Monday, 28 August 2017

Knole and Numbers

One of the books I read while we were in France was Inheritance, by Robert Sackville-West. It could easily have been called Disinherited, as many of his stories included those less fortunate than himself. He doesn't own Knole, but he is entitled to live there, which is probably a much better deal in these modern times.

I ran across his description of the great stairwell that made reference to Maarten de Vos (or Maerton deVos) and scribbled it down, so pleased to have found it.

I have already mentioned that Knole is thought to be, or at least to have been, a Calendar House; they are apparently fairly rare. 

One of the other things I remembered was reading (or was it hearing?) some guide leaflet/recording about all the decorations of the Grand Staircase. One of the main things was a nude statue underneath the stairs of a ballerina who had been a long term lover of one of the Sackville-Wests. Her story is well-covered in the book, but I think the statue was buried in the basement for quite a while after the wife came along.

The decoration of the actual stairwell includes carvings and paintings concerning the four seasons (easy enough); the five senses are easy, too, even if I had to think about it and count on my fingers. (If you don't have a 'gratitude list' for your 'down' days, I recommend you write one and put each of those senses on it.)

I Googled the heck out of Maarten de Vos and didn't find much, but it does look as though this 16th Century Flemish painter had a large influence on subsequent artists. According to deVos there are Four Stages in the life of Man: Amor (Love), Labor (Work), Honor (Achievement?) and Dolor (Pain). Gosh, I'm really looking forward to getting old after winkling out the definition of 'Dolor'. He did paintings of each of these, but the ones at Knole are by a later painter.

Also according to the stairwell (and a few other sources) there are Seven Virtues. I had the impression at the time these were carvings on the banister or newel posts, but I never figured it out, there is so much going on in a relatively small space. 

In looking all these things up, I ran into some odd words. 

According to painter Brueghel (Pieter the Elder), the Seven Deadly Sins are:

Pride, Avarice, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath and Acedia

The last word apparently means apathy or sloth.

When looking for the 7 Virtues, I found reference to 

Wisdom, Justice, Charity, Faith, Hope, Fortitude and Temperance

but also to 'Liberality' and Sapientia (which translates as Prudence)

Wikipedia / The Bible has : Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, Humility

I would guess 'Liberality' goes in line with 'Kindness', perhaps Fortitude with Patience and/or Diligence. However, I note that the arts don't give much attention to 'Chastity', or 'Humility' for that matter. 

The visitors' information provided at Knole pointed out that the artwork on the Great Stairs did not include the virtue of 'Temperance', a funny little thing which is probably why I remembered all this to begin with.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

What's So Great about Gedmatch?

1. It lets you see where you match people on each chromosome. This helps a LOT in that you can choose to only look at the matches that you share a specific space on a particular chromosome, meaning you narrow the trees you look at to only your Dad's side (Grandfather, Great-grandmother, if you know that much detail) and you don't get muddled up trying to find the common ancestor from two different sides of your family.

2. It lets people who tested at companies other than Ancestry upload their DNA, so you get to look at matches who tested elsewhere. Ancestry is still the biggest database, but I've found really close cousins at Family Tree DNA. Gedmatch may well one day out grow Ancestry in numbers of matches because of this ability to upload, free of charge.

3. It gives you a direct email address to contact people. There have been concerns about the efficiency of the Ancestry message system, particularly for people who don't have a paid subscription to Ancestry. Mind, I've only had 3 emails in the past year, so it's not like you'll be flooded with inquiries.

4. It is FREE. You can upload, see your matches, look at who matches both of you, look at exactly on your chromosomes where you match another person or how they match another. And many other things as well.

5. It's open, by which I mean you can look at anyone else's kit number to see who and how they match someone else. That means you can help someone else figure out something. It means you can work on someone else's matches without special permission (as if you're not going to have enough on your hands with your own matches). If you have someone else's kit number, you can access all the data they have put on line without special permission or paying any subscription fees. 

6. If you upload your family tree (called a Gedcom file), there is a facility that will compare your tree with another tree, searching for the common ancestor without your having to scan it name by name. That's pretty cool. It also lets you search all the other family trees uploaded for a specific ancestor and then check to see if you share DNA with any of the people who have that person in their tree.

7. Personally, I made a special family tree that I named 'Shelley's Lineage' to put onto Gedmatch. Gedmatch doesn't protect the privacy of living people who may be on your tree, like Ancestry does. I'm happy to put myself out there, but when it comes to attaching a tree to other people on Gedmatch whose DNA I administer, all their children and spouses, etc. who are on my Ancestry tree, that's a different story. I will be creating special trees with just their lineage to attach to their DNA. Where there are living parents, I can select to put 'Private Male' or 'Private Female'. 

8. You can buy more options for only USD $10 for a month's access. This can be done as a one-off, or you can set up monthly payments. I tend to do a one-off every 4-5 months when I feel I've exhausted the data I have. I haven't fully explored every option of what they call 'Tier 1', but the 'triangulation' feature is very useful. It creates a (very long) list of places on your chromosomes where two other people match with you. I don't understand all the ins and outs of genetic genealogy but apparently a single paired match isn't necessarily a 'true' match, but a triangulated one is. But don't rely on my explanation - there are any number of other bloggers who are expert genetic genealogists. I don't always understand what they are saying, but each time I read it a bit more sinks in.

9. In addition to Gedmatch, there is now Wiki-Tree, another FREE facility that shares the pedigrees of any number of people. They ask users to 'sign' an 'honor code' referring to good research habits. I've not signed up yet, will need to study up on what their criteria are for these good habits (I'm sure mine are ridiculously sloppy in comparison). Even if you aren't a member you can look at their data. One of the neatest things I found was that you can look at all the descendants of a given person (well, all the descendants that have been uploaded). I've used this to weigh up a hunch about how I'm related to some of my matches. 

Clearly I have loads more to learn about using genetic data for building my family tree. Let's just say I'm happily addicted to this whole process and look forward to understanding it better!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

How to Copy Your DNA from Ancestry to Gedmatch

This is for my cousins who are putting a copy of their Ancestry DNA test results onto Gedmatch and running into trouble. Hopefully this will help a little.

When you first sign into your Ancestry account, your first screen  may look something like this: 

Or, perhaps it will look more like this, if you aren't involved with 'member connect' which tells you what others are doing.

Either way, the part you are interested in is the black bar at the top, where it says DNA. Click on that. Then select 'Your DNA Results Summary'.

If there is more than one DNA results associated with this username, you may need to 'View Another Test', otherwise, click on 'Settings'. 

Next, click on 'Download Raw DNA Data'.  This only makes a copy of your DNA, it does not remove it from Ancestry.

It will then ask for your password, the one you use to log into your Ancestry account.

Ancestry will send an email to the email you've given them for this account, to verify that you actually want to do this.

Click on the green button for 'Confirm Data Download'.

And, again, click on the green button 'Download DNA Raw Data'.  In case you are curious, like me, I looked at my raw data. It's just a very long string of numbers and letters as I recall. It makes no sense at all without a programme to interpret it.

When you push that button, it will create a folder, usually in the 'Downloads' directory. You'll see the seconds counting down until it is complete. Make sure you know where to find this folder on your computer. If you're not sure, click on that 'Show All' button in the opposite right corner from the folder name. It will show you the whole file name and you can click on 'Show in Folder' to help you locate it on your computer. It's all pretty simple and straight forward, but I know if you aren't used to using computers, this can seem as scary as venturing into outer space. I felt that way at first, anyhow.

OK, so you have DOWNloaded a copy of your DNA to your computer. Now I will show you how to UPload that copy (actually, a copy of that copy) to Gedmatch. (I'm writing a separate post titled "What's So Great About Gedmatch?" and will link here when it's finished.

On with the task at hand. I'm assuming you've already registered an account at Gedmatch ( They'll want an email address and a password. If you've not done this already, go do it now. We'll wait for you...

I've been on Gedmatch for over a year now and have 6-8 people's DNA listed under my email address and have only received something like 3 inquiries. I've never had an email from the company itself; they aren't selling adverts. They do sell the more advanced functions of their website for USD$10 a month. You can do a one-off or regular payments. I do one-offs every 4-5 months. I say all this to support the idea that you can use your 'real life' email with reasonable assurance. That said, some folks do seem to set up a different 'genealogy' email address for this. I think it would complicate my life to do that, but it's your choice.

So, now you are registered and have your Ancestry DNA on your computer, you can log in to Gedmatch. 

You want the 'Generic Upload FAST' selection. It is a LOT faster than it used to be, like about 10 times faster. 

At the top is a set of detailed instructions about uploading different types of files, so this is sort of a duplicate. 

I have shrunk the print size on my screen to get all of these details on the same page; your real life copy on Gedmatch will be much more legible! 

This upload screen will ask you to complete some blanks. You can be anonymous on here if you wish, using an alias for the name of the DNA donor. I used initials for all my kits, but you do need to put your real name down where it says; it never shows up. I'm guessing it's something about a declaration of 'ownership' and there is another question about this later. 

The next step is at the bottom of the screen where you (a) choose the file from your computer; and then (b) Upload to Gedmatch. 

You need to give it time to click through each chromosome and something called a '36 (or is it 37?) Build'. No idea what that's about, but wait for it to finish. They will show you the progress so you'll have an idea of how long it takes. When I first did this it took 5-10 minutes. The last time I did it, we were done in about one minute. This site keeps on getting better and better!

When it is finished it will then give you your Kit Number which will have a letter and six numbers. As you've uploaded Ancestry DNA results, your Kit Number will begin with an Axxxxxx. Write that down. (Note if you misplace it, just log on to Gedmatch and look down the right hand side for 'User Lookup'. Put in your email address and they will tell you your kit number. 

There is a facility on the menu called 'One to Many' which shows you a list of all the people you match. It takes a couple of days after you upload for all these matches to be identified and linked to your new account. You can, however, do an immediate 'One-to-One' comparison if you know someone else's kit number. 

If you like, email me and I can give you mine! I'd love to know your kit number, too, but if we are a close relative, you will show up on my list eventually, with a bright green kit number. That green fades over a month's time to white. This tells all your matches they have a new match to look at! 

Finally, if you are putting your DNA on to Gedmatch because I specifically asked you too, THANK YOU SO MUCH! (Hope I wasn't too much of a pest!).

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Anchovy Sauce

So, this is sort of about France, but not really. The photo is a front door in Bourdeaux (Drome) France (not Bordeaux the big city in Western France). 

I always let myself buy a few magazines to while away the driving hours. I've also discovered the joys of bullet journals, though I am in no way as dedicated as some. As a compulsive note-taker this has been quite satisfying.

So, I read and took notes on (English) magazines while we were in France. I also made a notebook, but that's another post.

Wanting to eat more oily fish, which are healthy, and having survived a venture into (ick) anchovy eating via a recipe on The Frugal Scholar, I bought more anchovies, but didn't remember to bring the recipe (and didn't think to look it up). I happened across one in a magazine and scribbled it down.

Bill asked what on earth we were going to do with the anchovies and I brought forth this recipe:

Anchovy Sauce for 6

75 ml olive oil, 3 cloves garlic (minced), 150 g anchovies (drained), 1/2 tsp chilli flakes

Heat olive oil on low heat (it burns easily), add anchovies which "melt" in the heat; add minced garlic and chilli flakes. Serve over pasta.

Simple enough. Bill was cooking so he used the olive oil the anchovies came in. And he halved the ingredients more or less for just us two.

We did something (else) odd: we took our bathroom scales with us on holiday in France. We've both been losing weight slowly and I really didn't want to find it all again while we were away. Weighing faithfully each morning kept us conscious of our choices.

The weather being really warm, we had protein and a big salad most nights. The night(s) we had anchovies over 'pasta', there was a handful of bow-shaped pasta in there, but it was mostly strips of courgette (aka zucchini). 

When I was a teenager working in pizza places I really hated handling those anchovies and I never ate one until recent years. They are very 'fishy', but having met and loved smoked salmon, I don't really mind 'fishy' and in addition, anchovies are oily and very salty. Oil and salt are two of my favourite food groups, so while I wouldn't have anchovy sauce every night, it is a reasonable dish on 'fish' night.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Mom's Birthday

Today would have been Mom's 99th birthday. I can't believe how old that sounds - about me, I mean, to have a 99 year old mother. It's crazy - until I remember she was 38 when I was born; what a relief!

I don't have a lot to say about her that I haven't already said. I'm thinking of her all the time in some background sort of way, particularly when sewing or cooking.

I remember as a teen setting out to become the opposite of her, mainly in that she stayed at home most of the time and was content. Now I'm very much like that.

On this blog it looks like we travel constantly, but most of the time we are at home. Bill goes out walking most weeks and to the running club. I spend a few hours at a craft, sewing or knitting group most weeks, and meet up with a friend occasionally for a day out. There are the trips to get food or prescriptions but otherwise we are at home. When younger I felt staying at home was 'boring' but I'm almost never bored anymore. 

If I'm not doing one of my many hobbies, I'm trying to learn something new. That makes me very much like Mom. I'm pleased to be able to say that.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Last Day We 'Cheated'

Our last day in Basel had its ups and downs. We saw Jane and Chris off on a train to Zurich where they would catch their flight home to Sydney.  By the way, have you ever heard of the Gnomes of Zurich? I never had, but apparently it is a common catch-phrase that came up when we were discussing the whole Basilisk thing and Harry Potter associations.  Bill and Jane seemed quite familar with this phrase I'd never heard and they also related it to the Gremlins of Gringott's.  

It seems this is a British phrase arising after WWII when British politicians worried about speculation against the value of the pound. If you understand 'speculation etc' you're ahead of me. Anyhow, we waved good-bye to Jane and Chris, which was a bit of a bummer. 

Then we had quite a bit of time to kill before heading to the airport in Basel ourselves. The weather was not very nice. In fact about lunch time it began to pour and although we'd left our luggage in a locker at the train station, I hadn't been able to bring myself to leave my laptop in there. It didn't quite fit into my backpack entirely and I wasn't keen on letting it get wet, so I said I would buy lunch. 

We started out a little picky about where to go, but as the rain increased I just ducked into a brasserie near the Marktplatz. It turned out to be a decent choice, particularly as I had some Swiss Francs to get rid of. They took care of that.

It was hard to choose, but I ended up getting 'white asparagus soup' and 'meatloaf with veg'. Bill had some kind of exotic salad followed by sausages and wonderful looking hashed brown potatoes (only the Swiss call it something different). The soup was absolute heaven, though I'm not sure white asparagus tastes any different to green. I'm sure it was the huge amount of cream in it that made it so good. I was well full after putting most of that away and the meatloaf and (tinned?) veg were a let down after that. Bill's sausage was a far better choice but I wouldn't trade even that for my soup.  

I ate as slowly as I could, not wanting to go back out into the rain. When neither of us could swallow another bite we had to give in and leave. We still had most of the afternoon to fill. Bill led me to the Tinguely museum. Entry was 10CHF and to be warm and dry I thought it was worth it. But it turned out to be an astonishing place, even having seen the fountain.

In the main room there was a contraption, sorry, art piece, about 10-12 feet high with multiple stair cases, mostly metal, some leading upwards to a platform where one could go down some of the other stairs, but not all led anywhere at all. Underneath the frame was a collection of odds an ends that filled the space. 

Three months later (before finding photos to insert) I still remember a red velvet curtain, a doll that was past her best, a tacky gold framed painting of Venice inside a rusty guillotine and a large plastic garden gnome hanging upside down with his pointy head in a blue bucket (with lots of small coins thrown in, presumably by museum visitors for good luck). We walked around the thing several times, open mouthed, then climbed what stairs we could. 

There was a cord attached to a large bubble on the floor that looked like some sort of switch. Bill mimed that he was going to step on it, but there was a child half way up one of the ladders and I stopped him. Someone else stomped on that bubble a few minutes later. 

The red curtain opened and closed in front of the fancy doll. The guillotine opened and closed, obscuring and revealing the painting of Venice.

The upside down gnome spun around. He seemed strangely suited to do that with his pointy head as though trying to screw himself into the ground.

A person couldn't at least smile seeing all the useless activity going on with these pieces of junk.

For a long time, I thought this was the whole museum and did feel a tiny bit ripped off. We took our time perusing the gift shop section and there were some rather clever little gismos, but nothing we couldn't live without. Then one of the attendants said something that alerted Bill to the existence of another floor. 

That was a long string of large rooms each with 8-10 other 'art installations', films and newspaper clippings about Jean Tinguely. Most of the pieces had the bubble on the floor and there were about a dozen children (and more adults) who delighted in stepping on these switches. The thing was, it didn't always make the machines come to life like those street artists who stand immobile until someone puts a coin in their cup. There was an element of uncertainty, or perhaps of intermittent reward (like gambling). Everyone would hope to be present when the switch did work. 

Some machines drew scribbles with a pen on paper, others spun around, one shook a variety of appendages including an elderly and ragged pink velvet shoe. There were several like clock hands that moved continuously, but so slowly that one didn't immediately notice, and the 'hands' weren't affixed together nor did they move necessarily clockwise. There was one that seemed to have some sort of old rabbit fur or foxes tail affixed and when it moved it reminded me of one of my dogs riding a visitor's leg.  Except I could laugh about this instead of be horrified.

I watched part of the film about Tinguely and gathered that he and this woman (Niki de Saint Phalle), whom they didn't mention was his wife (or perhaps they did, but not in English) trawled garbage dumps and salvage yards in America and Europe looking for materials. One of the newspaper articles mentioned that he was a 'nihilist', which I don't quite understand except that it was sort of popular for a while. Several mentioned an exhibit in New York City that destroyed itself, which apparently rather kick-started the successful portion of his career. 

We both agreed it was totally worthwhile having gone to the museum, both from the incredible things we saw and from having the afternoon well filled in. I also promised myself that I would learn to do videos on my camera soon.

In the meantime, I found a couple on Youtube: Here  and Here.

We picked up our luggage and caught the bus out to the airport. Things were downhill after that, sitting for hours waiting for a delayed flight, arriving home to find our luggage had gone elsewhere.  I realised my glasses were packed (but I had 20-year-old ones that would do for a while), also my only house shoes and the charging cable of my lap top were unavailable for a couple of days.  Another couple with two very small children also endured that wait. Worse, theirs had started very early that morning. I was dismayed not to have my charging cable but things could have been worse. From the other woman's expression and her giggle, I would have bet money she'd packed her birth control pills in her checked / lost luggage...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Swimming in the Rhine

Well, I must confess that I am bored with Switerland, hence my absence here. Also, after being away in France for a month there has been much to do around the house, laundry, garden and social-life-wise.

There are still a couple of things to share about Basel that I wouldn't want to leave off. There are still a million photos I could show you, but it's tedious. Instead, I will give you this link. You can use Google maps to walk each of those routes and the leaflet will tell you about the men they were named for and the sights you are seeing.

One day we, the four of us, had completed yet another walk that somehow ended back at the riverside and we had a drink at a sidewalk cafe. A tidy young man, short of stature but with all sorts of bulging muscles approached us. He politely asked if we were going to be there for a while, maybe 10-15 minutes? He explained that he wished to go for a swim in the river, but needed someone to look after his things. We were about to leave, but said we could stay since we had no pressing reasons not to and he was so courteous and speaking very good English. 

Then it got a bit strange. He thanked us and then apologised that he needed to change into his swimming costume, which would require him to strip off. He said he would be quick and mentioned that it was actually legal for people to be naked within 500 meters of the Rhine. I've been unable to confirm that statement but apparently nudity in Basel generally isn't illegal. I'd check that before ripping off your clothes, mind. 

We were generally speechless by then and he was quick about it. He did his quick change behind me, so I missed it all. I was of course moderately curious but felt it was beneath my dignity to turn around and gawp. Chris burst out laughing and the young man was so quick about it he was well down the road by the time I had my camera out. I thought Jane's face said it all.

I went closer to the riverside to see where the young man was going to launch himself. We'd previously seen a couple of teenage boys drifting down the river on some sort of floats. The tide was, as I mentioned about the boats on strings, quite swift, and the idea of going for a swim seemed a bit mental. Well, perhaps in keeping with his behaviour so far. We were all worried about how we would get out once in. 

We needn't have worried. He might have done maybe 400 meters in the water (drifting more than swimming, I would say) before attaching himself to one of the boat piers and hauling himself out. The boat driver seemed acquainted with this practice and perhaps with the young man specifically. 

We were all laughing a lot. In part because of the spectacle we'd just witnessed - well most of us - but also because for some reason Chris had decided to get back down on hands and knees to test the temperature of the water. This wasn't unusual for Chris except that he'd been having trouble with his back, I forget what he did to injure it, and none of us - including Chris - were at all sure he would be able to stand back up. I couldn't decide which of these characters was more ridiculous.

Jantz and Chris both survived just fine. And we all agreed that it had been a very interesting day.