Saturday, August 31, 2019

so, upon publishing puritan leveretts, i got started on the next phase, which i tentatively call pioneer leveretts, although in fact i'm finding they aren't quite all pioneers, and i can't always even figure out who they were, half the time. so i've got my head in old genealogy, trying to figure out who's who, and i'm totally absorbed in this stuff, and all kinds of things are happening in the fam. and then, there's another big shooting, and also, a menacing hurricane off the coast of florida.

so these old leveretts, one appears out of nowhere, and then the deacon's daughter is pregnant, and he whisks her off to needham (from chelsea) and they start having babies. but he goes off and fights in the revolution, which nobody ever knew before. that's because he was in a late-formed regiment, or something. but he was in the battle of monmouth, and the battle of rhode island too. so he got around.

but needham? turns out that was the address for natick, and natick was the biggest of the praying towns. now those towns were decimated, ruined, destroyed, in philip's war. but needham was a nothing connected to a nothing left. makes me wonder if he didn't maybe know somebody in that praying town, or have a reason to go back there. he's raising his kids there in needham, or at least they call it needham, before they call it natick. but it could have been natick too.

big old mass killing, and that's what happens these days, you just reach out, grab some military hardware, and let them have it. everyone. made us nervous, because we're just up the road, though we're in another state. lots of our tourists are from midland-odessa. texans all over the place.

but back to this revolution guy. he had a son, and that son fell in with the baptists. well, maybe his wife lydia wasn't a baptist, but her sister sarah had definitely married one, or at least his mother was one, and they were setting out to convert everyone, because maybe it was the great awakening or something. he had a couple of twins by lydia and then a girl, and then joseph, and we're talking 1803 here, and then a couple more twins, warren and washington.

but this leverett dies, maybe he can't handle the conversions going on. turns out his oldest son will become a baptist minister. so will his brother-in-law's brother, and eventually that brother will convert warren and washington, and there will be baptists all over the place. but in the meantime, lydia is having trouble. she has five kids, and her husband has died. she agrees to send young joseph, who is now seven, to maine.

what i've read says he goes to live with aunt walker, who would be her father's sister. but it also says aunt walker is his mother's side aunt, so there's a missing connection there. the way i find all these baptists, is by looking for an aunt walker on his mother lydia's side. on lydia's side all i find is sarah fullur, and joseph griggs, and the baptists, joseph's mother, and joseph's brother. it does appear that these griggs might have gone up to maine. and it's also possible that they, or at least some of them, ended up in illinois.

so there are two epic trips. one is in 1810, or thereabouts, when joseph is seven, and he gets a ride up to maine but has to walk the last few miles to the aunt's house, alone. and he does. and he grows up in maine, does some service and gets married. second epic trip: he takes a wagon, and goes 1600 miles, and ends up in quincy illinois, where apparently some of these relatives have come, from maine, to start all over. now in quincy, they land in 1863, and the mormons arrive in 1869, and get booted out of nauvoo in 1876, or some such thing, but my ancestors are farmers. they are inland from the river about twenty miles, and they are building a house, and a school, and growing stuff, and not paying much attention to the mormons. that's the pioneers i like.

well it turns out that maybe sarah and joseph griggs went out there too, and samuel for sure, he was a baptist minister by now. and samuel, by the way, joseph's brother, was up in vermont, being a baptist, when lydia sent the young twins, warren and washington, up to vermont at about the age of 14. they went on to academic success and ended up in southern illinois too, in alton, in shurtlieff college. so out in southern illinois you have warren, washington, joseph leverett and family, and possibly some of these griggs, like joseph and sarah, and possibly james a. walker and katharine leverett walker as well, his aunt walker. and some of these, i'm thinking the walkers, might have come along on the epic 1600-mile trip.

hurricane, by the way, just stalling out there in bermuda, or the bahamas, or wherever, fixin' to hit florida or whatever. and, killers, shooting up west texas.

so, anyway, all that is yet to come. back in brookline, or roxbury, poor lydia had a couple more kids, these being griggs, because she did as her sister did, marry a griggs, after old man leverett was gone. and of the five leveretts she had, the oldest, william, became reverend william of brookline, a baptist minister. sarah, i'm not sure, but joseph, he was the pioneer, and then there was warren and wahington and the two griggs. so she had her hands full, and never quite left boston. she ended up dying in her oldest son's place.

the great awakening really messed with our family, i guess. it seems that one thing that happened was everyone started talking about how great everyone was, when in fact, they were kind of living in squalor, which became obvious when the civil war became documented. by the time of the civil war, all these ancestors were out in illinois, or even further, and the war looked different out there than it does back in brookline. but i'm marching slowly, surely, through american history, and it looks like i'm leaving the boston area, finally, and going out to the prairie where i'm more comfortable.

the thing is, these little towns around boston didn't keep very good records. and althogh there was tons about those early puritans, now that i'm in the dark corners of the 1700's, i've got two problems: much less on the web, and, small towns. needham, woburn, chelsea, medford, some of these weren't even towns as we know them today. and these guys were slipping in and out of them like, well, if they said they were from woburn, what did anyone know? they were kind of like from all of them, or any of them, it didn't matter. now boston kept track. you get born in boston, someone will know. but these other towns, maybe not. and maine? well, maine's doing the best it can, i can tell you that.

hurricane brewing, a cool night in the rainy season out on the porch; it rained earlier. i gave my wife a head start, trying to get to sleep. hopefully we'll all sleep a bit. anything can happen tomorrow, anything.

Friday, August 30, 2019

ii finally finished, published a book, "puritan leveretts," about some of my ancestors, and immediately upon finishing delved into the next few, which i intended to call "pioneer leveretts." this would be based upon two stories which i will relate. but the stories involved immediately became more complicated upon doing just a little research.

first, there is much less on the web about the early seventeen hundreds, when the story starts. you have these three williams to keep track of - one, parentage unknown, two, walks into chelsea mass, marries the deacon's daughter, and flees to needham, three, the guy dies when his son joseph is six. joseph is our ancestor for sure. joseph is the pioneer, goes from maine to illinois in a stage, farms in illinois.

but to go back to these williams - no record of williams, in any of the towns around boston, and questions abound. the second one married a rachel watts, and down in georgia, some william leverett was doing the same thing, so scant information was getting crossed and repeated through the lines, and some of their kids might be georgian kids, for all i know. two williams, two rachel watts wives, two revolutionary war service records, two sets of kids. one site actually listed poor rachel as being born in mass. but dying in georgia. i don't think so. but stranger things have happened in this world.

but then, wondering why our william would want to whisk his new wife, rachel, off to needham, which was a village to the west of boston, i encountered more surprises. needham included natick, and natick was one of the first praying towns. that is, there were a lot of native americans there, many of whom had converted, and mixed with whites, and were living in the western part of what was then needham, but is now natick. it's possible that this guy had people out there. he seems to be somewhat of a mystery, this william and his father, because his father appears out of nowhere. and the things they say about him, "from woburn," or whatever, could be "from anywhere," since there's no record.

some people have pointed out that there could have been several leverett families in massachusetts in the late 1600's early 1700's. yes indeed. i'm not bound to the assumption that they all came from the same one. when young joseph wrote his memoirs, which are around somewhere, and which i still haven't turned up, he said, it's family story that we're related to the governor, but not the president of harvard. i take this to heart, and take his word.

these pioneers had it tough, although it could just be the rose-colored glasses i look through. young joseph, who cut timbers in the woods near the androscoggin river in maine, what is now livermore falls, hauled these timbers down to portland for use as ship masts in a burgeoning ship industry. he was allegedly being raised by his aunt walker, but there is no sign of aunt walker either in maine or in illinois where they all ended up. of course looking for a walker in the early 1800's is like looking for a needle in a needle haystack, and i could be missing all kinds of things here. they all went out to illinois, in a stage, and started farming the rich soil around quincy, and this was really the beginning of my family, since i can't really pin down these williams, and have no idea if those puritans, thomas, john the governor, hudson, and john the president (not my ancestor) were even real ancestors. the link is broken in the late 1600's/early 1700's with our william, and the witch trials were right around then, and the link between hudson, if joseph is right, and this shadowy william, well, who knows. could be that praying town, i'm kind of figuring.

Sunday, August 25, 2019


i was at a small beach in colorado with my grandkids, trying to teach them about sandcastles. they were busy and not particularly interested. in my mind, the lesson about sandcastles is one of the most important in life. it goes like this: the lake waves come, and wash it away, sooner or later, and there isn’t much you can do about it.

of course, i always make my sandcastles pretty close to the edge of the lake. the waves are constant there, and some are bigger than others, so those actually do some damage. to me it’s a testament of my being there, that the moat gets bigger or smaller, the turrets get protected or moved out of the way, the water has someplace to go. it becomes a symbol of my constant desire to make the world better, to change it, to shift it around, to make a mark on it. i try to show them as they walk by. they by and large think i’m a silly old guy.

my grandson, the youngest, is only two. he has found some people who have actual toys, like a shovel and a pail, and they of course don’t mind his using them. this makes him very busy, since he can try to see what it’s like to take whole shovelfuls of sand and put them in the pail, and then tip them out. he doesn’t offer to apply his new methods to my sandcastle, since to him what’s important is the kind of change he himself can cause to the beach. he has his own little territory where there are some cattails nearby and some green swampy wetland plants and flowers – it’s a little shadier over there.

my granddaughter however is much more social. she’s about nine, and to her it’s all about other nine year olds, and what they like and how they view the world. she doesn’t care so much about the sand and what you can make with it, but she really cares about the people and what they know how to do. for example: can you swim? can you splash? how do you splash so you can splash the most water? she’s become fast friends within minutes with another girl who is about her age.

to the parents, my daughter and her husband, it’s a small break. if the kids are outside, and busy, and playing, that’s good, and if they are ignoring grandpa, that’s not a problem, since grandpa is at least happy nd enjoying their presence. the sandcastles are irrelevant. they come and go anyway. the sunburn, that’ll hang around, but only if you’re not on top of the sunscreen.

Friday, August 23, 2019

rumbling in the sky, as it's rainy season. it may be, we're having more rain than usual, though apparently, every july and august are like this to some degree. this rumbling seems to be from the east, though most of the rain seems to come up from the southwest, down by oaxaca state in mexico, where the hurricanes roll in from the pacific. then they dissipate, to some degree, and float around up here around the desert dropping what little moisture the desert gets for the whole twelve months. the mountains i'm in, which stick up out of a wide desert, seem to attract a lot of these clouds, and we in the mountains sometimes get as much as thirty or forty inches in a rainy season. and this appears to be one of them.

so i hear this rumbling, and i gather up the garbage to take it out to the truck. i've been simply putting the garbage in the back of the truck because there's no room in the tiny house, and, because the back of the truck shuts up ok, it's relatively safe from animals around here. don't feed the bears, they say, and it is quite tragic when somebody feeds them, because, wanting to or not, making bears dependent makes them dangerous. the bears come to town, the bears get in the dumpsters, the bears feed off of hummingbird feeders or food that people leave out for other animals. don't feed the bears, they say.

so i latch the back of the truck, and i notice two things outside, besides the constant rumbling. first is that there's a glorious sunset. now the sunset is off in the west, while the rumbling and all the nasty clouds are in the east, but it's a glorious sunset nonetheless. i read somewhere on facebook that all these families are down in las cruces waiting for the first football game of the season - a big one - but they're all waiting in their cars, because, though cruces has maybe two rainstorms a year, tonight appears to be one of them. it could be that they too are having an unusual amount of rain. that, for them, might be about eight inches as opposed to maybe two. people just don't have yards there - don't have grass, don't plant things that need water - they just accept that it's desert and live with it. that's something i would never be able to do.

second thing i noticed was this enormous rabbit. we have a kind of desert rabbit out here. the desert rabbits are enormous. now ours, an especially big fella, is probably bigger than at least two of our puppies. he's huge. but he's not exactly in the desert. on the contrary, he has a wild patch of overgrown grasses that seem to be taking over the place with all this rain. in other words, he's in paradise, and he knows it.

now in town, there's a crisis of feral cats. they had about a dozen, and the lady at allsup's was feeding them, and someone pitched in to make sure they were all spayed, and she loved them, and they came around to the allsup's parking lot every night all winter. but now, apparently someone has dropped off another dozen - they've come from all over - and now it's a big problem, and somebody's moving in to do them in. what we need is a no-kill shelter. but i don't see any volunteers, and i'm not about to volunteer our farm. my wife can't handle the two we have already.

the place has steady traffic of all kinds of other wildlife. there are deer, elk, and the rabbits that don't even bother hiding themselves. i suspect we have bears and lions too, but we don't see them much. the bears, i'm pretty sure, found the honey we left lying around when we cut this old oak that appeared to have thousands of bees. but i believe we have more. i know there are rattlers around, so i encourage our pets to stay close by on the porch. there are lots of hummingbirds, millions of flies, and other kinds of creatures all over the place.

no, cats would upset the balance, i'd be the first to admit that. it's the rabbits, in fact, that i like the most. the puppies sometimes seem able to live with that big one, and he's real comfortable, just making short hops around his blessed garden of overgrown green stuff that we have all over the place. i'd call it grass, but it's really more than that: it has wildflowers, weeds, all kinds of stuff. to him, it's paradise on earth, and to me, well, i at least get to watch him.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

rainy season here, a storm is coming in from the east, and there's lots of lightning, so the puppy's nervous and giving shrill barks. we have to settle him down, because it's actually quite calming, and soothing, when you move out from texas, where it's a hundred and six and never really rains at all. here, it's rained almost all month, since the end of june really, and it's never really gotten over eighty five. heaven for me, i say, especially since, in my old age, i'd begun suffering from swoons in the heat. i moved to texas knowing full well that it would be a little powerful, the heat, but yet when it came right down to it, i'd gotten old, and it was a little too much.

so here, the rainy season, or the "monsoons" as they call them, last through july and august and then pretty much shut down for the year; we don't get much rain september to june. but this is enough. the green grasses are growing wildly and the trees are sinking their roots; the cows are wandering around blissfully because there is grass in literally every valley. i have to keep the car windows shut, and the shed door shut. i'm pulling weeds constantly to try to get the right green stuff to grow up on our land. i'm getting certain smaller trees out, so that the larger ones will have a better chance.

i've had a rough bout with my hearing. what happened was, i had a distended septum - the wall separating the nostrils was bent over to one side - so that when i started using the c-pap, it blew air up into my ears on one side, and got hopelessly clogged on the other. this was not good and was a pattern that went on for about a year and a half. the c-pap people adjusted, fussed, gave me different masks, and never quite got on to the fact that it was doing different things in different nostrils. i felt like i was hearing everything through a swimming pool, but i knew it was bad as well, and might be damaging my hearing - in fact it might have. but it didn't really hurt, so much as just cover everything with the sound of things coming through water. and amplifying it through hearing aids didn't really help - it was still coming through water.

by now my hearing aids have been adjusted from "mild hearing loss" to "severe hearing loss" - in other words, i have them cranked to high amplification - but i still feel like sounds are coming through a swimming pool. why would i want to amplify that? i think of the things around me that i can amplify, and really, i'd rather just have them off. and i'd rather have the c-pap off too, if it's going to damage my hearing. i just feel like i'll take what little hearing i have left and enjoy every minute of it.

but this morning, a friend put the ashokan farewell song on facebook, and i actually tried listening to it, and i actually heard it, pretty well. it was mostly just violins, no other things, and my tone perception is still not perfect, but i feel like, since i ditched the c-pap a couple of days ago (over my wife's protests), my hearing is steadily coming back. it may be that my eardrum is just relaxing a little and healing. but in any case, i heard the song, not perfectly, but enough.

so i said to my friend, the friend who posted the song, i have a story about this song. it's not that i was in the civil war, no, or that i was on the pbs team that put together the documentary that so famously used the song (which was made up for the show) to portray the civil war. no, but i'll tell the story.

there was this violinist in carbondale, and i knew about him, but i didn't know him personally. he played at the unitarian church which was right near my house. one night he played ashokan farewell, and immediately after, died. people were horrified, and called the ambulance and all, but to no avail. he was dead, and there was nothing they could do but have him hauled off and have a service for him.

of course, people said how terrible it was. he was a popular man, loved by many, and people grieved over his death. i didn't really know the guy, as i said, so i felt less grief perhaps than most. but, over time, the image of his playing that song and then dying immediately after, stuck in my mind. i figured, that wasn't a bad way to go.

there are several performers who have died on stage; one of my favorites is miriam makeba, an african singer. her voice is so beautiful and so haunting that you know she was born to sing, and so, it's not a surprise perhaps that she'd die singing too. an honor in fact, to die, basically, singing to god. all singing, really, is singing to god, in my view.

so this afternoon i'm driving back up the hill, and it's forty miles, and it was raining off and on, mostly sprinkling. my ears are still not well, they feel a little clogged up. and my youngest daughter, number ten, was singing in her highest, squeakiest voice, all the way. but no problem. i took out my hearing aids, and, though it was still high and squeaky, at least it wasn't amplified, and there was a gentle rain to counteract it. when it's all over, you only get to hear so much, and when my hearing aids are out, at least i feel like i've got my genuine hearing, no matter how flawed, and i'm getting some of what's out there. when you're driving you mostly need to sense when someone is beside you; you can do this, on a two lane, without hearing. but with my limited hearing, i actually become more sensitive to what is out there, so i actually hear just as much sometimes as i do with the hearing aids in there. with the hearing aids in there, i hear everything amplified, and road noises bother me, and i have trouble picking out words from what comes at me as just amplified noise. i'm ready to just pitch them, and see if i can get my hearing any better.

my wife hears the sounds of birds - four or five distinct kinds - and of elk bugling, which apparently they do all year. we hear cows calling to their babies and rabbits kind of furtively jumping through the grass, trying to make sure none of their predators are anywhere near. i don't hear most of this, even with the hearing aids. and when i do hear stuff, it's often stuff i don't want to hear, like kids yelling, or dogs shrilly barking at the cows. sometimes i feel like the damage that has been done, has been more damage to the quality of what i usually hear, than damage to my ability to hear it. i still have the ability. it's just funneled through this swimming pool.

Friday, August 02, 2019

tonight there's a possibility of shooting stars, as it's kind of the season, with the perseids coming by and all. the perseids aren't until later, but but new moon is now, the sky is brighter, and there are a couple of other shooting star experiences coming by. in any case, i'm up late, because i had acid reflex and needed some cereal to settle things down. and i have a few things on my mind, so i'm writing.

i was in the village today, picking up old lumber from the rebuilt porch, and putting it in the back of my truck to bring out here. the workers had saved lumber that still had any integrity, but, a few weeks under that new porch in the village, and it has a lot less integrity. it's hard to tell what is rotten from a few weeks in the rains of the village, and what's rotten from being under a porch in the village, but in any case, a lot of it looked pretty bad.

but it was still flat, and big, and heavy. and the walk from the porch where they'd stored it, down to my truck, was steep and treacherous. it rained heavily the minute i got there, at noon; after that, it let up, but the path was still muddy. i'm an old guy now, sixty-five, and when i got to the larger boards, eight feet by four, roughly, i was a little over my head. but i walked carefully, and, after about three hours, i had a truck full of lumber.

out here, it's a little sunnier, fresher, drier. that lumber will dry out pretty fast, and be useful to me, as i'm putting walls on my shed. i'm being deliberate, taking the best piece of lumber one at a time, and trying to put walls all the way around, but now i'm in the laundry room, and actually, i can use quite a bit of this stuff. in some cases i can saw out the good parts and throw away the bad. i can still use it. if it never quite dries out, ok, then i guess i'll throw it away. not going to put moldy wood up on my walls.

so this whole moving thing has made me sore all over, especially my knees, which were under a lot of pressure getting down that steep muddy maybe sixty times. now that i'm here, less pressure, no steep slopes, but, i'm sore. i'm behind on my volunteer fire course (haven't even started), and it's been almost a month.

one of my favorite musicians is coming to town; he plays blues, and he's playing the brewery, but i can't go, because of the volunteer fire potluck. the volunteer fire is very important to me, though i haven't got started on the course, and i don't want to miss a potluck, as long as i'm wearing their hat, and carrying their radio around. but a more serious issue is this: i don't hear music very well these days. i've kind of lost my ability to hear the harmony of the notes, because it all sounds like it's coming through a swimming pool. i haven't figured out how to get all that congestion out of my nasal cavities and inner ear.

the construction is a fair compromise, because i can hang out by myself, in the shed, with the fan on back there, and i can measure wood and saw it and pound it, and i don't have to be extremely sensitive or vigilant to always find out what people are saying. i've wanted to do this kind of sawing, and drilling, and building, all my life, but i've never had the chance. now that i'm retired, it's a golden opportunity..

we're going through a heart-rending experience with one of our kids, who has occasional seizures. we feel it's best to both hang around and make sure he's ok all the time. it's heart-rending because it involves spoiling him, to some degree, and that kind of makes kids miserable. but school is about to start, and it's unlikely they'll spoil him as bad there. he'll be busy, and he'll come home tired. we're hoping he just fits right in and gets in the groove of the new year; he's a pretty good student and is popular, more or less. one can hope.

the drive out here is quite wild and has become important to me. we are about twenty miles from town, but it's over a steep mountain, and about four miles of that mountain road is still gravel, with a steep drop-off. i am not looking forward to the winter commute, but in the summer, it's glorious. it snakes through the national forest, and deer and elk skitter off the way as you go through. we watch the cars for people we know, but we're relatively new and don't know all the cars yet. cows are out in the open part; sometimes they're right in the road. this time of year, there are people hauling rv's up and down the canyon. some are hunters, looking for the chance to get out in the mountains. it's a remote valley, cut off from the world by that mountain and the national forest, but a lot of people still know it's out here and know there's good hunting out here. the deer gallop through the place like they own it.

it brings up the question of fences. surely, if i want to have horses here, i'll need fences. it'll be me, out there, with the barbed wire, patching up the edges of the property. barbed wire is bad for horses, they say, so maybe i'll need some more on top of that. barbed wire to keep the cows out, horse fence to keep the horses in. the deer, you just give up on, because they jump pretty much whatever they want anyway.

but i've made a tiny garden, and i started my fence-building with it; i put a small maybe 3 X 7 area in gardens. so far i have only potatoes and greenthread. the greenthread is for navajo tea, if it comes up; it becomes a wildflower with yellow flowers, and the tea is herbal and delicious. i have no idea if it will work up here. i have planted some in the open, in overturned dirt, and now in a fenced-in area just in hopes that the deer don't get it all at first shot, when it first arrives. i wouldn't put it past them. they get almost everyting else, if it's good.

and that brings up the fruit trees. the grand plan is to get some apricot trees going out here, and maybe some plums, and maybe some apples. kind of the traditional ones that have always done well in the mountains. i have a little meadow, and, if i can get started, now's the time. maybe i have enough fence to keep the deer out for a season or two.

and that's it. the deer here are not overpopulated, dying of wasting disease as they are in illinois. no, they have predators, like the cats, and the hunters, and that seems to work pretty well. lots of the locals just go out and pop one every once and a while, to keep their freezer full. i have yet to try it, but i will. the only thing i won't eat is rabbit; our rabbits are huge, and they're black, white, and silver, and not afraid of barking dogs, and anyway, i wear the leverett crest, with its three rabbits, on my stirt, because i'm a leverett, and that makes them family, and i won't eat them. but i'll try almost anything else.