Saturday, March 25, 2017

DNA, the Great Equalizer

For Christmas, Sid and I each had our DNA done through Although I'd hoped for something exotic to show up, like one of my friend's DNA which includes Eastern Europe, Asia, Sephardi Jew, Iberian Peninsula, Africa, and Indigenous South America. So I call her the Inca Princess. I knew that my history probably wouldn't include some of that cool stuff, (I knew my dad was mostly German, and my mom always said we're "Scot/Irish" with a little bit of French), but I'd hoped for at least a bit of Moroccan.
Who I don't look like

So here are my results:
  • 74% Western Europe (France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, a bit of Denmark)
  • 15% Eastern Europe (east as far as Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic countries)
  • 5% Great Britain
  • 3% Iberian Peninsula
  • 1% Italy and Greece
  • -1% Ireland
  • -1% Finland/Russia
I looked really closely, and "Iberian Peninsula" does include a tiny bit of Morocco and Tunisia (remember Moorish Spain? The Alhambra?) 
The Alhambra
I had something, possibly exotic, to cling to. And, since I'm mostly boringly Western European, naturally I liked the idea that my people owned wineries in the Loire Valley,
My Pretend Family's winery in the Loire Valley
 or that 1% Italian/Greek meant a villa by the Adriatic or Mediterranean.
My wishful Italian Villa
But, the truth is, these are my people:
My Ancestors
Yes folks, with variations due to climate and topography, this is what all of our ancestors looked like. These tribal people, no matter where they had migrated to, were hunters and gatherers, violent rapists and pillagers. They mixed and bred with other tribes, including probably with Neanderthals, migrated all over the place, and finally settled into agrarian societies. Sid has more Ireland in him than I have, which simply means that more of his raiding hordes than mine ended up in Eire.
Sid's Raiding Hordes
And guess what? We all started in Africa. Yes, in what is now Herto, Ethiopia.
Where we all began
So we're all Africans. The earliest remains of Homo-sapiens, dated 160,00+ years, were found near Herto. Migration patterns from there looked like this:
Paleolithic Migration
Now, since we all originated in the same place, and all of our ancients were pretty much the same, why do some people feel superior to others? It's lovely to say that we're descended from some famous person, or we can trace our American ancestors back to the Mayflower or the Conquistadors but, in the end, none of us is "pure", and we all came from some hardy stock that survived long enough to produce us.

I think that everyone should have their DNA done. Who knows, someone who shall remain nameless
How to comb the Orange Hair
might actually have some Mexican DNA, or Middle Eastern!! It seems like, if everyone knew their DNA, it would be much harder to hate someone who shares the same genomes. And a little perspective might make it into the frontal lobe.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Sunglasses Are Like My Guitar - Patti Smith

Mildred Lindholm, great sunglasses, odd hiking shoe choice
Mildred's Daughter, better hiking shoes
A young woman, mid 1940's makes, what appears to be, an impromptu stop at a lovely stream while on a Sunday drive with her husband. Although her "hiking attire" is a bit strange, she's wearing fabulous sunglasses that inspire her daughter, decades later, to search for sunglasses inspired by those fashionable ones of an earlier era.
This, in turn, inspires a look at sunglasses from the past. Prehistoric Inuit people wore flattened walrus ivory glasses to block harmful reflective rays of the sun. The earliest historical reference to sunglasses dates back to ancient China and Rome; the Roman emperor Nero watched gladiator fights through polished gems.

Fast forward to 1929 when Sam Foster introduced inexpensive mass-produced sunglasses to the world. In addition to protecting the eyes, voila! another fashion statement was born.
1920's sunglasses
Both men and women could use sunglasses as accessory, and not just eye protection. Eyewear reflected all of the cultural and historical influences (think aviators with the expansion of flight) of each period.
An assortment of 40's, 50's, and 60's
General Douglas MacArthur
The 1950's brought the space age and cat eyes that were sometimes plain, and sometimes specked with sparkle. One little girl, who was squinting in most of her outdoor pictures, bought her first pair of sunglasses with the dollar her grandpa sent her. Fair-skinned, blue-eyed blonds are most susceptible to glare, and this little one would have life-long eye challenges that required eyewear. So, why not make them fun and special.

With the 60's, all things Mod burst upon the scene with the Beatles, and the decade ended with John Lennon's wire-rims.
Bob Dylan

John Lennon
One 16 year old, who followed the trends, really wanted "the look".
Way too Mod
The 70's brought a zillion versions of Jackie O's and wire-rims. But, unlike fashions of the period, they remain timeless and fabulous.

And now, a short word from Reggie....
I just wanted to remind everyone of how amazing I am. I go to Santa Fe Tails a couple of times during the week. On those days at 10:00 in the morning, my human buddies get all of us dogs howling. I just started going there on Saturdays, and they don't usually make us sing in the morning. Well, my brilliant self gets everybody howling at exactly 10:00 without the humans doing anything. They can't figure out how I know it's 10:00. I'll never tell, but everybody thinks I'm astounding. Of course.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Week-end Oasis

Top Down with Coltrane

7:00 P.M. July
Top down
We join the line of ants on the 101
Next off-ramp, wend our way through torpid canyon
Road blistering with the mirage of a Saharan myth
Hot wind whipping us into an exhausted stupor

Crest the Mulholland
A cool, moist relief washes over

Into the mist of thick, low clouds,
we break through a sun-drenched door
to a turquoise panorama that
stretches from the west of sunset
 to the east of sunrise beyond

Vastness in its never ending blue
Its forever presence

Right turn onto PCH
Week-end Nirvana
Tilt your seat back, baby; we’re cruisin’

8:00 P.M. May
Top down
Still lookin’ for the calm
Inch our way, bumper to bumper,
through Saturday party night at the oasis
Cacophony of light and sound stalling the escape to respite

East on Palm Canyon Drive, a left turn
Silence pushes a city into retreat

Ahead, a long, blissful stretch of quiet
Desert heat cooling into evening breeze
Eternal black sky punctuated
by long-forgotten stars
of an infinite cosmos

Vastness in its never ending black
Its forever presence

Straight ahead
Week-end Nirvana
Tilt your seat back, baby; we’re cruisin’

Cynthia L. Cavanaugh 07/09

And now a word from Reggie.....
We had a BIG snow here last week, and boy do I love it. I played lots in the yard and ran all over the place. Why do we dogs love snow and hate rain? Course, when it starts to melt, Mom's not thrilled because I drag mud into the house. Even though she keeps towels on the floor, I manage to make paw marks on the rug in the kitchen...just to remind everyone of my presence in case they forget.

Just for the record, that's a piece of cat fur next to my signature.

Of course Desi, one of the geeks, makes his choice about how he wants to spend his snow time. How many hours a day do cats sleep? 23-1/2? Geeeezzzz......

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Greatest Generation

     Ray 7-twenty-nine

He wasn’t from the Silent Generation,
but he was silent

He came from that Greatest group
who survived huge, hungry families
The ones who didn’t taste the false cornucopia
of the Roaring Twenties

Close enough to immigrant forebears,
he understood the struggle of endurance
He learned to make do
and built his life from scratch

He quit school to help feed his family,
rode the rails with others like him,
and found a home in the CCC’s

Maybe he wasn’t on the front lines,
but he gave his all
repairing the planes

that would defeat the enemy

His struggles made him a man
but left scars so deep,
generations would feel the wounds
A legacy centuries old

He maintained the unspoken stoicism
that masked turbulent emotions
simmering on the back burner

An intelligence so keen
and a drive so strong
he traveled the world
teaching others his craft

Like his own kind,
duties and obligations were fulfilled
Dignity was in hard work and hurdles overcome
His was the quiet nobility that powered the American engine

He studied diligently the bigger world,
but his world was black and white,
a world of right and wrong
Or so it appeared

Dismayed and perplexed by those who would follow
His world overtaken by turbulence and rebellion
that he did not understand,
he retreated into his own fortress

His life left to be explored and explained by others
who could only grasp at bits and pieces shared
by the silent man

                                                     Cynthia L. Cavanaugh 07/10                                                      


Monday, January 2, 2017

Eternal Elegance

Great Aunt Laura with a Southern California niece and her two little girls, and two great-nephews from far away Canada
There she was, the jewel in the center on a warm sunny day in Santa Barbara. In spite of the heat, she with her stockings, matching shoes, hat, handbag, necklace, and gloves epitomized the elegance and formality of her generation. Surrounded by visiting nieces, great-nieces, and great-nephews, Laura Meals, as always, stood out with her style and sophistication.

She who came from the burgeoning middle class of 19th c. mid-west, whose family moved west where she graduated from UC Berkeley, remained single, taught school, and wisely invested an inheritance. An intelligent and cosmopolitan woman, she was the epitome of sweetness and generosity. She lived modestly in her classic California Spanish apartment, yet her one self-indulgence was her wardrobe. I Magnin, the small upscale California department always said that they built their State Street store in Santa Barbara for Laura Meals.
A 19th c. Greek tragedy: Laura (standing in black), along with her sister Rosa (standing center) fan a young woman with "the vapors"

With an appreciation of fine music, she sent hi-brow records to her art-loving sister Rosa, who had remained on the prairie, married a young newspaperman, and whose family had expanded to nine children and perpetual financial insecurity. Laura's beautiful Steinway grand piano found its way to Rosa's youngest daughter's house in Burbank, where one little girl diligently practiced her allegros and arpeggios, while her younger sister's attention to lessons lasted six chords.

Crossing a Santa Barbara street, a car's collision with her left Laura incapacitated with broken bones that changed the course of her refined life. A doctor and nurse were engaged to rehabilitate her at home. Visits from the Southern California niece and her family were suddenly supervised by the nurse, and suspicions were raised about the intentions of doctor and nurse. Suspicions confirmed that funds, jewelry, and furs had been stolen by her caregivers, Laura was moved to a nursing home in San Diego near her brother Will.
Laura...a rose between....

Although she was declining, and her independence was gone, Laura remained the lovely, caring, gracious woman she had always been. As a great-niece looks back with mature eyes on the life of a lady she never really knew, she wonders about the interior life of such a remarkable woman. Did she relish her independence, or had she desired the traditional role of wife and mother required of her generation? Had there been loves that had filled her life with joy?:Or had love brought sadness and heartache. Did she own a car? What had a physical catastrophe and betrayal done to her emotionally? How had the enormous adjustment of leaving her charmed Santa Barbara life for a nursing home effected her?

We all have ancestors who we would love to talk to. It'd be wonderful to chat with that forebear who took off for the Klondike gold rush, or the sixth great-grandparent who arrived on our shores. Thanks to some photos from an old album, or a long-ago memory, we have stories like Laura's to pass along, even if they remain a mystery......

And now, a word from Reggie...

Once in awhile I get a fun moment in my boring life. Two of my favorite people came to visit me: Granddaughters Delilah and Alana. Or maybe they're my cousins, nieces? I don't know, but I love them and most importantly, they love me.

So, I got lots of attention from A&D until they took them away to something called Meow Wolf. Of course that name sounds a little too close to the noise those geeks I live with know, the "meow" part. Anyway they left me in my crate while they went off and had some real fun. I heard (they think I don't understand) that this place is really amazing, and Dad is never going to stop talking about it. They took pictures, so here they are.
A bunch of Alanas and Delilahs

A&D inside a "diamond"

Mom & Anita (A&D's mom) inside something weird

Delilah & Alana in the strange world of MW

A&D and their mom and dad, Ryan and Anita

Dad (Grandpa Sid) playing bones with A&D inside a "dinosaur's" skeleton
The next day they sent me to Doggy Disneyland and the girls went sledding.
Delilah having fun
I was so tuckered out from a full day of play with my pals at Santa Fe Tails, that I just wanted to hunker down in my crate...where I go to escape the Madding Crowd. But, my two girlfriends came to say good-by before they headed back to a place called Southern California...where they don't have snow at their house.