I've been flat on my back all day with a fever, totally entranced by a season 2 marathon of Who Do You Think You Are?. Who Do You Think You Are? is one of those shows that reinforces the BBC's reputation of creating television viewing experiences that are, truly, high-end kickass. Celebrities (most of whom, with the exceptions of Stephen Fry and my "distinguished gray" fantasy-crush Jeremy Paxman, I've never heard of) trace their genealogies back through several generations and find out who sympathized with the Nazi party or worked as a prostitute in Victorian London or what have you. It's absolutely riveting, and it has fed my already healthy genealogy fetish sufficiently enough to justify forking over for a membership on ancestry.com. Bless techology.
Genealogy fetishes run in my family. There is a stunningly extensive photograph collection of stern-faced, pale, Scandinavian people scattered throughout my mother's house, including a beautiful portrait of Great Grandma Hilde as a teenager, before she immigrated to America from Norway. She's swathed in black petticoats, a Mona Lisa grin touching the corners of her mouth, her thin, light hair spilling over her shoulders. People always think that it's a picture of me dressed up for one of those goofy, old-timey joke photos. I've always loved the fact that I look freakishly like her. And I've always wondered if, had she been clairvoyant enough to know that her great-grandkid would come out looking freakishly like her, she would have loved it a little bit also.
On the 1910 federal census, Great Uncle Rolf is listed as being 5 years old and named "Ralph". Maybe he told the census-taker that his cat's breath smells like cat food.