Well, one of Ms Ché's cousins and her husband are coming to visit from Nevada tomorrow, and we're preparing to show them the sights. Some of them, anyway. They've been all around the world, but have never been to New Mexico, and they want a fix of "vibrant art." This is the place, right?
It's gonna be a whirlwind, as it's only two-three days, and we're planning adventures to Taos to see the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and take in the exhibit on her at the Harwood, then to the Fechin house where the Taos Art Museum is located, then out to the Pueblo. Next day, Santa Fe. The Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, several galleries (we couldn't possibly do more than a few of them) and then out to eat at Harry's Roadhouse (a must-stop-in for all out of town visitors though if it is as crowded as it can get, we'll happily go out to La Plancha in El Dorado.)
Then finally the next day, if we can swing it, out to our place, and the Route 66 tour into Albuquerque and possibly beyond. We live near what I believe is the longest stretch of the Old Route 66 still in use -- at least it's the longest stretch of it in New Mexico -- and while it isn't particularly touristy, it's actually a nice drive, and when the weather is good, the Mother Road is always a treat.
I'm wondering how much of this I can actually do, however. One of the problems associated with RA -- rheumatoid arthritis -- is fatigue. Fatigue is also a factor in recovery from pneumonia. I've tried to do some work outdoors, catching up a little bit on spring-time chores I wasn't able to do before, and I've found I become fatigued in only a few minutes. Twenty minutes is about the longest I can go at a stretch. Each of these days of adventure next week are going to be long... We'll see how much of it I can do...
Ms. Ché and I did the Ancestry.com DNA test. Until fairly recently, it was considered a borderline fraud, in part because DNA tests are not yet able to state with certainty the specific ancestry of testees. The results obtained give general possibilities at best. Because Ancestry really didn't clarify how non-specific the results were, they got a lot of complaints from people who did the test and got results that appeared to have nothing at all to do with their actual (documented) ancestry.
I got my results back. We're still waiting for Ms Ché's.
Mine were interesting, and I think they are fairly accurate, though they require interpretation to understand.
The surprise was that I show no German ancestry, nor do my cousins who have also taken the test.
It's taken me a while to fathom that because my paternal (their maternal) grandmother's parents emigrated from (what would become) Germany in the 1850s. There's no doubt about it. We know where they came from, we have documentary evidence, yadda yadda, but there is no German ancestry identifiable in our DNA. How can that be?
Well. Could be they weren't ethnic Germans. That's the easiest explanation. It's one that fits some of the stories I've heard that suggest they were descendants of Jewish conversos. Of course, wouldn't you know, my DNA shows no "European Jewish" ancestry, either.
It does show what I take to be an overabundance of British ancestry (67%). That's much higher than I figure it should be because I only inherited British ancestry from my mother (who was essentially of British ancestry all the way down, though her people had come to America starting soon after the Mayflower -- and there are hints that she had at least one ancestor on the Mayflower itself.)
My father, on the other hand, was half Irish and half German. Well, that's what he thought. So I should be a quarter Irish, a quarter German, and half British.
The test showed my DNA was 25% Irish, no German, 67% British, 7% Eastern European, and less than one percent each Scandinavian and Iberian.
Oh. What happened to the German?
It turns out Ancestry DNA doesn't even have a German category. The closest thing it has is "Central European," and if you dig around enough in their articles about the test, they state that the test cannot distinguish between British, German, and Scandinavian ancestry with any certainty. A test report may come back, as mine did, with an overabundance of British DNA, but no Central European ancestry. The "missing German" ancestry may well be folded in with the extra-British DNA. In fact, that's probably where it is.
My cousins, on the other hand, show an excess of Scandinavian ancestry in their DNA, and once again, that may be where the "missing German" is.
The 7% Eastern European ancestry indicated in my DNA is likely from my German great grandparents, and it may be a hint of their Jewish ancestry, but I don't know. As there are no specifically Jewish markers, I'll have to let that rumor rest for a while. There are records in Germany, so maybe one day I'll probe them more deeply and find out, but for now I'll let that ride.
The tiny bit of Scandinavian ancestry indicated in my DNA is probably from my Irish-German father. His Irish ancestors claimed to be "Irish" -- ie: Celts -- but that's likely a crock, as practically everyone in Ireland has some Scandinavian ancestry from the Viking and Norman invasions. Particularly so for red-heads like me whose red-head is a variation on blond, as opposed to the red-heads who may be Celt whose red-headedness is a variation on black hair.
The tiny bit of "Iberian" -- which could be Spanish, Portuguese, French or Italian -- ancestry I attribute to my mother's father. His last name (Olive) is possibly French, possibly Scottish. Could be both given the way the French and the Scots were intertwined at one time (ie: during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots and before).
My mother's father's mother was from Colonial New England stock -- going back as far as I could trace in America and then in England as far back as I wanted to go. My mother's father's father's line stubbed out in Virginia with my mother's father's grandfather who was born c. 1798. That's all I could find out. There was no record before that.
My suspicion is that the original Olive immigrants came from Scotland or Northern Ireland at about that time, settled in Western Virginia, then moved to Kentucky, then, finally to Indiana as the Indians were expelled and the West opened to settlement.
My mother's mother's people were British from the dawn of time.
I had thought my mother was at least partially Irish -- she seemed to think so herself, but she didn't really know, because she didn't know much of anything about her biological father. Then years ago, I saw a film version of D. H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers," and I was stunned that one of the very British characters was the spitting image of my mother, both visually and more importantly behaviorally. Wait I thought, was my mother actually British?
Indeed, that's what I found -- at least on her mother's side as well as on her father's mother's side, and probably significantly on her father's father's side too.
Huh. Who'd a thunk? What still intrigues me is that I recognized my mother's character in a movie of a novel by British author D. H. Lawrence, based in part on his own experience and family. Well, how about that?
Oh yes, COPD. Part of the treatment I'm undergoing is for COPD, which I never really thought I had, but apparently I do, thanks to repeated bouts of pneumonia and scarring from emphysema which is a result of smoking. I stopped smoking twenty years ago, and I thought I was doing pretty good at healing my lungs from the Devil Tobacco, but apparently several things have conspired to set me back. One of them is rheumatoid arthritis. Turns out that lung inflammation (like joint inflammation) is a consequence of RA, and lung inflammation can and does make RA patients susceptible to pneumonia.
My doctor told me that the prednisone I take for RA symptoms is an immunosuppressant which may be exacerbating my tendency to get pneumonia, but others say that prednisone actually suppresses the inflammation which makes it less likely that I will get pneumonia. So. Who knows?
We'll see what the rheumatologist has to say about that...
UPDATE: Ms Ché just got her DNA results back, and it is astonishing, practically a book in the making. No time to go into details, but the upshot is that her DNA spans the globe. Literally,