Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TMI Tuesday: I Don’t Like Working Being Done!

Might have to make one of these given how fascinated he is with the work being done.

Over the last couple of months we have had something going on at the house. From the big projects like the doors, floors, and garage to basic maintenance and inspections to our current air conditioning marathon, there has been a regular flow of people in and out the door. While our son does enjoy watching the work being done and seeing new people every now and again, there are definitely moments when he has simply had enough. And he has no qualms about letting us know when he is done with all the work.

Thankfully, now that the floors are done on the first floor, we are past what we consider the most inconvenient and intrusive part of the renovation process. However, we currently find ourselves in a position where we are having the air conditioning being overhauled on the weekends and while it doesn’t really impact the living area upstairs, it does take me away from my son for a little bit during those precious days away from the office. It really is a give and take at this point but these are things that will pay huge dividends in a myriad of ways in the future.

He does enjoy the opportunity to spend time with family and playing with his cousins. They have been able to keep his mind off of the banging and drilling for the most part and have, in general, kept him occupied during what could be a difficult time of the week. That doesn’t change the fact that he really doesn’t like work being done at the house and there are moments when he stops and clearly babbles his displeasure at the situation.

It makes us wonder how he is going to react to the additional projects that we have planned for the future and whether or not there is enough of a break scheduled in between the phases. Of course, that window could be much smaller should a few things get delayed further but I am trying not to think about that… our luck has to change in that regard, right? I am certain that there will be some sort of voiced frustration but I am not sure to what degree. We will, like many other things, have to wait and see how things play out.

However, with all that being said, our son does seem to like the changes and gives us this look every now and again like “now I see what you were doing, this was definitely worth it”. And it does help that he is able to sleep through a lot of noise and overall commotion. So it may prove to be beneficial when we finally return to what could be considered a “normal” routine. Whenever that is.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mortgage Monday: Timing

It seems like a constant dilemma that we are facing week after week, project after project. The simple, yet complicated, question that continues to arise is whether we push some of the renovations back into the spring or just get them done now? As I have disclosed previously, it is a really long list of things that we are planning on having done at the house and the constant routine that we find ourselves in is less than ideal. I guess a better question is how much more of this can we handle?

While a postponement would bring us some quiet time heading into the fall and some greater flexibility in our schedule, it would also leave us with a few things that while not essential, are either an eye sore or simply aren’t conducive to us fully enjoying our home. It would also leave a few things ‘half done’ at this point which is less than an ideal situation we would find ourselves living in. But it would be quiet and that is something that can’t easily be overlooked.

However, there are a few larger projects that simply make sense to get done now. We already started the transformation so why would we stop in the middle right now and keep us from seeing our plans for our home from coming to fruition. Yes, it will be noisy, inconvenient (most likely less so than the first round), and put a decent dent in our bank account but we would have nearly everything done. And with these things off the list we wouldn’t spend the cold months cooped up in the house staring at the things that we wish we had changed.

It is a matter of deciding whether we want to relax a little now or relax and breathe easier later? Do we want the inconvenience now or later? And, most importantly, how soon do we want to complete the transformation from our house to our home? This doesn’t mean that we have to check everything off of our list but knocking out a good portion of it would go a long way and allow us to push back a few of the other, “less important”, projects.

Either way, it is safe to say that we are all looking forward to the day when we can consider everything done. And while I can’t wait for that time to come, I am also a realist and know that there will probably be an entirely new list that has been drafted in the interim and I am not completely sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing at this point. What I am enjoying is the fact that no matter when we do all of these things, we will be improving our home and we will be able to enjoy them for many years. So, here is to the future!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Search: Piercing Through The Foliage

Caleb Pierce, Margaret Hughes, Isabella Pierce, and Noah Pierce -
Census - 1870 
If you are researching your family tree to try and find a connection to a celebrity or a historical figure, you are most likely going to be very disappointed. This is not the reality for many of us and while I have been lucky enough to uncover some fascinating lives and those who participated in different events throughout the history of the United States, this is far from discovering a celebrity (historic or otherwise) as is commonly defined these days. However, this is my family and they are historical figures for me as they are my direct connection to history.

John Hallman - Death Certificate - 1957
However, not only family lines have led me to historic events. In fact, I have recently been researching a line on my father’s side that is simply a common story of much of the families in this county. Starting with my great grandfather, John Lewis Hallman (1894-1957), I have traced back an additional four generations. While I have written about my great grandfather before, I hadn’t researched much beyond that generation especially on his mother’s side.

Margaret Hughes - Death Certificate - 1919
My second great grandmother, Isabella Pierce (1869-1901), was born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania to Caleb Pierce (1840-1912) and his Irish bride Margaret Hughes (1842-1919). While the family didn’t have much money they seemed to have enough as Caleb left a modest estate to his widow upon his death. What was particularly interesting about this generation is that I was completely unaware of the Irish roots on my father’s side until this discovery.

Caleb Pierce - Death Certificate - 1912
Caleb Pierce, my third great grandfather, on the other hand, was not as fortunate as his daughter. Growing up the son of a laborer, he aspired to step up a rung (a common thread throughout much of my family, and apprenticed to become a Blacksmith which provided for his family but almost certainly contributed to his early demise as well. However, it was his father, Noah Pierce, my fourth great grandfather, who seemed to not be able to catch a break.

Noah Pierce - Census - 1880
Noah Pierce (1805-1880) was raised with next to nothing to the point that he is listed with his siblings in the “Poor School Children Records” of Chester County as needing assistance to pay for basic school supplies (his father, my fifth great grandfather, Caleb Pierce is also listed). He spent his life as a laborer doing what he could to support his family. By the 1870 census he is listed as living with his son. By the 1880 census (where he is classified as “Defective, Dependent, or Delinquent”) he is listed among those residing at the Chester County Almshouse.

So, as you can see, this is not a lineage filled with heroes and people of note. This is my family, these are the people that worked hard and did what they could to support their family. Every generation trying to move forward a little bit at a time. And this is what genealogy is all about… it is our jobs as family historians, to remember our past no matter how fascinating or mundane it may seem to others. All of these ancestors make up who we are and each play a role in making us who we are. Sometimes we find stories of heroic actions while other times we find the facts about a family struggling to find a way to get by. The common thread is that each succeeded in bringing about the next generation and keeping the family tree alive. Without them, all of them, there wouldn’t be a family to research.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Old Hobbies Die Hard

Throughout my life I have had a multitude of hobbies and collections from baseball cards and comics to music and movies to books and coins to firearms and watches. Of course, these are in addition to the accumulation and collection of random information and facts which is a lifelong endeavor. While I don’t know exactly why I have enjoyed so many different hobbies I think it is due in large part because I need to keep myself occupied. More specifically, I need to keep learning about different things… I need to think. This helps to explain why there is such a variety and also why I keep returning to some of those previous interests.

The mechanics, ingenuity, and artistry found in firearms and watches have maintained my interest for years. While many, especially these days, would see these two as completely different from one another my appreciation is quite similar and my interest in them is rooted in some very basic concepts. This is what keeps my mind active as I study how they operate and simply appreciate the functionality and aesthetics of these items.

However, what I have found lately is that coins and currency have a stronger hold on my attention than all the other interests that I have had. The unexpected consequence of taking my son to a coin shop this past weekend is that it has once again piqued my interest in numismatics. As he was going from case to case studying each of the coins nearly organized on the shelves I couldn’t help but think about the time I used to spend searching for that one interesting coin.

Bear in mind that I was never one to collect the high end pieces that are purchased more for investment rather than appreciation. I gravitated to what interested me both in the actual coin itself, both design and origin, as well as the history that comes along with it. I would much rather study a well worn penny that has been used and witnessed a hundred years of history over an encased silver dollar in perfect condition minted this year.

It is also the different countries and periods in history which some pieces represent that fascinate me. This is the perspective that led to my interest in German States, Italian States, French States, Swiss Cantons, and British Palestine coinage. They all speak to a completely different time in history and aren’t immensely popular among collectors so they are usually affordable… and the stories and designs that can be found are compelling. It is that potential for a story that keeps me coming back to this hobby.

However, some things stay the same. We usually begin with the simple wheat penny which is where I started many years ago and where I am starting my son. Who knows, maybe this is something that we will enjoy doing together. Only time will tell but, at the very least, there are a lot of pennies for a lot of thoughts… and stories.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Firearms Friday: Local Shops

I have been meaning to get out and explore a bit to see what the local shops have to offer but haven’t really been able to find much time for these little excursions. However, there were a few small windows that allowed me to get out of the house and drive finally allowing me to make it to a few local shops over the past several weeks. So far, there really isn’t much that I have been missing.

Maybe it is because of the simple fact that I have found the really good gun shops in a few other counties that, when I am able, I try to visit on occasion. Sometimes I may pick up a little something, sometimes I am there to sell, and other times it ends up simply being a great conversation that allows me to keep my wallet in my pocket. Of course, then there are the instance when I am able to bring others to those stores… a time when I can let them spend their money.

So far, while pretty on the outside, there isn’t much to be found in the way of deals or customer service at many of the local shops around me. Bear in mind that there is still quite the long list of places that I have yet to see. Many of these stores look really nice on the outside and have the prices on the inside to match their high end appearance. Needless to say, I didn’t make much in the way of purchased beyond finding a few used magazines in the discount bin (buy one, get one).

Hopefully, the places that I have come across aren’t part of a new trend in the industry although, based on the grand opening announcements that I have seen lately, this is probably the case. The small family stores are becoming harder and harder to find but they are still out there. It just takes a little more time and effort to find them. Commodities that I am in short supply of at the moment.

At this point, with none of the places around me worth a second trip, I am going to take a little break from trying to find the right store. I have great places where I enjoy spending time and the limited times that I am able to get out I would rather go there. Instead, I am going to focus on finding a good range where I can relax and enjoy time with friends and family. That seems like it will be a better use of my time for a multitude of reasons.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Between Blog Posts: Part 1

Recently, while going from one topic to the next whether that be at work or while writing about different topics for the blog I find my mind wandering a little bit into the other side of my brain. It’s almost as if it fell off that fine line that I am constantly walking between the two hemispheres and all of the sudden the ideas for stories begin flowing through my fingers. They are only glimpses but, like the rough ideas that I shared before which I uncovered in my computer, I wanted to share them here. After all, you never know what I might do with them…


Ben had been up all night with the only light shining on the dark country road being the one piercing through his kitchen window. The highway asphalt in the distance had been quite for hours and the autumnal wind carried with it the scent of the approaching season. His work was done, for now, but his labor was just beginning.

The hinges screamed as he pulled the front door toward him. A sound that had become all too familiar in recent weeks. But in that moment, in the darkness of morning, he was the only one who could hear the house shrieking.

His legs were heavy from the rigor of the night and while a fog filled his eyes his mind continued to meander through memories. It took an unexpected effort to traverse the walkway but he endured the haunting thoughts and failing limbs finally slumping over on the rusted trunk of his car. 

He swung open his creaking door and collapsed into the tattered driver’s seat. Turning the key he hoped that the engine would start just one more time. He had a lot of things to do that day but his only desire was to stay home. As the exhaust plumed in the rear view mirror he swallowed the last remanence of cold coffee, rubbed his eyes with his red hands, and slowly skidded down the leaf strewn driveway.

The winding road coddled his eyes while the pings of loose pavement kept his lids from closing. It wasn’t long before he could see the lights from the gas station emerge from the crest of the hill, people walking back to their cars with steaming cups, and the traffic light blinking yellow and red like a beacon on a desolate shore.

As he turned the corner he could hear a rumble cascading across the road. By the time he turned his head the truck had already breached the passenger door. His body was thrown across the intersection until finally resting face down in front of the weathered array of lingering campaign signs.

When the police arrived, they found nothing to identify him, a car which had disintegrated into an unrecognizable heap of scrap, and a heart that had long since stopped pumping. The only thing that they knew about him is what witnesses heard him gargle from between the blades of grass…    

“It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Light Night And Heavy Emails

It was quite clear last night that we are indeed in the darkness of the sweltering summer months as there were only two of us who made it out to the lodge for fellowship. Given the travel that I have been hearing about from various brothers, it was not a complete surprise. Also, and I take responsibility for this one, there isn’t much in the way of communication during this season which leads some to simply forget. In reality, it was nice to have a relaxing evening to catch up with one of my brothers, reflect on our recent efforts, and look forward to the coming months of meetings, events, projects, and objectives.

There are a number of us who remain active throughout the year only taking breaks here and there. Lodge is something that we enjoy and that we want to see thrive during our lives in the lodge so we put forth the effort and do what we can, not just to make good men better but to make good lodges better. However, in my position, I have seen multiple instances (through email, social media, casual conversation, etc.) where brothers think that they are doing what is best for the fraternity but, in fact, they are doing everything to undermine freemasonry in general and our Grand Lodge in particular.

I am not one to name names in this instance, and I am not privy to those names in other instances, so let us simply say that there are many brothers out there that are not holding themselves to the same high moral standards of a mason that they should. They speak about brothers behind their backs and they hide behind fake names and Facebook pages that are, to put it nicely, and despicable disgrace. They seem to forget the traditions, rituals, rules, and standards by which we should hold ourselves and others in this fraternity.

While what is being said bothers me a great deal, it is the fact that they do not stand by their own words by attaching their name to their statements. This is hugely important to me as I hold myself to that basic standard when posting these blogs. If I can’t put my name to it, I don’t write it. Although I haven’t really had anything fall into the latter category. There is a time and place for everything and we all certainly have the right to our own opinion but we should also stand strong in our convictions and opinions. We must also remember the rules by which we live our lives and the moral standards by which we hold ourselves and others. We are here to make good men better, our lodge better, and the fraternity better. It is impossible to do so if we undermine all three as some brothers have chosen to do.