Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
|Mary Cumiskey - November, 2010|
Monday, January 24, 2011
|Andreas -as his Mennonite father always feared .... photo credit Jasper Reynolds|
For the past few years, Katherine & Peter – who recently crossed the threshold to became officially husband and wife - have performed a song or three at Twelfth Night, usually just after we all join in a rendition of The Viking Song, and then collectively bay at the moon. The Viking Song sort of sets the mood for everything that comes next. This year, K&P also wrote a song with lyrics featuring none other than The Schroeder himself.
It wasn't just that Katherine had grown up hearing stories about the famed Schroederian heroics with respect to construction and house repairs, but that she and Peter also heard about and saw the house repair work that he did last June, after the wedding of our eldest daughter. It was staggering - even by Schroederian standards.
In the video that follows, the lyrics of: Small German with a Heart of Gold mention his habit of grabbing a gallon of milk, going from dawn to dusk on nothing more, as well as the fact that he stands 5'6" in his stocking feet. In this video, you can see a bit of Katherine seated in front of Peter showing flash cards to illustrate the core concept of each verse. The latter are a little hard to see here. I wish the lighting and framing were better. Maybe next year we can work on that, but at least it conveys the overall flavour.
After this, Katherine, in her rap persona, TendaLoin, performed the last song this year that we have a video of. I have added a photo of her taken from the side where the lighting was brighter. It gives a better feel for the energy.
|TendaLoin performing "Rap Right"|
So, after that - what can I say? I mean, how lucky are we? Profoundly blessed is all I can say. Profoundly blessed.
PS K&P also performed another crowd-pleaser, and we have a recording of it from last years Twelfth Night performance: I Got Tha Greens
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Read books, repeat quotations
Draw conclusions on the wall
And that failure’s no success at all
Sunday, January 16, 2011
On my recent trip to Ireland, I photographed 2, 439 pages of documents and/or archival photos. This may sound excessive, and perhaps it is, but when I can only be there for a short time, I never know what is going to be the clue that will open new doors. The worst thing is getting home to Canada and thinking, Rats, I should have captured that– which happens anyway, even after 2,439 clicks of the shutter.
This time, one of my more intriguing clues was in a most unlikely bit of paper, no more than four inches by six and containing only forty nine words. It was an undated letter of congratulations sent to Thomas Jackson, likely at the time of his being knighted in 1899. Aside from the name of the author, there were two words that made me stop and think twice: cousin and Dundalk.
The name of the sender, J. W. Jackson, was a name that I had encountered before in one of Eliza Jackson’s letters, where she mentioned: I had another letter from England. John W. Jackson’s foot is not yet so well that he can wear a boot. I sent him the remaining two pounds today.
Until now, I had no a clue about who this man was, but now I knew that he regarded himself as a cousin, and he also had a enough of a connection to the family that they would be helping him out in hard times. It may still turn out that his is not a blood relationship, since cousin can sometimes relate to merely a felt relationship, but in this case, my radar is on full alert.
The next step, seeing how JW fits as a Jackson cousin is easier said than done. As it stands right now, it is impossible for this cousin connection to be more recent than three generations earlier. Sir Thomas’s father had only sisters, as did his grandfather, and most of the issue of these sisters is accounted for, and none of them seem to have married another Jackson. The closest generation where there is a possibility for this cousin link lies with Sir Thomas’s Great-grandparents: George Jackson (1718-1782) & Margaret O’Laughlin (abt 1720-). That’s a long way back.
So, on to my next question: where to look for clues? George and Margaret had two other sons: John and George, and the cousin relationship might begin with the offspring of their sons, if they had any. The record, so far, is silent on that score, but I’ll keep looking. Also, there are two other Jackson men whose marriages were recorded at Creggan in the summer of 1807, who are worth a second look, but that part of the story is complex enough that I will address it in my next blog. It involves connections with both Wexford & Wicklow. Stay tuned.
When I sent a query about JW to a Jackson rootsweb list, John McAnally rose to the challenge, and spent hours trolling through British census records in an attempt to answer my questions. Although the most likely JW Jackson was born in England, his widowed mother, Alice, was born in Ireland – at least according to the 1891 census. JW’s wife Jane was also born there.
So, here is a farfetched bit. I have a picture of a Mrs. Jackson of Dublin with a daughter who is possibly about six years old, named Janie. Is it possible that John W Jackson’s wife, Jane, was another Jackson? It would be most interesting to find a marriage certificate for both JW and his parents. A likely date for JW’s marriage would be around a year before the birth of the first child, hence 1881, and a likely place would be Dundalk. That work still needs doing, unless someone already has it at their fingertips.
In the meantime, I have tried to match the English census findings with the records of any known Jacksons from Dundalk, but so far no cigar. The 1901 Irish census turns up three Jackson families, one of them Church of Ireland and the other two Roman Catholic. If these were horses and I was laying a bet, I would put my money on the Church of Ireland family being the link. Although, I could be wrong. In the 1666 religious census, there were two Jacksons in the area: an Owen Jackson, described as a papist, and a Richard Jackson, described as a protestant. It is not impossible that we may find that the two men were related by more than simple geography.
If I step back a bit, and look at other Jacksons in Co. Louth noted in the 1901 census, there were also three other Jackson families living in Drogheda, all catholic, and one of them living at St. Laurence Gate, near where the Jacksons of the late 1600s lived. Hmm.
Drogheda is a significant place of interest when it comes to nailing down our pre-1700s Jacksons. We do know that Sir Thomas’s family had enough of a connection to Drogheda that old George paid to have the Jackson family crest mounted on the City Hall. In the early 1700s, the Jacksons who lived there were men who served as aldermen, and one was a mayor. This makes me wonder if these Drogheda Jacksons connect in any way to the Urker Jacksons and the Jacksons of Dundalk.
With respect to other Jacksons in the 1901 census living in Co. Louth, there were two Jackson women working as laundry maids and domestic servants, one of whom was born in Co. Wicklow and the other in Co. Carlow. What took them to Castlebellingham? Was family nearby? One was a widow, and the other might have been her daughter. It is the Carlow and Wicklow connections that made me prick up my ears, but more of that on another day.
For now, I have posted the letter from J. W. Jackson, as well as the pertinent English census records. I have also cobbled together a page on the Dundalk Jacksons, as well as a couple of pages on the JACKSONs who show up in both the 1901 census and the 1911 census.
If anyone has more on any of these Jacksons of Dundalk, I am all ears. Now, I really must get on to the Co. Wicklow lot.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Twenty seven years ago, in the midst of all the detritus of Christmas wrapping paper and such, I came upon something that struck me as a great and glorious idea, an idea that has prevailed even up to this day. Someone had given me a book on Christmas traditions. I took an idea from here and another from there, and bingo, the Schroeder-Brown 12th Night tradition was born.
In pre-literate times, people sawed off circles of wood from the base of the Yule log, drew crude drawings on them, and threw them into the fire. I reasoned that our pre-school friends could do that part, while the rest of us, being literate, could instead write down everything that we wanted to burn and leave behind. Believe me, I had lots that year.
The Christmas season of twenty seven years ago had not been our most stellar. On the day of my birthday, November 8th, Andreas and I had learned that Vanessa, our youngest daughter, had a syndrome called Cornelia De Lange. We had also been told that she would only have a 50/50 chance of living past the age of two, and if she did, she would likely be profoundly retarded, and autistic. Much of this was wrong, but we didn’t know that then.
Another kicker was that my mother –only in her mid sixties – was dying from bladder cancer. For most of that Christmas season, I had to make a conscious effort every single day to haul myself up out of the depths of despond. There was after all, my husband and our other daughter, Sabrina, age three, to think about, as well as Vanessa. Everyone deserved the best. So did I.
Understandably, there was an air of desperation behind my need to have our Christmas tree burnt down to absolutely nothing that year, along with all the wrapping and left-over boxes. A massive conflagration felt as if it was just what the doctor ordered. At the time, we lived on a mountaintop outside Mission, BC, so this exuberance of fire was entirely possible. I called all my friends, and told them to save their trees. We were going to have a party, one hell of a party.
The food I settled on that year was northern European in origin: sauerbrauten with gravy thickened with ginger snaps, spaetzle, rotkohl, and gingered carrots. We also drizzled rum onto a cone of sugar, and held it with a set of tongs over a pot containing warmed, spiced wine, and set the cone alight. More rum was added as needed to keep the flame going. Whether the end result was any good was immaterial. After a glass of that, everything was good.
That first year, we also made a cake called the King and Queen of Bean Cake. Sabrina wrapped a penny in parchment – more visible than a bean – and she hid it in the cake. The person whose luck directed them to that particular piece would then have to host a party at their place in a month’s time. This too was a perfect addition to that time of year when days are short, night is long, and we all need to be shaken out of our mid-winter gloom.
Since then we have celebrated Twelfth Night every year, except for the one year when we lived far away from home. Much of it continues on in the same manner. Andreas ignites his accelerant-assisted fire, and one of us recites the line from a poem by Robert Bringhurst where Moses says: And the bush burned as they said it would. Then Andreas, bless him, usually comes up with a rant of some political nature, where we all participate in a call and refrain that makes fun of the foibles of whoever is in power. Occasionally, these targets are people and parties that other friends have actually voted for, but they all roll with it. We are an eclectic lot.
As the children grew into their teen years, the event changed in tune with their changing needs. They would often write two lists to be burned in the fire. One of them would be a hilarious litany of the various misdeeds of their parents and teachers, while the other would be private, and much longer. The many pages would then be crumpled and slipped into the flames by their gloved adolescent hands.
Since we moved up to the Sunshine Coast, we have added a new ritual, thanks to our new friends of Danish ancestry. This involves wearing horns and singing The Viking Song, after which a square of pumpernickel with pickled herring – or cheese for the vegetarians - is washed down with a shot of Aquavit, followed by a mouthful of beer. A few rounds of this, and even the non-drinkers are off to a roaring start. It is that infectious.
One of our friends, Katherine was only a month old when we had our first 12th Night. She has been at every one of them since, and is now recently married and qualified as a chartered accountant. She and husband Peter are talented musicians and for the past few years have started us off with rap music, some of which is composed specially for the event. Last year, they took aim at the foibles of us aging Boomers – and hit us spot on. This year, who knows, but I have heard rumours and can hardly wait.
Every year is somewhat different, with an ever-changing cast of participants, but many of the participants are veterans and a dozen or so of them will sleep over – along with Max, the dog. As for the rest of it, all I know is that much food will be consumed, laughter will ring out and the dried up tree will burn as they said it would. At the fire, hopes will be celebrated, grief will be burned, and faces will shine in the reflected light of the flames. Also, before various desserts are served, Andreas’ fireworks will arc overhead. After that, the dancing begins.
And Vanessa - who now works at Canadian Tire, and lives independently in her own house, will be right in the thick of it all, enjoying every minute and dancing with family and friends till the wee hours of the morn. Even us old farts will get up on the dance floor, and shake our considerable booty. Who knows how long it will go on into the night? We will definitely know that we are done when the only sound to be heard is that of someone snoring on the couch.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The back story about that particular flare says a lot about our little community. Apparently, just before Christmas that year, a van full of kids, driven by a volunteer parent on their way back from some school event on the mainland, had been stopped by the RCMP on account of a malfunctioning rear light. While the uniformed officer was delivering his homily on safety, and writing up a ticket for the requisite fine, another parent decided to right the balance of what he perceived to be evident injustice, and helped himself to a fistful of the safety flares cached in the open trunk of the cruiser. Now, it isn’t that we condone such behaviour in Roberts Creek, but we do appreciate it from time to time.
It also helps to understand our community if you also know that we consider ourselves to be a nation: The Gumboot Nation. The article in Wikipedia does not mention this, but we also have a King and a Queen as well as a flag, which is trotted out annually for The Piggley Wiggley Parade in the summer. Heck, we even have a national flower: the skunk cabbage.
Years ago, when a gas company was running a gas line through Roberts Creek to take gas to Vancouver Island, they made a monumental miscalculation, and refused to install the necessary lines to also deliver gas to Roberts Creek. The Creekers did what came naturally to them. They organized a protest, hauled enough chesterfields up to block the highway, and then sat in them until the gas company relented.
Not too long ago, at one of our New Year launches, the use of one of the original illicit flares triggered a call-out to the Coast Guard. Since we take such things seriously, that was the last year for the flares. Mind you, it didn’t stop my husband, who this year installed a firework on his boat, and when it ignited a hundred yards out in the mouth of the creek, it cascaded a shower of stars.
The whole scene, as you can see beneath was jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Not that I was able to catch a snap of the fireworks. My husband’s boat is the little speck of flame on sunset-red water. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I think I’ll just call this blog done.