Are your DNA results correct?

Before beginning a series of posts about San Diego, I wanted to share a recent revelation about my original DNA test results from Ancestry.  Many of us are surprised at how diverse our ancestors were but I already knew, from census records, how varied my ethnicity was.  My results just didn’t make sense although I am aware the DNA is still a mystery with varying estimates even from siblings.

These are my original results which I featured in a previous post Our Ancestors.

A shameless excuse to show off my new winter boots courtesy of DSW and my torn jeans…

Africa (north) 2%
Middle East 2%
Europe east 1%
Europe west 3%
British Isles 19%
Iberian Peninsula 5%
Italy/Greece 2%
Asia east 1%
Native American 4%
Ireland 60%
Scandinavian 1%

Since then, I have excitedly tried to find out more about my ancestors but could never understand why I had so little Spanish given my maiden name was de Ortega and I can trace my ancestors from California via Mexico back to Spain.  They were conquistadors.  Spaniards rarely have 100 % Iberian DNA which includes Portugal.  So many invaders and immigrants from Italy, Greece and North Africa left their mark.

My British cousins have created family trees on a European website, MyHeritage  and I read that I could download my original DNA results from Ancestry and upload them to MyHeritage.  There is no cost but you do have to subscribe to MyHeritage.  A few days later, I had yet another exciting reveal and the results are below –

Irish/Scottish/Welsh 53.9 %
Scandinavian 9.1%
Iberian 26.8 %
Greek 1.2%
Italian 0.9%
Balkan 1.1 %
Baltic 1 %
Central American 4.4%
North American 0.8 %
Chinese/Vietnamese 0.8%

Now we are talking – 25 % Iberian – yay! Even more exciting, they can now differentiate between North and Central Native American. I am mostly Mestizo native described below courtesy of MyHeritage. The largest population of Central America, spanning from Mexico to Colombia and Venezuela, is of Mestizo descent – a mixture of Spanish, Native American, and African ancestry. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, interestingly, have a greater Caucasian population, representing European migration. In contrast, indigenous Central Americans are Mayans, the descendants of the advanced Mayan civilization of pre-Colombian times. Ancient Central American civilizations produced many important innovations, including pyramid construction, complex mathematical and astronomical observations, early forms of medical surgery, accurate calendar systems, and complex agricultural methods. In contemporary society, many people with Central American ethnicity have settled among the nations in South America, reaching as far south as Uruguay and Argentina.

This now makes more sense because although I can trace my North American native ancestor, Mourning Dawn, it is many generations back. When I was tracing back my family in Mexico, I found an ancestor with the name of Xoptoval Ortega born in 1626 in Celaya, Mexico – a Maya name I suspect? Mestizo is sometimes used as an insult in Latino Spanish, meaning mongrel, but I could not be more proud of my 57 varieties. Now I know I am genuinely of Mexican descent. On a funny side-note I recently got a call from one of my first cousins on my father’s side. We have only spoken once but he fascinates me because he looks most like my Dad and even sounds like him. As we were chatting, he mentioned that he had asked one of our great aunts from the Ortega side if we were Mexican. She had a fit and insisted we were 100% Spanish… I mentioned my recent DNA results to my cousin and he hung up on me!!! He really did and I doubt he will ever speak to me again. Mexicans are feisty…

So what other mysteries were revealed.  I am Viking!  Teddy would love me to look exactly like Lagertha in the Vikings series.  Sadly for him, I just look like the Viking Irish – fair, blue eyes and a distinctive short nose.  Did you know that Scandinavians still call outlanders, “long noses”?  Much of Ireland was invaded by Vikings who settled for generations, trading Irish slaves to the Scandinavian countries.  Yeah, there were plenty of nasty human traffickers before America.  I have only inherited Celtic DNA (Irish/Scottish/Wales) but I know I have English ancestors.  God is good –  I am just kidding, English friends! The little bit of Baltic makes sense being so close to Scandinavia but the Balkan DNA is curious – the Balkans stretch from Turkey to Greece incorporating the former Yugoslavia.

My vintage Calvin Klein coat is back in fashion but no matter what I do, I still look as Irish as a potato!

 

So, why are my DNA results so different?  Time has passed and DNA analysis has evolved with more information on the databases.  I believe that my previous Western European DNA should really have been Iberian and that some of my Irish DNA should have been Scandinavian because my family came from a Viking area in Ireland.  That said, I might be wrong and who knows which results are correct?  The only way to test it would be to use a third company to take a DNA test and I might yet do that.  If you are curious it is very easy to do what I did.  Just subscribe to Ancestry and MyHeritage, download your raw DNA from settings onto your computer and then upload it to whichever company is the opposite.  You might get a nice surprise like me.  Maya maiden, Celtic warrior, Conquistadora and Viking – Kerry is kicking ass!

PS In case you wonder about the location, my hairdresser took the photos this morning.

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Viking Finger, DNA and a ‘meh’ compliment

Now, this is my kind of Viking! Grrrrr…

I hope the title of this post intrigues you to read to the end.  The story is all over the place but linked by DNA.  Teddy, my husband, and I have always been competitive about our various ailments/oddities.  That is why we are soul-mates…  Recently, Ted had been complaining about a little growth on his pinkie finger.  Long story short, the Italian American surgeon operated and came out to tell me what the prognosis was after the surgery.  Unexpectedly, he told me it was a benign tumor and he had never seen anything like it.  It seemed to be wrapped around the tendon.  Then he told me that he had his DNA test and discovered (to his obvious Braveheart excitement) that he had a significant percentage of Scottish DNA.  This was a red letter day for him – an unusual surgery on his Scottish compatriot.  I had to gently let him know that the Scottish wife was really an Irish Hispanic mix.  Hilariously, to me, he could not have looked more Italian but perhaps in his heart he was wearing blue Woad and tartan.

The growth went to pathology and a week later Teddy met with the Italian/Scots surgeon who excitedly told him that it was Dupruyen’s Contracture, a thickening of tendons in the hand that most commonly occurs in men around age 60 from Northern Europe.  In Teddy’s case the thickening was on the upside of the finger when it is usually the other way around.  When he came home we Googled it to find out that it is sometimes called Viking Finger.  Can you imagine the fun I had with vulgar comments about my Viking’s Finger and where he could put it??  I have to admit that this month he has beat my giant cyst, Pumpkin, and the atrophied hoo-ha.

This led on to thinking what our DNA tests have done to us.  Despite being 60% Irish, I cling defensively to my Conquistador heritage with a dash of Native American.  I am deeply unhappy that Teddy has 4% more Iberian DNA than me.  He is unhappy that he has no Native American ancestry despite having no American relatives.  On many an occasion, a flirtatious Hispanic man has been so disappointed that my maiden name was Ortega. “But you look Scandinavian or Irish!” Our family was convinced that we were secretly Jewish but my DNA indicates otherwise…

So, I am at the airport this weekend and yet another Arabic man flirts with me (or is the other way around)?  I would have guessed that he was a little older than me.  First, he tells me I am beautiful.  That elicited a smile and thank you.  Then he asked me what age I was.  I was surprised at the query but answered honestly that I will be 57 in a month.  He looked me over and said, “I would have taken you for 51, maybe 52.” WTF!!!!  Surely he could have told a little white lie and suggested 45?  I will take any compliment but that was a bit ‘meh’.  Then he asked me where I was from and I told him the usual spiel. You could see the disappointment on his face when I told him I had North African and Middle Eastern ancestry. “But you look Scandinavian”.  I sighed and agreed that I had 1% Scandinavian ancestry.  Now he was happy that he had flirted with one of ABBA’s kin.

I am beginning to come to terms that I am as Irish as a Mullingar heifer no matter how varied my DNA is. I sound Celtic, I look Irish and in America that is way more fascinating than all that Conquistador stuff.  Isn’t it funny how life changes?  At one time being Irish in America was as welcome as a Mexican immigrant.  Well, I have both Irish and Mexican immigrant ancestors so to all the haters out there; I am raising one Viking Finger!

An Irish Lady, an Egyptian Man and me

Me, in Mexico, last week


I am sure I am not alone in loving the discount corner of my local supermarket – actually Teddy loves it even more than me. We call it Compost Corner after the first discount area that we found in a furniture store. About 30 years ago, I said “we are going out to buy a dining table for £10”. Teddy was incredulous but we came back with a beautiful ‘teak’ table that £10. We loved it and my mum claimed it when we moved on to another table.

I digress… Today, I was lurking around my supermarket’s discount area and starting chatting to a lady with a northern accent who looked completely Jewish. We discussed our various finds, from $1 Italian wine and myriad other exotica. She and her husband called it the WooHoo section. We were joined by a man who looked Middle-Eastern. He joined in the conversation and we agreed with him that it provokes you to try something new when it is discounted. He was handsome and the ‘Jewish’ lady heard his accent (swooned a little) while asking him where he was from.

Then it turned into a competition. I knew he was Arabic so I guessed Lebanese and greeted him in North African Arabic. No to Lebanon but my next guess was right – Egyptian. I should have known; he was in the discount area although he was probably a doctor and both charming and chatty. Then the Jewish lady revealed that she was Irish American. She absolutely did not look Irish. So, then they had to guess where I was born (San Francisco, Hispanic/Irish hybrid). Nobody got that right.

So, we had a Hispanic (me) who looks Irish and sounds Scottish; an Egyptian man with an ‘olive chin’ that hints at his ancestry and a ‘Jewish’ lady who was really Irish. We all started laughing about how typical this was in both our area and the Houston area. The Egyptian man commented that this was makes America great – (if only everyone agreed with him). I told him about the barista who longs to speak Arabic so I imagine he will visit there next. As I left, I bumped into the barista and told him about speaking Arabic to an Egyptian man – his face lit up at the idea of a potential new friendship.

The Silver Tongued Irishman and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Irish vistaI really need to finish my Tampa blogs but I thought I would amuse you with this tale. The Irishman in question, let’s call him Patrick, worked for my husband about 15 or more years ago. We met for the first time at a company function. Teddy was sitting at one side of me and introduced me to Patrick, who was quite the flirt. We exchanged funny stories about Ireland and I think he was quite enchanted by an Irish/Hispanic lady. I choked on my vodka and coke when he said, seductively and in Teddy’s earshot, “I shouldn’t sit so close to you because I am so fertile”. I fell off my seat laughing at his daring and because he didn’t know that I couldn’t have children because of infertility. Teddy looked a little shocked but started laughing too.

My favorite Patrick story (apart from the one above) is about the town he came from in County Galway. To set the scene, it had become a tourist and artist haven because it’s natural beauty. Many artists, from all around Europe and America, had moved there. Despite the fact that Ireland is a Catholic country, various missionaries had been trying to wedge a niche in the congregation. I doubt that many of them were successful as even the Catholic Church is treated with both reverence and skepticism in Ireland. But still they tried…

On this occasion, Jehovah’s Witnesses had gone to one little cottage in the town. An older woman opened the door to two smart young men. Their opening gambit was, “Do you know Jesus?” To their astonishment, the lady said (remember this is an Irish accent), “Surely, yes. If you just go to the top of the hill his cottage is on the right”. Unbeknown to the shocked missionaries, a Spanish artist had moved into the town and was called, wait for it, JESUS! The local population had no idea that it is pronounced ‘Hayzuus’ in Espanol. Ah, I love that story. 😇

As most of you know, Teddy is a rather accomplished geologist. This means that he has to believe in evolution … even here in Texas. We have fossils and minerals all over the bloody house and if you let him, he will tell which eon they come from, blah, blah, blah. We lived for years in a very remote agricultural area in the North East of Scotland. Almost everyone was some type of Protestant, some of them weird sects. They even have dry fishing boats from the major ports to accommodate some of the restrictive religions. One cold night, the door bell rung and there were two Jehovah’s Witnesses. We were astonished to see them so far out – they may as well have been in darkest Africa. Teddy invited them in and started teaching them about evolution which directly opposed the teachings of their church. By the time he had the fossils out, you could see that the younger man was becoming convinced of Darwinism. The older one took control and they left rather hastily. As soon as they did we howled with laughter and still wait patiently in Texas for some poor soul to come by the house of Satan. 😈 ☘

The TV scolded me…

Retro TV

Bloody TV!

As many of my lovely followers know, I have a Scottish accent, although I was born in California and am AMERICAN! I work at an airport and am driven to distraction by all the comments about my accent. One Chinese gentleman, with a very thick accent, asked me to speak English….I kept smiling but inside I had jumped over the counter and done a ‘Jackie Chan’ move on him. Mostly, it is all to my advantage, with many, many propositions (some of them are from young, handsome men – the rest I won’t speak about). Unbelievably, I am understood better in Spanish where at least they pronounce their vowels properly. I have to make stupid YMCA signage to show an A or an E, smiling all the time…

Most people think I am Irish (almost right), Swedish (Ya, I can accept that), Australian (really?) or occasionally English (do you want a slap?). Starbucks is a nightmare, unless it is at my place of work, and then everyone knows I like a Vente Skinny Latte (I also have a name badge). At strange Starbucks my coffee can be labeled Kirsty, Katie, Carrie, Kumbaya – anything but Kerry and I still SPELL IT OUT. For some unknown reason Teddy, my husband, decided that we need the new voice recognition remote for our Xfinity system. It can’t understand a bloody thing I say.

The final, hilarious straw came yesterday when we were looking for new series that we had missed On Demand. We had enjoyed watching the last series of The Ship, so I pick up the remote and say “The Ship”. Up comes, “The S***” – Big Brother can’t have misunderstood cuss words on the TV! I started laughing and tried again – same answer. Finally, on the third attempt, the TV said, “Sorry, I don’t handle demands with that type of language. Try again”. WTF!! I was swearing like a sailor while uncontrollably laughing. The only way it would understand me was if I imitated a thick East Texan accent.

This is a link to a hilarious sketch by two Scottish comedians who are in a voice recognition elevator or lift. (Click on the red) You might not understand all of the words but I think you will get the gist and feel a little of my pain. All the Scots I know in Texas just have to say the word “Eleven” and we all fall about laughing. On our recent break to Tampa the fancy elevators, in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, had a Scottish accent. Every time it said “Going Down” I felt I was being propositioned by a Scottish call girl. I hope there were no cameras in the elevator because Teddy and I were being very rude about it. Not that it matters, they wouldn’t understand us anyway!

This is a link to my very well enunciated accent. Kerry chatting.

Our Irish Family Secret

nana This is a photograph of my maternal grandmother aka Nana. One of my earliest connections on WordPress was with a fantastic photographer, Ed Mooney, from the old country (Kildare, Ireland). I was astonished that he liked anything on my blog when his was a work of art, particularly the black and white photographs. Recently, I noticed that he had his first guest blogger and asked him if we would consider a blog from me. To my delight he said yes and uploaded it this morning. I am overwhelmed by the response and am truly grateful to Ed for this opportunity. Below is an excerpt from Our Irish Family Secret and a link to Ed’s marvelous website.
I was Nana’s own personal Inquisitor and it must have driven her crazy. She gave limited details of her past not just to me but to her children. We knew that she had been brought up in a middle-class home in Bootle, just south of Liverpool. Both her parents died young and she took over the care of the youngest children until they married. She joined a convent as a novice nun, she was both religious and beyond marriageable age, but before she could commit to God she met and married my very handsome grandfather, Daniel McHugh. To an imaginative child this was my version of the Sound of Music. He had worked as a policeman in Liverpool but once married they both went back to farm some family land in County Sligo, near Mullaghmore. Sligo is in the north west of Ireland underneath Donegal. In quick succession, they had five children and then my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer.
I hope this tantalizes you enough to find out what the secret is and enjoy Ed’s blog. Click here to read the whole story https://edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/guest-blog-our-irish-family-secret-by-kerry-duncan/