Tag Archive | family

Magic and stories in Photos Part 4

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Scandinavia:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Memories of the day

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Every May Day morning when I was growing up my dad would greet me with “Crown me Mother, for I am to be Queen of the May!” and we would laugh. When I was really little he took me out in the garden before mom woke up.
I miss that.

Yule Cookie – English Matrimonials

English Matrimonials

1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of butter
3/4 cup of raspberry jam (Mom used Mary Ellen but use the good stuff)

Measure flour, sugar, oats, salt and butter into bowl.
Mix with hands to a crumb-like consistency
Place half of mixture in an ungreased 6×10 Pyrex pan and press firmly
Cover with jam and top with remaining half of mixture
Press firmly
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

Should be slightly candied around the edges and not too moist in center
Cut when cool
Makes 3-5 dozen

The recipe can be used as a dessert by substituting 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce or cherry or apple pie filling for the jam. Serve warm with ice cream.

Grandma Sjoberg’s Coffee Bread

Mom always made this Christmas morning.

2 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
2 yeast cakes
1/4 cup lukewarm water
8 cups flour
2 eggs

Scald milk in small saucepan; stir in melted butter, salt, sugar, and cardamon. Cool mixture to luke warm. Pour water on yeast. Stir until dissolved.  Pour into milk mixture. Add beaten eggs and 4 cups of flour. Beat well and work in remaining 4 cups of flour.

Place on board and knead until smooth. Place dough into greased bowl, cover with damp towel and let rise 1 hour. Punch dough and let rise again about 1 hour. Return to board and shape into 4 braids. Top with nuts and granulated sugar.

Bake at 350 degree oven until medium brown.

This was another recipe my Grandma had to stand by my great-grandmother with measuring equipment to translate “a little of this” and “quite a bit of that”.

Yule Cookie – Walnut crispies

2 Squares bitter chocolate
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate in heavy saucepan
Add all other ingredients except nuts
Beat well by hand
Spread mixture in greased jelly roll pan or 3 (8×8 inch pans)
Sprinkle with nuts

Bake in  400 degree oven for 15 minutes
While warm cut with cutter into bars or squares
Break apart when cool.

Makes 4 dozen