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Adding Comedy for Balance

July 1, 2015 1 Comment

Earlier in the year I made a plan to provide a spa vacation to myself without leaving town this summer.  My dog needs me frequently, and the heat is now upon us, so the stay in town has evolved into stay home in the air-conditioning most of the time.  I am happy I had started with a plan because the dog care giving could be a depressing situation without it.  She is resting most of the time without any apparent pain.  I spoke to my cousin this week who is dealing with the end of life issues of her dad. This conversation reminded me how, although the loss is sad and similar, the parent care is a lot more complicated than pet care. I am lucky to have the time and means to be able to stay home with my dog to make her comfortable. I have made some changes to my original plan:

  • My workout audio is a mix from Amazon Prime Music.  I have added all the comedy albums available to my library.  This is a great lift. As I dance around my living room in the morning I use music to inspire, but the comedy makes me laugh out loud.  If you have not tried adding comedy to your exercise routine don’t knock it. I love it.
  • Hulu watch list- I do Hulu every few months and then freeze my account because I already enjoy all the shows from Amazon Prime free of ads.  While the subscription is active I binge on history documentaries, British detective shows, and lots of comedy.  There are a few shows I think are very funny, like Moone Boy, an Irish sitcom, that I can only find on Hulu.  I also really love all the stand up available. I started my month last week and am fully taking advantage of it.

What has been working well at my stay at home spa is the fun with food prep and the use of helpful apps that track my movement and pace.  I started using Endomondo while I was still walking outside each morning.  It uses GPS to measure distance and speed.  I find that my speed dancing a mile is the same as walking outside for a mile.  The fitbit has been very helpful to increase my sleep at night, even though I get up for the dog many times.  I now use honey to deepen my sleep.  By trying the honey method I have increased the average time I sleep each night.  This is a very important aspect of keeping my mood positive.  With enough movement and enough sleep I can withstand all kinds of stress.

I am also taking advantage of this time to be creative in my own kitchen.  I am making new recipes and trying new techniques I have learned from the food preppers.  I made refrigerator pickles for the first time.  This could be a really fun little hobby as well as a tasty way to keep food from spoiling.  I am also working my way through all the chilled soups that look good to me. I have time to write, read, to work on my family history, or do whatever feels good at the time. This too shall pass, but for now I am making it work and reminding myself of the comedy and creativity available to us in life.

An Epoch Venus-Jupiter Conjunction: June 30, 2015

June 30, 2015 1 Comment

Pamela Morse:

Most Auspicious

Originally posted on When the Curves Line Up:

A recent Venus-Jupiter Conjunction

Venus passes close to Jupiter in the western evening sky during late June and early July in a dazzling celestial display. The image above shows the planets in 2012 when they passed within about 3 degrees of each other.  During the 2015 conjunction, the planets appear 9 times closer.  This article outlines the circumstances of conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter, the events of this conjunction, and concludes with a list of future Venus-Jupiter conjunctions.

See this article for more as Venus as an Evening Star.

Conjunctions of the bright planets occur when they appear to move past each other in the sky.  Sometimes they seem to nearly meet, although they are millions of miles apart.  A Venus-Jupiter conjunction occurs between 34 days and 449 days, depending on the relative positions of the three planets (including Earth).  Venus revolves around the sun once in about 225 days…

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Salmorejo, Gazpacho, and Summer

June 29, 2015 3 Comments

I like to use as much fresh produce as possible in all my meals. This summer I have become fascinated with cold soups. I have been a fan of gazpacho forever, and have tried small variations on that theme. Today, thanks to the ever informative index of everything, Pinterest, I am finding new ways to innovate this dish. I was inspired initially by a large haul of fresh plum tomatoes and some bell peppers.  They were ripe and needed to be enjoyed.  I found a great article in the New York Times by Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers.  He inspired me to start the summer soup adventure with Romesco style red gazpacho, but also broadened my horizons.  Green and red gazpacho can be made more interesting by adding other fruits, herbs, and nuts. Using hazelnut rather than almond in my Romesco recipe gave me the rich taste I love in the classic Spanish sauce of the same name. This is a perfect place to improvise and shape the basic taste profiles to suit you and your garden.

The texture is matter of taste.  Some people blend everything until smooth, others prefer some smooth, and some chunks.  I am a fan of the smooth with good looking garnishes.  Salmorejo is a variation, also popular in Spain in the summer, known as salmorejo.  The ingredients are similar, and no cooking is involved.  The classic garnish used in Cordoba, the place of this yummy concoction’s origin, is hard boiled egg slices, and sometimes ham.  This beautiful vegetarian version uses smokey flavored oil to achieve the Spanish ham effect.  I will be happy with bacos, one of my processed food thrills.  The grapes and almonds do look appetizing, but chives, parsley, or any herb in the garden would work well too.

Both gazpacho and salmorejo can be made with beets, which is a riff on the tasty borscht from Europe.  There is a cold beet soup from Poland call ed Chlodnik involving horseradish cream.  The beet goes on.

I am on a roll with new ideas and delicious results.  I have cucumbers and tomatoes to use this week. I have already grilled some peppers, chiles, and plum tomatoes.   I am trying the strawberry tomato basil gazpacho this afternoon.  Sounds intriguing, since I like those things independently.  Do you have a favorite chilled soup recipe, gentle reader?  I am very interested in collecting more variations on this theme because in Tucson this is the perfect summer diet.

Black vs White and #LoveWins

June 28, 2015 5 Comments

White House

The United States is reeling from yet another mass shooting. The prayer group interrupted by violence is etched into the soul of the country, no matter where we live, no matter what our own religious affiliations. The idea that sanctuaries are not safe is a chilling reminder.  While the world watched the church showed the meaning of Christianity and compassion.  The city of Charleston displayed solidarity and strength in the face of the tragedy in one of the most significant structures in town.  This flow of forgiveness and faith witnessed from the victims’ friends and families has been powerful in its simplicity.  They managed to overcome the natural feelings of betrayal and loss by practicing what they preach.  They defer judgement to God and pray for peace that surpasses all understanding.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the congregation of Mother Emmanuel for teaching the country how to mourn, and how to move past sorrow into great compassion. We all need to heed this lesson. These people seem like saints, and indeed they may be. They have a powerful message of hope for us.  Nothing is black and white. Nothing is really even under our control. Remember the first commandment when you think you might need to right some wrongs…this is clearly not your personal job.

Meanwhile, right before Gay Pride Weekend in many parts of the country, same sex marriage has become the law of the land.  With rainbows flying and floating and projecting everywhere the party to celebrate these new civil rights began.  The rainbows appeared early in the morning on Friday and by nightfall the projected rainbows fell on buildings and natural wonders of the world.  Other countries celebrated with us by lighting structures to tweet with the hashtag #LoveWins.  Twitter supplies a rainbow heart for each #LoveWins, adding to the colorful festive digital fiesta.  I found the switch from our black and white racial and political divides to an all out rainbow nation to be refreshing.  We need to have a reason to be proud, to embrace the happiness of others, and to actually celebrate equality.  Rainbows signify our diversity and our harmony.  Let us keep the faith that this nation still has the spirit and the will to make sure that #LoveWins in  our future.



Jemimah Peninah Howse

June 26, 2015 3 Comments

Howes Coat of Arms

Howes Coat of Arms

My 13th great-grandmother was arrested in London for her religious beliefs. She moved to Barnstable, on Cape Cod with her extended family.

It is claimed that this family descends from one John de Huse who had a large manorial property in Basthorpe, Norfolk, England in 1065.
Penninahs father was a Reverend, Rector of Eastwell, Kent. Penninah and her brother Samuel Howes were arrested in 1632 in London in connection with the prosecution of Rev John Lothrop and his flock of Dissenters who had been meeting in Blackfriars, London. Penninah Howes was called and required to take her oath but she refused. The prosecutor asked “Will you trust Mr Lathropp and believe him rather than the Church of England?” She replied “I referre myself to the Word of God, whether I maie take this oath or now.”

Jemimah Peninah Howse (1589 – 1633)
is my 13th great grandmother
Sarah Linnell (1603 – 1652)
daughter of Jemimah Peninah Howse
Thomas Ewer (1593 – 1638)
son of Sarah Linnell
Mary Ewer (1637 – 1693)
daughter of Thomas Ewer
Mehitable Jenkins (1655 – 1684)
daughter of Mary Ewer
Isaac Hamblin (1676 – 1710)
son of Mehitable Jenkins
Eleazer Hamblin (1699 – 1771)
son of Isaac Hamblin
Sarah Hamblin (1721 – 1814)
daughter of Eleazer Hamblin
Mercy Hazen (1747 – 1819)
daughter of Sarah Hamblin
Martha Mead (1784 – 1860)
daughter of Mercy Hazen
Abner Morse (1808 – 1838)
son of Martha Mead
Daniel Rowland Morse (1838 – 1910)
son of Abner Morse
Jason A Morse (1862 – 1932)
son of Daniel Rowland Morse
Ernest Abner Morse (1890 – 1965)
son of Jason A Morse
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Ernest Abner Morse
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse

The Howes, Lothrops, and Linnells of Kent and London, England, and Scituate
and Barnstable, Massachusetts
By Dan R. McConnell

Published by the Cape Cod Genealogical Society Bulletin, Fall 2007

The family of Reverend John Howes [also House, Howse], whose children, kin, and friends, were brought before the Royal Court of the High Commission in London, England in the 1630’s, were persecuted and imprisoned for their religious beliefs. These beliefs also had political effects, which we will explain. Some fled to America, first to Scituate, then Barnstable, both of which were in Plymouth Colony in that time, a place friendly to their Separatist beliefs. Others remained in England and played a key role in the emergence of non-conformist churches, the disputes in Parliament, and the English Civil War.

In the 17th Century, for ordinary people, a lengthy confinement in London prisons such as Newgate, Clink, Fleet or Bridewell was tantamount to a death sentence due to crowded, filthy, disease-ridden conditions. Such dangerous confinement, for religious non-conformity, under the arbitrary rules of the High Commission, became a driving force for like minded people to flee to America. English resentment to the many breaches of Common Law led to the rise of Parliament in opposition, and ultimately to the abolishment of the High Commission in 1641 and the Civil war in the 1640’s. After the “Glorious Revolution’ in 1688, the English Bill of Rights was enacted to specifically forbid such practices, echoed famously in our own Bill of Rights, the First Ten Amendments to the U.S Constitution.

For the Howes family and their kin, the road to prison and to America began in Kent. The Reverend John Howes matriculated at St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1590. He is listed in the Alumni Cantabrigienes as such with the further note that he was rector at Eastwell, Kent in 1610. In the Bishop’s Transcripts for Canterbury he is also given as Curate for Egerton, 1592-6. From his location at the time of the baptism of his children, he is likely to have also been Curate for Eastwell from 1603 to his death in 1630. He performed the marriage ceremony for his daughter Hannah, in her marriage to Rev. John Lothrop [also Lothropp] in Eastwell, 16 October, 1610. In his will, dated 1630, he is described as Minister, Eastwell. In his will, his wife’s name is given as Alice.

Children of the Reverend John Howes:
Elizabeth Howes, Bapt, unkn. Married, Eastwell to John Champion, of Little Chart, 28 September 1607
Hannah Howes, Bapt. Egerton, 5 May, 1595. Died between 1632 and 1634, London, while her husband, Rev Lothrop, was in prison. Married,Eastwell to Rev. John Lothrop, 16 October 1610.

Peninah Howes, Bapt, Egerton, 11 April, 1596. Died after 1669, Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Married between 1632 and 1638 to Robert Linnell, probably in London.[The will of her brother Thomas Howes, in 1643 gives her name as Peninah Linnell [also Lynell]. In the High Commission proceedings in 1632, she is given as Peninah Howes].

Druscilla Howes. Bapt., unkn. Married, Eastwell, to Simon Player 17 April 1637 John Howes. Bapt. Eastwell 19 June, 1603. Married Eastwell to Mary Osborn of Ashford, 18 September, 1623.

Priscilla Howes. Bapt Eastwell 25 August, 1605. Buried, Eastwell 28 Nov 1618

Thomas Howes. Bapt. Eastwell, 21 August, 1608. Died 1644 London. In his will, dated 18 October 1643, he lists his wife Elizabeth, his brother Samuel [of Scituate and Barnstable, Mass. See Great Migration Series, Vol. III, I634-5, page 424-8], his sister Peninah Lynell, his sister Druscilla Player.

He also lists as administrators, the famous Puritan Praise God Barbon [Speaker of Parliament during the Commonwealth period, known as “Barebones Parlaimant”, and William Granger, who was brought up before the High Commission along with Barbon’s wife Sara. All were members of Rev. Lothrop’s congregation in London]

Samuel Howes. Bapt Eastwell, 10 June, 1610. Died 12 September 1667, Mass. Married about April 1636 to Ann Hammond of Watertown, Mass. He emigrated to America in 1634, joined Rev Lothrop’s church in Scituate then Barnstable, and returned to Scituate.

Henry Howes. Bapt. Eastwell, 28 June, 1612.

Note. There has been great confusion in the American record to the effect that Robert Linnell’s first wife was a Jemimah Howes, presumably another daughter to Rev. John Howes. This has been compounded by an LDS record of the supposed marriage of a Jemimah Howes to Robert Linnell in 1621 in Ashford, Kent. There are no records to support this.

John Lothrop, son of Thomas Lothrop, bapt, Etton, Yorkshire, 20 Dec, 1584, first entered Oxford, then withdrew and matriculated at Queen’s College, Cambridge, graduating with a B.A 1606, M.A. 1609. He was curate at Little Chart 1609, Egerton 1610, serving until his resignation between 1621 and 1624. In 1625, he succeeded Henry Jacob as Minister to the first Independent Church in London, founded in 1616, and one of the five oldest independent [non-conformist]
churches in England. The principles or covenant of the Jacob/Lothrop church were essentially Separatist and were very close to those of the Rev. John Robinson in Leiden [Pilgrims]. During a period of exile before 1616, Henry Jacob resided with the Robinson congregation in Leiden. These
churches were illegal, as the Church of England, under the King and his appointed Archbishop of Canterbury was the only legal church. The Jacob/Lothrop church met in private, in the homes of congregants. These secret meetings for the purpose of praying preching and interpreting the Bible, were called conventicles.

In 1632, Rev. Lothrop was arrested in the house of one of his congregants along with 42 of his congregation, and was brought before the Court of the High Commission. He, and they, were charged with sedition and holding conventicles. The political nature of the charge of sedition [“an insurrection against established authority”], and the antique language of “conventicle’ [ a
private meeting to hear illegal preaching] renders the charges unclear to modern ears. The charges were, however, deadly serious and the court proceedings unimaginable. The accused had none of the rights of modern citizens. The court was an inquisition, where the accused were forced to testify against themselves, with our counsel. The process was so intimidating that many people were driven to flee. It was one of the driving forces in the Great Migration to New England.
It was no dispute over prayer books and vestments. It was about life, death, and salvation. First, what was the Court of the High Commission? It, along with the Court of the Star Chamber, was a Royal Prerogative Court [King’s Rights], originally created in the time of Henry VII [1485-1509]. These courts were separate from the Civil Courts, or Common Law Courts, which
operated on the basis of precedent, and the rights of English people under the Common Law.

Originally, these courts were established under the King’s right to protect individuals from abuse in Common Law Courts. Under the Elizabeth I and the Stuart Kings [James I and Charles I], these courts were used by the Church of England to suppress those who sought to reform the church, or to seek a different path to salvation, using court rules that were in clear violation with the Common Law. They came down, with extreme severity, on Separatists in particular. Because of
their covenant relationship, Separatists believed that every congregation could be a church unto itself, and could elect it’s own Ministers, by vote of it’s elders, based upon the model of the early Christian church [pre-Constantine]. To do so meant they had no need of the Church of England, and did not accept the authority of the Bishops. This was unacceptable to the Crown. As famously said by King James I, “ No Bishop, no King”. Since the King was the head of the Church of England,
and appointed the Archbishop, he wanted one church with order and conformity. To the King, the Separatists position implied anarchy and chaos, and must be stopped. As James I said further, “ I will harry them out of the land”.

Under Charles I and his Archbishop, William Laud, the screws were tightened much more. Laud was the Chief Judge of the High Commission. In his zeal to suppress nonconformists, he scrapped several principles of English Common Law, including [1] protection against selfincrimination, 2] the right to confront one’s accusers, [3] the right to produce witnesses in one’s
own defense, [4] the right to a prompt hearing in court, so one did not languish in a dangerous jail without a trial, and [5] cruel and unusual punishments. All of these rights were suspended for those, such as the members of Rev. Lothrops congregation, who were brought before the Court of the High Commission in May 1632.

The Ministers and there flock faced brutal treatment. For the high crime of publishing tracts critical of the Bishops many ministers had their ears cut off, their faces branded and were confined to prison for life, which meant death within a few months or a few years at most. When one was brought before the court, the requirement was to sign an oath of Allegiance to the
Church of England, to forswear any contrary belief or practice and to answer any question posed by the judges,consisting of Laud and five other Bishops. To do so meant to abandon their right to choose their own Minister, to hear preaching and to attend Bible study with a Minister of their choice. They believed their own souls to be at stake. They were not allowed any of the basics of a fair trial, and certainly faced cruel punishment. So what did they do? They refused to swear the oath and were jailed. Some died in prison, some were released and fled to America, and some fought for Parliament in the English Civil War.

Now, hear the voices of Archbishop Laud, of Rev. John Lothrop and of the Howes and their friends [from the Proceedings of the Court of the High Commission]:

“ 5 May, 1632. This day were brought to the court out of prison diverse persons whixh were taken on Sunday last at a conventicler met at the House of Barnet, a brewer’s clerk, dwelling in the precinct of Black Friars: By name, John Lothrop, their Minister, Humphrey Barnard, Henry Dod, Samuel Eaton, William Granger, Sara Jones, Sara Jacob, Peninah Howes, Sara Barbon, Susan Wilson and diverse others”—

Statement by the Archbishop—“ You show your selves to be unthankful to God, to the King and to the Church of England, that when, God bbe praised, through his Majesties care and ours that you have preaching in every church, and men have liberty to join in prayer and participation in the sacrements and have catechizing to enlighten you, you in an unthankful manner cast off all this yoke, and in private unlawfully assemble yourselves together making rents and divisions in the church.—You are unlearned men that seek to make up a religion of your own heads!”—“you are desperately heretical”

“Then came in Mr. Lothrop, who is asked by what authority he had to preach and keep this conventicler.” Laud,–“How many women sat cross legged upon the bed, while you sat on one side and preached and prayed most devoutly?” Lothrop. “I keep no such evil company” “Will you lay your hand upon the book and take your oath?’ Lothrop. “I refuse the oath.”

Peninah Howes “ I dare not swear this oath till I am better informed of it, for which I desire time”;;;”I will give an answer of my faith, if I be demanded, but not willingly forswear myself”

Sara Barbon “ I dare not swear, I do not understand it. I will tell the truth without swearing”

Then they were then all taken to the New Prison.

“8 May, 1632. Laud to Sara Jones—“ This you are commanded to do of God who says you must obey your superiors.” Sara Jones “That which is of God is according to God’s Word and the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain”

‘Lothrop. I do not know that that I have done anything which might cause me justly to be brought before the judgement seat of man, and for this oath, I do not know the nature of it”

Laud “You are accused of Schism”

To Samuel Howes ‘Will you take your oath?’ Howes I am a young man and do not know what this oath is”

Peninah Howes is then asked to take the oath, but she refused. Laud “Will you trust Mr Lothrop and believe him rather than the Church of England?’

Because women were not able to hold property she had to sue the court in 1669 for her husband’s estate:

Robert, called “my Brother,” by Mr. John Lothrop, adm. chh. scituate with his wife Sept. 16. 1638, “having a letter of dismission from the church in London.: Took oath of allegaince 1 Feb. 1638. Propr. at Barnstable 22 jan 1638-9. ch. Hannah (m. 15 March, 1648, John Davis of Bar.,) Abigail, (m. May 1650, Joshua Lombard,) David, (m. March 9, 1652, Hannah Shelley).
He made will 23 Jan. 1662, prob. 12 March, 1662-3; beq. to wife; to son David; to Abigail and Bethys; to John Davis. The widow Penninnah petitioned the Court 29 Oct. 1669, to recover the house her husband had left her from the hands of David L.

Doing a Rain Dance

June 24, 2015 4 Comments

monsoon clouds

monsoon clouds

The Aztecs worshiped the sun, but in Arizona we worship the rain.  Our rainy season is dramatic and somewhat predictable.  Summer heat draws moisture up from the Sea of Cortez to form clouds.  The monsoon season lasts from late June until August, shifting slightly from year to year.  Winter rains are scattered at best, but in the heat of our dry summer we are guaranteed to get some rain.  Tropical style thunder storms fly around, dropping a big loads of water and filling the sky with lightening.  They can be dangerous because of lightening strikes.  Almost every year someone here is stuck by lightning on a golf course.  The most severe safety issue that comes with rainy season is flash flooding.  Washes fill with water and swell so quickly that anyone in the bed has to hustle in order to avoid being swept away.  The rivers that flow through the city can flood the banks and cause damage along the shore, but normally it just carries debris and silt down from the mountains rapidly.  Hiking this time of year carries with it risk that other seasons just don’t have.  There is erosion of the soil because the surface becomes so compacted that the rain does not sink into the earth when it begins to rain.  If we are lucky we will have many afternoons that run in to thunder storms for a few hours.  It is rare that it would rain all day. These tropical events are short and sweet.



I catch water from my roof in a rain container in my backyard.  It is empty and ready to receive.  For those who live in cloudy places it is hard to explain the full significance of these first glimpses of our holy rainy season.  It holds promise and humidity for the future.  We know that we spend more water resources than we can afford, but for a brief period every summer we can immerse ourselves in storms and lightening, floods and washes overflowing.  Water, water, everywhere….but not for long.  Here is to a glorious monsoon that sinks into the ground and makes everything bloom with happiness.



Thomas Sweet of Rhode Island, Blacksmith

June 23, 2015

Rhode Island native

Rhode Island native

My 5th great-grandfather was born in Rhode Island. He was a blacksmith by trade, which is fascinating to me because items he made may still be buried in Rhode Island and New York.  We will never know.  He was in the militia during the Revolution, but his son served in his place for most of his time.  He sold his shop and moved to upstate New York in 1779, where his granddaughter would meet and marry Daniel Rowland Morse.  The rest is history.

Thomas Sweet (1732 – 1813)
is my 5th great grandfather
Thomas Sweet (1765 – 1844)
son of Thomas Sweet
Valentine Sweet (1791 – 1858)
son of Samuel Thomas Sweet
Sarah LaVina Sweet (1840 – 1923)
daughter of Valentine Sweet
Jason A Morse (1862 – 1932)
son of Sarah LaVina Sweet
Ernest Abner Morse (1890 – 1965)
son of Jason A Morse
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Ernest Abner Morse
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse

Thomas Sweet, son of James and Mary Sweet was a blacksmith, born in North Kingston, RI.
South Kingston, RI Deed Book 5 p. 639 dated 4-21-1757 states Daniel Stedman yeoman of S. Kingston for 160 pounds in bill of old tenor deeded 2 acres of land in So. Kingston to Thomas Sweet, blacksmith. April 1766 Thomas Sweet freeman of So. Kingston, RI Book 6 p. 383 Indenture 6-19-1766 between Thomas sweet blacksmith of S. Kingston and John Robinson for 150 pounds paid by Robinson – mortgages land in So. Kingston which dwelling house, blacksmith shop and Cole house. Paid in full, signed by John Robinson in 1769.
In 1779 Thomas Sweet sold the land, house and blacksmith shop to Thomas Champlin, Jr. for 1050 pounds. He moved to Albany Co. NY which became Rensselaer County. “Thomas Sweet, a Blacksmith, settled early at South Berlin” and “A blacksmith shop was opened by Thomas Sweet on the east side of the road, a short distance north of Sweet’s Corners”.
He was in the Militia of Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War period, but his son William substituted for him in all but one month in Newport, when William stated in his pension application that his father went for himself. His service is accepted by the DAR, my application approved, A819
Thomas served as a Corporal from RI in the Militia, under Capt. Samuel Potter. RI State Archives Index of Mil. & Nav. Recs. He resided in South Kingston, Washington Co., RI during the war.
He married first possibly Hannah Congdon by 1757, had one child, Thomas Jr., prior to his marriage to Frances Congdon in 1760, in RI.
He died in Rensselaer Co., NY March 26, 1813, in an accident by a falling tree in Little Hoosick, NY.
Declaration of service for Revolutionary War of his son William Sweet.
Compendium of American Genealogy Vol. Vii p. 508
1790 US Census; NY; Albany Co;, StephenTown; p. 286; 1 male over age 16 in household
1800 Census NY, Rensselaer Co., Hoosick p. 16A
History of Rensselaer Co., town of Berlin
DAR Patriot Index Centennial Edition p. 2867.

Fors Fortuna, Triple Goddess

June 22, 2015 3 Comments

June 24th is the special day honoring the fates.  Fors, an ancient Roman goddess of luck was merged with Fortuna, the abundance goddess to create Fors Fortuna, the trifecta of luck.  In neutral aspect this goddess functions in three distinct ways:

  • Lachesis, the youngest, controls the length of the threads of life
  • Clotho, the middle sister, spins and weaves a tapestry of each individual life
  • Atropos, the eldest, keeps the scissors that cut the treads of life when it ends

These three show shadow aspects when they are not honored.  They become the Furies:

  • Alecto represents unceasing anger, driving victims to madness
  • Tisiphone is the avenger of murder
  • Megaera causes jealousy and punishes criminals

The fate sisters, in good moods and bad, share one eye and one existence.  The saying blind luck may come from this idea. Fortune, by its very nature, can go either way.  If it were stable rather than fickle it would cease to be luck.  You may have some rituals or beliefs about good and bad luck that you rarely examine.  This year on the 24th of June take some time to contemplate the role of luck in your life.  What does the phrase “There but for fortune go you or I.” mean to you?

Fors Fortuna

Fors Fortuna

The Problem with Patrimony

June 20, 2015 5 Comments

Dick and Ruby marry 1942

Dick and Ruby marry 1942

Men and women have coexisted in inequality for all of history.  Treatment for women around the world is just now starting to bring the female population out of slavery to the male population.  The serious wounds to culture, development and education can be healed, but only through a process of patience and forgiveness.  In the developed world we struggle for equal pay, but in the third world females have a very hard time getting an education or determining their own fate.  How do we make a path that will lead to respect and appreciation for both sexes in our societies?  There are economic barriers as well as political practices that impede progress toward equality.  Cultural beliefs about roles and appropriate careers change slowly without outside help.  Figures show that educating women and making small business loans available to them is the best way to jump start local economies.  Many great examples are popping up around the globe.  Still, Boko Harum kidnaps and marries school girls.  Violence against women continues, as does slavery and sex trafficking.

Tomorrow is Fathers Day, a time to commemorate the contributions of all fathers living and dead.  I am extremely grateful all my forefathers survived in order that I might exist.  I wonder about their politics.  I have studied them throughout history and wonder about their secrets and inner beliefs.  There is evidence of discord in some of my family history, between husbands and wives, but there are also examples of dedicated and happy families (according to history).  My family was probably about average on the bliss and harmony scale.

I was fortunate to be born a boomer because women’s liberation as a socio/political movement in the United States gained momentum when I was a teen.  I can clearly remember calling my father a male chauvinist pig when I was in high school, only partly joking.  My parents wanted no liberation for my mother, but had mixed feelings about my own. They always said I could achieve anything, but still focused on dress code more than education.  My mom scored some liberation in her 60’s because my parents took up hot air ballooning.  Ruby was not only the ground crew, a sometime pilot, but most importantly, she could sew the balloon when it was damaged.  My parents were exposed to younger people in the ballooning circles, and I noticed that my dad needed her as an equal in that situation. He started to treat her with a bit more respect in the balloon days.  They were born in the 1920’s, so there was only so far they could be expected liberate.  I suppose they went as far as they could toward equality.

My father had a stoke and pretty steep decline of his facilities which left him unable to handle finances.  The problem was at that time my mom had never balanced their checkbook, let alone had any understanding of the investments/insurance/retirement plans they had.  She was not really in shape to learn everything about finances at age 78.  She learned Quicken and began to do the bill paying and simple tasks.  I convinced them to move to Tucson to a retirement home so I could keep an eye on them.  This worked well for a while until my dad’s health took another serious dive.  He was in the hospital, looking very much like he might die when I asked him about his estate.  He told me to ask his accountant.  I called and learned that his accountant had no idea what all his assets were, or where they were.  Neither did my dad.  He did survive that scape and live for a few more years, but the crisis gave me the opportunity to find out that:

  1. Although they told me they had a trust, they had no assets in trust, just a folder
  2. My father had obligations to partners in New Mexico who could call for cash any time
  3. There was no market for the oil shares in New Mexico, so he could not sell them
  4. His vast holdings and constant call for cash had the potential of breaking his bank

This reality hit me like a brick when I was already emotionally stressed about my dad and his near death.  I managed to help them get their assets into a trust.  By then they had to have separate property trusts drawn up to protect my mom from my father’s deeply speculative dealings.  This was expensive, but the alternative was divorce after more than 60 years to protect my mom.  The oil properties had be legally described and placed into trust, then he stopped paying the cash calls.  His lawyer told the partners he had nothing to contribute which was true.  Finally after about 3 years of negotiating the partners let him out of his obligations.  I have no idea what happened to all the wells, but the deed was signed in Texas the day after my dad died in Tucson. His final act on earth was to be released from that piece of bad judgement.

My father believed that the price of oil could never go down over time. He plunged more money that he rationally had into that belief because he was a petroleum engineer.  He had no financial sense, and by the time he started buying into those wells he had no sense of any kind. My mom had no protection and no way to guess how wacky his finances had become because he stayed in charge after he was incompetent.  From that experience I learned a lot about finances and investments.  Not only did I help them put their house in order and in trust, I put all my assets in trust.  I am happy I learned enough to save my mother’s financial fate, and possibly my own.   This Father’s Day I honor my dad and all his forefathers.  Here’s hoping that their ideas of patrimony fade, for everyone’s sake.

Dick 1945

Dick 1945



A Practice of Patience

June 19, 2015 8 Comments

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

Some very good examples were set for me early in life by teachers in school.  My high school choir director extended  great praise and patience to all his students.  When you think about how awful a chorus of high schoolers can sound …..most of the time, this man was a true saint to struggle through each number until we finally could sing it.  He loved music, and was still willing to hear it massacred year after year, day after day. He was generally good natured, and very dapper in his fashion.  He was by far the best dressed teacher we had at our school, and seemed to be the most sophisticated somehow. He was generally fun and upbeat, but insisted on discipline in class.  When he was upset with us he would say “Frank, C., Elephant, Coulter never forgets an infraction.”  His stern delivery of that line was always enough to handle any issue.  We never actually witnessed the elephant bring up past offenses.  He worked to make our roles in the choir a constant source of pride and mutual understanding.  He taught us all the value of practice, precision and harmony.  He was a living example of patience as virtue.

As an adult I have been very fortunate to study in person with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet.  He came to Tucson in September 1993 for a teaching on patience.  That was my first introduction to the meditation practices of Tibetan Buddhism, which are complicated to say the least.  I studied for a year previous to his visit to get some background and study under my belt before he arrived.  He covered a lot of material and empowered us to Green Tara, all of which was new to me.  The crash course was not intended to convey the entire teaching in a few days, but to instill the value of practice.   Like my high school choir director, His Holiness teaches all kinds of people who have no previous experience or ability to meditate.  He teaches each person and group from scratch, using the ancient texts on the Bodhisattva’s way of life.  He reaches each mind according to the readiness of the student to comprehend. One question he took from an audience member was about the best way to begin a personal meditation practice.  His answer was simple. He told her, “Be nice.”

Since 1993 I have made efforts to be nice, and have recognized that it is easier said than done. To transform anger into patience is the ultimate practice.  If anger has no hold on your mind you are free.  If what bothers you about people and life can be surmounted by a practice of patience in all things, you have reached Nirvana.  This teaching, so pure, simple and true, provides a lifetime of practice.  He taught us that the folks in your life who make you angry also teach you patience.  They provide a special gift without which we could not become enlightened.  Nipping anger in the bud, transforming it into patience, is compassion in action.  Anger may be a natural sentiment, but it is helpful to nobody, least of all to the person who harbors it.  Compassion is a conscious choice, starting with one’s own inner demeanor.


Each month on the 20th a round of compassion is raised here.  Please join #1000Speak to add your voice to the choir.


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