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Summer Update | Our Prairie Nest
Summer Update

It’s late summer and I’m melting. I decided I’m not going to continue with 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, because I wasn’t having much fun with it. The writing prompts are handy, but not my cup of tea at the moment.

I’ve also decided to take a step back from being as active on WikiTree, due to some concerns about leadership. Specifically, how leadership treats those of us in the LGBTQIAP community. A few months ago, a member asked about reporting a project leader for making homophobic comments/statements toward them, and then that same member disappeared from the WikITree Discord server. I don’t know exactly what transpired but I know that, regardless of my sexual orientation, I’m not okay with it.

So I guess this is just a little update on where this blog/site is going. I will certainly be sharing more genealogy. In fact, I have something I’m working on right now, but it’s going to take some time to put my thoughts together. Also, the heat does my head in, so that’s not fun.

There are plenty of other things I want to share and talk about, but I’ll get to them. Right now, I need to slow down, recover, and then move forward from there. Honestly, I feel a bit like I’m screaming into the void anyway, but I always hope someone will find something useful here someday. 😀

52 Ancestors, Week 20: Textile
52 Ancestors, Week 20: Textile

Although this week’s topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is textile, I’m going to talk about something that technically isn’t a textile, but does require fabric to make. 

When I was a teenager, my Nana (mother’s mother) taught me how to cross-stitch. While I don’t have any family examples of textiles, quilts, or cross-stitches, I have plenty of my work. This is the oldest piece by me, probably done almost 30 years ago when I was 18:

More recent cross-stitched pieces I’ve done have been for my friends, partners, and self to enjoy:

This is one of my favorite hobbies. I feel like the best time of year to sit down and cross-stitch is in the winter. There is something cozy about curling up on the sofa with some handiwork and watching a movie or binge-watching a TV series while I stitch all these tiny Xs.

It may not be the most interesting post or about my ancestors, but I wouldn’t have this skill if not for my Nana teaching me. I taught both my son and daughter to cross-stitch, and even though it doesn’t seem to have held their interest, I’m glad I at least introduced them to it.

52 Ancestors Week 19: Food and Drink | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 19: Food & Drink

Food and drink aren’t something I’ve heard much about when it comes to my ancestors. However, I have plenty of memories of food thanks to my father and paternal grandparents.

My dad wasn’t much of a cook. I don’t know if he just didn’t know how to cook or found it easier to keep everything simple as a single dad raising two children on his own. Maybe it was a little of both, because Dad made basic things like baked chicken, ground beef, hamburgers, hotdogs, or pork chops, always with rice and corn or green beans on the side. Sometimes he made spaghetti or got us pizza from our favorite place, Papa Gino’s in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. When we got a crock pot, Dad was excited for the different recipes he could make, but he invariably always made pork chops or chili.

We went to my grandparents’ house on Sundays, holidays, and birthdays for lunch/dinner, and they tended to cook simple food, as well. Most of the time, we had pot roast with potatoes and a vegetable on the side. Sometimes, we had American chop suey, which I hated as child. Absolutely hated! I also refused to eat pasta with tomato sauce on it, because I hate tomatoes. To this day, I still see tomatoes as the enemy (to me, they taste like stale bread and old beer had a baby). But I somehow got over my dislike of tomato sauce and now American chop suey is a comfort food that reminds me of my grandparents.

They also made our birthday cakes. I don’t know if they made them from scratch or a box of Betty Crocker mix. I think probably the latter, because the taste of the mixes is one I’ve always preferred. I know, it sounds weird, but cake made from scratch is never as sweet and I just don’t like it nearly as much as cake that comes from a mix. In the summer, my grandparents would also make chicken salad and potato salad for holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day. I miss those salads, though I didn’t really care for grapes being in the chicken salad. Sometimes, I’ll buy potato salad from the deli. I admit I’m too lazy to make it myself!

The food I associate with Thanksgiving is completely connected to what my grandparents served year after year. As far as I’m concerned, Thanksgiving dinner should consist of turkey, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, green beans (not as a casserole), and cornbread. I don’t like cranberry sauce, but I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without serving that or cranberry nut bread. You won’t see me eat cornbread at any other time of year. For me, cornbread is very Thanksgiving-specific. I also refuse to serve macaroni and cheese for the holiday. It just doesn’t “go with” the meal that I grew up eating, but if someone else serves it, I will certainly eat it. 😉

As you can see, certain foods have really strong associations for me, thanks to my grandparents.

52 Ancestors Week 18 - Social | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 18: Social

Amy Johnson Crow had me stuck with this week’s topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, because social events didn’t really come up in my family. Sure, we had some holiday and summer get-togethers and the occasional reunion. But I have very few stories about my ancestors going out and being sociable outside family.

One story I do have is that my great-great grandmother Ernesta used to attend dances in her hometown of Moneglia, Italy. She and a family friend, Francesco Gola, both went to these dances. Ernesta and Francesco also both emigrated to Middleborough, Massachusetts with their spouses and had families there. I wish I knew more about these dances and the kind of social life my great-great grandmother had in Moneglia as a young adult.

The most social thing I could think of about my family was the fact that my 4th great-grandfather, John Winsor, ran the Cracker Tavern in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Cracker Tavern Duxbury Massachusetts

The Cracker Tavern counted well-known figures such as Henry Thoreau and Daniel Webster among its patrons. The Reminiscence of Pauline Winsor Wilkinson says, “Some of the boys who had gone into business in Boston and came down occasionally for a dance or a two-weeks vacation dubbed the Tavern with the name of “The Cracker,” because at every meal they had on the table the large soft crackers that were always used in clam or fish chowder.”

My 4th great-grandfather must have been a sociable person himself, to run such a business. He is even mentioned in an essay Thoreau wrote about a mackrelling excursion to Clark’s Island with him in his book Cape Cod, Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. Publishers, New York, 1908. Pages 77-78. You can read the entry at Project Gutenberg. I imagine it doesn’t get more social than being a tavernkeeper!