Succulents: low water use, easy care, my new passion?

Spring flowers abound around my home but more than ever I am delighting in the succulents I planted and propagated last fall. I had one large aeonium in the back that was overgrown with crab grass. So I took it completely out and planted about 30 of its florets as a border around my front circle wildflower garden. They were not this big last fall!


There is something about those giant green florets that I adore. So I decided to learn more about succulents and treated myself to two of our local legend Debra Lee Baldwin‘s books, the kindle versions, for my birthday. First her original book, Designing with Succulents and then her latest book, Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties. I am delighted with how readable they are in my Ipad kindle app. I can expand the great color photos to look at details and then click on the done button when finished. The pictures are really lovely and the garden designs are amazingly colorful.

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Leave it cleaner than when you came

Monahans State ParkI love to take walks in state parks with my dog when we camp in our RV. I particularly like to look at what’s growing where. But too often I see bits of plastic bags and other trash among the flowers.

So I pick it up. When walking with my dog I use the long handled scoop that I use for her poop, a perfect tool for this job. I also carry a few of those lightweight plastic/corn starch shopping bags from the grocery in my pocket. One to keep on my hand so I don’t have to touch the stuff and one to put the trash (or poop) into.

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Figuring out a DNA relative’s shared DNA with 23andme’s “Countries of Ancestry”

Maybe you have had great luck with people responding to your shares on 23andme but most of us have at best 30% of our share requests accepted (of 1800 DNA relatives my Dad has 338 shares and 40 introduction accepted so just under a 20% acceptance rate). This is especially frustrating when someone is clearly a close relative and does not respond. Of course some of the reason for the lack of response is that the default setting on 23andme is to not send emails when there are messages in the inbox. Fortunately the occasional email from 23andme about new relatives or news does get some of them to log in and see the invites. I always get several acceptances from old shares after one of those broadcast emails.

Yes I can hear those of you who have tested at familytree DNA laughing and say well we can see the shared DNA. But you also may never hear back from some of the most promising leads who do not have much of a tree posted and more importantly you cannot compare people you match with each other which we can do with our shares. There are pluses and minuses to each testing company.

Below are a few of my closest non accepting DNA relatives. S M is public and accepted contact but not sharing. G S is public and responded to a message asking if he was related to my S family from Etne with a no, but has not shared. I made an error on the 3rd introduction to one relative and now can no longer contact them, at least from this account.

Some close DNA Relatives

So for those of us using 23andme I will use these matches as a case study on how to find the DNA segments where they match my Dad using “Countries of Ancestry.” This only works if your relative has entered the countries of origin for their parents and grandparents.

First a little known trick, you can download a CSV of all your DNA relatives by clicking the Download button on the top right of the page when on the DNA relatives page.

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Genealogy books, family histories, and more useful books online, digitized

When I was working on a cousin’s colonial ancestry, googling an ancestor’s name* would often find a book digitized and online at google, for example, a local history of Stamford, CT. Recently I saw a post about the genealogically related books digitized by familysearch which said “There are many thousands of historical and genealogical books available to read online. They are indexed so I was able to find old towns where ancestors lived, genealogies of families …”

In short order I found a book at about Norwegians in Brooklyn that listed my granddad and both sets of my great grandparents who lived there. The details of that are posted here on my family history site.

MunsonInstituteAfter I excitedly announced this on one of my favorite mailing lists, others chimed in with more online book resources. So with permission, I am including June Byrne’s list of these and tips on using them.

*n.b. when googling a name, put it in quotes to get an exact match, e.g. “Lawrence J. Munson”

The rest of this post is adapted from a write-up by June C. Byrne.

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Getting all the in common with (ICW) matches at 23andme

The DNAgedcom website has a wonderful feature whereby you can download the overlapping segment data for one of your matches with all your other matches at 23andme. Since it will include you in the CSV file, you can quickly see if you and your share both match another person at the same spot (called triangulation by genetic genealogists).

Here is a sample of that type of match from the resulting sorted spreadsheet for an adopted close DNA relative I am working with (names of non-family removed for privacy):

Comparison Chr Start point End point Genetic distance # SNPs
Adoptee CR vs 1st cousin GP
5 113000000 124000000 11.8 2217
Adoptee CR vs me
5 114000000 121000000 7.2 1401
Adoptee CR vs Dad 5 114000000 124000000 11.2 2038
Adoptee CR vs my brother 5 114000000 124000000 11.7 2112
Adoptee CR vs SS 5 115000000 123000000 8.9 1602
Adoptee CR vs EJ 5 116000000 123000000 6.8 1391
Adoptee CR vs AH 5 116000000 123000000 7.8 1482
Adoptee CR vs AC 5 117000000 124000000 7.4 1421

The four other matches are a bit small but the one with SS is mildly promising; so to be absolutely sure it is a triangulation I have to compare SS back to my family members. Here is how that looks in the 23andme chromosome browser (which can do three at a time with any of your shares):

And we see that the overlap with me is just a little bit too small to show up, less than the 23andme threshold, but my Dad and brother are a triangulation.

So read on to find out how to use this download feature at

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