Writing: It’s In My Genes

My great-, great-aunt on my father’s side was Isabella Valancy Crawford who was born on Christmas Day, 1850 in Dublin, Ireland and died on February 12, 1887 in Toronto, Canada.  She is recognized as one of Canada’s first major poets and one of the first in my country to actually make a living as a freelance writer.  My favourite quote about my aunt is by Ethelwyn Wetherald, another popular Canadian poet, who wrote a beautiful introduction to one of several books containing Isabella’s writings.  I have but one of just a few known copies of the book while others are within my family and in museums and historical library collections.  The book I am referencing is Collected Poems, edited by J. W. Gavin, published in 1905.  Wetherald said this about Isabella:

“Purely a genius, not a craftswoman, and a genius who has patience enough to be an artist.”

Isabella is already celebrated in Canada, not only through writings about her, but also with plaques and even a park named after her.  She was also designated a “Person of National Historic Significance” by the Canadian Government in 1947.  One of the plaques is in Paisley, Ontario where her family lived when they immigrated to Canada.  The other plaque is in Toronto on Front St. at the bottom of John St., just a few blocks from where she died at home.  That location is called Isabella Valancy Park and I visit it several times a year, as I live not far from Toronto and have a daughter living there now who also works about a 10-minute walk from the park.
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A Trip Down Memory Lane: A Burma-Shave Jingle

Well, maybe not down my memory lane since the Burma-Shave road signs were before my time but some of you might remember them.

Came across these jazzy jingles the other day while researching something else and lost myself on Google looking for more.  So here is my re-creation of one of the Burma-Shave road signs, circa 1940.
Burma-Shave test

Click here for more info on The Burma-Shave Jingles.

1969: The Year Everything Changed

Today’s Daily Prompt is to write page three of your autobiography.  I have never even thought about writing one so this stumped me.  Then I got to wondering what happened in the world the year I was born and how those events may have shaped how my life played out.

As the joke goes, ‘if you remember the sixties, you weren’t there’.  Well, I was there for a wee bit, about 2½ months but, no, I don’t remember a darn thing. After Googling 1969, one of the things I saw referenced a number of times was a book by Rob Kirkpatrick called 1969 The Year Everything Changed.  It was published in 2009 as a 40th anniversary of what many will agree was a defining year on many accounts.  I’ve added it to my “To Read Soon” list.

So here’s a list of a few things that happened in 1969 and how they influenced my life …

CC0 - public domain

CC0 – public domain

•  Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon on July 20th.  One of my favourite quotes since I was a little girl has been “Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  –  Norman Vincent Peale

•  One word:  Woodstock.  The music of the artists and bands that both played at the festival and those who were invited but declined to attend are on my current playlists and my favourite SiriusXM channels.

•  Other music notes:  The Who gave us the rock opera Tommy (my son performed in a stage version of this a few years back), Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II were released (respect the Zep), and the Jackson 5 were introduced to the world (I got to see Michael in concert as a 16th birthday present).

•  No fault divorce (aka irreconcilable differences) became legal.  My parents divorced on these grounds, as did I.

•  The Ontario Science Centre opened in Toronto, ON.  I have visited there many a time, both as a youngin’ myself and with my own 3 chitlin’s and I have many wonderful memories of my times there.  Most notable – touching some contraption that made my hair stand up on its ends!

•  Sesame Street debuted on NET (the predecessor to PBS).  Beyond the obvious of this show helping me learn my 1-2-3’s, my A-B-C’s, and my P’s & Q’s, it also taught me about friendship, perseverance, and accepting people for who they are.

•  The first successful message on ARPANET was sent on October 29th.  This was the network that became the basis for the internet.  I’m using it now, and likely so are you.  As an aside, that first message was a single word:  login.

•  Recognize this phrase?  “And now for something completely different.”  Monty Python’s Flying Circus began broadcasting on the BBC with a genre of humour the writers and actors intended to be impossible to categorize.  I think they succeeded.  Just a month ago while vacationing with my kids in Cleveland, OH, I picked up one of their comedy sketch albums, Matching Tie & Handkerchief, to add to my vinyl collection.

•  Canada’s Prime Minister was Pierre Elliot Trudeau.  I was born on his 50th birthday and years later got to wish him a happy birthday on our special day when I met him in Ottawa near his home, out with his sons walking their dogs.

•  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou was published.  This woman’s writings have provided me with strength, inspiration, and curiosity.  My mom loved her work too and just as I wrote that I had a wonderful image of the two of them at the big artisan’s room up in the sky, sharing a hearty laugh, and having a cup’o’tea.

•  1969 was the year John Fogerty declares as CCR’s best.  My son and I saw him last fall on his current tour, 1969 One Extraordinary Year.  Been there, bought the t-shirt.

•  And … I was born in 1969.  Enough said.