Digging For Roots, or What the past has cooked up

Indian Pudding, courtesy of Yankee Magazine

I set aside blogging for a time after the April A-Z Challenge, but those who have read my entries there, may understand why I couldn’t pass up this Weekly Challenge. Thanksgiving Day, actually evening, as we couldn’t fit in desserts until later in the day, I am sitting around the kitchen table with my daughter and husband sampling the smorgasbord of sweet offerings: Pecan Pie, Apple Crisp, Pumpkin Pie, Indian Pudding… My daughter savors a bite of Indian Pudding and asks, “Who’s side of the family does this tradition of Indian Pudding at Thanksgiving come from? Your mom or your dad?” And inspite of the many thousands of hours I’ve spent doing family history and interviewing relatives, I did not know the answer! But being a good librarian, I knew where to find the answer… “Let’s call Grandma and ask!” I replied. I got my mom on the phone right away and asked her the burning question, “Who started the Indian Pudding tradition?” “I did!” She said. “The only time I’d ever had it was when we went to the Old Mill Restaurant for special occasions. I loved it so much I searched for the recipe and finally found it in a magazine [probably the Yankee Magazine! I just checked and found several versions there, but prefer my family’s after all, which I’ve included below as well as an introductory excerpt from one of the recipes] and we’ve had it every year since.” So even though this particular tradition is only a few generations old, it still harks back to my New England heritage and that Yankee ingenuity of making do with what one has. In this case, cornmeal instead of wheat flour! My challenge: Tell what family traditions you enjoy that have been passed down from your ancestors. I look forward to reading them in the comments! Indian Pudding Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Early colonists brought with them to America a fondness for British “hasty pudding,” a dish made by boiling wheat flour in water or milk until it thickened into porridge. Since wheat flour was scarce in the New World, settlers adapted by using native cornmeal, dubbed “Indian flour,” and flavoring the resulting mush to be either sweet (with maple syrup or molasses) or savory (with drippings or salted meat). In time, Indian pudding evolved into a dish that was resoundingly sweet, with lots of molasses and additional ingredients such as butter, cinnamon, ginger, eggs, and sometimes even raisins or nuts. Recipes for Indian pudding began appearing in cookery books in the late 1700s

4 c. milk 4 eggs, beaten ½ c yellow cornmeal ½ c sugar 2 tsp salt ½ tsp ginger 1 ½ tsp cinnamon 4 Tablespoons cold milk ½ c molasses scald milk in double boiler Blend remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add scalded milk gradually, stirring until smooth. Return all to double boiler. Cook over direct heat stirring constantly until thick (about 10 min.) Cover and cook over simmering water 15 min Remove cover and cook 15 min. longer. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

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Obliviously Awesome


Staff Potluck today–I brought the chips. They were on sale at Costco. I noticed they were on sale, Gluten Free, and All Natural White Corn (never buy yellow corn, it’s almost always GMO unless specifically stated organic…) though I was confused by the fact that the pictures of the chips were blue and green…shouldn’t they be Blue Corn Chips?? Totally oblivious to the large number 12 at the top, or the Seahawks’ color scheme. So, thanks for acknowledging my awesomeness, but I was oblivious to the sports-related significance to this Seahawk-Fan-base group with whom I work. Call me Accidently Awesome.

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Meditation Musings

Been reading about the value of including meditation into one’s day, and have made a conscious effort to do so each morning. I began with 10 minutes and have thus far moved up to 20 minutes, with varying degrees of success. A book by journalist, Dan Harris (10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story), helped me to make sense of all the tips and suggestions I’d read, and encouraged me to not feel bad about the difficulty of keeping my focus on “the breath.”

As I sit on my bench under the wisteria, I have found it helpful to focus on the symbiotic relationship I have with the plants around me as I breathe: “In O2; Out CO2.” Now, after a couple of months, I am thoroughly enjoying the lovely bower of branches and leaves sheltering me and contributing to the serene start to my day.

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10 Things of Thankful

I’m thankful…

1. I didn’t die on the highway when I fell asleep on my hour-long commute. Woke up in time to see I was veering across the lane and was able to correct before any major damage.

2. For a special Mothers’ Day Activity with two of my daughters yesterday, gifts, messages and emails from daughters and granddaughters. Huzzah for all the wonderful women (old and young) in my life!!

3. I heard from a friend that has been out of touch for about a year. Great to catch up and feel that kinship again.

4. For my lovely meditation spot under the wisteria. (My grandson likes it too!)

5. For my seminary students. (I asked them to say one thing each that they were thankful for one morning and one young man said he was thankful for seminary. Made my day!)

6. For a healthy body. I was doing some mental grumbling over my aches and pains while on my morning run until I passed a man who was running on an artificial leg. Perspective.

7. For my Spring Garden. Weigela!

8. For a thoughtful husband who let me return his Mother’s Day gift of earrings I didn’t need for shoes I did.

9. For a wonderful mother who is a constant source of support, love and inspiration (and humor) for me.

10. For a supportive, strong, intelligent sister who is a great example to me.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the women  (mothers and future mothers) who are and have been a wonderful influence in my life and a constant source of inspiration, love and support.

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A-Z Challenge Plus/Delta


This was my first A-Z Challenge. I had all my posts written by the end of March so the actually month of April I could spend my time blog-hopping, commenting on blogs and responding to comments on my blog.

I got lots of traffic and nice comments and feedback from fellow A-Zers and even some visits from folks not involved in the challenge. Awesome! I really tried to respond to each comment and was (mostly) successful.

I visited some wonderful bloggers and picked up quite a few blogs to follow long-term.

Through the theme I chose, I was motivated to write down some fun family stories that have been floating around mostly as oral traditions and get them circulated through my family. Even unearthed some previously unknown photos to share!


The number of participants was overwhelming! I started with my own blog on the sign up and began to visit those coming after me, at least five per day. I came across several who started but didn’t carry on, and that was a bit frustrating, and some where the link didn’t even work or went to a site that wasn’t participating after all. I know the facilitators tried to visit and delete these empty sites, and I’m sure they felt overwhelmed as well.

Some bloggers attempted posts that were way too long for this sort of challenge. It was daunting enough to visit so many sites, but more difficult when posts where extremely long. I guess everyone has a different definition of what “short” means. Maybe a word limit next time?

It would be nice next time to have some indication of whether a blog was a WordPress blog or on Blogger, or something entirely different. It was a challenge sometimes to figure out the best way to follow, comment, etc on blogs that weren’t the same format as mine.

I thought I was on top of things by pre-writing and scheduling out the posts early on, but I did spent way more time involved in the challenge in other ways than just writing posts, and I am actually feeling like I need a bit of an hiatus now for awhile. Let me catch my breath and I’ll see you in awhile!




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17 Myths about Organ Donation

I renewed my ID card this morning and was asked if I wanted to be an organ donor. I hesitated briefly, then said, “ok.” Went from there to work and first email in my inbox is this Care2.com article on organ donation. Sweet! Here’s some good info that should allay any fears about this much needed and appreciated “last service” we can do for others.

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Z is for Zeal

We have a video recording of a family reunion back in the early 80s. At one point, I have lugged out my family history binders and am “entertaining” my kin with the fruits of my genealogical labors. My zeal is obvious, but so is the indifference of my audience, by the glazed-over looks and the obvious lack of any enthusiastic follow-up.

Genealogy can be addictive, an obsession to those who have been bitten by the genealogy bug; but there can be nothing more stultifying than listening to someone telling stories of ancestors you aren’t familiar with and don’t get the importance of learning about them.

I have at times referred to my genealogy habit as my best weight-loss tool, for when I am in the thick of the hunt, I don’t think of anything else (like dinner or diapers or time…) It’s a very Zen-like state!

That’s why I had to put aside my hobby for a few years, or at least not allow it to take precedence in my life.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven~ Eccles. 3:1

But now, with kids grown and retirement looming on the horizon, I am once again a Genealogical Zealot!

Thank you for playing along with this A-Z Challenge. I hope you were able to gain some insights into the pursuit of one’s family history and have been entertained by some of my own family vignettes. Happy Hunting!

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Y is for YOU!

Oil painting on canvas of Rockport, MA

Rockport, MA ©Gail Park

You are a product of your ancestry. Your DNA, your ethnic background, maybe even your talents, quirks and proclivities can be traced back to who came before you. Start with yourself. Write your personal history. Keep a journal. The more you learn about your ancestors, the more you will know about yourself!

As Wendell Berry so aptly put it: “If you don’t know where you’re from, you’ll have a hard time saying where you’re going.”

Here’s a fun challenge to create a prose essay entitled Where I’m from. Here’s my rendition using the template:

I am from Dutch Ovens,  from Boston Baked Beans and apple cider.

I am from the house at the top of the hill, in the unheated bedroom, with the intoxicating smell of lilacs in spring and foliage screaming, “Orange!” in the Fall.

I am from Mountain Laurels, Pussy Willows and the last of the Lady Slippers.

I am from clam bakes and rummage sales, Town Commons and church bazaars.

I am from hard-working Connollys and Kileys; I am from Candy-Man-Who-Sailed-Around-the-World.

I am from the family of hard-knocks and pick-yourself-up-and-try-again.

I am from “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” and “you can be anything you want to be.”

I am from Midnight Mass, then the Sacred Grove.

I’m from Yankee stock, Cailíns and Pilgrims, apple pies and whoopie pies.

I am from the great-grandfather who panned for gold in the Yukon, the grandparents who built their home from “hurricane lumber” and the “mail orderly of Teddy’s Great White Fleet.”

I am from blueberries fresh picked from the bush. I am from the invigorating surf of the never-warm Atlantic.

I am from a childhood of freedom to roam, explore and dream.

Pink Lady Slipper

Endangered Pink Lady Slipper @ New England Wild Flower Society

Related links:


This post is part of the A-Z Challenge 2014

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X Marks the Spot!

Pirate Quincy

Pirate Quincy

Do you like hunting for treasure? If you have ever followed a treasure map then you know that X marks the spot where the treasure lies. For me, doing genealogy is like hunting for treasure; finding that elusive ancestor after following the clues to the eXact document is truly a treasure more precious than gold.

Many times I’ve experienced that Eureka! moment of discovery. Here’s one from my mom, who, over the years has been my foot soldier in the search.

I was viewing microfilm at the BYU Family History Library trying to find the people on the list you gave me.  I was getting nauseous from the film movement looking for Grants in Massachusetts with no results. I finally said a prayer asking for divine intervention, as I was at a total loss and about to give up due to feeling so sick. Suddenly, like a neon sign flashing in my brain, the word VERMONT! VERMONT! VERMONT! filled my mind. I pulled the Vermont film and there they all were. That experience has stayed with me vividly all these years. What an immediate answer to prayer!

Finding the information you seek is only part of the treasure. Superseding it almost is the way it is found–often through extraordinary means such as this. Synchronicity!

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Left Behind Family History

This post from Moore Genealogy deserves a broad audience so I’m reblogging. It’s a reminder to preserve/digitize/share our heirloom family photos.

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