Sugar-Free

I have gone about two weeks without sugar. There are a couple of “exceptions” – fresh fruit of course, and a couple glasses of wine. But most significantly, no sweets or treats. No ice cream, chocolate, dessert, cookies, nothing. Things of that nature were my weakness and I eliminated them entirely. I’m still tempted but it’s not too bad.

In exchange I have what feels like extra energy, less abdominal irritation, less bloating (also taking probiotic), and very soft hair. I know the real effects won’t show up for another two weeks.

My feeling of health has been interfered with however by the current airborne allergy situation. My throat is dusty and gummy and in the morning my nose and eyes both leak. Bleah. Also I am sore because I keep insisting on doing yoga every Friday.

In History news, my current book is “The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered.” I am about a third through it and so far I love it. I am quite ignorant of French history and politics, despite my interest in France, so it has been fascinating to read the details of their role in our Revolution. I must say I always dread reading about the French Revolution, and the bloodthirsty guillotines that accompany it.

How is August already here?

Nation State

“When Jefferson spoke of ‘my country,’ he usually meant Virginia, as Adams referred to Massachusetts as ‘my country’.” — David McCullough

Who could have known I should ever have identified with Adams and Jefferson, for I am beginning to see Washington as my country, my land, where my people live and where my values will be protected by the rights granted to the States, thank you Madison. I share nothing with certain other parts of this continent except a common tongue and currency.

I wonder if Madison was incorrect, that a Republic can in fact grow too large, that the people can’t be held together by common ideals? How can they be when divided by demagoguery and wilful ignorance? At least he got the part about protecting the majority from the minority (and vice versa) correct. We must hold on to that, or I’ll want no part of what follows, and a Washingtonian I will be.

And the refugees from the red states will come pouring in.

Drizzle

It has not rained here since some time in early June. This has made the pollen a constant factor in the air, and mosquitoes a non-entity. I have been trying to keep the backyard watered but kind of given up on the front, which now wears patches of brown. I water my flower pots, and sit in the sunshine reading.

Sometime early this morning, after waking up at five with my husband’s alarm, I went back to sleep. I had some very odd dreams, which is typical for daybreak. In one of them I was outside and I noticed that it was raining. I was delighted, and looked at the puddles and the wet concrete with gratitude.

I woke again at seven and walked downstairs, had some coffee and watched a few minutes of an old movie. At around eight, I got to my feet and looked outside at the backyard. Everything was wet. The gutters were dripping. I know there had been no rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, and when I checked the weather online, it still maintained that there was no chance of rain. But there it was in front of me. I walked outside to bring in the soggy yoga mat that was left on the porch.

Such a calm sense of relief when the rain comes after so many weeks. I know it won’t be much, and it won’t save the dead grass, but at least it might wash away some of the dust and pollen.

Cockade

A few of the items I received for Mother’s Day: flowers, my favorite candy, and a tricorn or cocked hat, with a flower pin supplied by me. My sweet husband is on board with my history loving lunacy.

It was a rainy and low-key Mother’s Day here. I remember every day how lucky I am to have such sweet, bright, and healthy daughters. I hope I am giving them everything they need to be strong, kind, and curious young women.

True Story

I always knew the Teddy Bear’s connection to Roosevelt but I never knew exactly why. The short version: In late 1902, the President went bear-hunting in Mississippi, where black bears were plentiful. Despite that, Roosevelt was unable to shoot a single bear during the whole trip. At one point, one of his fellow hunters did indeed manage to catch a small (235 lb) bear, lassoed it and stunned it with a blow to the head, then tied it to a tree. He went to fetch the President, saying that he’d cornered a bear, but when Theodore saw that it was a young and disoriented cub, tied to a tree, he refused to shoot it, because it wasn’t a fair fight.

The story got out, and Roosevelt was commended for his compassion for the animal. An editorial cartoonist began drawing very popular images depicting the President and the bear he had saved (the drawing also had racial overtones as Roosevelt had angered Southern racists by dining with Booker T. Washington). With each picture, the bear grew cuter and cuddlier. By sheer coincidence that same winter, a German toymaker shipped 300 stuffed plush bears to FAO Schwartz toy store in Manhattan. They marketed them as “Teddy” bears at the height of the hunting story’s fame. The rest is history, and the name endures.

This ad is from 1907 — five years later and going strong in TR’s second term.

Oh, and, Roosevelt never liked the nickname Teddy. But he couldn’t shake it.

Dust

I was up early as usual because my brain does not know what is a weekend, much like the Dowager Countess of Grantham. As usual I made coffee and curled up in my chair to read. In this chapter, Teddy Roosevelt is hobbled by a leg injury at the end of 1902, but still successfully mediates a labor dispute between coal miners and operators that could have ended in widespread chaos and martial law. He tells the parties involved that while they represent the workers, and the millionaire owners, he represents The People. Did I mention he was a “conservative Republican”?

I am told that it is spring, that we are in fact more than midway through spring, but while outside the flowers burst into color and the lawns grow lush and the trees are blossoming and sprinkling their pollen everywhere, it still continues to rain and a chill permeates the air. Vast iron-hued clouds still sail across the sky on a daily basis. We in the northwest wait so patiently for the perfect summer we have come to expect, which seems as though should have at least been hinted at by this day. But it has not, and Viking Fest may be another damp affair, not that that will stop me from attending. When May comes to a close in a few weeks, I will be reminded of the other name for the month that follows: Junuary.

So I have stayed inside this afternoon and culled seven bags of clothing from my closet and dresser. I also wiped thick layers of dust from the closet rods and hangers. If you find dust on your clothes, that is a sign that they should perhaps be donated. I think I won’t have too many regrets. Many of the items I got rid of were from a bygone era of office work, so old that they not only do not fit, but are also out of style. I think.

Anyway. It just started raining again. I am going to write some fiction. Somehow. It has been a few months since I did that. Way too long.

A Dinner Invite

On This Day in 1780… Hamilton wrote the following letter to Baron von Steuben:

Dear Baron,

General Knox in conversation has observed to The General, that instead of sending to Philadelphia for the 1500 arms mentioned in your letter of the 6th. and sending those here to that place to be fitted, it would be a great saving of expence in the article of transportation, to have the bayonets and accoutrements brought on without the arms, and fitted to those now here which can easily be done at the Park. The question is if the arms here have no other defect than that of bayonets. The General will be glad to know what you think of General Knox’s proposal. It seems to him eligible unless there are reasons he is not acquainted with.

If there are any other articles you wish to have sent for, (The General thinks you mentioned something of the kind to him) he will be glad to know what they are.

I have the honor to be, Dr Baron Yr very hum S

Alex Hamilton ADC
May 10th. 1780

We have heard from the Marquis. He will be here at Dinner. Will you dine with us also? The General requests it.

My favorite part of this letter is the postscript, where he basically says oh btw, Lafayette is back in town and we’re having dinner with him, George wants you there too. It’s such a normal and friendly invitation to follow a paragraph about guns and bayonets.

It is worth noting that at the time this was written, Hamilton was newly engaged to Elizabeth Schuyler and pretty much out of his mind in love with her and probably constantly distracted by this in one way or another, being twenty-three and everything.

Oh and also, of course, “Alex Hamilton, ADC.”

T. Rex

All plans are suspended when your little one suddenly falls ill with an earache, I suppose. This happened Friday night, when my youngest’s cough/cold transformed into “my ear hurts.” I should note here that unlike most families I know, mine has eluded ear infections entirely, in both girls. It’s totally unknown to me, so I did a bit of reading. I am not one to leap directly to a course of antibiotics, particularly as they do nothing to viruses, so I let her nap all day and gave her tylenol and ear drops. Last night she slept twelve hours with no complaints of pain, so please let this pass so we can have a more enjoyable Sunday?

Currently reading: “Theodore Rex” — volume two in the Roosevelt trilogy, this one covering his terms as president. I feel as though I am escaping into fantasy as I learn all about this Republican who advocated for conservation, national parks, and federal regulation over corporate monopolies. Sigh! It’s great, though. Beautifully written, full of all the interesting and eccentric details that I think belong in histories.


John Quincy Adams, by Copley

“Of Arms and Artists” — an interesting book about the painters who documented the American Revolution and the period afterward. Just getting into this one. My favorite American artist of the 18th century is John Singleton Copley. It’s a travesty that he never painted Hamilton — it might have been the most true to life portrait of all. Dude was talented.

In other news, I picked up a couple of Rhodia dot pads last week. Paper is smooth as silk and I think it actually likes my medium nib pen better than the extra-fine. It really has been a trial and error process to match up pens with paper surfaces. But no less delightful. I wrote a few letters last week. Such an indulgent hobby, but it brings pleasure to me and I hope to others, so I continue with it.

1776

Oh, hello there.

This photo was brought to my attention this morning; it is a couple of historical players participating in Junior Rangers Day yesterday at Hamilton National Grange. They are dressed in the first military uniform of Alexander Hamilton, when he was a 19-year-old artillery captain in New York City. His company was known as “Hearts of Oak” and it is the oldest active Army unit.

That kid in the back is working it. His youthful face and small stature easily conjure up the image of young Alex, proudly wearing the smart uniform he had dreamed of most of his life. All that is missing is long auburn hair tied back and braided under that dashing cocked hat. I thought there would be more ruffled sleeves but I suppose those came later with the Continental Army uniforms, designed by General Washington himself.

Frigate-Me-Not

This book was soooo cool, but almost twenty dollars so I had to pass, after first of course looking through most of the pictures. Very nice to see all those big, bad cannons in photographic form.

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