.  But, they were just people, in their houses, going on with their lives.  Their vastly different lives, of course, but there had to be similarities, right?

In any case, it was cool and I thought I'd write about it here, in order to get this whole thing ramped up again.  Until next time, then...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Of all of these, "Sugalumps" might be my favorite.

Hello there, interwebs. You know, recently I've been doing some google image searches to find out what kind of berry bushes we have in our back yard (side note: we have berry bushes! Yeee!). Anyway, I click on a link and then it's some gardening website and I think, "Oh! This is great! I want to read more about this person who also has berry bushes and lives in New Jersey (or not)!" And then I click on the title and go to the most recent post and it's from 2007. Sad. So, I'm not going to be the NJ berry bush having person who just abandoned their blog. Nope. I'm not.

 Sometimes, when I'm feeling sick or weak or just sad about the fact that I live in New Jersey (berry bushes notwithstanding), I try to think about the wonderful things in life. Like berry bushes. Or songs I love. Or, even more, movies or TV shows that I love. Heck, even plays. Oh, but all that is after I think about how wonderful my children and husband are.

 Confession time, usually they don't come first because I've just had to send them both to their rooms, crying, because one of them accidentally pushed the other down the stairs. Speaking of my children, of course. My husband knows not to rough-house on the stairs.

 TV shows and movies and things like that are constants. They're outside of me and my life. So, they're my go-to things. One of the best ones, and possibly not coincidentally the one I think of most because I have two of their TV show soundtracks playing in my car now, is the TV show "Flight of the Conchords." I love it like a third child. Like my long lost soulmate. Which it is. Only I discovered it late, because I don't have - have hardly ever had - HBO. So I'm currently missing the show "Girls." Goddamnit. Just kidding.

 I came to Bret and Jemaine of Flight of the Conchords late, via netflix.  Immediately I realized that the show was a soulmate. Then of course I had to buy the DVDs of both seasons. And down the rabbit hole I went (although not so far down that particular hole as I had gone down Robert Pattinson's hole). Ew.

 So, without further ado, a few of my favorite clips from Flight of the Conchords, a show I wholeheartedly recommend. It, somedays, makes life worth living. True. I only wish I could listen to the soundtracks in the car when I'm carting the kids around. But they frequently use words like sexy and mothertrucka and dick and balls and the like. *sigh* One day I'll be able to introduce them to my kids. Uhh, via dvd of course. That will be a glorious day. My children will turn to me and say, "Guh. God, mom. What's wrong with you?"

 Dreaming of the future, with a soundtrack by Bret and Jemaine - Penny


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Again - wait, what?

It's May!  Frickin' frack!

Well, now, April just flew by.  I was very busy feeling moderately good and used that energy to paint most of my kitchen.  It seems I have kind of a manic thing going with respect to my energy level.  If I feel the least bit good, I embark on a big project (although one that can be broken into little tiny bites) and exhaust myself.  Then I take a few days off, and then get back into the project.  It's kind of a cycle.  But, a cycle that, at the end of it, gives me a kitchen that is cleaner than it ever has been and that looks like new.

Oh, and when I say I painted my kitchen, I mean literally myself.  Because when my mom tends to say things like that, she's actually referring to the painter she has on call, Tim, who is actually doing the painting.  She's just chosen the paint color, called Tim, and then stood around watching him paint.  But she's "painted the kitchen."  She and I often say the same words, but speak completely different languages.

OK, I had something I wanted to post about...what was it...oh right!  I was shopping in the craft store Michael's the other day, as I am wont to do (not really), and I heard a song coming out of their speakers that was familiar to me, but that I couldn't place.  I just stood stock still and listened for a good three minutes.  And all the while, I knew that I knew that song very very well.  At one point, I had listened to that song or CD on repeat for months.  I am truly wont to do that.  I knew the song very, very, very well.  And it bothered me that I couldn't remember how I knew the song, much less who sang it.

And then magically, it came to me.  It was the song "A Perfect Hand" from the album, "Here Lies Love" put together by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.  The song is sung by Steve Earle, whose -funny story- buttcrack I've seen.  (Short story, really.  My husband and I saw him while we were at the Newark airport.  He was at the ticket counter and he leaned over to pick up a bag to check and that's when we saw the buttcrack.  Also, I would not have known who he was, if not for my husband.  I am nowhere near cool.  Just in case you forgot.)

David Byrne produced, in 2010, the album Here Lies Love, which is about Imelda Marcos' rise to and fall from power.  In songs.  And all the songs are in the disco style (is that the best way to say that?).  The album is absolutely fantastic.  Every song is sung by a different musician and is in a slightly different style, but of course, still mostly disco-y.  It's wonderful and frequently sappy, but it's true to her, because, while a crazy strong personality, Imelda Marcos was kind of sappy.  Or at least her public image was.  I'm not explaining this very well.  In any case, the album is great and you should definitely give it a listen.

Also in any case, I love the concept of the album - a musical biography.  He frequently used their own words in the songs (the words of herself, her husband, her former nanny, etc.).  He also used a musical style that was appropriate to them.  Imelda Marcos, apparently, loved hanging out at Studio 54 in its heyday.  I'm rambling here, but I just wanted to say, again, that everything about this album is wonderful and it especially appeals to me as a lover of history.  As you know, or probably don't, really, I love history.  And a more personal, biographical approach to history, as compared to a survey type approach.  

I am realizing that "history lover" is kind of part of my identity now, which is weird, as it never was before.  Tomorrow I'm going to be the mystery reader for my daughter's first grade class and I had to give the teacher some clues about myself.  Things like, "I'm a girl," or "I have two children," and I led with those, of course.  But my fifth and last clue, I figured, should be more personal.  So I said, "I used to be a chemist, but now I love learning about American history."  If you'd have asked me even ten years ago, if I were a history lover, I'd have said "Fuck off."  Nah, I'd have said, "No.  Where did that question come from?"  But now, I am.  It's weird how people change.

I'll leave this rambling post by saying two things.  Firstly, look at this photo of Imelda, which is the cover of Here Lies Love:

Aren't her eyes perfection in this picture?  Doesn't she look completely stoned and/or batshit crazy?  I love it.

And the second thing is that, I've recently become aware that in a year and a half (a little less than, really), I'll have my days free.  My son will be in Kindergarden then.  And I'll have no job.  So...I'm thinking Michael's.  They play cool music!  Nahh, not really Michael's, but somewhere.  I do need to figure it out.  I mean, I guess I could buckle down and try to work on a book about Phebe or Captain Andrew Lee, but even if I do that, I will still need a job.  Maybe it will be Michael's in the end.  I'd have a hard time not being an asshole if someone needed help with scrapbooking supplies, though.  I shouldn't be in customer service, is what I'm saying.  Also, I probably need a job with a lot of sitting, due to the MS.  (Hadn't mentioned it yet this post.  I almost didn't!)

OK, then.  Rambly post.  I love "Here Lies Love."  I saw Steve Earle's buttcrack once.  I might one day work at Michael's.  Ummmm....I also have MS.  Does that cover everything?  Yup.

Maybe next time I'll be more focussed and less rambly.  Here's hoping!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wait, what?

Wait a minute.  The last post here was from February?  And now it's April?  What gives, Penny?

Well, March just flew by in a flash, I tell you what.  (Side note:  If you don't like King of the Hill, get off my lawn.)  (Another side note:  My neighbor recently came over because she was "concerned" that something was wrong with my dog because he had been barking non-stop for the half-hour I was out dropping off my daughter at her Daisy Scout thing.  "Concerned."  Again - "Get off my lawn."  Well, that's what I wished I could have said to her.  Man, I wish I could've said that.)

Alright.  What?  What's that?  This is the 100th post?  Holy crap!  That's a big milestone!  Right?  Right!?!

As soon as I realized that, I thought to myself, "Self, you should do something not a waste of time for the 100th post.  You really should.  No more complaining about MS.  No more complaining about how sucky people are where you live.  None of that nonsense (#firstworldproblems on that second one).  Something real.  With substance."

But then I realized that it had been over a month (and a full-sized month, at that) since I wrote anything here at all and that I don't really have the time (or emotional fortitude right now) to write up everything I know (good and bad) about Captain Andrew Lee.  And so here we have this rambling.

Well, March got away from me, but here's hoping April will be better.  No more bronchitis for my son, no more mother visits for me (good God, that laid me out like nothing else #firstworldproblems - again), no more procrastinating.  Oh, also in March, I became obsessed with a solitaire game I found for my Kindle (do I need to say #firstworldproblems?) where the success rate was about 50%, which is much better than my usual Klondike version of solitaire which I constantly lose at.  So, that success rate of 50% was killing me because every time I lost, I was guaranteed to win the next time.  I think it's run its course with me, though.  50% is not as appealing, but more boring, now.  Oh, procrastination.  So clever, you are.

100th post!!!  Woot!


Until next time.

UPDATED:  So...this is embarrassing, but this is my 100th draft of a post and only my 88th post.  Bullet dodged, it seems.  No need to be interesting or anything for an 88th post, right?  Why do I have 12 unpublished posts?  I have no idea.  Maybe there's some gold in them there hills.  I should check it out.  Alright, then.  As you were.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This week in MS

Hi!  I'm postponing writing about Captain Lee.  Learned something new and important about him recently.
I don't want to talk about it.

What I would prefer to talk about is MS.  (That's a clue as to how bad it is.  But, I don't want to talk about it.  I can't.  Not yet.)

Oh and I'd like to talk about cognitive difficulties and MS.  (Yay!)

Maybe it's that I'm tired from my big trip into NYC yesterday to see the Colbert Report (Yay for real!).  Maybe it's just all these flubs happening at around the same time, but I'm feeling a bit freaked out today.  On Tuesday, I realized that I had missed my daily shot the day before.  It's been a year for me (nearly), and that was the first day I'd missed.  I found out, also on Tuesday, that I forgot to pay my son's preschool tuition (which is too damn high, but whatever) for February.  I neglected to check the hours for the MoMA yesterday morning, so that I get into the city early specifically to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit there and that goddamned place was closed.

So, it's okay, right?  I just then realize that I didn't bring a coat to the city, but rather wore a big sweater and now I'm hot, so let's go buy a shirt and a coat so that I can take off this goddamned sweater but still not wear a bra.  I have trouble wearing bras lately.  I might be "Fuck you guys!" to everyone, but I still will not wear a tank top with no bra out in public.  Hence, the needed shirt and light jacket combo.

So, all that's been happening.  But then, I got to see Stephen Colbert in person last night and it was rad!  At one point I was six feet from him - for the bit with the skeeball ticket redemption in last night's 1000th episode.  Handsome man!

I also got the day off from my kids, which was nice.  My three year old son has been difficult lately in the terrible two's (or rather, terrible three's) kind of a way.  So, it was nice to take a break from it.  I wish the MoMA had been open, but all in all, excellent trip.

Wow.  I had thought of a few things to talk about re cognitive difficulties, but now I'm thinking about yesterday and am all happy and don't want to whine.  Eh, let's get them down, shall we?  Otherwise, I'll forget soon enough.

Firstly, I completely cannot teach organic chemistry anymore.  Or general chemistry, for that matter.  In addition to having zero short-term memory, I also do this thing where I say the opposite of what I should at critical times.  To my son, as he's learning how to use real toothpaste, I say, "Now swallow it!" when I want to say, "Now don't swallow it!" or "Now spit out the water!"  It's weird.

And I know there's the tendency to say, "Oh...everyone does that!  That's normal!" and that's very nice of you.  It is.  But, I could never teach organic chemistry again.  And that's pretty much my only marketable skill right now.  "It's (R).  No.  Wait.  It's (S).  No.  Wait, there are two stereocenters.  It's (S,R).  No.  Wait.  It's (R,S)."  And in my head, I want to say, "Aw, Jesus, who fucking cares.  R, S, it doesn't matter."

Only it does.  It's a goddamned disaster.  The last semester, fall 2010, was like that and that was a year and a half ago and I was still really up on organic.  My students, though, had a hard go of it.  I felt bad.

I guess my other marketable skill is taking care of children, but unless they want someone who has periods of extreme fatigue as well as a hair-trigger temper, they might look elsewhere.

I guess all this is just now hitting home.  I need to prepare for it, too.  My next goal, after cleaning the outside of all our windows - my claustrophobia/neat-freakiness compelled me to do that - is to clean my desk and prepare for a hand-off of the bill paying and all that to my husband.  Who really really doesn't want to have anything to do with our money because he has his own anxiety issues.  Understandable, for the sole salary earner, but I don't honestly know if I can be trusted.  A few months ago, I sent the wrong check to the occupational therapist.  I sent her payment and my son's tuition in the same envelope.  Oh, and don't get me started on taxes.  I'm responsible for our taxes.  This will hopefully be the last year of that.

So I'm going to be responsible and get my affairs in order, so to speak.  Pray to God I don't throw away some extremely important piece of paper in my cleaning frenzy.  Aww, crap, that's going to happen.  Let's just hope it's not too important.

Two last depressing things:  1.  I'm reminding myself of my dad more and more, only he has dementia that was brought on by years of alcohol and drug abuse and mine is due to nothing I actually did.  Hardly fair.

And 2.  I came across this person's little bio/inspirational essay in More magazine at the dentist the other day.  Yesterday.  That seems like a long time ago.  Weird!  Anyway, here's the ending:
With MS, there are days I’m going to have pain whether I sit in my chair and wallow or keep moving. It’s a choice. And my choice is, I’m not going to live my life on the sidelines.   

Eff you, I don't feel like moving.  Actually, today I do, that's not true.  I just don't want to be made to feel guilty for those days when I don't feel like moving.  I've found that shame is not a motivator for me - in fact it makes me angry and defiant.  How dare you try to tell me how to handle my version of this stupid illness.  Really, how dare you.  (Spoken as if I was Maggie Smith, naturally.)

I know, I know, I'm being a pain in the ass.  I'm being paranoid and stupid.  She's not trying to tell me what to do, but probably telling us what she says to herself to get herself motivated to do all that exercise.  Maybe what she tells herself to just get through the day.  Good for her, I guess.

Oh!  That reminds me - I had a super paranoid, The Game type of incident yesterday on the train to and subway in NYC:  This middle-aged, paunchy guy in a bad sweater and white sneakers was taken aback by me at the Middletown train platform.  I somehow startled him.  Weird, but whatever - I was walking at a good clip.  Weirder, though, is that he went through Penn Station, same as me, to then get to the uptown E train platform of that train station - you know, Penn Station, which is ginormous and chock full of people.  At that point, I was startled.  And then I kept looking over my shoulder until above ground - certain he was following me.  Which he wasn't.  But that wasn't to say that someone else in the Game took his place, since he was fingered.  I had it all worked out.

Oh, brain, what won't you come up with next.  I'm glad I got this rant out.  Feels good.  This week in MS, indeed.

Until later...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Captain Andrew Lee, Part One

Hello!  Today, I write about a certain Captain Andrew Lee who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and whose story I find very compelling.  OK, full disclosure - I have a serious crush on Captain Andrew Lee of Paxtang, Pennsylvania.  I do.  There is no portrait of him, to my knowledge, but doesn't matter.  I've fallen.

This is the best I can do, as far as a portrait.  This is a depiction of what his uniform would've looked like during the Revolutionary War.  His uniform might've been different, as he was a Captain, but this is the general idea.  Oh, only except imagine him as handsome.  Natch.  All my imaginings of Captain Lee have him being extremely dashing.  So...not this guy.  Sorry...that guy.

As to Captain Lee, I mentioned him in a previous post, when I related an amazing story I found about him as a spy for the Americans in 1781.  I thought he was sexy just for that story alone.  If you have some time, read his part of that post, 'cause it's good and I won't rewrite it here.

Mostly I won't rewrite it here because there is really lots more to talk about, regarding his life.  Lots!  And, while I fully realize that in life, he may have been a bastard - he may have been cruel to animals, women, children...I don't want to even think about his probable views on slavery or his opinions about Native Americans- in my mind, he's wonderful.  And I have reasons.  Compelling reasons.  They will become clear when I tell you a little of his biography.  Or really, when I tell you the highlights of his biography, because honestly, the man lived a very, very interesting, complicated life.  Well, until he was about forty-five.  Then he settled down and didn't do too much.  As far as I can tell.

It's startlingly difficult to investigate peoples' lives effectively while weighing the fact that they might have actually been bastards.  I find it hard, anyway.  I become engaged with the subjects and start rooting for them and then I live in fear that some piece of evidence will show them to be who they really were - horrible, horrible people.  And those horrible people doesn't deserve biographies, but to be hated for all eternity.  Look at me, all extreme and stuff.

Ahem.  Let's continue.

Captain Andrew Lee of Paxtang, PA was born in 1739 and died in Nanticoke, PA on June 15, 1821.  (Side note: I hope to visit Nanticoke this spring and I really really hope to find his grave and possibly his house.  It might still be there!  Maybe!  Well, probably not, but maybe!)

Although he was a Pennsylvanian, he was a soldier for the British in the French and Indian War.  He enlisted at sixteen in 1755 with the British forces and went with a General Braddock on an expedition against the French settlements on the Ohio.  This detail is not very important, it's just that he fought in a battle, which the British lost, on July 9th 1755 near Fort Duquesne (which was located in what would become Pittsburgh).  Importantly, Andrew Lee fought alongside a Colonel George Washington.  The George Washington.

Throughout this post I will quote from Captain Lee's brief biography in A History of Lodge No. 61, F. and A.M., Wilkesbarre, PA (beginning in the middle of page 29 of the ebook).  This Mason lodge history is filled with the biographies of its many many members and in some cases, there is a portrait to go with the biography.  Sadly, no portrait of Capt. Lee, only an image of his Masonic apron.

The history of the lodge was written by Oscar Jewell Harvey in 1897.  In my opinion, Mr. Harvey did a very thorough job collecting first-hand accounts for the Captain Lee biography.  It's the kind of biography one would dream of finding.  That I would dream of, in any case.  Oddly enough, Mr. Harvey, who was a well known historian of the Wilkes-Barre region of Pennsylvania, has, it seems, a facebook page.  That's where I found a photograph of him.

  And about this photo, all I have to say is:  "Sweet 'stache, man." "Thanks, bro."  From this clip of Safe Men at around 38 seconds.  I believe you can take a minute to watch this.  You won't regret it.

  Anyway, let's go back to Andrew Lee and Colonel George Washington at the 1755 Battle of Fort Duquesne in the French and Indian War.  I quote the lodge history biography of Lee on this subject, "In that battle all the officers on horseback except Col. George Washington having been killed or wounded, the provincials-who were among the last to leave the field-were rallied by Colonel Washington, and covered the retreat of the regulars."  Andrew Lee would've been one of the provincials (meaning Colonists, at that time) and the British troops would've been the regulars.

Here are two prints which represent this battle.  A kind of before and after, if you will.  First, the before, from this website:
And all I have to say about that print is, "Nice hats."  That's the leader of the British forces, General Braddock, on the horse.  Now, the after, which depicts the death of General Braddock during battle, from this website:
And, about that print, all I have to say is, "Damn."

Captain Lee's association with George Washington would be long lasting and is critical to Captain Lee's life.  Washington sent Capt. Lee on that spy escapade in 1781, for instance.  Captain Lee also named one of his sons Washington.  According to a write-up of Capt. Lee's funeral, given by a fellow Mason Bro. Charles Miner, "The name of Washington was held by him in the highest veneration, and whenever mentioned, awakened an enthusiasm to the latest hour, that made his eyes sparkle with the lustre of youth."  They don't write funeral accounts like they used to, am I right?

Alright.  Whew.  I need to take a break.  So far, I've told you that at sixteen, Andrew Lee went into the battle above and was led out of it by Colonel George Washington.  I've shown you the uniform he might've worn during the Revolutionary War (again, please, imagine a more handsome man there).  I've shown you the Mason apron of Captain Lee.  And finally, I've shown you the awesome moustache of the historian responsible for bringing me all this information.

I've spent some more time on da google and found this print.  OK.  Handsome devil on the left.  Picture something like that, only with the uniform of the first photo up above.  Tricorns are sexier than pointy hats.  *sigh*  It's never perfect, is it?  No.  No it's not.

Next post I'll tackle Captain Andrew Lee's Revolutionary War and his extraordinary post-Revolutionary War.  It is in those stories that I hope to convey to you all why it is I've fallen for Captain Lee.  Those stories will be concise and coherent and there won't be all this set-up.  Somehow, this post just ended up being all over  the place.  I'm going to blame that on my cognitive difficulties due to the MS.  MS card!!!  Holla!  I played it!!!

Until next time...