Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year Milieu

Last year's resolution was to lose 10 pounds. I did so well with that I now need to lose 20.
So much for New Year's resolutions.

My brother and I decided to get a DNA test for me. I'm pretty sure he wanted to check that I was not some kind of alien species. Well, I am not from another world, but I was worried for a few weeks. Now he is going to get a DNA kit and see if we are really brothers. That's not what he tells me, but I'm pretty sure that's why he is doing it.

I bit the bullet again and signed up for 6 months of access to data about my family. I am seriously a mutt, totally European in nature, but a mutt nonetheless. I can find all of my great grandparents, but a couple of them get fuzzy beyond that. On the other hand there are some that I can follow back for hundreds and in one case over a thousand years. After a handful of generations we are all pretty well diluted, so I guess it doesn't really matter all that much. Going back far enough makes us all related to each other and all Africans. It makes bigotry hard to understand. It's easy to dislike assholes, but a blanket hatred of one group or another seems kind of moronic. We are all "them" and we are all "us".
Building a family tree is tedious, but a better use of time than endless hours of Facebook in my estimation. I know because I have been sucked into Facebook for way too long on occasion and I hate myself for it. I check it now and then and with practice I can leave it after a few minutes of checking on the family and some closer friends.

I digress. Some of the fun things I have found out doing family research is that my father was born about 4 months after his parents were married. Talk about a premature birth! My mother died when I was three, although I was close to her mother and her brother. I didn't get to see much of them after I became an (alleged) adult because of distances, money, and priorities. It is something I have always regretted. That side of the family has held the biggest surprises and the most mystery.  There were a few surprises on the Viking side, as well.

They say, whoever "They" are, that you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you are from. Well, maybe in some ways, but I don't think it means much. Maybe it's just part of self- awareness.

In other news.

My morning commute to work is 2 miles down the gravel road to Highway 61, along Lake Superior for 8 miles, then 1 mile through the "city" (population 1152) to my workplace. The other morning in the first 10 miles I saw two cars coming the other direction and one about a mile ahead of me going the same way. Once I got to town the traffic picked up. I'll bet there were ten other vehicles moving on the road. At least the (yes, there is only one) traffic light was green and no one seemed to be going over 30mph. Next week will be different when the kids go back to school and all those school buses jam up the roads with their occasional stops to pick up kids who are too lazy to walk the 5 miles each way. Why, when I was a kid... It was so long ago I don't remember any more, but I am sure we had it worse.

The next day there was even less traffic.

Sometimes I will stop on the way in or out of town to enjoy the view or take a picture.

The ships have moved in closer to avoid the nastiness farther out on the lake. Click the pics to embiggen.
The waves hitting the cold air, rocks, and plants have been doing their sculpture thing again this winter. Even though it is relatively mild this year it is still cold enough.

The long New Year's weekend gave us time to enjoy the morning, even looking at the hay that needed to be put away. We waited until noon to put the hay in the barn, but enjoyed a leisurely few hours first along with the painted sky.


  1. Those photos are stunning!

    Advances in genetics make racism and race essentialism untenable. We're all a mix of many peoples, making talk of racial "purity" ridiculous.

  2. LOVE the ice sculptures!

    (sings like dylan) out on highway 61...

    facebork is a HUGE timewaster; I will never have an account; I see what shows up on my spouse's feed - endless garbage.

    HNY jono!

  3. Boy do I envy your commute! And right on about racism. What's the point? Happy New Year, Jono!

  4. Love, love, love those photos.
    My family history is largely a mystery. My parents were both strangers to the truth and in my father's case made an oyster look garrulous.
    A mongrel mixture is about all I know. Which is fine.
    FB? Not for me. I spend more than enough time on line already.
    How I would love to live in a world where more people realised the us and them divide is largely arbitrary and that we are all (or should be) in this together.

  5. So what were the surprises on your Viking side? That you're not a direct descendant of Ragnar Lothbrok? I refuse to believe it.

  6. My brother-in-law is the family historian and has assembled the family tree and made contact with the family in Sweden. At some point he got enough information to find possible connections to royalty and - I'm pretty sure - to Hagar the Horrible.

    Love those ice photos - especially the third one from the top is meant to be printed and framed!

  7. I've got a fam. tree on my mother's side, but not my dad's. We only ever heard rumors about where his parents came from. Maybe they were somehow illegal. Anyway, the only thing I know for sure -- I too am a mutt. And I'm glad I'm not out there freezing on the lake!

  8. "Sometimes I will stop on the way in or out of town to enjoy the view or take a picture."

    I need to start doing that. Your photos are gorgeous, especially that last one. I drive by some fantastically beautiful views on my way to and from work and am always in too much of a hurry to get where I'm going to stop and drink it all in. Your post has inspired a New Year's resolution. (I can only handle one per year. :)

  9. Ahab, Thanks! Genetics is science and you know how some people seem to fear that if it doesn't support their beliefs.

    anne marie, It is amazing what nature can do with a bit of cold air and water. It is fun living by Hwy 61 and Revisiting it nearly every day. You are wise to stay away from Facebork.

    Donna, I sometimes take my 20 minute commute for granted. Then I remember why I live here.

    EC, A little embellishment of the truth sometimes makes for a better story without really changing it. A famous Canadian philosopher, Red Green, says "We're all in this together. I'm pullin' for ya."

    Debra, My direct ancestor visited North America about a thousand years ago. Thought it was nice, but it wasn't home. We didn't come back until 1947.

    Pixel Peeper, Thank your brother-in-law for the tedious work. Hagar is one of my favorite Vikings. He should be grateful to have Helga to keep him properly focused.

    Tom, My curiosity drives me to find out those family "secrets". That's what keeps people interesting. El Nino is helping us have a much milder than normal winter. I know it has been hell on some, but I am enjoying it.

    Agi T, I have always heard that I am supposed to stop and smell the roses. As I age and figure out what is important, smelling roses is right up there.

  10. we got some surprises tracing the roots to the family tree...always thought we were Irish..but traced us back to vikings who came to England with

    the photos are terrific.

  11. Another award winning post from Jono!

  12. My dad always said that the first one could be born anytime (after marriage) but after that they were at least 9 months and 15 minutes apart.
    Family trees are a challenge. My brother is our family genealogist.

  13. Not to speak of the fact that we are all made of condensed gas and dust from an exploded star, which was also made of material that was eventually created at the Big Bang, which in turn means that you and I are the subatomic brothers of the Great Ganrrth of the planet Xgrth, fourth out from the star Ylkrr of the Brtklftth Galaxy.

  14. JACKIESUE, I was totally surprised by my 11% Irish, but chalked it up to my trading, raiding, and pillaging ancestors.

    Professor, I am totally shocked and awed by such a prestigious award. I have rarely gotten an award for anything, let alone the mess that rattles around in my brain. Many thanks to Shoshanah and her Dairy of Mindless Minion Number 2703.

    Blog Fodder, After the first one is out of the way it's all about biology and staying on top of the game. Like Woody Allen once said, "I haven't made love to a woman for over three years, but I've been practicing."

    Bill, That was the part I figured out about "eternal life" way back when. In one form or another we have always been here and always will be. At least our components will be.


  15. Genealogy is such a better use of time than facebook. Yet as you point out, we are all related we go back far enough. One line I can trace back 5oo years but another I cannot get across the pond. Your ice pictures are wonderful and I am glad I can enjoy the ice from afar.

  16. Great photos of the ice and water.

    Red Green "Canadian philosopher" - hahahaha!

    The only reason I'd consider Facebook would be to keep up on my grown kids' doings. But they don't use it much (in one case) or at all (in the other), so I'm good.

    It's funny how our family backgrounds become more interesting to us the older we get. At least that was my experience. And by then we've lost a lot of it as older family members pass away. I was given my father's paternal background genealogy by a member of his family a few years ago, which I'm so thankful to have. Do you have favourite sources for your research that you'd recommend? I still have my dad's mother's family to work on.

  17. Wow, those pictures are killer. Also, in the comment above, we knew we liked you for a reason.

    "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." - Red Green, Canada's Aristotle

    About ten years ago my grandma carefully outlined our entire family tree, all the way back to the 1400s. And she did that without the Internet. I truly don't know how. I feel like I'd be lucky to make it back to the 1800s with full computer access and a paid membership to

  18. First child always has a very short conception time - indeed an old viking tradition (my ffamily tree are full of them).

  19. vanilla, Yes, ice is better viewed from afar. It's slippery and I don't bounce so well any more.

    jenny-o, When Steve Smith (Red) and his wife had a variety show back in the 80's I looked at them as a Canadian Sonny and Cher. He has aged into more of a Mark Twain type now. The major genealogy sites (Ancestry, Geni, etc.) will let you build a little for free. The entire genealogy of Iceland is available for free to citizens (I had a cousin run mine)and Norway has much of their census and other records free and on line. Find a Grave is another place to look in the U.S. Since my family is fresh off the boat I don't need much in the way of U.S. records, but most states have birth, marriage, and death records.

    ABFTS, Red Green is a virtual fount of knowledge and wisdom. I am surprised he hasn't been awarded a Knighthood by the Queen. Your grandmother must have been an amazingly energetic and tenacious woman.

    Onevikinggirl, I can't say I'm surprised, but I didn't know until I started looking into things. It is nice to see some passion and affection in what sometimes looks like a reserved society.

  20. True, we are all related. And it's not about us vs them. It's about us vs assholes.

    The photos are gorgeous. I especially like the one with icicles. Very nice, Jono.

  21. Spectacular photos - thanks for sharing them. Family trees are alwas interesting, but I'm sorry to say I've stalled on ours. I got all known past generations (back about 300 years) into the database, and got as far as my generation, and then the whole thing came to a halt. Time to pass the project on to the younger generation, I think. ;-)

    Happy New Year!

  22. Your African ancestors were apes who lost their hair and started to walk on two feet. We think of them as our mutant cousins.

  23. jenny_o, No problem!

    Robyn, Glad you like the ice. I would trade it for some time in Chico, though.

    Diane, I've got over a hundred relatives/ancestors listed so far. It is a slow process and the farther back you go it gets slower and more uncertain.

    Gorilla B., I'm still losing my hair from the ears up. It sprouts pretty well on the rest of me. I have no doubt that we are cousins.

  24. So you're a mutt, are ye? :-) It suits you. And it suits me. We share a lot of the same ideas...

    Was through Duluth last July, on my way to Eagles Ridge for my son's wedding. Love the area, but for those that might thing Minneapolis is cold, the North Shore is a whole 'nother matter.

    That said, summer is just around the corner, yes? Might we see you at All Pints North?


  25. Those photos of the lake are superb – I like the icy ones. It must be interesting to find out about your family tree. I’d like to know mine but how, from the US, can one find out about family in other countries? Such as for my father Armenian family in Turkey – I don’t think it must be easy. I wish I had had your commute when I worked. I was only 9 miles from work and if I left at 5:45 am it would only take 20 minutes but if I left after 6:00 am it would take as much at 45 minutes or more, and when raining more than one hour, and the scenery was not half as beautiful as yours. Well Merry Christmas anyway – Armenians (Christian Orthodox) celebrate it on January 6th – I don’t, but am trying to honor my father’s heritage.

  26. Pearl, Another 45 miles and you could have stopped at the farm! I have been thinking of organizing a North Shore brewery crawl and chartering a local bus service. Maybe it could be coordinated with APN.

    Vagabonde, Many countries have digitized records of census, birth, death, and marriage. Muddling through old handwriting in other languages can be difficult, but companies like Ancestry have access to many of those. There are likely to be professionals who are multi lingual and can go through records as well. Often your own relatives may know something. I used to drive daily in big city traffic and I really do not miss it. I much prefer my morning commute as it is now.

  27. I've got a pretty nice commute, too. It's about 200 feet to the barn. About once a fortnight, I time it poorly and am forced to wave at one of the neighbors driving by to work.

  28. Shoshanah, I have that same commute before the work commute. Unfortunately, it is dark and I have to turn on lights to see the reasons I went there.

  29. Thanks for sharing the gorgeous pics! I'm fascinated by family history, and also a mutt. What each group has in common, however (Apaches, Swiss Jews, Irish, etc.) is that we either had to flee our land or were kicked out. (Knowing some members of my family, this had nothing to do with religion or ethnicity...)