Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Conversations with The Professor

Me: Do you know what I am doing tomorrow, son?

The Professor: You are defending yourself.

Me: (Laughing). Well, sort of.  I am going to go tell a bunch of people about my dissertation and then they are going to ask me some questions about it and I have to defend my answers.

The Professor: Oh. So what is your career going to be?

Me: My career is being mom and I love that job more than anything else. I just earned this Ph.D. for fun and entertainment.

The Professor: Entertainment? I don't remember it being funny.

The take away from this conversation with my six-year old son: He doesn't think I had much fun earning this degree and still isn't quite sure what it is that I learned how to "do."

Not to worry, son. Most adults don't understand it either.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The End is Nigh!

It's so close.

All the announcements have been addressed - they are just awaiting a stamp before being sent off.

This is really happening.  It's a bit surreal but oh so delicious, all at the same time.

Tomorrow morning, I schlep the kids and carry-on baggage across the country so I can graduate in a week or so. The next time I sit in this chair, I'll (hopefully) be a Doctor.  Mind you, "not the kind that helps people" (thanks, son!) but a doctor nonetheless.

I have no clue what comes next.  I wish I could figure that next part out.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You Must Come Live at My House

 I picked up this beauty during my visit to Historic Jamestowne yesterday. Let's just say those colonial women had great taste in pottery glaze colors. It's a handcrafted replica of some of the Surrey-Hampshire borderware archeologists have discovered during their digs there at the site.  I simply adore the color and it looks great in my red and white kitchen with Ms. Thang (below).  

(This is not a replica of a colonial chicken. I found her at Goodwill a few months ago).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

(Surry Ferry from Historic Jamestowne)

When I first moved here in August of 2008, I immediately fell head over heels in love with this place.  There is not one thing I do not love about living here. Well, except maybe that huge spider that was waiting outside the garage door the other day. But other than him, I love this place. I immediately felt at home - like I belong to this area of the world from about Williamsburg down to central North Carolina.  I told every. single. person about it, too. Repeatedly. I am certain they probably grew weary of hearing about how much I love living here!

(Historic Jamestowne was in rare form this morning and there was no entrance fee, huzzah!!!)

I will come right out and say that I got all teary-eyed on my way home from voting in the elections that fall. I remember driving home from Waller Mill Elementary, the brilliant early morning sun filtering through the riotous fall leaves.  As I pondered how fortunate I was to exercise my right to vote as a member of America's First Congressional district,  my soft, smushy heart was overcome with gratitude to those who had sacrificed so much to make it possible. I felt almost mystically connected to the land like never before. At the time I just shrugged it off as just a overly emotional, stressed out, Melynda-moment.

(A "shaggy pine" at Historic Jamestowne this morning. )

As I have been exploring my lineage a bit more, I have discovered I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of ancestors who were born in this exact area, grew up here, married, raised families, planted gardens, laughed over dinner right here in this area.

(Met this nice lady this morning. She is not my ancestor, but her rooster was lovely.

As I search my Grandmother  Mollie's genealogy, names of places like Brunswick, Albermarle County, Goochland, Gloucester, Savage's Neck, Hampton, Northampton, Williamsburg, Accomac County, New Kent, Louisa, Hanover, Essex, Bristol, Richmond, Elizabeth City, Chester keep bubbling up. Places I have been too and locations I recognize. Places that are sometimes no more than 10 minutes from where I sit. While at times there is an infusion of someone from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts or Georgia, over and over again all the roads lead back to Virginia, Virginia, Virginia, Virginia.

(Ambler Mansion or what's left of it. So lovely and haunting). 

Thanks to Dad 1.0, I grew up with the family folk lore that on my mother's side of the family, I was descended from drunken Irish potato-famine refugees (which I am) and back-water North Carolina hill-billies (which I am). But that doesn't tell the whole story.

In addition to those potato loving refugees and hillbillies (from whom I inherited my deep appreciation of blue-grass), I am also the descendant of brave, intrepid and people. People with enough courage to get on those teeny tiny boats back in 1607 and 1608, sail across an ocean to uncharted land, and establish Jamestowne. I am a descendant of people with the fortitude and tenacity to survive the Starving Time, people who then went on to carve out a heritage in the wilderness of this great land. I am descendant of some of the earliest Virginians like Savage, Littleton, Tucker, Hope, Allen, Page, Hearn, Smith, Andrews and Williams

(Statue of Pocahontas at Historic Jamestowne. Not a relative of mine, but my relatives sure would not have survived if it had not been for her tremendous work to build bridges between cultures in this area of the world).

It has been a bit surreal as I have uncovered this part of my family history. When we moved here in 2008, I had absolutely NO idea that nearly a full one-fourth of my ancestors were descendants of people who immigrated to Virginia in the 1600 and 1700's. I was 100% ignorant to all of this.  As I sit at my computer and keep finding yet more family here in the Tidewater area, I marvel at the almost tangible connection I have felt to this place without even knowing why.

(New baby figs at Historic Jamestowne. Too bad I won't be around when they are ripe.)

I think I am finally beginning to understand why I feel so much at home in the Tidewater.

(New baby Virginians at Historic Jamestowne. Too bad her dad isn't around when she is ripe for a diaper change.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

I heart Colonial Williamsburg

I love the outdoor shops over by the magazine. I always want to buy something, even though I have plenty of stuff already. 


 I love finding relatives buried in the Bruton Parish cemetery.

 I  love Bruton Parish.  I love that a relative of mine donated the land on which it is built. I love being able to run my hands over the back of the benches where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Jay sat.

I love coming around a corner and finding a man knitting. After all, knitting used to be primarily men's work. I still haven't been able to convince my boys to let me teach them how to knit though.

When I asked him what he was making, he said, "I get asked that a lot but I won't know until I am done!"

I love the men and women who are more than willing to tell you about the history of the place where you are standing and how to find the nearest drinking fountain (discreetly hidden away from Duke of Gloucester Street).

Look ma! He's talking to me. 

I love these oxen. I learned more about them yesterday than I ever thought I would need to know. These fellas are not necessarily true to the time period. Turns out the breed they used back in the day are too tempermental to stand around and let hoards of people take pictures and pet them all day long.

I love all of the side passages and little gardens tucked beside and behind the houses.

I never get tired of hearing the fife and drum corps, even if there are not many in number on this glorious Sabbath day. 

Did you know that the fife and drum corp members are all taught by the older kids, just like back in the day? Did you know the waiting list to be in the lottery to join the fife and drum corps is seriously six years long? Did you know they marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade recently? 

Meh. Traitor.  I know he is just an actor, but still - Benedict, sir, you were a putz. Traitor.  I wanted to stick my tongue out at him but something in my semi-adult mind prevented me from doing it.

Oh, and the wisteria is starting to bloom too which explains the heavenly scent all about Williamsburg lately.

I met someone ridiculously cool there yesterday - he was literally up a tree with his young son. I cried and acted like I was a 15 year old Beatles fan. If I had it to do all over again, I would have turned to his wife and given her a huge hug and told her, "THANK YOU for sharing your husband with the world."

I know it isn't easy to be married to a man who loves his country more than life itself. She has sacrificed so much for all of us - I wish I had had my wits around me to tell her that.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

Agnes Ellen (Hayes) Page 
About 1894 - 26 April 1929
Black River, North Carolina

Date of Birth: Do not know
Age: 35 years
The Cause of Death was as follows: Ruptured uterus due to fast presentation of the baby.


I have babies. I have babies fast. I have babies really fast. I have babies really really fast.

Turns out it runs in the family.

Without going into to much boring (or gory) detail, I am glad I listened to my gut last year as I was getting closer to having Princess P. The docs here in the 'burg just did not seem to understand me, nor appreciate the gravity of the matter at hand.

But something deep inside of me whispered shouted, "FIND ANOTHER DOCTOR!" I did.  Dr. Isaacs was a God-send, a truly gifted individual with the hands of a surgeon but the heart of a midwife.  She listened, she researched, she consulted with others. She trusted me and she trusted her instinct. Consequently both me and my baby girl made it through the last eight weeks of the pregnancy and delivery alive.

My great-grandmother and her little one did not fare so well.

When I was pregnant with the Princess last year, I did not know how my great-grandmother died. I just discovered this information within the last month or two. All I knew was I had a deep feeling of unease and (what I thought was an irrational fear) that something would go horribly, terribly, and tragically wrong if I delivered Princess P. naturally as I had my other babies.

It was not just the fact that I have rapid labors, it was also the surgery I had 5 years ago plus the fact my babies come 7-14 days early. The doctors here in the 'burg simply would not consider delivering before 39 weeks for any reason.  I kept telling them, "I will never make it to 39 weeks!!! If you let me go that long, this baby is going to be born at home or on the side of the road!" (And I will most likely die. I never told them that part though, because I did not want to sound like a crazed hormonal pregnant lady, even if I was one!)

Like I said, I did not know my great-grandmother died in childbirth because of a precipitous delivery. I wonder if I had had this information a year ago if the doctors here in the 'burg would have listened more carefully to me.  It would have save me the trouble of driving all the way to the far side of Richmond for doctor's appointments but it also means my baby girl would not be a VCU Ram either.

Friday, April 01, 2011


And this ain't no April Fool's joke either.

My dissertation is really in the hands of my committee. I submitted it yesterday.

Did you catch that? MY dissertation is in the hands of my committee. My DISSERTATION is in the hands of my committee. MY DISSERTATION IS IN THE HANDS OF MY COMMITTEE!!!!!!!!

(Pinch me, is this real?)