You’re my 4th cousin 3 times removed…

When I talk to most people about the fact that I do genealogy, I often get the feeling that they think to themselves, “Oh, how quaint.” or “That’s nice.” and then they “Hmm” and “Okay” their way to the end of the conversation.  Then, there are those whose interest in genealogy doesn’t go any deeper than wanting to know where they came from.  Generally what they mean is, “What country did my ancestors come from.”  Or like many who rightly claim to be descended from royalty, make affirmations of their royal lineage without a clue what exactly it is.  But from time to time I encounter someone like myself, whose passion for knowing where they came from and how their family ended up where they were born, runs deep.

My experience with genealogy started in the mid-1990s when I was a teenager in high school.  I had been curious about my family’s story for a number of years, but beyond the stories that my parents and my aunts and uncles were able to recount, deep knowledge of my family’s history remained out of reach.  That began to change for me when I met a cousin, who despite being a member of the same familial generation as myself, was some 55 years my senior, Mr. Velia Bertrand.  He had been working on the Bertrand genealogy for about 30 years and had compiled a book, several hundred pages long, that traced our particular branch of the Bertrand family back to Louis Bertrand who was born in the year 1660 in Saint Maixent-l’École, Deux-Sèvres, France.

Unfortunately when I was born, all of my grandparents, with the exception of my maternal grandmother, had been dead for many decades.  My dad himself, lost both of his parents by age five, and, like myself, had only one living grandparent, whom he says he never met.  For this reason, despite frequent forays to the library’s genealogical section,  I had long abandoned the notion of being able to know the history of my Seaux last name.

In 2015, I chanced upon when looking to get back into genealogy and was surprised and happy to find a place that made what I had assumed would always be a tedious, solitary task a communal effort.  Unlike other genealogy websites and software packages in which each user maintains their own “family tree”, has a single family tree on which all of its members work collaboratively. Don’t get me wrong, it still has it’s bad points, especially when people make edits without doing the research or including their sources.

It’s through this collaborative effort that finally, after some 20 years of searching through records from time to time, I made progress in understanding the story of my paternal history.  With the help of my cousin, Genevieve, who still lives near Laffite-Toupière, Midi-Pyrénées, France, I am piecing together that story, so that one day, I can pass it down to my nieces, my nephew, and to their children, in hopes that our legacy will live on.

“So, whose the guy in the picture?” you ask. He’s my Great great great great great great great great great great great great Grandfather, King Phillip II of Spain, von Habsburg.

Yeah,  I think that’s kinda cool. But really it’s not that big of a deal considering I have 16,384 12th great-grandparents.


My best loved dessert recipe

You all asked for it, so here it is.  Read it below or Download PDF.

Salted Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies  

Recipe by: Jason Seaux

  • 3 cups gluten-free powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate chips (60% cacao)
  • 3 tablespoons cacao nibs (optional)
  • Calories (kcal) 80
  • Fat (g) 3
  • Saturated Fat (g) 1
  • Cholesterol (mg) 5
  • Carbohydrates (g)13
  • Dietary Fiber (g) 1
  • Total Sugars (g) 12
  • Protein (g) 1
  • Sodium (mg) 60



  1. Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°.
  2. Combine powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk egg whites to a firm meringue.
  4. Fold powdered ingredients into the meringue, ¼ cup at a time, until half the powdered ingredients have been added.
  5. Add whole egg and stir to combine.
  6. Add remaining powdered ingredients ¼ cup at a time.
  7. Add dark chocolate chips and the optional cacao nibs.
  8. When the batter starts to come together continue by kneading the mixture in the bowl until all ingredients are fully integrated and there is little to no powdered ingredients remaining.
  9. Remove from mixing bowl to a cool surface dusted with powdered sugar and form the mass into a log shape about 1 ¾” thick.  Slice into medallions ½” thick.   Place the medallions standing on edge onto parchment lined baking sheets 2” apart.
  10. Bake, rotating sheets once, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and set just around the edges, about 14–16 minutes.
  11. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool on pan (they’ll firm up), or place baking sheet directly from oven in the freezer for 3 to 5 minutes to chill the exteriors of the cookies for immediate service and a delicious gooey chocolate filled center.


DO AHEAD:  Cookies can be baked 3 days ahead and stored airtight at room temperature.


The Call – Ralph Vaughan Williams

I recorded this, this morning at Mass at St. John Berchmans Cathedral. It is one of of five pieces composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams in a anthology called “Five Mystical Songs”. This is the fourth of the five movements.

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Ralph Vaughan Williams | Thomas Tallis

I first encountered the mystic sounds of the piece that is stuck in my head today as a freshmen at St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College in Spring of 2006. I was part of the schola cantorum, and this tune was the basis for one of psalm responses that was sung during the Easter Vigil. Ever since then, I’ve been enraptured when I hear its melody. Continue reading “Ralph Vaughan Williams | Thomas Tallis”

Dynamic Syncretism

Today’s word ‘dynamic syncretism’ is a tendency in Hindu belief. It is not a principle of the religion or even something that happens consciously among its adherents. ‘Syncretism’ is the process by which elements of one religion are assimilated into another. The reason that ‘dynamic’ is added to the term when discussing Hinduism is that unlike other syncretic religions: Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam which have each borrowed from no more than two religions directly, Hinduism has assimilated principles from many different systems of belief. Continue reading “Dynamic Syncretism”

Ein Sof

Before He gave any shape to the world, before He produced any form, He was alone, without form and without resemblance to anything else. Who then can comprehend how He was before the Creation? Hence it is forbidden to lend Him any form or similitude, or even to call Him by His sacred name, or to indicate Him by a single letter or a single point. But after He created the form of the Heavenly Man, He used him as a chariot wherein to descend, and He wishes to be called after His form, which is the sacred name “YHWH”. (Zohar, part ii., section “Bo,” 42b)

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