Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

There is a strong tradition in my family of serving during times of conflict ... there are members of my family who have served in every war since the time of the American Revolution through the Vietnam War. They all chose to serve a cause that was greater than themselves. Beginning with John Space, Joshua Clarke, Willet Clarke and Sylvester Pendleton who fought for the cause of American independence and freedom during the American Revolution to both my paternal and maternal grandfathers, Charles Bergeron and Harley Space, veterans of WWI; my father H. John Bergeron, a veteran of the Korean War; and his three brothers: Earle C., Leland K. and Melvin F. Bergeron who were part of the WWII "Greatest Generation" to my very special veteran, my husband ...

Thank you for your service
Welcome Home
We have not forgotten

To all those brave men and women who willingly raised their right hand and took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to defend their country at home and abroad ...

Thank you and God speed you home

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Downside House

"Downside House." Digital Image. Undated. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. Copyright (c) 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Heavens Peek

"Heavens Peek." Digital Image. July 1995. Original photograph privately held by 
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. Copyright (c) 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Year of Creativity #201: Yarrow

The presence of yarrow growing among the Black-eye Susan, Hawkweed and Daisies reminds me of Grandpa Harley. His association with the herb didn't happen because he showed me the large flat-top flower clusters. In fact, this association came several years after his death.

My love of family history and all things outdoors can be traced back to summers spent at "the farm" with my maternal grandparents. Both of my grandparents enjoyed sharing their childhood memories. I credit my grandmother (and my Mom) for giving me a love of reading but it was my grandfather who gave me the gift of all things outside my front door.

Making maple syrup, harvesting hazel and butternuts, how to catch toads and frogs - but the most important lesson about being out in the woods ... keep still. When I am sitting on my deer stand or stopping to sit down "just because" - I can still here his voice, "Now keep still." I'm sure that is what his father or grandfather told him when he was a young boy.

One of the many letters I received from him during some of the darkest days of his life, when my grandmother was being consumed by Alzheimer's, he shared a story from his childhood. While he and his brothers were "horsing" around, he fell and broke his arm. His dad was working out in the field and couldn't take grandpa to see the doctor, a 20 mile trip, until the next morning. His mother picked a bunch of yarrow, boiled it in water and used the mixture to bath his arm. 

In Homer's epic tale, the Iliad, the warrior Achilles uses the herb yarrow to bathe the wounds of his fallen comrades. According to other online sources, elements in yarrow accelerate the healing of cuts and bruises.

I've often wondered how many times during his lifetime did my grandfather see a yarrow plant blooming on the side of the road and think about that time when he was "horsing around" and broke his arm. His granddaughter certainly does.

"Yarrow." Digital Image. Text and photography Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Year of Creativity #170: Maple Tree

June 13, 2013, was a family anniversary that passed by relatively unnoticed. It was on a hot Friday afternoon in 1980 that our family backed a U-Haul truck into the driveway and proceeded to settle into our new home.

Thirty-three years ago we were the family that moved into John and Ann's house. It wasn't long before our front lawn was littered with bikes as the boys became part of what we affectionately called The Weslan Mafia. We all made countless new friends, enjoyed neighborhood barbecues and block parties.

In the blink of an eye and a few years on: bicycles on the lawn were replaced by cars and pickup trucks parked in the driveway. Soccer, football and baseball, homecoming, prom, graduation.

As I walked out onto the deck earlier today I thought about that first summer - the maple tree which was a little more than a sapling, now towers over the house offering shade in the summer, showers the yard with golden leaves in the fall and a haven for creatures of all sizes. A backyard sentinel giving witness to the changes of life's seasons.

"Maple Tree." Digital Image. Copyright (c) 2013 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Happy Blogoversary: Five Years On

Five years ago I logged into Blogger and created In My Life. Months of cajoling and cheer leading by friend and mentor at Little Bytes of Life gave me the courage to jump off into the deep end of the social media explosion.

A title for my blog wasn't difficult to come up with; one of my favorite songs by Lennon and McCartney. The first post? Awkward. Reminds me of those many awkward junior and high school moments. I was known as "the new girl" on more than five or six occasions - who knew I'd be drawing on those experiences forty plus years later?

While I visualized the blog as a place to share my family history it wasn't long before some of the things that are important in my life began showing up front and center: photography, biking, our line of Anahar cocker spaniels, creative writing, love of all things celtic and travel ... just to name a few.

Five years ago I was someone with a camera - today I describe myself as an amateur photographer. Thanks to my husband (who has yet to create his own blog or web site), not only do I have a live in mentor but some very cool equipment.

Five years ago I was happily enjoying retirement - today I am back among the gainfully employed enjoying a new career in social media.

Looking back on five years of blog posts, I see the ebb and flow of my life - contributions to the Carnival of Genealogy and the absence of posts when life demanded more of my time, redirecting creativity in a different direction. The bittersweet photos of our beloved English cocker spaniels who shared every part of our lives five years ago that are now gone - anniversaries, birthdays and celebrations of friends and family continue to reach beyond the boundaries of today - a reminder that family history is not something that is part of the past: it happens every day of our lives.

Five years ago I had a difficult time coming up with three categories that described my blog. Today, I have a difficult time picking just three of those categories. While I had visualized In My Life as a way to share my family history with carefully organized family lines neatly arranged like my silverware drawer ... five years later In My Life has happily evolved into a hodge podge junk drawer. 

Thank you to everyone who follow In My Life - your support, encouragement and acceptance of "the new girl" has been a very large part of my inspiration. In the spirit of so many other family history bloggers, I have taken your gift and will continue to gladly pay it forward.

Copyright (c) 2013 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: U.S. Canada Border Crossing 1941. When Life Was Simple.

"U.S. Canada Border Crossing 1941." Digital Image. Circa 1941. Original photograph
privately held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. Copyright (c) 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Tiger in the Sunshine

For as long as I can remember, my maternal grandparents had at least one cat. What self respecting farm didn't have one good "mouser"?

One of my earliest farm cat memories is of a yellow cat named "Buttercup." I recall on one winter visit to the farm, Buttercup was allowed to spend the  night in the back room rather than in the barn. My impression was that it was a female. After all, who would name a tom cat Buttercup but then again ... I was very little and known to have a vivid imagination.

Another favorite was Tabby, a beautiful black and white female that my grandmother received as a gift. Tabby was a long-haired cat and unlike Buttercup, lived most of her live indoors.

Tiger came to live with my grandparents following a visit to "the old farm" the homestead of Allen and Nancy Stone Space which my grandfather purchased from his siblings following his father's death. The house burned during the early 1940's while my grandparents and mom were off visiting friends leaving the stone foundation filled with wood, trees that had taken root along with a lifetime of memories.

I loved trips to the old farm to pick apples in the fall and plums for grandma's special plum jelly. On one of these visits I heard a kitten mewing in the garage - grandpa tried to convince me it was just a Catbird but I knew better. Tiger came home that afternoon and must have enjoyed special status to spend a large part of her day as an indoor cat. 

"Tiger in the Sunshine." Digital Image. Undated. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. (c) 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Journey Complete

I never get tired of warbler stalking: time spent with my camera walking through the brushy thickets avoiding wet feet, swatting mosquitoes, checking for ticks, all the while listening and looking for the tell tail sign of warblers.

My favorite? All of them but especially any warbler who comes out in the open long enough to allow me to focus and capture a terrific image.

The truth is - I could fill an external hard drive with images of the Common Yellowthroat. The males look like little bandits with their black face mask with a fuzzy white border. In flight (low to the ground) their olive brown color is a perfect camouflage. But once they land their bright yellow is unmistakable.

You hear them long before you see them - by the time you zero in on their proximity, they will have moved; usually not far but gone nonetheless. A twitch of green, a momentary flash of yellow gives them away. Before they are gone. Again.

What is also unmistakable is their song ... a bold "wichity-wichity-wichity" that heralds the arrival of that wonderful season: almost summer.

Like all energetic warblers the Common Yellowthroats are elusive and nearly impossible to photograph. They rarely are seen "in the open" - they prefer to stay close to thick vegetation on the ground. A solitary bird, they can be seen in pairs but it is the male who is first to make the long trek from Central America, Mexico or the Caribbean.

It never ceases to amaze me to think about these tiny birds - 5 inches in length with a 7 inch wing span - following an unknown call that compels them to wing their way across open water, through farmlands, forests and cities to make their way back to a small section of land in northeastern Wisconsin and announce the arrival of summer.

"A Journey Complete." Digital Image. May 22, 2013. Original photography
Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Promise I Will Always Listen To You

I promise that I will always ALWAYS listen to you. I will come when you call my name. I will sit when you tell me "hup" because I love it when you tell me I am a good boy. I will never do anything bad. When you are sad, I am sad. I promise to always listen to you.

What did you just say?

"I promise I will Always Listen To You." Digital Image. October 1, 2011.
Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Year Of Creativity #135: Bloom Where You're Planted

Spring was late in arriving this year - it felt as if the winter of 2012-2013 was the never ending season. The morning after a day 'up north' which produced 30+ mph winds, sleet, rain and numerous snow squalls, I took a walk down the driveway. I was so intent on getting out to the road that I walked right by the patch of white hidden in the raspberry brush. I retraced my steps to find a patch of sanguinaria canadensis, otherwise known as Blood Root hidden among the brown of last years oak and elm leaves. 

It was a struggle to get though the tangle of raspberry brush and while the light wasn't at its best, I was happy to bring home an image of what feels like the first true sign of spring. Sometimes capturing the moment is more important than the perfect conditions. 

"Bloom Where You're Planted: Blood Root." Digital Image. May 13, 2013.
Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Rocky Mountain High

The excitement of my niece and her Air Force husband getting ready to begin their new life's adventure, brings to mind when Al and I spent six months in Colorado Springs while Al finished out his tour of duty at Fort Carson.

1972 - John Denver's breakout hit Rocky Mountain High was on everyone's stereo. We saved $20 a month by having our windows face away from the mountains - our parking lot view of Cheyenne Mountain was always breathtaking and a good reason to get outside.

A lifetime ago but it's where we had a chance to find a place to start.

"Rocky Mountain High." Digital Image. December 1972. Original photograph privately held
by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Ralph and Mathilda Johnson Polar Celebrate Silver

Ralph Howard Polar and Mathlida Johnson. Married February 15, 1926 in Chicago, Cook, IL, photographed celebrating the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary.

"Ralph and Mathilda Johnson Polar Celebrate Silver." Digital Image. February 15, 1951.
Original photograph privately held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Year of Creativity #125: Birds of a Feather

"Birds of a Feather." Digital Image. April 21, 2013. Original photograph privately
held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Cousins

"Cousins." Digital image. Circa June 1997. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013.

Happy Birthday Alissa

No matter how many candles are on your birthday cake or where you celebrate - today will always be special because it is your birthday. 

Thank you for allowing me to share your life. Happy Birthday my beautiful woman niece.

"Happy Birthday Alissa." Digital Images. Undated. Original photographs privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Schewinski (c) 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Year Of Creativity #105: They Don't Call It A Bird Bath For Nothing

No light, low light, incorrect ev and f-stop settings - missed opportunities, not enough opportunities - sometimes it seems that the expense of great camera equipment is being wasted. 

Apparently this photographer sometimes expects those National Geographic moments to be an every day occurrence instead of looking for the every day to be a personal moment.

"They Don't Call It A Bird Bath For Nothing." Digital Image. April 7, 2013
Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Alissa and Becky: Snow Angels 1996

"Alissa and Becky: Snow Angels 1996." Dated 1996. Original photograph privately held
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Phoebe Polar

"Phoebe Polar." Digital Image. Undated. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Year of Creativity #63: Spring in the Soo

"Spring in the Soo." Digital Image. March 4, 2013. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Alvin Scherwinski Helping His Mom

I owe Al Scherwinski an apology: for years he recounted stories of his mother taking advantage of his presence at the kitchen sink to wash every plate, cup and saucer in the kitchen cupboards. I was convinced he was embellishing just a little. However, from the look of the piled up plates on the counter - he might have been telling the truth.

You rock, Ida.

"Alvin Scherwinski Helping His Mom." Digital image. January 15, 1961. Original photograph
privately held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Application for Headstone or Marker

Next to a day in a library or court house, I love nothing more than spending a day wandering around a cemetery. After Wisconsin's long, dark winter days, I look forward to the annual Memorial Day cemetery visits to our family members graves.

Having Lunch With The Family

My childhood summers were filled with activities: summer camp, extended visits with my cousins and long, lazy weeks spent with my grandparents. While I had to share my paternal grandparents with several cousins, my most memorable visits where the ones my sister and I got to spent "alone" with our grandparents. I loved reading books on the front porch and wandering around the upstairs (being careful to avoid the broken spindle in the railing) but especially looking at the photographs on my grandmother's dressing table. In the past I've written about the sadness surrounding my grandma and grandpa Bergeron with the death of their oldest son, my uncle Earle Bergeron. Sometimes - not often - I accompanied my Grandpa Charlie on his weekly trip to the cemetery in Aniwa, where Earle is buried - those visits were always quiet (the grandchildren were all frightened of Grandpa Charlie except for my sister Lisa.). Had I known that as an adult I would become obsessed with his family history, I would have filled those trips with nonstop questions.

Visits to my maternal grandparents also included visits to cemeteries but those trips were much different. I recall Gram taking me "down the road" to visit the grave of Grandpa Harley's mother, Nancy Stone Space. At that time the grave was unmarked only with a rose bush but even at that, the reverence of it being a member of my family drew me like a magnet. While I walked (ran!) among the headstones, Gram would tell me stories of the people who were buried there.

But my favorite place to go with my Grandma Almas was to visit "the little girl."

When Gram had time and a trip to visit little Virginia was promised, I would go off to pick a bouquet of flowers - a bunch of fragrant purple lilacs, peonies from Gram's row of pink, white and red peony bushes or Tiger Lilies that grew around the old water pump - and we'd drive up to Forest View cemetery to visit the grave of Virginia. But that is another story.

Just like the sadness that surrounded my Grandmother Bergeron's room over the loss of Earle, that same sadness encloses me whenever I visit the Aniwa cemetery. I'm reminded of how young Earle was when he left home and the almost unconsolable loss that his death created in the family. I had never given any thought to the fact that there once was a time when Earle's grave was unmarked until a hint on in the U.S. Headstone Application for Military Veterans 1925-1963 collection led me to the application my grandparents made to the government for a headstone.

The date of the application, June 28, 1948, is over five years from the date of Earle's death and according to records, three years from the time Earle's body had been returned to Wisconsin for burial.

I am struck by the beauty of my grandmother's penmanship and picture her holding the pen in her hand - the long fingers with her buffed fingernails - and wonder at the emotional cost  of signing her name for the headstone application. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Oh You Boys!

Addressed to Mr. Archie Polar, Morley, Wis(consin)
Oh you boys - great on riding wheels. They aren't so bad are they

"Oh You Boys!" Digital imagine of Grace Pearson and Alma Polar. Undated.
Original photograph privately held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Year Of Creativity #21: Magic In A Bird Bath

Reason number 86 of why I love winter

During the months when walking the trails on our property can be done with a light jacket, a sweatshirt or a t-shirt (braving the mosquitoes and insects that swoop down as soon as you enter the shelter of the woods ...) you are left to wonder what bird or animal has gone before you. Unless you happen upon them or they leave a track or scat ... you can only speculate.

If you enjoy upland bird hunting in northern Wisconsin, you look forward to those mornings when the scent of grouse and woodcock is carried on the cool crisp air to your favorite hunting companion. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, it is a thing of beauty to watch a cocker working the cover, gathering in the scent of all the creatures, searching for The One that will lead him/her to the ultimate goal.

Head out to those same trails when they are snow covered and you will see what is hidden from your view during the warm and green time of the year that everyone seems to yearn for. The meandering tracks of a mouse, the purposeful track of a deer, the imprint in the snow of a Ruffed Grouse landing in the snow ... it's as if nature is rewarding you for venturing out in the cold by sharing some of her secrets.

It's the reason I chose frost as my creative moment of the day: water vapor, invisible under any other circumstances until the temperature reaches that certain number and as if by magic, crystal one-of-a-kind shapes appear and cling together. Magic. Even in a bird bath.

"Magic In A Bird Bath." Digital image. January 21, 2013. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Brothers. Nephews. Sister. Aunt.

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.
~ Joyce Brothers

"Brothers. Nephews. Sister. Aunt." Digital Image. Undated. Original photograph privately
held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Year of Creativity #09: They Just Fade Away

As I stepped out of the car ... there it was. Abandoned and forgotten. Whatever bright color it had once been, it now perfectly matched the pavement.

I wondered if it faded away out of loneliness for its mate. Did it have a mate or was it an orphan time traveler that one day was put into a washer only to travel through space into another dimension.

The parking lot at Kohl's.

It seems rather fitting (pardon the pun) that today's creative moment presented itself while I was hurrying to buy .....


Life is funny like that sometimes.

"They Just Fade Away." Digital Image. January 9, 2013. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Year Of Creativity #07: Christmas Past

The family Christmas tree that sparkled and shimmered during the Christmas season is finding new life, not as compost around the village of Plover but as a resting place for the birds who visit the "sauna" and bird feeders on our back deck. I've spent most of today packing away Christmas decorations including the Dept 56 villages. After countless trips past the window I finally decided the Fraser replanted on the deck was my creative moment for the day.

While it doesn't have the heady aromatic sensation of a balsam, if you bruise the needles the sensation is the same. After the busy-ness of the Christmas and New Year season, I'm reminded that now is the time to take a breath, relax and enjoy the winter season. After the color, sound and smells of the past six weeks - a return to the simple and uncluttered is just what I need.

"Christmas Past." Digital Image. January 7, 2013. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Year of Creativity #06: Namesake and Heirlooms

Thirty-four years ago we welcomed son Benjamin Earle into the world. Arriving on the Day of Kings it was a frigid, brilliant day in western Wisconsin.  Selecting a name for your child is always serious business (unless your parents name you Unit, Moonbeam or Hashtag). We kept our selection a shared secret - I've always been envious of Al's informing my parents their new grandson, Benjamin Earle, had joined the family. I'm sure it came as a surprise - 

I've written several posts about my uncle Earle Clair Bergeron and the connection I've always felt with him even though he died 11 years before I was born. We could not have chosen a better person to carry Earle's name.

My creative expression today celebrates Ben and Earle ... the blanket was crocheted by Ben's great-great aunt Leona Polar Belott. The hat is one that Earle wore as a baby, it was kept safe by Earle's mother's sister and given to me following the death of my aunt. The baby bracelet was Ben's first piece of jewelry.

P.S. In honor of Ben's birthday I've skipped day 5 of creativity - Ben deserves two days!

"Namesake and Heirlooms." Digital Image. January 6, 2013. Original photograph privately held 
by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Year Of Creativity #04: Winter Sentinel

For as long as I can remember, this pine tree has been standing guard in the field across the road from my grandparents farm. Through the years it has offered shade to generations of cows, home to hundreds of birds, a perch for hawks and eagles. Visiting the standing stones in England and in Orkney reminded me of this lone tree "back home." I think winter is when the tree shows its strength and beauty.

"Winter Sentinel." January 4, 2013. Original photograph privately held by 
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

A Year Of Creativity #03: Frozen Light

"One small sunbeam that keeps to itself will never give much light; 
but if it shares, and shines through a prism, it makes many rainbows bright." 
--Jill Wolfe 

"Frozen Light." Digital Image. January 5, 2013. Original photograph privately held by
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Year Of Creativity #02: Still. Life.

Before there was such a thing as computer generated special effects, you had to create your own special effect. I call this one Still. Life. How wonderful - no one moved until after the shutter was released.

"Still. Life." Digital Image. January 3, 2013. Original Photograph.
Privately Held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Year of Creativity #01: Reach Beyond Your Grasp

Sometimes you have to reach beyond what you think you are capable of.
The results will surprise you

"Reach Beyond Your Grasp." Digital Image. December 26,2012. Original Photograph.
Privately Held by Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski (c) 2012


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