23andMe Haiku

Jan on her triathalon day

So the gene results
are in. Your ancestors did
rape and pillage mine.


NOTES:  At my house, we recently took advantage of the Amazon Prime sale to buy a couple of genetic testing kits.

When the results came back, they pretty much confirmed what we thought we knew about our ethnic backgrounds. My wife is pretty much pure Scandinavian Viking.  Which makes sense, because she can trace her line back a couple of generations to when the Norwegians came to this country.  (There was that scandalous mixed marriage between a Norwegian and a Swede, a couple of steps back. But that was just a slight detour.)

She manifests the Viking traditions of loving the ocean, and attacking physical challenges like a berserker.  (The photo above is from her foray into triathlon competition a few years ago.)

I’m pretty much mostly British, with a little German and French thrown in.  (Think Hobbit.)  Which is pretty normal due to the various influxes of Normans and Anglo-Saxons to the British Isles.

Because we knew my wife was descended from Vikings, we had long joked about her ancestors invading my ancestors’ homeland.  And sure enough, there is a tiny percentage in my genetic report that shows up “Scandinavian.”

As I’ve told her all along.  “Your ancestors raped and pillaged mine.”

As our friend Tom, who was born in Norway, says, “Of course, the Vikings made many romantic adventures to England.”

Romantic to him, maybe.

 

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Suburban Summer Sonnet

Suburban summer

Our Paradise

Wafting comes the mower’s comforting hum,
Assuring all is just as it should be.
Our gates and fences all are rightly plumb,
We celebrate our capability.

New curbs and gutters sluice away wild rain,
Alarms and locks protect our doors from breach,
Our lives arranged to minimize our pain,
Designed to keep us safely out of reach.

But wreaking roots upheave the sidewalk path,
And worms devour our precious woolen thread,
The black and red mold creep into our bath,
Insomnia disturbs our peace in bed.
Despite our engineering and our math,
Our paradise is something less instead.


NOTES:  Summertime has finally come to the Pacific Northwest.  It seems fitting to haul out this sonnet from last year.

Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate material comforts and modern conveniences.  Probably even more than most of my friends and colleagues.

I was born in the middle of the last century, and started out life on a farm that was primitive, even for that time.

How primitive?  Well, we milked our own cow, raised our own chickens for eggs, butchered our own hogs, and raised our own vegetables in the garden.

For special occasions and Sunday dinners, Mother would grab one of the slower chickens, chop off her head, and fry her up.

When we sold our farm to the Amish, they took one look at the house, and commenced on an immediate upgrading and remodeling project.

As for me, I was delighted in my new home in a Missouri farm town of 12 thousand souls.  For the first time in my life I had my own room, central heat, and indoor plumbing.

I could take a bath in something that wasn’t a galvanized wash tub in the middle of the kitchen floor.  In freshly drawn water that hadn’t been previously used by other members of the family.

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  I didn’t even notice that we didn’t have air conditioning, even when the Missouri summer visited its triple digit heat and humidity  upon us.

So, I am thankful for many things.  I am so  thankful I can enjoy sardines from Norway and wine from France.

I am grateful for antibiotics, and the miracles of modern medicine.  I missed the polio epidemic, but just barely.  Had I been just a couple of years older, I could have suffered withered limbs or worse, like the older brothers and sisters of some of my friends who were not so fortunate.

All of my ancestors as far back as I can research were dirt farmers.  I am grateful for a professional job in a meaningful enterprise.  (Inside work.  No heavy lifting.)

Many years ago, when I moved out to Seattle, we settled in the suburbs because — even then — the city was too expensive.  We made a serendipitous choice, because our little suburb has become a highly desirable place for Microsoft employees coming here to live from all over the world.

Heck, in one of those specious magazine “Top 15” lists, our little suburb was once ranked the “Most Friendly Town in America.”

Crime is low.  Violent crime is virtually non-existent.  The weather is temperate.  People take care of their property.  Unemployment is not really an issue.  You can walk or jog without fear.

Yet, sometimes it is good to remember that even heaven on earth is not really heaven.