Saturday, August 25, 2012

"The Shot Heard 'Round the World"

I like to check out the books at thrift shops, I found a little gem  of a book about George Washington last time I was browsing the racks of used books. It's a smallish, pocket sized book entitled "George Washington and the Mormons" by John J. Stewart and published by Deseret Book Company in 1967. With such an intriguing title and a price tag of $1.00, it immediately made it into my shopping basket. After reading this book, I really gained new knowledge and insight about George Washington and some of the circumstances surrounding events leading up to and including the Revolutionary War. I wanted to share some of what I learned. I have a much greater respect for these men now and am in awe at the greatness and tenacity of the personality of Washington. The job he was called to do was terribly difficult and he stated often in his letters that had he forseen how difficult his command of the fledgling army would be, nothing upon the earth would have induced him to accept that command. But Washington was not a quitter and he believed in the cause enough to become a man 'with a price on his head', and branded as a traitor to Britian. He did not give up in the face of difficulty, he persevered and knew the cause he was engaged in was just, as did the other men and women who stood with him.

"Could I have forseen what I have, and am likely to experience,no consideration upon earth should have induced me to accept this command."  (Quote from George Washington's letter to Joseph Reed dated November 28, 1775)
How to get furnished I know not. I have applied to this and neighboring colonies, but with what success time only can tell. The reflection on my situation, and that of this army, produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in, on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what causes it flows. I have often thought how much happier I should have been, if, instead of accepting of a command under such circumstances, I had taken my musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks, or, if I could have justified the measure to posterity and my own conscience, had retired to the back country, and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise superior to these and many other difficulties, which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe, that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we get well through this month, it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages we labor under.” (Quote from George Washington's letter to Joseph Reed dated January 14, 1776.)
"We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."(Benjamin Franklin, In the Continental Congress just before signing  the Declaration of Independence, 1776.)

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated." (Quote from Tomas Paine's first Crisis papers. Originally published in the Pennsylvania Journal, December 19, 1776.)

"To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie on, without shoes, by which their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet, and almost as often without provisions as with them marching through the frost and snow..." (Washington's letter to the President of Congress, written at Valley Forge, December 23, 1777.)

Many thanks to the men and women who did not give up in the face of crisis. I only hope today we are not putting too light a price on our continued freedom.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ringwood- A bit of History and Nostalgia

Manor Grounds
Manor Grounds
Ringwood Manor
Statuary at the manor
In my old hometown of Ringwood, there were two manor houses (Ringwood Manor and Skylands Manor) and you could wander the grounds and see the sights of house and garden quite freely back then. I wandered these houses and their gardens often. We'd cut through the woods to get there and my friends and I would spend the afternoon picnicing or just wandering. Ringwood Manor was a historically significant place and I loved the history...'Washington slept here!' I loved the giant iron chain, used to blockade the Hudson River during the Revolutionary war, I loved the formal gardens, and I really loved the cemetary where historical figures were buried. I felt a connection to them, and it was very peaceful there looking out over the small lake, dotted with water lilies and waterfowl, in the pleasant sunshine. I imagined what it would be like to live in such a place and what it would have been like to be alive at the historical time period when the manor was an actual home.
Ringwood Manor Gravesites

Brief Historical Timeline....Ringwood Manor & Ironworks

Prehistorical land of the Lenape Indians, it was a woodland paradise. The iron ore was so abundant it was visible on the surface of the ground.

Colonial peoples began to smelt the iron ore in the 1740's. Within 20 years there was an iron furnace, three forges, a grist mill, a saw mill, a worker's community and stores and farms in operation in the area.
Ruins of the Iron Works at Long Pond, the Indian word for Greenwood Lake.

Revolutionary War.....During the Revolutionary War times the manager of the IronWorks was Robert Erskine (I attended Robert Erskine Elementary School, and lived on Erskine Lake in Ringwood as a girl.) Erskine made Ringwood his headquarters and lived in an earlier version of the manor house. Erskine sided with the American Patriots during the war and became the mapmaker for General George Washington. Erskine was the Army's first Geographer and Surveyor General. He produced over 200 accurate maps and the manor hosted General Washington at least 5 times.

Iron Canon and Chain, manor in the background.
The Great Chain.....Iron ore from the Ringwood mines was used to create the 'Great Hudson River Chain' which was used to blockade the river to keep British naval vessels out during the war. A piece of the chain is displayed on the manor grounds. Iron ore from the Ringwood mines was also used to provide the army with tools, hardware and ovens during the revolutionary times.

In the 19th Century......Martin J.Ryerson purchased the ironworks and began building the present manor house in 1807. Ryerson ran the ironworks for 50 years. Ringwood iron ore was used to make shot for the war of 1812.

Eleanor Hewitt, who some stay still roams the manor
New York Industrialist, Peter Cooper, and his son-in-law Abram S. Hewitt purchased Ringwood in 1854. The manor house became the Hewitt's summer home and they added to it in the 1860's and 70's. The manor boasts 24 fireplaces, 28 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, and is a mixture of styles that characterize the Victorian Era. The Hewitt's entertained often in the manor. When the family retired from the iron industry they donated the estate to the state of New Jersey in 1936. They gave it furniture and all, so as such it is an important historical snap shot of life during that time period.

The end of an era....In the 1950's the ironworks finally closed down. When I lived in Ringwood, the old mine area was inhabitated by a unique racial group called the Ramapough Mountain People (or slang; Jackson-Whites), a racially mixed group of mostly Native American, Black, and Hessian descent.

Ringwood Manor State Park operates today, and during October there are special evening tours where you might catch a climpse of Mrs. Hewitt, who is said to haunt the upstairs of the manor house, Robert Erskine whom they say sits outside near his grave in the mornings, or the midnight moanings of the French soldiers, who are also buried there.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August will fly by...

Oh the joy of having 7 days off! But it is to be paid for with 7 days on at work! Hospital shifts, gotta love 'em, right?

I have 90% of the wedding decorations done for my good friend's wedding this Friday. Today I will cut big squares of tulle fabric for the tablecloth overlays. Last week I made over 200 molded chocolates to put on the goodie plates. It is not hard to make them, you just need a little patience and some time. I have been making centerpieces for a dozen tables, too, using items I had from my daughters wedding and adding to them, changing flower colors, etc.

Molded chocolates for my friend's wedding.
I am really overjoyed for my friend, she was getting discouraged about finding Mr. Right and then it happened and I wish her every happiness!! I think I did as much or more than for my own daughter's wedding for this one! Its been fun though and I was able to do some crafting that is always an enjoyable activity for me. Another friend and I made the Bride's bouquet, and the throwing bouquet. I need to get pics!

This summer I have a ton of tiny vacations planned, kindof like last summer, they come in snippets and yes some of them revolve around Incubus concerts, of course! It wouldn't be summer without at least one Incubus concert, lol! Two of the tiny vacations have been taken already, first in May for the meet and greet in Omaha/Iowa and recently to Colorado to visit family and bring my Mom home from Colorado where she had been visiting.

We have company coming from Japan on the 19th, so we will try to do lots of interesting stuff while Shinji is here, too. Park City, Antelope Island, Shooting Range, Raceway, Soccer or Baseball games, etc. Meanwhile Tony and I are planning a trip back to Japan as well sometime later in the fall while his language skills are still fresh, but there are lots of considerations like arranging my work schedule, to factor in. I've been saving up money for it. Now I hope my leg and skin troubles stay at bay so I can actually make that trip without too much discomfort.

Park City Alpine Slide
The next of my tiny trips is planned for Colorado, again, around my birthday, to see the Incubus/Linkin Park concert. I have killer VIP seats, woo hoo! Tony will be my travel buddy and we will visit my sis and her family again, briefly, as it will be a quick trip. 

Attending 2 of these this summer.

Then I'll be going to San Diego with my other son and his family in about a month, yes there's a concert in there, but also the Zoo and a trip to the California beaches! 

San Diego Zoo

In Oct my daughter and her family move from Alabama back to N.C. So hubby and I will be going out there to help them move, whew. Her spouse will be graduating from flight school so we will be celebrating his wonderful accomplishment, too. I guess we will rent another mini-van for the move like we did before. We'll give the great danes the vet prescribed amount of benadryl and pack Bernard into his crate (in the back of the mini-van) before he gets too sleepy because otherwise he will be impossible to move- 150 pounds of drowsy great dane does not for easy moving make......, Taz will snooze in the back of Angie's car and then we will boggie on up to North Carolina. We made a scene last time while they were moving because it was just us two short women and a 5 year old girl out there herding these giant dogs around at the rest stop or on the periphery of the Mc Donalds parking lot! This time we'll have Steve and Gregg with us so it should be a piece of cake, right?

Bernard, the Great Dane.
I may also be travelling to my Mom's too, during the month, along with all this other stuff, if she gets her knee surgery scheduled. She'll need my help for a bit.Whew! I might as well live out of a sleeping bag because I will surely be missing my bed with all the travelling that is supposed to happen.

Wow what a ramble that was but it helps dump some of the extra info floating around in my brain so I can make better sense of it all. I'll need my own personal secretary if my life gets any busier, and a cook and a maid too!!!!

Here's to adventure and may you enjoy every day!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Old Story....


Once there lived a handsome young man named Ram Singh, who, though a favourite with everyone, was unhappy because he had a scold for a step-mother. All day long she went on talking, until the youth was driven so distracted that he determined to go away somewhere and seek his fortune. No sooner had he decided to leave his home than he made his plans, and the very next morning he started off with a few clothes in a wallet, and a little money in his pocket.
But there was one person in the village to whom he wished to say good-bye, and that was a wise old guru, or teacher, who had taught him much. So he turned his face first of all towards his master’s hut, and before the sun was well up was knocking at his door. The old man received his pupil affectionately; but he was wise in reading faces, and saw at once that the youth was in trouble.
‘My son,’ said he, ‘what is the matter?’
‘Nothing, father,’ replied the young man, ‘but I have determined to go into the world and seek my fortune.’
‘Be advised,’ returned the guru, ‘and remain in your father’s house; it is better to have half a loaf at home than to seek a whole one in distant countries.’
But Ram Singh was in no mood to heed such advice, and very soon the old man ceased to press him.
‘Well,’ said he at last, ‘if your mind is made up I suppose you must have your way. But listen carefully, and remember five parting counsels which I will give you; and if you keep these no evil shall befall you. First—always obey without question the orders of him whose service you enter; second—never speak harshly or unkindly to anyone; third—never lie; fourth—never try to appear the equal of those above you in station; and fifth—wherever you go, if you meet those who read or teach from the holy books, stay and listen, if but for a few minutes, that you may be strengthened in the path of duty.’
Then Ram Singh started out upon his journey, promising to bear in mind the old man’s words.
After some days he came to a great city. He had spent all the money which he had at starting, and therefore resolved to look for work however humble it might be. Catching sight of a prosperous-looking merchant standing in front of a shop full of grain of all kinds, Ram Singh went up to him and asked whether he could give him anything to do. The merchant gazed at him so long that the young man began to lose heart, but at length he answered:
‘Yes, of course; there is a place waiting for you.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Ram Singh.
‘Why,’ replied the other, ‘yesterday our rajah’s chief wazir dismissed his body servant and is wanting another. Now you are just the sort of person that he needs, for you are young and tall, and handsome; I advise you to apply there.’
Thanking the merchant for this advice, the young man set out at once for the wazir’s house, and soon managed, thanks to his good looks and appearance, to be engaged as the great man’s servant.
One day, soon after this, the rajah of the place started on a journey and the chief wazir accompanied him. With them was an army of servants and attendants, soldiers, muleteers, camel-drivers, merchants with grain and stores for man and beast, singers to make entertainment by the way and musicians to accompany them, besides elephants, camels, horses, mules, ponies, donkeys, goats, and carts and wagons of every kind and description, so that it seemed more like a large town on the march than anything else.
Thus they travelled for several days, till they entered a country that was like a sea of sand, where the swirling dust floated in clouds, and men and beasts were half choked by it. Towards the close of that day they came to a village, and when the headmen hurried out to salute the rajah and to pay him their respects, they began, with very long and serious faces, to explain that, whilst they and all that they had were of course at the disposal of the rajah, the coming of so large a company had nevertheless put them into a dreadful difficulty because they had never a well nor spring of water in their country; and they had no water to give drink to such an army of men and beasts!
Great fear fell upon the host at the words of the headmen, but the rajah merely told the wazir that he must get water somehow, and that settled the matter so far as he was concerned. The wazir sent off in haste for all the oldest men in the place, and began to question them as to whether there were no wells near by.
They all looked helplessly at each other, and said nothing; but at length one old grey-beard replied:
‘Truly, Sir Wazir, there is, within a mile or two of this village, a well which some former king made hundreds of years ago. It is, they say, great and inexhaustible, covered in by heavy stone-work and with a flight of steps leading down to the water in the very bowels of the earth; but no man ever goes near it because it is haunted by evil spirits, and it is known that whoso disappears down the well shall never be seen again.’
The wazir stroked his beard and considered a moment. Then he turned to Ram Singh who stood behind his chair.
‘There is a proverb,’ said he, ‘that no man can be trusted until he has been tried. Go you and get the rajah and his people water from this well.’
Then there flashed into Ram Singh’s mind the first counsel of the old guru—‘Always obey without question the orders of him whose service you enter.’ So he replied at once that he was ready, and left to prepare for his adventure. Two great brazen vessels he fastened to a mule, two lesser ones he bound upon his shoulders, and thus provided he set out, with the old villager for his guide. In a short time they came to a spot where some big trees towered above the barren country, whilst under their shadow lay the dome of an ancient building. This the guide pointed out as the well, but excused himself from going further as he was an old man and tired, and it was already nearly sunset, so that he must be returning home. So Ram Singh bade him farewell, and went on alone with the mule.

The giant, carrying his wife's remains, confronts Ram Singh

Arrived at the trees, Ram Singh tied up his beast, lifted the vessels from his shoulder, and having found the opening of the well, descended by a flight of steps which led down into the darkness. The steps were broad white slabs of alabaster which gleamed in the shadows as he went lower and lower. All was very silent. Even the sound of his bare feet upon the pavements seemed to wake an echo in that lonely place, and when one of the vessels which he carried slipped and fell upon the steps it clanged so loudly that he jumped at the noise. Still he went on, until at last he reached a wide pool of sweet water, and there he washed his jars with care before he filled them, and began to remount the steps with the lighter vessels, as the big ones were so heavy he could only take up one at a time. Suddenly, something moved above him, and looking up he saw a great giant standing on the stairway! In one hand he held clasped to his heart a dreadful looking mass of bones, in the other was a lamp which cast long shadows about the walls, and made him seem even more terrible than he really was.
‘What think you, O mortal,’ said the giant, ‘of my fair and lovely wife?’ And he held the light towards the bones in his arms and looked lovingly at them.
Now I must tell you that this poor giant had had a very beautiful wife, whom he had loved dearly; but, when she died, her husband refused to believe in her death, and always carried her about long after she had become nothing but bones. Ram Singh of course did not know of this, but there came to his mind the second wise saying of the guru, which forbade him to speak harshly or inconsiderately to others; so he replied:
‘Truly, sir, I am sure you could find nowhere such another.’
‘Ah, what eyes you have!’ cried the delighted giant, ‘you at least can see! I do not know how often I have slain those who insulted her by saying she was but dried bones! You are a fine young man, and I will help you.’
So saying, he laid down the bones with great tenderness, and snatching up the huge brass vessels, carried them up again, and replaced them with such ease that it was all done by the time that Ram Singh had reached the open air with the smaller ones.
‘Now,’ said the giant, ‘you have pleased me, and you may ask of me one favour, and whatever you wish I will do it for you. Perhaps you would like me to show you where lies buried the treasure of dead kings?’ he added eagerly.
But Ram Singh shook his head at the mention of buried wealth.
‘The favour that I would ask,’ said he, ‘is that you will leave off haunting this well, so that men may go in and out and obtain water.’
Perhaps the giant expected some favour more difficult to grant, for his face brightened, and he promised to depart at once; and as Ram Singh went off through the gathering darkness with his precious burden of water, he beheld the giant striding away with the bones of his dead wife in his arms.
Great was the wonder and rejoicing in the camp when Ram Singh returned with the water. He never said anything, however, about his adventure with the giant, but merely told the rajah that there was nothing to prevent the well being used; and used it was, and nobody ever saw any more of the giant.
The rajah was so pleased with the bearing of Ram Singh that he ordered the wazir to give the young man to him in exchange for one of his own servants. So Ram Singh became the rajah’s attendant; and as the days went by the king became more and more delighted with the youth because, mindful of the old guru’s third counsel, he was always honest and spoke the truth. He grew in favour rapidly, until at last the rajah made him his treasurer, and thus he reached a high place in the court and had wealth and power in his hands. Unluckily the rajah had a brother who was a very bad man; and this brother thought that if he could win the young treasurer over to himself he might by this means manage to steal little by little any of the king’s treasure which he needed. Then, with plenty of money, he could bribe the soldiers and some of the rajah’s counsellors, head a rebellion, dethrone and kill his brother, and reign himself instead. He was too wary, of course, to tell Ram Singh of all these wicked plans; but he began by flattering him whenever he saw him, and at last offered him his daughter in marriage. But Ram Singh remembered the fourth counsel of the old guru—never to try to appear the equal of those above him in station—therefore he respectfully declined the great honour of marrying a princess. Of course the prince, baffled at the very beginning of his enterprise, was furious, and determined to work Ram Singh’s ruin, and entering the rajah’s presence he told him a story about Ram Singh having spoken  insulting words of his sovereign and of his daughter. What it was all about nobody knew, and, as it was not true, the wicked prince did not know either; but the rajah grew very angry and red in the face as he listened, and declared that until the treasurer’s head was cut off neither he nor the princess nor his brother would eat or drink.
‘But,’ added he, ‘I do not wish any one to know that this was done by my desire, and anyone who mentions the subject will be severely punished.’ And with this the prince was forced to be content.
Then the rajah sent for an officer of his guard, and told him to take some soldiers and ride at once to a tower which was situated just outside the town, and if anyone should come to inquire when the building was going to be finished, or should ask any other questions about it, the officer must chop his head off, and bring it to him. As for the body, that could be buried on the spot. The old officer thought these instructions rather odd, but it was no business of his, so he saluted, and went off to do his master’s bidding.
Early in the morning the rajah, who had not slept all night, sent for Ram Singh, and bade him go to the new hunting-tower, and ask the people there how it was getting on and when it was going to be finished, and to hurry back with the answer! Away went Ram Singh upon his errand, but, on the road, as he was passing a little temple on the outskirts of the city, he heard someone inside reading aloud; and, remembering the guru’s fifth counsel, he just stepped inside and sat down to listen for a minute. He did not mean to stay longer, but became so deeply interested in the wisdom of the teacher, that he sat, and sat, and sat, while the sun rose higher and higher.
In the meantime, the wicked prince, who dared not disobey the rajah’s command, was feeling very hungry; and as for the princess, she was quietly crying in a corner waiting for the news of Ram Singh’s death, so that she might eat her breakfast.
Hours passed, and stare as he might from the window no messenger could be seen.
At last the prince could bear it no longer, and hastily disguising himself so that no one should recognise him, he jumped on a horse and galloped out to the hunting-tower, where the rajah had told him that the execution was to take place. But, when he got there, there was no execution going on. There were only some men engaged in building, and a number of soldiers idly watching them. He forgot that he had disguised himself and that no one would know him, so, riding up, he cried out:
‘Now then, you men, why are you idling about here instead of finishing what you came to do? When is it to be done?’
At his words the soldiers looked at the commanding officer, who was standing a little apart from the rest. Unperceived by the prince he made a slight sign, a sword flashed in the sun, and off flew a head on the ground beneath!
As part of the prince’s disguise had been a thick beard, the men did not recognise the dead man as the rajah’s brother; but they wrapped the head in a cloth, and buried the body as their commander bade them. When this was ended, the officer took the cloth, and rode off in the direction of the palace.
Meanwhile the rajah came home from his council, and to his great surprise found neither head nor brother awaiting him; as time passed on, he became uneasy, and thought that he had better go himself and see what the matter was. So ordering his horse he rode off alone.
It happened that, just as the rajah came near to the temple where Ram Singh still sat, the young treasurer, hearing the sound of a horse’s hoofs, looked over his shoulder and saw that the rider was the rajah himself!  Feeling much ashamed of himself for having forgotten his errand, he jumped up and hurried out to meet his master, who reined up his horse, and seemed very surprised (as indeed he was) to see him. At that moment there arrived the officer of the guard carrying his parcel. He saluted the rajah gravely, and, dismounting, laid the bundle in the road and began to undo the wrappings, whilst the rajah watched him with wonder and interest. When the last string was undone, and the head of his brother was displayed to his view, the rajah sprang from his horse and caught the soldier by the arm. As soon as he could speak he questioned the man as to what had occurred, and little by little a dark suspicion darted through him. Then, briefly telling the soldier that he had done well, the rajah drew Ram Singh to one side, and in a few minutes learned from him how, in attending to the guru’s counsel, he had delayed to do the king’s message.
In the end the rajah found from some papers the proofs of his dead brother’s treachery; and Ram Singh established his innocence and integrity. He continued to serve the rajah for many years with unswerving fidelity; and married a maiden of his own rank in life, with whom he lived happily; dying at last honoured and loved by all men. Sons and daughters were born to him; and, in time, to them also he taught the five wise sayings of the old guru.
(A Punjâbi story.)