Tag Archive | family

Dem Swedes in the woodpile

Going through these old photos of my great grandparents makes very conscious of how much loss they went through just to have a family. Their first two sons died 2 days apart, Axel at 3 and two days later George died at age 1, the next child, Ella (Veldma) survived until she was 18. Then came Hattie (Hatta or Harriet), Della (Lilly), my grandfather Carl, William Blaine who died at less than a year, Elsie (Alla), Robert was the last one. So three sons and one daughter died as children and three girls and two sons lived. The ones who survived Hattie made it to 73 and the others were all over 80. Great Grandma died when I was 5 at 95 in 1959.

I’m thinking my mom advocated for us all having Scottish names after growing up with the Swedish ones. All the girl’s names were suspiciously like the names of the Borden cows in the commercials when I was little. The names in parentheses are the first names they were born with and the other name is the American name they went by after they moved to LA. They started out in Minnesota when it was a territory and then Hilda (Halda) moved them all to LA around 1900 because she swore she was not going to live someplace colder than Sweden. I found the citizenship docs for the kids but Minnesota became a state in 1858 so I have no idea why they needed them if they were born here even if Isaac and Hilda weren’t citizens.

It must have hurt to lose 4 children. I can’t find any death certificates that say what they died of but they were living in Duluth at the time so maybe there was an epidemic of some sort in 1890 when the first two boys died. What killed Ella/ Veldma in 1908 at the age of 18?

Hilda is listed as a Smeddotter on her emigration report in the church records in Sweden. (Why church’s had emigration records I have no clue) Smeddotter means blacksmith’s daughter. So I have smiths on the Swedish and Scottish sides, probably where I got the urge to whack metal with large hammers. Funny, how things you like to do can maybe travel along your genes as well as what you look like. Kind of cool.

I know they all spoke Swedish until Hilda made them join the Presbyterian Church because it was the only church that has services in English and she wanted the kids to learn English because now they were in a America. There was one problem with this. When she got very old when I was little she would slip back into Swedish. I can remember my Uncle Don trying to get her to say “Jam and Jelly” and she’d reply “Pass me the yam and yelly” which used to reduce me to giggles.
Hers was the first funeral I ever attended. For some reason I spent most of it with my grandmother in the car. That was fine with me because Grandma could tie a handkerchief into a rabbit and make it hop up and down her arm and she kept Livesavers Chocomints in the handbag. I wish they still made those.

The biggest change after she died was the unanimous refusal to ever serve lutefisk at a holiday meal every again. Everything else Swedish was fine but no lutefisk, ever!

I got so much from them. My love of photography, grandpa gave me my first Brownie camera so I could be like him with his Leicas. Most of the photos I have of us as kids are from him. Dad took slides and so far they resist copying because they are too colour saturated for my scanner.

I got my boobage from my Great Aunts. I’m built like them to my mother’s horror. She would look at me and say, I don’t know where you go those but I look just like her aunts so it wasn’t hard to figure out.

I got my love of milk and pastries at breakfast from them. And some of my baking talent comes from them.

And I got my nose and I think my enormous hands from them. I bet I have bigger hands than Donald Trump, I had to wear men’s gloves when I was a bell ringer. Women’s gloves were way too small. My piano teacher in college loved them. I could reach more than an octave. Dad called them farmer hands. My sister has these long graceful thin fingered hands but even when I was skinny my hands were not but it was great for doing gymnastics because I rarely missed if I could get my hands on the bars. And it tickled my ortho that even when I had horrible tendinitis I had a grip strength of 80lbs in my left uninjured hand. Most women have a grip strength of 30 lbs or less. The right was only 70 lbs injured. And more than a few men that tried to give one of those handshakes they think are going to crush a women’s hand to exert dominance regretted it immediately when all I did was grin and bear down back. LOL! So dem Swedes were good for a few things. I think it’s the blacksmith’s fault,

Oh Hecate


Now is your time

You walk among us as the veil thins

Please be with your Priestesses

Wherever they may be

They are called to ease the loved ones

The ones that are choosing this time

To pass through the veil

Let them know what is needed

Be with their hearts

They are breaking

Be with the ones leaving

Ease open the curtain

Let them pass easily

Surrounded by those that love them

Let them know that love awaits them on the other side

Comfort those left behind.

Stand with them

Hold their broken hearts

Let them know that love lasts

And is not gone

It’s never gone

Only harder to see


Be with us at this time

We turn our faces to the veil

It is not our time

Heal our hearts

Let us know peace

Let us know there is no end

Only endless beginnings

Be with us and to the hour of our passing

Be here now,

DNA, Ancestors and Family in the World

I did the Nat Geo DNA testing and they just revised it to 100% European, 59% Great Britain and Ireland, 19% Western and Central Europe, 15% Scandinavian and 3% Eastern Europe, instead of the 4% Saami and Siberian they originally said.

When your get your results you can add it to another DNA site called FTDNA and that is when it gets weird because you get invitations to join groups based on your DNA results some of which went with family history like the MacFarlane and MacGregor family groups we already knew about since we have them on the family trees on both sides, but then I got one from a Polish group and I don’t know about any Poles anywhere. So I joined all the Scottish ones it suggested because I knew those were right.

It then tells you everyone you are related to that has taken the testing for several cousins out and they and you can start contacting each other. I just got a request from a 4th cousin in Sweden. My family left Sweden about 125 years ago. It’s kind of cool and kind of weird to know that I have so many relatives that I have never met and that they are all over the globe. So far I have a list of over 1500 people who are related to me by my DNA. My family has never been highly reproductive so that kind of blows me away. 1500 people that I have never met are my direct relatives. Wow!

We could only do the MT DNA test because there are no surviving males, my dad and brother were the last Y DNA Robbs on their branch of the family tree. His sister’s kids would only have MT DNA and his two brothers died before they could have children and his dad’s dad only had a sister.

When they do the DNA matches they start with those who share the biggest blocks with you and so far I don’t recognize any of the people that it says are my second cousins. My new 4th cousin shares a block of 28.

This is my haplogroup mtDNA      U2e1f and I haven’t seen any one on the list that shares that haplogroup. I like that it sort of looks like elf even though it’s e1f. Hey, maybe that’s how the alfar do their DNA, LOL!

U2e started out in Eurasia and North Africa. There is something about DNA testing and seeing the results that brings home that we really are one people and the differences are on the outside not the inside. Sometime way are back in history my ancestors may have roamed Egypt, Algeria or Libya or the Middle East. What stories would they tell? Who knows maybe I am remembering the BunniHoTep stories. Maybe one of my ancestors told those stories too.

Why did they roam so far and how did they end up in regions that were as far as you could go in Europe without getting on a boat which I suppose they eventually did because my family ended up in Los Angles in a climate not that far different from where they started.

I know some of the stories from the last few hundred years and so far they match what the DNA testing says but what about the ones further back? What were their stories? All I do know is that I must have relatives and ancestors who looked far differently than I look now. That any one I see on the bus or on the street or in the store could be related to me no matter what they look like. Makes me want to be kinder. That part of the Girl Scout Promise that says I’m a sister to every other Scout, is really true.


Goddess, I miss him

Goddess, I miss him so much

Some years are worse than others

I miss my shadow

I miss my near twin

I miss his huge smile

I miss his hugs

Oh Goddess

Why does it not getting any easier?

He’s gone and he always will be

I miss his humour that was different from everyone else in the family

I miss when he didn’t get our jokes

I miss him trying

Goddess, grief is an unfillable hole

Yes, grief reminds us we loved

But oh, it hurts sometimes

It hurts to stand alone in the memories

Memories that only he and I held

I miss him hiding behind me when dad hit me

I miss being his protector

I miss him in the audience when I sang

I miss being his audience

Goddess. I’m selfish

I miss his love

I miss his smelly feet

I miss knowing I could call him if I needed

I miss the secret names we called each other

I miss seeing his eyes when we came out to each other

I miss the wonder of knowing he was gay too.

I miss knowing I wasn’t alone with my secret

I miss that he will never know how Harry Potter ended

The last book he read was number 6.

I miss that we can’t share Star Wars rebirth

He kidnapped me to the very first one

Insisting I would love it.

Goddess, I miss my baby brother

And it hurts so much…



Magic and stories in Photos Part 4

I’m having fun so I’m going to keep going for awhile.


Sometimes even Snowy Egrets have bad hair days. A few months before my brother died we went up to visit him in Mountain View and as my family all have penchants for wandering around in the shrubberies, he and his partner took us to Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It would be the last day we spent as a family.


This was before the wind got to his topknot.

My sister hates this picture of she and my brother laughing. This was in April or May and he would be dead in July. It’s a window into that period that he was taken from us. Chemo and surgery had made him balloon up but he was still my beloved little brother. He could take himself too seriously and he was the one nonpunner in a family that ran on puns. So that day was a gift. The next time we would got up we were supposed to be there for his next surgery but instead we flew up for his funeral. He died of multiform gliomablastoma. A particularly nasty form of brain cancer. It came back after 15 years in remission.


My sister’s totem is the dragonfly and I just love them and this was out at Sepulveda one afternoon when I was testing my patience. I caught it with my point and shoot Sony with it’s Zeiss lens. Patience and not breathing sometimes gets you amazing things.


Sunset at Lake Balboa. I was pissed at my bitch of a boss at the time and needed time to decompress before I went home. The White Pelicans are only there in January so it was an early sunset. It gave me much joy and still does.

Adventures in the Gene Pool

I did the Genographic DNA testing from the National Geographic Society and just got the results back a few days ago. I got the normal for a European 1.1% Neanderthal. And my Regional results came up 52% Great Britain and Ireland , by which I guess they mean Scottish, 34% Western European, 9 % Scandinavian, and 4% Finland and Siberian. The 4% Fin/Siberian is interesting because it can also be Native American, my dad always said his grandfather was a half breed and refused to say word other than that and didn’t talk about his family at all and on the first census he appears in the 1880s he is listed as Tomas and after that he is listed as Thomas and listed as being born in KY when everyone else says PA until they moved to IL so he may have been adopted.

My dad had a very red complexion not a fair one and black really straight hair and he was the least hirsute man in the family, not like my little brother who had chest hair like a pelt. My dad had a full head of hair until the day he died and was almost offended at my brother being bald as cue ball. My brother looked like my mom’s side to the family and I look more like dad’s and I have the same stick straight hair even if I got the redheaded gene for colour. I also have the bump he had at the top of his nose but the bottom is the Swedish nose. Genes are weird things.

I thought the Scandinavian numbers would be way higher since my mom’s father was 100%. Dad did mention exactly once that I remember that someone was from the Alsace Lorraine region on his side. And Grandma’s main clan the Cummings were originally Danes who migrated to Normandy were Du Comyn in Normandy (shades of Darkover) and came over with William the Conqueror in 1066 and were awarded lands in Scotland and became the Cumming clan which may explain the Western European thing.

It wasn’t as diverse as I thought it might be but it is pretty much the groups in my genealogy research.


Here’s what it says about Great Britain and Ireland

This component of your ancestry is associated with the western European islands of Great Britain and Ireland, but traces can also be found along the northern and western coasts of continental Europe. As modern humans first entered Europe, this part of the world was uninhabitable and covered in ice sheets. As the ice sheets retreated, settlers moved to the islands. The earliest settlers likely survived on fishing, but farming eventually reached the islands in the past several thousand years. Stone monuments (e.g., Stonehenge) are associated with some of the islands’ earliest cultures. Historically, these islands were populated by Celts and later marked the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire, thus genetic connections still exist between these regions. Yet it was Britain’s global empire during the 18th and 19th centuries that helped spread this component, as well as the English language, throughout the world.

Today, this ancestral component is seen in people of British and Irish descent, including those throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and most other former British colonies.

Western and Central Europe:

This component of your ancestry is associated with a prehistoric European population that arose from a hybrid of different migrant groups. The region extends from northern Spain east through France, the lowlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Prehistorically, this region of Europe was home to Neanderthals, and it was possibly here where your modern human ancestors mixed with your Neanderthal ancestors as the two related species met 40,000 years ago. Historically, this region saw continuous human migration from the north, west, south, and east, which is evident from the dozens of distinct mitochondrial DNA lineages that exist there today.


This genetic component of your ancestry is seen in most people of European ancestry, but it’s highest among those with Spanish, French, Dutch, Swiss, Austrian, German, and northern Italian ancestry.

Funny but these are all the pathways of the Celts across Europe.


This component of your ancestry is associated with the Nordic regions of Europe. This part of Europe was the last to be settled since it was covered in glaciers for thousands of years longer than the lands to the south. As the name states, this region is associated with the peninsula of Scandinavia and its adjacent regions of Iceland and Denmark. Your prehistoric Scandinavian ancestors most likely survived from hunting, gathering, and fishing, and it wasn’t until a few thousand years ago that farming first reached the area. Historically, Scandinavia was the home of Vikings, who were known to voyage south and west and interacting, both peacefully and violently, with their neighbors in Great Britain and central Europe.


This genetic component of your ancestry is seen in people of Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish, and Danish ancestry, although it also occurs in people from Britain and continental Europe.


Finland and Northern Siberia:

This component of your ancestry is associated with the polar regions of Eurasia, stretching from Finland to eastern Siberia in Russia. Similar to other northern regions, this region of Eurasia was settled late and primarily by hunter-gatherers who could survive on the edges of the receding icesheets, and did not take on agriculture until very recently. Although this area may appear distant on a map, members of this population eventually expanded as far east as Alaska, Canada, and North America, and their genetic legacy is still seen in Inuit populations as far east as Canada and Greenland, but also Sami populations as far west as Finland and Sweden. Your ancestors were true circumpolar settlers. 

Today, this genetic component of your ancestry is seen in Finnish, Russian, Alaska, and Canadian populations, and in low frequencies among some Native American groups farther south.

Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday


Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday. My mother always referred to me as her mother’s birthday present since I was born just after midnight on June 2. I always thought that was a complement. Now I wonder if that was just another way to distance me as her changeling. Another thing she called me when I was little or her fairy child.


I’m a lot like my grandmother and my mom greatly disliked her mother. Grandma was adventurous, curious and always learning new things, all the things my mother wasn’t. Grandma and my Uncle Winn were the only ones in the family that wasn’t always judging me for something. My eye disability, or because they considered me homely, my lack of athletic ability, something, and I was well aware of it early on by their tone of voice. I still react to people’s tone of voice when they speak to me, not what I see.
But Grandma saw me and not just as a mini me of her. Her gift to me after my eye surgery was not a stuffed animal or a toy but a beautifully illustrated version of Grimm’s fairy tales and not the Disney versions either, the original gruesome ones. I adored it and I still have it and one of the few times I outright tried to kill my little brother was when he coloured in it. A homicidal 7 year old is not a pretty thing.


I spent most summers with her in their house in Leimert Park where I was the only white kid on the block and to be truthful I never noticed I was, until someone pointed it out. My grandparents never said anything to me. They were just my friends. But most days I spent lying on the wide front porch watching ants or we took drives and we went places like Marineland to talk to the whales or one of the many piers in LA or we went to see all the buildings my grandfather had designed for Hunt and Chambers. We went to the San Diego Zoo where she talked the bird keeper into letting me hold and feed the toucan. She taught me to talk to trees and to listen to nature and we took walks around the neighborhood every summer evening. She taught me divination with her gypsy deck and told me family history stories. She taught me to embroider and cross stitch on gingham and hoe to make clothes for my collection of troll dolls. She taught me chants to do when I was learning to weave paper. She taught me Scottish fairy stories, all our clans and Scottish folk songs.


She taught me to be curious and to always keep learning. She had gone to the Alaska Gold Rush in 1906 when she was 16 by steamer with her best friend. She gave me a bracelet of wolf teeth on gold wire that she had brought back. It’s way to small for me to wear and it was way before conservation so she wouldn’t have thought about killing the wolf but it sits in my drawer and is one of my treasures. She was a member of one of the first women’s groups in the US called the Friday morning club.


She taught me to listen and try to make good decisions based on information and logic and to always want to know WHY? unlike most of the other adults I had contact with. She taught me what other people thought of me didn’t matter, what mattered was how I felt about me. She was really my best friend and when she died when I was 17, I was totally bereft. Even though I had lost a lot of my great aunts and uncles and my great grandmother, it was the first time I knew what grief really was. I still miss her.

Ordination scans 115

She was born in Ontario Canada near Hamilton in 1890 and came to Los Angeles at the age of 11 on January 1, 1901. Her parents were born in Scotland and Northern Ireland and they went by train across Canada and down the West Coast, evidently they wanted to go cross country but couldn’t because trains were being attacked at the time going through the Southwest. She married my grandpa who was 5 years younger which I guess was a huge scandal at the time and graduated from what is now UCLA with a teaching degree in 1910.

She was an expert silver smith and leather worker and I have a trash can she made of wood and then covered in worked copper covered in woodland scenes and a table with a leather table top.She was taking Japanese cooking lessons when she died.  I just hope I measure up to her someday.

Jesse Alexandra Cumming Sjoberg, my great grandmother didn’t want a kid and was busy making jam when my grandmother decided it was time and when my great-grandfather wanted to know what to name her, she said name her after yourself, so he did.