Gypsy's Travels

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Demise of Halloween

“Trick or Treat! Trick or Treat!”

We knocked on doors and exclaimed loudly as we made the rounds of the neighbors’ houses. My mother insisted we dress in “Halloween” costumes; no fairy princesses or knights in shining armor left our house. One year she made me a witch’s costume and I was so pleased with her ideas that I later copied them for my children. She sewed a simple black loose fitting dress, made a black witch’s hat from poster board, and added hair of Spanish moss gathered from outdoors. She blackened a couple of my teeth with crayon, made my face as ghoulish as possible with make-up from her dresser and I carried a thick, knobby stick from some unfortunate tree. Mother had other creative ideas for costumes, but the witch with moss hair was my favorite. Of course, after the first time, we learned to put the moss in a hot oven for a short time to kill the resident critters.

When we shouted “Trick or treat!” we really meant it. Fortunately, everyone gave us treats so we did not often have to think of tricks. Store bought candy was coming into fashion, but we preferred the home made goodies that most people handed out – cookies, popcorn balls, caramel apples, and very infrequently, coins.
“Stick your hand in and take as many as you can hold in one dip,” invited the occupants of one home holding out a bowl of pennies. Small hands can’t hold much, but the dream of a fortune was there.

I only recall one grouchy soul who refused to give us treats. On top of his refusal, he announced that we had better watch out.
“I am a policeman!” he announced in a loud, intimidating voice.
Policeman or not, we didn’t feel he should be allowed to get away with his refusal. After all we were supposed to” trick” if he didn’t “treat.” It took us a while to decide the offender’s fate. We didn’t want to be destructive and get into trouble and we certainly didn’t want to go running down the street with a policeman chasing us. After much discussion, I was chosen to sneak quietly over to the water spigot on the side of his house. I turned it on just enough to have a steady stream of water, but not hard enough to draw his attention. There were no known repercussions to our prank. We just hoped he had a flooded yard the next day.

Halloween was not celebrated in the countries where we lived as my own children were growing up. In Peru, All Saints Day was celebrated more as a night of revelry before a day of religious fervor on the first day of November. In Australia, Halloween was not mentioned, but they celebrated Guy Fawkes Day around the same time. By the time we moved back to the U.S., Halloween seemed to be facing its demise. Homeowners turned on their porch lights if they wanted to hand out treats and the “trick” part of the phrase was all but forgotten. My children had a sample of running door-to-door collecting treats until the Pixy Stix incident.

In Pasadena, Texas, the year after we arrived in Houston, Ronald Clark O’Bryan gave several children Pixy Stix laced with cyanide. Two of them were his own children whom O’Bryan planned to kill for the insurance money. Other children were given the laced candy to throw investigators off the track. His son died and O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection 10 years later. Halloween was never the same after that. Most children stopped going door-to-door and the ones who continued the tradition were advised to only eat commercially produced, and wrapped, treats. Hospital Emergency rooms offered to X-ray the bags of loot. For several years, needles, pins, razor blades, and other dangerous items were found in the treats by X-ray. Concerned parents banned trick or treating, turned their porch lights off and started hosting neighborhood parties.

We lived in a sparsely populated area with about 15 homes, only half of those with children, so the neighborhood planned progressive parties. Our children moved as a group from house to house with a different activity and treat bags at each house. A pinata, active games, and bobbing for apples, kept the children busy until they arrived at our house. We had a bonfire and a bubbling “cauldron” with refreshments to top off the evening.

Halloween has lost its fervor, it seems. Some children are allowed to beg for treats, but the idea of tricks seems to have disappeared. Halloween as we knew it, a fun holiday with good memories for children, has given up the ghost.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Proper Words and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

I worked in an inner city hospital of a large city, a designated Level one trauma center. We never knew what would come through the doors. I thrived on the chaos, trauma, people, all the out-of-the-ordinary happenings and cases. It was energizing. I was an adrenaline junkie. All the time I worked there, I kept a journal. I reread it occasionally as a reminder that outside my carefully controlled life, there is another world. Perhaps, one day, I will allow glimpses into that world through my writing.

While I was having a peanut butter sandwich for lunch (I need to go to the store :) and thinking about what to write today, I remembered my 9 year old GD-Em's experience at school. She is being taught to write , and say, what she means. I would not have thought that would be a challenge for her because she has always been very literal. For instance, when she was two years old, she always insisted on being right next to me in the kitchen while I was cooking. One day I almost tripped over her.
"There are too many little girls under my feet!" I announced with some frustration.
She immediately stopped what she was doing and began looking under my feet.

Thus I expected her to be able to explain things rather well. Indeed, it only took her a couple of tries to get it right. For a school assignment, she chose to write instructions for making a peanut butter sandwich. The teacher made the sandwich using her instructions.
"Put some peanut butter on the bread," Em wrote.
The teacher took a small dab of peanut butter and put it on the bread and gave it to her.
Em was more explicit on the next try.
"Put peanut butter all over the bread."
The teacher carefully spread the peanut butter all over one side of the bread, turned it over and spread peanut butter all over the other side of the bread.
What a wonderful way to teach children to think about what they what to say and to get their points across properly.
GD-Em finally did get a proper peanut butter sandwich and learned a lot in the process.

As writers, professional or not, we all struggle to use just the right words to get our points across. Whether we write books or letters, the words we use are important. It is too bad many people lazily rely on common trash words instead of searching for one that will convey the meaning they desire. If you are interested in expanding your vocabulary and saying exactly what you mean check out Wordsmith. You will be able to confound your adversaries and never be at a loss for words again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Linus Quilts

The "Peanuts" cartoon strip been a popular icon for many years. It appeals to the casual reader while imparting some philosophical ideas to anyone willing to search a little deeper. I am not sure that is what its creator, Charles Schulz, intended, but that is what has happened.

Along the way, we have grown to know and love the characters and, perhaps, even identify with one particular one. In 1995, Karen Loucks gave birth to "Project Linus" never stopping to dream of the potential impact of her acts. The name was based on the character of Linus from the "Peanuts" comic strip.

Linus Van Pelt inspired the term "security blanket" with his classic pose. He is the intellectual of the gang, and flabbergasts his friends with his philosophical revelations and solutions to problems. He suffers abuse from his big sister, Lucy, and the unwanted attentions of Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally. He is a paradox: despite his age, he can put life into perspective while sucking his thumb. He knows the true meaning of Christmas while continuing to believe in the Great Pumpkin.

Karen initiated widespread giving of handmade quilts, blankets, and afghans to children who seemed in need - hurt, abused, abandoned, sick, lonely - children trying to handle whatever life was throwing at them. It worked! The quilts gave comfort and security to children adrift in a world not of their choosing. They wrapped themselves in the love and concern given by strangers whom they would never meet. It was theirs. It was tangible. It helped. The tragedy at Columbine H.S. is a prime example of the power of love in the form of a quilt.

I am honored to have been on the construction end as well as the giving end of Linus Quilts. Our quilting group regularly makes and sends to a central spot, small quilts for small humans, and I have frequently given quilts to children in the Emergency Room (ER). Children who are brought in from car accidents, rushed to the ER in the middle of a cold night from their warm beds, and those just traumatized by adults who had no business having children in the first place.

An incident was related to me by a paramedic who transported a 6 year old girl from school to the ER.
"She asked to hold the flowered, stuffed bear that was hanging above the stretcher. So I gave it to her."
"What is her name?" she asked.
"Whatever you want to name her, " he told her.
"I want to call her Mrs. Flowers."
The child talked and played with the bear all the way to the ER. When they arrived at their destination, she handed the bear back to the EMT.
"Will you look after her and always call her Mrs. Flowers?" the girl asked.
The EMT handed the bear back to her and told her it was hers to keep.
"Really? You mean it is really mine to keep forever and ever? My very own bear?"

Yes, child, it is really yours. This was early in the history of the "Linus Project." What a shame we had no quilt then to wrap around you with love. Many people are striving to make sure no child is left out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece"

As a military family, we were always on the move, but we always made time to visit my Dad’s parents. On one visit, when I was talking to my Grandmother, she became very serious and asked me to please hurry and study medicine so I could find out what was happening in her head. When I tried to pursue the subject, she refused any further conversation about it. She obviously had some inkling there was a problem.

My Granddaddy invited us all for dinner one evening and Grandmother cooked. There was plenty for two, if you were not very hungry, but barely enough for 11 of us to have a taste-testing. I think that is when my dad knew there was a real problem. He took us aside, asked us to be patient, and promised to take us out for hamburgers after dinner, but seven hungry, young children didn’t understand what was happening. I am not sure anyone understood what was happening. If the military thought you needed a family or parents, they would have issued them. The Air Force moved us to California.

When Daddy retired and we were getting ready to move back to Texas from California, it was decided my sister would go early and stay with my grandparents to help out until the rest of the family arrived. I was to accompany her since I would be starting college classes about that time. Plane travel was not common then, so we took the bus and Granddaddy picked us up at the station. Grandmother greeted us when we arrived at the house, but she became increasingly upset when she saw the luggage. She did not recall the arrangements everyone had agreed to and demanded that my sister leave. I was confused, my sister and Grandfather were devastated. My sister had always been Grandmother’s favorite and we could not reconcile the anger. Fortunately, a cousin took my sister in until the rest of the family arrived.

Grandmother would leave to drive to the grocery store and disappear for hours. She didn’t recall where she had been. The police stopped her a couple of times for driving on the wrong side of the road. Granddaddy had to take her car keys away from her. She became paranoid and didn’t recognize us much of the time. Normally sweet, quiet, and retiring, Grandmother became more belligerent. The doctor diagnosed her problems as “hardening of the arteries” and told us to put her in a nursing home. It was believed arteries got clogged and cut off oxygen to the brain. We didn’t know about Alzheimer’s at that time.

You don’t die from Alzheimer’s. It just erodes your mind and taxes your loved ones. It is diagnosed by the exclusion of other possibilities. Susan Gourley (Fort Wayne, IN) has made a quilt for the nationwide quilt exhibit called "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece." It is one of 52 quilts in a traveling exhibit to interpret Alzheimer's in some way. The quilts’ journey began in August 2006 and will continue until July 2009 with all proceeds benefiting Alzheimer's research.

Susan’s quilt includes some poignant questions any mother would ask if
faced with the loss of the most precious memories of motherhood:
To my dear child,
What if I can not remember the soft touch of your hand?

What happens when I do not know your smile?

What if I do not know my face as I see it in the mirror?
What about when there are no memories for the day as the sun says its final goodbye?
What if I can not remember that I loved the warm smell of the top of your head?
What if I will never remember I held you in my arms as you slept?
What if I never again have the chance to remember who I was and who you were to me?
What if I can not remember that I loved you?

I wonder if my Grandmother was troubled by questions like these. I wonder if I will ask these questions one day.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I have written some wonderful things!

Unfortunately, those "writings" never made it to paper. The things I write in my mind seem to be so much better than the ones I put on paper, but the ones on paper last longer. So thank goodness for writing groups.

The regular group I write with fits like a comfortable old shoe. We have been together a long time and shared so much of our lives that we seem to have few secrets left. We all scurry to plan our schedules around our writing meetings and our facilitator struggles to find subjects we have not previously covered. Still, we look forward to these therapeutic meetings and always find more stories to write. Our focus is producing stories for our families and future generations.

I met with a new group yesterday and found a different perspective. "New" is difficult. It is a breaking-in period where we dance around our introductions to one another, define our goals, and become familiar with different writing styles. It is an interesting, well-traveled group with members who write extremely well. Several are published authors and, although not their main focus, have an interest in publishing in the future.

I am inspired and encouraged by both groups. I share the interests of both groups. It has been a week full of writing and I am replete. Today I will fulfill my need to work with my hands so I will go to a Linus Quilt workday. Do you know about Linus Quilts? I will explain later.......

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Morning Has Broken.....

Four of us went walking this morning. It is an unwritten rule that we walk as long as at least two of us show up, taking about 45 minutes to cover 2 1/2 miles. During that time, we solve world problems, catch up on families, exchange ideas and hints, give verbal book reviews, and just mutually support each other.

At the end of our walk, after everyone had scattered to their own homes, my neighbor and I were the last to arrive at our destinations. We were greeted by a neighborhood couple who was just getting everything packed into the car for a journey. Our new group of four, chatted about the weather, the roads to be travelled, offered any assistance with plants, mail, etc., and exchanged pertinent information about our activities.

The world is so alive early in the morning. The stars seem within reach in the dark morning sky, the planet Venus outshining them all. We have few street lights, a conscious decision made by our City Council to keep visual pollution to a minimum. City sounds are absorbed by the abundance of greenbelts, leaving only the call of birds awakening to the morning and the occasional chattering of a squirrel. The four of us depart for our various activities just as the glorious colors of sunrise appear on the Eastern horizon. It is just after 7 a.m. and the day lies ahead of us. Such is life in Sun City Texas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I spent most of the day yesterday writing. It was so much fun!

I started by teaching, actually it is more like facilitating, the 4th class in Beginning Memoir writing. Only two more to go this term. Every "student" in the class has such interesting stories to share and everyone listens attentively. We write about our experiences growing up and marvel at the changes we have seen.

The afternoon was spent with another group of writers, women who have been writing together for four years or better. One would think we would have said all we had to say, but there is still more. Again, we write of our life's experiences and spark each other's memories to produce more. We laugh, talk, share, write, then go out to our various homes to face our days with renewed energy.It is rather like lifting a layer of dust and allowing the shine to come through.

I hope you are writing your stories/ memoirs / journal for future generations. I guess a blog could be considered a form of memoir writing, so you have a good beginning if you are blogging. Remember, you are living in "the good 'ole days" and your children and grandchildren will want to know about these days.

Happy writing!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"You Can't Do That, Dan Moody"

I have just returned from a play produced by our local small-town theater group from The Palace Theater. The name of the play is "You Can't Do That, Dan Moody." It was turned into a theater production from a young adult book by the same name. I have seen the play before but it still has an enormous impact.

A play in two acts by Ken Anderson and Tom Swift. Directed by Tom Swift . In September 1923, Williamson County tried and convicted the Ku Klux Klan for the first time ever in the United States. This year, in the courthouse the Palace Theater once again presents the play based on this historic trial, performed in the newly renovated, historically accurate court room in which the trial was held 84 years ago. Join us for a presentation of the true story of Williamson County's courageous stand for justice.

Dan Gattis, our State Representative, played the part of the young Dan Moody. Not only is he young and handsome, he turned in an excellent performance. This is the 5th year the play has been offered since its inception in 1998. This year all people who had previously had roles, were invited back to participate in sharing the roles. at different performances. The show is sold out in spite of the fact The Palace is also offering another play, "Cats", in the historic theater.

The Moody drama is being performed in the courthouse, as usual. What is unusual is that the courthouse has been restored to a historically accurate rendition of the original. The juror chairs had been stashed in a County warehouse. The railing in the balcony was reproduced from a section of the original retrieved from Salado, TX, where it had been stored for 50 years in someone's barn. The benches / pews in the courtroom are original. The wooden railing that separates the court proceedings from the citizens, is original. The court room itself has been restored to its original configuration, which meant an entire section of the floor that served as a ceiling had to be removed and the balcony reconfigured.

We were privileged tonight to have both the author of the book and co-author of the play, Ken Anderson, and co-author and director of the play, Tom Swift, speak to us. It was a chance remark that led to the writing of the book and another chance encounter that led to the play. We are fortunate.

The town has suffered through the loss of use of its courthouse for over a year while major restoration was undertaken. Everyone has complained about the eyesore in the middle of the town square where the building was surrounded by a high board fence for the entire time. It has been worth it.The icing on the cake is that Williamson County, Texas, is still known to be tough on crime and its perpetrators!

It's in the Mail!

My DNA is in the mail!

It was an easy thing to do. Open the package, fill in the paperwork - name, address, etc, sign and get a witness to sign - Then open the vial of mouth wash and swish for 45 seconds. Spit the mouthwash, slowly, back into the cup, put the lid on tightly and place the cup in the plastic bag. All the instructions are there, everything you need is included, and there is no cost. Even children ages 7 and up can participate.
The hardest things to do:

  • Open the box - open carefully because you re-use it to send the information back to them. It is already stamped and addressed. It weighs only 3 ounces so it doesn't have to go to the postal desk.
  • Find a witness - most won't have a problem with this. I had to go out in the yard and get my neighbor, who was working in the garden, to witness my signature.
  • Fill in the genealogical chart - not really that hard if you know your name, your parent's names, your grandparent's names, and gr-grandparent's names - 4 generations. If you don't have your gr-grandparent's info, get your child to swish and document through your grandparents or contact the genealogist in your family.
  • Hold the mouthwash in mouth for 45 seconds. It reminded me of the Listerene commercial.
  • Fill everything out before swishing. It must be in the mail within 24 hours after the sample collection.
  • Wait a year or more to find out about any possible connections.

You can order several of these kits if you need them. What a great family reunion project or to use at your genealogy meeting!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Looking for Skeletons in My Closet

The body of Notre Dame football legend George Gipp is exhumed for DNA testing.DNA helps identify remains of nine participants of 1944 WWII bombing run

New molecules discovered that block cancer cells from modifying cell DNA

DNA testing is in all the news these days, or maybe I am just more aware of it. I am still reading "The Seven Daughters of Eve." It takes a while when my reading is relegated to a short time at night before falling asleep. On the other hand, maybe that gives it time to soak in. Anyway, I am learning a lot! Not to mention satisfying my curiosity about previously much debated subjects -

  • Was Anastasia really a survivng daughter of the Czar Romanov?
  • Was Thor Heyerdahl's theory correct?

I am sure there are even more interesting tidbits to come.

Meanwhile, I received my mitochondrial DNA testing kit from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation today. It was free and even has return postage on the box. Get yours and join in the quest to discover branches of your family tree.

"You are invited to participate in a research study designed to create a large database of combined genetic and genealogical information. The primary purpose of the database will be to link molecular genetic information to written pedigrees......

All information and samples will be encoded in such a way as to remove your personal identification, however a link will remain available to the researchers."

I have been hitting my head against a brick wall for a long time. When I tried to get family information from my GM, she advised me to be careful of the skeletons I might find in the closet. I told her they were my skeletons and I really wanted to see them. I wonder if my elusive ancestors will be revealed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Parallel Parking

My family has always given me grief over my attempts to parallel park. I think I do pretty well about 7 times out of 10, and would do better if I had more practice. I have to admit that most of the time I look for head-in parking places, but I can do the parallel thing.

Now, it appears that we are all off the hook. Nissan has designed a new car that is soooo easy to parallel park!

The Pivo 2 three-seater electric car has wheels that can turn 90 degrees
for easy parallel parking.

I wonder what all the backseat drivers will do now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Orchid at Quail Gardens
Photo by Uncle Dan

Check out more pictures here.

Posted by Picasa

Revealing Secrets

The Glen Rose, Texas, area has long been known for its dinosaur footprints. Now we are watching history in the making as Canyon Lake Gorge is denuded and its secrets revealed. After the big flood of 2002, Texas watched as the waters receded revealing limestone walls, waterfalls, and fossils. There is evidence a 3-toed dinosaur strolled the banks of the gorge on limestone that is 111 million years old. Guided tours are now opening to the public, but there is already a 6-month waiting list.

It is well known that Central Texas is hot and dry. What a surprise to have so much water at one time that the earth reveals its secrets to us. The canyon will be fragile for a while. Hopefully, people will respect its newborn status and step lightly.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Reach for a Star

"A Shiny Christmas Star: An Old West Christmas Trilogy " is the title of my friend, Steven Douglas Glover's, first published book. The flavor of the old West, a hint of romance, and a touch of O. Henry, combine for interesting reading that just makes you want to curl up in front of the fire and read. This delightful little book makes a great stocking stuffer, a hostess gift, or send it instead of a get-well card. But first, sit down and read it yourself, you'll be happy you did. It is available from and Barnes &

Read the Publisher's review of the three stories in this book:

"A Shiny Christmas Star" - U.S. Marshal Cole Stockton and his best friend Laura Sumner both have fitful dreams about blankets of snow and starving "little" people. When they lead a quest to find the origin of the nightmare, four people come together in this heartwarming story about the true meaning of Christmas.

"Star of Peace" - Cole has a dilemma: he can't find a suitable Christmas gift for Laura. In the meantime, a traveling medicine show advertises "the fastest and most accurate gunman in the world" - and Cole is glad to show him up. Laura has a hard time keeping track of her baked holiday goodies, and Cole discovers the peace of Christmas.

"The Greatest Gift" - Just days before Christmas, Cole is en route to Laura's ranch. Laura has visions of frozen wastelands and senses that Cole is in extreme danger. When Cole is attacked by a large cougar, both man and beast fall into an icy river, hurtling toward the falls. Cole is hurt, lost, and alone in the frozen wilds of Colorado with seemingly no means of survival...

Author Steven Douglas Glover delivers three classic stories about the faith, peace, and love that are Christmas.


This was taken from a Round Rock Christian Church newsletter.


Martha in the kitchen, serving with her hands;

Occupied for Jesus, with her pots and pans.

Loving Him, yet fevered, burdened to the brim.

Careful, troubled Martha, occupied for Him.

Mary on the footstool, eyes upon her Lord;

Occupied with Jesus, drinking in His word.

This the one thing needful, all else strangely dim:

Loving, resting Mary, occupied with Him.

So may we, like Mary, choose the better part:

Resting in His presence--hands and feet and heart;

Drinking in His wisdom, strengthened with His grace;

Waiting for the summons, eyes upon His face.

When it comes, we're ready--spirit, will, and nerve;

Mary's heart to worship, Martha's hands to serve;

This the rightful order, as our lamps we trim--

Occupied with Jesus, then occupied for Him!

--Lois Reynolds Carpenter

Saturday, October 6, 2007

An Apple a Day Keeps

I went shopping for apples in Watsonville, California. No, not today, I did it on my trip West when I was passing through the area. i bought 2 bags of mixed varieties for Uncle Dan and his clan and a 1/2 box of Pippins for my use. I guess a box is equal to a bushel which is what we always bought when we passed through and it was too much. This time I thought I was safe with 1/2 of the previous order. Gizdich Ranch has some of the freshest apples around and you can pick them yourself. I didn't have time, so I bought some picked that morning and packed in a box. They stayed pretty fresh considering I was still a little more than a week away from home, but you can count on that with Pippins.

My family snacked on the fresh, crisp Pippins until today. I had noticed that they were beginning to turn a lovely yellow from the standard green and a few were getting soft. It was time to cook all that were left. I made an awesome apple pie with crumb crust which was the preferred dessert this evening. GD#1's birthday cake was a second fiddle. The remainder of the apples went into the pan to make applesauce. I was grateful for SIL C's help to peel the mass of remaining apples. I am not sure if he were having fun or if he just felt sorry for me.

I have one of those apple peeler /slicer / corers but I had accidentally dropped it and one part was bent. C fixed it, then tried it out. He thought it was fun at first, but stayed the course and helped get all the apples peeled and sliced. Cooking them up was a cinch once he had done the hard part, but even that was made easy by the apple contraption. There was plenty of apple sauce to share with everyone.

I bought my apple contraption some time ago at the local grocery store for $10.00. I din't expect much for that price, so I was pleasantly surprised that it actually worked...peeled, cored, and sliced the apples. While in Watsonville, I priced one at the apple place and was told it was $29.95. Wow! Mine was a bargain and it works just fine!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tracking the Migration of the Seven Daughters of Eve

It has long been said that things happen in 3's.....good things? bad things? interesting things? Maybe we just don't notice the things until the 3rd one pops up. Perhaps that is the case here because, although it did not seem related at first, it could be construed that way.

The first thing was a DNA test. At conception, a baby recieves chromosomes from each parent. The sex of the child is determined by the "X" & "Y" chromosomes. Females receive two "X" chromosomes and a male receives one "X" and one "Y." This particular DNA test follows the male / "Y" chromosome. After years of hitting my head against a brick wall with no leads on the progenitors of the family name, I asked my DH to take a DNA test to see if it could suggest a connection I could then explore. It didn't. His ancestors must have been dropped here by aliens.

The second thing happened when I visited DH's brother in California. He encouraged me to read a book he had just finished called "The Seven Daughters of Eve" by Bryan Sykes.
This book examines the true study of DNA extracted from a man found frozen and undiscovered for centuries. Sykes and his colleagues study the mitochondrial DNA, in the "X" chromosome,which is inherited from the mother and mutates very, very slowly, over thousands of years. Eventually, Sykes and his colleagues trace the DNA to seven females who are the ancestors of all Europeans. He assigns names and historical stories to each female - Ursula, Velda, Tara, Xenia, Katrine, Helena, and Jasmine.
The search continues today as the scientists attempt to track the spread of the mitochondrial DNA in the modern world.

The third thing occurred during my 6 a.m. daily walk with my friends. They are a diverse and interesting group whom you will surely hear more about, in time. In the course of one of our conversations, Friend K mentioned that she was related to Tara I. Tara I is one of the so-called seven daughters of Eve. Thus, we came full circle when I asked how she knew.

I refer you to this site and urge you to have your DNA tested to help map the migration of the seven daughters of Eve. It took my friend over a year to find which daughter she was descended from and, of course, there are no names, only numbers. Be a part of history!

This is taken from the letter I received after I requested a DNA kit:

Thank you for your recent request to become part of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation global database. Your participation kit was sent 10/5/2007.

We appreciate your contribution to this important and historical study. You are helping us grow the world genetic family tree, one branch at a time! Genealogical and genetic data submitted to our study by you and others will provide valuable information to many people worldwide who are earnestly seeking their family roots, both today and in generations to come. You can help build the database at an expedited pace by collecting additional DNA samples and genealogies from family members,friends, and neighbors. We can ship the collection material directly to
your home, or you can go to our website at and request
additional kits in their behalf. Participation in the SMGF global database is free, confidential, and simple. As our database grows larger, it will become a greater asset to those searching for their ancestors using DNA. Your collection of samples will help the Sorenson
Database reach its potential.

If you would like additional material to be shipped to you, please reply to this email and let us know how many participation kits you would like to receive. A representative from our organization will be available to assist you with any questions you might have about collecting the extra samples and genealogies and how to ship them back to our offices at nocost to you.

Again, we are grateful for your participation and we look forward to receiving your participation kit.


2480 S. Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84115

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Circle of Bicycles


Everyone liked the guitars so much that I just had to share this one.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Posted by Picasa

See more pictures here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

At The Mercy Of A Landlord

DD#1 has been staying at my house for a month. It is not by her choice, but by necessity. The a/c in the house she has rented went out and, although the unit is still under warranty or maybe because it is under warranty, she had to wait for a part to be ordered and to be delivered. They finally called yesterday to tell her the part in question had arrived.
"Oh, did it just come in?" she asked.
"No, it came in last week, but the owner was out of town and we had to wait for his approval," they answered.

DD#1 and her boys moved here from Alaska just over a year ago so they are not very tolerant of Central Texas temperatures which have been hovering near the century mark. Thus, the visit with me where I maintain a household temperature that reminds them of their northernmost home.

Today is "fix the a/c day" and I have volunteered to be on hand to open the house so DD#1 doesn't have to take off another day of work. You know the drill, "Wait for us, we'll show up sometime between 9 and 5." DD #1 managed to negotiate little better time so I have only had to wait an hour.

The sad part of this is that as a renter, she apparently has no rights. She and her sons could not tolerate the 90+ degrees of the house and the owner / rental co. are not obligated to reimburse her for the month she could not spend there. They did, however, continue to charge rent. The owner / rental co. are not even out the cost of the a/c repair since it is under warranty. I wonder how highly principled the owner is. Each of has a price on our integrity, is his price one month's rent? Fortunately, our 3 generation living situation has been rather pleasant.

I was reflecting on my years growing up in Texas' heat and humidity. How did we survive? I think it was because we were not accustomed to a/c everywhere we went. The heat and humidity were debilitating, but we coped by opening all our windows to let the breeze blow through, running fans, closing shades to keep the sun out, and drinking plenty of water. As the sun set, the neighborhoods came alive with families gathering outside on the steps and porches of their houses, waiting for kitchens and bedrooms to cool before bedtime. The racuous sounds of children playing hide and seek in the twilight hours heralded the silence of nights, unbroken by the clatter of air conditioners. It was an interesting time but I wouldn't trade it for my climate controlled living environment now.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Are You Going to the County Fair?

Some interesting photos from the Santa Cruz, California, County Fair, being held in Watsonville, CA. September seems to be the month for County Fairs which were happening in several areas on my most recent trip West. They were all characterized by a wonderful small-town atmosphere. I attended this one in Watsonville on the first day. People began pouring in after work on Friday. Many were checking the awards and pulling out their cell phones to excitedly call friends and family and share the news. In my book, they are all winners for completing their tasks and entering the competition.
Posted by Picasa

Update on Troy Methvin

Troy Methvin's mother has posted an update in the "Comments" section of post on 9/24/07.
Please continue to pray for this family.