INHERITANCE WITHOUT MUCH VALUE

It was my anniversary present — from me to we. I am not searching for my ancestors  because I more or less know who they were. Interesting, not fascinating. Not the kind of things you write very long saga tales about. More, I was curious about the very ancient ancestors — the Neanderthals and other early humans and what, if anything, do they have to do with me and mine?

Turns out, I still don’t know. Because MyHeritage DNA doesn’t tell you any of that. Nothing. If you want that information, you have to go somewhere else and search, or pay a lot of money to MyHeritage for the opportunity to connect with people who are at most, very mildly interested in your existence. To be fair, I didn’t feel all that excited about it either. But I was curious, so I paid the money and got nothing much.

We sent them our DNA and discovered what we already knew. Garry is widely mixed with European and African ancestors and I am Jewish. Very Jewish. As far as MyHeritage is concerned, back to the dawn of time which is illogical because no one was anything to the dawn of time. Otherwise, there wasn’t a surprise in the package.

I am almost entirely Ashkenazi with a wee bit of Sephardi and a hint of Baltic — probably the guy no one talks about. I had been hoping for something more entertaining and certainly more information. Some minimal analysis would have been a nice touch. What we got were numbers and a map. No analysis. Not even a summary paragraph. Nor reference material or links or anything to work with.

Garry was more entertaining than me, but not exactly shocking. We knew about his Irish grandparents. We expected — and found — lots more Europeans and many more Africans, almost equally mixed. And we expected that. Garry’s DNA is a broad brush across Europe and Africa.

Garry even has a 1.7% Ashkenazi Jewish in there (maybe we’re related?) … and a 2.1% Middle Eastern component. I, on the other hand, am Jewish. Except for that tiny bit of Baltic. So where does my weird B+ blood type come from?

I was disappointed. The results are skimpy. Within the limits of what they did, I suppose they are accurate — but it doesn’t feel like they did anything much. No depth to this material and the lack of any kind of analysis? Really? If you want real information, they want a lot more money. But if this is all the information they can retrieve from the DNA, more money isn’t going to get us deeper analysis. To get deeper analysis, you’d need deeper information gathering and that’s missing. What they really want to do is run your family tree information against other family trees to look for matches. If that’s what you want, join Ancestry.com. You’ll get more information there.

They offer links to “relatives” here, but if you want to get in touch with them, that costs more. Of course.  There were more links for me than for Garry, but that’s because Ashkenazi Jews are closely related and have been studied more than most groups. Otherwise, the information MyHeritageDNA gets seems more dependent on how much data you give them than anything they retrieve from your DNA.

MyHeritageDNA doesn’t dig for information. If what you are looking for is something that will agree with what you know, this might be just what you need. If you are looking for a deeper or broader understanding of your ancestral history … well … this ain’t it. 23andMe gets better reviews for about the same price. Ancestry.com gets reviews just like this one, but provides nominally more analysis of results — but at a price.

Of course, any analysis would be more than I got. Also, there a very new one called Insitome DNA Test Kit: Neanderthal Genetic Traits Profile (Ancestry) powered by Helix which sounds potentially interesting. But I’m not paying up front again. Once was enough.

Inheritance. Now I know that I already knew it. Whoo hoo!

OTHER PEOPLE’S DOGS

Other people’s dogs love their people more than anything else in the world. They will do anything for a hug, a pat, or a cuddle.

Other people’s dogs come when called. Sit when told. Some of them do other things … like walk at heel. Even do tricks.

Our dogs are without a shred of respect for us. Before they do something nice for us, they want to know what’s in it for them. Are they going to get one of the “good” treats? Or better yet, a piece of chicken? Or maybe a fried shrimp? Any human food, in a pinch.

We do not have obedient dogs. I mentioned this to Ellin. She looked at me and said: “We are not the kind of people who have obedient dogs.” I’m pretty sure that’s because we find their disobedience so damned funny, they know they can get away with murder — as long as they make us laugh. Meanwhile, we tell them what to do and they ignore us.

So, what about being willing to do anything for to make us happy? Surely you are kidding? They won’t get off the sofa unless someone is heading for the kitchen … or Duke thinks there’s chance someone will throw the ball for him … or there’s a funny noise out there that requires immediate barking.

Love us no matter what? I’m pretty sure if we run out of biscuits, the dogs will go looking for a better home.

And yet, we continue to bribe them anyway. We let them disrespect us daily. We give them their medication. We buy the best food we can find. We worry about them. If they don’t seem quite up to par, I wonder if I should rush my little furry one to the vet. They can fake me out by simply refusing to eat a meal.

Bonnie didn’t eat dinner? She must be dying. Well, maybe not Bonnie. She has been known to not eat on the theory that something better will show up in the dish if she turns her nose up at dinner numero uno. The other two though? Gibbs is the most serious eater I’ve ever seen. Nothing can dislodge him from dinner. Duke is distractable, but he doesn’t leave much. Even when distracted.  As I write this, I can see them sitting on the sofa, laughing at me.

What’s wrong with them?

More to the point, what’s wrong with us?

MY INVISIBLE AUNT – BY ELLIN CURLEY

When I was young, I thought that both my parents were only children. When I was eight or nine, I learned that my father actually had a sister and that she was alive and well. She was eight years older than my father so she was in her mid 70’s at the time. Her name was Bertha, she lived in either Wisconsin or Michigan and she had one son and several grandchildren. I knew none of them. I’ve never even seen a photo of any of them.

I confronted my father, asking him why I didn’t know my aunt and my cousins. He told me she had seen me once, when I was two years old. But that was it. He just couldn’t face her.

Why? Apparently my father was consumed with guilt about his sister. She had not had a great life and he felt he was somehow to blame. Their mother died of Tuberculosis when Dad was three and Bertha was eleven. For several years, Bertha had to take care of Dad until their father came home from work. I don’t know if that meant she had to stop going to school.

The youngest photo I have of my dad. I think he was about 21.

When their father remarried, their step-mother doted on my father but was cold to his sister. Bertha didn’t get to go to college but my father did. He got an education, a career and a successful life. Bertha got trapped in a loveless marriage with someone who could barely make a living.

I don’t see how most of this was Dad’s fault. But his success in life made him feel nothing but guilt towards his sister. My father never abandoned Bertha. They talked on the phone once a year. He always sent her money so she never wanted for anything. He also paid to send her son through college. He just wouldn’t see her.

No matter how much I begged and my mother cajoled, I never got to even meet my aunt when I was old enough to remember her. I think my mother once met with her son when he came to New York City. I know she had his contact information in her address book.

My dad as an older man. His sister would have been in her eighties at this point.

I never understood my father’s aversion to seeing his sister. If I felt guilty about a sibling, I’d go out of my way to be super nice to her and her family. I’d include them as cherished people in my family’s life. I certainly wouldn’t punish them by banning them from it. Instead, my father isolated Bertha from her only family. I think he made her life worse, but I think he was too self-absorbed to see that — or to care.

I felt cheated. I understood I could never have been close with my aunt and her family because of geography. I also understood sibling relationships are often tense, even hostile. My grandmother and her brother would spend years at a time not talking to each other. But some contact with Bertha and her family, some small connection would have meant a lot to me.

Unfortunately, my father’s ‘issues’ deprived me of what little close family I had.

PICTURES INCLUDING A “Q” – SQUIRRELS AND ANTIQUES

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter Q – Simply needs to have the letter Q


What would I do without squirrels and antiques? In this case, I would be lost! The moment I realized I had pictures of squirrels — in my case, stuffed dog toy squirrels — and a lot of antique whatevers, I knew I was “home free,” so to speak. Welcome to my Q world!

An antique airplane
Gibbs with squirrel – soon to be a non-squirrel
Bonnie protecting the squirrel from other marauders — but she is the worst of them!
Friend’s don’t let friends bat ninth! Garry wearing Evil Squirrel’s best Tee Shirt!

And finally, antiques, from an airplane to a cookie jar and an iron doorstop. Old, older, oldest!