Monday, March 26, 2012

Back With New Books!

It feels like eons since I’ve talked to you, but it’s been a loooooooong week. I’m not completely well – I still have a cough that would send you scurrying across the street to avoid me, but I’m definitely back in the game. I woke Saturday morning feeling much better and thought I’d write a post until it occurred to me that when you spend an entire  week parked on the couch you don’t  have too many conversational gambits up your sleeve. So I spent all day Saturday in the garage instead working my way through a collection Eric bought while I lay in a Thera-Flu stupor. I did poke around a little bit the evening he bought it, but was too sick to really care. So it was great fun to have 37 boxes waiting to be scavenged.

What’s interesting about this collection is that the former owner was once a NOBS member and a bookseller who sold at the Akron fair where I will be in just two weeks. She’s in her 80’s now and is moving to an independent retirement place. She knows a lot of the people who are still around and are on the committee with me, so I’m not sure why she didn’t call one of them. Actually she didn’t even call us – her neighbors, who are long-time customers of our store, did. Eric said she knew all about the “race to the bottom” and the constant undercutting of prices by amateur sellers online, so her expectations were very realistic. In fact, she and Eric agreed right out of the chute on the amount  it would take to seal the deal.

Adding to the pleasure was the fact that everything had been shelved in her family room so no mustiness and no dust bunnies the size of Third World countries. What surprised me though was the condition which ranged from fine to fair even though she’d  purposely kept only these books because they were the best of her stock at the time she quit. The penciled prices inside mostly reflected a long-gone world, but in some instances the books had risen in value. Sadly though, I had to reject several very good ones due to egregious faults that I couldn’t imagine being acceptable even then. But Eric said they WERE acceptable. He knows this because the day after he bought the books an elderly picker who has stopped in the store at least twice a month for decades breezed in and announced that he’d heard we bought her books. Small world this Ohio book scene, huh?

Anyway, the picker said that with no internet to give you world-wide access to dealers you took what you could find because you might never see a copy again. According to him, if collectors wanted the book badly enough they’d pay sky-high prices for the privilege of claiming it, faults and all. I can’t even imagine this, but I know it’s true. Back then everything was rarer and today almost nothing is!

Even so, this buy was truly a Hail Mary save for us because it was evident before I got sick that we were going to be displaying a lot of books face-out due to an extreme lack of inventory. Needless to say, I am not listing any of these online until after the fair, as I doubt very much that another collection is going to form in a cloud and descend gently into our driveway between now and then.  As it stands, I’m taking the set of of Emerson's letters shown above (aren't they beautiful? I LOVE the inked top edges in a matching rose!) and maybe fifty individual titles to the fair from this new collection. I also sequestered another fifty titles for the mall in addition to twenty I took over there already. Speaking of the mall, this second half of the month is definitely lively, which is good because this month will be my worst EVER online due to the fact that I’m reluctant to upload right now. But it’s okay – I really don’t even care.
Here are some random pictures of fun finds from the 37 boxes. I have one book I love best, but I’m holding that one back for its own post, so check out these and you’ll get the gist of the collection. Clearly, the kid books rocked!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I am so sorry to be gone this long, but I am really sick with some sort of bug that went through the store and then was active in Michigan when Eric went to Kalamazoo. I can't write a post yet, but wanted to let you know why the silence. Bear with me and I'll be back -- soon I hope.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Five Fleeting Minutes of Fame

There  is so much to be done to get ready for the book fair I’ve tried to stay off the computer and concentrate on book selection and pricing. Eric is in Kalamazoo this weekend at a show, so I wanted  to be ready with my books when he returns with the wooden boxes we use for both transport and display, as I plan to start filling them next week. Though he and I do have an aesthetic difference of opinion about the dark green color he painted them, their design is ingenious. Each box is the same size so they neatly stack to build bookcases. But the best part is when the fair ends all we need to do is snap their sliding lids in place, load them on the truck, and we’re outta there!

Of course the Book Fair Effect continues to bedevil me. Just today a two volume set of The Journals of A. H. Maslow, the famous psychiatrist, sold on my secret site. When the buyer called to order them I was stunned to hear what he wanted, as I bought and listed them  them way back last November in Dayton and considered them safe. But the Book Fair Effect is an equal opportunity phenomenon. It doesn’t matter when you got them – it only cares about how much you value them. If you like them a lot, which I do these, the odds are probably fifty-fifty they won’t make it to the fair.

But there WAS one little ripple of excitement yesterday about the fair to report. My friend Judy Totts, who is an incredible writer, wrote an article about me as an exhibitor at this year’s fair which was published in the Medina Gazette yesterday replete with a little box with all the details about the fair – location, time, etc.  I took a picture of the whole thing , as you can see above, but I don’t suppose you can make it bigger to read it -- unless you know something I don’t, which is entirely possible.  I have been very disappointed in the response to the press releases I sent to local papers though. NOBS (Northern Ohio Bibliophilic  Society) which sponsors the fair, is a non-profit, but  the papers, even small ones,  still want the dealer being featured to purchase an ad in return for the coverage. I guess you can’t blame them in some regards, as newspapers are wobbling on a marble these days trying to maintain a foothold,  but the Medina Gazette required nothing of us for which we are grateful.

As for my fifteen minutes of fame, it was actually much shorter-lived than that, though I did get a phone call from a very sweet old lady who wanted to know if I wanted to buy her books. She started with what she considered her best – a 1950 Webster’s dictionary. But after we talked a bit she did have some better things (none great) which Eric could use at the store or we could take to the mall, so I told her I’d send him over to have a look as soon as he gets back. If her set of Journeys Though Book Land is in as good condition as she says it is, I could use it for the mall. And Eric could use her Gene Stratton Porter books, unless she has Moths of the Limberlost, in which case that baby’s mine!

Speaking of acquisition, last year at Kalamazoo Eric bought  me a huge box of books on guns and swords, almost all of which have departed my company. He swears he will try to do the same this year, but of course he can never be sure he’ll find anything good. I’m especially hopeful though, as we missed two book sales this week due to two employees out sick and the store understaffed. Neither sale is all that thrilling, but with our never-ending acquisition problem we need to be everywhere. One was the tiny sale where we got all the nautical books a couple weeks ago and the other the rural one we go to because we like the volunteers, there’s no scanning, and every once in a blue moon something amazing appears. I'll never forget the time I got the entire seven volume set of William Vollmann’s magnum opus on violence, Rising Up and  Rising Down, published by McSweeney’s. I was so stunned to see it in such an unlikely setting I almost froze in place. I remember wordlessly pointing at it and Eric saying, “What? You want this set?"

Do babies want milk? Do politicians want votes? Of course I want that set!

I just hope there wasn’t another one there last night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Moving Mrs. Ward

Ever since we began as booksellers in 1997 odd books have called out to me, so it’s little wonder I’m in possession of a sixteen volume set entitled The Writings of Mrs. Humphrey Ward. I bought them in 2010 at the Case Western Reserve University book sale on half price day for $40  because I vaguely remembered something about the author and because the set, published in 1909, was confined to less than 500 copies and she had signed the first book. Actually it wasn’t really anything about the author specifically that surfaced in my mind, it was more her name. I’d run across it somewhere and at the time thought to myself, “WHAAAT? She didn’t even have a first name of her own, so she had to borrow one?” Little wonder when it turned up at Case it caught my attention instantly. As I perused the volumes I vaguely remembered that she was British and a big deal in her day -- emphasis on in her day of course. Think  Danielle Steel meeting the 22nd century and that about sums it up.

As it turns out, Mrs. Humphrey Ward did have a name of her own -- Mary – and Mary is the name she used to autograph Volume I. I listed the set at $350 whereupon it sat unnoticed online while the books themselves sat equally unnoticed in a box in the closet of Moira’s old room taking up an unconscionable amount of floor space for almost two years. But all of that changed yesterday when an order arrived from ABE from a British customer. As soon as I saw the address I figured it would never go to completion because the shipping would be horrendous  for 16 volumes. Which of course it was –$130 worth of horrendous, in fact. All day I weighed my options. ABE allows the seller to ask for additional postage for sets and heavy books, so I could quote the full $130 and hope for the best while knowing full well the order could also tank. If the buyer declines it’s over – you either ship it for the amount originally quoted in the listing for one book and pay the difference, or you reject it.

Normally in situations like this I will quickly reject it because I’m confident someone else will buy it, which is usually what happens. But Mrs. Humphrey Ward (Mary) isn’t exactly a household name these days. Virtually nobody even knows that she was related to the poet Mathew Arnold (his Dover Beach is one of the few poems from which I can quote whole passages),  so even an illustrious connection won’t improve her amazon ranking. But still I needed to know more about her to make a good decision, so I launched a little research project to get the skinny on Mary. Turns out she was a sensation in England and immediately repeated the stellar performance in the United States. In 1903 the New York Times reported her novel Lady Rose’s Daughter the number one bestseller of the year. The novels are deeply religious and two serve as a platform for the anti-suffrage movement  for which Mrs. Humphrey Ward served as president of the Anti-Suffrage League,  a fact which speaks volumes to why she chose not to use her own first name, even professionally.

Suddenly a  massive infusion of clarity had zapped the decision-making process. The  books needed  to go  -- NOW – because it could easily be another two years or more before a  second buyer shows up, if at all.  I have very little invested in them and could afford to think outside the box to ensure a sale. So in the end  I did something unprecedented – I made a deal with the buyer. I would absorb 45 per cent of the shipping if she paid the rest.

She agreed and we completed the transaction, both of us happy. I know it sounds like a lot of “give” on my part, but look at it this way. Even with the commission on top of the postage and the $40 paid to buy the set I still made a $200 profit.

AND -- this is the gratifying part -- I  moved Mrs. Ward!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Right to Deface; A Good Book Gone Bad

Eric finally retrieved all the books we bought on our day in the country and has been busily unpacking them. While he was at the home of the seller Monday night to retrieve the ones we didn't have room for the first time he  took the opportunity to reiterate the fact that we remain interested in the glorious collection we saw  in the home office in the basement . His choice of the word “interested” makes me laugh  though because I definitely am NOT interested. Interested is cool and  cerebral with a touch of insouciance. What I am is crazy-wild with red-hot desire to have them!

Whether or not we get them remains ambiguous though, so for now I will try to curb my fixation and focus on the books I did get. Eric sorted  the twenty-one boxes at the store and brought me home a handful of titles he thought I might like. Of these I liked four, rejected one, and fell dizzyingly in love with another. It’s the latter I want to talk about today, though not so much for the book itself as for the fate that befell it. The book is The Human Condition, the most important work written by Hannah Arendt, a Jewish political philosopher who survived Nazi Germany and in this book studied issues of labor, work and action, as well as the difference between the political and the social. I have not read it, so content was not what drew me. It was the physical book itself even though at first glance I mistook it for a Heritage Press title. It is not. It was published by the University of Chicago in 1958 and is the deluxe edition issued with a slipcase.

As much as I like its design and tactile qualities I still decided to list it (but also take it to the show if I still had it in April), so  yesterday afternoon I settled down to do just that. It  wasn’t until I  had assigned it a number in my database and filled in its vital statistics that I saw what had eluded me at first swoon. The book was damaged – badly, irretrievably, WILLFULLY damaged. Sometimes books get damaged for reasons we can’t control. They barely survive floods ( I know a lot about that), they perish in fires, the puppy exercises his teeth on a corner, a small child decides to color in the line drawings. These things I get. What I don’t get is underlining in ink, marginalia, and the worst of the worst – the dreaded highlighting. The Human Condition suffers from both underlining in ink and marginalia – i.e. comments in the margins which are deemed wonderful only if the one doing the commenting has serious street cred.

It could be argued that it’s a bit hypocritical of me to bemoan these particular personalizations when I wax poetic over gift inscriptions which many sellers deem to be almost as  defacing. I love inscriptions though  because they remind me that someone else was here first – a real person -- and that I am a link in a human chain spanning years, decades, sometimes centuries. So much do I like the personal aspect of books I’d even be willing to close one eye to underlining the occasional  favorite passage and/or jotting in the margin what the passage means to the reader (in pencil please). In fact, I might like that a lot. But only once in 15 years have I ever seen anything that qualified. Most underlining and margin writing is purely a knee-jerk reaction to our academic past. In college we were encouraged to highlight in order to study for finals so when faced with a complex book we revert to the tried and true. What I’ve noticed though is that rarely does the highlighting, underlining, note-taking extend beyond the first couple chapters, which is exactly the case with The Human Condition. All the sins take place in the first 42 pages – the rest is flawless. I shudder to think how many wonderful books have been so carelessly ruined  -- and for what? Clearly most were abandoned after defacement and not even finished.

I know, I know – the owner of a book has the right to do whatever he or she wants with it. Read it, mark it up, turn it into an altered book, break it up for parts, or glue it to another bunch of  books and put the whole thing on the shelf for decoration. As much as I deplore it, I would even argue in defense of that right. I just wish people would choose not to excerise it quite so frequently -- particularly on valuable books.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Mapping Out Document Repair

Eric woke up with a cold this morning so mine shouldn’t be far behind – I’m thinking Thursday or Friday. But I’m afraid I'm just going to have to reschedule it, as there is absolutely NO time to loll about with Kleenex and TheraFlu, dozing and reading all day. I am in full throttle over here getting ready for the book fair which is just five weeks away. Yesterday I took on the job of repairing the hand-colored 1834 map of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and the settled portions of Michigan I found in the closet and showed you a couple months ago. It’s beautiful, but almost every fold had a tear and the section by the leather cover that protects it when its folded back to size had so many fold tears I had to ease it onto a piece of cardboard just to transport it from place to place. Last week I ordered from Talas, that magical wonderland of bookish equipment in Brooklyn, the Japanese paper needed to make the repairs. It arrived Monday, so I decided that yesterday was the day to tackle the job.

Of course it’s one thing to talk about it and another to actually alter a document of historical and monetary value. I had laid the map out face-up on the cardboard to relax the folds a month or so ago, but of course had to turn it over to work on it. This was not as easy as it sounds due to both its fragility and the leather cover inconveniently attached at the most vulnerable section. I could have made a sandwich and eaten half of it by the time I succeeded in getting the map to flip because just before turning it I zeroed in on a huge little problem. A very small section right in the middle had a vee-shaped tear that had resulted in a hanging chad. The tip of the chad was already gone which means that what remained was the equivalent of a partially severed limb that must remain attached at all costs.

It did – sort of --  but things got hairy enough to actually make my heart pound. Only the outer layer of the paper was torn, not the entire piece, so it should have been easy enough to have repasted it from the front before I turned it over. But I couldn’t because the tear straddled the torn fold and in one area there was a sliver of paper missing, so at that part the repair paper was needed as backing. I ran upstairs and re-read the directions for repairing documents I’d found online at a book conservation site, but nothing was mentioned about hanging chads. All I could do was wing it. So I did – and almost landed in big trouble.

I decided to repair the edge tears first and work my way in to the middle of the map which was a good move, as I had never used Naga Uda, the thin natural colored repair paper which costs more than seven dollars a sheet. It’s a fair sized sheet though and I only needed a small bit, but it had none of the characteristics I expected. I had been thinking fibrous art paper and what I got was glorified newsprint crossed with strands of fiber. It was easy to tear though – you have to tear rather than cut to get the strongest hold. Also, the thready edge that results from tearing produces a softer finish, though this paper is more about utility than softness and beauty. But at least the tearing process was old hat to me, as I do it all the time when I play with my art papers. What was tricky was lining up the torn pieces of map while making sure that it remained flat. Everything went well until I got to the problem spot. Gently – oh, so gently – I lifted the little green chad with the tip of my microspatula and eased the pasted repair paper across the torn fold. Success!

Feeling slightly more confident I then turned the map over (easy to do since most of the tears had been repaired) and carefully pasted the hanging chad. In retrospect, I really should have seen coming what  happened next. Any time you wet a small piece of paper that’s hanging by a thread  it’s going to fall off. Which it did. And then I couldn’t find it. Only I HAD to find it – quick!—because it had paste on it. Seconds stretched as I carefully felt around the face of the map with the tip of one finger. Nothing. But just as I was about to drop to my knees and crawl around on the floor I spotted it two inches north of the map, a tiny green speck on the workbench. Carefully, I picked it up on the tip of my finger, transferred it to another finger so I could repaste the back (the paste seemed to dry especially fast on the map paper), and then applied the new paste with a piece of narrow gauge wire. All that remained was to reposition the chad in the tiny space available. But of course a snippet of paper was already missing, so it wasn’t as simple as snapping a puzzle piece into its matching shape.

For a few seconds I studied the map like a chess board, then gingerly placed my precious piece of map where I thought it should go ...
Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT! Close, but no cigar. 
Now what? I couldn't take it off without making a worse mess and I couldn't leave it on because it didn't line up. Only one swift course of action was left to me -- jockey the wet little scrap into position without tearing it. I think at that moment an angel assigned to map-repairing amateurs flew down to direct traffic because under my nervous hand the little green chad slid quietly one smidge to the left  -- and landed perfectly in place.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Good Books

Estate sales abounded this weekend, but we couldn’t do any of them on the first day due to Eric being short-staffed at the store. But yesterday there was nothing on the agenda , so we decided to give two of them a whirl since  both were conveniently located in west Akron. Anymore I don’t even harbor high hopes when we go to estates on the first day, so by the third I figured we’d be sloughing through a barren desert. But  we had nothing to lose and if we did get anything, then good for us.

Sale one was held in an empty store, though all of the items came from the same house. If you were looking for jewelry or glass you might have called it nirvana. If you weren’t looking for jewelry or glass you might have called it a waste of time. They’d advertised “lots of books”, but the military ones they’d highlighted had of course  vanished. What was left was a mound of  “vintage” books which in estate sale-speak translates to dirty, broken, cheap editions of common turn-of-the-century titles. I sailed past them like a schooner in fair wind.

The minute I walked  in the front door the first thing I’d spotted was an old Bible from 1883 with deeply carved covers, both front and back, and a silver clasp which actually worked. The gilt on the page edges shined like a mirror and the pages themselves were pristine. Even the hinges were strong and the bonus was that it was published locally. BUT the outside showed evidence of a harder life – dings everywhere as well as wear to the leather on the spine.  They offered it to us at 30 per cent off. Not great, but not bad either, so we took it. But only because Eric is a genius at restoring these. I wish I’d taken a before picture, but enjoy the beauty of the after, as well as additional photos below.

As luck would have it, a small album filled with photos had snuggled up next to the Bible on the crowded table, so I had a look at it too. There’s corner wear and the cover was filthy, but overall it was a great buy at $17, as it’s stuffed with pictures. Amazing what a face cleaning can do too! I went through at least a yard of paper towels shining it up and every one of them turned black as the devil's heart, but I don’t mind. There’s something deeply satisfying about giving something once lovely a new chance at life.

We left that sale just $75 poorer and went on to the second. Again “lots of books” and again lots of unsold books bearing an uncanny resemblance to the “vintage” books we’d just left behind. But I am nothing if not determined, so I sat down on the floor and looked at them book by book, then went down the basement (no mustiness) and did the same thing there. And guess what? I got one good book at each place! Upstairs I found  a 1922 title, San Juan Capistrano The Jewel of the Missions, which made me sit up and take notice despite the dust bunnies hanging off all three edges of the text-block. My downstairs find was The Gear Handbook from 1962, a massive tome published by McGraw Hill and one of those technical mysteries which never fail to call my name. I paid a dollar each and both sell for good prices, which made it almost feel like 1997 again.

Once we finished up at the last sale we headed to the antiques mall to bring some new books (it’s been two weeks, the longest span ever) and finally deal with the rug which has somehow developed a ridge which looks terrible and is even more dangerous. To do this we had to unload two bookcases, move the rug out from under them, and reload them afterwards. Eric got the mall’s vacuum cleaner, but as always, it’s hard to plug it in because the socket is located on the floor in a  3” gap between two of our bookcases. Mine is the only arm that will fit in this space so, as always, I had to crawl around on the floor to get in the right position to angle the prongs into a socket I can barely see. I did it, but my back hurt for the rest of the day. I think it’s because I tripped on Eric’s suitcase Monday and fell. I wasn’t really hurt, but it was a tremendous jolt to my system and my back was a little sore afterwards. The good news is I’m a lot better today.

I suppose in terms of time it could be argued that yesterday was spent running around for an entire morning only to get four items. Of course in the past I’ve spent much less time and returned home with the back bumper of the car dragging on the road ,but I am getting the distinct impression that acquisition has become critical to more sellers than just me. Even the antiques people are complaining. So, having said that, I am pleased and grateful to have spent a Sunday morning doing what I love.

And the Thai salad I had for lunch at Panera wasn’t bad either

Saturday, March 03, 2012

My Genealogical Christmas

Last night I was watching my new favorite TV show Who Do You Think You Are? sponsored by which jolted my memory that I never told you about our genealogical Christmas. I meant to, but new stuff kept popping up and I forgot about it, so here goes, better late than never.

From the time she was a teenager my sister was convinced that some other nationality got tossed into the two ingredient mix that is my mother’s pure Irish background and my father’s equally pure Portuguese one. It  revealed itself, she believed, on the top of her head.  My sister’s hair is so formidable, so frizzy, so large, that she has to wear it long with the sides pulled up or you’d never see her face. When we were kids I used to torment her by calling her little Dr. Zorba. (Okay, that dated me.) While I admit that no one else in the family comes close to sporting a head of hair of such magnificent proportions I never found it especially indicative of an unknown genetic code. But my sister couldn’t let it go – the subject of her hair popped up endlessly over the years. So now that DNA testing is possible she signed up with Family Tree DNA, which I just found out is the official sponsor of the DNA portion of Who Do You Think you Are? They sent her a kit with instructions for swabbing both sides of her mouth, re-packing the swabs in special vials, and returning them for analysis.

I knew she’d already done it, but I told her I thought she would be disappointed because we already have a document that one of our Portuguese relatives from Hawaii (my father grew up in Maui) obtained from the Mormon Church which keeps genealogical records on almost everybody even if they aren’t Mormon. Ours is pretty impressive and goes back to the 1600’s, showing a long line of Portuguese people with cool names, all from Funchal, the capital city of the Madeira Islands, a Portuguese archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean. All of them appeared to be Roman Catholics, as was my father.

“I KNOW there’s something there,” my sister argued. “Just wait – you’ll see.”

It takes six weeks for the report to come, but it handily arrived  a few days before Christmas – all 26 pages of it which she printed out from the computer. Christmas morning she bounded in my front door bearing both the envelope with the pages and a grin that rivaled  the cat who swallowed the canary.

“I told you so!” she crowed, waving it at me. “You are NOT going to believe it either!”

Two seconds later everybody in the house congregated in the family room to hear the story. My mind raced, trying to imagine what it could be, but all I could think of was maybe some African influence due to the location of Africa and the trade routes.

“Our family was not originally Catholic,” she began. “We were Jewish – on both sides of the Portuguese line. Our father’s father’s family traces back to the Sephardic Jews and his mother’s side shows two branches of Ashkenazi Jews, both of which explain THIS.”  She grabbed a fistful of hair on both sides of her head and held it out as Exhibit A.

“During the Inquisition the Catholic Church was obliterating the Jews, so they either got out of Portugal, or assimilated to save their lives. It looks like ours assimilated and married Portuguese people and then over the generations became Catholics by choice.”

Wow --talk about a zinger! But before I could wrap my brain around that there was more. At the top of the analysis it breaks down the percentages of every nationality which shows up in the test. My sister, despite the hair and the fact that she’s a little darker than I am, showed up as mostly Irish with Portuguese coming in at second place. The Irish side showed no real surprises other than the fact that my Irish grandfather had a tiny bit of English (which would have come as an unwelcome surprise due to "the troubles" that caused the Irish great suffeirng).The real stunner was that there was a THIRD category. My sister is twelve per cent Bedouin!

I could barely absorb it all. My sister’s face is my face and we are both small (we clearly got our size from the Portuguese), but she is a tiny bit darker and of course has THE HAIR. Yet here’s the thing. When it came time to meet up with our faraway relatives I chose to go to Ireland -- though I think it was more a matter of Ireland calling me home -- while she went eagerly without hesitation twice to Hawaii. And yet her DNA favored the Irish. The analysis from Family Tree also comes with the names of people all over the world who share a large portion of your DNA. The one who matches her best is a 20 year old singer living in Britain whom we found on You-Tube. His face is her face too, only framed with a mop of blond curls. He has an Irish name, but not one I ever heard mentioned in our family. We looked up some more matches online and found lots of accomplished people, including several writers, (and one very handsome gigolo in Brazil), none of whom look like us, or share the same family names.

Initially I thought I was piggy-backing on her analysis and didn’t need to spend the money to get my own. But this is not so. My percentages could be different and the people I match with could be different as well because we all inherit different amounts of the same DNA. Eric is urging me to do the test and I’m thinking about it. Before all this started I really didn’t care, but for some reason I think maybe now I need to know. Everyone featured on Who Do You Think you Are? is moved to tears by what they learn on the show. While I wouldn’t go that far, I do think that in a subtle way I am changed by the discovery. But how? I don’t know that yet, but I find myself thinking about it a lot which is why I think I need to see my own results.

Last night before I went to bed I read a story on the internet about a federal judge from Montana forwarding a racist email to his friends about President Obama and thought immediately of my sister’s anyalsis. Sephardic Jews! Ashkenazi Jews! Twelve per cent Bedoin! Who knew? Could it be that maybe we’re less the human race and more the human family?

It’s sure beginning to look like it. Maybe it’s time to act like it too.