My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Random Quotes, Topics and Photos

I am honestly beginning to think that Cosy will never be potty trained. She is so completely resistant to it right now. Oliver picked it up in about a week or two but I've been working with Cosy for over a year. Girls are supposed to be the easy ones. Of course, she's with me maybe six hours a week. When her dad has her by himself he doesn't force the issue as much. Her mom and other grandparents are keeping her in pull ups - I think. Maybe that's just when she's going somewhere, I'm not sure. When I have her I put big girl undies on her and take her to the potty frequently. She doesn't like the interruption in her schedule but she does get proud when she goes. She has accidents but I never make a big deal of it. I just help her clean up and we go about our business.

I had the best nap today... and also yesterday. I don't have the easiest time going to sleep at night or staying asleep and lately I'm waking up too darn early. I used to never be able to nap during the day but lately I'm using this specific formula of the hum of the a/c window unit, my muscle relaxer (that I'm supposed to take three times a day but don't because it makes me sleepy) and something sort of boring on tv. I can sleep for two hours plus with that formula provided no one disturbs me. The bonus of being in the guest room is that nobody wants to come all the way up here most of the time. As Cosy says, "Pribe-acy".

Does anyone else put salt on their watermelon? Marvin says it's weird. He has sort of been hammering the Fried Shrimp Theory on me over the past few days. Basically... when going out for seafood I would always order fried shrimp because I knew I liked it until he had me try fried crawfish and I realized that I like it SOOOO much more than fried shrimp! The Fried Shrimp Theory is about trying things outside of your comfort zone and... it's true, I have spent most of my adult life - at least the past two decades - as a single woman and as a single woman I have eaten exactly what I wanted and watched what I wanted to on tv and only seen movies that appealed to me. Sure, I've missed some good ones along the way. Whenever Marvin has suggested that I watch something that the rest of the world has already seen, Silence of the Lambs, for example, I have been willing. There are probably a solid dozen movies I've watched in order to catch up with the rest of the world. But I've had to point out to him that I'm the one in our relationship who has gone outside of their comfort zone the most since we've been hanging out. For instance, Mamma Mia collected dust on his dresser for several months and he never ended up watching it. I picked it specifically for him because yes, it is a musical but it's a musical with ABBA music. Not exactly Oklahoma or The Music Man.... ROCK music. Well, pop music anyways.  He will say that he watched Sweeney Todd with me but really, he put it on so I would be entertained while he took a nap. He slept through most of it. I think it should work both ways... he needs to expand his horizons to some of the things that, as a man (single or otherwise) he might not have been as willing to do. Eat something besides fried shrimp!!  Although, truly, I'd rather keep some things sacred rather than have to experience them in the eyes of someone who doesn't love Musical Theater like I do. But salt on watermelon... that's just good eatin'.

Honestly, I think it's ok for us not to be clones of each other. Some of the music he likes... I'm just never going to get into. Some of the movies we've watched... eh, not my thing. Pulp Fiction - no thanks. It was too confusing since it's presented out of order. But I really loved Sling Blade and Shawshank Redemption and several other that we've watched.

I'm a hardcore creature of habit. I find something I like to eat and I'll eat it every day for four years (Luigi's Mango Italian Ice). I hear music I particularly like and I'll listen to it every time I'm in the car (Butch Walker... Les Miserables...). I don't think it's always a matter of teaching old dogs new tricks. I think sometimes, going back to something that you know is going to tickle your fancy is exactly what you need. Especially when things are not going well. I tend to control the things that I can control when other things are out of control.

I've been struggling for the past day or three with really bad back pain. With me, it's always something. My worst headache days this week were Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. My back started bothering me Wednesday night and has been better and worse off and on since then. It's definitely worse after I wake up from sleeping but I'm just so tired from not sleeping well because my back hurts. Same for me is just easier than having to mentally process different when all I can think about is what hurts. My blood pressure today was 140/95 so... borderline.

Poor Austin has this sore... we aren't sure if it started out as a pimple or ingrown hair or spider bite or what... but that thing is terribly infected and painful for him. He doesn't have health insurance but he may end up having to go to the ER to get an antibiotic for it. He's doing warm compresses and peroxide and neosporin and keeping it clean but ... ew. It's rough.

Oliver got to go to the Braves Game yesterday. I tried to catch a picture Friday night of him with his foam tomahawk doing the chop but he moves too fast for me! Here are two pictures where I missed...

 

And the cheesy picture his dad sent me from the game yesterday...


























A few quotes I collected over the past few days that I wanted to share with you... and also keep for my own remembering.

And I guess that's all I have for today. Hope you've had a great weekend! I have barely moved from my nest since Thursday afternoon and it may continue that way tomorrow, too.

 





Friday, June 22, 2018

Food Friday - Pappadeaux

Happy Friday! Friday is the day I like to talk about food simply because I appreciate alliteration. Throwback Thursday - Food Friday - it just makes sense to me. This week I wanted to do a little review of the restaurant we went to on date night this week... Pappadeaux.

fried crawfish and crawfish etouffee
 As I've mentioned before, Marvin and I are kind of obsessed with New Orleans. It was our first road trip together... it's where Purple Michael lives... and then there's the amazing food and culture and music and food! Did I mention food?

On Tuesday night Marvin surprised me with dinner at Pappadeaux in Lawrenceville, GA, which has a New Orleans/French Quarter themed menu. There was a bit of a wait for a table but it was one hundred percent worth it! (other than the mosquito bite I got while waiting outdoors... small price to pay!)

Since we had to wait for a table, we had time to really study the menu and plan our meal. We always order different things so that we can share. Marvin went for the crawfish platter... fried crawfish and crawfish etouffee with dirty rice. I had shrimp creole and grits. Both dinners were delicious but if we go again, I would do fried crawfish all the way. My shrimp creole was great... it was a lot of food. Even with sharing, I had leftover shrimp creole for lunch the next day (we polished off the grits at dinner). I liked his crawfish etouffee just fine... but for me, the fried crawfish was the best we've had yet. Marvin prefers the fried crawfish at Louisiana Bistreaux, the place we went two weeks ago because it was a bit spicier but for me... Pappadeaux has it just right.

I also have to mention that I was really hesitant to try fried crawfish. I've always been big on fried shrimp... I like seafood but I'm not terribly adventurous with it. Then Marvin took me to the Atlanta Highway Seafood Market for lunch and we had the crawfish and... I've never looked back. I'll always take fried crawfish over any other seafood!

shrimp creole and grits
This particular Pappadeaux location is fairly new, I think, maybe in the past year or so. It was spacious and clean and had a nice atmosphere. There was a little jazz band playing near the bar that we could hear in the background but it wasn't too loud for us to have a conversation. I HATE THAT! It was busy - hence the wait for a table. But once we were seated we ordered right away (since we had already studied the menu) and our food came out lickety split. Our server, a guy named Mike, was friendly but he did this weird thing with refilling our drinks... he stopped at the table and asked if we'd like a refill. Marvin answered because I had a mouthful of food. Mike refilled Marvin's glass but not mine. It was a good ten minutes or more later before he came back and filled mine. I don't know if the pitcher ran out or he thought I didn't want a refill because I didn't specifically answer him but... it was just odd. Otherwise, the service was fine.

This was another splurge price wise for us but... it was enough food to cover us for lunch the next day so... it balances out.

On Thursday Marvin made black and bleu burgers for us for lunch... burgers with blackening seasoning, bacon bits, fried onions and bleu cheese dressing. They were huge and they were delicious! He had Cheerwine to drink... it's a North Carolina thing... and I had this new flavored Georgia Peach flavored coke that was... so good! I'm not a big cola drinker but I would definitely go for the peach coke again.

I am trying to eat healthier because of my high blood pressure... so for lunch today I roasted salmon and assorted colored cherry tomatoes and green beans. I just lay it all on a cookie sheet and bake it at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes. I had sliced the tomatoes open and drizzled everything with olive oil then gave it a generous sprinkle of salt and garlic powder. I know... high blood pressure and salt do not necessarily sound healthy BUT, as I've recently learned, it's the sodium content in the processed foods that screws with your blood pressure, not the sprinkle of salt while cooking fresh food. Honestly, this cooking method - fish, fresh veggies all drizzled in olive oil on a cookie sheet - is my favorite go-to meal. It's fast, easy, the clean up is as simple as pulling the tin foil off the cookie sheet (except for today when I accidentally ripped the tin foil while plating). I took a picture of my plate before eating and the light is not so good but you will get the idea. I made enough for two meals because heaven forbid I actually cook twice in the same week. Actually... I've already cooked twice this week because I made mac-n-cheese and tuna the other day so... I'm practically a chef!

I'm thinking of making a big "garbage salad" over the weekend to pack in a lot of fresh, healthy stuff. I've got a list in my phone of stuff I want to add to it... and then I'll just do olive oil and vinegar for the dressing. What are your favorite things to pack into a salad? Have you had an amazing meal lately? Feel free to share in the comment here or on the Facebook link for this blog post.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Throwback Thursday - June 21st

Welcome back to another weekly edition of Throwback Thursday where I look back at this day in my blog's history! You can click on the links to be transported back in time to read the different blog posts.

On this day in 2016 work had just begun on our new covered deck. We have loved that new deck so much and it has been a place of some of the best memories... I just wish my mom had been able to enjoy it longer. I feel her presence more on that deck than anywhere else in the house. She loved it so much. Since it's covered it's comfortable in all but the hottest days of the year. We had Cosette's 2nd birthday party out there... so this blog post makes me a little weepy, realizing that it's only been two years since they started rebuilding the porch... but happy that mom did get to enjoy it for awhile.

In 2015 it was a special "Reasons to Love" post but this time it was Reasons to Love Helen - my sister-in-law! It's been three years since that post and I could probably do a hundred reasons to love her now. We have the BEST text message chats! She posts the sweetest pictures of my nephew Finn! She is always concerned about how I'm doing and always asks about my kids and... we could not have chosen a better wife for Bryan. And now she's incubating another niece for me... quite possibly another red-headed niece... and I'm planning a visit to New York later this year to welcome the new Gant Princess!

I was really thinking deeply about our food choices in 2013 and what might be out there that really isn't good for us. I was also having a little trouble with the youngest kid and wondering when he'd step up to the plate (he has, trust me!) I was deep in the swamp with disability and all that fun stuff. Not my best post ever but it's good to see where I was on this day five years ago.

Oh goodness... what a mess was this time six years ago! Moving back down south... trying to sort Austin's situation out... not knowing if I was going to go back to work or end up filing for disability. It was just so much chaos. The important thing is that I survived it all! Moving in with my parents felt like the lowest of the lows at the time but of course, I didn't know then how little time my mom had left and how important it would be for me to be with her. I read this post now and think... Poor Heather just didn't have a clue. How different would we live our lives if we knew what lurked ahead? Lots. I'm telling you, we would live LOTS differently.

In 2011, I was blogging about Vacation Bible School and the pledges we used to make in the assembly every year. They don't do that any more... at least not around here... and I think it's important to learn those things. But it's more important to know why you believe what you believe. I'm still sorting that part out. When you pledge allegiance, what are you really saying?

I was back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon on this day in 2010 and was really encouraged about my food choices. We had also just recently been to the Fox to see the Little House on the Prairie musical, which was great fun! Somehow that particular day ended up being a double post day and I wrote about a customer who hit a bear with his car. You just never know what might happen here!

AND finally... in 2009 I was having a fabulous weekend watching old movies and staying indoors to beat the heat. I have a long history of hating Summer!

Hope you enjoyed this trip back in time on my blog! Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What Grandma Said

Up until about two years ago, I obsessively watched the news. I had very strong political opinions and was very sure and secure in what I believed was right... and what was wrong. As things have become more strongly divided in the past few years... things have become less black and white for me. I find myself unable to identify with either political party in our country. I find myself unable to stomach the news... any news... because I no longer trust what we are being told. I cannot hear of a news story without having to know the source because everything comes through the spin cycle. There is no news that I firmly trust unless I have personally researched it for myself. For my own sanity, I had to distance myself from politics.

I am, however, a big follower of social media and any big story will begin to filter through into what people are posting. So when I began to see stories about children being separated from their parents when crossing into the United States, I started forming a lot of questions in my mind. I stewed over things for most of yesterday and then finally, after dinner last night I started a dialogue with Marvin about what is happening at the border. He's a good one to have these discussions with because he is smart, honest and articulate and enjoys a good debate. We don't always agree but he never makes me feel uncomfortable with speaking my heart to him. Here are a few of the questions I had for him (and for you, if you care to comment on them):


  • Why are these people not being allowed into the United States?
  • Why are they being detained instead of just turned back? 
  • Are they accused of a crime? Are they being given due process? Are they represented? Are the children represented in any way?
  • What has changed about the situation on the border in the recent weeks that has constituted a crisis?
  • What happened to the children in the past? 
  • Why would a parent risk separation from their children - if it was risky to cross into the border, why would they subject their children to it?
  • Who is caring for the children while they are separated from their parents? 


If you've read my blog for any time at all, you know that at the very core of who I am, I am a mother and a grandmother. Children are precious to me. Lives are precious to me. I am staunchly pro-life, pro-child, pro-family.

For example, yesterday Cosette had brought her kitten with her when she came to our house. She is deeply attached to her kitten. We needed to go to the store and it is very hot where we live so we couldn't have left the kitten in the car for any amount of time. We got Whiskers settled comfortably in my bathroom with fresh water and kitten kibble and started to leave the house. Cosy could NOT understand why the kitten couldn't come. She was heartbroken... devastated... hysterical! I was in my bathroom upstairs while her dad was in the driveway trying to get her in the car and I could hear her screaming from there. I went outside and she was so upset that she was hyperventilating. I knew we couldn't just put her in the car like that... so I carried her to the covered porch and sat down in the rocking chair with her in my lap and just held her and rocked her and kissed her sweaty little head as her tears wet the front of my shirt. I wanted her to understand why the cat couldn't go but before I could even begin to reason with her, I needed to calm her down and make her feel safe.

So many things to take from that scenario. She couldn't bear to be away from her little kitten. I couldn't bear to witness her grief and fear about when she would be reunited with her kitten. We needed to go... the cat couldn't go with us... there were good reasons for the cat to be where she was and for Cosy to be with us but in the moment, all that mattered was her little broken heart.

I don't fully understand this issue at the border. Those questions I listed for you... I don't fully have answers yet. I see the image of the toddler crying for it's mother and it rips my heart out. I know that there are probably reasons that these  people are being detained. I believe that there have to be reasons that they aren't allowed into our country. But what matters most to me is the hurt and fear that people are feeling at being separated from their families.

When I moved to Florida and Cody stayed behind in Georgia, I could not even say his name without breaking down into tears. He was my child and he needed to be with me. It wasn't time for him to be out of my nest yet. He was 17.

When we were unable to see Cosy two years ago, same thing. I could not say her name without crying. Even now, I will tell you that the time away from her was the hardest thing I've ever lived through, even in comparison to my mom's illness last year. It's that loss of the parent-child relationship that is unnatural. My mom was safe and surrounded by people who loved her and were trained in how to care for her. I knew what was happening in my mom's life but with Cosy, we didn't know what was happening. We knew my mom would die and her suffering would end but we didn't have any certainty about our future relationship with Cosy.

I would not want children to be in an unsafe location. I would not want them to be detained with criminals. I don't want kids in jail. Marvin reassured me that where the families were previously held - was not jail. It's possible that some of the kids being brought to the border are being trafficked for horrible reasons. The people with them may not be the actual parents in some circumstances. There are sometimes questions that have to be answered before people are allowed into our country but surely there is a better way for this to be handled.

I can't tell you that I came to any firm conclusions about this situation and I am far from well informed. But I have to admit that when the order came down today to stop separating families, I felt a huge sense of relief. I know that our borders are not as safe as they should be. I know that other countries - like Russia, for instance - have much stricter border protection. But as Marvin says, we're better than those other countries. We don't want to be them. For me, when I don't understand the problem, I just know I have to err on the side of love and compassion.

I've posted a few screenshots that I found on social media today that made me think... I'm also including some other words of wisdom.

I stumbled across this in a draft of a blog I never published... these are things I found on little notes in my Grandma's bible. She died in 1998... so, twenty years ago! I thought some of these might speak to some of you... and I want you to know that wherever you stand politically, I just hope that you remember to show kindness and compassion to others. Here's what Grandma Pennington said:
  • Your best friend is he who brings out the best that is within you.
  • Every human heart has an unseen battlefield where the good and the bad are fighting it out
  • Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian witness is powerless
  • Real goodness is a trait of character which only comes through the indwelling spirit
  • God never gives power to a person who will not use it
  • People are attracted to Christ by the lives of those who profess Him
  • The highest purpose of prayer is to turn our attention toward God, to get God into our minds and; into our thinking
  • God is as near to you as the air you breathe, not way out yonder somewhere
  • Prayer is coming to God with open minds saying, "God reveal to me what you want me to do".
  • Many times God reveals His will to us one step at a time, as you take that step then you can see the next one.
  • We cannot prove God by argument but we can make our own lives an argument for God
  • When we lose hope, we lose God
  • I believe that Christ rose from the dead, this resurrection is my assurance that there is life for me beyond the grave. "Because I live, " he said, "ye shall also live".
  • I know someone will carry my body and bury it in the ground. There it will decay but because I know Christ, that will not be the end of me. I shall live after death.
  • A friend is one who comes in when the world goes out.
  • If asked to, God will soften harshness in people
  • Religion is both love for God and love for man. It involves the fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man
  • If a man would not help his son or daughter when he or she was needed it and was in trouble, then he was not a worthy father
  • There have been many, many people in whose heart our Lord stilled the storm after some great sorrow or hurt or disappointment. He is still working His miracles.
  • I cannot forgive my sins. I cannot blot them out. My only hope is the mercy of God.
  • With God's help, we can face any temptation and overcome it.
  • Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not. (Augustine)
  • It is important that we know what we believe
  • God is stronger than satan, goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, righteousness is stronger than sin
  • Day by day we gather the harvest of yesterday and we are sowing for the harvest of the future
  • If you have a problem, plant a seed
  • a missionary is not necessarily one who crosses the sea, but one who sees the cross
  • Suffering accepted and used may prove to be the best fruit of your life.
  • God's grace does not always explain nor remove the thorn, but it is always sufficient to overcome
  • He who cannot let go cannot hang on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cosy Pictures

I bragged on the phone this afternoon about feeling good and then out of nowhere... BAM!... another headache. I didn't play around with this one... it got the good migraine meds right out of the gates. Last week I was nearly comatose over date "night" (and day and night and the next day) and I'd like to be a little more engaged this week. Sprinkle all those good "headache be gone" vibes my way, if you would.

Gamer Girl watching her dad play

This morning I had the little chickadee and her furry companion with me. I picked them up and we drove through Dunkin' Donuts for an iced coffee for Nana and some munchkins for the munchkin. The employees gathered in the drive-thru window to see the tiny kitten and tried to bribe her from us. Cosy would never forgive me if I gave her kitten away. They are fairing fairly well, I think.

Tucked in for a nap
We did have to have a conversation today about not throwing the cat... and how to pick her up gently... and then there was a complete meltdown when we had to leave the cat at home to make a little grocery shopping trip. I'm telling you... three year old girls are probably the most emotional creatures on earth. It wasn't just tears... it was tears and hyperventilating and giving her dad the stink eye... she's hard core, that one! But before that we had a nice, peaceful... sort of... happy morning. Thought I'd share a few photos with you, especially for the ones who aren't on Facebook or Instagram or the other spots in cyberspace I tend to hang out.

Now I'm going to close my eyes for a little while before time to head south for Date Night (and day and night and the next day). Hope your Tuesday has been lovely! Love and hugs, y'all!

wearing a chair for a hat

Laughing at her silly dad... 

A bit wound up... 
 




Monday, June 18, 2018

Reasons To Love Monday - Lowering My Blood Pressure Edition

Skylight allowing sunlight in... 
It's nearly 3pm on Monday as I begin writing this blog and I have LITERALLY done nothing beyond exist so far today. I would feel guilty but y'all... I'm just trying to get this blood pressure down and chilling like it's my job seems like the best way to do it. I've got a pillow stuffed into the skylight so I am mushrooming hardcore. I feel bad that I haven't blogged yet today to give you inspiration for the week (joke... are these posts EVER inspirational? Really?) and I didn't blog yesterday either so I feel compelled to share some of my well rested wisdom with you. And since it's Monday... I'll share some of the things that are keeping my heart beating faster this week... while still keeping my bp down.

Pillow in skylight
1. Pillow stuffed into the skylight? Genius. It's sad that it took me four months up here to figure that one out. Granted... I love the light for things like selfies and insta-stories but when I'm laying here trying to rest... hate it.

2. I slept until 8am this morning. That never happens unless I'm at Marvin's in his very dark, very quiet, very cool room. When I opened my eyes and saw that it was 8, I stretched like a cat waking from an afternoon nap. I think Marvin was actually awake before me this morning and wondering why he hadn't had a response from me yet on the text he sent me late last night. I think in another hour he was going to be ready for a welfare check on me.

3. Marvin got an amazing message last night from Butch Walker - a musician that we both really adore. I worried that Father's Day would be hard for Marvin since it's the first since his son passed away. Then he got this lovely message from this amazing artist and it really boosted his spirits. If you don't know who Butch is, you really should check him out. He is my current jam while I'm in the car... and has been for a few months now. He writes really lovely songs with brilliant lyrics that hit me right in the feels. He had posted on Instagram about Father's Day and Marvin commented about it being his first without his son. Butch sent him a really kind message in response and... you know, there aren't a lot of public figures who really take that kind of time to be genuine to their fans. He earned mucho respect from me for that... and of course, made Marvin's day! So yay!

4. It looks like we're going to have terribly hot weather this week. I hate hot weather so much. I just literally melt... I get the nasty heat migraines... I sweat like a prostitute in church... my hair gets frizzy from the humidity. Summer is not my favorite. We've talked about this. But fortunately... I have very few outdoor obligations this week. I'll be up here in my nest with the a/c on except when I'm at Marvin's nest with the a/c on... avoiding the sunlight like a vampire. And I am literally counting the days until October... when our temperatures finally start consistently getting out of the eighties. There are 104 days until October, if you were wondering.

5. Since I'm nesting hard... I'm (of course) binge-watching tv... and right now I'm watching the series "Madame Secretary" which is a great show! More about it in my next couch potato post but definitely worth a watch.

6. I did climb out of the nest long enough to actually cook food for myself today... I made kraft macaroni and cheese and added a can of tuna. I wanted to toss in some english peas but I was raiding Pop's pantry and he hates peas. I need to do more salads/fresh fruit and veggies but I just haven't felt well enough for a shopping trip. Pop picks things up for me and Austin picks things up for me but I'm due a proper food shop for myself. Maybe tomorrow.

7. I've been working on my ancestry.com stuff... my tree and Marvin's... and I found out that Abraham Lincoln is my fifth cousin, four times removed on my dad's side... at least I think that's how it works out. At any rate, we do have a common ancestor and that totally thrilled me. Genealogy is so much fun for me! Ancestry.com is stupid expensive and I always find myself focusing more on it when the renewal is coming up. Little finds like this are great motivation to keep digging. Posting about my ancestors on my blog is also keeping me motivated. My next post will be about this common ancestor that Cousin Abe and I share so... stay tuned!

8. Tomorrow is Cosy day... and date night... hopefully I won't be so worn out from the first bit to not enjoy the second bit. I try to pace myself. I haven'ta  s much time with her lately because of my headaches/blood pressure/back issues and ... not having a car most of the time. I had her for a little while on Saturday but I didn't feel well and she was missing her kitten so she went home early. I'll have to make sure to get the kitten tomorrow. I think. Marvin is not playing softball this Summer so date night is slower paced (and cooler) and we're home earlier than when he's playing.

Sunday
Today
 9. My blood pressure HAS gone down a little since last week. I was up to 164/120 on Friday (I think it was Friday... maybe Saturday) and then it got a bit better and today was a little better still. I'm not normal yet and that's frustrating since I'm taking four different pills that lower your blood pressure but... at least I don't feel like a time bomb ready to stroke out at any second like I did the other day. I'm keeping a close watch on it, trying to eat healthy(er) and so forth. My next scheduled dr visit is in August and I don't want to have to go in the meantime but if I have another series of high readings, I'm going to have to.

And... I guess that will do it for this week's Reasons To Love Monday! What is your motivation this week? What helps drag you out of your nest to face the hot temperatures? What keeps your blood pressure in a nice, healthy range? I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Genealogy - James P Allaire

James Peter Allaire

BIRTH 12 JUL 1785  New Rochelle, Westchester, New York, United States

DEATH 20 MAY 1858  Allaire, Monmouth, New Jersey, United States


I decided to write about Mr. Allaire because he has an entire state park named after him. I'm not certain but I *think* he is my only ancestor with a state park. The Historic Village at Allaire in Farmington, New Jersey is based on my 5x- great grandfather's life. Our lineage is as such:

James Peter Allaire was the father of
Throckmorton Allaire who was the father of
Sarah Frances Allaire who was the mother of
Roland Ely Shafto who was the father of
Clara Shafto who was the mother of
Bruce Bronson Gant Sr. who was the father of
my father




The biography from the park website was written better than I could so I'm sharing that here.

Biography of the Founder

James Peter Allaire was born on July 12, 1785 and was a noted master mechanic and steam engine builder, and founder of the Allaire Iron Works, the first marine steam engine company in New York City, and later Howell Works (est. 1822), in Wall Township, New Jersey. He is also noted for building both the first compound steam engine for marine use and the first New York City tenement structure.
At the age of 17, he began working for Francis Elsworth, a brass founder in the city. Allaire would marry Frances Duncan, a distant cousin, two years later, and he continued to advance at the brass foundry. They would eventually have nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood.
By 1806, having learned the brass business, Allaire opened his own foundry. Before the War of 1812, Allaire’s foundry received an order from Robert Fulton to make the brass works for the Clermont, the first commercially successful steamboat. After Fulton’s death in 1815, Allaire leased Fulton’s shop in New Jersey from the estate. Charles Soutinger, Fulton’s chief engineer, became his partner. Under that partnership, Allaire and Stoutinger built the engine for Fulton’s last steamship design, the Chancellor Livingston, as well as the air cylinder for the Savannah, the first steam powered vessel to successfully cross the Atlantic.
By 1820, Allaire was operating that largest marine engine building shop in the United States. He personally held a number of patents for steam engine improvements developed at his shop, which was known as the James P. Allaire Works.
In 1822, after acquiring the property which is now known at The Historic Village at Allaire, building began on what would eventually become the Howell Works – a community of approx. 400 workers and their families. The Howell Works was designed to be a self-sustaining community that would integrate all of the economic components needed to support Allaire’s businesses (production of the bulk pig iron to be shipped and cast into machine parts at Allaire Works in NY, for use in the building of the ships for the (Allaire owned) Steamboat Packet Lines. By 1833 most of the standard features of Village life were in place at the Howell Works. A post office, school for worker’s children, blacksmith shop, carpenter’s shop, carriage house, manager’s house, foreman’s cottage and chapel were in place. The company store (General Store) was completed in 1835. Allaire’s family moved to the site sometime in 1834 (although he often stayed in NYC to oversee the Allaire Works). His first wife, Frances, died in 1836 after a long illness and though deeply affected by her death, he returned to his work. Despite a 26 year age difference, ten years after Frances’s death, he would marry Calicia Allaire Tompkins, a distant cousin who had nursed his first wife during her illness. They had one son, Hal, born in 1847.
The village was at its most prosperous in 1836 (the year we interpret) but began to decline as richer deposits of iron and coal in Pennsylvania made production cheaper and the use of charcoal in the furnaces was not as efficient as coal. By 1848 the production had been in steady decline and the furnace ceased to operate. Although the Howell Works was only one of James P. Allaire’s numerous businesses, it has turned out to be a lasting monument to a man who combined business acumen with a concern for his employees. A true testament to an early industrialist during a time of growth and change in the American landscape.

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More about James P. Allaire from the www.geni website:
Founder of Howell Iron Works. James P. Allaire was one of the best known industrialists in the country.
Records indicate James Peter Allaire was born 12 July 1785 in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia; however, new evidence may prove he was born in his family's ancestral home city of New Rochelle, New York. Petitions to the Continental Congress in 1784 by a Peter A. Allaire of New York indicate this branch of the Allaire family may have remained in New York during the British evacuation. We do know, though, that members the Allaire Family held Loyalist views during the United States War of Independence and fled to Canada during the British evacuation of New York after the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783. Among these was Allaire's uncle, Anthony Allaire, who served with the British Army during the war under the infamous Col. Tarleton as well as in Maj. Patrick Ferguson's famed rifle corps during the Carolina Campaigns. It was Col. Tarleton who issued the notorious decree offering freedom to any slave wishing to join his army.
Little, if anything, is known about James Peter Allaire's early years. Scant evidence indicates he may have received only the most rudimentary, elementary education. This, however, would be in direct conflict his Huguenot heritage and his family's socio-economic status. We know from Allaire's actions later in life that he was strongly instilled with the Huguenot philosophy of free and equal education and firmly believed in the Huguenot conviction that life is a learning experience and one should strive to better him or herself through continued learning and education.
Peter Alexander Allaire, James P. Allaire's father, moved his family to New York City sometime after 1793, where he purchased a house at 29 John Street. Evidence indicates that Peter Allaire operated a livery stable nearby, which is probably where James Allaire was first introduced to iron production. In 1802, at the age of 17, James Peter Allaire began working for Frances Ellsworth, a brass founder in the City of New York, and by 1804 was operating his own small brass foundry located at 466 Cherry Street on the city's Lower East Side. It was this same year he would marry his second cousin, Frances Duncan, on 25 January. Frances and James would have nine children together, but only five of them would reach maturity.
Prior to the War of 1812, James Allaire received orders from two gentlemen hoping to built a craft and begin regular steam service from New York City to Albany: Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, Jr. and Robert Fulton. This would commence a long lasting relationship between Allaire, Livingston and Fulton as well as mark the foundation of his career as a marine engine manufacturer. Allaire was commissioned to cast parts for The Boat, as Livingston and Fulton called her. She would leave New York Harbor on the 17th of August 1807 and sail into history, proving to the world the possibilities of nautical steam navigation. After several successful runs during the autumn of that year, The Boat would be pulled from service and set in dry dock at Clermont, the country seat of Chancellor Livingston, located in Germantown, NY. She would be re-outfitted during the winter months of 1807 and 1808, with the assistance of James Allaire, and put back into service during the spring of 1808 after being christened the North River Steam Boat and dubbed by the public the North River Steamboat of Clermont. Today she is known simply as The Clermont.
Allaire would continue his personal and business relationship with Livingston and Fulton. Allaire continued his relationship with Fulton and Livingston's heirs after the Chancellor's death on 26 February 1813. He continued to work with Fulton up to the time of Fulton's own death on February 23, 1815 from pneumonia. Allaire's relationship with Fulton became so close that he may have even been the executor of Fulton's estate. We do know though that Allaire continued his business relationship with the heirs of Robert Fulton and his wife, Harriett Livingston who was the ward of the Chancellor, as well as his relationship with the heirs of the Chancellor himself. Historic records show that the Allaire family and the Livingstons had dealings in the past and it is even possible James Allaire was distantly related to the Chancellor.
After Fulton's death, Allaire formed a partnership with Charles Stoutinger, the chief engineer for the Fulton Livingston Works in Jersey City, NJ, and leased the tools, machinery and shop from the Fulton/Livingston heirs. The two immediately began work to complete the last boat designed by Fulton, the Chancellor Livingston. Work was completed by 1816, but shortly after this Stoutinger died. After Stoutinger's death, Allaire closed the Jersey City plant and relocated to Cherry Street at Corlear's Hook, where his small brass foundry was located. It was here that James Peter Allaire founded the Allaire Works, a move that would thrust him into prominence as one of the world's most famous marine engine manufacturers of the time.
His reputation for honesty and integrity, his attention to exacting detail, and his demands for perfection all contributed to the success of his Allaire Works. It was due to this reputation that, in 1818, Capt. Moses Rogers, a native of New London, CT, would contact Allaire with a proposal. A perfectionist himself, Rogers, with the backing of a consortium of wealthy Savannah merchants and planters, had set out to build the first trans-Atlantic steam powered vessel.
Rogers selected carefully in who would contracted to supply the parts for his craft and where it would be assembled. Samuel Carson, trained in London by sons of Matthew Boulton and James Watt who invented the steam engine, was employed to draft the design of the engines along with Daniel Dod of Elizabethtown, NJ. The engines would be cast and assembled by Steven Vail at his Speedwell Ironworks and James P. Allaire was selected to cast the cylinder, the largest made up to that time. On 22 1819, the Savannah "put to sea with steam and sails." She made the crossing from Savannah, GA to Liverpool in 29 days and 4 hours traveling for 18 days under steam power. While the crossing set no speed records, due in part to bad weather, the Savannah gained critical acclaim and proved to the world that trans-Atlantic steam navigation was possible. Unfortunately though, the Savannah showed her to be more of a curiosity and proved a financial failure.
Despite the financial failure of the Savannah, his contributions to her would secure James Peter Allaire's place in the annals of marine history and place him in the forefront of marine engine building during his time. By 1820, the 35 year old Allaire was producing over 50 percent of all marine engines manufactured in the United States and operating the largest marine engine shop in the country. Allaire personally held numerous patents for steam engine improvements developed at his Allaire Works in New York and proved his genius time and again through increased technological developments of his own design.
As his business grew and production increased, so did Allaire's need for raw materials which, in his case, was primarily iron. At the time, the United Kingdom was the largest manufacturer and exporter of iron in the world, but, as a result of the war of 1812, high ad velum tariffs had been placed on the British commodity. At one point these import tariffs reached the astounding figure of 130 percent. Allaire was forced to find a more economical means of securing the raw materials he so desperately needed.
In 1822 Allaire's long time friend and business associate Benjamin B. Howell wrote to him about a small forge on the upper fringes of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Howell had been leasing the property form its owner, William Newbold, where he operated the Monmouth Furnace. Howell wrote Allaire, "The furnace, as you know, is situated in a pleasant and good country.and I think this country wants only to be known to render it a place of much greater moment.As a situation for a furnace it possesses many great advantages."
Upon the advice of his friend Allaire purchased the property form Newbold on 27 April 1822 for a cost of $19,000. Unfortunately Allaire was unable to raise the necessary capital quickly enough to meet the terms of his purchase agreement. Newbold subsequently sued Allaire in the New Jersey Supreme Court for Breech of Covenant. This would be the first of many legal battles into which Allaire would enter during his ownership of the property. With the contract satisfied, his legal difficulties behind him and the transfer of ownership complete, Allaire took full possession of the property by early 1823. Over the next few years, Allaire would make many improvements to the site, repairing existing buildings and constructing new ones. The isolation of the site also forced him to consider the development of a self sufficient community, one that would eventually include a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, bakery and grist mill, a boarding house, larger homes for workers and their families, mills and factories, a school and church and a general store.
Immediately after purchasing the Howell Works site, Allaire spent much of his time there working on development plans; however, the needs of his Allaire Works would summon him back to New York. Once back in the city, he shifted his attentions to the business of marine engine manufacturing and only went to the Howell Works as business required, hiring a fulltime general manager to oversee the operations in New Jersey. It is unsure exactly when Allaire relocated his family to the Howell Works property, installing them in the largest house on the property, and some evidence indicates it may have been as early as 1824. However, we do know by 1834 the Allaire family had relocated form their Cherry Street home to the Monmouth County property. At the time of the move, Allaire's wife's health was increasingly deteriorating. Also at this time a devastating a cholera outbreak was sweeping the world and, between 1832 and 1833, New York was hit. The hardest hit area of the city was the Lower east Side where the Allaire family lived. This provided the impetus for Allaire to remove his family to the more healthful climate of South Eastern Monmouth County.
With operations in full swing at the Howell Works furnace, Allaire found himself with the need for a constant flow of supplies and products in and out of the small Village he had created so he set out to improve transportation between his new property and the New York City works, as well as to the markets directly. He leased land at the Eatontown Dock, now known as Oceanport, on the Navesink River, to build a carriage shed. From here he could store and lade farm goods, pig iron and cast iron wares onto vessels under his own control for delivery to New York. On the return trip, the ships would bring whatever supplies were needed by the Howell Works, the surrounding community and the Allaire family. In time, Allaire's seaboard holdings would include enlarged warehouse and wharfage facilities at Eatontown Dock and similar facilities in Red Bank. Allaire is even credited with running the first regularly scheduled steam packet passenger service between Red Bank and New York. Early plans to build a small railroad to one of these facilities never materialized, however, due to a chronic lack of liquid capital that would plague Allaire's business empire for years to come.
Although Allaire was fairly successful and diversified in his businesses at the time of the purchase from William Newbold, the availability of cash to expand his business was limited. The banking and financial industries at this time had only recently emerged form their infancy in America. The national Economy was still feeling the effects of the War of 1812, and the mighty financial engine of American Industry envisioned by Alexander Hamilton was still experiencing growing pains. Despite unprecedented growth of the nation's industries however, liquid capital was hard to come by and industrials like James P. Allaire were caught up in the never ending cycle of re-investment.
Allaire was also faced with another challenge to surviving in a cash poor economy. The ship building industry, upon which he depended, was notorious for cash flow problems. The nature of the industry was such that the builder of a ship and its major parts, such as the steam engines that Allaire manufactured, took in a small amount of cash and a financial interest in the vessel. When the ship became profitable, the builder could either sell his shares or take his part of the profit. Since insurance was expensive and rarely purchased, the ship builders and those who built the major parts took a great deal of risk and had no way of recouping their losses if the ship foundered. For Allaire the risk was enormous as the engines he produced cost anywhere from $60,000 to $150,000. Added to this was the fact he had to pay out of pocket all production expenses including materials and payroll. This meant that men, like James P. Allaire, had to have vast sums of capital available just to cover costs. Fortunately for Allaire, he had sources of financial capital close at hand. His primary backer was his brother-in-law, John Haggerty, the husband of James' eldest sister Maria.
Despite all of this Allaire prospered and became a wealthy man. Between the years of 1822 and 1836 the Allaire Works reached the peak of its production and Allaire was building over 50 percent of all steam boat engines and boilers in the country. His business expanded to include the construction of hulls and he was able to produce complete vessels. During this time he made many technological advances and became highly respected in his field and one of America's most prominent men. During this period the Howell Works developed into a major industrial centre. It employed, at its peak production, between 400 and 600 employees, both residents of the Works community and the surrounding neighborhood. With pig iron production at a surplus Allaire turned his attentions to the production of hollow ware, things such as pots, skillets, household items and sadirons, as well as making machine parts and tools. He also laid the foundations for a vast transportation network reaching as far north as Boston and as far south as Charleston. He began regular steam service to New York from red Bank, NJ and regular cartage service to New York from Eatontown Dock. He even developed several stage lines to service his steam boat service and was on the verge of constructing a small railroad to service his steam boat lines by the year of 1836. Allaire had the US Government contract for mail service between New York and Monmouth County and, through the negotiations of his partners Charles Morgan and John Haggerty, in the New York to Charleston Steam Packet Company, which would be reincorporated as the Southern Steam Packet Company in 1836, gained the contracts for mail service to New Orleans and Texas as well.
By 1836 James Peter Allaire was at the peak of success with his diversified businesses. He was unaware, however, that he was about to run into problems, both of his own making and beyond his control, which would cause his expanding empire to constrict and ultimately fail. In little more than a decade the Howell Works would take on an even greater importance as it became the last of his resources.
The first and most personal tragedy Allaire had to face was the death of his beloved wife of 32 years. Frances Duncan Allaire, second cousin of James Allaire, to whom he was married on 25 January in 1804, had given him nine children, although only five would survive to adulthood. As she got older, her health became increasingly fragile and, about 1834; Allaire removed his family to the Big House at the Howell Works property, partly in hopes that the country air would improve Frances' health. Allaire's brother Andrew was know to frequently visit the Howell Works for health reasons.
Frances' poor health had also prompted Allaire to ask his first cousin once removed, Calicia Allaire Tompkins to live at the house and help his wife with her duties as mistress of the house. Calicia was also niece and second cousin once removed to Frances. Despite the best efforts of the medicines of the day, Frances Duncan Allaire left this world on 23 March 1836 at the Howell Works. His wife's death devastated the industrialist and it is said he remained by her empty bedside for two months grieving for her. Business concerns however forced Allaire out of his mourning and he turned his attentions to the maters at hand. Shortly after the marriage of his daughter Maria Haggerty Allaire to Thomas Andrews in June of that year, Allaire returned to New York for good, never wanting to be reminded of the loss he had just suffered. Had his fortunes not been reversed it is most likely Allaire would never reside again at the Howell Works.
As it was, bad news was to follow bad news. That October, one of Allaire's steamboats, the William Gibbons, ran aground. The flagship of his reorganized Southern Steam Packet Company was destroyed. Luckily no lives were lost, but the loss of this boat may have led to greater financial problems from which he was never able to recover. At the time of the William Gibbons' destruction, the new company had just completed re-outfitting the Home for ocean going travel. At a cost of $155,000 to build and outfit her, the capital to complete the Home was tied up in the profitability of the William Gibbons. With its loss, Allaire was left in a huge financial bind.
The following year, another of Allaire's boats ran aground. This time it was one of his vessels on his Red Bank line. But it was in October 1837 that Allaire suffered his greatest disaster. While making its third voyage from New York to Charleston, the Home struck a sandbar off the Jersey coast. Unaware of the extent of the damage, her captain proceeded on schedule to Charleston, SC. The Home started taking on water as she rounded Cape Hatteras, and her captain put her aground to ride out the developing storm. Leaking badly from the earlier damage and battered by the high winds and seas of Racer's Storm, the Home was torn to pieces by the surf. Before rescue operations could be effected the next day 90 lives had been lost.
The financial loss to Allaire was heavy, as the ship had little, if any insurance. But it was the bad press generated by the circumstances of Home's loss that was to leave the most lasting impact. Insurance inquiries centred on rumours that the boat's captain had been drunk while at the helm. Although those charges were ultimately found untrue, the public outcry over such a terrible loss of life led to demands for greater safety regulations for steamboats and other sea-going vessels. Allaire would never fully recover from the damage done to his good name and reputation, which he had worked so long and hard to cultivate.
The timing of these losses could not have been worse. On May 10, 1837 the bottom fell out of the American Economy. The Panic of 1837, which had been inevitable since President Jackson issued his Specie Circular the previous July, plunged the young nation into its first great depression. For James P. Allaire the panic was crippling. Demand for his products dried up quickly as the crisis grew.
Throughout much of Allaire's early operations, and into the 1840's, his brother-in-law John Haggerty was his main source of backing. William Gibbons, for whom the fated steamer was named, was one of Allaire's best customers often fronting him as much as $5,000 toward the construction of the steam engines he ordered. Allaire's reputation and contacts in government and industry were also instrumental in securing him loans from Nicholas Biddle, president of the Second Bank of the United States.
But good financial backing can only go so far and, when the markets evaporated for Allaire's products in the wake of the financial crisis, his empire crumbled. As if to punctuate the end of James P. Allaire's iron empire, the discovery of large iron and coal deposits in Pennsylvania in the early 1830's signalled the end of the bog iron industry in that state as well as in New Jersey. By 1850 the Howell Works Company ceased operations as an iron producing industrial centre. Allaire was forced to reorganize his Allaire Works in New York and, turning once again to his brother-in-law, secured the necessary capital, but not without a price. Haggerty now had the controlling interest in the corporation, largely funded from his own bankroll.
In 1846, ten years after the death of his beloved wife Frances, James Allaire married Calicia Allaire Tompkins, his first cousin once removed, who had been charged with caring for the ill Frances, and who had remained at the Allaire house at the Howell Works after Frances' death. The marriage caused an uproar with Allaire's children and, apparently, with John Haggerty as well. Whether it was the 26 year age difference or concern about Allaire's estate is unclear, but Haggerty refused any further financial backing. By 1849, through Haggerty's machinations, James P. Allaire was forced out of any interest in the Allaire Works. Shortly after this the Howell Works Company was officially declared bankrupt.
Throughout Allaire's control struggles with Haggerty, Calicia lived at the Howell Works with their infant son Hal, who was born on 5 October 1847. Meanwhile, from New York, Allaire did his best to work his way out of the growing business problems facing him. In 1850 Allaire was forced to surrender the three story, company owned, brownstone which had been his home since the beginning of his career. Ousted from the firm that bore his name, he was unable to renegotiate a lease on the company owned house. Having lost his New York business and his home, and barely able to keep steamboats in operation on his Red Bank line, Allaire permanently retired to the Big House on the Howell Works property and, by January of 1851 had spent nearly all of his liquid assets in buying the lands back form the now defunct Howell Works Company. Fortunately, however, fate would intervene in the shape of his former employee John Roach. By this time Roach, who had begun his career at the Howell Works Company, was now a well respected and affluent ship builder in his own right. Roach purchased the troubled Allaire Works in New York and reinstated James Allaire on the Board of Directors in an advisory position with a salary that enabled the former industrialist to live his last days in comfort as a country gentleman.
On the 20th of May in 1858, in the company of his wife Calicia and their son Hal, James Peter Allaire; industrialist, engineer, inventor, merchant, philanthropist and visionary; passed away quietly at the Howell Works Property at the age of 73 after a brief illness. Allaire was interred in the Allaire Family Cemetery plot of the Old Huguenot Cemetery in New Rochelle, New York.
While James Peter Allaire is often overlooked by the history books, his legacy lives on. From his founding of the first free public fire company in Manhattan, to his dedication to providing free and equal education to the masses, to his introduction of the first apartment buildings to the United States, to his advancements in marine navigation and travel, which would change the world forever, the contributions of James Peter Allaire to humanity can not be overlooked. Therefore, it is the goal and purpose of Allaire Village, Inc. to educate the visitors to the Historic Village, which bears his name, on the life and times of James Peter Allaire and the Howell Works Company.