Wednesday, July 25, 2007

8 Things

Even though I wasn't "tagged" specifically, I'm going to participate in the "8 things about myself" meme, if I can think of 8 things that won't put people to sleep - or myself, for that matter.
1. I was born in upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains and I've never gotten over trying to get back to an area like that, with hills and trees and seasons - I presently live in South Florida, which, while quite beautiful in places, is overcrowded and crime-ridden, not to mention no hills and no seasons to speak of - plus it's WAY too expensive.
2a. Have I mentioned I want to move desperately? Anywhere in the Appalachians would do, and I'd consider most other places as long as they have hills, 4 seasons and pretty trees in abundance. Unfortunately, my husband wants to move to Boise, ID. Period. No where else. Just Boise. Meanwhile, we're middle aged, close to normal retirement age (although it looks like we'll never be able to retire financially) - and it's not a good age to look for new jobs......sigh.
2b. I LOVE kitties - I have 4 cats - Neko (named by my daughter - the Japanese word for "cat", Squeebles, Buster and Junior Beans).
3. As another meme-answerer noted - I too have trouble trusting God. My excuse? I also have a distant family. Just not close at all, except for one sister, plus, my father was a rage-a-holic when I was small. He also tried to apologize whenever he lost his temper and hit us, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
4. I love history. My favorite times are delving into the history of some place or person I've been reading about. If you go back a post or two, you'll read all about the genealogy of Ruth Bell Graham - why, you may ask, did I get interested in that? Well, I admired her greatly - and read the story of her father - "A Foreign Devil in China" - and I ran amok from there.
5. At night when I go to sleep, I imagine I'm in another place - in a cabin all snug with snow outside perhaps - and I fall asleep noting all the details - what color are the quilts, what is the scene out the window, the fireplace, etc. Sometimes I try to imagine living in a huge treehouse and how I'd design it. I don't know where this habit of imagining came from, but it works, as bizarre as it might be.
6. I was married 14 years to husband #1 and divorced in 1993. My first husband left me and I raised my only child, my daughter, myself - with a distant family, it was very difficult. I met my present husband in 1994, but we didn't get married until my daughter graduated from high school and went to college.
7. I'm running out of things. I'm overweight and I hate it, but I also hate diets and fads. Add to that the fact that my job is sitting at a desk all day, and I hate to exercise - well, it doesn't bode well for weight loss.
8. I became a Christian in 1974, when a fellow college friend witnessed to me. It was the time of Jesus freaks - so I remember some of the same things as this lovely lady-blogger.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Follow This Trail

I know I'm a compulsive historian and archeologist. After all, my mother caught me trying to dig in the back yard to find lost cities when I was either 8 or 9 years old.

If you read this blog, you'll note that I wrote some about Ruth Bell Graham. Well, when I'm interested in a subject, I'm nothing if not thorough in my compulsion.

I read her biography and I ordered a package of CD's and a matching book called "Ruth Graham, A Pilgrim Journey", which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I found on my book shelf, and dusted off, a copy of the biography of her father, Nelson Bell, "A Foreign Devil In China."

I started reading this book about her father - and the beginning makes lots of references to Virginia ancestry and places. Being a compulsive researcher, I immediately turned to the internet to find places and people - more info, if you will, on what was in the book.

First, I found Belvidere Plantation which, unfortunately, is for sale. Belvidere Plantation is where Nelson Bell's (Ruth Bell Graham's father, the Chinese medical missionary) mother grew up. Her name was Ruth Lee (a lot of children had a middle name of Lee in those days - 1860's - for Robert E. Lee, although there was no family relationship) McCue. She was the daughter of Thomas McCue and Elizabeth Wilson. She was also the lady for whom Ruth Bell Graham was named.

When you go to the Belvidere Plantation web site, make sure you take the virtual tour. You will see something very important in the "parlor".

You will see the three steps and the double window in the "parlor" in the virtual tour. Read this document about Ann Allen. Pay attention to the reference to Belvidere Plantation at the bottom. You may ask, "what has Ann Allen, the woman for whom Ann Arbor, Michigan was named, have to do with Nelson Bell?" Well - her entire name was Ann Isabella Barry McCue. Note the McCue. Her son was Thomas McCue, who built Belvidere Plantation, and the memory of her granddaughter (most likely Nelson Bell's mother?) of hearing her grandmother, Ann Barry McCue, read to her in her mother's room - the present "parlor" - is pretty cool. She recalls coming in and sitting on the three steps by the double window to hear her grandmother read. Remember, Ann Barry McCue died in 1875 - so this would have taken place before then! And there it is in the virtual tour - the steps and the window.

When I find things like this, it just lights me up. I can't explain it - I connect dots that no one else has connected, and I LOVE it.
I read the above document all the way through, and John Marshall McCue was indeed, Ann Barry McCue Allen's first son, the alcoholic.

Meanwhile, at another web site, "Valley of the Shadow", about the Civil War, there are letters from John M. McCue (Thomas' brother) that mention an Anna Barry. If you read this document to the end, you'll see that John's brother Thomas had married in 1844 and had a daughter he named Anna Barry. At the beginning of the sentence in the letter mentioning Anna Barry, John says "Ma" has some physical ailments. "Ma" would be Ann Isabella Barry McCue Allen, the great grandmother of Lemuel Nelson Bell, Ruth Bell Graham's father.

There's also a list of books Mr. McCue wishes to purchase - and being the thorough wacko that I am, I looked for some of the titles on I found one of the most interesting titles "Woman and Her Master" - a copy from 1855, which would seem to be the book Mr. McCue wanted - what could he want with that book? I could not find "Cummings on the Apocalypse", although I tried - and I may try again.....

Here's a letter which refers to someone whose finances are less than desirable - something that happened to Ann's son, John, who lost everything and was the alcoholic.

In fact, go back to the list of letters - doesn't it seem that things are getting worse financially for Mr. John McCue? People are writing to ask that their debts be paid - and he pays in potatoes? Doesn't sound good.

Oh - and for those of you who want an aerial view of the Belvidere property, go here. Go in close and switch to "aerial view" and you'll see the rectangular property with mowed fields all around next to the red star - that's Belvidere Plantation - 705 Knightly Lane.

So here I am, picturing the legacy of the Bells, back to McCue and Barry, a legacy that spreads to Michigan and the naming of a major city, and then to pre WWII China for missionary work. I just wish someone from the McCue family would buy the property - I think it is infinitely sad that after 150 years of being in the family, it goes to whomever will buy it. Luckily, it is designated a historic place in Virginia - I think that protects it.

Well - I'm off to bed now. I have to come away from the vivid past and climb into bed in preparation for another day of work tomorrow. Like my daughter says, I just LOVE to research a subject to DEATH!!

An Inside Job

I wonder how many other people have the same issue - great energy one week, a.k.a. "I can DO it" vs. "I'll pick up that paper on the floor later....sometime after nap" the next week. While sitting in my back room, I come up with some great ideas and projects before I go to work. By the time I finish 7 1/2 hours of work and come home, I don't want to start any projects - I just want to veg. I don't get any exercise at work - I'm a desk j0cky, so I shouldn't be tired when I get home. This past Wednesday I came up with the great project of painting the other back room, better known as my husband's computer/office area, and, when company comes, the extra bedroom. This room is a partially converted garage. I say partially because we just closed off the garage door opening, leaving about 4 feet of storage space on the outside. On the inside we carpeted and put a window air conditioner in - and, voila, an extra room. We didn't raise the floor or REALLY close off the room. If the next person who owns the house wants a garage back, all he has to do is knock out the partition. My daughter lived back in that room for a couple of years and she made a few half hearted attempts (read "partial") to paint it. So, there is a partly black wall (don't ask), two partially light green walls, and the rest is the original beige. Just looking at it gives me the desire to run very far away. However, I decided that this weekend I'm going to begin the project to do it "right". No more just throwing paint on the wall without proper preparation. That has been done for many years by the previous owners. This house was a rental before we bought it, so there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed - unfortunately, by us, the present owners.
First, this Saturday, I have to prep the ceiling for painting. That means covering cracks in the plaster (it's an old ceiling) and then sanding. I'm so out of shape, overweight and totally lacking in motivation that just the thought of sanding a ceiling makes my back hurt. My husband has a bad back and cannot do much either - probably between the two of us, we'll be able to do the job. I guess I'll have to paint with primer next, although once I sand and wash the ceiling, I'm hoping I can just paint the dumb thing, and, hopefully, not have to do two coats. But I want it to look nice when I'm done, so I'll do two coats if I have to.
I'm imagining covering everything - there's no way we can move all the furniture - we'd have to call 911 before we even got to the ceiling. Then I'm imagining the paint all over my husband and I from standing under what we're painting. Then there's the 4 cats - they'll definitely be locked OUT of that room, although we did toy with the idea of just covering them with paint when it comes time to do the walls, and let them rub up against the lower portion of the wall - just think, a whole new "textured" look - and only on the bottom part of the wall! OK, so we won't be doing that, not to mention the fact that I'd never harm one of my babies (my cats are my babies) EVER.
Here's the rest of the story. While I'm messing with this "project" who will clean the house, change the bed, vacuum, etc. etc. - all the usual things I do on Saturday? And, for my husband, while he's messing around with this project, who will mow the back and front yards, edge and weed wack in the 95 degree heat (which feels like 110 because of the humidity)??
I really need to either win the lottery so I can hire people to do all this stuff - or - sell (it's a lousy market right now, though) and buy a condo - a NEW condo that doesn't need work for at least 5 years.
OK - enough whining - I've got to take a nap while I try to build up enough energy to START this whole juggernaut going.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Poinciana Tree Redux

Compare the top picture taken on June 30 to the one below taken a few weeks ago - the whole top of the tree is in bloom. Someone said that the poincianas are so happy that there was no hurricane last year that they're all blooming like crazy. May this year be the same!

Today is the 4th of July, but in South Florida, there is usually so much rain in the afternoon and evening, that it precludes much outdoor activity. Right now it is about 4PM and the skies are black and pouring rain, with lightning bolts and cracks of thunder.

Regarding the 4th, I love my country, but the days seem dark and threatening, just like the sky outside my window. America has changed so much from the great behemoth that turned the tide in WWII. I read Alistair Cooke's "The American Home Front 1941-42" not long ago - he wrote it while traveling around this country during the early days of WWII. We made everything here - no "made in China." The immigrants had not overpowered the culture of America yet, but assimilated it. The observations he made in some of the small towns he stopped in were not starry eyed, but included both the good and the bad, but the overall impression was one of strength, a nation of Judeo-Christian ethics and one that believed in a right and wrong. The people in general were willing to sacrifice whatever was necessary, including their lives, to fight off Hitler. There was no recorded whining about rationing, food substitutes, and worst of all - not knowing where a loved one was or whether they were alive from one day to the next, or would ever come home again. Perhaps there were those who disapproved of the war and those who resented the incursions into the comfort of their lives, but they were shunned in their communities and they were not given a pulpit to preach from. That American, I fear, is, not the norm today. And if it is, the Media won't have you know he exists.