The Rose Blogger Award!

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) My wonderful week continues!

Today am incredibly honored to receive the "Rose Blogger Award" from Lucie LeBlanc Consentino of Acadian & French-Canadian Ancestral Home. Lucie created the Rose Blogger Award to present to "...bloggers who keep the memory of their ancestors alive." The award is named for Lucie's mother Rosanna Levesque LeBlanc. I have admired Lucie's work for quite some time now and am thrilled to receive this award from her. Lucie has two wonderful blogs,
Lucie's Legacy and Acadian & French-Canadian Ancestral Home. Please check them out if you haven't already.

Thank you Lucie!

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Votes, Awards, and Powerball, Oh My!
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Postcards from the Edge: Genealogy Road Trippin'
A Matter of Habit: Solving a Mystery

Not So Wordless Wednesday: Me, Our Tree, and Another Doll

(Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I was probably in third grade when these photos were taken. Even with an attempt at retouching the images haven't held up particularly well, but I still love them. What can I tell you about these photos? Well, I know my mom made my dress, because she made almost all of my clothes.

You can see that my doll from Poland which appeared in last week's Wordless Wednesday post has, literally, taken a back seat on the chair behind me. I'm now holding my new doll. My mom made the Polish costume on the new doll, including the little ribboned wreath of flowers on her head. I still have the table and chair shown in the photo. The table is in my basement. I use it for crafts and organizing stuff (or not organizing stuff, as the case may be). The chair is in my front foyer. Unfortunately all the tree ornaments are gone. We lost them in a flood in my mother's basement probably 25 years ago.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Amanuensis Monday: Where My Doll Came From
Advent Calendar, Food: What The Dickens, Or How to Blow Up A Duck
Advent Calendar: Christmas Cards from Poland and Germany
Votes, Awards, and Powerball, Oh My!

Votes, Awards, and Powerball, Oh My!

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) Yesterday was a REALLY good day. Heritage Zen was listed with the all of the wonderful blogs nominated for Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs! I was, and still am, thrilled and excited beyond belief. My day is brighter! My skin is clearer! My house is cleaner! I even think I lost a couple of pounds! All since yesterday! (I know I've used too many exclamation marks in one paragraph, but I don't care!!!)

What a difference a week can make. Last Monday my husband was sick and my son had just recovered from a horrible 24 hour bug. They didn't get it at the same time of course so the 24 hour bug turned into a 48 hour bug by the time they were both done with it. Thankfully I didn't get sick, but I will admit to feeling a wee bit sorry for myself after several days of worrying about and attending to them. By mid week, when everyone was on the mend, I put down my can of Lysol and took a couple of minutes to check out what was going on in the blogosphere. I brightened considerably when I found out I had won a copy of
Roots Magic from Amy's give-away at The We Tree Genealogy Blog. Wow! Later that same day I discovered Susan at Nolichucky Roots had honored me with my first Ancestor Approved award. Another wow! As if that wasn't enough, on Friday Greta at Greta's Genealogy Bog gave me a nice shout out AND awarded me with Genea-Angel in her Friday newsletter!

Last night Susan from Nolichucky Roots, who is also nominated in the same "New Blog" category as I am, dropped me a lovely message congratulating me on my nomination. When I told her about my week, she suggested this might be a good time to play lotto. I heartily agree. The only way things could possibly get better is if I read about my Family Tree win while I'm sunning myself on the beach at Waikiki after I win Powerball!

Anyway, if you are so inclined, I encourage you to vote for Heritage Zen, which you can do
here. There are so many wonderful geneablogs out there, honestly, it is a privilege to be listed with them. Thank you everyone!

Now, I'm off to play Powerball.
Aloha friends!

Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
The Stories My Grandmother Told Me
Where They Lived: Every Address Tells a Story
COG 97: Researching the "Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)

Amanuensis Monday: Where My Doll Came From

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at
Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

Last week for Wordless Wednesday I posted a
photo of me and a doll in a Polish costume. I got the doll when I was very little. I knew it came from someone in Poland, but I never knew who. When I cleaned out my mother's house a few years ago, I found a couple of boxes of old letters from Poland. I don't read Polish, but I saved the letters hoping I could find someone to help me translate them some day. Back in January, my cousin Marek and I "found" each other through online genealogy channels. Marek's grandfather and my grandfather were brothers. He has kindly been translating the box of letters for me over the last year. The letter below is one of the letters he translated last spring.

Dear Antosia,

I received the letter and aspirin and money from you but I couldn't respond right away. I was sick since first day of Christmas. I spent all that time in bed. And that was the reason I didn't even write a few words. I'm still not feeling well but well enough so I can hold a pen and write now. I'm really happy that you got the package from us and wasn't damaged. I was worrying that maybe we didn't pack properly and that the doll may break. I wanted so much for you to receive that doll undamaged and that's happened and I'm very happy. I'm so happy that the youngest American girl, little Cendusia, will have a toy from Poland. I'm sure you have over there in America dolls and maybe even nicer. This doll is from Poland where little Cendusia's grandpa and grandma coming from. Dear Antosia, than you for money and aspirin and more important remembering about us. I'm moved with your cordiality. Thanks again.

I'm sending warm wishes, much health and all the best in everyday life. The wishes are for Mrs. Helena and for you dear Antosia and all your family. And for little Cendusia lots of kisses from old great-uncle.

Heniek, Rozia and family

My doll was sent from my grandfather's brother Henryk Szerejko and his wife Rozalia who lived in Warsaw. I don't have the doll any longer, but I do still have a few pieces of her clothing. I hope someday to find another doll about the same size, repair the clothing I have, and try to create a similar look.

Special Thanks To: My cousin Marek for translating the Polish to English

Other Posts You Might Like:

Where They Lived: Every Address Tells a Story
Wordless Wednesday: Warsaw Wedding
The Stories My Grandmother Told Me
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Polka Time!

Advent Calendar, Gifts: You Bought Me What?

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) A while back my son told me I needed a Snuggie. I am always cold, so when my son saw Snuggies advertised on television he decided that was exactly what I needed. What we all needed. Well, except for the dog. I had to draw the line somewhere, and frankly I didn't think they had one in her size. I bought a purple one for myself, a camouflage one for my husband, and a SpongeBob one for the son. Is it just me or do you not see your "average Joe" hanging out in a duck blind or one of those little ice fishing huts, kicking back a few brews with his buddies in a camo Snuggie?

Against my better judgement, or some might say total lack there of, I have fallen victim to HOLIDAY MARKETING. HOLIDAY MARKETING is why rational people, myself included, buy stuff at Christmas time that they would never consider purchasing at any other time of the year. You know what I'm talking about--Snuggies, soap on a rope, fruitcake, the Pocket Fisherman, fruitcake. You get the idea. And not only do we buy these things for ourselves, but then we give them to other people.

I once remember hearing someone refer to the 1970s as "the decade that taste forgot." As someone who spent her teen years in the 1970s, I have to agree. There were some pretty ridiculous Christmas gifts back then. The 70s brought us the mood ring (got that), the pet rock (got that), the bead curtain (yup, got that), and the lava lamp (didn't get that, but really, really wanted one). Do you remember the Buttoneer? It was a little gizmo that popped buttons onto clothing without a needle and thread. Mom, who was a wonderful seamstress and a sewing perfectionist, wanted and got one for Christmas one year. The Buttoneer was going to make her life easier. No more fussing over buttons. Let's just say the product didn't live up to her expectations. It was about a refined as putting buttons on your disco dress with a staple gun. We gave, and got, our share of fruitcake too.

And what is with all of the clothes and stuff for pets? Christmas hats and antlers for the dog? Even rather staid, conservative L.L. Bean gets into the act. Notice how every year they feature all of those pet products at Christmas time in their catalog? Of course I too have been a victim of L.L. Bean's HOLIDAY MARKETING. Three years ago we got our dog from a rescue society in Arkansas that specializes in placing animals in the New England area. I was concerned that our new dog, a southern girl, would be cold in the winter after being use to the warmer climate in Arkansas. To ward off the chill of our harsh New England winters I bought her a
doggie coat for Christmas from Bean's. It's a cute little coat made out of the same sturdy canvas as their barn coats for people. My husband thought I was being ridiculous. I think he was annoyed because the dog got the same coat that he did.

But as far as I'm concerned, that Twelve Days of Christmas thing is the biggest HOLIDAY MARKETING ploy ever. Even bigger than fruitcake. Every year at Christmas someone on a TV news or chat show adds up the cost of all that stuff and figures out would it would cost in today's dollars. Other than the five golden rings, even if you could afford to buy all of that stuff, what's the point? For one thing, who in their right mind would even want all of those birds? Seven swans, six geese, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and don't forget the partridge who started all the trouble. Twenty three birds. After those six geese get done a-laying, what do you get? Either way too many eggs, or worse yet, more birds. Then you've got the drummer's drumming and the piper's piping, and the ladies dancing. No one is working here except for the eight maids a milking, and those lords leaping all over the place are probably distracting the maids from their milking duties anyway. And what the heck are you going to feed all of those people? Dairy products?

On Christmas morn, after all our gifts are open, my family and I will put on our Snuggies and join the
"cult of the Snuggie people." As for antlers for the dog, that's just silly. Now, does anyone know where I can get a good deal on a Chia Pet?

Other Posts You Might Like:

Advent Calendar, Food: What the Dickens, Or How to Blow Up a Duck
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Me and My Doll

The Stories My Grandmother Told Me
Advent Calendar: Christmas Cards from Poland and Germany

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Me and My Doll

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I was probably about six when this photo was taken. The doll was sent to my grandmother to give to me from family in Poland. I never knew who sent it until this year. Check back next week on Amanuensis Monday to find out what I learned about the doll.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Advent Calendar, Food: What the Dickens, Or How to Blow Up a Duck
Advent Calendar: Christmas Cards From Poland and Germany
Not Wordless Wednesday: It's Costume Month at Heritage Zen!
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Polka Time!

Remembering Pearl Harbor

(Images and Text, Copyright(c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I took these photos on my first trip to Hawaii in 1997. I knew one of the places I had to visit while I was there was Pearl Harbor. My dad, Henry Shenette, spent almost five years in the U.S. Army, from 1936 to 1941. He finished his time in the army and separated from the service on 19 Nov 1941 in California. He barely had time to make it home to Massachusetts. Pearl Harbor was attacked on 07 Dec 1941, 18 days later. He reenlisted into the U.S. Navy on 12 Feb 1942. He served on the USS Indiana in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, and finally retired from the navy in 1957.

The Pearl Harbor Visitor's Center.

The Pearl Harbor Memorial.

The site of the USS Arizona.

The wall of names inside the memorial.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Wordless Wednesday: Dad, Somewhere Cold
Veteran's Day: The Life of a Doughboy, 1918
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Tuesday's Tip: Consider Adding Links to Your Blog

Advent Calendar: Christmas Cards from Poland and Germany

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) Here is a sampling of my vintage Christmas cards. The top four cards are from Poland. The last card with the fountain and Christmas tree was sent from post World War II Germany.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Advent Calendar, Food: What the Dickens, Or How to Blow Up a Duck
Reflecting on My American Experience This Thanksgiving
The Stories My Grandmother Told Me
Amanuensis Monday: Clairvoyants and Distractions

Advent Calendar, Food: What the Dickens, Or How to Blow Up a Duck

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) "God Bless Us Everyone," so says Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens' famous tale, A Christmas Carol. A fitting wrap up to a heart-warming story. Feast and food play an important part in the tale--the giant turkey, the plum pudding, the roast goose. I get the warm tingles just thinking about it. But not in a good way...

 I read A Christmas Carol for the very first time in eighth grade English class. Oh, that story made such an impression on me. One of the other English classes, not mine of course, actually got to stage a Dickens-style feast, complete with costumes, in our junior high cafeteria. Why couldn't my class do that? No Salisbury steak, instant mashed potatoes, and gray green beans in the cafeteria that day, but a real honest to goodness Dickens-style feast. I was so jealous.

I must have mentioned my disappointment to my mom. She came up with a brilliant idea. Why couldn't we stage our own Dickens feast right at home? She would make a goose and a couple of the other traditional English dishes for our celebration. Sounds good on paper right?

Well off mom went to the grocery store, but apparently back in the mid-1970s goose was hard to come by in Worcester, MA. No luck on the goose front. She did find a duck though. Mom figured that would be acceptable. I agreed. Mr. Dickens would most heartily approve. So home we went with our duck ready and willing to prepare our feast.

Mom, not knowing anything about duck, decided to prepare the duck the way she usually prepared turkey. This was back in the day when those turkey cooking bags were new to the grocery market. Mom was all for making things easier in the kitchen, so in went the duck, into a cooking bag. Mom also had heard that ducks can be kind of greasy, so she decided to put a trivet underneath the duck, inside the cooking bag so the grease could drip off into the bottom of the pan. Mom tied up the bag, and put the entire bag and it's contents into a pan, and faster than you can say Bleak House, the duck was in the oven. Our Dickens of a feast would be on the table in no time.

There was one fatal flaw in this plan. You knew there had to be one, right? Mom forgot to cut holes in the cooking bag to let steam out. Oops. While the duck was cooking away in the oven I was in the kitchen helping mom to prepare the rest of the meal. All of a sudden boom! An explosion! I looked over to the stove. Through the glass oven door I saw the duck, bag, trivet and all, blow up, hit the top of the oven, and plop back down in the pan! Being the nervous type I went for the kitchen fire extinguisher. Mom, not being the nervous type, told me to put away the fire extinguisher. The duck was fine. I wasn't doing so well.

Later on that evening, we did have our feast. Duck and all. Even after it blew up it turned out fine. I know this may come as a surprise, but we never had duck again. Lesson learned. NEVER forget to cut holes in the cooking bag.

Aah, those warm holiday memories of Christmas Past. Now let me tell you about the time my mom set fire to the turkey...

God Bless Us, Everyone.

Not So Wordless Wednesday: View from "Grandmother's House"

(Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) Thanks to our GPS (For insight into our previous travails regarding our Thanksgiving trek, see here.) we managed to successfully navigate our way over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house in upstate New York. My in-laws are located in the heart of the beautiful, bucolic Mohawk River Valley.

Here are a few photos taken at grandmother's house.

The barn on my in-laws' family homestead. The family has lived in the same place for over 200 years.

The "girls" grazing across the street. I got a little nervous when they all came running over to me while I was trying to take their picture. I wondered if they somehow thought I was involved in the milking process. The Mohawk River is between the tree line and the hill in the distance.

My son's first snowman of the season. There wasn't much snow, but he and my husband managed to put this wee snowman together. Mr. Snow is a rather forlorn looking little fellow. He kind of has the same look on his face that I did when I found out the pumpkin pie was gone...

Other Posts You Might Like:

Wordless Wednesday: A San Francisco Treat
Wordless Wednesday: Big Sur, California
Follow Friday: Walking Pictures, Ancestry, and Free Stuff
Wordless Wednesday: Fall Weekends in New England