Musings about life, love and genealogy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Deja Vu All Over Again

In response to my last blog post, my Uncle Bill pronounced me married to royalty, but royal was the last thing I felt on Sunday, covered in dust, plaster and paint. Instead, I was feeling the realities of renovation, especially in my back!

After spending six years restoring our 1868 Victorian home, Jason and I swore up, down and sideways that we'd never take on another restoration or renovation project. Then we moved to Massachusetts.  The "Man Cave", as I affectionately called the quaint Lincoln condo Jason lived in during the week, was great for a man and his dog, but when I arrived with my shoes (and not even all of them),  we knew it was time to look for a bigger place.

With a gloriously empty nest, we didn't need as much room as we had in New Jersey, but we weren't ready to downsize completely. When we started looking for a place up here, I bee-lined to Concord, but reeled from sticker shock. Love the town, adore the eclectic shopping experience, and you can't get much more historic. We found a great pizza place, but came up empty in the real estate department. Jason left the searching up to me, but he had one unwavering requirement - a two car detached garage or enough space to build one. He's got a lot of big boy toys.  My agent, Muriel and I traversed Middlesex county looking for something not too big, not too small, with a nice sized yard and an easy commute, a big, modern kitchen and at least three bedrooms (so the kids could visit, but not stay), and of course, the garage.

It was a more daunting challenge than I expected.

I'd estimate that Muriel and I trooped in, out and around at least sixty homes in numerous towns. On line searches eliminated dozens and dozens more. The handful of open houses I visited didn't improve my luck. It was frustrating to say the least. But in the end, it was a wrong turn that put us on the right path.

Anyone who knows me knows I have no sense of direction. I can get lost going around a circle. One Sunday, while Jason was golfing, I went out to visit a few open houses and missed a turn. As I drove down the street following the recalculated directions barked by my GPS, a Coldwell Banker sign caught my attention, and so did the house. I remembered seeing it during one of my many online searches, and remembered eliminating it from contention. But wait, was that a two, no, three, a three car garage?  I turned around and did a slow crawl past. A nice shuttered colonial on a large piece of property, and it really had a three car garage! I couldn't remember why it didn't make the list, so I went home and fired up my iMac and launched  The listing only noted a two car garage and the pictures didn't show the third bay. Then I remembered, it was the kitchen.... a lovely (read: horrible) 1960's kitchen, despite the marketing rhetoric that described it as an "updated kitchen with granite counters".  I repeated our mantra over and over, "No more renovations. No more renovations. No more renovations.

And then I called Muriel.

The house had character.  It had good bones. It had three garage bays. It sat on two acres. "It has potential," I told Jason when he asked. "I know what that means," he promptly retorted. But he agreed to see it, and long story short, we bought it, bad kitchen, pink master bathroom, knotty pine office and all.  

Four weeks into the renovation that was never supposed to happen, we've gutted the kitchen down to studs, with a little help from our friends.  The cabinets will be ordered this week and the new appliances are stainless steel. The electrician is scheduled and we're looking for a plumber. A new french door will replace the eight foot, 1980's era sliding patio door and we're investigating some vintage industrial pendant lighting for above the island. And when the kitchen is complete, trust me, that pink master bathroom is next on the list.

Yes, there's a list, but it's not a long list, really....just two bathrooms, a new laundry room, paint, lots of paint, some ceiling fans, a bluestone patio, new hardwood floors in the basement, reseed the lawn, new roof, oh, and we've got to do something about that knotty pine office.

Hhhmmm, feels a little like deja vu all over again.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Welcome to Massachusetts

My husband has always beamed with pride about his Mayflower ancestry. Richard Warren, one of the original Mayflower pilgrims, is his direct ancestor. His 11th great grandfather to be exact. Although the Warren surname stopped with Richard (the line continues through Richard's daughter, Ann Warren Little), the heralded ancestral name has been recognized through the generations, most recently with my late father-in-law, named Richard Warren Brock in honor of the Pilgrim.

And while my hubby boasted that Plymouth Rock was his family's hometown, he knew little, okay, nothing, of any of his other ancestors.

A weekend genealogist, I began to research his prestigious pedigree. It also includes direct descendancy from Samuel Chapin, the Puritan, believed to be the progenitor of all who bear the Chapin name in America. Samuel, a man of Puritan faith, brought his family to New England about 1638. They lived initially in Roxbury, Massachusetts and then moved to Springfield in 1642 as one of the founders of that city, known as Agawam at the time. In Jason's line, the Chapin name starts with Samuel and continues uninterrupted for 10 generations, to his grandmother, Mabel.

There are others, so many others, Tildens, Dimmicks, Coburns, Carpenters, Raymonds, and Burritts, to name a few, with lines dating seven, eight and ten generations in America. They include colonists, indian fighters, Revolutionary War patriots, Civil War soldiers, inventors and lawyers, wealthy and prestigious, humble and ordinary.  His entire gene pool has its origins in the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it's no wonder he has an inexplicable affinity for New England.

He took a job here in Massachusetts, and lived weekdays in Lincoln, nestled inside the perimeter of Minuteman National Historical Park.  For those who don't know Lincoln, it's a small town bordered by Lexington and Concord (those names should ring a bell). The Park preserves the April 19, 1775 "Battle Road" taken by the Minutemen and colonists as they clashed with the British Redcoats, leaving a bloody trail from the North Bridge in Concord all the way back to Boston. It marked the beginning of the War for Independence, and one of Jason's direct ancestors, Charles Chapin of South Hadley, marched with the troops that day.

Imagine that! His family history in our backyard!

Now I'm here too, and the idea of being this close to our nation's historical origins, not to mention's Jason's genealogy, is thrilling. However, for a girl whose ancestral roots begin in Virginia and Maryland (more stories for other days), let's just say I'm happy this winter was a mild one.

So, this blog is my creative outlet, to prattle on about my ongoing genealogical research, building our new life, and rebuilding our new home here in the Bay State. When I decided to do this, I mulled over  what to call the blog, something fun, and then it hit me. Jason's come full circle and he's back where his family started.

He's Plymouth Brock!

Stay tuned…..