A Few of My Favorite Pages

Choice, you tell me, lies before me
Even though I want them all.
Who can choose, when life's adventure
Sings its own sweet siren call?


Old Soldiers' Drums

Old Soldiers' Drums



Reading was my passion long before I learned that so many of my ancestors were writers. To this day, I'm still attracted to the well-turned phrase, and cry my eyes out over a book like Edith Layton's The Duke's Wager And you don't want to know how many times I've read and reread Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings".

I didn't love all poetry as a child, but there were poets - like Matthew Arnold - who helped me through the pains of adolescence. I'd memorize poems like A Summer's Night, or Dover Beach, or The Forsaken Merman, and recite them as I walked, pacing myself to the rhythm of the words. Here, in this website, I can surround myself with these well-loved words and memories, and share my love with you.

I had heard that my father was a poet as well as a soldier, and I became obsessed to find the poems and, through them, the man I never met (mother left when I was 6 weeks old, though he tried desperately to get her back).

Mother had become a large frog in a small pond when she was forced by the depression to leave University of Chicago and spend her last year at Texas State Women's College. While there, she had gone to dinner with Frank Lloyd Wright and Robert Frost, and had given each of them a book of my father's poetry. My search for that book is what this whole website, and my genealogy quest, was all about. In 2001, I found the poetry column through which my parents courted, and in 2012

    I finally found father's book!

The foreward says "Corporal Van Dusen [sic] is an outstanding military poet. Perhaps in time he may become a great poet. The best wishes of Our Army go with him." So I've finally touched the man, even if only through past pages. My thanks to you for sharing with me my joy.

Outcasts Zero Hour
Convent of the Guns         I May Deceive a Woman, But...
Painted Lady Incident
Old Soldiers Drums Taps
Song to be Sung
   on Third Relief
A Song of Legions
Explanation A Song in the Cities
A Biographical Sketch Book Forward

My current passions are Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I came to both late, through the movies rather than the books, but I've gone back to the books and fallen completely in love with Legalos and Gimli and Professor Snape.

Father's Poetry     Father's Love Letters     Richard's Love Letters
Favorite Poets     Favorite Authors

Thinking of myself as a writer came quite gradually. I'd spent too many youthful years trying to prove that I was a scientist and not, as mother claimed, a writer. But as I wrote computer book after computer book, I discovered that changing styles and satisfying an audience was fun.

I started writing poetry when I started this website. Like eastern art, poetry has a spareness and a control that lends itself to the sleekness of a webpage.

From mother came the leavening,
From grandfather the flour.
Grandma poured her spirits in
And brother, sugar's power.
Father was a phantom
And with him went the salt.
He died when I was just a child
So it's really not his fault.
I stood beneath the branches
And asked his family tree
If all the nuts upon the ground
Were fruitcakes just like me.

And then I found screenplays. Oh, but they were beautiful. It draws you into a long relationship with your characters, but you have to approach them with great control - something I find very appealing. I've written two agented movie scripts and one agented TV script. My agent mailed the TV script on Tuesday and the producer called on Thursday. Unfortunately, they needed a Canadian writer.

My other writing projects have included a self-help book on slowing down the perception of time, and an illustrated book of Night Before Christmas and Henry Livingston, done for Locust Grove, a museum on Henry's farm, which later became the home of Samuel Finley Breese Morse, wo married Henry's descendant and invented Morse Code.

It took me a while, but I finally combined my love of Henry and art and produced three books: a Kindle biography of Henry, a Kindle and paperback illustrated book of Henry's poetry, and a Kindle and paperback illustrated book of Night Before Christmas.

A Thought While I Can Still Remember
Surname Forests - Remembered Leaves

Writing Map
Writing-Related Parts of This Site
Favorite Art

I'm not an artist, but I love art. I'm frustrated that my fingers have no skill, but grateful that I'm able to recognize beauty. And I'm so pleased to have so many friends who are magnificent artists.

Art I recently took on a task that was infinitely more difficult than I first realized, but it's done at last. I'm exhausted, but very happy. I've put online the entire art book on which mother raised me - turn of the 20th century academic nudes. The book was grandmother's first, then mother's, then mine. Now it's yours, too. There are multiple ways to navigate through it, as I love experimenting, and there are pages for all the 100-some artists, as well.

Though my initial 3 1/2 years at the University of Chicago was spent with a physics major, my last 1 1/2 were in the History of Art, near eastern ancient. Pure joy. We immersed ourselves in art of all periods and, at the Midway Studio of Lorado Taft (where my mother studied, and with whom my grandmother studied at Chicago's Art Institute), we learned to gesso boards and stucco walls so that we'd understand what was involved in creating the works we were studying. I read that Father Harris Vanderstappen, our department chair at the time, still paints. Harold Hayden, who taught our fine arts classes, has died I've heard, and the world is the poorer for his loss.

The artistic talent in the family seems all to be with my husband, Paul Kosinski. His photography is just wonderful. One of my favorites is his thistle flower.

Favorite Art and Artists     Favorite Academic Nudes
The Most Exquisite Bathroom!

Art Map
Art-Related Parts of This Site

Music is another area which I love, but for which I have no talent. My only skill is in the creation of literary music videos. Those I can make in my sleep, and probably have! I've made 475, and a large number are available to download in small, but degraded, mp4 versions, and in larger, but exquisite, mpg versions..

Alias     Here She Comes
Cadfael     Morning Has Broken
Buffy     Rage On
Get Smart     If Not For You
Get Smart     LY (Tom Lehrer)
Gettysburg     Movie Music
Harry Potter     One Night in Bangkok
Harry Potter     Rhymes and Reasons
Lord of the Rings     Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer
Miami Vice     Battle of New Orleans
Sherlock Holmes     Auld Lang Syne

To my great joy, and with thanks to the Mozart program and Mary Jane Corry, I've learned how to transcribe music so that the notes can be more than just pretty pictures on a page. One favorite piece is the music beneath a poem that Henry wrote for his Revolutionary War commander, General Richard Montgomery. Other favorites are from Sheridan's The Duenna. And I'm hoping to soon transcribe most of the songs that grandmother sang to me - songs like The Baggage Coach Ahead

Music Map
Music-Related Parts of This Site
Favorite Art

History was definitely not my best subject in school and, in fact, it seemed really boring. Amazing how one's perspective changes with time. Once I became interested in genealogy, I found myself compelled to bring these people back to life - to understand the world in which they lived, and breathed, and loved. Suddenly I couldn't get enough of history. Understanding history was to understand the genes that made me up.

The Gold Rush became grandfather's life as a miner, winning and losing fortunes from Alaska down to Central America. Raised in Illinois, Lincoln was a hero, but now I learned about him from great grandfather memories of running the investigation of Lincoln's assassination for Secretary Stanton, and the trial of Lincoln's assassins. The 1819 opening of the first part of the Erie Canal brought images of 4th great grandfather's trip on the first boat down the canal. Valley Forge now made me wonder just how cold it was for another 4th great grandfather. And I'd never think about 1775 without remembering one 5th great grandfather invading Canada with General Montgomery, and another 5th great grandfather standing with Montgomery when Montgomery was killed outside the walls of Quebec City.

History, for me, has now become very personal.

History Map
History-Related Parts of This Site
Gen. Lansing

When you spend a lot of time with your ancestors, be they dead or alive, there have to be favorites among them. And I have mine, as well.

Gov. Lewis Morris, 7th ggf On Governor Lovelace
. On Quakers
Jacob Gerrit Lansing, 6th ggf .
Edward Antill, 6th ggf Award for Grape Growing
Lt. Col. Edward Antill, 5th ggf Revolutionary Letters (many to/from Washington)
Henry Livingston, 5th ggf Journal of Alexander the Great
. Careless Philosopher
Col. Samuel Breese, 5th ggf .
Col. Henry Bicker, 4th ggf Valley Forge Order Book
Henry B. Gibson, 3rd ggf Biographies
. Hearing on Son's Objection to Will
Gen. Henry L. Lansing, 2nd ggf Military Association of NY
Gen. Henry Burnett, ggf Getting Lincoln Assassination Evidence
. Lincoln Assassination Trial
. Photographs
. Speech in the Square
Jack Bell, gf King of the Grizzlies
Maj. Bradley Van Deusen, father     Photographs
Jean Butridge, mother Chicago Sketches

Then there are the cousins the search has discovered! This year has been especially heartbreaking, with the loss of some very special cousins - Sandy Emery, the first email cousin I found and a wonderfully strong heart; Skip Morse, a judge and a man of great integrity; Frannie Reese, a tireless advocate for issues large and small; and Edward Nicholson-Steele, the most amazing 90 year old man it has been my privilege to know. He was a reader for my first large book on Henry Livingston, and was meticulous in keeping me on the straight and narrow. His mind was sharper at 90 than almost anyone I've ever met. Need I say that he was a University of Chicago graduate, as well as MIT? Edward died scuba-diving in the Gallopagos Islands with his family. Way to go, Edward! Eileen Slocum was the first cousin I met in person. Her house was one of the blocks on the Newport RI main drag. I'd lay out family trees on the long, long table in her main dining room. She loved family and was passionate over her genealogy, and fascinated by the details I'd ferreted out. I really do miss her.

So I cherish the cousins that I still have. From Nancy Younger and Bertha McCuan (now gone), there from the start, to newer cousins like Mary Keckut, Beryl Powell, Pat McNeely, Blaine Kimball, Jim Opfell, Steve Thomas, Phil Morgan, Mel Livingston, and Duba Leibell. I can't tell you all how grateful I am to call you family.

And then there's President George W. Bush, a never-met cousin, but one I'm also grateful is there when we need him. Favorite pictures? Barney and Spot, of course.

Genealogy Map

I can't have spent the years since 1999 on a research project and not pronounce it a favorite! I love it all! The memories it brings back of my own childhood, the excitement of playing detective when you don't have to worry about getting shot, and the fun of sharing enthusiasms with so many other people!

And the opportunities for collecting are limitless! As an inveterate collector (some might say packrat, but they would be unkind), I've discovered turn of the century Santa Claus postcards (nasty ones to illustrate Moore poems!) and vintage editions of Night Before Christmas.

And the research institutions! The Dutchess County Historical Society, Adriance Library, American Antiquarian Society, Carnegie-Mellon Hunt Library, New York Public Library, New York Historical Society, New York State Archives, Illinois State Archives, and so many others. What great opportunities to travel and meet people.

Fictional Account,   Smoking Gun?,   People Magazine

My favorite recipes are, I fear, all desserts.
      Gail's Ambrosia
      Key Lime Pie
      Lyn's Glazed Pear Cheesecake
      Nana's Bread Pudding
      Pat Winston's Sandcake

My favorite bird pictures? The suspicious bluejay and the bathing baby. Favorite pet picture? Of who else but Henry, the love of my life, with apologies to Paul. Henry is the smartest dog we've ever had, a Bichon Frise who can open any door, but who hasn't yet figured out that leaping into space is not clever. So far, I've always managed to catch him, which doesn't help his education, or my total terror.

Favorite, of course, are friends. And they show up everywhere!

Still a Child,   When I Was Seventeen,   A Young Married Lady

Still a Child,   When I Was Seventeen,   A Young Married Lady

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Copyright © 1996, Mary S. Van Deusen